BIBLE QUESTIONS

Below you'll find answers to some of life's most difficult questions.

Abortion

What The Bible Says About Abortion

Text: Proverbs 24:11-12; Genesis 4:10
By: Barry L. Cameron

 Our Nation Has Faced Some Great Tragedies:

    1. Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (November 22, 1963)
    2. Assassination of Martin Luther King (April 4, 1968)
    3. Assassination of Robert Kennedy (June 6, 1968)
    4. The Viet Nam War (1955-1975)

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What The Bible Says About Abortion

Text: Proverbs 24:11-12; Genesis 4:10
By: Barry L. Cameron

 Our Nation Has Faced Some Great Tragedies:

    1. Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (November 22, 1963)
    2. Assassination of Martin Luther King (April 4, 1968)
    3. Assassination of Robert Kennedy (June 6, 1968)
    4. The Viet Nam War (1955-1975)
  1. The Hostage Crisis in Iran (November 1979 – January 1981)
  2. The Bombing in Beirut that killed our servicemen (October 23, 1983)
  3. The Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster (January 28, 1986)
  4. The PanAm Crash in Lockerbie Scotland (December 21, 1988)
  5. The Elementary School Massacre in Stockton, California (Tuesday, January 17, 1989)
  6. The Bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City (April 19, 1995)
  7. The TWA Flight 800 crash off Long Island (July 17, 1996)
  8. The Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado (April 20, 1999)
  9. The 9/11 terrorist attacks (September 11, 2001)
  10. The Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster (February 1, 2003)
  11. The Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Connecticut (December 14, 2012)

* But, the GREATEST TRAGEDY we’ve ever faced as a nation came on January 22, 1973, when the Supreme Court voted 7-2 in the ROE vs. WADE decision to legalize ABORTION.

* Who would’ve dreamed that this same great country that has fought 2 bloody world wars to protect and defend the virtues of freedom, human dignity, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, would in 1973, by a 7-2 majority vote of the Supreme Court, take away all the privileges and rights of what has amounted to over 40 million human beings?

JUSTICE BLACKMUN: (who wrote the majority opinion) – Wrote, one year later, “This case will be regarded as one of the worst mistakes in the court’s history or one of its greatest decisions…a turning point.”

- Without question, it was the single worst mistake in the history of the Supreme Court.

* Since that day in January, 1973, 40 million lives have been snuffed out of existence. – Every 20 seconds (on average) an abortion is performed in the USA. (4,400 times a day) – Over 1.5 million times per year. (Between 90 and 100 thousand times a year here in Texas)

The Second Most Common Surgical Procedure In America: Non-Therapeutic Abortion. – Circumcision is #1. – Non-therapeutic means that the abortion is not performed to ensure the life or health of the mother. Rather, it’s because of her desire for convenience, absence of distress and her so-called mental happiness.

* For every 2 babies allowed to live in America, we allow one to be murdered by abortion.

Abortion is not the same as birth control. (Birth control prevents a life from beginning.) – Abortion destroys that new life once it has already begun.

ILL. Erwin Lutzer (“Exploding The Myths That Could Destroy America”) “A father threw his newborn son against the floor of the delivery room, killing the infant. In what has to be one of the greatest moral contradictions of all time, this man was charged with murder, even though that baby could have been put to death legally, the day before, by abortion.”

* Admittedly, throwing a baby against the floor is BARBARIC! But how much different is it from killing an infant with the abortionist’s saline injection, which burns the infant’s skin while it struggles for life. – Or even more gruesome, the spectacle of using a high-powered, suction device that tears the body of the developing baby apart, one piece at a time.

SOME SHOCKING REVELATIONS…

  1. In 1983, some 16,000 aborted babies were found in a storage container in California. The ACLU protested some pro-lifer’s plans to bury the babies, insisting that the court had ruled that the unborn aren’t human and therefore, should not be buried like humans. The ACLU doesn’t protest the burial of dogs and cats in pet cemeteries.
  2. On May 14, 1984, the Milwaukee Sentinel reported that police arrested four children ages 4-11, who were throwing a fetus off a bridge. The youngsters had retrieved 22 aborted babies from a nearby dumpster. When asked what they were doing, the children replied that they were playing with “little people.” One has to wonder why the big people didn’t know these babies were little people. And no wonder the children were treating these babies like garbage. That’s what the grown-ups were doing.
  3. According to the American Life League in Stafford, Virginia: “In Texas, sworn affidavits have been received that testify that little babies who miraculously survive abortions have been drowned in buckets and even used for medical experiments.
  4. In Washington, D.C., one hospital used the proceeds from selling the bodies of aborted children to buy a television set and provide refreshments for a doctor’s lounge.

* If we were talking about Bosnia or some uncivilized tribe back in the bush country somewhere, perhaps we could understand this. But this is the USA! – There are certain humane laws here in America protecting even animals from unusually cruel experiments in laboratories. – Animal rights activist groups (Stop the bludgeoning of seals in Alaska, Save the Whales, etc.) – Organizations that won’t allow you to mistreat a horse or a monkey. – We have laws protecting the snail darter and the crawfish. – You touch an eagle’s nest ($5,000.00 fine). Destroy an eagle egg and you go to prison.

* It’s tragic that there are no laws to protect unborn babies. – So, we treat animals like humans and humans like animals.

An Even More Frightening Development… * Nobel laureate, Dr. James D. Watson, advocates “that personhood be postponed (legally) until 3 days following the baby’s birth. During which time the parents can decide whether to keep the baby or kill it.”

What’s So Good About Abortion? (What are the benefits?) * An organization called WOMEN EXPLOITED BY ABORTION did a national survey that involved women from 42 different states.

  • The average age of the women who had abortions was 21.2 yrs.
  • The lowest age of the women at the time of their abortion was 12 yrs.
  • The highest age of the women at the time of their abortion was 40 yrs.
  • 65% of the women were single at the time of their abortion.
  • The average length of the pregnancy was 10.2 weeks.

Questions these women were asked:

  1. Are you satisfied with your choice today. 1% very much, 95% not at all.
  2. If abortion had not been legally available would you have sought an illegal abortion? 72% No.
  3. Do you feel your decision was well thought out? 6% very much. 74% not at all.
  4. Do you feel you had all the necessary information to make the decision? 88% not at all.
  5. Have you had more than one abortion? 24% yes. 76% no.
  6. Would you ever have another abortion? 0% very much. 95% no.
  7. Were there any negative psychological effects you attribute to your abortion? 94% yes.
  8. Did these negative effects continue? 1-6 months? 8% 1-2 yrs? 10% Over 3 years? 82%
  9. Knowing where your life is today, would you still have chosen abortion? 1% yes. 94% no.
  10. What is your opinion of the nature of the fetus? No answer-3%. Human – 97%
  11. If counseling a friend who was in a situation such as yours, would you encourage her to choose an abortion? 98% not at all.
  12. What are your feelings about abortion today? 98% negative.

ILL. David C. Reardon, Phd., Eliot Institute, released these findings concerning the psychological reactions reported after abortion.

“After my abortion I experienced feelings of: Guilt – 93% Despair – 88% Flashbacks – 63% Depression – 88.2% Shame – 91% Uncontrollable weeping – 70% Anger – 81% Unworthiness – 86% Suicidal feelings – 56% Sorrow – 92% Loneliness – 84% A loss of self-confidence – 76% Grief – 85% Hopelessness – 73% A loss of self-esteem – 82% Bitterness – 75% Self-condemnation – 91% A loss of dignity – 80% Regret – 85% Confusion – 81% Emptiness – 83% Remorse – 86% Anxiety – 81% Greater closeness to my lover – 82% NO!

* Fear of punishment from God – 70%. Fear of others learning about my abortion – 77%

(1) What Is Human Life? (Psalm 127:3-5) - The Bible says we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) - Psalm 139:13-16

(2) When Does Human Life Begin? (We don’t play this game with anything else…)

  1. Conception – the fertilization of the egg by the sperm.
  2. Implantation of the ovum on the uterus wall. (Usually happens 1 week or so after conception)
  3. The stage when the embryo becomes a fetus (45-50 days after conception.)
  4. When all the organ systems are initiated (4 weeks)
  5. The animation stage (when the baby begins to move)
  6. The moment of quickening (18-20 wks. into pregnancy. Everyone acknowledges a baby.)
  7. Viability (baby is capable of living outside the womb (28 weeks on.)
  8. At birth. (very few people actually believe this.)

(3) Is That A Baby Or Just A Blob Of Flesh Called A Fetus?

  • 18-25 days – the heart begins to beat.
  • 43 days – the brain begins to develop. (It’s complete in 8 weeks)
  • 8th week – the stomach begins to secrete gastric juices.
  • 9th week – fingerprints are fully developed.
  • 10th week – thyroid and adrenal glands begin functioning.
  • 12th week – breathing process takes place.
  • 13th week – baby can squint, swallow, make a fist, and totally respond to stimuli.

ILL. Star Telegram Article, Wednesday, February 2, 2000

* Planned Parenthood calls it a fetus. Some doctors call it a protoplasmic mass growing in the uterus. – God calls it a BABY.

(4) Here Are Some Bible Names For The Developing Human Being.

  • Genesis 25:22 (Jacob & Esau) “The children struggled together within her…”
  • Jeremiah 1:4-5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
  • Psalm 139:13-16. David – Luke 1:41. John the Baptist. “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb.”

(5) Why Should We Be Concerned About Abortion?

  1. Because human life is sacred to God. (Proverbs 24:11-12Genesis 4:10)
  2. Because of the lives that are at stake. (Both baby and mother)
  3. Because of what abortion is doing to the moral fabric of our world.

Quote: Chuck Colson, “How Now Shall We Live?” “Abortion has always been about more than abortion. It is the wedge used to split open the historic Western commitment to the dignity of human life.” – Colson says that abortion has ushered in a culture of death into America.

“Many well-meaning Americans, including Christians, have bought into the ‘choice’ argument. They don’t see that abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia are all part of the same package. The logic that supports abortion as ‘useful policy’ to prevent the birth of ‘defectives’ or to reduce welfare and crime, applies with equal force at all stages of life. If the body is merely an instrument of the self, if it has no inherent dignity, then we are free to dispose of it at will–or others are free to dispose of it for us.”

* The culture of violence and death, and utter disregard for human life, can be directly attributed to the decision to legalize abortion in 1973. – Euthanasia, assisted suicide, gun violence, gangs, school shootings, cloning and genetic engineering. (Now it will be possible to produce a race free of defects of any kind.) * These have all been brought to us by the proponents of abortion. * You and I are seriously affected by abortion whether we’ve had one or not.

(6) If You’ve Had An Abortion, Can You Be Forgiven? – Yes! I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

* We need to do everything in our power to stop abortion in America and in our world. – Our very future and the future of our children depends upon it.

Genesis 4:10, “The Lord said, ‘What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.”

* The blood of 40 million little babies is crying out to God. And He has heard their cry.

Quote: Julie Parton, Focus On The Family’s Crisis Pregnancy Ministry. “In God’s eyes, we are priceless…all of us. That includes the child with Down syndrome, the senior suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, the unwed mother and the baby growing inside of her. Increasingly, our society calculates human worth by determining whether people are assets or liabilities…a pillar of the community or a drain on the system. That’s not for us to decide. Isaiah 55:9 states, ‘. . . so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’

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Alcohol

What The Bible Says About Alcohol

On Monday night, news broke that Olympic gold medalist snowboarder, Shaun White, had been charged with vandalism and public intoxication. On my Facebook wall, I posted the following comment: “This just in . . . and the gold medal for character enhancement, once again, goes to alcohol.”

For years, well-meaning, sincere Christians have debated the subject of drinking. Let me be clear by saying there isn’t a single verse in the Bible that says a Christian cannot have a drink; although the Bible clearly warns about the destructive and addictive nature of alcohol (Proverbs 20:1; 21:17; 23:29-35; Ephesians 5:18) and is very clear that drunkenness is always wrong (Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Peter 4:3; Habakkuk 2:15; 1 Corinthians 5:11).

The Bible is also clear that mature Christians should avoid causing others to stumble by drinking (Romans 14:21), and that leaders ought to avoid drinking alcohol (Proverbs 31:4-7) and cannot be given to drunkenness (1 Timothy 3:3, 8 Titus 1:7.)

I have yet to hear from anyone who drinks how alcohol enhances anything or blesses anyone. Max Lucado said, “One thing for sure, I have never heard anyone say, ‘A beer makes me feel more Christlike . . . Fact of the matter is this: People don’t associate beer with Christian behavior.”1 I’ve yet to see how it improves someone’s testimony or makes anyone a more effective witness for Christ. Quite the contrary, like Shaun White mentioned above, or Richard Roberts, Oral Roberts’ son, who was arrested in Tulsa, Oklahoma, driving under the influence, the result doesn’t enhance your testimony. Rather, it takes away from what testimony you had.

Recently, a friend of mine, former mega-church Pastor, John Caldwell, wrote an article in Christian Standard magazine called To Drink or Not to Drink? Here’s the link to his article. John’s article explained why he has personally abstained from drinking alcohol and dealt with the bigger issue of the contemporary church becoming more and more like the world.

Not surprisingly, a number of people responded to John’s article and some called him to task for taking such a strong stand against drinking. In response to the responses, my good friend, Ken Idleman, former President of Ozark Christian College and now Pastor of Crossroads Christian Church in Evansville, IN, wrote these words, which are among the very best I’ve ever read on this issue. I asked Ken for his permission to share them here.

“Okay, I am conscience bound to weigh in on this one…. For a minute, forget about making a definitive case for or against ‘drinking’ from the Bible. Here’s the truth from logic and real life. No one starts out to be an alcoholic. Everyone begins with a defensive attitude saying, ‘I’m just a social drinker and there is nothing wrong with it!’ no one says, ‘It is my ambition that someday I want to lose my job, my health, my self-respect, my marriage and my family. Someday I want to be dependent on alcohol to get through my day.’ yet, this is the destination at which several millions of people have arrived. Why do you suppose that is? It is because alcohol is promoted and elevated as a normal/sophisticated activity in life…. It is also expensive, addictive and enslaving. People get hooked by America’s number one legal drug. And just like all illegal drugs, alcohol finds it way into the body, the bloodstream and the brain of the user/abuser.

I had two uncles whose lives were wrecked by alcohol. The exception you say? Hardly. It is not what they wanted when they dreamed of their futures when they were in their 20s. Praise God, they were wonderfully delivered in their 60s when the grace of God became real to them. And can you imagine it?…. They got their lives back by becoming total abstainers by the power of the Holy Spirit!

One of my most memorable conversations in the state penitentiary in Jefferson City, MO, was with a young man facing a 28-year prison sentence for the brutal sexual assault of his own 8-year old daughter. I will never forget the image. The tears literally ran off his chin and splashed on his shoes as he gushed, ‘I guess I did it. I don’t know. I was drunk at the time.’

Listen, some of those who are defensive in response to Dr. Caldwell’s thoughtful and courageous article will want to revise their text if, in a few years, they discover that they were able to handle their drinking just fine, but their son or daughter could not. Answer honestly. Could you live with the knowledge that your dangerous exercise of Christian liberty factored into your children’s ruin? Or, if your loved one is killed some day in a head on collision by a driver under the influence who crossed the center line, will you still be defensive of drinking?

A good friend during my growing up years was the only child of social drinking parents. When his folks were away, he would go to the rathskeller [German for tavern] in the basement where he developed a taste for alcohol. I won’t bore you with the details. He is 65 today. A broken life, broken health, broken marriages, a broken relationship with his only son, a broken relationship with his only grandchild, a broken career and a broken spirit that…. Tragically…. He tries daily to medicate with the alcohol that led him to this tragic destination.

Hey, thanks for indulging my rant. Like my friend John Caldwell, I confess to setting the bar high for Christian leadership [especially] when it comes to aesthetic holiness. Call me a ‘right-wing fundamentalist.’ Call me a ‘throw back to the days of the tent evangelists.’ Call me a ‘simpleton.’ Call me a ‘minimalist.’ but, if you do, go ahead and also call me a ‘watchman on the wall’ where the welfare of my family [children, in-laws, grandchildren] and my church family is concerned.”2

Personally, I’ve yet to have my first beer and have no desire to start now or to drink alcohol of any kind. At the same time, I don’t judge those who believe they have freedom in Christ to drink. But when asked, I always tell people I don’t believe it’s the best choice.

The bottom line is this: the question really isn’t CAN A CHRISTIAN DRINK? Rather, it is: SHOULD A CHRISTIAN DRINK?

© 2012. Barry L. Cameron

1 David Faust, Voices From The Hill, (Cincinnati, OH: Cincinnati Bible College & Seminary, 2003) 252.

2 John Caldwell, “To Drink or Not to Drink,” Christian Standard 11 August 2012, 18 September 2012.

Angels

What The Bible Says About Angels

(Text: Hebrews 1:14) By: Barry L. Cameron

* According to a Time Magazine/CNN poll, 69% of American adults believe in the existence of angels.

- 46% believe they have their own Guardian Angel.

- 32% say they have, at one time or another, personally felt an angelic presence in their life.

* Hollywood has produced a number of movies portraying angels as mere people who come back with special powers or special assignments.

- “Heaven Can Wait” – Warren Beatty comes back after an accident to be a star football player and to catch his wife involved in all kinds of shenanigans.

- “Always” – Richard Dreyfuss dies in a fiery plane crash only to come back and save his girlfriend’s life and give her permission to get a new boyfriend.

- “The Preacher’s Wife” – Denzel Washington comes back to help a struggling pastor in his little church. He also gets to dance with Whitney Houston, gets kissed by Whitney and then gets to become the ornament on the top of their family Christmas tree.

- Bookstores are full of books dealing with angels, supernatural powers and the spirit world.

- Several years ago, Billy Graham wrote a bestseller called: “Angels: God’s Secret Agents”

- One of the most popular television programs today is “Touched by an Angel”

* Amy Grant made popular a song called: “Angels”

“Angels watching over me, every move I make,

Angels watching over me!

Angels watching over me, every step I take,

Angels watching over me!

God only knows the times my life was threatened just today.

A reckless car ran out of gas before it ran my way.

Near misses all around me, accidents unknown,

Though I never see with human eyes,

The hands that lead me home.

But I know they’re all around me

All day and through the night.

When the enemy is closing in,

I know sometimes they fight.

To keep my feet from falling,

I’ll never turn away.

If you’re asking what’s protecting me,

Then you’re gonna hear me say:

Got His angels watching over me, every move I make,

Angels watching over me!

Angels watching over me, every step I take,

Angels watching over me…”

* In the comic strip: “Family Circus,” Billy comes into the house all tattered and torn. He looks like he’s been in a wreck, then a fight, then dragged for a mile or two by a team of runaway horses. He asks, “Do guardian angels take days off?”

* There’s an incredible interest in angels, the supernatural and the spirit world today.

- There’s also a tremendous amount of confusion and speculation and even false teaching.

Six Benefits of Studying About Angels:

1. Understanding the nature and activities of the spirit world will increase our appreciation of a sovereign God.

2. We will gain a better appreciation of what’s literally going on around us.

3. This study will help us appreciate God’s holiness and righteousness.

4. This study will magnify the grace of God.

5. This study will challenge our Christian living.

6. The truth of God’s angelic ministry will encourage us.

What does the Bible say?

1. Angels were created by God. (Psalm 148:2-5)

2. They were created to glorify God. (Revelation 4:6-11)

3. The term “angel” is derived from the Greek word angelos which means “messenger.”

4. In 34 of the Bible’s 66 books there are specific references to angels. (17 in the OT, 17 in the NT)

5. The word for “angel” is used 108 times in the OT and 165 in the NT.

6. Angels were not originally created as men. They were created as angels. (Colossians 1:16)

7. The exact time of their creation is not exact, but they sang at the creation of the earth. (Job 38:4-7)

8. Lucifer (Satan), an angelic creature, appears on the scene in Genesis 3:1.

9. All angels were created good and holy.

a. They enjoyed God’s presence (Matthew 18:10) and Heaven’s environment (Mark 13:32)

b. There are two moral classes of angels in the Bible:

1. The “elect” angels who remained faithful to God (I Timothy 5:21)

2. The “evil” angels who followed Satan in his rebellion against God (Matthew 25:41).

* These two supernatural forces (angelic armies) engage in constant warfare that far exceeds human thought and affects the course of nations and the world.

c. Satan fell from his original holy state when he tragically rebelled against God (1 Timothy 3:6)

d. He convinced a third of the angels to defect with him (Matthew 25:41Revelation 12:4)

e. The reason for the fall was PRIDE (Ezekiel 28:12-19Isaiah 14:12-17) 10. Angels cannot reproduce angels (Matthew 22:28-30)

11. Angels are referred to as the “sons of God” (Job 1:62:1)

12. Somehow, fallen angels were able to produce a perverted race of beings that precipitated the flood (Genesis 6:4-72 Peter 2:4-5)

Five Kinds of Angels:

1. Worshipping Angels (Isaiah 6:1-4Revelation 4:6-11)

2. Warring Angels (2 Kings 6:16-172 Kings 19:35)

3. Watching Angels (Matthew 18:10Daniel 6:21-22)

4. Working Angels (Matthew 4:111 Kings 19:5-7Hebrews 1:7)

5. Wonders Angels (Revelation 8:214:18-2020:1-3)

* Only two angels are named in the Scriptures: Michael and Gabriel.

- Michael is the protector, Gabriel is the proclaimer.

- Michael is referred to as an archangel (Jude 9), but he is also called one of the chief princes in Daniel 10:13, so he would not be the only one.

Two Important Groups of Angels:

1. Cherubim (the highest order or rank) created with indescribable powers and beauty

- First appearance, Genesis 3:24, guarding the gate to the garden of Eden with flaming swords.

- The dwelling place of God in the tabernacle. (Golden images upon the mercy seat, over the ark of the covenant – Exodus 25:17-22)

- The four living creatures of Daniel were Cherubim.

2. Seraphim (means “burning ones” – reference to their consuming devotion to God rather than their outward ministry)

- They have more of a priestly service before the Lord. (Isaiah 6:1-4)

- The four living creatures of Revelation 457 and 19 are seraphim.

* The Bible is full of examples concerning the ministry of ANGELS.

a. Angels were present at Creation. (Job 38:4-7)

b. The Law was given by the disposition of angels. (Galatians 3:19Acts 7:38 and 53; Hebrews 2:2)

c. Major events that pertained to Christ involved angels:

1. His Birth (Luke 2:8-15)

2. His Temptation (Ministered to by angels – Matthew 4:11)

3. His agonizing in the garden (Strengthened by an angel – Luke 22:43)

4. His arrest and crucifixion (“I could call 12 legions of angels” – Matthew 26:53)

5. His Resurrection (Matthew 28:2-7Mark 16:5-8Luke 24:3-7)

6. His Ascension (Acts 1:11)

7. His Return (Matthew 25:31)

a. Predicted His return (Acts 1:11)

b. Will accompany His return (Matthew 25:31)

c. Will worship Him at His return (Hebrews 1:6)

d. Will gather groups of men at His return (Matthew 24:31)

d. Their primary ministry is worship. (Isaiah 6:1-3)

Revelation 4:6-11. Four angelic creatures around God’s throne. They ascribe to God: Holiness, Worthiness and Omnipotence.

e. They are ministers of service. (Genuine worship always leads to genuine service.)

1. Priestly Ministers (Hebrews 1:7)

2. Personal Messengers (Psalm 103:20)

f. They serve as agents of God’s government:

1. In controlling nature:

a. The winds (Revelation 7:1)

b. The seas (Revelation 16:3)

c. The heat of the sun (Revelation 16:8-9)

2. In controlling nations:

a. God’s angels battle the angels of Satan (Daniel 10:132112:1)

b. II Kings 6:17. Elisha and the Arameans

g. They execute God’s judgments.

1. Angels were involved in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:112-13)

2. Angels were involved in the plagues on Egypt (Exodus 12:1323)

3. One angel destroyed 185,000 Assyrians in answer to one prayer by Hezekiah (II Kings 19:35)

4. Angels will administrate God’s wrath and judgment during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 6:1ff; 8:1-6; 14:17-18; 15:1; 16:1-21)

h. They protect God’s people.

1. They are sent to serve us (Hebrews 1:14)

2. They will deliver us from trouble (Psalm 34:7)

3. They will fight against our enemies (Psalm 35:4-6)

4. They will guard and protect us (Psalm 91:9-16)

5. Our prayers dispatch God’s angels on our behalf (Daniel 9:20-2310:12)

6. Our angels have to do battle with the devil’s angels (Daniel 10:1320-21)

* Our angels can be detained, but they can’t be defeated (Daniel 10:13 – twenty-one days; Daniel 12:1 – “your people shall be delivered.”)

Jack Graham: “Believers can expect God’s holy angels to accompany them through life’s journey. These powerful beings are working on our behalf today. I personally believe that because we are facing the final hours of human history, there is an increase in angelic activity just as there is an increase in demonic activity. As sin and violence and demonic activity increase during times of tribulation, God will send His angels to execute His plan and purpose for mankind. The angels who minister in the last days shall have power over the elements and power over the environment as they do God’s will.”

ILL: John G. Paton, missionary to the New Hebrides Islands Began his missionary work with his pregnant wife by landing on the beach and setting up a lean-to. He didn’t know anyone, see anyone, didn’t know the language of the natives on the island. But every night when it became dark, Paton and his wife could see the whites of the eyes of natives staring at them from the brush and trees up from the beach.

In the first few weeks they were there, John tried to make contact with the natives but to no avail. His wife gave birth to their child and they both died. Paton said he buried them on the beach and slept on top of their graves so the natives wouldn’t dig them up and eat them.

After a number of weeks had passed, Paton was able to find a way to communicate with one of the natives and then another and after a while they became Christians. Finally the chief of the tribe became a Christian and the revival that began on the island resulted in a host of believers and the beginning of a number of churches.

Several years later as Paton was boarding a boat to leave the island, he said “I came to the sound of war drums, I leave to the sound of church bells.”

As he got into the boat the chief asked him, “Mr. Paton, could I ask you one question before you leave?” “Sure,” John responded, “what is it?”

“When you first came to our island, who were those large men in shining garments carrying swords?”

Hebrews 1:14, “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”

Baptism

What The Bible Says About Baptism

(Text: Matthew 28:18-20)

By: Barry L. Cameron

* BAPTISM seems to be either abused or overlooked.

- Many people view baptism as OPTIONAL in the Christian life.

- Consequently, there are huge numbers of people in the church today who have never been baptized.

* Failure to follow baptism Biblically in the church is very likely at the root of some of the immense problems the church has experienced today.

- Because, it betrays people’s obedience to the simple, direct commands of the Lord.

* If we can’t be obedient to the Lord in the simple act of baptism (which the Lord has commanded every believer to do) isn’t that indicative of a less than obedient life?

- Which may explain a lot of things about the weakness of today’s church.

Matthew 28:18-20, JESUS gave a command to the church to baptize all disciples.

Acts 2:38. The Holy Spirit commanded through Peter that the individual believer be baptized. (3,000 were)

* So, JESUS commands the church to baptize. The Holy Spirit commands us as believers to be baptized.

- 3,000 believers, on the opening day of the church, set the example by being baptized immediately after they believed.

* As clear as these Scriptures are, there is still a widespread non-compliance to this simple command.

FIVE REASONS WHY A PERSON WHO PROFESSES CHRIST WOULD NOT BE BAPTIZED:

(1) IGNORANCE. They haven’t been taught. Or have been taught wrong.

(2) PRIDE. They’ve gone so long without a proper New Testament baptism that to do it now would be a public confession of long-term disobedience or ignorance.

(3) INDIFFERENCE. They understand it. They’re not against it. It’s just not a major issue.

(4) DEFIANT. They rebel against baptism because they’re harboring sin in their life.

(5) UNREGENERATE. They aren’t saved. There’s no compelling of the Holy Spirit.

- Why publicly affirm a reality that isn’t a reality.

If you haven’t been baptized, is it because of…

(1) Ignorance

(2) Pride

(3) Indifference

(4) Defiance

(5) Not Saved?

FIVE QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

(1) What is Baptism?

- From a physical viewpoint: “a ceremony by which a person is immersed, dunked, or submerged into water.”

- There are two verbs: “Bapto” (4 times) means: “to dip, dip into, to die.” “Baptizo” (many times) means: “to dip completely, drown, totally submerge.”

* In Acts, the noun “Baptismos” means: “A Christian being submerged in water.”

Linguistically: The terminology used always refers to a person being submerged or immersed into water.

- In fact, the term “baptism” became a technical term for immerse.

- So that it was transliterated from “bapto” to “baptism.”

- Even in English, “baptism” means “to submerge or immerse.”

* This is so obvious and air tight that even John Calvin, who’s at the heart of the Presbyterian church that sprinkles rather than immerses, said, “The word baptize means to immerse. It is certain that immersion was the practice in the early church.”

Another Interesting Note:

- The verbs: “bapto” and “baptizo” are never used in the passive sense.

- In other words, water is never said to have been baptized on someone.

- Always, in the Bible, someone is baptized into water. Never is water baptized on them.

* This rules out sprinkling, pouring, and dabbing it on your finger.

New Testament Examples Also Support This:

(1) Matthew 3:6. They were being baptized out in the river.

- The Jordan River was way out in the wilderness. Why would they go that far to sprinkle someone?

(2) Matthew 3:16. Jesus “went up from the water.”

(3) Mark 1:5. “They were being baptized by him (John) in the river Jordan”

(4) John 3:23. “John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized”

(5) Acts 8:36-39. “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?. . . and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.”

One Other Note: Only immersion fits the reality of which baptism is the picture.

* Baptism pictures the reality that has taken place in our hearts and lives. (Outward picture. An object lesson.)

God Has Always Used Object Lessons To Teach Spiritual Truths.

(1) Circumcision. Old Testament reminder that the Israelites were different from every other man.

(2) Joshua. “Memorial Stones” – reminder of God’s power, protection and provision.

(3) Feasts. All were object lessons to teach us about God’s love. (Passover – deliverance)

There are Two Object Lessons For Us Today…

(1) Communion – His identity with us.

(2) Baptism – Our identity with Him.

(2) Why Was Jesus Baptized?

- Matthew 3:13. Jesus comes to be baptized. He wasn’t a sinner. He had nothing to repent of.

- It was unthinkable to John the Baptist that Jesus would need to be baptized.

* So, John tried to stop Him.

- Matthew 3:15. Jesus answered: “to fulfill all righteousness.”

- Jesus fulfilled the righteousness of God by dying on the Cross.”

- So, when Jesus was baptized, He was looking forward to the Cross.

* Baptism already symbolized death and new life.

- Jesus was picturing what was going to take place. We are baptized picturing what did take place.

Luke 12:50. Why didn’t He say, “I have a death…”

Mark 10:38. Are you able to be “baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”

- At the Jordan, Jesus was demonstrating symbolically what would happen at the Cross.

- His baptism in the Jordan in Judea was but a shadow of what would take place later in Jerusalem.

* Only IMMERSION represents DEATH, BURIAL, and RESURRECTION.

* Jesus was fulfilling all righteousness by being baptized and setting the example for believers for centuries to come. (That’s why Jesus was baptized.)

(3) What Does Baptism Picture?

- Not just DEATH, BURIAL and RESURRECTION. But, also your identity with Jesus.

- Galatians 2:20; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; Romans 6:1-6.

1 Peter 3:21. Not the physical act. (1 Corinthians 12:13)

Titus 3:5. The Holy Spirit does this. Not water.

(4) What Is The Relationship Of Baptism To Salvation?

- They are inseparable. It’s an act of obedience. Unsaved people don’t obey God. Only saved people do.

* Salvation is not a process. It’s an instantaneous supernatural transaction totally apart from human effort. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

- On the Day of Pentecost, there were 3,000 who believed. So, 3,000 were immediately baptized.

* You didn’t get baptized unless you were dead serious.

* How can you tell if someone is truly saved? They are obedient in baptism.

- In the New Testament, baptism marked a break with Judaism.

- No Jew would go through that if they weren’t totally serious.

* There are a lot of people today who’ve been baptized but are not truly saved.

- But there cannot be a “saved” person who refuses to be baptized.

- Baptism and salvation are inseparable.

* Baptism is the demonstration that your sins have been forgiven and that the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in your heart and life. (Acts 2:38)

John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Luke 6:46, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”

- It starts with this simple command.

* One who refuses to be baptized is one who refuses to confess Christ publicly. Therefore, Christ will refuse to confess them. (Matthew 10:32-33)

- The “first” act of obedience is BAPTISM!

* You’ll never be able to enjoy anything in Christianity until you know the joy of obeying Christ in baptism.

(5) Since Baptism Is So Important, So Significant, So Beautiful, And So Simple, Why Is There So Much Confusion?

- Scripture isn’t confusing.

- The devil wants to mess up your pattern of obedience. So, he starts at the very beginning.

- If he can confuse you and get you not to obey God here, he can get you not to obey God throughout your entire life.

*What about the confusion over infant baptism?

- It isn’t commanded, illustrated, or even suggested. It isn’t there.

* The Bible teaches that only those who have believed in Christ are baptized.

- Those who are ready to make a conscious commitment of their lives to Christ.

If you haven’t been baptized…

- You can’t claim ignorance any more.

- Is it PRIDE, INDIFFERENCE, DEFIANCE, or is it possible you’re not saved?

* It’s not a matter of feeling right. It’s a matter of doing right.

What The Bible Says About Infant Baptism And Sprinkling

(Text: No verse in the Bible mentions them.)

By: Barry L. Cameron

* The practice of INFANT BAPTISM comes from an old doctrine that babies were guilty of sin inherited from Adam. Therefore, they were christened or “Christianized” and given a “Christian” name.

* The Bible teaches that we become a Christian by receiving Christ as our Lord and Savior, by faith, and then, we obey Him in immersion or baptism as He commands us. Doing this is beyond the grasp of an infant who is innocent of all sin and needs no christening to make him a Christian.

(1) INFANT BAPTISM (There Is No Scriptural Evidence)

- Attempts have been made to justify INFANT BAPTISM based on the “household” baptisms of the New Testament.

1. Acts 10 – Cornelius’ household

2. Acts 16 – Lydia’s household

3. 1 Corinthians 1:16 – The household of Stephanas

* Those who hold this theology insist that households would have included young children.

* There is also some insistence that the Jewish rite of “circumcision” on the 8th day for Jewish males was the Old Testament equivalent for INFANT BAPTISM.

Here are few problems to consider:

1. Jewish girls couldn’t be circumcised.

2. Circumcision didn’t make you a Jew, it identified you as a Jew.

- It was an outward symbol.

3. The Council In Acts 15.

- The debate was over “circumcision.” Some of the Jews were insisting that the Gentiles had to be circumcised before they could be saved (Acts 15:10-11).

- The decision of the Council was an emphatic, “No.”

* Now, if “circumcision” clearly had nothing to do with salvation in the New Testament church, how could it be used to support the doctrine of INFANT BAPTISM? (Just a thought.)

* There is no Biblical precedent for INFANT BAPTISM.

- In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus told His disciples to TEACH or MAKE DISCIPLES, then to BAPTIZE them. (Infants can’t be taught in this capacity.)

- In Mark 16:15-16, it says you must be a “believer” and be baptized. (Obviously, a baby can’t exercise this kind of faith.)

- In Acts 2:37-38, Peter was preaching and the people were convicted of their sin and wanted to know how to be saved. Peter told them to REPENT and to be BAPTIZED. (The concepts of conviction of sin and repentance are far beyond the capacity of the mind of an infant.)

- In Acts 8:36-37, the Ethiopian Eunuch was reading from Isaiah and asked Philip to explain to him what he was reading. So, Philip told him about Jesus. Philip told him in verse 37, “if you believe with all your heart, you may.” The official answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Obviously, an infant is unable to make that kind of confession.)

* In each of the “household” baptisms that are referred to in the New Testament, the following conditions were present when those involved were baptized: they were hearers, believers, they were repentant, rejoiced and they served.

So, Who Is A Proper Candidate For Baptism?

1. Those who have heard the Gospel (Romans 10:17)

2. Those who have faith in Christ (Romans 10:17a; Ephesians 2:8)

3. Those who believe in Christ. Who He is and What He’s done (Mark 16:16)

4. Those who recognize their sin and repent of it (Romans 3:23; 6:23; Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38)

5. Those who recognize their need for a Savior (Romans 3:10; 5:8-11)

6. Those who confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10)

7. Those who respond to the Lord’s command to be baptized (Matthew 28:19-20)

* Obviously, infants couldn’t do any of the above.

TWO IMPORTANT FACTS TO CONSIDER:

1. Infant baptism is really the decision of the parents, not the infant.

- Out of a desire to do what’s best for a child, some parents feel they should do this.

- But is it even necessary?

* The only way INFANT BAPTISM would be necessary were if God condemned infants to Hell who had not been baptized.

- God doesn’t do that. You won’t find a single verse in the Bible to support that concept.

2. Can INFANT BAPTISM save the infant?

- If it can’t impart salvation, then what’s the purpose?

- Infant baptism would make water the Savior, instead of Jesus, since the infant can’t believe in Jesus or confess Him as Lord, etc.

(2) SPRINKLING (Is It Acceptable For Bible Baptism?)

- Does it pass the following tests:

(a) The Scriptural Test.

* The New Testament was originally written in Greek. The Greek word for baptism is: BAPTIZO meaning “to dip, plunge, or immerse.”

* The Greek word for pouring is CHEO.

* The Greek word for sprinkling is RANTIZO.

* In the original Greek manuscripts, the words CHEO and RANTIZO are NEVER used in connection with BAPTISM.

(b) The Common Sense Test.

* In our study of the accounts of baptism in the New Testament, common sense would tell us that immersion was how people were baptized.

* For example: John 3:23, says “John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized.”

* Matthew 3:16 says, “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water…”

* Mark 1:9-10 says, “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water…”

* Acts 8:38 says, “…they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.”

(c) The Death, Burial & Resurrection Test.

* Paul always pictured baptism as a “burial” (Colossians 2:12; Romans 6:4-5)

* In Romans 6; it is clear that baptism symbolizes (or pictures) the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

* This symbol would be destroyed in sprinkling or pouring water on someone.

* Sprinkling as an accepted mode of baptism was begun by the Roman Catholic Church and was originated by them as a law of the Roman Catholic Church. This is an historic fact and can be read in the Edinburgh Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, page 236, under the article: Baptism.

ILLUSTRATION: Imagine someone dying at your house. And someone asks you, “Can we bury our friend in your back yard?” Suppose you agree and they take their friend out to your back yard and sprinkle a little dirt on him or pour a little dirt on him and leave. Not even the local health department would accept that as a proper burial. (Just a thought.)

(3) DO I HAVE TO BE BAPTIZED TO BE SAVED?

- Does this sound like the kind of question a person who is really saved would ask?

- It’s like this question: “Do I have to wear a wedding ring to be married?”

* The wedding ring is the outward symbol that you are married. If you’re ashamed of the symbol, it’s a pretty good indicator the rest is a sham.

* Jesus commanded baptism (Matthew 28:18-20). Now answer your own question. If Jesus commanded it, what is my response if I am truly saved?

* While we are not saved by baptism (if water could save, INFANT BAPTISM would be sufficient. It doesn’t and it isn’t.

Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 10:9-10, 13 1 Corinthians 1:14-17) if we are saved we’ll be baptized (Acts 2:37-38; Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:18-20; Matthew 3:13-17; Acts 8:36-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15, 31-34; 19:1-5; 22:16).

Bible

How Do We Know the Bible is True?

(Text: 2 Timothy 3:16-17)

By Barry L. Cameron

•  What do you do when people ask tough questions about your faith?

-  The Bible says we should be prepared to respond.

1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”

•  Every Christian ought to be able to give answers for their faith.

-  We ought to be able to clearly articulate not only WHAT we believe, but WHY we believe it.

(1)       HOW DO WE KNOW THE BIBLE IS TRUE?

            -  The short answer is check out anything it says, and you’ll quickly find out it’s true.

            -  If there is a God, and there is, then we need to check out His book.

2 Timothy 3:16-17. The Bible claims to be God’s book.

H.L. Hastings: “Infidels for eighteen hundred years have been refuting and overthrowing this book, and yet it stands today as solid as a rock. Its circulation increases, and it is more loved and cherished and read today than ever before. When the French monarch proposed the persecution of the Christians … an old statesman and warrior said to him, ‘Sire, the Church of God is an anvil that has worn out many hammers.’ So the hammers of infidels have been pecking away at this book for ages, but the hammers are worn out, and the anvil still endures. If this book had not been the book of God, men would have destroyed it long ago.”

Bob Moorehead (Counsel Yourself From The Bible): “This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy. Its precepts are binding. Its histories are true and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s character. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, ruffle the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory and a river of pleasure. It’s given you in life, will be open at judgment, and remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and condemns all who trifle with its holy contents. ”

(a)       If The Bible Was Written By Men, How Can It Be From God?

2 Peter 1:20-21, “Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

(b)           How Do We Know The Bible We Have Is The True Bible?

*  How do we know that the 66 books of the Bible are the only writings that should be included in Scripture? What about the Apocrypha or the Gnostic gospels? (14 books)

•  There were 5 TESTS used to determine the canon (measuring rod) of Scripture:

-  The O.T. canon was closed around 425 B.C. with the prophecy of Malachi.

-  The N.T. canon was closed in A.D. 350. (Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria)

THE FIVE TESTS:

1.         Was it written by a prophet of God? (Deut 18:18; Hebrews 1:1; 2 Peter 1:20-21)

            -  Only a prophet of God will speak the Word of God.

2.         Was he confirmed by an act of God? (Hebrews 2:3-4)

            -  Moses’ rod turned into a serpent. Jesus had the Resurrection. Apostles performed miracles.

3.         Does it tell the truth about God? (Gal 1:8; Deut 18:22)

            -  Absolute agreement with all previous revelation is essential.

4.         Does it have the power of God? (Hebrews 4:12)

            -  Does it exhibit the transforming power of God in the lives of those who read it?

-  “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword.”

5.         Was it accepted by the people of God? (1 Thessalonians 2:13; Deut 31:24-26)

            -  Paul thanked the Thessalonians for “receiving the apostle’s message as the Word of God.”

•  The same God, Who created the universe and everything in it, gave us the Bible and has sovereignly and supernaturally protected and preserved it down through the centuries for us.

How Do We Know The Bible Is True? (A.W. Tozer)

1.         Its Amazing Unity.

            -  It was written by 40 different authors, over 1500 years, in three languages, on three continents.

-  Beginning with Moses, who wrote the Pentateuch and ending with the Apostle John who wrote Revelation.

-  Two authors were kings. Two were priests. One was a doctor. Two were fishermen. Two were shepherds. Paul was a Pharisee and a theologian. Daniel a statesman. Matthew a tax collector. Joshua was a soldier. Ezra a scribe and Nehemiah a butler.

•  There is an extraordinary, supernatural unity to the Bible that would be absolutely impossible by any other means if it weren’t for God. And all without errors.

2.         Its Absolute Indestructibility.

Voltaire, the French philosopher and atheist, proclaimed that within twenty-five years the Bible would be forgotten and Christianity would be a thing of the past. But 40 years after Voltaire’s death, the French Bible Society purchased his house and printed Bibles in what had once been Voltaire’s own home. The famous atheist had blatantly predicted the Bible’s demise. But Voltaire died and the Bible lives to this day.

3.         Its Historical Accuracy.

John MacArthur, (How To Get The Most From God’s Word) “Critics doubted the Bible’s description of King Solomon’s wealth. An archaeologist named Henry Breasted, between 1925 and 1934, unearthed the remains of one of Solomon’s ‘chariot cities’ at Megiddo in northern Palestine. He found stables capable of holding more than 400 horses and the remains of barracks for Solomon’s chariot battalions, which were stationed to guard a strategic trail that ran through Megiddo. Nelson Glueck, another archaeologist, found the remains of a huge refining factory for copper and iron, two metals Solomon used when bartering for gold, silver and ivory.” (See 1 Kings 9:28; 10:22.)

•  “Critics of Scripture also doubted the existence of the Hittites, a people the Bible refers to some forty times. Archaeologist Hugh Winckler excavated the Hittite capital of Boghaz-Koi and recovered thousands of Hittite texts, as well as the famous Hittite code.”

4.         Its Scientific Accuracy.

            -  It’s only been in the last few years that people have begun to talk about the earth’s ozone. But, did you know that approximately 1,000 years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah wrote (Isaiah 40:22) that God “stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in.” This canopy protects man from harmful radiation from the sun.

-  This relatively recent discovery merely verifies the truthfulness of the Bible

 

The Hydrological Cycle is a relatively recent discovery, although Isaiah spoke of it almost 3,000 years ago in Isaiah 55:10.

Job wrote about the “balancing of the clouds” a fact now verified by meteorologists and scientists.  Gravity pushes them down, warm air pushes them up. The annual precipitation, in the form of rain and snow, that falls upon the earth is the equivalent of 186,000 cubic miles—enough to cover the entire earth to a depth of three feet. And the amount of vapor continually suspended in the air above us is estimated at 54 trillion, 460 million tons.

The supply of water above the earth is maintained by evaporation—the constant lifting of water from the earth back up into the atmosphere by the sun. All of this is kept in perfect balance by God and was written down in the Word of God almost 4,000 years ago.

5.         Its Prophetic Accuracy.

            -  There are over 300 prophecies made about the first coming of Jesus Christ, all of which were fulfilled with 100% accuracy.

-  That He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). Written 700 years prior.

-  That He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Written 750 years prior.

-  That He would die by crucifixion (Psalm 22:16). Written 400 years prior.

• Crucifixion wasn’t even invented until several hundred years later by the Romans.

-  That He would be resurrected (Psalm 16:10). Written 400 years prior.

•  Over 300 prophecies and they all came true.

-  The greatest proof of the validity, accuracy and truthfulness of the Bible is the fact of the empty tomb.

-  Jesus, Himself, predicted His own betrayal, crucifixion and resurrection. (Mark 10:33-34)

            -  And it all came true, exactly as He said it would.

6.         Its Universal Influence Upon Civilization.

Tony Evans: (Kingdom Agenda) “When the president puts his hand on the Bible at the inauguration and swears to fulfill his duties, that act reflects the fact that there is a recognized relationship between God and government. When a witness takes the stand in a courtroom, places one hand on the Bible and lifts up the other, and answers yes to the question, ‘Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?’ that witness is acknowledging that there’s a higher authority at work in that courtroom.

The same thing happens when a couple gets married. They stand before a preacher or a justice of the peace and state their total allegiance to each other under God. They take an oath. They make a covenant with God.

In each of these cases, the parties involved are reflecting the fact that there is a higher authority under which the agreement is made and to whom they are responsible for keeping it … There is a recognition that ultimate authority is based on a recorded document given by God.”

And that document is the Bible.

Abraham Lincoln (1864) Was presented with a Bible and responded with these words: “In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.”

7.         Its Divine Care And Copy.

Hank Hannegraaff, (Resurrection) “To begin with, it should be noted that the New Testament has stronger manuscript support than any other work of classical literature—including Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Caesar, and Tacitus. There are presently more than 5,000 copies of Greek manuscripts in existence and as many as 20,000 more translations in such languages as Latin, Coptic and Syriac. One early manuscript fragment can be dated as far back as A.D. 120.  Incredibly, there is now reason to believe that the earliest manuscript fragments may be dated all the way back to the middle of the first century. This is amazing when you consider that only seven of Plato’s manuscripts are in existence today—and there is a 1300 year gap that separates the earliest of these writings from the original writing.

8.         Its Unparalleled Circulation.

            -  It is the bestselling book year after year, worldwide.

-  Someone has said “it’s not only man’s bestseller, it’s also man’s best purchase.”

9.         Its Absolute Honesty.

            -  The Bible is true because it tells the truth. (Abraham lying, Jacob cheating his brother out of his birthright, Noah getting drunk, David committing adultery and having Uriah murdered, Jonah running from God, the tempers of James and John, Martha arguing with Mary about helping in the kitchen, Peter cursing, Thomas doubting …)

-  Man would clean it up to make himself look good.

-  The Bible tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

10.       Its Life Transforming Power.

            -  One of the greatest proofs the Bible is true and that it’s truly God’s Word are the millions of people whose lives have been changed by it.

Chuck Colson: “What radicalized me was not prison, but taking to heart the truths revealed in Scripture. For it was the Bible that confronted me with a new awareness of my sin and need for repentance; it was the Bible that called me into fellowship with the suffering. It is the Bible that continues to challenge my life today. It is irresistibly convicting. It is the power of God’s Word, and it is, by itself, life changing.”

•  Men don’t reject the Bible because it contradicts itself, but because it contradicts them.

Poem:

For feelings come and feelings go, And feelings are deceiving;

My warrant is the Word of God, Nought else is worth believing.

Though all my heart should feel condemned, For want of some sweet token,

There is One greater than my heart, Whose Word cannot be broken.

I’ll trust in God’s unchanging Word, ‘Til soul and body sever;

For though all things shall pass away, His Word shall stand forever.

The Canon of Scripture

What The Bible Says About The Canon Of Scripture

(Text: 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
By: Barry L. Cameron

* How did we come to accept the Old and New Testaments as the Holy Scriptures. * Why aren’t the apocryphal books accepted as a part of what we know as the Bible?

From the beginning…
* There were 40 different authors of Scripture who produced the Bible over a period of 1500 years. Without any real opportunity for collaboration they were able to produce a masterpiece of literature that is absolutely unmatched because of its infallibility and perfection. Some of the writers had some formal education—most were farmers, herdsmen, fishermen, etc.

* These authors never made disclaimers or apologies but rather boldly proclaimed that they were writing the WORD of GOD.

* In the Old Testament alone there are over 2600 such claims: (682) in the Pentateuch, (1,307) in the Prophetic Books, (418) in the historical books, and (195) in the Poetic Books.

What About The New Testament Writers? Did They Think They Were Writing The Word Of God?
* There are 320 direct quotes from the Old Testament in the New Testament.
* New Testament writers refer to the Old Testament over 1,000 times. There was no question that the New Testament writers believed that the Old Testament was the Word of God.
- Romans 15:4; Hebrews 1:1-2

* New Testament writers also claimed and believed that other New Testament writers were inspired.
- 1 Timothy 5:18; 2 Peter 3:14-16; Galatians 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:13)

* From the beginning to the end of the Bible, its writers are fully convinced that they are speaking and writing the true words of God.

What About The “CANON”?
* The term: CANON comes from the Greek word KANON meaning “a rod, or bar, a measuring rule, standard or limit.”
* Eventually, the term CANON was used to refer to the completed list of books given to man by God.

* Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, referred to the completed New Testament in A.D. 350 as the CANON.

How Was The CANON Chosen?
* Two basic tests were used for the Old Testament Canon:
1. Was it inspired by God, written by a prophet or someone with the gift of prophecy?
2. Was it accepted, preserved and read by God’s people, the Israelites?

* The Old Testament CANON was closed around 425 B.C. with the prophecy of Malachi. There was no question which books were inspired by God. 1. The writers claimed to be inspired.
2. The people of God, who checked their writings, found no errors.
3. Their writings harmonized perfectly with history, geography, science, theology, and everything else that would have a bearing on their divine inspiration.

* Jewish tradition/final compilers of the Old Testament CANON were from the GREAT SYNAGOGUE (a school of Scribes founded by Ezra).

- It was here that attempts were made to add books (14 to be exact).

* This collection is called the APOCRYPHA and includes: 1 & 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, The Rest of Esther, The Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch (with the Epistle of Jeremiah), the Song of the Three Holy Children, The History of Susanna, Bell and the Dragon, The Prayer of Manasses, and 1 & 2 Maccabees.

* The APOCRYPHAL books were not allowed into the Old Testament by the Jews because:
1. They were written long after the CANON was completed about 400 B.C., and lacked the prophetic quality to stamp them as inspired Scripture.
2. None of the APOCRYPHAL writers claimed divine inspiration, and some openly disclaimed it.
3. APOCRYPHAL books contain numerous errors of fact and teach questionable ethics and doctrines. (i.e. they justify suicide and assassination, also teach praying for the dead, etc.)

*** Interesting Side Note: The Roman Catholic Church accepted the APOCRYPHAL books and were included as part of the Roman Catholic Version of the Bible.

How Were The New Testament Books Chosen?
* Similar tests were used that were used for the Old Testament books.
1. Was the book authored by an apostle or someone closely associated with an apostle?
2. Content. (Did it square with apostolic doctrine?)
3. Was the book read and used in the churches?
4. Was the book recognized and used by the next generation after the first church, especially by the apostolic fathers?

* No one man or group of men made the CANON. God determined the CANON and man discovered it through long and steady usage. - APOCRYPHAL books showed up to challenge New Testament authenticity.
- Among those books were: The Epistle of Barnabas, The Apocalypse of Peter, The Gospel of Nicodemus, and The Shepherd of Hermas.
- There were also: gospels of Andrew, Bartholomew, Thomas and Phillip.

Why Were They Not Included?
* All of them failed to make the final New Testament CANON because they failed one or more of the key tests of authenticity.

* By the end of the 4th century, the collection was complete—the CANON was closed.

* The CANON of Scripture includes all 66 books that have been determined to be the infallible rule of faith and practice for the church for all time. - Revelation 22:18
- Hebrews 4:12
- 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Capital Punishment

What The Bible Says About Capital Punishment

(Text: Genesis 9:6)
By: Barry L. Cameron

* In an average week in America, close to 500 Americans are murdered. Most are fatalities in family quarrels and neighborhood arguments, drug wars and gang rivalries. But one-third are slain by total strangers who have murdered, often, without reason.

Time, March 23, 1981:
“The curse of violent crime is rampant not just in the ghettos of depressed cities, where it always has been a malignant force to contend with, but everywhere in urban areas, in suburbs, and peaceful countrysides. More significant, the crimes are becoming more brutal, more irrational, more random–and therefore, all the more frightening.”

* That was 22 years ago! It’s worse now.

- B.K. Johnson, who was police chief in Houston said, “We have allowed ourselves to degenerate to the point where we are living like animals.” – Approximately every 20 minutes, a murder is committed somewhere in the U.S.
- Every 10 seconds a house is robbed.
- Every 7 minutes a woman is raped.

* Crime is more rampant and widespread than it’s ever been.
- In my opinion, the crimes we’re seeing today have become more horrific and gruesome as if the criminals have absolutely no morals, no values, no shame and definitely, no conscience.

WHAT BROUGHT ALL THIS ABOUT?

An Interesting Correlation…
- In 1962, the Supreme Court ruled prayer out of the public schools.
- In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled Bible reading out of the public schools.
- That was the beginning of the sexual revolution, rebellion against all institutions and authority figures, and the start of the drug culture.
- In 1972, in a case called Furman vs. Georgia, the death penalty, a staple of the American judicial system since colonial days, was struck down by a 5-4 vote of the Supreme Court.
* That same year, the crime rate in America exploded exponentially.
- One year later, in 1973, in the infamous Roe vs. Wade case, the same Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, legalized abortion in the United States.
* That same year, the sexual revolution soared to all time highs.
- In 1980, the Supreme Court ruled the Ten Commandments out of the public schools in America.
(In a rare instance for the Court, no one signed the majority opinion on this decision.)

Capsule Summary: (Span of 18 years)
1. Get people to quit talking to God
2. Get people to stop reading God’s Word
3. Remove the death penalty and disregard the sanctity of human life.
4. Because human life is no longer sacred, you can kill babies.
5. We don’t need any controlling legal or moral authority any more.

(1) THE PROVIDENCE OF THE DEATH PENALTY.
- The death penalty was God’s idea, not mans.
- It originated with God, in the days of Noah, after the flood.
- Genesis 9:6, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.”

(2) THE PRESERVATION OF THE DEATH PENALTY.
- There is an unmistakable preserving quality to the death penalty.
- The death penalty was providentially instituted to preserve the sanctity of human life.
- Capital punishment places a high value of human life.
- It says, in essence, “If you take a life, that life is so important, your life will be forfeited.”
- Gen 9:6b, “for God made man in his own image.”
* It’s interesting that barely one year after the Supreme Court struck down the death penalty, they legalized abortion in America.
- If human life is no longer sacred and protected, we can kill little babies and save ourselves the inconvenience or embarrassment brought about by our own immoral actions.

(3) THE PROPAGANDA AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY.
- In 1972, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down every state death penalty statute in the nation, it was declared to be “cruel and unusual punishment” and a violation of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.
- But, because of the skyrocketing crime rates in America, in 1976, the Supreme Court reversed its decision, declaring that the death penalty was acceptable as long as the Court approved of the individual state’s guidelines.
* Death penalty opponents can make a fairly convincing case when all you’re looking at is the life of the person on death row. – Without question, the taking of any life ought to be avoided at any cost.
* However, when the full context of the crime is taken into consideration…and you look at the victims of the crime, who were, in many cases cruelly and unusually killed, you get an entirely different picture.

(4) THE PRINCIPLES BEHIND THE DEATH PENALTY.
(a) God instituted the death penalty to ensure the protection of human life (Gen 9:6)
(b) God forbids murder. (Exodus 20:13, “You Shall Not Murder.”)
(c) God does not forbid killing. (He forbids murder.)
1. It’s alright to kill animals. (Gen 9:3)
2. It’s alright to kill in self-defense. (Exodus 22:2)
3. It’s alright to kill in war. (Psalm 144:1)
4. It’s alright to kill in the maintaining of law and order as a governing authority in the land. (Romans 13:1-5)

Numbers 35:33, “You shall not pollute the land in which you live, for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it.” (d) God built the law of the harvest into His universe. *Gal 6:7, “You reap what you sow…”

(5) THE PRACTICE OF THE DEATH PENALTY.
- Justice must be swift.
- Ecclesiastes 8:11, “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil.”

USA TODAY (Dec. 20, 1999) “In the 1976 Gregg vs. Georgia case, it was decided that death penalty trials were to be divided into two parts. In the first phase, a jury determines whether the defendant is guilty of a death-eligible crime. In the second, the jury decides whether the defendant is to be sentenced to death.

Glenn Dunnehew, “In the United States, a convicted murderer goes through a long, laborious process before he ever reaches the electric chair (or lethal injection). Three appeals are made, and the case is reviewed by several judges. This allows for the conviction to be thoroughly examined before anyone is proven guilty. Today, the number of appeals can be up to 20. By this time there is never any doubt as to the guilt of the criminal.”

USA TODAY (Dec. 20, 1999) “The states are slow to carry out executions. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics found that the 98 prisoners executed in 1998 spent an average of 10 years and 10 months on death row from conviction to execution.” “Some states are more prolific than others. Of the 598 prisoners executed from January 1977 through last week, 272, or 45%, were from Texas or Virginia, according to the Death Penalty Information Center of Washington, D.C.”

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Justice postponed is justice defeated.”

* The wheels of justice have not always moved as slow as they do today.

(a) President William McKinley was assassinated on September 6, 1901 by Leon Czolgosz.
Czolgosz was tried, sentenced and executed by October 29, 1901. (53 days later.)
(b) John Flanning Schrank attempted to assassinate President Theodore Roosevelt in Milwaukee in 1912. The attempt failed and the insane Schrank was committed to life in prison in 5 days.
(c) President Franklin D. Roosevelt, shot at in Miami on February 15, 1933, by Joseph Zangara.
One of the bullets killed Chicago mayor Anton J. Cermak. Zangara was tried, sentenced and executed within 33 days.

* The problem with our justice system is not the death penalty, but rather with the failure of the system to carry out any penalty within any reasonable period of time.
- Criminals know they can get out on bail, awaiting trial.
- And many commit second and third crimes while waiting for a hearing on their first crime.

* If the death penalty were carried out effectively and swiftly, it would get the attention of every person on the planet who even thought about committing a crime.

ILL. Several years ago, Judge Marcus Kavanaugh of the Superior Court of Cook County, Illinois, in an address before the Detroit College of Law said, “Detroit with 1,600,000 residents has had 485 homicides in the last 2 years, while Windsor, Canada, only 20 minutes from here, with 75,000 residents has had no homicides. Do you need any further arguments for Capital Punishment? Within recent weeks, 2 men have been hung in Canada for the crime of murder; and today, men are reluctant to cross the border into Canadian territory to carry out their nefarious purposes.”

* Sometimes people will say that capital punishment is no deterrent. – I beg to differ. In 100% of the cases where the criminal was punished by the death penalty, that particular person’s criminal career came to an abrupt conclusion.(6) THE PURPOSE OF THE DEATH PENALTY.
- The purpose of the death penalty is the Supreme justice of a Holy God.
- It’s always troubled me how some Christians can argue against the death penalty and somehow think their reasoning is rational and spiritual, yet their very reasoning and rationalizations go against the holiness and justice of God.
- The very existence of Hell is the greatest demonstration of capital punishment.
- It stands as a testimony to the holiness and justice of God Who cannot tolerate sin and Who will unequivocally, swiftly and eternally punish all wickedness.

Hank Hannegraaf (“Resurrection”)
“Common sense dictates that there must be a hell. Without hell, the wrongs of Hitler’s holocaust will never be righted. Justice would be impugned if, after slaughtering six million Jews, Hitler merely died in the arms of his mistress with no eternal consequences. The ancients knew better than to think such a thing. Common sense told Abraham that the Judge of all the earth would do right (see Genesis 18:25). Likewise, David knew that for a time it may seem as though the wicked prosper in spite of their deeds, but in the end justice will be served (see Psalm 73). Geisler underscores the fact that hell is necessary for God’s justice to be maintained. ‘Surely there would be no real justice were there no place of punishment for the demented souls of Stalin and Hitler, who initiated the merciless slaughter of multimillions. God’s justice demands that there is a hell.’ As Jonathan Edwards, arguably the greatest theological mind ever produced in America, explains, it flies in the face of common sense to suppose that hell does not exist.”

Tony Evans (“Kingdom Agenda”)
“As long as the best idea we can come up with for dealing with crime is to warehouse criminals in prison, we won’t get anywhere. Why? Because we will never be able to tax the public enough to build enough warehouses. And even when we build them, they are ineffective in solving the problem because the people in them simply learn how to be better criminals.” “But, if a murderer knew ahead of time he would automatically and quickly forfeit his life, if a rapist knew he would face castration, if a thief knew he would have to repay his victim four or five-fold the amount he stole, things would be different.”

Tony Evans (“The Promise”)
“God established the death penalty back in Genesis 9:5-6. It has nothing to do with our opinions about it–whether we find it distasteful or arrogant to assume that society has the right to take a person’s life. All of that is an irrelevant discussion. The Bible says that anyone who deliberately and with premeditation takes a life, his life shall be taken. It’s a bottom-line issue.”

Tony Evans continues…
“In fact, not only is capital punishment biblical, but public capital punishment is biblical so that those watching will say, ‘I don’t want that to happen to me.’ (Number 16:30-34. Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Joshua 7:24-26. Achan and his family.)

Romans 12:9, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”

Proverbs 21:11, “When a scoffer is punished, the simple becomes wise . . .”

Proverbs 19:19, “A man of great wrath will pay the penalty, for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again.”

ILL. Consider the case of child killer Jimmy Lee Gray. Gray was sentenced to death for the 1976 sex slaying of three-year-old Deressa Jean Scales. At the time Gray murdered the girl, he was on parole after serving seven years of a 20-year sentence for the murder of his 16-year old girlfriend. Gray was finally put to death after seven years and 82 judicial reviews by 26 state and federal judges.

What Does The Bible Say About Capital Punishment? It says to do it.
- Do it Biblically, do it properly, do it fairly and do it justly.
- But do it.

The Catholic Church

What The Bible Says About The Catholic Church

(Text: 1 John 4:1-3)
By: Barry L. Cameron

• We have a biblical mandate, as Christians, to check things out. (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22; 1 Peter 3:15) – And we have a standard, in the Word of God, which we are to use, to measure everything.

• My purpose tonight, in this message, is to examine the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church, in the light of the Word of God.

Why?
- Ironically, I’m speaking on this subject tonight because of the encouragement of the Catholic Church.
- They claim that both Protestants and Catholics are all part of the same body of Christ.
- That we have the same God, the same Bible, the same doctrines and that we should stop trying to evangelize one another.

In the Spring of 1994, a number of well known and well-respected evangelical and Catholic leaders signed a document called: “Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission In the Third Millennium.” – Signed by men such as Bill Bright, Pat Robertson and Chuck Colson, this document suggested that the time had come for Evangelicals and Catholics to unite together and to agree to stop trying to evangelize one another.

• However, a number of high-profile leaders in evangelical Christianity took exception to this document.
- Among them: Dr. John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Dr. D. James Kennedy, and John Ankerberg.
- They contend that the ECT document minimizes the truth of justification by faith, gives the false impression that any doctrinal differences between Catholics and Protestants are insignificant and mocks the Reformation as both irrelevant and unnecessary.

October 31, 1999, (Halloween) The Associated Press reported that the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church were going to sign a pact that would end their 500-year salvation debate. “Ending an almost 500-year debate that started when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to a church door, the Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches plan to sign a joint declaration today putting aside their differences over the path to salvation.”

• Catholics are signing agreements but they’re still preaching the same gospel they’ve always preached.
- So, in order to see if we’re on the same page theologically, we need to examine their teachings and traditions in light of the Word of God.

• My concern is not the people of the Catholic Church, but rather the theology of the Catholic Church.
- I have a deep love for Catholics. (I have a number of relatives who have been Catholics.)
• We have a large number of former Catholics in our ministry here.
• I have had the privilege of leading several hundred Catholics to a personal relationship with Christ.

• So tonight, if you’re a Catholic or if you’ve had a Catholic background, or if you’ve never been a Catholic, my challenge is for you to join me as we carefully and lovingly examine the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church and see if, indeed, we are brothers and sisters in Christ, believing and teaching the same Bible, following the same Jesus, and preaching the same gospel.

• According to Mike Gendron: there are over 60 million Catholics in America and 1 billion Catholics in the world.
- There have been many positive contributions from the Catholic Church:
- The Catholic Church has had a major influence in the arts.
• Michaelangelo and Raphael are among several notable artists from the Catholic Church.
• The artwork in the great cathedrals in Europe is unmatched anywhere in the world.
- The strong stand of the Catholic Church against abortion and the sanctity of human life.
- The hundreds of hospitals, nursing homes and orphanages throughout the world.

• People see and hear all these positive things and say, “What can you possibly find to disagree with?”

• That’s why we need to take the Bible and lay the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church alongside it and see if it measures up.

Galatians 1:6-9

Mike Gendron (Founder of “Proclaiming The Gospel,” A devout Roman Catholic for 37 years and an ardent defender of the “one true church”)
“Although some Roman Catholics have had a genuine born-again experience, there are also many who have never heard God’s plan of salvation. Hundreds of years of Roman Catholic traditions have veiled the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. As a result, many Catholics put their trust in a complex sacramental system rather than in the person and work of Christ. There is no ‘good news’ in the Catholic Church. Instead, Catholics are burdened with more requirements for salvation than the Jews were before Christ’s atonement. Salvation in the Catholic Church is a process from baptism through purgatory and is attained by faith plus good works. Many evangelicals are unaware that Catholic dogmas deny the essentials of the Gospel–that Christ is our only mediator, His atonement is sufficient, His redemptive work is finished, and His righteousness is necessary for eternal life. As a result, the Roman Catholic Church is the largest and most neglected mission field in the world.”

Ron Carlson:
“What disturbs us is what Catholics have added to Scripture over the years, so that many Catholics can no longer see the teaching of God’s Word in their faith. What they see instead are the ritual and tradition that have been piled on top of God’s Word over hundreds of years by the Catholic Church. “Many of these rituals and traditions have kept Catholics from knowing the simplicity of God’s true Word. The Catholic Church has added doctrines, traditions, and ideas of men which are not found in Holy Scripture and which are in fact contrary to Scripture. “Some of these Catholic traditions which Bible-believing Christians reject include such teachings as:
1. The church was built on Peter, who is called first Pope.
2. The doctrine of purgatory after death to purge a person of sin.
3. Prayers to Mary and dead saints to mediate on our behalf.
4. Images to kneel and pray before. 5. Confession to a priest for absolution of sins.
6. The Mass and sacraments as necessary for salvation.
7. Salvation comes only through the Roman Catholic Church.
8. The Eucharist of the Mass and transubstantiation, the teaching that the bread and wine literally becomes the blood and body of Christ when taken at Communion.
9. Penance and the selling of indulgences.
10. Veneration and worship of Mary, which has greatly increased in recent years.
11. Holy Water.
12. Canonization of dead saints.
13. Celibacy of the priesthood.
14. The Rosary
(Fast Facts by Ron Carlson, Pages 213-214)

• I would also add:
15. Infant baptism
16. Altering the Ten Commandments
17. Attempting to add the Apocrypha to Bible

Mark 7:1-9, 13
- This is exactly what has happened with the Catholic Church. Their traditions have become as important, if not more important than the Word of God.

(Mark 7:13) “. . . thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down.”

• In theory, Catholics will tell you they follow the Scriptures as their source of authority. However, in daily practice, the Church doesn’t encourage its members to follow the Bible. Rather, they tell them to follow the traditions and teachings of the church.

• So, in the spirit of the Bereans (Acts 17:11) let’s examine some of these teachings.

(1) Altering the Ten Commandments. (They are very creative with the Ten Commandments) – One of the unique characteristics of the Catholic Church is the veneration of saints and the use of sacred objects such as statues and sculpted images.

Doreen D’Antonio (former sister of Christian Charity)
“In the convent, we had a whole list of saints that we used for various situations.
- If we lost something, we would pray to St. Anthony.
- If we had a hopeless case in our family, maybe a relative that was a drunk or something, we would pray to St. Jude. That being a hopeless case.
- We would pray to St. Gerard if there was a pregnant woman in our family that needed assistance. St. Blaise if we had a sore throat. – We would pray to St. Christopher, that they don’t use any more, for traveling. Of course, we remember that one.
- And in elevators. In the convent, we had an elevator for the older nuns, and in that elevator was this humongous medal of St. Christopher.
- It was amazing. We would have little statues of Mary and Joseph. St. Joseph for foster fathers.
- We would have this little statue right on the window sill, hoping and praying that statue would prevent it from raining on a particular day.”

• All this, in spite of the fact that in Exodus 20:4-5, we are forbidden from having any “idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.” (NIV/1984)

• Though part of the Ten Commandments in the Catholic Bible, the Catholic Church regularly omits this command from catechisms. Yet it still comes up with ten.

Victor Affonso (former Jesuit priest for 21 years)
“And how come they still got ten? They took the last one which is ‘Thou shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; you shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house, or land, manservant, maidservant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.’ They divided this into two. They made nine: ‘Man shall not covet his neighbor’s wife,’ and ten: ‘Thou shall not covet thy neighbors goods.’ So they have the Ten Commandments. Now this is crookery. This is trickery. You’ve changed the commandments. But why did you drop the second commandment? Because there is a lot of business in making statues.”

(Booklet) Catholicism: Crisis of Faith
“The command of Exodus 20:4-5 is not listed as one of the Ten Commandments by the Catholic Church. Instead the Church considers it part of the first commandment, Exodus 20:2-3. Yet explanations of the first commandment in Catholic catechisms either completely ignore the prohibitions of Exodus 20:4-5, or brush them aside as not applicable to Catholic practices.”

Read from Catholic Bibles.

(2) Purgatory. (There is no reference to this in Scripture)
(Fast Facts On False Teaching, Ron Carlson) “The Catholic Church teaches that this is a place of temporary punishment for those who have committed venial sins. When those sins are removed by masses said for them, prayers said for them, and penance done in all forms of work, the person is then released from purgatory and permitted to go to Heaven. “What is interesting about purgatory as taught by the Roman Catholic Church is that neither the word nor even the concept of purgatory is found anywhere in Scripture. “The teaching of purgatory became the best business investment the Catholic Church ever made, for the great influx of money it produced helped build the great Cathedral of Saint Peter in Rome. Purgatory produced the system of indulgences–actions one could perform in order to work off the length of someone else’s stay in purgatory. It is a type of time off for good behavior by a person’s living relatives, and it continues to this very day.” “If you want to help a dead relative in purgatory try to make it to heaven, you need to have Masses said for that person. How do you have Masses said? You pay the Church. For example, if you want a certain number of Masses said and a few years off purgatory, you pay some figure like 500 dollars. If you want bigger Masses and more years taken off purgatory, you give a much larger amount, like 5,000 dollars.”

John 11:25-26; 2 Corinthians 5:8

• One of the major problems with the false doctrine of purgatory is the idea that you could somehow pay for your own sins (through enough suffering) or your living relatives could pay for your sins with literal offerings being given and Masses being said on your behalf. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

(3) Another Gospel. Galatians 1:8
(Dennis Pollock, Lamb & Lion Ministries)
“The ultimate factor in deciding the legitimacy of the Catholic Church is its presentation of the gospel, its answer to the age-old question of ‘What must I do to be saved?’ The Catholic apologists argue strongly that the Catholics, like the Protestants, believe in salvation by grace through faith. Keith Fournier declares, ‘As the Catholic Church teaches, we are converted to Christ by our faith, not because of our good works; and we do good works only because we have the divine grace to do so.’ This sounds very evangelical; Billy Graham could not have said it better.

“The trouble is that in order for us to find out the position of the Catholic Church we must look beyond the apologists. These are often born again believers themselves, who have indeed found Christ through personal faith, and are eager to have the world believe that Catholics and Evangelicals are but two flavors of the same church. “To anyone who bothers to do much reading on the Catholic position on salvation, the truth becomes readily apparent–the official position of the church is that salvation comes through grace, but the grace is distributed a little at a time through the official sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. The Council of Trent proclaimed, ‘If anyone says that the sacraments…are not necessary for salvation but…that without them…men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification…let him be anathema.’

“The Vatican II Apostolic Constitution declares: ‘Following in Christ’s steps, those who believe in Him have always…carried their crosses to make expiation for their own sins and the sins of others…’

“Anyone who is familiar with the writings of Paul will immediately realize what incredible blasphemies these quotes are! They mock the cross of Christ and show utter disregard for the very heart of New Testament theology.”

Mike Gendron (Roman Catholicism, Scripture vs. Tradition)
“The Roman Catholic Church preaches a different gospel by demanding additional requirements for salvation including: the sacraments, meritorious masses, church membership, purgatory, indulgences and baptism.”

Romans 6:23; Romans 10:9-10

(4) The Sacrifice of the Mass.
Dave Hunt: “We have come to the very heart of Roman Catholicism, that unique element which separates it from all other religions and especially from evangelical Christianity: the sacrifice of the Mass. In it, ‘the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated. It is the source and the summit of the whole of the Church’s worship and of the Christian life.’ Declared present on the altar through the miracle of transubstantiation (which only the Catholic priest can perform) is the ‘true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, who is really and substantially present under the appearance of bread and wine in order to offer himself in the sacrifice of the Mass and to be received as spiritual food in Holy Communion.

“Christ said from the cross just as He died, ‘It is finished,’ (John 19:30). But to the Catholic it isn’t finished. Christ’s sacrifice continues to this day, being endlessly repeated on Catholic altars: ‘Each time Mass is offered, the Sacrifice of Christ is repeated. A new sacrifice is not offered, but by divine power, one and the same sacrifice is repeated…In the Mass Christ continues to offer Himself to the Father as He did on the Cross’ but in an ‘unbloody manner under the appearance of bread and wine.’

“The contrast between Catholicism and what the Bible teaches could not be greater than with regard to the alleged ‘sacrifice’ of the Mass. That difference is exposed with stark clarity in the distinction which the Bible emphasizes between the one sacrifice Christ made of Himself and the continual Old Testament sacrifices which had to be repeated daily. The repetition of those offerings is given as proof that they could not pay the penalty for sin; and the fact that Christ was offered only once is given as proof that His sacrifice was sufficient and never needed to be repeated. That the Mass must be repeated proves its ineffectiveness. If once is not enough, then neither would a billion repetitions; nor can Rome say how many masses it takes to get anyone out of purgatory.” (Source: A Woman Rides The Beast)

Hebrews 9:25-26; 10:11-12

Dave Hunt:
Scripture could not be clearer. Christ’s sacrifice took place once for all time upon the cross and is never to be repeated because it paid the full penalty for sin. That the Mass is Christ being sacrificed over and over on Catholic altars is the heart of Catholicism; and the repetition of the Mass is the Catholic’s main hope of eventual release from purgatory. That doctrine directly contradicts the Bible. 2 Corinthians 5:8, “Absent from the body…” (Source: A Woman Rides The Beast)

• The Lord Jesus, Himself, said that the observance of communion would be a memorial to remember what He did, not that He was going to do it again and again and again. (See 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

(5) The Exaltation of Mary. (There is no reference to this in Scripture)
- Read “The Tradition of Mary” from Fast Facts On False Teachings (Carlson/Decker)

(6) Infant Baptism. (There is no reference to this in Scripture)

Dave Hunt:
“Catholicism’s doctrine of infant baptism destroyed the truth that one becomes a Christian not by any work or ritual but by responding to the offer of God’s grace through personal faith in Christ. Since baptism automatically saved, Pope Leo III decreed forcible baptism of Jews. At times, Jews were given the option of professing to believe in Christ, or death–or in some cases merely imprisonment or expulsion from the region.

“Baptizing an infidel assured one’s passage to Heaven. Jewish children were sprinkled forcibly with water and declared to be ‘Christians’ by those who imagined they had thereby guaranteed themselves a heavenly abode. Benedict XIV (1740-58) supported this terror by ruling that a child, though baptized against its own and its parent’s will, was nevertheless a Roman Catholic. If these unwilling ‘converts’ thereafter denied their new ‘faith’ they were then heretics, with the dire consequences attached to that label.”

• The Bible clearly teaches believer’s baptism. In other words, someone has to be a believer before they can confess Christ and be saved. (See Romans 10:9-10)
- Infants can’t even quote John 3:16, much less understand its implications.

• Because Catholics teach the doctrine of original sin, that babies come into this world already guilty of sin and headed for Hell, they erroneously and quite deceptively convince parents to have their babies baptized (or christened) so they can be sure they can go to Heaven should something happen to them.

What Does The Bible Say?
- Matthew 18:1-6; (especially verse 10), 19:13-14

What Does Bible Baptism look like? (Bible Baptism has to picture 3 realities)
- Romans 6:3-4
- Matthew 3:13-17 (Jesus walked 15-20 miles to be baptized out in the wilderness in the Jordan.)

(7) The Priesthood.
- When Jesus died on the cross, the veil in the Temple (that had previously separated man from God) was torn from top to bottom. (Matthew 27:51)
- God was abolishing the priesthood along with the system of sacrifices, which He had instituted to bring men and women to Christ.

• That’s the theme of the book of Hebrews. (“Christ is Superior”)
- Now, we have a greater covenant, greater promises, and a greater High Priest in Christ. Hebrews 8:6-13
- Hebrews 9 tells us the first covenant had an earthly tabernacle and animal sacrifices.

• Now, in Christ, we are the tabernacle or temple, and Jesus is the final sacrifice made once for all. (Hebrews 9:14, 24-28)

Hebrews 10:11-18. There is no longer any need for priests or sacrifices.
• Through the finished work of Christ on the cross, the work is done.

Hebrews 10:19-25. Now, we can approach the throne of God with confidence and without a priest.

1 Peter 2:9. The priesthood of all believers.

Ephesians 4:11-16. God has given the ministry to all believers.

(8) The Pope.
Ron Carlson:
“In 1870, at the first Vatican Council, Pope Pius the Ninth declared in the doctrine of papal infallibility that the Pope possessed full and complete power and authority over the whole Church, that the Pope can rule independently on any matter which comes under its sphere of the church’s jurisdiction, without the concurrence of the other bishops or the rest of the Church, and that there is no higher authority on earth than the Pope.” (Source: Fast Facts, page 217)

• The entire idea of having a Pope is based upon one single passage in Scripture (Matthew 16:13-20)
• The Catholics claim authority for having a Pope based on this and say that Peter was the first Pope.

Two Questions:
- If you were going to pick a Bible character as a role model for infallibility would it be Peter?
- When Peter wrote, under the inspiration and divine direction of the Holy Spirit, why didn’t he allude to this idea of being a Pope and of having infallibility? (See 1 Peter 5:1)

• There are other issues such as:
• Addressing mere men as “Father” (forbidden by Christ in Matthew 23:8-12)
- The context is humility and being servants, not seeking recognition or titles.
• Making the sign of the cross. (For many it has become a good luck charm or a mindless habit.)
- David knew God did not delight in rituals or sacrifices. He wanted us. (Psalm 51:16-17)

• The entire 23rd chapter of Matthew is Jesus declaring the importance of your heart over your habits.

• The Apocrypha (15 writings recorded during the 400 years between the Old and New Testaments. 12 of them were declared inspired and added to the Catholic Canon in 1546.)
- The problem is that by adding the Apocrypha to the Bible they have undermined the inerrancy of Scripture, because these books contain many historical and theological errors.

- But, if you are building a theology based on extra-biblical revelation, anything goes.

• Indulgences Dave Hunt:
“It was the sale of indulgences more than anything else that roused Luther’s ire to such an extent that he hailed the 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle chapel and sparked the Reformation. Salvation was sold in many other ways beside indulgences, and still is to this day. Though the fee is today called an ‘offering,’ in fact money changes hands, with the promise of salvation as the incentive for the ‘gift.’”

Romans 6:23

Conclusion:

Catholicism: Crisis of Faith (booklet) “The Scriptures are clear, but the errors persist. The Sacrifice of the Mass continues despite Christ’s last words on the cross, ‘It is finished!’ Statues are treated as sacred though the Ten Commandments forbid both making and bowing down to them. Mary is proclaimed mediator of all grace despite the New Testament’s teaching that there is one mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus.”

“And the people are taught that they must work for salvation though the Scriptures clearly state that salvation is ‘by grace through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.’ Many modern Catholics have chosen to ignore certain doctrines of the Church which they consider to be out of date. A common misconception is that the Second Vatican Council changed many of these dogmas.”

Bart Brewer (former Carmelite Priest, Booklet, Catholicism: Crisis of faith.):
“Vatican II made no doctrinal changes. In other words, no, there was a change of image, but no change of substance. There’s a principle Rome promotes ‘semper idem.’ It means ‘always the same.’ In other words, her basic dogmatic teachings never change. There has been redefinition and restructuring of Catholic theology, but there has been no substantive, no radical change of Catholic dogma, because that would destroy Roman Catholicism.”

• There may be Catholics who are genuine, born again, Bible-believing Christians.
- If they are, they have to leave the Catholic Church, because the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church are not compatible with genuine, Biblical Christianity.

- In the light of Scripture, they just don’t measure up.
- In fact, the evidence is very clear, they represent “another gospel.”

Galatians 1:8, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you , let him be eternally condemned!”

Sources:

  • Fast Facts On False Teachings by Ron Carlson and Ed Decker (Harvest House)
  • Catholicism: Crisis of Faith (Video), Lumen Productions, P.O. Box 595, Cupertino, CA 95015
  • What You Need To Know About Roman Catholicism by James G. McCarthy (The 62 Primary Errors of Roman Catholicism)
  • The Facts On Roman Catholicism by John Ankerberg and John Weldon
  • Irreconcilable Differences: Catholics, Evangelicals, and the New Quest For Unity (featuring John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, James Kennedy and John Ankerberg) 1.900.55.GRACE
  • The Berean Call (Dave Hunt), P.O. Box 7019, Bend, OR 97708
  • A Woman Rides The Beast (Dave Hunt) Harvest House
  • Catholics & Protestants (Lamb & Lion Ministries, July/August 1995 issue)
  • Good News For Catholics, Inc., P.O. Box 595, Cupertino, CA 95015
  • Proclaiming The Gospel (A Ministry To Catholics), Mike Gendron, P.O. Box 940871, Plano, TX 75094
  • Roman Catholicism by Lorraine Boettner (Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co.)

Church Discipline

What The Bible Says About Church Discipline

(Text: Matthew 18:15-20)
By: Barry L. Cameron

The Bible teaches that we are to follow the steps JESUS gave in Matthew 18:15-20 in the case of a brother or sister guilty of sin. All church discipline should be redemptive and restorative in nature (Galatians 6:1-2). Sins such as immorality are to be dealt with lovingly and precisely (1 Corinthians 5:1-5). Believers are instructed in Scripture to judge other believers (1 Corinthians 5:12), and they are to be obedient and submissive to the spiritual leaders God has placed in the church (Hebrews 13:17).

The steps of church discipline as outlined in Matthew 18:15-20 are as follows:

STEP ONE – You have first-hand knowledge of sin in someone’s life. You go to them privately and confront them. (Matthew 18:15; Luke 17:3) If they repent, you have won them back.

If they don’t repent…

STEP TWO – You go back and confront them again with two or three others who have witnessed this sin and can verify it. (Matthew 18:16; Deuteronomy 19:15; 1 Timothy 5:19) If they repent, you have won them back.

If they don’t repent…

STEP THREE – You take this matter before the leaders of the church. (Matthew 18:17; 1 Timothy 5:19-20) If they repent, you have won them back.

If they don’t repent…

STEP FOUR – You withdraw fellowship from this person. (Matthew 18:17; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15) If they repent, you have won them back.

If they don’t repent…

STEP FIVE – Have nothing to do with them. (Romans 16:17-19; 2 Thessalonians 3:6) You have done everything you can do. (Ezekiel 33:7-9)

If they don’t repent it may mean several things: (a) They may not even be saved (1 John 3:6; James 5:19-20). (b) If they are saved they may be facing some severe chastisement and discipline from God (Hebrews 12:6; 1 Corinthians 11:30). Or, (c) God may just take their life (1 John 5:16; 1 Corinthians 11:30).

Some Important Facts About Church Discipline:
1. The ultimate goal of church discipline is to “restore” people not kick them out of a fellowship.
2. Most churches do not practice Biblical church discipline.
3. Most churches who practice church discipline do not follow the Biblical guidelines completely.
4. Most Biblical church discipline would never reach the stage of “excommunication.”
5. Church discipline is a purifying process for the whole body. (It is not intended to be a horrifying but rather a humbling experience for the offender.)

• When a believer feels no shame over their sin, they are walking in arrogance and rebellion against God. They are deceived and their conscience is seared.

• Church discipline is designed by God to jolt the backsliding believer back to their senses and to bring them to repentance and ultimately to restoration in the body of Christ.

How Does Church Discipline Fit In With The Concept Of Forgiveness? • In other words, how do Matthew 18 and John 8 keep from contradicting each other? (a) There is no contradiction between church discipline and forgiveness. If the ultimate aim of all church discipline is reformation and restoration—then forgiveness is essential. (b) Church discipline, when done Biblically, will always result in forgiveness.

• The greatest way to avoid church discipline is to practice self-discipline and to live a holy life. If you are confronted for sin in your life and you’re guilty, by all means repent as quickly as possible and be restored. Don’t forfeit your fellowship with God and with fellow believers just so you can hang on to some self-destructive sin.

Church Membership

What The Bible Says About Church Membership

(Text: Acts 2:41-47)
By: Barry L. Cameron

The local church is the most important institution on the face of the earth because it was begun by Jesus (Matthew 16:18), purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28), and it, alone, can meet the deepest needs of the human heart. God ordained the church to be the vessel through which and by which the world would come to know Christ.

We all need the local church.

In the New Testament, there’s not one example of a believer or believers refusing to become a part of a local church. Or of someone saying they were only a part of the “invisible” church . . . whatever that is . . . Scripture never mentions it.

In fact, believers in the New Testament found their identity through the local church. The church at Ephesus, the church at Philippi, the church at Philemon’s house—it didn’t matter where you were, if you were a believer, you were a part of a local church.

The Apostle Paul went on missionary journeys to visit the churches. When he returned, he went to the church at Jerusalem. When he was in Corinth with Aquila and Priscilla and people started getting saved, they started a church to help with the birth, care, feeding, nurturing and maturing of these believers.

As believers in Christ, we are admonished in Scripture to submit to spiritual leaders (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:17), to place ourselves in a position of mutual accountability with other believers (Acts 2:42; Ephesians 4:11-16; Galatians 6:1-2; James 5:16, 19-20) and to meet together regularly for worship and instruction in the Word so we can encourage and build one another up in the faith (Hebrews 10:24-25; Acts 2:46-47; 20:7). The only way to do that is to be an active, viable member of a local church.

Let me share with you Seven Things Every Christian Ought To Know About Church Membership:

1. Church Membership Is Biblical.
In Acts 2:41, it says, “the Lord added to their number.” In Acts 2:47, it says, “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” In Acts 6:1-2 and 1 Timothy 5:9, we see the early church keeping lists of their widows. We see in Philippians 4:3 and Revelation 13:8, that even the Lord keeps a record of names. All the churches in the New Testament were organized entities with leaders, patterns of worship and ordinances they followed. (See Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35; 20:7)

2. Church Membership Is A Symbol.
Joining a church is similar to being baptized. It’s a tangible symbol of a spiritual reality. Our baptism identifies us with Christ. Becoming a member identifies us with His Church. This should be visible, too. (Matthew 10:32-33)

3. Church Membership Means We Are Accountable.
We are accountable first of all to God; then, to our spiritual leaders and our fellow members in the local church.

Dr. John MacArthur, in his book The Body Dynamic, writes: “When people join an organization, they subscribe to its goals and agree to live by its rules and standards. Membership in the Body of Christ also demands certain conduct. When we join God’s Family, we belong to the Heavenly Father and receive rights, privileges and honors (Eph 1-3). Our obedience shows that we share the goals of the Body and want to conform to what God requires. This is a conformity of love. If Christians fail to conform to the pattern of the Body, it’s not because they lack guidelines; rather they lack love, for love fulfills the Law (see Romans 13:10).”

4. Church Membership Means We Are Responsible.
We are responsible to be active, viable, contributing members, building up the body of Christ. (See Ephesians 4:11-16) The body can only function and grow properly when every part is healthy and functioning. Too many churches resemble a person’s physical body when they’ve had a stroke. (Part of them is dead and the other part has to compensate, which drastically limits and reduces the effectiveness of the body.)

5. Church Membership Should Be Purposeful.
Acts 2:42 says, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” They were purposeful and intentional. They devoted themselves to the church. Acts 2:43-47 describes their unrelenting devotion.

When we join a local church, we are purposefully and intentionally saying, “I am going to join this fellowship and give my time, talent and resources to help make it everything God wants it to be until I die or Jesus comes to get me.”

6. Church Membership Makes You Invulnerable.
Literally, the word means: “incapable of being wounded, injured or damaged.” When we join a local church, we come under the umbrella of the spiritual protection of that fellowship. Paul spoke about “handing over to Satan” certain followers of Christ (1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:20). This is done by putting them out of the local church. Therefore, to not be a formal part of a local church body puts a person in dangerous territory—outside of the authority and protection of the local church. Without the covering of a local church, you’re a sitting duck for Satan.

7. Church Membership Should Be Eternal.
When you join a church, you should be an active, contributing member there until you die, the Lord returns, or you have to move to another city too far away for you to continue to be actively and productively involved in your church’s ministry.

The way some people jump from church to church is a horrible testimony to a watching world, and a visible expression of their own immaturity. Every one of us who claims to be a follower of Christ should be an active, viable, contributing member of His church, and our membership should be durable and continual.

Dr. Adrian Rogers said, “the only valid reasons for leaving a church are (a) they are preaching heresy and no longer preaching the truth or, (b) no one is getting saved there anymore. Usually, the two go hand in hand. And if that happens, you are free to go.”

So who needs Church Membership? We all do! If you’re already a church member, renew your commitment to make your church the best church we can possibly be for the Lord. And if you’re not a member yet . . .

. . . what are you waiting for?

Cremation

What The Bible Says About Cremation

(Text: 1 Samuel 31:1-13)
By: Barry L. Cameron

Is it wrong to be cremated?
And, if not, how will your burned body be able to be raised imperishable?

* There is only one instance in the Bible of cremation (1 Samuel 31:1-13).
- This was an emergency measure by the Israelites to keep the Philistines from molesting their bodies even further.

Footnote:
“Temple of the Ashtoreths” – “Ashtoreth” was a goddess of the Canaanites, worshipped by the Philistines. Her male counterpart was BAAL. They were worshipped by lewd rituals (Judges 2:11-23, Israel forsook God and served Baal and Ashtoreth).

“Bethshan” – A Canaanite city, 14 miles south of the Sea of Galilee. (The Canaanites could not be driven out of this city. Judges 1:27)

a. The Bible does not say that it is wrong to be cremated.
b. The God Who created the universe out of nothing with a word is fully capable of reassembling the decayed or cremated remains of the bodies of all of His saints in a moment of time. (1 Corinthians 15:35-38)

Cults

What The Bible Says About Cults

(Text: II Corinthians 11:4, 13-15) By: Barry L. Cameron

What Is A Cult? “A cult is a perversion, a distortion of Biblical Christianity and/or a rejection of the historic teachings of the Christian Church.” (Handbook of Today’s Religions by McDowell & Stewart)

* Paul warned there would be false Christs and a false gospel that would attempt to deceive the true church and the world (II Corinthians 11:4, 13-15).

Walter Martin (perhaps the most recognizable authority on the cults) defines a cult like this: “A cult, then, is a group of people polarized around someone’s interpretation of the Bible and is characterized by major deviations from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith, particularly the fact that God became man in Jesus Christ.” (The Rise of the Cults, pg. 12)

Why Do Cults Grow?

(1) They Provide Answers - While many Bible-believing Christians would say, “I don’t really know . . .” the cults say, “Sure, I know about that and we can help you.” – The cults demand an incredible amount of training, instruction and discipline. While too many fundamental, Bible-believing Christians rebel against and reject any kind of expectations or requirements. - No wonder many Christians come across as being soft, ignorant, lazy and indifferent, while many in the cults come across as intelligent, knowledgeable and articulate.

(2) They Meet Human Needs - They appeal to man’s most basic need: the need to be loved. - Individuals who experience an identity crisis or have emotional problems are particularly susceptible to cults. - Most cults take the hassle of thinking and worrying away from their constituent’s lives. They do this by telling their people what to believe, how to behave, what to think, and they emphasize total dependence upon the group and total allegiance to the group leader.

(3) They Make A Great Impression - Much of the prosperity of the cults can be attributed to the failure of the church. - When the church has failed to provide answers, failed to love people, and failed to be a vital influence in the world, we’ve unintentionally and unfortunately opened the door for cults to flourish. - Whenever Christians display a half-heartedness toward Christ, the church and the reaching of the world with the Gospel, we unknowingly drive a nail in our own coffin, and make cults appealing. - “Ho-hum Christianity” doesn’t impact anyone. When that is contrasted with the excitement and challenge the cults often can provide initially, a spiritually immature person can be easily and quickly deceived. - Many cults prey on people’s spiritual ignorance and try to overwhelm the uninformed with pseudo-scholarship which can’t be quickly verified or disputed by a novice.

Note: When cultists come to your door, they are coming having been through intensive training. That’s why they sound intelligent and appear to know what they’re talking about. A careful examination of their claims will quickly reveal what they are saying is neither true nor Biblical, but it does sound impressive and can usually tie the average nominally uninformed Christian in theological knots.

What Are The Characteristics Of Cults?

(1) New Revelations From God - They will claim new revelations which are either co-equal or even greater in authority and authenticity than the Bible. - Usually, it is a claim of something new that God has given just to them.

(2) New Interpretations Of The Bible - They re-interpret the Bible, usually in a gross twisting of texts and contexts to justify the teachings of their cult.

(3) New Sources of Authority - Some cults have “sacred writings.” Writings they consider on the same level as the Bible. - For example: the Mormons have “the Book of Mormon,” “The Pearl of Great Price,” “Doctrines & Covenants.” The Moonies have Reverend Moon’s “Divine Principle,” etc.

(4) New Jesus. - One characteristic found in all cults is false teaching about the person of Jesus Christ in the light of historic, Biblical Christianity. - The Jesus of the cults is always someone less than the Bible’s eternal God, Who became flesh, lived on earth and died for our sins. Examples: Jehovah’s Witnesses say that Jesus isn’t God. He was merely the first creation of Jehovah. (But what about John 1:1-14?) Mormons say Jesus is just one of many gods. The half-brother of Lucifer (Satan). (But what about I Peter 3:18; 1:18-19; Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:13-14; Revelation 5:9; Acts 20:28; I Corinthians 6:19-20, etc.?)

(5) Reject Orthodox Christianity - Cults believe they are the TRUE church and usually claim some direct revelation from God that told them they are right and orthodox Christianity was an abomination.

(6) Double-talk - They may say one thing publicly, but privately believe something totally different. - Some of the cults even call themselves Christians. When, in fact, they deny the very fundamental doctrines of Christianity. (7) Denial Or Twisting Of The Doctrine Of The Trinity - They either deny the Biblical concept of the Trinity—God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit. Or they re-work it to suit their own theology.

(8) An Ever-Changing Theology - Ever notice how a lie keeps changing? - Most cultists deny this concept except for the Moonies who have admitted on occasion that their theology was in a state of “flux.” Examples:

Jehovah’s Witnesses used to believe that all vaccinations were sinful and would cause you to lose your “god-standing” in their organization.

Mormons, up until 1968 refused admittance to blacks into any position of leadership within their church. They also believed, practiced and promoted polygamy. (Something they don’t do anymore.)

(9) Strong Leadership - Their leaders usually consider themselves “infallible,” along with a unique access to God that no one else possesses. - Because of this unique relationship with God, the leader can, therefore, dictate the theology and behavior of the cult. Consequently, he exercises enormous influence over the group.

• This is especially true in the Unification Church, The Way International, etc. - The results of this can be most tragic: (See Jim Jones – Guyana)

(10) Extreme Wealth Of The Founders - Most cults are led by individuals who have become incredibly wealthy off their constituents. - They are shrouded in secrecy and secluded in privacy.

(11) Salvation By Works - Absent from all cult theology is the grace of God. - You must work your way into Heaven. (A concept totally foreign to Scripture.)

(12) False Prophecy - They make all kinds of false prophecies and when they don’t come true—merely explain them away and move on to something else.

Examples: Jehovah’s Witnesses have a well-established record of making false prophecies and predictions. Herbert Armstrong (1967) said, “Now other prophecies reveal we are soon to have (probably in about 4 years) such drought and famine, that disease epidemics will follow, taking millions of lives. Well, we have been getting foretastes of them! That condition is coming! And I do not mean in 400 years—not in 40 years—but in the very next four or five!” (The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy. Pasadena: Ambassador College Press, 1967, pg. 184.)

- By the way, that never happened.

Note: The sure mark of a cult is what they do with the person of Jesus Christ. All cults ultimately deny the fact that Jesus Christ is God the Son, second Person of the Trinity and mankind’s only hope for salvation.

For further study, get Ron Carlson’s book, “Fast Facts on False Teachings.”

Death

What The Bible Says About Death

(Text: Hebrews 9:27; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10)
By: Barry L. Cameron

What happens to your spirit immediately upon death?

2 Corinthians 5:1-10 explains what happens when the “spirit” of a man leaves his body.

Nine Principles: 1. When the old body gives out, we get a new, indestructible one from God (vs. 1; 1 Cor 15:42-57)
2. This present body is continually decaying and dying. We long to have real life (vs. 2-4).
3. This is part of God’s plan and the Holy Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing what God has in store for us when we die (vs. 5).
4. Our bodies (flesh) keep us from being completely with the Lord and like the Lord (vs. 6)
5. The only way we can exist like we do is by faith—if we lived by sight, we’d be miserable and without hope (vs. 7).
6. Every true believer wants to get rid of this earthly body and get on to the glories of Heaven (vs. 8).
7. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (vs. 8).
8. Our goal should be to glorify God no matter where we are (vs. 9).
9. We will appear before the judgment seat of Christ to be judged for the things we did while we were here in our bodies (vs. 10).

Consider 1 Thessalonians 4:16
(1) Christ’s coming will be announced from Heaven by three dramatic phenomena:
a. A loud command
b. The voice of the archangel
c. The trumpet call of God

(2) The dead in Christ will rise first.
- To those who are still living, these folks have been gone awhile. To them, however, it seems as if they just left.

Note: Since there is no time element in the spirit realm, they don’t know if they’ve been gone 15 milliseconds or 15 million years.

(3) We who are still alive will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
- It will seem like they rose first.

(4) The important point is that we will be with the Lord forever.
- That’s something to encourage each other with (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18).
* There is no such thing as “soul sleep.” The Bible clearly teaches that immediately, upon death, we go to be with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Demon Possession

What The Bible Says About Demon Possession

(Text: Romans 8:9)
By: Barry L. Cameron

• Demon possession is a Biblical term. The idea of demonic control is a well-known fact among those familiar with spiritual warfare (Matthew 15:22; Ephesians 6:12).

• The New Testament has a great deal to say about demonic influences and demon possession (Matthew 12:22-23, 28-29; Acts 2:22; 10:38).

• The Apostles and evangelists of the early church gave further validity to the casting out of demons (Acts 5:16; 8:7; 16:16-18; 19:12).

What Is Demon Possession? “It is a condition in which one or more evil spirits or demons inhabit the body of a human being and can take control of their victim at will.” (C. Fred Dickason, Angels, Elect & Evil, Moody)

What Is Demon Oppression?
Unger says, “Demonic oppression in its most severe forms does not manifest the same abject domination by evil spirits that so saliently characterizes actual possession. There is no blacking out of consciousness, no demonized state, no usurpation of the body as a mere tool of the inhabiting demon, no speaking with another voice and the projection of another personality through the victim.”

So, what’s the difference? In possession, the personality of the demon eclipses the personality of the possessed and the demon displays his personality through the means of the victim’s body (Mark 5:9, 12).

• In demonic oppression there is just a strong, evil influence that dominates a person who is weak spiritually.

The question is: Can A Genuine Believer Be Possessed By A Demon?

Two things to consider:
1. The Personal Indwelling Of The Holy Spirit.
- Every genuine believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9; I Corinthians 6:19-20)
- But, to say that the presence of the Holy Spirit excludes the presence of any evil influence within the believer is to forget that the sin nature, entrenchantly evil, remains in the believer (Romans 7:14-24) and the Spirit’s presence is required just to control it (Galatians 5:16-17).

- If anyone says that your sin nature has been judged and rendered inoperative (Romans 6:6), just remind them that Satan and his demons were judged by the same instrument—the cross of Christ. (John 12:31; Colossians 2:15)

- Victory over our sinful natures comes from the yielding of our lives to the Spirit and His control of our lives (Romans 8:4; Galatians 5:16-17, 25 Ephesians 5:18; Romans 6:11-14).

2. The Personal Identity With Jesus Christ.
- Some people argue that if we are “in Christ,” we can’t be indwelt by Satan.
- Children of God are secure (Romans 5:1-10; Ephesians 1:4, 13-14; 4:30).
- No demon or demonic force can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).

BUT . . . Can Demons Temporarily Inhabit And Control A Believer?

• If sin can control and dominate the believer’s practice so as to cause carnality, falling away and ultimate chastisement unto death (I Corinthians 3:1-4; 5:1-5; I Timothy 1:19-20), then, just because we have “position” in Christ doesn’t guarantee spiritual living.

• It’s a matter of who we yield our lives to. Who becomes our Master?

Conclusion:
Romans 8:9; I Corinthians 6:20. Believers can’t be demon possessed. Satan can’t have what belongs to Jesus. Believers can be demon oppressed. Satan can harass and hinder us from enjoying who we are and what we have in Jesus . . . if we allow him.

(See also What The Bible Says About The Devil, Demons, And Hell)

The Devil

What The Bible Says About The Devil

(Text: Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:11-15)
By: Barry L. Cameron

Where Did The Devil Come From & Why Does God Allow Him To Exist?

1. Satan was created by God.
- Not in his present, corrupt form, but pure and good.
- Ezekiel 28:12b-15a describes his goodness.
- Colossians 1:16 tells us Satan was created by Christ.

2. He was in the highest class of created angels.
- Cherubim class – Ezekiel 28:14, 16
- Most scholars agree that to be a cherubim class angel is to be in the highest classification of angels.
- Cherubim speak of God’s presence, glory, holiness and sovereignty.

* This makes Satan’s defection even more heinous and reprehensible.

3. He wasn’t just good, he was incredibly good.
- Ezekiel 28:12 (NIV/1984) – “model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.”
- Ezekiel 28:15 – “you were blameless in your ways from the day you were created.”

4. God doesn’t explain where evil came from.
- Ezekiel 28:15b (NIV/1984) – “till wickedness was found in you.”
- Where did wickedness come from?

5. While Satan does not appear to be the initiator of evil, it does make its first appearance through him.
- Evil made its debut through Satan’s choice.

Satan’s “I” trouble or 5 indicators of heart trouble:
a. “I will ascend to heaven.” (Isaiah 14:13)
b. “I will raise my throne above the stars of God.” (Isaiah 14:13b)
c. “I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.” (Isaiah 14:13c)
d. “I will ascend above the tops of the clouds.” (Isaiah 14:14a)
e. “I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:14b) (NIV/1984)

Ezekiel 28:16 – “and you sinned” (Satan is clearly responsible for his sin.)

• Sometimes people say, “the devil made me do it.” (Who made the devil sin?)
- We are each responsible for the choices we make. (James 1:13-15)

Why Does God Allow Satan To Exist?
• Before we answer that question, ask yourself this one: why does God allow you and me to exist?

a. God can and will do whatever He wants (Isaiah 46:8-11)

b. We couldn’t understand the reason why, even if God told us. (Isaiah 55:9)

c. God is using Satan to accomplish His plan and is in full control.
Ephesians 1:11, “. . . according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”
Romans 9:17-18. Pharoah made the choice. God confirmed it and used it for His glory.

d. God’s control over Satan.

1. Satan’s final doom. (Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10)

2. Satan’s limitations now (Job 2:1, 6 John 17:15; 1 John 5:18)
a. He rules the fallen angels (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:9)
b. He is the leader of demons (Matthew 12:24-28)
c. He rules the world system (John 12:31; John 16:11)
d. He is the “god” of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4)
e. He abides in the spirit realms of both the heavens and the earth (Ephesians 6:11-12)
f. He has limited access to Heaven (Revelation 12:10)
g. He is active on the earth (1 Peter 5:8)

(See also What The Bible Says About The Devil, Demons and Hell.)

The Devil, Demons and Hell

What The Bible Says About The Devil, Demons, And Hell

(Text: 1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:12; Revelation 21:7-8)
By: Barry L. Cameron

• The Devil doesn’t mind if you believe that there’s a God…that JESUS was who He said He was and did what God says He did…a literal, infallible book called the Bible…the person, power and presence of the Holy Spirit… or even if you believe in a place called Heaven.

- All that’s fine. Just as long as you don’t believe that he actually exists.

• The tragic reality is that our world has so trivialized the devil, demons and the existence of a real, literal Hell, that people think the devil is a clown in a red-rubber suit, demons are a figment of some moviemaker’s imagination, Halloween is a harmless holiday and the chances of a real lake of fire called Hell where people will spend eternity is nothing more than a punch-line to a joke.

• Well, you need to know that the devil is real. Demons are here. And Hell is a real place of eternal anguish and torment.

(1) THE DEVIL (1 Peter 5:8)
(a) Three irrefutable witnesses:

1. The Old Testament.
• O.T. takes for granted the existence of God and the devil.
Gen 3. The whole plot to the book of Genesis revolves around the reality of the devil.
• Job is based on the battle between God and the devil (Job 1 & 2)
Psalm 106:36-37 109:6says that demons are behind idolatry.

2. The New Testament.
• The devil’s existence is recognized by every N.T. writer.
• 19 of the 27 books mention the devil by name.
• 4 of the other 8 imply his existence by the mention of demons or evil angels.

3. Jesus Christ.
• In the gospels, there are 29 references to the devil.
• In 25 of those, it’s Jesus who speaks of the devil as a person.
Matthew 4; Jesus deals with the devil face-to-face.

(b) Two Unmistakable Characteristics:

1. His Person
• There are three basic proofs that he’s a genuine person.

a. Traits of personality. (He possesses intellect, emotions and will.
1. Intellect. Scheming to deceive (2 Cor 11:3). Communicating with other people (Luke 4:1-12)
2. Emotions. Involved in his rebellion to oppose God (Isaiah 14:12-17) and in his desire to dethrone Jesus (Luke 4:1-12).
3. Will. Appeals to the will of Jesus in commands (Luke 4:3 & 9) and in his opposition against God (Revelation 20:7-9).

b. Personal Pronouns. The Bible repeatedly uses personal pronouns to refer to the devil. (Ezekiel 28:14-16; 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 and James 4:7)

c. Moral Responsibility. Neither impersonal animals nor forces are held morally accountable. Only persons who reflect the moral image of their Creator (Matt 25:41; John 16:11)

• Not only do we learn who he is from HIS PERSON but we can also learn about him from:
2. His Nature (Certain key facts are very clear about the devil’s makeup)

a. Creature.
- He was created by God; wonderfully constituted and holy.
- Described in Ezekiel 28:15 and Colossians 1:16.
b. Spirit Being.
- In essence, he’s a spirit. Finite and limited.
- Isaiah 14:12-13; Matthew 25:41, Revelation 12:9
c. Cherubim Class
- Highest classification of angelic beings
- Ezekiel 28:14-16, “the anointed cherub,” “the covering cherub.”
- Cherubim always speak of God’s presence, glory, holiness and sovereignty.
d. First In Rank Among All Creatures
- Before he fell, he was the highest stationed guardian angel for God.
- Ezekiel 28:12-13. He appears to have been the top creature.
- He still retains some of the leadership qualities he had before.
- He is regarded as the “leader” of the fallen angels…and without equal (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:4 &7)
- Probably equivalent to an archangel among the demons or fallen angels.

DEADLY AND DANGEROUS
EVIL AND ENTICING
VICIOUS AND VICTIMIZING
INNOVATIVE AND INTIMIDATING
LOST AND LOSING

(2) DEMONS (Ephesians 6:12)
- The word “angel” is used 108 times in the O.T. and 165 times in the N.T.
- There are two different classifications for angels:
a. Good, Elect or Holy Angels (1 Timothy 5:21; Matthew 25:31)
b. Evil or Fallen Angels (Matthew 25:41; 12:26-28)
• These supernatural force “angelic armies” engage in constant warfare that far exceeds human comprehension. And what they do affects the course of nations and the world.

Five Things You Need To Know About Demons:
1. They are for real.
a. Satan’s fall. (Ezekiel 28:12-19; Isaiah 14:12-17)
- He was the highest of all angelic beings.
b. Satan’s following (Matthew 25:41)
- There were other angels who shared in his rebellion against God.

• The Mosaic Law warned the Israelites against “mediums” or “spirits” (Lev 20:27; Deut 32:17)
- The N.T. mentions DEMONS at least 80 times.
- All four gospels mention them. Most of the Epistles mention them.
- Jesus repeatedly dealt with people who were involved with demons
(Mark 1:21-34, 39; 3:15, 22; 5:1-20; 6:13; 16:9)
- I Timothy 4:1 and James 2:19

2. They are intelligent beings.
- Demons can speak, think, and act of their own free choice.
- Acts 19:13-16 is a good illustration of this.
- James 2:19 confirms that demons know the truth of the Bible and even tremble with fear because of it.

1 Timothy 4:1ff. Perverse and false doctrines are the specialties of demons.

They are for real…they are intelligent beings…
3. They are spirit beings.
- They belong to the spiritual realm, without flesh and bone (Luke 24:39).
Eph 6:12 defines who the battle is against.
- Demons have no body of their own, but they can possess the body of someone else.

Demons can cause…
• Lunacy (Matthew 17:15), Dumbness (Matthew 9:32-33), Blindness (Matthew 12:22), and even Deformity (Luke 13:11).
- They often cause people to “mutilate” their own bodies:
a. Demon-possessed boy (Matthew 17:15)
b. Gadarene demoniac (Mark 5)

• Although they attack physically at times–the battle is spiritual.

4. Demons do not die.
- They do not reproduce nor are their numbers diminished by death.
- Gen 6:4. They can possess physical bodies and reproduce.
- They will finally be punished by death.
- Hell was prepared especially for them (Matthew 25:41; Mark 1:24; Matthew 8:28-29; 1 John 4:4)

5. Demons have a hierarchy.
- They operate under a structured system.
- Vast numbers and large organization offset the fact that Satan is not omnipresent or omniscient.
• Jesus referred to this hierarchy as a “kingdom” (Matthew 12:25-26)

Ephesians 6:12. Demons are governing officials of an invisible kingdom of evil.

• Demons cannot possess a Christian. (Luke 11:14-28)

(3) HELL (Revelation 21:7-8)
- Five Facts About Hell:
1. Hell is going to be a place of evil associations (Revelation 21:8)
• The devil will be there (Revelation 20:10; Matthew 25:41)
• Ungodly people will be there (Revelation 21:8)
2. Hell is going to be a place of separation from the saints (Revelation 21:27)
Luke 13:28 pictures that horrifying day.
3. Hell is going to be a place of eternal darkness (Matthew 8:12)
4. Hell is going to be a place of eternal dying (Revelation 20:14)
5. Hell is going to be a place of hopelessness and despair (Revelation 14:10-11)
6. Hell is going to be a place of eternal burning (Matt 25:41; Rev 20:14; 21:8)

Remember:
1 John 4:4, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
Colossians 2:15 (NIV/1984), “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

“Satan trembles when he sees, the weakest saint upon his knees.”

Divorce

What The Bible Says About Divorce

(Text: Matthew 19:1-15)
By: Barry L. Cameron

• Some people today seem to be married for better or for worse, but not for long.
- The number one problem with the family in America is divorce.
- Every year in America there are approximately 1 million divorces.
- 1.8 million marriages. 1 million divorces each year in America.

• Under this pile of statistics lie the crushed lives of millions of people who’ve experienced the horrors and the aftermath of this terrible plague of divorce.
- Many people have taken the Soap Operas instead of the Scriptures as their guide for marriage.

• What I’m going to do today is to bring a message that will be preventive in nature.
- I don’t do marriage counseling. We have a multitude of excellent Christian counselors here in the metroplex and we can’t compete with their resources, their staff or their experience.
- My counseling on marriage is done from this pulpit and is preventive in nature.
- What I try to do is show you what God says in the Bible about the subject and prevent the problem of divorce from ever occurring.

• So, if you’re divorced today, this message is really not directed at you. This message is directed to those who may be thinking about divorce or are on the verge of divorce.

- Malachi 2:16. God says, “I hate divorce.” God hates divorce, but loves divorcees.
- God hates anything that hurts people.
- Those who’ve been divorced and are trying to live for God will tell you, “Amen. Lord. I hate divorce too! We hate what divorce does to people. We hate the problems that are caused by divorce.”

(1) THE ORIGINAL PATTERN (Matthew 19:1-6)
- The Pharisees weren’t looking for information, they wanted a confrontation.
- They raise a controversial question: “What are the valid grounds for divorce?”

Two viewpoints: (Rabbis)
1. Shammai: only one ground for divorce (marital infidelity)
2. Hillel: almost any reason.
• She talked too loud, burned his biscuits, if he saw a prettier woman.

• Jesus takes them back to the original pattern in the Word of God (vs. 4)

• The Bible is the final authority on everything.
- It’s not human opinion, the standards of the day or the ideas of contemporary theologians–it is what does the Bible have to say about it?

ILL. Woman went to the doctor and the doctor told her: “You’re problem is, you’re obese.”
- The woman said, “Well, I want a second opinion.” He said, “You’re ugly, too!”

• There is no second opinion when it comes to the Word of God.
- When God speaks on a matter, that becomes THE FINAL AUTHORITY.

• So, Jesus takes them back to GENESIS.
(a) How Couples Are Made (vs. 4)
• There’s no evolution here.
• God made a first man and a first woman. He made couples: male and female.
• They are different physically, biologically, emotionally and almost in every way.
- The Lord’s pattern for marriage was one man for one woman.

• There’s no such thing as homosexual marriage. God’s standard is for males to marry females.
- Genesis 2 tells us God created the first couple: Adam & Eve. Not Adam & Steve.
- God created the original pattern for couples: a male and a female.

(b) How Couples Are Married (vs. 5)
• There’s a leaving and a cleaving.
• There are two primary relationships:
1. The Parent/Child Relationship – which is temporary.
• Lasts only a few years. They leave their father and mother.

ILL. Cutting the apron strings. If you don’t cut them, you’ll be tied up in knots your whole life.

2. The Husband/Wife Relationship – which is eternal. (Permanent)
• “Be united” (vs. 5) “cleave” in the KJV. The root meaning is glue!
- He’s saying, “You’re stuck with each other!”

(c) How Couples Are Merged (vs. 5b-6)
• God has different math than we do.
• We say, “1 + 1 = 2.” God says, “1+ 1 = 1.” There’s a joining together.

• You become ONE physically, spiritually, emotionally, almost in every way.
- It takes a lifetime for this to happen.
• Usually, opposites marry. God completes both of you.
• You won’t change your mate. You can only talk to the change-maker.

Verse 6. We won’t understand the seriousness of divorce until we, first of all, understand the sacredness of marriage.
- God brings couples together. We should wait on His guidance and direction.

Verse 6b. “Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
- No one is to tear apart what God has brought together.
- God has a warning for people who attempt to do anything to destroy a marriage or a family.

• A lot of people are quick to encourage others to get a divorce. Watch out!
- Be careful where you get your advice. The Bible warns against the counsel of the ungodly.

THE ORIGINAL PATTERN…
(2) THE CONTINUAL PROBLEM (Matthew 19:7-9)
- It was a problem in Jesus’ day. It was a problem in Moses’ day. It’s a problem today!
- They wanted to know why Moses commanded that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away (vs. 7). Referring to Deut 24. “Grounds for divorce.”
• God’s ideal is one man for one woman for one lifetime.

ILL. Single woman. Pastor had preached on message. She came up after the service.
- “That’s God’s plan and you can’t improve on it.”
• Now, Jesus deals with the actual, not the ideal.
- Verse 8. Moses permitted divorce, although it was never God’s ideal.
• Moses didn’t command it, he permitted it.

• There had to be some semblance of order to divorce. (We have laws today, too!)

(a) It’s A Spiritual Problem (vs. 8)
• The problem was the hardness of men’s hearts. (Word: “sclerosis”)
• Whenever there’s a divorce, someone, or both one’s, had a hardened heart.
- Marriage will expose the selfishness and sinfulness of men’s hearts.

(b) It’s A Moral Problem (vs. 9)
• Sexual immorality is grounds for divorce. The context is sex outside of marriage.
• Jesus doesn’t command divorce, but he permits it for the grounds of infidelity.
- It’s not the first option. It’s the final option.
- Get God’s forgiveness. Explore every avenue of reconciliation.

THE ORIGINAL PATTERN, THE CONTINUAL PROBLEM…
(3) THE INDIVIDUAL PRINCIPLE (Matthew 19:10-12)
- He has given the “ideal” and shown us the “real.”

Verse 10. The disciples said, “Lord, it’d be better for people not to get married.”

Verse 11. The circumstances of divorce are so complicated, you can’t get a “one-size-fits-all” answer.
- Every situation is unique.

Verse 12. Jesus mentions the only three categories where there can be successful singleness.
1. Some were born that way. (Without any sexual capacity.)
2. Some were made that way by men. (Pagan ritual, act of loyalty.)
3. Some were eunuchs for the kingdom of Heaven. (Not physical but voluntary celibacy.)

Verse 12b. “Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

(4) THE SPECIAL PEOPLE (Matthew 19:13-14)
- I don’t think it’s an accident that Jesus brings up the little children.
- Little children are the innocent by-products of your marriage.
- They are the beneficiaries of your choices.

• It’s your children who suffer when you turn your home into a Hell on earth.
- Think about the children.

• You ought to be willing to wade through Hell, if necessary, for your children.

Verse 14. “Don’t hinder them.”
- You better not cause your little children to stumble.

• Whatever price you have to pay, whatever sacrifices you have to make will be worth it.

• If you’re thinking about divorce today, let me encourage you: “Don’t do it!”

- Sit down and talk it over again. Make one more attempt.

• Divorce is a war where nobody wins and everyone’s a casualty.
- You, your spouse, your children, your extended family, your friends, your neighbors, the people you work with, the people at church, and on and on.

• It’s not just a private decision between two consenting adults.

• These young people today, who file for divorce…
- “How long have you been married?” “Six months!”

• Work it out! Think about what God says. Think about your children!

If You’ve Been Divorced…3 Things You ought to seek:
1. Divine Forgiveness. (Let God forgive you.)
2. Personal Analysis. (Don’t carry the baggage into the future.)
3. Spiritual Oasis. (You need a church home.)

Drinking

What The Bible Says About Drinking

On Monday night, news broke that Olympic gold medalist snowboarder, Shaun White, had been charged with vandalism and public intoxication. On my Facebook wall, I posted the following comment: “This just in . . . and the gold medal for character enhancement, once again, goes to alcohol.”

For years, well-meaning, sincere Christians have debated the subject of drinking. Let me be clear by saying there isn’t a single verse in the Bible that says a Christian cannot have a drink; although the Bible clearly warns about the destructive and addictive nature of alcohol (Proverbs 20:1; 21:17; 23:29-35; Ephesians 5:18) and is very clear that drunkenness is always wrong (Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Peter 4:3; Habakkuk 2:15; 1 Corinthians 5:11).

The Bible is also clear that mature Christians should avoid causing others to stumble by drinking (Romans 14:21), and that leaders ought to avoid drinking alcohol (Proverbs 31:4-7) and cannot be given to drunkenness (1 Timothy 3:3, 8 Titus 1:7.)

I have yet to hear from anyone who drinks how alcohol enhances anything or blesses anyone. Max Lucado said, “One thing for sure, I have never heard anyone say, ‘A beer makes me feel more Christlike . . . Fact of the matter is this: People don’t associate beer with Christian behavior.”1 I’ve yet to see how it improves someone’s testimony or makes anyone a more effective witness for Christ. Quite the contrary, like Shaun White mentioned above, or Richard Roberts, Oral Roberts’ son, who was arrested in Tulsa, Oklahoma, driving under the influence, the result doesn’t enhance your testimony. Rather, it takes away from what testimony you had.

Recently, a friend of mine, former mega-church Pastor, John Caldwell, wrote an article in Christian Standard magazine called To Drink or Not to Drink? Here’s the link to his article. John’s article explained why he has personally abstained from drinking alcohol and dealt with the bigger issue of the contemporary church becoming more and more like the world.

Not surprisingly, a number of people responded to John’s article and some called him to task for taking such a strong stand against drinking. In response to the responses, my good friend, Ken Idleman, former President of Ozark Christian College and now Pastor of Crossroads Christian Church in Evansville, IN, wrote these words, which are among the very best I’ve ever read on this issue. I asked Ken for his permission to share them here.

“Okay, I am conscience bound to weigh in on this one…. For a minute, forget about making a definitive case for or against ‘drinking’ from the Bible. Here’s the truth from logic and real life. No one starts out to be an alcoholic. Everyone begins with a defensive attitude saying, ‘I’m just a social drinker and there is nothing wrong with it!’ no one says, ‘It is my ambition that someday I want to lose my job, my health, my self-respect, my marriage and my family. Someday I want to be dependent on alcohol to get through my day.’ yet, this is the destination at which several millions of people have arrived. Why do you suppose that is? It is because alcohol is promoted and elevated as a normal/sophisticated activity in life…. It is also expensive, addictive and enslaving. People get hooked by America’s number one legal drug. And just like all illegal drugs, alcohol finds it way into the body, the bloodstream and the brain of the user/abuser.

I had two uncles whose lives were wrecked by alcohol. The exception you say? Hardly. It is not what they wanted when they dreamed of their futures when they were in their 20s. Praise God, they were wonderfully delivered in their 60s when the grace of God became real to them. And can you imagine it?…. They got their lives back by becoming total abstainers by the power of the Holy Spirit!

One of my most memorable conversations in the state penitentiary in Jefferson City, MO, was with a young man facing a 28-year prison sentence for the brutal sexual assault of his own 8-year old daughter. I will never forget the image. The tears literally ran off his chin and splashed on his shoes as he gushed, ‘I guess I did it. I don’t know. I was drunk at the time.’

Listen, some of those who are defensive in response to Dr. Caldwell’s thoughtful and courageous article will want to revise their text if, in a few years, they discover that they were able to handle their drinking just fine, but their son or daughter could not. Answer honestly. Could you live with the knowledge that your dangerous exercise of Christian liberty factored into your children’s ruin? Or, if your loved one is killed some day in a head on collision by a driver under the influence who crossed the center line, will you still be defensive of drinking?

A good friend during my growing up years was the only child of social drinking parents. When his folks were away, he would go to the rathskeller [German for tavern] in the basement where he developed a taste for alcohol. I won’t bore you with the details. He is 65 today. A broken life, broken health, broken marriages, a broken relationship with his only son, a broken relationship with his only grandchild, a broken career and a broken spirit that…. Tragically…. He tries daily to medicate with the alcohol that led him to this tragic destination.

Hey, thanks for indulging my rant. Like my friend John Caldwell, I confess to setting the bar high for Christian leadership [especially] when it comes to aesthetic holiness. Call me a ‘right-wing fundamentalist.’ Call me a ‘throw back to the days of the tent evangelists.’ Call me a ‘simpleton.’ Call me a ‘minimalist.’ but, if you do, go ahead and also call me a ‘watchman on the wall’ where the welfare of my family [children, in-laws, grandchildren] and my church family is concerned.”2

Personally, I’ve yet to have my first beer and have no desire to start now or to drink alcohol of any kind. At the same time, I don’t judge those who believe they have freedom in Christ to drink. But when asked, I always tell people I don’t believe it’s the best choice.

The bottom line is this: the question really isn’t CAN A CHRISTIAN DRINK? Rather, it is: SHOULD A CHRISTIAN DRINK?

© 2012. Barry L. Cameron

1 David Faust, Voices From The Hill, (Cincinnati, OH: Cincinnati Bible College & Seminary, 2003) 252. 2 John Caldwell, “To Drink or Not to Drink,” Christian Standard 11 August 2012, 18 September 2012.

(Text: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

By: Barry L. Cameron

There’s not a verse in the Bible that says, “Thou Shalt Not Drink.” – If there were, we’d just read it and go home.

- But, there’s also not a verse that says: “Thou Shalt Not Have An Abortion…” or “Thou Shalt Not Go To Strip Clubs…” or “Thou Shalt Not View Pornography On The Internet…”

- However, there ARE specific principles in the Word of God that cover all of those things and anything else you can think of.

- In this message, our focus is “WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT DRINKING.”

ILL. Sign In A Country Store… “Since you cannot refrain from drinking, why not start a saloon in your own home? Be the only customer and you will not have to buy a license. Give your wife $50.00 to buy a case of whiskey. There are 240 drinks in a case. Buy all your drinks from your wife at .60 cents a drink and in 12 days, (when the case is gone), your wife will have $89.00 to put in the bank and $55.00 to buy another case. If you live ten more years and continue to buy all your whiskey from your wife, and then die in your boots, your widow will have $42,239.99 on deposit…enough to bring up your children, pay off the mortgage on the house, marry a decent man and forget she ever knew a drinking bum like you.”

Ephesians 5:17-18, “ Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.”

Proverbs 20:1, “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” (NIV/1984)

Proverbs 23:20-21, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” (NIV/1984)

Proverbs 23:29-35, “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife…”

Isaiah 5:11, “Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink,
who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them!”

Isaiah 5:20-22, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink.”

Ecclesiastes 2:3, 11 “ I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”

Proverbs 31:4-7, “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more..”

ARGUMENTS FOR DRINKING:

(1) Jesus turned water into wine. (John 2:1-11) – Yes, He did. But it wasn’t Bud Light, Michelob, or Heineken.

(2) Paul encouraged Timothy to drink wine (1 Timothy 5:23) – Yes, He did. But it was for stomach problems not for social partying.

(3) People drank wine in the Bible. – Yes, they did. But what kind of wine were they drinking?

(4) I don’t see anything wrong with it. – What if someone says, “I don’t see anything wrong with stealing your car” or “having an affair with your mate” or “beating you upside the head with a two by four”?

(5) I know a lot of good Christian people who drink socially. – “I know a lot of good Christian people who…cheat on their taxes, curse, smoke, commit adultery, abuse their children…” – Since when did the actions of others become the standard for our own righteousness? – 2 Corinthians 10:12 – We don’t base our decisions on who does it. Rather, we’re to base our decisions on what God says about it.

THE RESULTS OF DRINKING:

When you drink…

1. It can lead to drunkenness, which is clearly condemned in the Bible. (Isaiah 5:22-25; Ephesians 5:18) – John MacArthur: “Both the Old and New Testaments unequivocally condemn drunkenness. Every picture of drunkenness in the Bible is a picture of sin and disaster.”

2. You support an industry that is destroying the moral fabric of America. – “Every…drink you buy is a vote to support an industry whose product leads to rape, murder, traffic deaths, poverty, divorce, incest and violence. This industry costs the American people $19 billion annually. In the U.S. alone, the total cost: medical, psychiatric and social to the user of this product is estimated at $43 billion annually.” (Source: “Before You Drink”/1989)

3. You can become a statistic. – Drinking causes 150,000 deaths each year. – Over 40 million Americans are alcoholics or problem drinkers. – 10 million of them under the age of 18. – 35% of all drunk drivers are 16-24 years old. – Drinking causes 80% of all home violence and 60% of all child abuse. – 38% of those who take their own lives are alcoholics–a suicide rate 58 times higher than any other group. – The National Council on Alcoholism reveals that alcoholism is a contributor to more than 40,000 birth defects each year.

Quote: David Wilkerson, (“Sipping Saints”) “Just two ounces of alcohol per day puts the fetus in a 10-percent-risk category, and all pregnant mothers are being asked to abstain from drinking even a drop of alcoholic beverage during the nine months of pregnancy. The risk of producing an abnormal baby may be as high as 74% for pregnant women who drink more than an equivalent of ten ounces of liquor per day.”

4. You can become an alcoholic. (Proverbs 20:1; 23:29-35) – Alcoholism is a sin.

• I am constantly amazed at the ability of our society to rationalize sin.

- When someone murders little babies they say they are not murderers they are simply pro-choice. – When someone gets involved in homosexuality or lesbianism, instead of calling it sin or admitting that it is an abomination in the eyes of God, they say, “Oh, no, I was born this way.” – When someone becomes an alcoholic, we say they have a disease. They’re just sick and need medicine and therapy.

- In the U.S., beer and wine companies spend over 1 billion a year to promote that disease.

- Can you imagine the outcry if someone were advertising to promote Parkinsons or cancer?

Quote: Bob Moorehead (“Before You Take A Drink”) “There had to be the first drink, and it certainly wasn’t consumed with the intent and idea of deliberately becoming an addict. No alcoholic PLANNED and deliberately ACHIEVED his condition of drunkenness. Every alcoholic I know was once able to ‘hold’ their liquor, and some for extended periods of time. Science and technology, nor psychology can predict who will become addicted when their first drink is swallowed or during the period of ‘innocent’ social drinking. So, every social drinker is playing a game of ‘Drinking Roulette.’ The losers suffer. Every social drinker gambles with the odds every time he puts a drink to his lips.”

- An alcoholic’s life is shortened by 10-12 years at the very least.

5. You are destroying your own body.

- “4 out of every 10 hospital admissions are alcohol related. Alcohol related deaths outnumber drug-related deaths 33 to 1. ‘Alcoholism is the nation’s number 1 health problem,’ states Dr. Carl Menninger. Ethyl alcohol damages every gland and organ in the body. Its users have 8 times as much cancer as do non-users. It adversely affects over 10 million Americans yearly. It destroys brain cells when present in ANY quantity in the body. If our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, does this make social drinking a sin?” (Source: “Before You Drink” by Bob Moorehead)

Quote: “The fact is, alcohol does not pass through the body into the drain. When a person drinks an alcoholic beverage, it flows into the stomach, but it doesn’t stay there very long. Some of it is absorbed through the walls of the stomach, into the bloodstream. Once that happens, the drinker begins to feel the effects. Alcohol that has not been absorbed passes into the small intestine. Most of the alcohol is absorbed from the small intestine and is circulated throughout the body in the bloodstream. This is how alcohol reaches the brain and affects motor reflexes of the body.

The body disposes of alcohol in two ways: elimination and oxidation. Only about 10% of the alcohol in the body ‘goes out the drain’ through elimination by the kidneys. As the alcohol in the bloodstream passes through the lungs, some of it evaporates into the air. The result is usually referred to as ‘alcohol breath.’” (David Wilkerson: “Sipping Saints”)

“About 90% of the alcohol in the body leaves by oxidation. Oxidation is the union of a substance with oxygen to produce energy and heat. When alcohol is oxidized by the body, it forms carbon dioxide and water. The liver plays an important role in this oxidizing process. Alcohol is carried to the liver through the bloodstream. There it is changed to a chemical called acetaldehyde. Combined with oxygen, it forms another chemical called acetic acid.

The liver can only oxidize a certain amount of alcohol each minute, and the process continues until all the alcohol is out of the body. Alcohol does not leave the body very quickly, and only 10% passes out through the urine. Even if a person’s blood alcohol is as low as .03 percent (i.e. after one glass of wine), some of the alcohol will remain in the body for hours. If the blood alcohol reaches .50 percent, the drinker is in a deep coma and in danger of dying. As the alcohol level reaches 1 percent in the blood, the brain is paralyzed and death occurs.” (David Wilkerson: “Sipping Saints”)

6. Others May Follow Your Example. – Do you really want to influence your family and your friends to take up this kind of lifestyle? – A large percentage of all alcohol-related counseling is for people whose parents were either alcoholics or serious problem drinkers.

Abstainers In The Bible: (There actually were some folks in the Bible who were tee-totalers.) 1. Samuel (1 Samuel 1:11) 2. Samson (Judges 13:3-5) 3. John the Baptist (Luke 1:15) 4. The Recabites (Jeremiah 35:1-19)

- There were many others who took the Nazirite vow. (A vow to be “separated or consecrated”) – 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (We are to be “separate” from the world) – 2 Corinthians 7:1 (We’re to purify ourselves from everything that contaminates…”) – 1 Peter 2:9-12 (Holiness)

EIGHT GUIDELINES FOR CHRISTIANS (Dr. John MacArthur)

1. Is Today’s Wine The Same As That In Bible Times?

“Many sincere, Bible-honoring Christians justify their drinking wine on the basis of its being an acceptable practice both in the Old and New Testaments. But if the kind of wine used then was different from that used today, then application of the biblical teaching concerning wine will also be different.”

David Wilkerson: “As far as I am concerned, Scripture and historical facts prove there were two kinds of wine. One was intoxicating, the other was not…God by His direct act, does not make alcohol. The laws of nature, if left to themselves, do not produce it. By these laws, the grapes ripen; if not eaten, they rot and are decomposed. The manufacture of alcohol is wholly man’s device.”

- In other words, man has to mess with the fruit of the vine in order to produce a drink that becomes alcoholic.

THREE KINDS OF WINE:

1. Sikera (Luke 1:15) and Shekar (Proverbs 20:1; Isaiah 5:11) “Alcoholic Wine” – This refers to strong drink. Led to rapid intoxication of those who drank it.

2. Gleukos (Acts 2:13) “New Wine” (Non-alcoholic) – Freshly squeezed juice…could ferment rapidly and was generally mixed with water before drinking. (John 2. Six jars full of water)

3. Oinos (Matthew 9:17) and Yayin (Proverbs 23:30) – The most common N.T. Greek word for wine and in its most general sense simply refers to the juice of the grapes. – They would boil the fresh grape juice into a thick paste or syrup, which they could store for long periods of time in wineskins (Matthew 9:17)

MacArthur: “Because boiling removes most of the water and kills all the bacteria, the concentrated state of the juice does not ferment. Even when the reconstituted mixture was allowed to ferment, its alcohol content was quite low.” “Since the strongest wine normally drunk was mixed at least with three parts water to one part wine, its alcohol content would have been…well below the 3.2 percent that today is generally considered necessary to classify a beverage as alcoholic.”

“It is clear, therefore, that whether the yayin or oinos mentioned in Scripture refers to the thick syrup itself, to a mixture of water and syrup, or to a mixture of water and pure wine, the wine was either nonalcoholic or only slightly alcoholic. To get drunk with mixed wine (oinos) would have required consuming a large quantity–as is suggested in other New Testament passage. ‘Addicted to wine’ (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7) translates one Greek word (paroinos) and literally means ‘at, or beside wine,’ and carries the idea of sitting beside the wine cup for an extended period of time.”

“The answer to the first question is clearly no. The wine of Bible times was not the same as the unmixed wine of our own day. Even the more civilized pagans of Bible times would have considered the drinking of modern wines to be barbaric and irresponsible.”

2. Is It Necessary?

MacArthur: “In Bible times, good drinking water either did not exist or was scarce. The safest drink was wine, and wine that had alcoholic content was especially safe because of the antiseptic effect of the alcohol. It actually purified the water.” “Modern believers therefore cannot appeal to the biblical practice to justify their own drinking, because so many alternatives are now readily and cheaply available.”

3. Is It The Best Choice?

- Not for leaders (Proverbs 31:4-5) – There’s a stricter judgment for teachers (James 3:1)

MacArthur: “In both the Old and New Testaments drinking wine or strong drink disqualified a person from the leadership of God’s people.”

- The fact that Paul had to tell Timothy to “stop drinking only water and use a little wine” for his stomach ailments testifies to the fact that Timothy was an abstainer. (1 Timothy 5:23) – Romans 12:1-2. Present your bodies as a living sacrifice.

- Our bodies are to be in total consecration to God.

4. Is It Habit Forming?

- 1 Corinthians 6:12. “I will not be dominated by anything.” – A Christian not only must avoid sin, but avoid the potential for sin.

- Alcohol is universally acknowledged to be highly addictive.

5. Is It Potentially Destructive?

- We’ve already covered a number of the problems that can and do result from drinking alcohol. – We have to ask ourselves, is it really wise for us to have any part of something that has such great potential for destruction and sin?

6. Will It Offend Other Christians?

- Romans 14:15-21

7. Will It Harm My Christian Testimony?

- 1 Corinthians 10:31-33 – You normally won’t know how bad you blew your testimony until you get to Heaven.

8. Is It Right?

- Is it right for a Christian to drink at all?

MacArthur: “We have seen that the answer to the first question is clearly no–the wine drunk in Bible times is not the same as contemporary wine. The answers to the second and third questions are also no for the majority of believers today–it is generally unnecessary to drink wine and is seldom the best choice. The answer to the next four questions is yes in at least some degree. Drinking is clearly habit forming and potentially destructive, and it is likely to offend other Christians and could harm our testimony before unbelievers.”

“As we ask ourselves questions about drinking, the final one is the most important: Can I do it before others and before God in total faith and confidence that it is right?”

- After examining the evidence we’ve covered, and there’s a whole lot more we could’ve covered…I’d have to say, “No.”

PART 2

(Text: John 2:1-11)

By: Barry L. Cameron

• Some people use John 2:1-11 as a justification for drinking alcohol, since Jesus turned water into wine.

- First of all, we need to understand that wine was the safest, most common beverage of the day. – With no refrigeration or purification systems, water wasn’t always safe to drink.

• I’ve traveled overseas enough to know you never order iced tea, because it’s made from the local water. Even the ice can be sour and sickening. It’s better to have a safe can of coke. (Yes, it’s almost universally available.)

ILL. My first-ever mission trip. Having iced tea in the tropical rainforest of Panama. The natives used the river for bathing and also for their bathroom. – They boiled their water over a fire to cook and drink. – But when they gave us sweet tea and told us it was from the river, it just didn’t work.

William Barclay, “For a Jewish feast, wine was essential. ‘Without wine,’ said the Rabbis, ‘there is no joy.’ It was not that people were drunken, but in the East wine was essential. At any time the failure of provisions would have been a problem, for hospitality in the East is a sacred duty; but for the provisions to fail at a wedding would be a terrible humiliation for the bride and bridegroom.”

James Montgomery Boice, “To run out of wine would almost have been the equivalent of admitting that neither the guests nor the bride and groom were happy.”

• The word for WINE is a generic, Greek word: OINOS (the juice of the grapes).

- It predominantly has to do with wine mixed with water.

- GLEUKOS/TIROSH – “new wine.” Without refrigeration would ferment very quickly.

- SIKERA/SHAKAR – “strong drink,” “unmixed wine” and is always prohibited in the Bible.

Was the WINE in Bible times the same as ours today?

• The OINOS wine would not be the same as ours today. It would be more like grape juice.

• GLEUKOS and SIKERA would be very similar to the alcoholic beverages of our day.

Acts 2:13. The crowd said the Apostles were full of “new wine”. (“They’re drunk!” – GLEUKOS)

• Most scholars agree, the generic OINOS wine of Bible times was thoroughly and completely mixed with water.

- The lowest acceptable mixture was 3:1. Most were 5:1 or 10:1. – Anyone who drank unmixed wine in Bible times was considered a barbarian.

• Drunkenness is strictly forbidden in Scripture. (Ephesians 5:18; Romans 13:13-14; Proverbs 20:1; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

• Virtually every old wino uses this passage to justify their drunkenness.

- But it’s pretty clear the wine here was quite different than the wine of our day.

TWO IMPORTANT POINTS:

(1) There isn’t a verse in the Bible that says you can’t drink wine. (Nor is there a verse that says you can’t play the Lottery, go gambling, or visit porn sites.)

- There are some verses that appear to commend drinking wine.

• But remember, when you read these verses, the wine of Bible times is quite different from our day and was always diluted with water to the point of almost no alcoholic content whatsoever.

• In Exodus 29 and Leviticus 23; the priests were told to bring drink offerings of wine to the tabernacle for God.

Judges 9:13 and Psalm 104:15 mention a special wine that cheers and makes one happy.

• In Isaiah 55:1-2, wine is equated with salvation. “Come buy wine and milk,” is really an invitation to salvation.

Matthew 26. Jesus drank from a cup of wine as He instituted what we know as the Lord’s Supper.

1 Timothy 5:23, Paul had to tell Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach’s sake.

Luke 10:34. The Good Samaritan poured wine in the wounds of the man beaten and left for dead on the side of the road.

Proverbs 31:6-7 says when someone is dying, give them wine as a sedative to ease the pain.

(2) No one has ever told me, “Pastor, since I became a Christian, I’ve discovered alcohol.”

- What I have seen is people who become Christians who want to hang on to the old life. – Even though 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

• They want Jesus and salvation, but still want to hang out with the gang and have a few beers.

• Social drinking is not a result of the new life you have in Christ, but rather a desire on someone’s part to baptize their old habits and old desires so they don’t really have to change anything.

- Even though Galatians 5:24 says, “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

• Why would a Christian, especially a Christian leader, attempt to justify what the Bible says to crucify?

- Even though Colossians 3:5 says, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you.” – Even though 2 Corinthians 7:1 says, “… let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”

WHAT ABOUT LEADERS AND DRINKING?

• The Bible is clear that leaders are called to a higher standard.

- Leviticus 10:8-11. Abstinence from drinking wine or any strong drink was the higher standard for the O.T. Priesthood. (1 Peter 2:9 says we are “a royal priesthood.”) – Proverbs 31:4-6. Abstinence from drinking wine was the higher standard for Kings and Princes. – Numbers 6:1-3. Total abstinence from wine and any other fermented drink was the higher standard for anyone who took the NAZIRITE vow.

• The highest vow of separation you could make unto the Lord.

• It was so specific, you weren’t even to drink grape juice, eat grapes or raisins.

WHO TOOK THE NAZIRITE VOW?

• Samuel, Samson, and John the Baptist. It was common among God’s people.

- Amos 2:11, says that God raised up many young men as NAZIRITES. – Amos 2:12, God rebukes the people for corrupting those same young men and making them drink wine.

Luke 1:15. The angel of God told John the Baptist’s parents he was going to be “great before the Lord” and he is “must not drink wine or strong drink.”

- 1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7. Total abstinence is the higher standard for church leaders.

• The phrase used, “not a drunkard” is really one word in the Greek.

• It’s the word, PAROINON and means “being beside wine.”

• One desiring to be a leader shouldn’t even be “beside wine.” (Not tempted, not even near it.)

• If O.T. priests, judges, princes and Kings were to totally abstain, what should be our standard for leaders in the church today? Elders, deacons, pastors, teachers, etc.

“People who are always defending their freedoms are most likely already taking liberties they ought not be taking.”

Jude 4 (NIV/1984). Jude warns about those “godless men who change the grace of God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”

• Some people can always find a verse that seems to defend their particular vice.

- Is that really what we ought to be doing, rationalizing our desire to keep living like we’ve always lived? – Or should we be striving to live a holy life, set apart from this world and our old way of life?

Here’s a pretty good test for you …

• “If it doesn’t fly in Jr. High, it doesn’t fly.” – Can we teach it to our Jr. Highers and tell them this is the way to live a holy life?

“If we can’t preach what you practice, you need to change your practice.”

Here’s the heart of a genuine leader: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” (1 Corinthians 10:31-33; NIV/1984)

Now, back to our text in John 2:1-11

• In a million years I could never be convinced this was fermented, alcoholic wine, for two specific reasons:

#1 – It’s contrary to the passion of Jesus.

- I can’t conceive that the Lord Jesus Christ, Who loves people enough to die for them on the cross, would bring into existence something that causes so much destruction, devastation and death.

- Broken homes, divorces, abused children, battered wives, lost jobs, shattered families who’ve lost loved ones in traffic fatalities caused by drunken drivers.

- Jesus would never create something that would hurt anyone.

• Friend, don’t try to recruit Jesus Christ to sell a product that is wrecking the homes and the hopes of so many people here in America.

#2 – It’s contrary to the pattern of Jesus. – Everything Jesus touched He made better. Fermented wine is rotten grape juice.

• Rotten grapes. That’s why they used to call it old “rot-gut.”

• Have you ever smelled alcoholic beverages. Wine is putrefied grapes. – Jesus bypassed the grapes altogether.

Matthew 26:29. On His last night with His disciples, Jesus took the cup and used the phrase, “fruit of the vine.”

“ I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

• Don’t take rotten, putrefied grapes and try to make it a symbol of the precious blood of Jesus. – The wine Jesus makes is so far superior to that and so much better for you.

The QUANTITY of the wine:

• With 6 water jars that would hold 20-30 gallons, it would’ve served almost 2500 servings. – Why did Jesus create so much wine? Everything He does He does in abundance. – Everything Jesus does, He does on a big scale.

• When Jesus makes space, He makes it infinite. – When Jesus makes stars, He makes billions and billions. – When Jesus makes water, He makes oceans and lakes and rivers and streams.

• The same thing is true in GRACE. When Jesus saves, He saves from the guttermost to the uttermost. – And when He saves us, He doesn’t just give partial redemption, He gives abundant redemption. – He does it big.

The QUALITY of the wine:

Verse 10. The master of the banquet was overwhelmed. – Most people gave the best first and then brought out the cheaper stuff.

• Not because people would be drunk, but because they would no longer be thirsty.

Verse 10. “You’ve saved the best for last.”

  • This is the difference between what the devil does and what Jesus does. – The devil always gives his best first. – Proverbs 9:17, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
  • The children of Israel went down to Egypt and it started off with the pastures of Goshen. – They ended up with the fetters of Egyptian bondage.
  • The Prodigal son went to a far country and started off with a feast with the harlots. – He wound up with a famine with the hogs.
  • The devil will give you that first taste of that secret sin. It’s so sweet. – But the next cup is bitter: the cup of guilt. – The next cup gets even more bitter: the cup of addiction. – The next cup gets even more bitter: the cup of regrets.
  • Finally, in a devil’s Hell, the devil will say, “I’ve saved the worst for last.”

With Jesus it’s a totally different story.

  • The first cup is conviction and that’s not too pleasant: to admit you’re a sinner.
  • The second cup is repentance: that’s pretty tough too, admitting you messed up and need God’s help.
  • The third cup is forgiveness: and that’s pretty sweet.
  • The next cup is living for Jesus: it just gets better and better.

Then one day, we stand before Jesus and step out of time into eternity on to the streets of gold, and we’ll say, “Jesus, you’ve saved the best for last!”

ILL. An old infidel was lecturing one day on the miracles of Jesus and attempting to explain all of them away.

- He particularly attacked this miracle of turning water into wine. “Who ever heard of such a thing?”

- An old converted alcoholic stood and said, “I don’t know a whole lot about the Bible and I can’t speak to the miracle of Jesus turning water into wine, but I can tell you what He did in my life. He turned an old wino into a faithful husband and father, who no longer neglects his family and now has a wife and kids who love him. Sir, I don’t know what you’d call that, but I call it a miracle.”

• Jesus wants to do a miracle in your life today too.

Gambling

What The Bible Says About Gambling

(Text: 1 Timothy 6:6-10)
By: Barry L. Cameron

ILL. In 1994, the leaders of St. Malachy’s parish in Chicago decided to find out what influence the Illinois state lottery had upon its parishioners. So, one Sunday morning, the members were asked to bring their losing lottery tickets and place them in the offering plates. The church gathered more than $5,000.00 worth of tickets. Not bad for a church with a regular weekly offering of $300.00.

ILL. Tom Watson (“Don’t Bet On It”) “Three-fourths of all Americans queried in a variety of polls now ‘see nothing wrong with gambling.’ If you share that sentiment as a Christian, you are the victim of a massive confidence game that is draining the moral, spiritual and — yes, even the financial resources of our nation.”

Watson goes on to say, “During the course of any given year, two-thirds of all Americans wager money, legally or otherwise–on some sort of change outcome. Most of them lose, but that doesn’t stop them from betting. The money that changes hands each year in illegal betting alone now surpasses the preposterous total of our national deficit.”

* Pollsters tell us that 80% of the Catholics surveyed, classify themselves as gamblers. (That makes Catholics unchallenged leaders in an ecclesiastical hierarchy of gaming enthusiasts.)

- Not far behind are the Jews at 77%.
- Presbyterians and Episcopalians are at 74%.
- Methodists check in at 63%.
- Only 43% of Baptists surveyed said they gamble.

* 33% of the members of non-denominational groups admitted they did a little betting now and then.
- That last figure sounds low when compared to the denominational churches, but it means that one out of every three conservative Christians have no convictions against gambling.

ILL. Moody Monthly (May/1994)
“Not all risk-taking is evil, of course. An athlete might devote years of training and expense for the uncertain dream of an Olympic medal. An investor might empty a savings account to purchase stock or launch a new business. Such decisions may be wise or foolish, depending on the degree of risk, but they are not inherently wrong.
Gambling is different, both in motivation and in outcome. It appeals to greed, sloth, and selfishness–sins that Scripture condemns in no uncertain terms (Luke 12:15; Proverbs 6:6-11; Philippians 2:3, 4). The gambler assumes irresponsible risk in hope of unearned gain at the expense of less fortunate players.
In addition, gambling violates the Christian concept of providence. To purchase lottery tickets or play casino games shows dissatisfaction with God’s means of financial provision. It’s no coincidence that gamblers are notoriously superstitious. Having lost sight of the sovereignty of God, they grope for any method, no matter how dubious, to manipulate the forces of fate.”

ILL. Several years ago, the Mathematics Department at Miami’s BARRY UNIVERSITY said that the odds against winning a lottery with any single lottery ticket were 7.25 billion to one.
- Some odds calculators said that a person is 3.5 times more likely to be killed by lightning and 5 times more likely to be eaten by a shark than he is to win a state lottery jackpot.

Isaiah 65:11-12. The people of Israel had forsaken the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for the twin gods of Fortune and Destiny. (Money and Chance)
- They worshipped these false gods like the people of Ephesus did in Acts 19:23-29.

* Here, Paul confronts Demetrius and the goddess Diana.
- Paul always brought about one of two responses: REVIVAL or RIOT.
- Here it was a RIOT.

* Christians who stand for Christ are going to cause some conflict in the world!
- Demetrius made silver shrines of the goddess DIANA and was making big bucks from it.
- When Paul arrived and started preaching the gospel, it ruined his business.

The People In Ephesus Were Motivated By Three Things:
1. A Profit Motive (Acts 19:24-25)
- They opposed the gospel because of the money they were losing.
2. A Propaganda Machine (Acts 19:25-28)
- This is bad for our business, our reputation and for our religion.

* Demetrius was a master at manipulating public opinion.

* You can’t trust the world to tell you the truth.
- In 1982, Jane Fonda’s exercise book was #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List for weeks.
- At the same time, Francis Schaeffer’s book: “Christian Manifesto” sold twice as many books, but wasn’t even mentioned. (The world knows how to manipulate the media.)

3. A Persuaded Mob (Acts 19:29)
- Soon the whole city was in an uproar. (Mob psychology)
- The biggest religion in America is the cult of the CROWD. They worship at the altar of conformity and their favorite song is “Everybody’s doing it.”

* Those who promote gambling will always be characterized by these three things:
1. A Profit Motive
2. A Propaganda Machine
3. A Persuaded Mob
* 25,000 people shouting a lie doesn’t make it the truth.

The Bible Is Not A Book Of Minute Laws And Rules, But Rather A Book Of Great Principles:
* You won’t find a verse that says, “Thou Shalt Not Drive Through A School Zone At 110 Miles Per Hour.”
- You will find a verse that says, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.”
- You can find loopholes in laws and rules.

* So, when we talk about gambling, don’t expect to find a verse that says, “Don’t Play Blackjack!” or “Don’t Bet On The Horses!” or “Don’t Play The Lottery!”

* Also, remember that it’s not wrong to live life adventurously. In fact, Jesus rebuked the man in the parable who buried his talent in the ground because he wanted to play it safe!
- The Bible says, “He who observes the wind will not sow.”
- Every farmer who plants crops takes a risk because there might be a drought.

* When it comes to gambling, for every winner there has to be a loser.
- One person gets what another person has.

HERE ARE THE PRINCIPLES THAT GAMBLING TRANSGRESSES:

(1) THE PRINCIPLE OF HONESTY.
- Gambling violates the 8th and 10th commandments.
- Exodus 20:15, “You Shall Not Steal.”
- Exodus 20:17, “You Shall Not Covet your neighbor’s house, wife, manservant, maidservant, ox, donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

* Gambling is nothing more than robbery by mutual consent.
- “But, it can’t be wrong if two people agree to it.”

Example: Duel. We take two pistols. Walk 10 paces. I shoot the other person. Because we agreed to this duel does it make my killing right?
- It two people consent to gamble, it doesn’t mean it’s right. It means that both parties are full of greed and covetousness and want what the other person has.
- Mutual consent doesn’t make it right. It’s stealing.
- He who wins is a thief. He who loses is a fool.
* In Gambling, both parties are out to take what the other person has.

Note: You do know that casino owners don’t gamble in their own casinos or in other’s either.
- They’re not that stupid.

Quote: Tom Watson, Jr. (“Don’t bet on it.”)
“A former casino owner told me, ‘Casino owners never gamble. We know we’ll get our 15 percent no matter who gets lucky or who folds…The owners know that they can always count on greed to even the score.”
1 Timothy 6:10. The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. And the love of money is at the very heart of gambling.

(2) THE PRINCIPLE OF LOVE (Matthew 22:37-39)
- You can’t love your neighbor as yourself if you’re trying to take something that is his.
- Gambling is pleasure and profit at the expense of someone else’s pain, suffering and loss.

* Some estimate there are over 50 million gambling addicts in America.
- One of every 10 gamblers becomes addicted to it.
- Gamblers end up hurting their families and children by making them victims.

* Everything about gambling goes against the principle of love.

Gambling Preys On The Poor:
* The tables at Atlantic City and Las Vegas do their biggest business on the days the welfare checks come in the mail.
- The majority of lottery tickets are purchased by people in the lower middle class and below.

What Does That Tell You? That the people who can least afford to gamble are the most common victims of the gambler’s snare.

* If you could prove to me that our city and state would be better off financially through gambling, I’D STILL BE AGAINST IT! – I would pity someone who favors taxing men’s weaknesses and profiteering on human misery!

(3) THE PRINCIPLE OF WORK.
- 2 Thessalonians 3:10. “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”
- Ephesians 4:28. “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”

* Work is an essential ingredient of the divinely created order. Gambling mocks the need for work by selling the illusion of gaining something for nothing.
* Gambling is economic fraud. It doesn’t produce wealth. It just shifts it from the hands of the many into the hands of the few.
* We need gambling about as much as a drowning man needs a drink of water.

(4) THE PRINCIPLE OF TRUSTING GOD.
- Matthew 6:25-34.
- Isaiah 65:11. God warns against forsaking Him to follow other gods.
- The gambler ceases to trust in God and places his trust in the gods of Fortune & Destiny.
(Money and Chance or Luck)

* Our English word Luck comes from the name of a pagan goddess.
- I don’t want good luck, I want God.
- God leaves nothing to chance (Matthew 10:30 – Hairs of your head are numbered.)

* Some people say they gamble for recreation. Good recreation: relaxes, renews, refreshes & restores.
- Gambling produces: misery, tragedy, crime, greed, and covetousness.
- The saddest faces you’ll ever see can be found walking out of casinos.

(5) THE PRINCIPLE OF WITNESS (1 Corinthians 10:31-33)
- When we gamble we compromise our testimony.
- The Bible is clear that we should live in such a way that others are drawn to the Lord rather than causing them to stumble.

(6) THE PRINCIPLE OF FAITHFUL STEWARDSHIP (Matthew 25:14-30)
- The Parable of the Talents.
- The Bible is clear that we are going to be called to give an account for how we invest our treasure.

TWO SURE THINGS:
1. Your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:23)
2. JESUS Will deliver you if you’ll ask Him.

* So, the question remains: “Can you gamble and still be a good Christian?
I WOULDN’T BET ON IT!!

Gossip

What The Bible Says About Gossip

(Text: Text: Ephesians 4:29)
By: Barry L. Cameron

GOSSIP—THE HISTORY OF A LIE
First, someone told it,
Then the room could not hold it,
So busy tongues rolled it,
’Til they got it outside.

Then the crowd came across it,
They stretched it and tossed it,
And never once lost it,
’Til it grew long and wide.

This lie brought forth others,
Evil sisters and brothers,
And fathers and mothers,
A terrible crew.

As headlong they hurried,
The people they flurried,
And troubled and worried,
As lies always do.

So evil it boded,
This monstrous lie goaded,
’Til at last it exploded,
In sin and in shame.

From the mud and the mire,
The pieces flew higher,
’Til they hit the sad liar,
And killed his good name.

ILL. On Thursday night, November 2nd, 2000, Fox News broke the story that George W. Bush had been arrested, 24 years ago, for drunk driving. The source of the story? Tom Connolly, a Portland, Maine attorney, who is a Democratic activist and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention this year.

How did the story get out? Gossip.

A police officer overheard Mr. Connolly and a judge talking about it and she passed the story on to a reporter who broke the story. Mr. Connolly just happened to already have a copy of the court docket in his office and gave it to the reporter. He said, “It’s not a dirty trick to tell the truth.” Connolly unsuccessfully ran for governor two years ago. (Source: USA TODAY)

Quote: Several years ago, United Technologies placed the following article in newspapers across the country, for no other reason than to make people take a second look at gossip.

“REMEMBER ME?”
My name is Gossip. I have no respect for Justice. I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives. I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age. The more I am quoted, the more I am believed. I flourish at every level of society. My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face. To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I become. I am nobody’s friend. Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never quite the same. I topple governments and wreck marriages. I ruin careers, cause sleepless nights, heartache and indigestion. I spawn suspicion and generate grief. I make innocent people cry in their pillows. Even my name hisses. I am called Gossip. Office gossip. Shop gossip. Neighborhood gossip. Church gossip. I make headlines and headaches. Before you repeat a story, ask yourself, ‘Is it true? Is it fair? Is it necessary?’ If not–SHUT UP”

Ephesians 4:29. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

- Much of what is said every day is not helpful, does not build others up and doesn’t benefit anyone.

Proverbs 6:16-19. There are 7 things God hates and 3 of them have to do with the tongue.
1. A lying tongue
2. A false witness who breathes out lies
3. One who sows discord among brothers.

* The tongue is the #1 enemy of Christian unity and a huge hindrance to your spiritual growth.

- There’s an entire chapter (James 3) devoted to taming the tongue.
- James 3:8 says, “… no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

Proverbs 26:17-28. What a passage on the tongue and gossip!

Proverbs 18:8. Ever hear the phrase, “juicy gossip”? There’s something tantalizing about gossip.

Seven Realities About Gossips.
1. They are usually people who talk too much and to too many people (Proverbs 10:19)
2. They break confidences and divulge secrets (Proverbs 11:13)
3. They shatter friendships and relationships (Proverbs 16:27-28)
4. They bring trouble to churches (1 Timothy 5:13)
5. They ignite quarrels and stir up strife (Proverbs 26:20-21)
6. They burn themselves, others and leave carnage wherever they go (James 3:5-6)
7. They are malicious in their intent (2 Timothy 3:3) Also slanderous.

Definition: Gossip is communicating with malicious intent.

- It’s not gossip to talk to someone about the Mavericks moving into a new arena next fall.
- It’s not gossip to talk about how much money Mark Cuban made when he sold his company.
- But, when you add malicious intent and your desire is to hurt him or harm him in the eyes of others or to elevate yourself by tearing him down, that’s gossip.

Quote: John MacArthur,
“Gossip is often thought of as being relatively harmless, but at best it is unkind, harmful and ungodly. Malicious gossip is a sin of an even more evil and destructive sort. Whereas the irreconcilable person tends to disregard and neglect others, malicious gossips make a point of harming others. Whether to promote their own interests, to express jealousy or hatred, or simply to vent their anger, they take pleasure in damaging reputations and destroying lives.

“Malicious gossips translates diabolos, which, even to the person unacquainted with Greek, suggests the severity of this evil, with our English derivative ‘diabolical.’ Diabolos means “accuser” and is used thirty-four times in the New Testament as a title for Satan. Engulfed and blinded by self-love, malicious gossips do the very work of Satan.”

Quote: Someone said, “It’s easy to make a mountain out of a molehill. Just add a little more dirt.”

Quote: Admiral Hyman Rickover (U.S. Navy)
“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”

Characteristics of a gossip: (Why do people gossip?)
1. They are out of fellowship with the Lord.
2. They have an agenda based on their own personal adversity.
- In other words, they aren’t happy with themselves, so they aren’t happy with anyone else.
- “Hurting people, hurt people.”

Their unhappiness usually comes from one or more of the following areas:
a. Physical: overweight or some kind of physical sickness or infirmity.
b. Financial: stress due to money problems, dead-end job, no progress being made.
c. Marital: not happy at home.
d. Emotional: not happy with anything

3. They are jealous and so they lash out at others.
4. They are intimidated by godly people. So, they try to make them appear less godly by malicious criticism and gossip.
5. They are harboring a grudge and it’s grown into full-scale bitterness.
6. They feel that no one cares what they say so they have to have some hot news to appear important.
7. They’ve never been taught that gossip is wrong.

James 1:26. If you don’t keep a tight rein on your tongue, your religion is worthless.

Galatians 5:15. Gossips will destroy themselves and everyone around them unless they are stopped.

ILL. The pastor gave a stirring message on the evils of gossip. Unfortunately, the music was not coordinated in advance. The closing song was, “I love to tell the story.”

Quote: Chuck Swindoll (Hope Again)
“Show me a person who has learned to refrain from gossip, to refrain from passing on confidential information, to refrain from making an unverified comment, and I’ll show you somebody who is well on his or her way to maturity.”

- Leaders are especially susceptible to unfounded rumors and gossip.

Quote: John MacArthur, “There are always people eager to falsely accuse a man of God. They may do so because they resent his calling, reject his teaching, resist biblical authority, resent virtue, or are jealous of the Lord’s blessing on his life. Ultimately, however, they demonstrate by making such accusations that they have become messengers of Satan. Such false accusations are one of his most dangerous weapons. Joseph, Moses, David, Jeremiah, Nehemiah and our Lord Jesus all suffered from false accusations. So did Paul, and he particularly addressed that issue in his second letter to the Corinthians.

“It is a sacred trust to be in the ministry. That trust is based upon a man’s integrity, credibility, and the consistent purity of his life. If he can be successfully attacked at that point and discredited, his ministry will be destroyed. It is imperative that his people be able to distinguish gossip and lies from reality.”

How Do You Handle A Gossip?

1. Christian Courtesy (2 Timothy 2:24-26)
* Don’t let someone use your EARS for TRASH CANS.
* Teach them what’s right.

2. Compassionate Confrontation (Matthew 18:15-17)
* “Why don’t we get on our knees and you lead us in prayer for _______________.”

3. Courageous Cut-off (Romans 16:17, “Mark those who cause division.”)
Titus 3:10, “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.”

Before you share anything…
1. Is it necessary to share this?
2. Is this confidential information that could possibly hurt someone if I shared it?
3. Will this help build up the body of Christ if I pass this on?
4. Will this bless and benefit the person who hears me?
5. Does this person need to know this?
6. By sharing this will I help solve the problem or contribute to the problem?

* If you’re not talking to the PROBLEM and confronting them to do what’s right…or if you’re not talking to someone who is part of the SOLUTION…what are you doing talking to this person?

7. If what I’m about to say was printed word for word in the city newspaper, would I want my name attached to it and my friends and family to read it?
8. Would Jesus prefer I’d just keep my mouth shut?

How To Get Free From The Habit Of Gossip:
1. Confess it (1 John 1:9)
2. Renounce it (2 Corinthians 4:2)
3. Count yourself dead to it (Romans 6:2)

Quote: Chuck Swindoll (Hope Again)
“There’s a classic grave marker in jolly Old England that reads: ‘Beneath this sod, this lump of clay, lies Arabella Young, who, on the 24th of May, began to hold her tongue’.”

Quote: Dr. Ralph F. Wilson says, “Nimble tongues itch to tell a tale. Inquiring minds want to know. But the church’s health hinges on our willingness to submit our stories to His standard–peace in place of strife, building up exchanged for a wrecking ball. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers,’ Jesus taught, “for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

* Sometimes, because of our tongues, Christians look more like the death squads of Osama Bin Laden rather than the followers of Christ.

Ephesians 4:29-32.

Heaven

What The Bible Says About Heaven

(Text: John 14:1-3)
By: Barry L. Cameron

* Depending on which version of the Scriptures you use, there are between 400-500 references to Heaven.
2 Corinthians 12:2, Paul talks about being caught up to the “third heaven.”

* There are actually THREE HEAVENS:
1. The Atmospheric Heaven (1st Heaven)
* The atmosphere above the earth.
* Gen 7:11-12, “The windows of the Heavens were opened.”

2. The Planetary Heaven (2nd Heaven)
* Stars, moon, and the planets
* Gen 1:14-17

3. The Heaven Where God Lives (3rd Heaven)
* 2 Cor 12:2
* This is where God dwells with His holy angels and those saints who have died.

* The FIRST TWO HEAVENS will pass away (2 Peter 3:10)
- That’s what Jesus meant when He said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)

* Now, when we refer to the THIRD HEAVEN as the place where God lives, we are referring to that as a place of dwelling, not a place of containment.
- God is omnipresent. In other words, He’s so big He can be everywhere at the same time.

1 Kings 8:27. Solomon faced this dilemma when he was dedicating the temple he’d built for God.
- He acknowledged the omnipresence of God and how no temple or even all three heavens could contain Him.

* So, when we say that Heaven is God’s dwelling place, we’re not saying that He is contained there.
- It is His home. His headquarters. His throne.

Isaiah 57:15. Here is God’s testimony that He has a real dwelling place.

Isaiah 63:15. Here is Isaiah’s testimony of God’s dwelling.

Psalm 33:13-14. Here is David’s testimony of God’s home.

JESUS’ testimony: Matthew 5:16, 34, 45; 6:1, 9; 7:11, 21; 10:32-33; 12:50; 16:17; John 14:1-3.

* So, the place where God dwells is the THIRD HEAVEN, the Heaven of heavens.

* Now, when the curtain is drawn on this present age, the Bible says that God will renovate the heavens and the earth.

2 Peter 3:13, “But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

* What will happen to the FIRST HEAVEN and the FIRST EARTH? (Revelation 21:1)

2 Peter 3:10. God is going to renovate the old heavens and the old earth with fire.
- And He will merge His heaven with a new earth to form a new universe.

* This massive remodeling project has always been the plan of God.
- Isaiah 65:17-19

* This is going to be so great a place, that the FIRST HEAVEN and the FIRST EARTH will pale in significance.
- Isaiah 65:17, “The former things shall not be remembered.”

* God promises that this new heaven and new earth will last forever. (Isaiah 66:22)

* In the NEW UNIVERSE, the NEW JERUSALEM will serve as the capitol city, the focus of everything.

* Revelation 21 gives us the details.

NOW, here’s the SETTING:
(1) The Battle of Armageddon has been fought. (Rev 19)
(2) The earthly, millennial reign of Christ has ended. (Rev 20:7)
(3) The GREAT WHITE THRONE judgment has taken place and the devil and all those whose names were not found in the BOOK OF LIFE, are sentenced to an eternity in Hell (Rev 20:10-15)
(4) God’s universal remodeling project takes place with the end result of a NEW HEAVEN and a NEW EARTH. (Rev 21:1)

What Will The NEW HEAVEN And The NEW EARTH Look Like?
* Greek word for “new” is “KAINOS.” Not just “new” but something “different.” (better)
- Same word “KAINOS” used in 2 Cor 5:17.

* The NEW EARTH will be familiar.
- Jerusalem will be there. But it will be a NEW JERUSALEM. (Different and better)
- John describes the NEW HOLY CITY having walls, gates and streets.
- He also mentions water, trees, a river and a high mountain.

* While there will be some things similar to this earth, other things will be entirely different (better).
- For instance, Rev 21:1 NIV/1984 says there will be “no more sea.”
- Today, our earth is predominantly water.
* On the NEW EARTH, there will be “no more sea.”

* Some scholars see this as a removal of all national boundaries.
- Others claim the sea represented fear to the ancients, so this is the removal of fear from the earth.

* Regardless, the only water mentioned in the NEW HEAVEN is “the river of the water of life” (Rev 22:1)
- This river flows right down the main street of the NEW HOLY CITY (Rev 22:1b-2a)

* The “sea” is not the only missing in the NEW HEAVEN/NEW EARTH.
- Also missing will be: tears, death, mourning, crying, and pain (Rev 21:4)

Revelation 21:1-2. John sees this magnificent city coming down out of Heaven and becoming a part of the new earth. (Heaven and earth are now one.)
- The Heavenly realm has moved its capitol city intact to the new earth.
- “Now the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them.” (Rev 21:3)

Revelation 21:2. The word “prepared” tells us the NEW JERUSALEM had already been made before the creation of the new heaven and new earth.

Revelation 21:2. “Coming down out of heaven,” tells us this place comes from the “third heaven” Paul talked about.

Who prepared it? Evidently, this is what Jesus was talking about in John 14:1-3.

The description of it: Revelation 21:10-22:6

Revelation 21:12. The city had “a great, high wall with twelve gates.”
- This wall serves no functional purpose. It’s not to keep people out or to keep people in.
- The wall has twelve foundations (vs. 14) named after the twelve apostles.
- The gates are named after the twelve tribes of Israel (vs. 12).

ILL. John MacArthur says:
“The existence of gates implies that people are able to leave and enter the city. Don’t think the city contains us. It will be our home, but we will not be confined there. We will have the infinite universe to travel, and when we do, we will go in and out through those gates.”

How Big Is This City? (Revelation 21:15-16)
* The city is perfectly symmetrical, a massive cube, 1500 miles wide, 1500 miles long, and 1500 miles high.
- Why a cube-shaped city?
- The Holy of Holies in Solomon’s temple was a cube of twenty cubits. (1 Kings 6:20)
* The NEW JERUSALEM is the Holy of Holies for eternity.

* According to the measurements of the city, the NEW JERUSALEM covers an area of 2.25 million square miles.
- By comparison, all of greater London is 621 miles. The actual city of London itself is an area of only one square mile with a population of about 5,000.
- On that basis, the NEW JERUSALEM would be able to house over a hundred billion people. * And that doesn’t take into account the height of this great new city.

* Heaven will be large enough for the “few” who find the narrow way (Matthew 7:13-14).

* We’ll find out in eternity that the “few” are actually “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” (Revelation 7:9)
- And Heaven will have room for every one of them.

How far is 1500 miles?
* If you placed the NEW JERUSALEM inside the United States, it would reach from New York to Denver and from Canada to Florida.

1 Corinthians 2:9, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”

- The delights of Heaven are beyond the scope of our wildest imaginations.

Does A Christian Go Directly To Heaven At Death? YES!
* 2 Cor 5:8, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”

Will We Have Bodies In Heaven? YES!
* 1 John 3:2, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”
- Jesus had a body in his resurrection.
- We will too!

* Jesus’ resurrected body was the same body, but in a glorified sense.
- The wounds were still visible (John 20:27)
- He could be touched and handled (Luke 24:39)
- He talked with people (Luke 24:13-18)
- He ate real, earthly food (Luke 24:42-43)
* But, he could pass though walls (John 20:19)
* He could appear in different forms so He was not immediately recognizable (Mark 16:12)
* He could suddenly appear out of nowhere (Luke 24:36)
* He could ascend directly into heaven in bodily form (Luke 24:51)

Will We Know Each Other In Heaven? YES!
* 1 Corinthians 13:12, “Now I know in part; then shall I know fully, even as I am fully known.”
* Matthew 17:1-8, Moses and Elijah appeared with JESUS at the transfiguration.
- Peter, James and John clearly knew who they were.
- We’ll know everyone there when we get there.

What Will We Be Doing In Heaven?
* We won’t sleep because there will be no night there and our bodies will be incapable of being weary, sick or tired.
* We’ll be eating for sure. There’s fruit there.
* We’ll be learning throughout eternity.
* We’ll be singing (Revelation 5:9) and serving (Revelation 22:3)

Some Interesting Verses:
* Matthew 22:23-30
- Matthew 24:37-38
* Isaiah 65:17-25

The Most Important Question Of All? Will you be in Heaven?

Fanny Crosby:
“When my life’s work is ended, and I cross the swelling tide,
When the bright and glorious morning I shall see,
I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side, And His smile will be the first to welcome me…
Thru the gates of the city in a robe of spotless white,
He will lead me where no tears will ever fall;
In the glad song of ages I shall mingle with delight
But I long to meet my Savior first of all.”

* Fanny Crosby was blind. She knew the first person she would ever see would be Jesus.

The Holy Spirit

What The Bible Says About The Holy Spirit

(Text: John 14:15-17)
By: Barry L. Cameron

“If the Holy Spirit were taken away from the New Testament Church, 90 percent of what they did would come to a halt. But, if the Holy Spirit were taken away from the church of today, 10 percent of what we do would come to a halt.” (A.W. Tozer)

ILL. Dr. Jerry Vines (Spirit Life)
“Like wind or breath, the Holy Spirit cannot be seen. Jesus declared, ‘God is Spirit, and His worshippers must worship Him in Spirit and in truth’ (John 4:24) Some people don’t believe there is a Holy Spirit because they cannot see the Holy Spirit. I heard about a cynic who was talking to a Christian one time about this. He said, ‘I don’t believe there is a Holy Spirit. I can’t see any Holy Spirit.’ He then said to the Christian, ‘Have you ever seen the Holy Spirit?’ The Christian said, ‘No.’
‘Have you ever tasted the Holy Spirit?’
‘No.’
‘Have you ever smelled the Holy Spirit?’
‘No.’
‘Then, how do you know there’s a Holy Spirit?’
The Christian said to the skeptic, ‘Well, have you ever seen your brain?’
The Skeptic said, ‘No.’
‘Have you ever tasted your brain?’
‘No.’
‘Have you ever smelled your brain?’
‘No.’
‘Then, how do you know you have a brain?’

* Jesus made a promise to His disciples that He wouldn’t leave them alone in the world.
- Four times in three chapters (John 14, 15 and 16) He promised them that He would send another Counselor.

Gk. word for Counselor is “paracletos” (from two Gk. words:kaleo /“to call” and para/“alongside of”)
* We actually have two Counselors:
1. The Lord, Jesus Christ, who is our divine attorney who is pleading our cause before the Father.
2. The Holy Spirit, who is pleading the Father’s cause in our hearts.
* The Holy Spirit is our Counselor, Comforter, Helper and Friend.

(1) THE PERSON OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
- John 14:15-17 Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as a Person.

(a) The Holy Spirit can think, feel and act.
(1) Thinking.
* Romans 8:27 refers to the “mind of the Spirit.”
* 1 Cor 2:10. The Bible says the Spirit searches the deep things of God.

(2) Feeling.
* Romans 15:30 tells us about the love of the Holy Spirit.
* Ephesians 4:30 exhorts us not to grieve the Holy Spirit.

(3) Doing.
* 1 Cor 12:11. “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”

(b) The Holy Spirit is a vital part of the Trinity.
- 2 Corinthians 13:14. Here we have the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- Matthew 3:16-17. Here we have the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- Genesis 1:26. God handled all of creation until it came to man.
* Then, God said, “Let us make man in our image and likeness.”
* This creation was going to be so special God wanted Jesus and the Holy Spirit to have a part.

* The doctrine of the Trinity shouldn’t bother us, just because we can’t fully understand how God reveals Himself in three distinct persons.
- I don’t understand how a brown cow can eat green grass and produce white milk, which can be churned into yellow butter. But I still drink milk and use butter.

(c) The Holy Spirit is co-equal with the Father.
- Matthew 28:19. Baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

(d) The Holy Spirit is God.
- Hebrews 9:14 refers to Him as the “eternal Spirit.”
- Genesis 1:2. The Spirit of God is omnipotent (all-powerful)
- 1 Cor 2:10-11. The Spirit of God is omniscient (all-knowing)
- Psalm 139:7. The Spirit of God is omnipresent (everywhere)

(2) THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
(a) The Spirit’s Work For Us.
* This is called salvation.
* The Holy Spirit is the Initiator in our salvation.
* He confronts, convicts, converts, and completes.

(b) The Spirit’s Work In Us.
* We call this sanctification.
* He reshapes, renews, restrains, and revives.

(c) The Spirit’s Work Through Us.
* We call this Christian service.
* He equips, empowers, and encourages.

Quote: Chuck Swindoll (David, 1997)
“Before the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost (Acts 2), the Spirit of God never permanently rested on any believer except David and John the Baptizer. Those are the only two. It was not uncommon for the Spirit of God to come for a temporary period of strengthening or insight or whatever was the need of the moment and then to depart, only to return again for another surge of the need of the moment, then to depart, once again.

However, at Pentecost and from that time all the way through our present era, when the Spirit of God comes into the believing sinner at salvation, He never leaves. He comes and baptizes us into the body of Christ. That happens at salvation. We remain sealed by the Spirit from that time on. We’re never exhorted to be baptized by the Spirit. We are baptized into the body of Christ, placed there by the Spirit, sealed until the day of redemption (Eph 4:30). That’s the day we die. So He’s there, and He never leaves. Furthermore, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit in which the Spirit of God dwells. He permanently resides within us and will never, ever depart.”

(3) THE PURPOSE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
- There are at least “Ten Ministries” of The Holy Spirit:
“God didn’t pour out the power of the Holy Spirit to make us feel something but to help us accomplish something.”
Greg Laurie (“On Fire”)

Quote: Tony Evans (“The Promise”)
“Without the assistance of this third member of the Trinity, trying to solve problems is like rubbing Ben-Gay on a broken leg. It may feel good, but it doesn’t help the problem at all. Many believers to go church Sunday after Sunday for a Ben-Gay rub. Going to church by itself can only make a wound feel good. It can’t fix the bone or the broken spirit.”

- We need the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

(a) Glorifies JESUS CHRIST (John 15:26; 16:14)
(b) Convicts of sin (John 16:8-11)
(c) Regenerates the unsaved (John 3:5-8)
(d) Indwells the believer (John 14:16-18; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
(e) Comforts the afflicted (John 14:16, 26-27)
(f) Equips the saints with gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7-8, 11 Romans 12; Ephesians 4; I Peter 4)
(g) Sanctifies (Romans 15:16)
(h) Unifies the body (Ephesians 4:3)
(i) Assures us of our salvation (1 John 3:24)
(j) Teaches us the Word of God (John 16:12-15

(4) THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
- God has given the Holy Spirit a specific role in the life of every Christian.
- But He doesn’t go to work until we let Him.

Quote: James H. McConkey
“I used to believe that a few men had a monopoly on the Holy Spirit. Now I know that the Holy Spirit has a monopoly on a few men.”

How can we have the power of the Holy Spirit in our life?

(a) Our Filling (Eph 5:18)
* We are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit. (“Be being filled.”)
* Each day we are to yield ourselves to the control of the Holy Spirit.
* Daily surrender.

(b) Our Praying (Romans 8:26-27)
* The Holy Spirit helps us pray and empowers us when we pray.
* Acts 4:31

(c) Our Walking (Gal 5:16-25)
* We have to make a daily choice to walk with the Spirit.
* It’s an act of our will.

Quote: Jerry Vines (“Spirit Life”)
“Soon after we become Christians and begin to discover the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we make a startling discovery. We find that we have all kinds of opposition. A number of enemies will try to keep us from walking in the Spirit. These enemies will hinder our attempts to live the victorious Christian life. There is an infernal enemy – Satan. He works to hinder us in every way possible. There is also the external enemy – the world around us. This includes everything about our culture which is antagonistic to the things of God. The third enemy is perhaps the most formidable and threatening of all. It is the internal enemy. The Bible refers to this internal enemy as ‘the flesh’ or worldly desires.”

* That’s why we need to daily be being filled with the Spirit and choose to walk with the Spirit.

(d) Our Anointing (1 John 2:20-27)
* There is an anointing to be taught and there is an anointing to teach and preach to others.
* Luke 4:18-19 (quote of Isaiah 61:1-2)

* The intangible unction of the Holy Spirit. (“Unction to function”)

* We need the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our ministries.
- Without Him, we are nothing. Powerless, pointless, purposeless, prayerless.

Quote: Ken Hutcherson (“The Church: What We Are Meant To Be”)
“We’ve got to get back in the Word and understand what it means to be filled and empowered–even intoxicated–with God’s Spirit. Listen, we cannot accomplish anything of eternal significance apart from His day-by-day, moment-by-moment filling. Don’t talk to me about how we’ve got it together in this program or that program! The church will not move forward by education…or marketing…or gimmicks…or committees…or conferences…or cultural sensitivity…or political action…or clever programs…or high-tech communication. If God’s Spirit does not move us, then we do not move! We need to fall on our knees and cry out for His filling.”

Quote: J. Oswald Sanders (“Spiritual Maturity”)
“The Holy Spirit is the Executor of the Great Commission and Administrator of the missionary enterprise. In the great missionary manual of the New Testament, the Acts of the Apostles, we meet His name on almost every page. The history related is one sustained narrative of His activity through the church.”

(5) THE PRODUCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. (Galatians 5:22-26)
- Love
- Joy
- Peace
- Patience
- Kindness
- Goodness
- Faithfulness
- Gentleness
- Self-Control

Hymn: B.B. McKinney (1937)
“Holy Spirit, breathe on me
Until my heart is clean;
Let sunshine fill its inmost part
With not a cloud between.

Holy Spirit, breathe on me,
My stubborn will subdue;
Teach me in words of living flame
What Christ would have me do.

Holy Spirit, breathe on me,
Fill me with power divine;
Kindle a flame of love and zeal
Within this heart of mine.

Holy Spirit, breathe on me
Till I am all Thine own;
Until my will is lost in Thine
To live for Thee alone.

Breathe on me, breathe on me,
Holy Spirit, breathe on me;
That Thou my heart, cleanse every part,
Holy Spirit, breathe on me.”

Homosexuality

What The Bible Says About Homosexuality

(Text: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
By: Barry L. Cameron

* According to Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, Clinical Psychologist and Executive Director of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality…

There are four gay myths:
1. 10% of the population is homosexual.
- The Kinsey report gave birth to this myth several years ago. (It’s actually 2-3% at the most)
- Kinsey, it was discovered later, was homosexual himself and was trying to further the gay agenda.

2. You are born gay.
- People erroneously believe that science has found the gay gene.

ILL. The Pastors Weekly Briefing, August 25, 2000 issue:
“There are many in this country who push their belief that homosexuals are ‘born gay’ and can do nothing to change that fact. Among them is the American Psychological Association, which officially rejects all therapy designed to assist those wishing to leave homosexuality.

It was thus surprising when the APA recently allowed a researcher to present his findings that people can change their homosexual orientation to heterosexual. At a recent symposium, Dr. Warren Throckmorton of Grove City College presented his research that indicates people can choose to leave homosexuality, a fact increasingly supported by research from a growing number of experts. After evaluating nine separate studies of people choosing to leave the gay lifestyle, Throckmorton concluded, ‘Change in sexual identity is possible. The studies that I reviewed did show that very profound change in sexual identity was reported by a good number of the subjects.’

Reed Terzian, of Exodus Ministries, an organization that helps homosexuals leave the gay lifestyle, welcomes the findings that were presented to the APA. ‘It’s important that somebody tell the truth. The truth is that significant numbers of people are significantly healed from this,’ said Terzian, who is a former homosexual.”

* Today, gays are backing off from the assertion of a gay gene and that people are born homosexual because of the lack of evidence.

* I’ll show you in a moment that no one is born gay. That’s one of the deadliest lies perpetrated by the gay community. (Deadly, because it unnecessarily keeps people in bondage that they can get out of.)

3. Once gay, always gay.
- Again, this is not true because thousands are coming out of this lifestyle every year.
- There are nearly 200 organizations and ministries, in the U.S. alone, which are helping people leave a homosexual lifestyle.

Quote: Dr. Tim LaHaye, “The Power of the Cross”
“Homosexuality often becomes such an entrenched way of life that most non-Christian counselors do not even try to extricate the victims from that lifestyle. (Besides, most of them today believe it’s perfectly natural and legitimate.)

“Yet, as I will show, hundreds of Christians, many of them former homosexuals, are leading men and women to the cross of Christ before whom they bow, and they rise with the power to live a new and transformed life. To date, I have personally met forty-eight individuals who have undergone such a life-changing transformation. Now, that is power! The power to transform lives.”

4. Homosexuality is normal in every way.
- Therefore, we ought to:
(a) Teach it to young children as an acceptable lifestyle
(b) Provide the same protection and benefits that heterosexuals receive
(c) Stop trying to get people to leave the homosexual lifestyle

* The gay community wants the world to believe that homosexuals are the ones who are sensitive, understanding, compassionate, and generous.
- And that heterosexuals are not.

ILL. World Magazine, August 26, 2000 issue.
“Richard Cohen–a former homosexual and current member of the American Counseling Association believes that ex-gays have been totally abandoned by the mental health profession. His new book COMING OUT STRAIGHT: Understanding and Healing Homosexuality, describes his frustration with licensed counselors who resisted his attempts to change. ‘It’s supposed to be a profession that encourages people to fulfill their goals, but now they are promoting advocacy, not client’s rights,’ said Mr. Cohen. Now a father of three and a licensed psychotherapist, he represents the gay-rights movement’s worse nightmare. Not only does he say he changed, but he wants to help others do the same. To accomplish this, he founded the International Healing Foundation–a Maryland-based training center where counselors and clergy learn to help homosexuals change.”

Four Non-negotiable truths:
1. There is hope for people struggling with or involved with homosexuality.
2. While the church cannot condone homosexuality neither can we condemn homosexuals.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21. God has not given the church a ministry of condemnation.
- He has given us the ministry of reconciliation.
- We can’t help anyone if all we do is condemn them.
3. Homosexuality is preventable.
4. There is no such thing as a homosexual.

Quote: Dr. Joseph Nicolosi
“There is no such thing as a homosexual. We are all heterosexual. Some of us heterosexuals have a homosexual problem, but it doesn’t mean there are two kinds of people. God did not create homosexuals and heterosexuals. It’s incredible how many people in the church actually believe that God created two kinds of people: homosexuals and heterosexuals. That would be turning the natural law on its head. We were all designed, our bodies were designed for the opposite sex. That’s how we were designed. That is our true identity. Heterosexuality is our true identity. Some people have a problem developmentally which causes a condition called homosexuality.

We are all created as heterosexual beings–and a simple look at our bodies confirms this absolutely: we were designed by our Creator to be reproducers. Men, your body was not designed for mating with another man. Ladies, your body was not designed for mating with another woman.”

What Does The Bible Say? 1. Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
2. Genesis 2:18-25. “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
3. Matthew 19:4-6. Jesus affirms God’s plan for one man for one woman for one lifetime.
4. Leviticus 18:22. “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
5. Leviticus 20:13. If a man lies with a man, as one lies with a woman, they are to be put to death.
6. Romans 1:26-27. Homosexual acts are unnatural, to God’s divine plan.
7. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Homosexual offenders will not inherit the kingdom of God.

What Is The Cause of Homosexuality?
In an interview with Focus On The Family’s Citizen magazine, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi said, “It’s primarily an identity problem, not a sexual problem, and it begins in childhood. The process begins when a child realizes that the world is divided between male and female and that he is not equipped to be identified as male. His father fails to sufficiently encourage male-gender identity. Because he is not fully male-gender-identified, he is not psychologically prepared to feel heterosexual attractions. In order to be attracted to women, a male must feel sufficiently masculine. Faced with this predicament, he goes into a world of fantasy and denies the imperative of being either male or female.

“None of the homosexual men I counsel have had loving, respectful relationships with their fathers. A number of my client’s fathers are pastors. Many of them were good men. In spite of their fathers’ good intentions, there was a lack of emotional bonding. In many cases, the sons were fragile, sensitive boys who could never break away from the ‘safe’ relationship with their mothers to meet the challenges posed by their fathers.”

Is homosexuality fulfilling for gays who say they don’t want to change? (Dr. Nicolosi)
“Many of my clients report to me that when they’ve had sex with a man, they come away feeling that there is something false about it. The gay identity is a false identity. It is a desperate attempt to resolve a psychological predicament.

Many gays claim to be happy, but I don’t believe they are being honest. A gay identity is incompatible with a man’s deepest sense of himself. Our true nature is heterosexuality. Gays insist that society’s homophobia makes their life unhappy, but the real problem is the inherent nature of the gay identity.”

ILL. The Social Significance of Homosexuality: Questions and Answers by Larry Burtoft, Ph.D.
“Elizabeth Moberly, Ph.D., says that in failed father-son relationships, the son develops a defensive detachment–meaning that homosexuality is not primarily a problem of relating to members of the opposite sex, but to the same sex.

“Therefore, male homosexuality is primarily an effort to fill a developmental deficit: They do not ‘feel’ masculine, and they try to repair this perceived lack of masculinity through erotic expression–as if they could receive their partner’s maleness by means of sex. As one homosexual man put it, ‘Even before I came to therapy, I realized that I did not want another man, I wanted a manly me. “Moberly says this helps explain why traditional counseling–which addresses a homosexual’s relationship with the opposite sex–has been ineffective, even ‘counter-therapeutic.’ By contrast, counselors such as Nicolosi who have seen homosexuality as rooted in a failure to identify with the same-sex parent are reporting significant success.

The roots of female homosexuality, however, can be more complex. One form of lesbianism is rooted in an emotional breech between mother and infant. Another form results when a girl perceives her mother as weak and ‘pathetic’ and her father as strong and benevolent. In both cases, the girl is unable to form an authentic and holistic sense of herself.

A third category includes women who were sexually abused in childhood by a male and, therefore, they fear male sexuality. Given the fact that many people who practice homosexuality are motivated by desires for personal wholeness and well-being, evangelicals have good reason for empathy, understanding and even support for what the homosexual is trying to accomplish. Moberly writes ‘The love response of the homosexual is itself the reparative attempt and, as such, is to be promoted. The problem isn’t in the desire for same-sex love, but rather in the sexualization of that love.”

Four Non-negotiable truths:
1. There is hope for people struggling with or involved with homosexuality.
- You can change.
2. While the church cannot condone homosexuality neither can we condemn homosexuals.
- We need to lovingly show homosexuals how to get their needs met in the right ways, without sex.
- We need to surround them with godly role models and encourage their masculinity.
3. Homosexuality is preventable.
- Fathers and mothers can make sure their kids have the healthiest relationships possible.
- Love them, affirm them, touch them, spend time with them, encouraging the right development.
4. There is no such thing as a homosexual.
Dr. Nicolosi: “You are not a homosexual, you are a heterosexual that is trying to repair, trying to get now what you did not get in your childhood. You’re trying to get your valid, authentic but nevertheless unmet emotional and identification needs met now. And that’s a great relief for a lot of these men. They’re not perverts, they’re not wierdos, they’re not sickies, they’re not degenerates. They are seeking normal things which other boys got but they did not get.”

Closing comments:
• Hurtful relationships create an incubator that helps produce all kinds of problems.
• A boy needs a good relationship with his dad.
• A girl needs a good relationship with her mother.
• A lot of people are walking around thinking there’s no hope because they’ve been told they have a gay gene, they were born that way, and they can’t change. (All three are lies.)
• Homosexuals have a tendency towards theater and acting (music and arts) because homosexuality is based on fantasy. They are trying to act out what they’ve never had in reality.

Danger Signs To Watch For:
1. Gender confusion
2. Loneliness and isolation (from members of the same sex)
3. Rejection (“I don’t fit in.”)
4. No peers of the same sex
5. Lacking a close relationship with their father/mother

James 1:13-15, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

1 John 4:4, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

1 John 5:1-5 NIV/1984, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

How Do We Know Christianity Is The Right Religion?

How Do We Know Christianity is the Right Religion?

(Text: 1 John 4:1-6)

By Barry L. Cameron

(1)      HOW DO WE KNOW CHRISTIANITY IS THE RIGHT RELIGION?

-  Many people will say to you, “It doesn’t really matter what you believe, all religions are basically the same.”

-  Others will say, “It really doesn’t matter who you pray to, we’re really all praying to the same God anyway.”

-  Both of those statements are false.

•  It does matter what you believe, and it does matter who you’re praying to.

ILL. Guyana, South America, November 18, 1978. 913 people killed in a mass murder-suicide.  Jonestown residents had been forced at gunpoint to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. Investigators were shocked when they were unable to locate a single Bible in the compound.

ILL. Rancho Santa Fe, California. March 1997. Marshall Applewhite and his 39 Heaven’s Gate followers committed mass suicide. Their website said this would allow their souls to be scooped up by a spacecraft following the Hale-Bopp comet.

ILL. March 31, 2000. Kampala, Uganda

The death toll in the doomsday cult massacre in Uganda rose to 924 yesterday, surpassing the 1978 Jonestown tragedy as the worst modern cult-related killing. These were all followers of Joseph Kibweteere, who was the leader of the Movement For The Restoration Of The Ten Commandments. (They reached out to disaffected Roman Catholics.) He had predicted the world would end December 31, 1999. So they slaughtered all their cattle, feasted for a week, drinking a large supply of soft drinks and singing religious songs. Kibweteere told his followers to sell all their belongings and prepare to go to Heaven. He had to change it to December 31, 2000, after nothing happened. The problems began when people wanted their money back after his false prophecy.

•  One year ago, the police had evicted about 1,000 members of a similar sect from a camp northwest of Kampala, accusing members of crimes that included defilement of minors, rape, abduction and theft.

-  Today, they are looking for the two ringleaders of this cult who are believed to be still alive.

  These people didn’t need to restore the Ten Commandments, they needed to follow them.

A.W. Tozer, (“The Knowledge of the Holy”)

“The history of mankind will positively demonstrate that no society or people has ever risen above

its religion. Man’s history will show that no religion is ever greater than its concept of God.”

•  In other words, what a person thinks about God will determine how they live.

-  In India, they have a population larger than Africa, South America and Australia combined.

-  The basic religion there is Hinduism. (Pantheism: everything is God)

-  “Everything is God and God is impersonal.”

• Hinduism devalues men and women to the level of nature.

-  India grows enough grain to feed all of its people and export to other countries.

-  But 1/3 to 1/4 of their grain crop is eaten by rats.

-  The U.N. estimates that there are more than 5 times more rats than the population.

•  Because of their religion and their concept of God, they can’t kill the rats because it may be someone’s reincarnated uncle or aunt.

•  When you examine the problems in our world today, you quickly discover they are not primarily economic or technological. But they are basic spiritual problems that result from people following the wrong religion and having the wrong God.

•  Some well-meaning people will say, “Well, aren’t Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons and Jews all worshipping the same God as we do, just under a different name?”

-  The answer is NO!

ILL.  Paul Little (“Know Why You Believe”)

“The Jewish concept of God is closest of all to the Christian. Isn’t the God whom they worship the God of the Old Testament, which the Christian accepts? Surely they can get together on this! Again, however, closer examination shows that the Jews would not admit their God was the Father of Jesus Christ. In fact, it was this very issue that precipitated such bitter controversy in Jesus’ time. We accept God, they said to Christ, but we do not accept you because as a man you make yourself God, which is blasphemy.”

“In a conversation with the Jews, Christ discussed this question. ‘God is our Father,’ they said.  Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God … He who is of God hears the words of God; the reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God’ (John 8:42, 47) In even stronger words he says, ‘You are of your father the devil’.” (vs. 44)

ALL RELIGIONS ARE NOT THE SAME …

“Take, for instance, the fact of the deity, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christianity affirms these facts as the heart of its message. ISLAM, on the other hand, denies the deity, death and resurrection of Christ. On this very crucial point, one of these mutually contradictory views is wrong.  They can’t simultaneously be true, no matter how sincerely both are believed by how many people.”

ISLAM is called the religion of the sword.

-  In their holy book, the Koran, God has 99 names.

-  Men sit around holding 33 beads and repeat 3 times, the 99 names of God.

-  Not one of those names for God is that God is a God of love.

-  They teach and believe in fatalism and that man has no choice in the things of this life.

•  In ISLAM heaven is a paradise of wine, women and song. It is achieved by living a life in which, ironically, one abstains from the things he will be rewarded with in paradise. They must also follow the Five Pillars of Islam: Making the public confession that “there is no God except Allah and Mohammad is his prophet. Turning toward Mecca and praying 5 times a day, 7 days a week. Fasting during Ramadan (the month Mohammad first received the Koran). Setting aside 2.5 percent of one’s earnings to benefit the Muslim community. Making a pilgrimage to Mecca.

•  In MORMONISM heaven will be a place where you can become a polygamous god yourself and with your goddess mate, spawn new families throughout eternity on your own planet in the cosmos. Only members of the Mormon church can have eternal life.

•  In Buddhism the goal of life is Nirvana, to eliminate all desires or cravings, and in this way escape suffering.

•  In Hinduism, they’re holding out for reincarnation as a chance to come back in a better status in life;  if you’ve had good behavior (good karma). If you’ve been bad, you will come back in great suffering.

-  I could go on, endlessly sharing the distorted doctrines of all the religions of the world.

THE DISTINCTIVES OF CHRISTIANITY (What makes Christianity different from the other religions of the world? These things set Christianity apart from every other religion in the world.)

1.         The Bible

-  Jehovah’s Witnesses have the New World Translation of the Bible. (Serious revisions made by spurious Hebrew and Greek experts.)

-  Unification Church has The Divine Principle written by Sun Myung Moon, called the “Completed Testament.”

-  Scientology has Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard.

-  Hinduism has the Vedas. Buddhism has The Tripitaka (Three Baskets)

-  Islam has the Koran.

•  But none of these books even come close to being the authentic Word of the living God.

ILL.  Ron Carlson on the Book of Mormon.

“Mormons advertise the Book of Mormon. They say it’s the Word of God. Another testament of Jesus Christ. Here is an organization that has a book they claim is the Word of God. If it is the Word of God, we would expect it to be historically, archaeologically and geographically accurate. The Book of Mormon purports to be the history of the American Indians here in the western hemisphere. In the Book of Mormon, they say the American Indians are actually the lost tribes of Israel.

The Mormons claim the American Indians are all Jews who floated across the Atlantic on ships like the Kontiki raft, and set out here to build two great civilizations: the Nephites and the Lamanites.

It describes their civilizations, their cities, geographical areas. A history of the Americas.

Well, if it’s the Word of God, we would expect it to be clear and accurate wouldn’t we? So, you go to the Mormons and ask them to produce a map of anything found in the Book of Mormon. There is no map. There is no archaeological evidence for anything found in the Book of Mormon.

Did you know the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., the museum of natural history of the United States, has now published a seven-page statement documenting why the Book of Mormon is historically, scientifically, archaeologically and geographically a fraud?

•  I wouldn’t want to base my entire life and certainly not my eternity on a book that is a fraud.

2.         Fulfilled Prophecy.

            -  No other book, of any other religion has fulfilled prophecy. None. Zip. Nada. Zero.

3.         Salvation Based On Grace Not On Works. (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 6:23)

            -  Manmade religions are always a do-it-yourself project.

-  Christianity is based on the finished work of Christ.

•  Religion is spelled: DO

•  Christianity is spelled: DONE

•  Mormonism teaches salvation by works, including faithfulness to church leaders, secret temple rituals, and there is no eternal life without membership in the Mormon church.

•  Jehovah’s Witnesses teach salvation by baptism into the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization and then you earn everlasting life on earth by “door-to-door” work. Salvation used to be limited to the 144,000.  (They had to change that teaching.)

•  Unification Church teaches salvation through obedience to and acceptance of the True Parents (Moon and his wife). Those married by Moon and his wife drink a special holy wine containing 21 ingredients (including the True Parent’s blood.)

•  Buddhism teaches salvation through chanting mantras, self denial and suffering.

  Islam teaches salvation through good works. Allah may extend mercy to you and he may not. If he doesn’t, and you don’t have enough good works, you go to Hell.

4.         Assurance of Salvation. (1 John 5:13)

            -  We can know.

Paul Little: “Every other religious system, however, is essentially a do-it-yourself proposition. Follow this way of life, they say, and you will gain favor with God and eventually achieve salvation. In a sense, other religious systems are sets of swimming instructions for a drowning man. Christianity is a life-preserver.”

5.         A Sinless Founder. (No other religion can make that claim.)

-  Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons—sinner.

-  Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses—sinner.

-  Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science—sinner.

-  L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology—sinner.

-  Buddha, revered head of Buddhism—sinner.

-  Mohammed, leader of Islam—sinner.

-  Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification church—sinner.

6.         The Promised Return Of The Founder. (John 14:1-3)

-  When other founders die, they’re gone.

7.         The Promise Of Forgiveness.

            -  Only God can forgive sins. Mark 2:7. Story of the paralytic. “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

-  All the other religions reject Jesus as God.

•  Judaism rejects Jesus as God.

•  Mormonism says Jesus is a separate god from the Father and was the half brother of Satan.

•  Jehovah’s Witnesses say that Jesus was not God and was Michael the Archangel.

•  Unification Church says Jesus was not God but a perfect man.  Further, they believe and teach that Sun Myung Moon is superior to Jesus and will finish Jesus’ mission on earth.

•  Hinduism says Jesus was a good teacher and a guru.

•  Buddhism says Jesus was not God and was merely an enlightened man.

•  Islam says that Jesus is one of up to 124,000 prophets and is not the Son of God.

Mark 2:7.  “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

8.         The Cross.

            -  No other founder gave his own life as a ransom for his followers.

ILL. Newsweek Article: March 20, 2000

 “Clearly, the cross is what separates the Christ of Christianity from every other Jesus. In Judaism there is no precedent for a Messiah who dies, much less as a criminal as Jesus did. In Islam, the story of Jesus’ death is rejected as an affront to Allah himself. Hindus can accept only a Jesus who passes into peaceful samadhi, a yogi who escapes the degradation of death. The figure of the crucified Christ, says Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh, ‘is a very painful image to me. It does not contain joy or peace, and this does not do justice to Jesus.’ There is, in short, no room in other religions for a Christ who experiences the full burden of mortal existence—and hence, there is no reason to believe in him as the divine Son whom the Father resurrects from the dead.”

9.         The Belief In The Existence Of A Literal Heaven And Hell

            -  We’ve already seen some of the nutty versions of nirvana with Hindus.

*  Scientology believes that Hell is a myth. But they teach that people who get clear of engrams become operating thetans.

*  Christian Science: death is not real. Heaven and Hell are states of mind.

*  Buddhism teaches there is no Heaven or Hell.

*  Jehovah’s Witnesses teach total annihilation.

*  Islam teaches that Heaven is for Muslims. Hell is for all who rejected Islam.

10.       The Empty Tomb.

            -  The founder of every religion who died is still dead, except Christianity, because Jesus is alive.

-  A number of religions teach reincarnation and the majority deny resurrection.

-  The Unification Church teaches there is no resurrection. You do go to a spirit world and members advance by convincing others to follow Sun Myung Moon. And they teach that everyone will be saved, even Satan.)

•  Listen, there is overwhelming, indisputable and irrefutable evidence that there is a God, that His Word, the Bible, is true, and that Christianity stands head and shoulders above and completely apart from every other religion of the world.

ILL. C. S. Lewis and Josh McDowell set out to disprove Christianity and became two of its greatest defenders. (Mere Christianity, Evidence That Demands A Verdict).

  John 20:27-29

How Do We Know Jesus is the Only Way to Heaven?

How Do We Know Jesus is the Only Way to Heaven?

(Text: Acts 4:12)

By Barry L. Cameron

ILL.  Years ago there was a popular television show called, “To Tell The Truth.” It was a show where they would have three people all claiming to be the same person. It was the job of the panelists to ask questions of these three individuals and sort through the evidence they could gather from what they saw and heard so they could make a decision on which one was genuine and which ones were the imposters.

The show always ended the same way, when the host would ask the three contestants: “Will the real __________ please stand up?”

•  This same scenario is being played out every day, over and over again, on a global scale.

-  This time, however, it’s not a game show and the consequences are much more serious.

-  If you make the wrong choice, you’ll spend eternity in a godless, fiery Hell.

•  The question being asked today is, “Will the real Jesus please stand up?”

-  There are a lot of IMPOSTERS out there claiming to be JESUS.

•  Most of the religions of the world have their own version of JESUS, but he’s not the JESUS of the Bible.

-  In fact, did you know that the JESUS you will find in all the other religions of the world has nothing to do with salvation and nothing to do with your going to Heaven?

(a)  The Jesus of the Mormon church is not God, is the half-brother of Satan, and his death on the cross did not provide full atonement for all sin.

-  Salvation is by works. Their Jesus has nothing to do with salvation or going to Heaven.

(b)      The Jesus of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is not God, and was previously Michael the archangel.

-  Salvation is by baptism into their organization and doing door-to-door work.

-  Their Jesus has nothing to do with salvation or going to Heaven.

(c)       The Jesus of the Unification Church is not God and wasn’t born of a virgin. Jesus’ mission on earth failed. Sun Myung Moon is superior to Jesus and will finish Jesus’ original mission.

-  Salvation is by obeying Moon and his wife, and they will eliminate sin from your life.

-  Their Jesus has nothing to do with salvation or with your going to Heaven.

(d)      The Jesus of Christian Science was not God and was not the Christ. He did not die on the cross and did not rise from the dead. And is not coming back.

-  Salvation is unnecessary since humanity is already eternally saved. Sin, evil, sickness and death are not real.

-  Their Jesus has nothing to do with salvation and going to Heaven.

(e)       The Jesus of the Unity School of Christianity was not God, is not the Christ, and did not die as a sacrifice for anyone’s sins. He did not rise physically and will never return to earth in physical form.

-  Salvation is by recognizing that each person is as much a son of God as Jesus is. There is no evil, no devil, no sin, no poverty, and no old age.

-  Their Jesus has nothing to do with salvation and going to Heaven.

(f)       The Jesus of Islam was not God and did not die on a cross. He was born of a virgin but was merely one of a number (124,000) of good teaching prophets.

-  Salvation comes from doing good works and Allah’s mercy.

-  Their Jesus has nothing to do with salvation or going to Heaven.

(g)       The Jesus of Judaism is seen either as an extremist false messiah or a good but martyred Jewish rabbi teacher. Many Jews do not consider Jesus at all (except Messianic Jews and Hebrew Christians).

-  Salvation is through prayer, repentance, and obeying the Law.

-  Their Jesus has nothing to do with salvation and going to Heaven.

(h)      The Jesus of Hinduism is a teacher and guru. He is not God but a son of God as are others. His death did not atone for sins, and he did not rise from the dead.

-  Salvation is achieved through yoga and meditation.

-  Their Jesus has nothing to do with salvation or going to Heaven.

(i)       The Jesus of Buddhism is not God and is merely an enlightened man.

            -  Salvation is through nirvana.

-  Their Jesus has nothing to do with salvation or going to Heaven.

•  So, how do we know who the REAL JESUS is?

-  With so many people claiming to be JESUS, you’d like to ask: Will the REAL JESUS please stand up?

•  We can know who the REAL JESUS is.

•  If we want to know who the REAL JESUS is, all we need to do is go to God’s book, the Holy Scriptures of Christianity, the Bible.

The Bible gives us 8 unmistakably unique characteristics of who the REAL JESUS is:

(These can’t be faked, forged, copied, or counterfeited)

1.         He would be born of a virgin.

2.         He would be God in human flesh.

3.         He would live a sinless life.

4.         He would exercise complete authority over all sin, sickness, disease, demons and death.

5.         He would fulfill, to the most minute detail, prophecies made hundreds and thousands of years before his birth.

6.         He would be killed by crucifixion, between two common criminals.

7.         He would rise from the dead, three days following His death.

8.         He would ascend to Heaven and be seated at the right hand of God.

•  There is only one person in all of human history who fits that description, and He is none other than JESUS CHRIST of Nazareth, the only begotten Son of the living God. The Jesus of the Bible!

Josh McDowell (More Than A Carpenter)

“The O.T. contains 60 major prophecies concerning the Messiah and 270 ramifications. Jesus fulfilled every one of these predictions and such an accomplishment is beyond comprehension. The mathematical probability of Jesus fulfilling just 8 of these 60 major prophecies is 1 in 1 followed by 17 zeros. To grasp the enormity of this number, Dr. Peter Stoner has provided a picture for our understanding. The entire state of Texas would be covered with silver dollars, two-feet deep. One coin would be marked then the entire sea of silver would be thoroughly mixed. A blindfolded man would be instructed to travel as far as he wished but he must pick up the marked coin on his first try. The chances of that occurring are the same as Jesus fulfilling just 8 of the 60 major prophecies. And to think that He fulfilled them all!  The probability of Jesus NOT being the Messiah is mathematically impossible.”

•  When Jesus was asked by His disciples, “how will we know that we’re nearing the end of the age and what will be the sign of your coming?” Here’s what Jesus had to say: Matthew 24:4-5, 23-27. 

•  The presence of false Christs and false Messiahs serves to warn us that we’re definitely living in the  last days.

-  It also serves as further evidence that the Jesus of the Bible is our only hope for Heaven.

R.C. Sproul, “Moses could mediate the law. Mohammed could brandish a sword. Buddha could give personal counsel. Confucius could offer wise sayings, but none of these men was qualified to offer an atonement for the sins of the world. Jesus alone is qualified.”

Jesus IS the only way to Heaven.

   How do we know that?

            1.         God says so. (Isaiah 53:10-12)

            2.         The Bible says so. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

            3.         Jesus says so. (John 14:6)

•  If we were in a court of law, there are so many witnesses we could call to testify that JESUS is the Christ, the son of the living God, and that He is our only hope for Heaven.

1.         The Angel, Gabriel (Matthew 1:21)

            “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

2.         The Scriptures (John 20:31)

“But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

3.         God, The Father (Mathew 17:5)

            “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

4.         The devil (Matthew 4:1-11)

“If you are the Son of God … command these stones to become loaves of bread, throw yourself down, fall down and worship me and I’ll give you the kingdoms of the world.”

•  The REAL Jesus has REAL opposition and enemies.

5.         His disciples

            (a)       Peter  (Acts 2:36)

“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

            (b)      James (James 1:1)

                        “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    (c)       John (John 1:1, 12, 14)

                        “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was

in the beginning with God. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

            (d)      Judas (Matthew 27:3-4)

“Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’”

6.         The Apostle, Paul (Philippians 2:5-11)

7.         Apollos (Acts 18:27-28 NIV)

            “When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.”

8.         The Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:37)

            “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

9.         The Roman Centurion (Mark 15:39)

            “Truly, this man was the Son of God.”

10.       The Apostles and Prophets

            They all spoke of Jesus and His being the Redeemer of all mankind.

ILLElderly lady, dying in the hospital. Priest came in to administer last rites. “I am going to absolve you of your sins.” “You can’t do that. The only One who can forgive my sins has nail scars in his hands.”

11.       Jesus, Himself (John 14:6 NKJV)

            “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through Me.”

•  We could also call to the witness stand the millions of people whose lives have been forever changed and transformed by the redeeming touch of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

ILL.  Charles Weigle

            “I would love to tell you what I think of Jesus.

Since I found in Him a friend so kind and true;

I would tell you how He changed my life completely

He did something that no other friend could do.

No one ever cared for me like Jesus.

There’s no other friend so kind as He;

No one else could take the sin and darkness from me.

O, how much he cared for me.”

•  The evidence is overwhelming and the verdict is in:

JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY TO HEAVEN

To the artist He is altogether lovely. To the architect, He’s the chief cornerstone.

To the astronomer, He’s the sun of righteousness. To the baker, He’s the bread of life.

To the banker, He’s the hidden treasure. To the builder, He’s the sure foundation.

To the carpenter, He’s the door. To the doctor, He’s the great physician.

To the educator, He’s the master teacher. To the engineer, He’s the new and living way.

To the farmer, He’s the sower and the Lord of the Harvest.

To the florist, He’s the Rose of Sharon. To the geologist, He’s the Rock of ages.

To the horticulturist, He’s the true vine. To the judge, He’s the only righteous judge of all the earth.

To the juror, He’s the faithful and true witness. To the jeweler, He’s the pearl of great price.

To the lawyer, He’s the counselor, lawgiver, and true advocate.

To the optometrist, He’s the light of the eyes.

To the philanthropist, He’s the unspeakable gift. To the philosopher, He’s the wisdom of God.

To the preacher, He’s the Word of God. To the sculptor, He’s the living stone.

To the servant, He’s the example to follow. To the statesman, He’s the desire of all nations.

To the student, He’s the incarnate truth. To the theologian, He’s the author and finisher of our faith.

To the worker, He’s the giver of rest.

To the sinner, He’s the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

To the Christian, He’s the only begotten Son of the true and Living God, our Savior, our Redeemer, Loving Lord and faithful friend who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except by me.”

How Do We Know There Is A God?

How Do We Know There is A God?

(Text: Psalm 14:1)

By Barry L. Cameron

•  What do you do when people ask tough questions about your faith?

-  The Bible says we should be prepared to respond.

1 Peter 3:15 NIV, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

•  If someone asked you, “How do we know there is a God?” what would you say?

•  Every Christian ought to be able to give answers for their faith.

-  We ought to be able to clearly articulate not only WHAT we believe, but WHY we believe it.

• One of the requirements of church leaders is that they’re to be able to teach and defend sound doctrine.

-  They are to be able to GIVE ANSWERS.

Titus 1:9, “He (the leader) must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”

2 Timothy 2:24-25, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.”

Jude 3, “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”

-  We don’t need to run from questions, we need to answer them.

 (1)      HOW DO WE KNOW THERE IS A GOD

Albert Einstein, considered to be one of the greatest minds ever and a genius wrote: “Everyone who is seriously interested in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe—a spirit vastly superior to man, and one in the face of which our modest powers must feel humble.”

The Traditional Arguments For The Existence Of God:

            1.         The Cosmological ArgumentCreation (cosmos)

            2.         The Teleological Argument – Design (telos means purpose)

            3.         The Axiological ArgumentMoral law (axios means judgment)

            4.         The Ontological ArgumentBeing (ontos means being)

-  God has no beginning and no end. He has always been and always will be.

-  The Bible never sets out to prove God exists; it just states the obvious: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’.”  (Psalm 14:1)

-  Now don’t get offended by that statement.

•  Let’s examine why it’s FOOLISH for someone to say there is no God.

Romans 1:18-20. The Bible states pretty emphatically that men are without excuse.

-  God has made it plain, what may be known about Him.

Napoleon: “Man will believe anything, as long as it’s not in the Bible.”

Five Ways We Know There’s A God Apart From The Bible:

            1.         The Conscience

•  The fact that every human being has a conscience is evidence for God.

•  People know there’s a moral law because it is “written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness.” (Romans 2:15 NIV)

•  Even an absolute atheist or agnostic has a conscience.

            2.         A Longing For God

                        •  In Acts the people of Athens had built an altar “to the unknown God” (Acts 17)

•  At some level, they knew their idols could never save them − but they had an intuition of a mysterious God who could.

•  This is a universal intuition that you will find in every culture of the world.

Blaise Pascal, the great physicist and philosopher, said “there is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person that can only be filled by Him.”

          3.         Creation

ILL.  One day a group of scientists got together and decided that man had come a long way and no longer needed God. So they picked one scientist to go and tell God that they were done with Him. So, the scientist walked up to God and said, “God, we’ve decided that we no longer need you. We’re to the point that we can clone people and do many miraculous things, so why don’t you just go on and get lost.”

God listened very patiently and kindly to the man and after the scientist was done talking, God said,

“Very well, how about this, let’s say we have a man-making contest. Winner takes all.”

To which the scientist replied. “OK, great!”

But God added, “Now, we’re going to do this just like I did back in the beginning, with Adam.”

The scientist said, “Sure no problem” and bent down and grabbed a hand full of dirt.

God just looked at him and said, “Oh, no. You go get your own dirt!”

•  Maybe you don’t believe in God, but you have to admit that whoever made this universe must be awesome. It couldn’t just happen by accident.

ILL.  Ray Comfort (“God Doesn’t Believe In Atheists”)

“What sort of supreme creative force could make something as incredible as the sun? Scientists tell us that this massive earth fits into the volume of the sun ONE MILLION times! Flames on the sun leap up thousands of miles at a time. But more than that, it is only a small sun of millions in the universe. It has been placed 93 million miles from us so that it’s just warm enough to maintain life. If it were a little closer, we would all die either from the heat or from drowning. In fact, if the polar ice were to melt and flood the earth, the sea level would rise to a point where it would submerge the Empire State Building up to the twentieth floor!

If the sun were further away, however, we would all die by freezing. It is said that one second of energy given off by the sun is approximately 13 million times greater than the average amount of electricity used each year in the entire United States. What sort of creative force could make that sun, then hold it in space and sustain its brilliance?”

HE GOES ON TO SAY…

“The professing atheist is, in truth, what is commonly known as an ‘agnostic,’ one who claims he ‘doesn’t know’ if God exists.  It is interesting to note that the Latin equivalent for the Greek word is ‘ignoramus,’ which seems appropriate for those who say they don’t know if God exists when creation is staring at them in the face!”

“What would you think of the mental capacity of someone who looked at a building and didn’t know if there was a builder? The Bible tells us that this ignorance is ‘willful’ (they choose to remain in rebellious ignorance). It’s not that he can’t find God, but that he won’t. The atheist can’t find God for the same reason a thief can’t find a policeman.”

1.         The Conscience

            2.         A Longing For God

            3.         Creation

            4.         The Immutable Law Of The Harvest.

•  The Bible says, “We reap what we sow.” That’s true in the garden, on the farm, in the workplace, at the bank, in your business, in relationships.

      5.         Our Design 

ILL.  Reader’s Digest (Jan. 1993)

THE BRAIN: “The human brain has the capacity to store billions of bits of information. It requires huge amounts of energy because 100,000 chemical reactions take place there every second. In fact, the brain can burn as many calories in intense concentration as the muscles do during exercise.”

“This is why ‘thinking’ can be ‘exhausting.’ There are no nerve endings in the brain, consequently, neurosurgeons can operate there without anesthesia. The pain from headaches, arises outside of the brain.”

Carl Sagan (Cosmos)

“The information content of the human brain expressed in bits is probably comparable to the total number of connections among neurons—about a hundred trillion. If written out in English, say, that information would fill some twenty million volumes, as many as in the world’s largest libraries. The equivalent of twenty million books is inside the heads of every one of us. The brain is a very big place in a very small space . . . . The neurochemistry of the brain is astonishingly busy, the circuitry of a machine more wonderful than any devised by humans.”

THE NOSE: “Nasal mucus is a defense against the millions of bacteria seeking to invade the body.  Those that survive the strong chemicals found in this mucus are expelled or swallowed and finished off by stomach acid. A sneeze can eject unwanted particles at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. Blood vessels in the nasal passages alternate in size every few hours so that one nasal passage is always wider than the other.”

THE EYES: “With every blink, the eyes are bathed with a bacteria-fighting fluid secreted by the lachrymal glands. Tears caused by irritants, differ from tears of sadness, which contain 14% more proteins.”

THE SKIN: “One square inch of human skin contains approximately 19 million cells, 625 sweat glands, 65 hairs, 19 feet of blood vessels, 29,000 sensory cells, and about 20 million microscopic animals. The body is cooled by the evaporation of sweat. When the air is completely dry, humans can survive a temperature of 200 degrees. In moist air, about 115-120 degrees.

THE STOMACH:  “Stomach acid is such a powerful corrosive it can dissolve razor blades. In fact, to avoid digesting itself, the stomach must produce a new lining every three days. The body is such an efficient machine that it only requires 350 calories to ride a bicycle 10 miles in an hour. This equals only three tablespoons of gasoline.

THE EARS: “Humans can hear frequencies as high as 20,000 hertz (higher than a piccolo) and as low as 20 hertz (lower than a bass fiddle). Curiously, the sound of blood flowing in the vessels of our head and neck is within hearing range, yet we don’t hear it. Sound usually arrives in one ear before the other so that the brain can pinpoint the origin of sound.”

THE BODY is many things: It is a temple, a warehouse, a pharmacy, an electric company, a photography studio, a library and a sewage treatment plant.”

David said: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14 NIV)

ILL. An atheist was spending a quiet day fishing when suddenly his boat was attacked by the Loch Ness monster. In one easy flip, the beast tossed him and his boat high in the air. Then it opened its mouth to swallow both. As the man sailed head over heels, he cried out, “Oh, my God! Help me!” At once, the ferocious attack scene froze in place, and as the atheist hung in mid-air, a booming voice came down from the clouds, “I thought you didn’t believe in Me!”

“Come on God, give me a break!” the man pleaded. “Two minutes ago, I didn’t believe in the Loch Ness Monster either.”

Top Ten Problems Of Being An Atheist:

10.       The only good thing you do on your knees is scrub floors.

9.         You wake up in the morning feeling really grateful, but to whom?

8.         You call Dial-A-Prayer-For-Atheists and no one answers.

7.         All the change in your pocket says, “In God We Trust,” and you can’t relate.

6.         You have to tell that tender, small voice to shut up all the time.

5.         At some point in your life you’ll say, “It just can’t get any better than this,” and you’ll be right.

4.         That little statue of Madelyn Murray O’Hare on your dashboard just doesn’t work.

3.         Your idea of a higher power in the universe is the IRS.

2.         Limited profanity—why bother to curse in the name of someone who doesn’t exist?

1.         No matter where you go when you die, there won’t be any atheists there.

ILL. Two puppets were privately talking behind stage when one of them became very transparent with his doubts and said, “You know, sometimes I think there is no hand.”

•  The word “Atheist” is made up of two Greek words: “a” − without and “Theos” − God. By their own choice someone who claims to be an atheist is without God, and consequently without hope.

-  You’re not born an atheist. Someone has to mess with your mind and convince you there is no God.

ILL.  Madelyn Murray O’Hair.  (Chuck Colson − Breakpoint Commentary – 6/17/99)

She led the charge to remove prayer from the public schools in 1963. Disappeared in 1995 and is believed to have been murdered. The IRS ordered an auction of her remaining estate to pay back taxes. Among her belongings were several diaries that give a glimpse into her inner life. She was consumed with ambition for wealth and power. In 1973, her New Year’s wish list included a mink coat, a Cadillac, a cook, and a housekeeper. She also wrote, “In 1974, I will run for the governor of Texas, and in 1976, the President of the United States.” A surprisingly different side of O’Hair’s character emerges from the newly discovered diaries. A 1959 entry reveals an almost pathetic despair. “The whole idiotic hopelessness of human relations descends upon me. Tonight I cried and cried, but even then, feeling nothing.” In 1977, she wrote, “I have failed in marriage, motherhood, and as a politician.” O’Hair clearly sensed that something was missing from her life. One poignant phrase appears again and again. In half a dozen places, O’Hair writes, “Somebody, somewhere love me.”

The inside story of O’Hair’s diaries is that atheism is faulty because it cannot be lived out—not in the world, nor in the deepest recesses of the human heart. Not even by its best known proponent.”

ILL.  General Motors Plant in Arlington, TX

Imagine someone saying there is no General Motors plant. (That would be absurd.)

-  There are cars all over the world that prove there’s a car maker called General Motors.

•  But what if they saw a junkyard and said, “What kind of a car maker would allow something like that? There can’t be a car maker. If there really was one, they’d never allow this to happen.”

-  What if they saw a wreck on I-20 and said, “I can’t believe in a car maker who would allow this.”

-  What if they drove all over town in their Cadillac, enjoying the benefits and blessings of every bell and whistle General Motors can put on a car and yet, all the while, deny the existence of a carmaker?

•  With all due respect to General Motors, God has done something far more magnificent in what He has created.

-  And for man to walk on God’s earth, breathe God’s air, drink God’s water, eat God’s food, and enjoy God’s creation, and say that God doesn’t exist is not only stupid, it’s intellectual suicide.

-  And you need to remember it’s a choice. The atheist and agnostic choose not to believe.

     *  It’s not because of the evidence, but rather because of willful ignorance.

  “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’.” (Psalm 14:1)

Infant Baptism and Sprinkling

What The Bible Says About Infant Baptism And Sprinkling

(Text: No verse in the Bible mentions them.)
By: Barry L. Cameron

* The practice of INFANT BAPTISM comes from an old doctrine that babies were guilty of sin inherited from Adam. Therefore, they were christened or “Christianized” and given a “Christian” name.

* The Bible teaches that we become a Christian by receiving Christ as our Lord and Savior, by faith, and then, we obey Him in immersion or baptism as He commands us. Doing this is beyond the grasp of an infant who is innocent of all sin and needs no christening to make him a Christian.

(1) INFANT BAPTISM (There Is No Scriptural Evidence)
- Attempts have been made to justify INFANT BAPTISM based on the “household” baptisms of the New Testament.
1. Acts 10 – Cornelius’ household
2. Acts 16 – Lydia’s household
3. I Corinthians 1:16 – The household of Stephanas

* Those who hold this theology insist that households would have included young children.

* There is also some insistence that the Jewish rite of “circumcision” on the 8th day for Jewish males was the Old Testament equivalent for INFANT BAPTISM.

Here are few problems to consider:
1. Jewish girls couldn’t be circumcised.
2. Circumcision didn’t make you a Jew, it identified you as a Jew.
- It was an outward symbol.
3. The Council In Acts 15.
- The debate was over “circumcision.” Some of the Jews were insisting that the Gentiles had to be circumcised before they could be saved (Acts 15:10-11).
- The decision of the Council was an emphatic, “No.”

* Now, if “circumcision” clearly had nothing to do with salvation in the New Testament church, how could it be used to support the doctrine of INFANT BAPTISM? (Just a thought.)

* There is no Biblical precedent for INFANT BAPTISM.
- In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus told His disciples to TEACH or MAKE DISCIPLES, then to BAPTIZE them. (Infants can’t be taught in this capacity.)
- In Mark 16:15-16, it says you must be a “believer” and be baptized. (Obviously, a baby can’t exercise this kind of faith.)
- In Acts 2:37-38, Peter was preaching and the people were convicted of their sin and wanted to know how to be saved. Peter told them to REPENT and to be BAPTIZED. (The concepts of conviction of sin and repentance are far beyond the capacity of the mind of an infant.)
- In Acts 8:36-37, the Ethiopian Eunuch was reading from Isaiah and asked Philip to explain to him what he was reading. So, Philip told him about Jesus. Philip told him in verse 37, “if you believe with all your heart, you may.” The official answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Obviously, an infant is unable to make that kind of confession.)

* In each of the “household” baptisms that are referred to in the New Testament, the following conditions were present when those involved were baptized: they were hearers, believers, they were repentant, rejoiced and they served.

So, Who Is A Proper Candidate For Baptism?
1. Those who have heard the Gospel (Romans 10:17)
2. Those who have faith in Christ (Romans 10:17a; Ephesians 2:8)
3. Those who believe in Christ. Who He is and What He’s done (Mark 16:16)
4. Those who recognize their sin and repent of it (Romans 3:23; 6:23; Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38)
5. Those who recognize their need for a Savior (Romans 3:10; 5:8-11)
6. Those who confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10)
7. Those who respond to the Lord’s command to be baptized (Matthew 28:19-20)

* Obviously, infants couldn’t do any of the above.

TWO IMPORTANT FACTS TO CONSIDER:
1. Infant baptism is really the decision of the parents, not the infant.
- Out of a desire to do what’s best for a child, some parents feel they should do this.
- But is it even necessary?

* The only way INFANT BAPTISM would be necessary were if God condemned infants to Hell who had not been baptized.
- God doesn’t do that. You won’t find a single verse in the Bible to support that concept.

2. Can INFANT BAPTISM save the infant?
- If it can’t impart salvation, then what’s the purpose?
- Infant baptism would make water the Savior, instead of Jesus, since the infant can’t believe in Jesus or confess Him as Lord, etc.

(2) SPRINKLING (Is It Acceptable For Bible Baptism?)
- Does it pass the following tests:

(a) The Scriptural Test.
* The New Testament was originally written in Greek. The Greek word for baptism is: BAPTIZO meaning “to dip, plunge, or immerse.”
* The Greek word for pouring is CHEO.
* The Greek word for sprinkling is RANTIZO.

* In the original Greek manuscripts, the words CHEO and RANTIZO are NEVER used in connection with BAPTISM.

(b) The Common Sense Test.
* In our study of the accounts of baptism in the New Testament, common sense would tell us that immersion was how people were baptized.
* For example: John 3:23, says John was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptized.
* Matthew 3:16 says, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water.”
* Mark 1:9-10 says, “At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water . . .”
* Acts 8:38 says, “Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.”

(c) The Death, Burial & Resurrection Test.
* Paul always pictured baptism as a “burial” (Colossians 2:12; Romans 6:4-5)
* In Romans 6; it is clear that baptism symbolizes (or pictures) the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
* This symbol would be destroyed in sprinkling or pouring water on someone.

* Sprinkling as an accepted mode of baptism was begun by the Roman Catholic Church and was originated by them as a law of the Roman Catholic Church. This is an historic fact and can be read in the Edinburgh Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, page 236, under the article: Baptism.

ILLUSTRATION: Imagine someone dying at your house. And someone asks you, “Can we bury our friend in your back yard?” Suppose you agree and they take their friend out to your back yard and sprinkle a little dirt on him or pour a little dirt on him and leave. Not even the local health department would accept that as a proper burial. (Just a thought.)

(3) DO I HAVE TO BE BAPTIZED TO BE SAVED?
- Does this sound like the kind of question a person who is really saved would ask?
- It’s like this question: “Do I have to wear a wedding ring to be married?”

* The wedding ring is the outward symbol that you are married. If you’re ashamed of the symbol, it’s a pretty good indicator the rest is a sham.

* Jesus commanded baptism (Matthew 28:18-20). Now answer your own question. If Jesus commanded it, what is my response if I am truly saved?

* While we are not saved by baptism (if water could save, INFANT BAPTISM would be sufficient. It doesn’t and it isn’t.

Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 10:9-10, 13 1 Corinthians 1:14-17) if we are saved we’ll be baptized (Acts 2:37-38; Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:18-20; Matthew 3:13-17; Acts 8:36-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15, 31-34; 19:1-5; 22:16).

Knowing the Will of God

What The Bible Says About Knowing The Will Of God

(Text: Romans 12:1-2)
By: Barry L. Cameron

One of the most common questions ever asked by people, young and old alike, is: “Can a person really know the will of God for their life?”
God doesn’t play some cosmic game of hide and seek from us. He wants us to know that #1 – He has a will for our lives and #2 – He wants us to know what His will is.

God speaks His will to us through:
1. The Bible
2. Prayer
3. Church
4. Circumstances
5. Other Believers

Here Are Some Things We Can Know For Sure About God’s Will:

(1) We have to present ourselves to God as living sacrifices if we want to know His will for our lives. (Romans 12:1-2)
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

(2) It is God’s will that you be saved. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

(3) It is God’s will that you be Spirit filled. (Ephesians 5:17-18)
“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.”

(4) It is God’s will that you be sanctified. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4)
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor.”

(5) It is God’s will that you be submissive. (1 Peter 2:13-15)
“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.”

(6) It is God’s will that you suffer. (1 Peter 3:17)
“For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”

(1 Peter 4:12-13)
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”

(1 Peter 4:16)
“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”

(1 Peter 4:19)
“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”

(2 Timothy 3:12)
“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

(7) It is God’s will that you be thankful.
(1 Thessalonians 5:18) “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

HERE’S THE EXCITING NEWS . . .
If you are doing all seven of those things that you know for sure are the will of God for your life, then, God gives you the freedom to choose whatever you wish to do. Sound too good to be true?

The fact is, once you are in the middle of God’s will when it comes to His revealed will for your life in Scripture, then, He gives you the privilege to make whatever choices you’d like to make, regardless of whether the choice is your life’s vocation, or your life’s partner.

Psalm 37:3-6 says, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.”

The Lord's Supper

What The Bible Says About The Lord’s Supper

By: Barry L. Cameron

In 1 Corinthians 11:23-29, the Apostle Paul wrote these words, “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.”

We observe the supper the Lord instituted on the night He was betrayed every Lord’s day here at Crossroads.  Jesus didn’t say how often we should do it.  Rather, He said whenever we do it we should do it “in remembrance of Him.”  Some churches have opted out of this observance altogether.  Others minimize its importance or downplay its necessity in their worship gatherings.

Partaking of the Lord’s Supper is a serious part of our worship every week and central to everything we do.  When we take the bread, it symbolizes His body.  He was crucified for us.  When we take the cup, it symbolizes His blood, which was shed for us.  Isaiah 53:5 reminds us, “He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities …” When we take communion (the Lord’s Supper), it’s a reminder of His suffering in order that we might be saved.  His crucifixion made possible our conversion.  His pain, our peace.

Every time we observe the Lord’s Supper it’s a time for remembrance.  Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” We should remember His death, burial and resurrection.  We should remember His love for us and what He has done for us.

It’s also a time for reflection and repentance.  Paul said, “A man ought to examine himself.”  This is a time for us to look back on the previous week and confess our sins, asking God for His forgiveness.  1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Verse 10 goes on to say, “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Whenever we observe the Lord’s Supper it’s a time for us to focus on ourselves, not anyone else. Since the Bible says all of us have sinned (Romans 3:23) we have more than enough to focus on within ourselves without focusing on anyone or anything else. The Lord’s Supper also provides us with a time to ask God for strength for the week to come. We can’t live a holy life, that wholly honors Him, without His help.

Each time we come to the time in our service, where we observe the Lord’s Supper, it should be a time of prayerful reflection and spiritual reverence.  We ought to bow our heads in prayer and quiet meditation. It isn’t a time to visit with our neighbor or check for cell phone messages. The only movement in the building should be the ushers serving us. The rest of us should be remembering, reflecting, repenting, praying, thanking God and thinking about what Jesus did for us on Calvary’s Cross and what He means to us.

In 1 Corinthians 11:26, Paul says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” We focus on His cross and His coming. Observing the Lord’s Supper reminds us how God has made provision for our past (His Cross) and provision for our future (His Coming). He also gives us provision for the present. Because our past has been covered by Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross and our future is secured by the promise of His soon return, we can face the present with hope.

The Lord’s Supper ought to be the most meaningful, wonderful part of our worship each week. Once you’ve partaken in His Supper, the way you ought to, then, you’re ready to worship. Then, you’re ready to pray. Then you’re ready to sing. Then, you’re ready to give. Then, you’re ready to hear a fresh word from Heaven.

Let’s make sure we reverence the Lord’s Supper at Crossroads – every time we observe it – the way Jesus intended.

Prayer

What The Bible Says About Prayer

(Text: Matthew 6:5-13)
By: Barry L. Cameron

Quote: John Piper, “Desiring God.”
“A prayerless Christian is like a bus driver trying alone to push his bus out of a rut because he doesn’t know Clark Kent is on board. ‘If you knew, you would ask.’ A prayerless Christian is like having your room wallpapered with Sak’s Fifth Avenue gift certificates but always shopping at Ragstock because you can’t read. ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that speaks to you, you would ask–you would ask’!”

Quote: Jim Cymbala, “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire.”
“Am I the only one who gets embarrassed when religious leaders in America talk about having prayer in public schools? We don’t have even that much prayer in many churches! Out of humility, you would think we would keep quiet on that particular subject until we practice what we preach in our own congregations.

I am sure that the Roman emperors didn’t have prayer to God in their schools. But then, the early Christians didn’t seem to care what Caligula or Claudius or Nero did. How could any emperor stop God? How, in fact, could the demons of hell make headway when God’s people prayed and called upon his name? Impossible!

In the New Testament we don’t see Peter or John wringing their hands and saying, ‘Oh, what are we going to do? Caligula’s bisexual…he wants to appoint his horse to the Roman Senate…what a terrible model of leadership! How are we going to respond to this outrage?’

Let’s not play games with ourselves. Let’s not divert attention away from the weak prayer life of our own churches. In Acts 4; when the apostles were unjustly arrested, imprisoned, and threatened, they didn’t call for a protest; they didn’t reach for some political leverage. Instead, they headed to a prayer meeting. Soon the place was vibrating with the power of the Holy Spirit. The Apostles had this instinct: When in trouble, pray. When intimidated, pray. When challenged, pray. When persecuted, pray.”

We’ve looked at…
(1) Why We Should Pray
(2) What Happens When We Pray
(3) What Keeps Us From Praying

In this final session, we want to look at:
(4) How We Should Pray.

* In Matthew 6; Jesus gives a simple prescription for powerful prayer.
(1) PRAY SECRETLY (Matthew 6:5-6)
- Some people pray in public places, at social gatherings, and at mealtimes, just so they can be seen and heard and assumed to be religious.
- Prayer is not a spectator sport. When others pray in public, we should pray silently.

* What Jesus is saying here is when you pray, go into your room and shut the door. Find a closet, an empty office, the workshop in your garage, some secret place away from people, where you can get alone with God. (That’s where you’ll pray the most effectively.)

* Once you begin to use the same place for your place of prayer, it will become to you what the garden of Gethsemane was to Jesus–a holy place.

Quote: R.A. Torrey:
“Prayer is the key that unlocks all the storehouses of God’s infinite grace and power. All that God is, and all that God has, is at the disposal of prayer.”

When Should I Go? (The best part of your day.)
* In the early morning, if you’re a lark.
* In the evening, if you’re an owl.
- The most important thing is to meet the Lord there, regularly, every day.

(2) PRAY SINCERELY (Matthew 6:7-8)
- Avoid cliches and meaningless phrases you’ve heard other people use.
- Prayer should be personal, authentic, reverent and fresh.
* The “fresh manna” principle.
- Prayer should be honest. (“Lord, I’m stuggling with discouragement, today.”)

Verse 7. The length of your prayer doesn’t impress God.
The decibel level of your prayer doesn’t move God.

Quote: Adrian Rogers.
“The church advances on its knees. Few things are talked about more in church than prayer, yet relatively few saints know and experience the marvels of intercession. The chief weapon against Satan is prayer. Satan has many strongholds, many bastions of strength in America today. To try to break them down with Madison Avenue techniques would be as worthless as trying to remove the Rock of Gibraltar by throwing snowballs at it. Satan sneers at our schemes, mocks our methods, laughs at our learning, but is paralyzed by our praying.”

* We need to PRAY SECRETLY and SINCERELY.

(3) PRAY SPEFICICALLY (Matthew 6:9-13 KJV)
- Jesus gave the disciples a “model” prayer.
(a) The Person Of The Prayer. (“Our Father”)
* You are God’s child and you are praying to a Father who couldn’t love you any more than He already does.
(b) The Perspective Of The Prayer. (“Which Art In Heaven.”)
* Heaven has a perspective on things that we need to have.
(c) The Presence Of The Prayer. (“Hallowed Be Thy Name.”)
* We are entering the throne room of God. Consummate holiness and righteousness.
(d) The Purpose Of The Prayer. (“Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”)
* Prayer’s sole purpose is to seek and secure the will of God for our lives.
(e) The Provision Of The Prayer. (“Give us this day our daily bread.”)
* We are to bring all of our needs to God in prayer.

Quote: Corrie Ten Boom
“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.”

(f) The Pardon Of The Prayer. (“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”)
* We need to pray for daily forgiveness and extend daily forgiveness.
* A pure heart is the only path to a powerful prayer life.
(g) The Protection Of The Prayer. (“And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”)
* Don’t start the day without the sovereign protection and armor of God.
(h) The Praise Of The Prayer. (“For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power and the glory.”)
* The ultimate reason for God to answer prayer is for the advancement of His kingdom, the demonstration of His power and the manifestation of His glory.

GOD-HONORING PRAYERS ARE NOT SIMPLY SHOPPING LISTS…
* They are more than cries for help, strength, mercy and miracles.

Authentic prayers include:
(a) Worship: “Our Father, which are in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”
(b) Submission: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
(c) Requests: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
(d) Confession: “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
(e) Intervention: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
(f) Praise: “For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory.”

* The disciple’s prayer is an excellent model, but it was never intended to be a magical incantation to get God’s attention.

- This prayer is simply a pattern.

ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication

* If you want to learn HOW TO PRAY you need to learn the secret:
- It doesn’t come from reading all the right books.
- It doesn’t come from memorizing all kinds of neat cliches and reverential sounding phrases.
- It doesn’t come from listening to someone’s tape series on prayer.

* The secret to developing a dynamic prayer life is to PRAY!!

The Rapture

What The Bible Says About The Rapture

(Text: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
By: Barry L. Cameron

* First of all, the word “RAPTURE” is not found anywhere in the Bible although the event clearly is.
- But don’t let that be a stumbling block to you.
- There are other words not found in the Bible and that doesn’t negate their validity.

Examples: Holy Bible, Trinity, Discipleship, Church Membership, etc.

* We have to be careful we don’t base our beliefs on whether or not something is mentioned specifically by name.

* The term “RAPTURE” comes from the Latin word “RAPERE” meaning “to catch away” or “to snatch away.”
- The moment the church is “snatched” from the earth, or caught away, is referred to as the “RAPTURE.”

When Does The RAPTURE Take Place?
* At the end of the Church Age and just prior to the Tribulation Period.
- There are four passages that deal with the subject of the RAPTURE: John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4, 13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53; and Revelation 4:1.

Let’s examine each of those passages carefully:

(1) JOHN 14:1-3.
- The disciples were sure that Jesus was the Messiah, but they thought He was going to establish an earthly kingdom.
- They had no concept of a Messiah Who was on earth for a while and then, went back to Heaven.
- Consequently, at the thought of His leaving they were deeply troubled.

So, Jesus encouraged them by telling them about His Father’s House.

How Big Is God’s House?
* Revelation 21:16 tells us that it is 1500 miles cubed. (That’s length, breadth and height.)
- Just taking the length and breadth measurements, we discover that God’s house is 2,225,000 square miles. (The city of London is only 140 square miles.)
- One architect said that 2,225,000 square miles could easily and comfortably house 100 billion people. (There are only 6 billion people on planet earth right now and Matthew 7:14 says that “only a few” people are going to get in.

Verse 3 is a “key” to understanding this is a reference to the RAPTURE. Jesus is coming back personally to get the church.

How Can We Be Sure This Refers To The RAPTURE And Not To The SECOND COMING?
* There is a great contrast between John 14 and Christ’s coming at the end of the Tribulation Period.
- Seven years after the RAPTURE, at the completion of the Tribulation, when Jesus comes to earth, nobody goes to Heaven—everybody in Heaven comes to earth. (Revelation 19:11-21)
- John 14:1-3. The believers are taken out of the world to the Father’s House.
- At the Second Coming, the saints return to earth with Christ to reign with Him on the earth for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1-6).
- In John 14:1-3, Jesus announces an entirely different hope than that which was promised to Israel. The promise to Israel was a kingdom on earth. The promise to the church is to be taken out of the world to the Father’s House. (This happens at the RAPTURE.)

(2) 1 THESSALONIANS 4:13-18.
- This young church was obsessed with two things:
(a) They had a tremendous love for each other (vs. 9-10)
(b) They were anxiously awaiting the rapture (1:10)

* In many ways they were a model church.

Two Things Happened:
1. People started dying.
2. They began to worry that the dead people would miss the RAPTURE.

* So, Paul wrote to them to straighten out this problem. Verse 15 is Paul’s direct answer.

- Verse 14 tells us that when Jesus comes in the RAPTURE, He’s going to bring with Him the spirits of those believers who have already died and have not yet received their glorified bodies.

What About The Old Testament Saints?
- Verse 16 says “the dead in Christ shall rise first.”
- The Old Testament saints’ bodies aren’t raised until after the Tribulation (Daniel 12:1-2).
- Ephesians 4:8. The Old Testament spirits are in Heaven, but not their bodies.

* They receive their glorified bodies at the close of the Tribulation and then they all return with us, and Jesus, at the Second Coming when Jesus establishes His kingdom on earth and reigns for 1,000 years.

(3) 1 CORINTHIANS 15:51-53.
- The term “mystery” is used 27 times in the New Testament. Every time it is used, it refers to something hidden in the Old Testament, which is revealed in the New Testament.
- The “mystery” here is the fact that some believers will be taken to Heaven without dying. (See I Corinthians 15:51).
- Verse 53. We will get new, glorified bodies.

What Was Jesus’ Glorified Body Like?
a. It was SPIRITUAL. (Not confined by natural laws.)
1. He could appear and disappear (Luke 24:31, 16)
2. He could go through walls (John 20:19, 26)
b. It was PHYSICAL.
1. He could eat fish and honeycomb (Luke 24:4-43)
2. He could show the disciples the scars in His hands and feet (Luke 24:39-40) c. It was POWERFUL.
He stood on a mountain and just took off into the heavens (Acts 1:9-11)
d. It was GLORIFIED.
He could transport Himself by a thought (Luke 24:31)
e. It was INCORRUPTIBLE.
He will come back in the same body that He left in almost 2,000 years ago (Acts 1:11)

(4) REVELATION 4:1.
- The churches, which have been a part of the book of Revelation since chapter 1, disappear in chapter 4.
- The next time we see the church is in Revelation 19; when Jesus returns to establish His millennial reign.
- “After this . . .” (Revelation 4:1) is a clear indication that an event of some kind has just taken place.
- Revelation 4 is a picture, type and symbol of the ascension of God’s people.
- The “door” opens wide to receive God’s children from the earth.

Revelation 4:1. The word “trumpet” used here is like the announcement in 1 Thessalonians 4:16.

* From then on, up until Revelation 19; is a description of those terrible events when God’s people have been removed from the earth and God pours out His judgment on the world.

One final thought . . .

* One of the keys to understanding the RAPTURE and how it fits into God’s scheme of history is to look to the words of Jesus.
- In Matthew 24; Jesus is describing what it will be like in the end times.
- In verse 37, Jesus says, “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
- Before the judgment came, God provided a way out for the righteous.

* What will happen in the end times … “As it was in the days of Noah” … God will provide a way out for His church; it’s called the RAPTURE.

The Role of Women in the Church

What The Bible Says About Women In The Church

(Text: 1 Timothy 2:9-15)

Barry L. Cameron

Four passages:  1 Corinthians 11:1-16; 1 Corinthians 14:34-36; Titus 2:3-5; 1 Peter 3:1-6 • We’re in a series of messages from 1 Timothy. - Our passage today deals with the role of a godly woman in the local church.

• When Jesus came, He lifted the role of women in society. - The Church has followed the pattern of our Lord and has placed women on the true pedestal where God intends for them to be. - Nothing has ever happened in this world that has done more to lift the role of the woman and to give them the opportunity to reach true fulfillment, than the coming of the Lord Jesus and the establishment of His church.

• I’m aware of the fact that we are studying a passage today that is very, very controversial. - We are living in the day of the Feminist movement. - Major denominations are debating the role of women and whether or not women should be ordained for leadership ministry in the local church. (The Southern Baptists will re-visit the issue at their national convention in the next few days.) - There are a number of churches who have co-pastors with husbands and wives and some who have women pastors. - A number of major denominations now ordain women and recognize them as pastors with the same authority and same stature as men who serve as pastors. - The largest church in America has women elders.

• But I’m also aware that we need to let the Scriptures be our major source of information. - Not somebody’s book or a magazine article, or the way some other church is doing it. - The Bible must be our source for what we believe and teach.

Key to the book: 1 Timothy 3:15

- Paul is teaching how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, the church. Context: The public worship service of the local church. - Subject of the passage: PRAYER (primarily for the salvation of the world) - Prayer is to come first and the men are to lead the way in this. (vs. 8)

Verse 1. “anthropos” (mankind) Men and women Verse 4. “anthropos” (mankind) Men and women Verse 5. “anthropos” (mankind) Men and women Verse 8. “Aner” (the male, the men) - “I want THE men… - Men are not the only ones to pray, but they should lead the way in public worship of the church.

Verse 10. “I’m going to give you some guidelines that women who desire to be godly will follow.” (KJV, “women professing godliness,” NAS, “women making a claim to godliness.”) - These are God’s guidelines for women who want to live a godly life. (1) THE BEAUTY OF A GODLY WOMAN (1 Timothy 2:9-10)  - The word “adorn” (KJV/NAS) comes from “cosmos.” (Cosmetic.) - What you put on. Literally “how you arrange yourself.”

• The teaching of Scripture is that the godly woman is to adorn or arrange herself in godly, modest apparel. (“With decency and propriety.”) - Verse 9b. Notice the contrast. - The point is not braided hair, gold, pearls or expensive clothes.

• The point is that a godly woman has a beauty that is not dependent on the things you can buy at a store. - Proverbs 11:22 (Outward beauty can’t cover up inner flaws.) Verse 9. This is no excuse to be sloppy or drab in your dress. - Godly women ought to set the standard when it comes to beauty and dressing first class.

• Paul is saying that the godly woman doesn’t view church as an opportunity for a fashion show.

• Doesn’t the Lord look on the heart? (Yes! 1 Samuel 16:7) - But people can’t see your heart. - We need to dress in a way that doesn’t make people stumble.

• You’ll be treated the way you dress. - We don’t come to worship to draw attention to ourselves.

Verse 10. The most beautiful thing about a godly woman is that what she does honors God. (1) THE BEAUTY OF A GODLY WOMAN.  (2) THE BEHAVIOR OF A GODLY WOMAN (1 Timothy 2:11-14)  - Vs. 11 drives the feminists up a wall.

• We are always to be guided by the teachings of the Word of God, and not current opinion. - The standards of a believer don’t come from what the people of their day are saying. - The standards of a believer come from what God says in the Scriptures.

• The Bible is always to be our ultimate and final authority.

• It doesn’t matter what people are saying in society … if it contradicts the teachings of the Word of God, it’s wrong! - What God says in the Bible is right. - And God has perfectly good and legitimate reasons for saying what He says in the Bible.

• Paul is writing to the church in Ephesus. (The temple of Diana was there.) - They had temple prostitutes and worship that was loud, gaudy and blatantly immoral. - The women would conduct their temple rituals and services and then, hit the streets to ply their trade as prostitutes. (They financed their false worship with prostitution.)

• So, these ungodly women were in stark contrast to what Jesus did in the life of a woman when He saved her and came into her heart and life. - The women in pagan religions were very vocal. - The pagan religions included drunkenness, illicit sex and uncontrolled babbling and gibberish. - They had to make stuff up because they were serving false Gods. (Same thing happened in Corinth with the temple of Aphrodite.)

Verse 11. Quiet demeanor and spirit. (He’s not saying women can’t open their mouths.) - He’s establishing the Bible principle of submission. - Submission means “to rank under,” or “to be under the authority of.”

• The Bible teaches the role and responsibility of the man when it comes to headship and leadership both in the family and in the church. - Ephesians 5:23. The man is to be the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church.

• That does not mean inequality on the part of the woman. - It simply means there always has to be some source of direction and leadership in any institution.

• A bank has a president. A school has a principal. A city has a mayor. A church has a pastor.

• A family has a head in the husband/father.

• So Paul established the headship and leadership of the man in the home and in the church. - 1 Corinthians 11:3. Paul established the fact that the man is the head of the woman … and he’s talking about church activities. - In 1 Timothy 2; Paul’s talking about the matter of leadership, submission and headship. Verse 12. He talks about role assignment. (The assignment that God has given to the man and to the woman in the congregation.) - Vs. 8. “I want THE men to take the leadership responsibilities in the public worship of the church.” - Vs. 12. In contrast, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man.”

• He’s talking about the God-given, role assignment for the man to be the leader in the public worship services. - This doesn’t mean that women can never sing or pray or teach other women or children. - It means they are not to usurp the authority of a man. (Literally: “to kill the authority of a man.”)

Titus 2:3-5. Women are to teach other women. (Older women teach the younger women.) In The Old Testament: 1. There were no women KINGS in the Kings of Israel of Judah. 2. There were no women PRIESTS in the entire Old Testament. 3. There were no women who AUTHORED Scripture or a portion of Scripture. (Two books are named after women: Ruth and Esther.) 4. There were no women with an on-going PROPHETIC ministry. (No women are listed in the minor or major prophets.)

In The New Testament: There were no women pastors, elders, evangelists or authors of Scripture.

People who advocate women preachers today, point to the fact that there were women prophetesses in the O.T. (There are FIVE to be exact.) 1. MiriamExodus 15:20 (sister of Moses) Called a prophetess because she led the women in praise. God gave her a very brief revelation to share. No on-going ministry. 2. DeborahJudges 4:4. Called a prophetess because God used her to get a message to Barak. No on-going ministry. 3. Huldah2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chronicles 34:22ff. Called a prophetess because God gave her a message for Hilkiah the priest about the coming judgment on Jerusalem and Judah. No ongoing ministry. 4. NoadiahNehemiah 6:14. Called a “false” prophetess. Aligned with Sanballat and Tobiah who tried to stop the rebuilding of the wall and the city. 5. Wife of IsaiahIsaiah 8:3. Called a prophetess only because she gave birth to a child with a name that carried prophetic meaning. No on-going ministry.

What about the Four Daughters of Phillip in the New Testament? (Acts 21:9) - He had four daughters that prophesied. They had no on-going ministry and spoke one time.

• Mary, the mother of Jesus, spoke prophetically in the presence of Elizabeth. (No on-going ministry.)

1 Corinthians 11:5. Those who pray or prophesy need to be submissive to their husbands. - The covering of her head was a sign of submission.

Acts 2:17. “Your daughters shall prophesy” simply means to speak forth for God.

• We have a large number of godly women who serve and teach in our ministry here. - They just don’t teach men. (That is the only biblical restriction on their ministry.) - They serve under the authority of the men God has appointed to lead the church.

• Different roles don’t imply difference in value. - God has given the role of leadership in the home and in the church to the man.

Verse 13. Why is this? Paul goes back to creation. (This isn’t some cultural issue.) - Galatians 3:28. There is no distinction when it comes to salvation.

• But there is a distinction when it comes to our role assignments.

• Adam was given the responsibility to care for Eve. - The devil usurped the man’s authority.

Verse 14. Paul is not saying that a woman brought sin into the world. - It was a woman who also brought the Savior into the world.

Romans 5:12. “Sin entered the world through one man.” (Adam) • The devil deliberately went to Eve first, reversing the roles, in absolute defiance of God’s role assignments for the man and the woman. - A woman leads with her heart. A man leads with his head. (Men are not smarter than women.) - A woman goes on feelings (Women’s intuition.) A man goes on facts.

• So, the devil reverses God’s plan. - God had told Adam they were not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. - The only way Eve knew that was that her husband had told her. (She wasn’t created yet!)

• So, the devil comes to her and confuses the issue. - If Eve would’ve gone to her husband and said, “Honey, what should I do?”

• Friend, you never go wrong when you follow God’s plan.

Verse 14. Adam was not deceived. He knew exactly what he was doing and he blew it. - When God came to confront them, after their sin, he didn’t ask for Eve.

• God always holds the man accountable. The man is responsible.

• It’s a matter of role assignment.

(3) THE BLESSING OF A GODLY WOMAN (1 Timothy 2:15)  - Paul is not talking about salvation here. It’s not a reference to going to Heaven. - He’s talking about being saved from the “judicial sentence” passed down from Eve because of her disobedience. - The godly woman will be delivered from the “judicial sentence” through childbearing. - Her greatest achievement will not be in the public worship service, but rather, in the home.

• He’s saying the godly woman will find her true fulfillment, her ultimate usefulness, and her greatest achievement in being a mother. - The woman’s influence in society is not from the top down, but from the bottom up.

• The devil wants women to DEFY God and DEFECT from the home, so they end up DESTROYING themselves and the society around them.

Verse 15c. Paul says, “Continue …” (a) in faith – keep that UPWARD relationship. (b) in love – keep that OUTWARD relationship. (c) in holiness – keep that INWARD relationship.

• You do what God calls you to do and not only will you be blessed … you’ll also be a blessing to the whole world.

The Sabbath

What The Bible Says About The Sabbath

(Text: Exodus 20:8-11)
By: Barry L. Cameron

* Exodus 20:8-11 gives us the fourth of the TEN COMMANDMENTS. It is the longest of the commandments and is the final one that deals with our relationship with God.

Each of the first four commandments tells us how we are to worship God.
1. You shall have no other gods before Me. (We are to worship Him ONLY.)
2. You shall not make for yourself an idol. (We are to worship Him CORRECTLY.)
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. (We are to worship Him SINCERELY.)
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. (We are to worship Him REGULARLY.)

* This is probably one of the most misunderstood commandments in the Bible.
- Some groups make this particular teaching about the Sabbath Day the cornerstone of their doctrine.
- They believe and teach we should still be worshipping on the Sabbath.

Let me be perfectly clear, at the outset, that we are not worshipping on the Sabbath Day.

* There are generally two extremes when it comes to this matter of a day of worship.
- There are some people who have historically (and even to this day) made the day of worship a day of gloom and misery.
- There are some people who interpret this commandment to mean: “You shall be miserable on the Lord’s Day.”

* On the other hand, there are people who look upon the Lord’s Day as just any other day.
- A day to sleep in. A day to go to the mall. A day to cut the grass. A day to pack out the stadium.
- Many people sacrifice the Lord’s Day on the altar of profit and personal pleasure.

* Someone said, “Our great grandfathers called it the HOLY SABBATH. Our grandfathers called it the SABBATH. Our fathers called it SUNDAY. We call it the WEEKEND and it’s getting weaker all the time.”

* Somewhere, in between those two extremes, I believe there’s a place where God can take the day of worship and make it a day of tremendous blessing and benefit in our lives.

(1) THE EXPLANATION OF THE SABBATH.
- Sabbath: comes from the Hebrew word, SHABBAT, which means REST.

* Now, if someone came up to me and said, “Pastor, do you observe the Sabbath?” I would reply, “Which Sabbath are you referring to?”

There are several:
1. The Initial Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3)
* God did two things: (Gen 2:3) “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.”
- When it says, “God rested,” it doesn’t mean He was tired or weary.
- Isaiah 40:28 (NIV) says, “Our God does not become weary or tired.”
* When God rested on the seventh day it was really a celebrative commemoration of His work at Creation.

2. The Temporal Sabbath (Exodus 16:22-23; 20:8; 31:17)
* In Exodus 31:17, the Bible specifically states that the Sabbath was a sign between God and His children, Israel.
* In the New Testament, you will find each of the 10 Commandments reiterated except the fourth
commandment: “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.”

Why is that? Because the Sabbath Day was given specifically to Israel to commemorate the creative activity of God in Creation.

3. The Festival Sabbath (Leviticus 23:23-36)
* There was to be a festival Sabbath at the beginning of the feast of trumpets and again at the beginning of the feast of tabernacles. (To be observed annually)
* The first Sabbath was to be observed on the first day of the seventh month, and the second Sabbath was to be observed on the fifteenth day of the month.
* Do you realize that means that some years the festival Sabbath would not occur on a Saturday?

Which brings us to a very important point: Every Saturday is a Sabbath, but not every Sabbath is a Saturday.

4. The Agricultural Sabbath (Leviticus 25:1-8)
* God commanded the children of Israel to work the land for 6 years and then to give the land a Sabbath rest on the seventh year. (Israel didn’t keep that Agricultural Sabbath.)
* They lived in the land for 490 years.
* That means they missed that Sabbath observance 70 times. (Read that sentence again.)

* When you come to Leviticus 26:32-35, God says that if they don’t observe this Sabbath they will be held in captivity for every year they failed to observe it.

5. The Spiritual Sabbath (Hebrews 3-4)
* We’ll come back to this later.

6. The Millennial Sabbath (Isaiah 66:22-23)
* We’re told that during the Millennium, the children of Israel will once again restore the Sabbath.

7. The Eternal Sabbath (Hebrews 4:9)
* “There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God.”
* Revelation 14:13, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on! They will rest from their labors, for their deeds will follow them.”

* God predicts that one day you and I will be through with all of the burdens . . . all of the battles, all of the trials . . . all of the tribulations and we will experience an eternal Sabbath in the presence of the Lord.

* So, when somebody says, “Pastor, do you observe the Sabbath?” I say, “Which Sabbath are you talking about?”

(2) THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE SABBATH.
- When you come to the New Testament, you become aware that a transformation has occurred.
- As you move through the New Testament, you quickly discover that believers are worshipping on the Lord’s Day and not on the Sabbath. (A transformation has occurred.)

* When the Lord Jesus came, the Bible says that He was born of a woman and that He was made under the Law.
- Jesus fulfilled the Law. He obeyed the Law in every detail.

* In the New Testament, we’re told that, as His custom was, Jesus went up to the synagogue on the Sabbath.
- He was always faithful to observe the Sabbath.

* When you study the gospels, you’ll notice there was an on-going battle between the Pharisees and Jesus in regard to the Sabbath.

* The Pharisees had taken the Sabbath Day and so loaded it down with man-made additions that it became a burden to man.
- There are 39 Hebrew words in the 4th Commandment.
- They came up with 1,521 things you couldn’t do out of those 39 Hebrew words.
- They made life miserable for you.
For example:
* You couldn’t rescue a drowning man on the Sabbath.
* You couldn’t swat a flea on the Sabbath.
* You couldn’t wear false teeth on the Sabbath.

* When Jesus came, He set aside their man-made rules and regulations in regard to the Sabbath.

Here’s a brief summary of what Jesus taught regarding the Sabbath:
- He said, “The Sabbath is made for man and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)
* The Pharisees made the means the end.
* What God had intended to be a blessing to man, they’d made a burden for man.
- Jesus taught that it was right to do good on the Sabbath.
- He healed people on the Sabbath. (Mark 2:1-5; Luke 13:10-17)
- He allowed His disciples to eat grains of corn on the Sabbath, when they were hungry, even though it drove the Pharisees nuts because they’d developed man-made regulations against it (Mark 2:23-24)
- Jesus taught that He is Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27-28)

* The New Testament clearly teaches a transformation occurs in regard to the Sabbath.

Why Do We Worship On Sunday Instead of Saturday?
1. Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week (Mark 16:2).
2. The disciples gathered together in the upper room on the first day (Mark 16:11).
3. They met on the Lord’s Day that night (John 20:19-20).
4. The Great Commission was given on the Lord’s Day (Matthew 28:19-20).
5. Jesus ascended to the Father on the first day (John 20:19-20).
6. The birth of the church (on the day of Pentecost) occurred on the first day (Acts 2:1).
7. The Holy Spirit was sent down on the first day (Acts 2:1-4).
8. The Apostle Paul preached the Word to believers on the first day (Acts 20:7).
9. A collection was to be taken weekly in the house of God among the people of God on the first day (1 Corinthians 16:2)
10. John received from the Lord, his revelation completing the canon of Scripture on the first day, and he calls it “the Lord’s Day,” in Revelation 1:10.

* So, it’s clear a transformation has occurred.

Three Things Were Transformed In The New Testament About This Day Of Worship:
1. A transformation from shadow to substance (Colossians 2:14-17)
- Everything in the Old Testament was merely a shadow announcing the arrival of Jesus.

* Today, we are living in the reality of the gospel of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
- When God finished His work in creation, He rested.
- When Jesus finished His work on Calvary, He rested. (“It is finished.”)

* Those who would insist that we should worship on Saturday instead of Sunday are on the wrong side of the Cross.
- We’ve got the REALITY in JESUS. Why would we want the shadow any longer?

2. A transformation from Saturday to Sunday (Romans 14:5-6a)
- What he’s saying is that the day is not important.
- We worship on Sunday because we believe we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus today.

* The point is not the particular day. The point is that you have a day when you do what God says you are to do.
- The clear picture from Scripture is that the New Testament church was doing it on Sunday.

3. A transformation from the Sabbath to the Savior (Hebrews 4:9-11)
(a) A past rest (vs. 10)
(b) A prospective rest (vs. 9)
(c) A present rest (vs. 11)
* See also Matthew 11:28-29
* The Old Testament saints made a big deal out of the Sabbath (Saturday). We make a big deal out of the Savior (Jesus).

(3) THE APPLICATION OF THE SABBATH
(a) A Personal Application
* “Six days you shall labor and do all your work.”
* “The seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work.”
- We’re to work and we’re to rest.

(b) A Social Application
* You can do good on the Lord’s Day.
* You’re not restricted from serving and helping others.

(c) A Devotional Application
* There needs to be one day when we specifically focus on God.
* It does you good to be in God’s House for Bible study and worship.
* We need one day to get away from the voice of this world and draw near to the voice of God.

A final observation:
* One of the regulations of the Sabbath observance, in the Old Testament, was that the Jews were not allowed to travel more than one mile from their dwelling on the Sabbath.

* The overwhelming majority of those who claim we are still under the Sabbath regulations, and should worship only on Saturday, break this regulation every time they go to worship on Saturday. Think about it. How many people could go to church on Saturday if they could only travel one mile from their dwelling. (Just a thought.)

A final quote: from the MacArthur Study Bible, notes on Acts 20:7.
“Sunday, the day the church gathered for worship, because it was the day of Christ’s resurrection. Cf. Matt 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9 Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19 1 Cor 16:2. The writings of the early church Fathers confirm that the church continued to meet on Sunday after the close of the NT period. Scripture does not require Christians to observe the Saturday Sabbath; 1) the Sabbath was the sign of the Mosaic Covenant (Ex 31:16, 17 Neh 9:14; Ezek 20:12), whereas Christians are under the New Covenant (2 Cor 3; Heb 8); 2) there is no NT command to keep the Sabbath; 3) the first command to keep the Sabbath was not until the time of Moses (Ex 20:8); 4) the Jerusalem Council (chap. 15) did not order Gentile believers to keep the Sabbath; 5) Paul never cautioned Christians about breaking the Sabbath; and 6) the NT explicitly teaches that Sabbath keeping was not a requirement (see notes on Rom 14:5; Gal 4:10, 11 Col 2:16, 17).”

Servanthood

What The Bible Says About Servanthood

(Text: Matthew 20:20-28)
By: Barry L. Cameron

Quote: A businessman once asked Lorne Sanny, then president of the Navigators, how he could know when he had a servantlike attitude. His answer was, “By how you act when you are treated like one.”

* Every Christian knows they are supposed to be a servant. However, too many Christians are actually repulsed when they are treated like one.

* The average church member in America couldn’t care less about genuine, Biblical servanthood. Instead, they resemble spoiled rotten brats at an amusement park. Showing up to have a good time, along for the ride, as long as it’s fun and exciting, and they leave criticizing.
- The average church member in America doesn’t join a church to serve, they join to be served.
- That’s why, according to the Barna Research group, the majority of people who join a church are gone in 6 weeks or less.

* Contemporary Christianity bares little resemblance to the first century church.

* In today’s church, too many people don’t want to serve, they want to succeed.
- They don’t want the Word, they want motivational speeches that make them feel good.
- They don’t want revival, they want renewal.
- They don’t want to fast and pray, they want support groups where they can get together for two hours of mutual whining.

* Tragically, many churches have reengineered themselves to cater to the wants, whims, and wishes of people who aren’t even saved. And many of those in the church who claim they are saved are, in reality, uninterested and unconcerned pretenders who ignore the will and Word of God while pursuing their own agendas.

* Today’s cotton-candy clergy are delivering nothing more than a sugarcoated substitute for the real thing. It looks and sounds great and appears very attractive. However, it leaves those who partake of it, empty, and so sick they’ll wish they never took the first bite.

* We have bigger crowds, but fewer committed Christians.
* We have more than our fair share of tyrants, but fewer and fewer true servants.
* We live like there’s no tomorrow, sin like there are no consequences, conduct our lives as if there are no real standards and then wonder why our world marches on as if there’s no God.

* We have become a pathetic bunch of over-fed, under-worked, professors of a Christianity we don’t really put into practice.

* The church isn’t suffering from a lack of self-esteem. Rather, we’re suffering from a lack of servanthood. We’ve turned the church into a mutual admiration society where everyone’s telling everyone else what a great job they’re doing while, for the most part, no one’s really doing anything.
- We don’t reach the lost. We don’t impact our culture.
- And we don’t really make a difference for Christ…because we’re not really like Him.

* We need to re-think what we believe about servanthood.

- If the church is full of servants, why is there ever a shortage of workers?
- We have between 1800-2000 different people who attend here regularly. Shouldn’t we have that many workers?

* Why is it, when you ask someone in the church to help out with something, you feel like you’re walking on glass or egg shells and you’ve got to be careful to say just the right thing?

* We’re tyrants, not servants … great at telling others what they need to be doing. (“Do this … do that … etc.”)

* We immerse ourselves in the wisdom and culture of the world and mimic the way they do things.
- Even though Jesus said, “Not so with you!” (Matthew 20:26)

* We’ll compromise anything, from our convictions to the clear commands of Scripture all for the sake of not hurting anyone’s feelings.
- Then, we’ll crucify anyone who dares to suggest we might be compromising God’s standards.

* We’re terrible at recognizing and submitting to spiritual authority in our lives.
- But we’re great at saying, “That’s not my job,” or “Nobody’s gonna’ tell me what to do.”

* We’re not the servants Jesus called us to be. Nor are we the servants we think we are.

* There’s a lot of folks wanting on the Glory train, but only if they’re in first class and have unlimited access to the engineer so they can stop and go when they want.

* We need to re-think what we believe about servanthood.
- If we were all servants, it would eliminate about half the problems we have to deal with.

Matthew 20:20-28 (Mark 10:35-45)

- The role of a servant has always been an issue among the followers of Jesus.
* Not with Jesus, but with His followers.

* If the disciples (the closest people on earth to Jesus) were arguing about perks, prestige, position and privilege just prior to His betrayal, arrest and crucifixion…we should be prepared to have to deal with it in our day, too.
* But, shouldn’t we be ashamed of such actions and attitudes on the part of those who claim to follow the greatest Servant Who ever lived?

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

Quote: Henry Martyn, on reaching the shores of India said,
“And now, let me burn out for God.
” He did in six short years, but with an incredible legacy of achievement in Bible translation left behind. “And when I am dying, how glad I shall be,
That the lamp of my life has been blazed out for Thee;
I shall not care whatever I gave
Of labour or money one sinner to save;
I shall not care that the way has been rough;
That Thy dear feet led the way is enough;
And when I am dying, how glad I shall be,
That the lamp of my life has been blazed out for Thee.”

Quote: H.B. London, (“Your Pastor Is An Endangered Species”)
“Being a genuine servant of Christ means giving up all fascination with status and stature to follow Jesus. The One who drew followers with a basin and towel, a lethal cross, and a leave-everything summons, calls us to follow Him too.”
“Jesus cleansed the meaning of greatness when He said, ‘The greatest among you shall be the servant of all.’ No longer is the man great who has a great number of servants, but that man is great who serves the greatest number.”

* Leaders ought to be the greatest servants of all.
- In fact, a person who isn’t a good servant, isn’t qualified to lead others.
- 1 Timothy 3:10, Deacons are to be tested first, then allowed to serve as deacons.

Quote: Eugene B. Habecker,
“The true leader serves. Serves people. Serves their best interests, and in so doing will not always be popular, may not always impress. But because true leaders are motivated by loving concern rather than a desire for personal glory, they are willing to pay the price.”

Philippians 2:5-11

John 13 is perhaps the greatest teaching on servanthood in the entire Bible.

(1) The Pattern of Jesus (John 13:1-11)
- He demonstrated servanthood.
- He did what each of the disciples were unwilling and unmotivated to do.

* Peter’s response in vs. 6-8 reveals an attitude of superiority and arrogance.
- “You don’t need to wash my feet. The other guys need it, but not me.”

* When you view yourself as better than others, or as more privileged or more deserving than others, you’re not a servant.

Philippians 2:1-4. Before Paul talks about the servant’s heart, attitude and lifestyle of Christ, he warns us.

(2) The Proclamation of Jesus (John 13:12-17)
- “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (vs. 15)
- “Now that you KNOW these things, you will be blessed if you DO them.” (vs. 17)
- Jesus is wanting them to get a hold of the idea of servanthood.

(3) The Purpose of Jesus (John 13:34-35)
- They could never impact their world unless they were willing to be servants.
- Jesus had loved the disciples by serving them.
* He wanted them to do the same.
* It would be the distinguishing mark that they belonged to Him.

Matthew 20:25-28. “Not so with you!”
- “You know how the world does it, we don’t do it that way!”

Quote: Erwin Lutzer, (“Your Eternal Reward”)
“In the world, greatness is determined by the number of people you rule; power is the name of the game. In the kingdom, greatness is determined by the number of people you serve. Humility is the badge of highest honor. Indeed, Christ Himself was exalted because He came not to be served, but to serve and give His life for us.”

Luke 17:7-10. Jesus was teaching His disciples that there is no glory in servanthood.
- We should just serve because that is what we were called to do.

* That should be our response: “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”

Contrast Between the Prideful Servant and the Humble Servant:

PRIDEFUL:
1. Feelings get hurt.
2. Has a tendency to complain.
3. Craves recognition.
4. Wants you to know what all they’ve done.
(Hours put in, effort expended, etc.)
5. Keeps score.
6. Serves primarily in visible areas of service.
7. Wants what’s rightfully theirs. (Perks, benefits)
8. Worries about others not serving like they do.
9. Serves others for personal benefit.
* Flattery (Prov 27:6)
10. Resents correction.
11. Whines about the work.
12. Honors self.

HUMBLE:
1. Keeps feelings in check.
2. Is consistent in being compliant.
3. Seeks only the Master’s approval.
4. Wants the job done.
5. Lets God keep score. (Matthew 6:4)
6. Prefers to serve behind the scenes.
7. Wants to do their work and let others concern themselves with the extras.
8. Only concern is their own service.
9. Serves others regardless of benefits.
10. Receives correction.
11. Works while others whine.
12. Honors God.

* Which servant are you? What are your real motives for serving?
- With God, your motives are more important than your accomplishments.

Quote: Lem Tucker, “God’s call to leadership is not a call to privilege and displays of power but a call to servanthood and humility.”

* Leaders ought to be the very best servants of all and ought to serve with Christ-like humility.

“If you make a god out of your best moments, you will find that God will fade out of your life, never to return until you are obedient in the work He has placed closest to you, and until you have learned not to be obsessed with those exceptional moments He has given you.” (Oswald Chambers, “My Utmost For His Highest.”)

- It is when we forget ourselves that we do things that are most likely to be remembered.

How Should We Serve? (Mother Teresa)
“Do You want my hands, Lord, to spend the day helping the sick and the poor who need them? Lord, today I give You my hands. Do You want my feet, Lord, to spend the day visiting those who need a friend? Lord, today I give You my feet. Do You want my voice, Lord, to spend the day speaking to all who need Your words of love? Lord, today I give You my voice. Do You want my heart, Lord, to spend the day loving everyone without exception? Lord, today I give You my heart.”

* What does the Bible say about servanthood?

- It says that we should serve like JESUS, who “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

The Sin That Leads To Death

What The Bible Says About The Sin That Leads To Death

(Text: 1 John 5:16)
By: Barry L. Cameron

* The context is answered prayer and how our prayers are affected by sin. (See verses 13-21.)

There Are Conditions That We Must Meet In Order For Our Prayers To Be Answered:
(1) We must confess our sin and repent of it (1 John 3:21; Psalm 66:18; 1 Peter 3:7)
- We’re not informing God of our sin. We’re affirming our awareness of our sin and our desire to conform to God’s will for our lives.

(2) We must obey God and remain in His will (John 15:7)

(3) We must ask according to His will (1 John 5:14)
- “This is what YOU want for my life, therefore, I’m asking for it.”

How Can You Know God’s Will For Your Life?
The Bible reveals that God’s will for us is that we be:
a. SAVED (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:3-4)
b. SPIRIT-FILLED (Ephesians 5:17-18)
c. SANCTIFIED (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8)
d. SUBMISSIVE (1 Peter 2:13-15)
e. Willing to SUFFER for the name of Christ (2 Timothy 3:12)

* If those five major areas are a part of your life, then you are in God’s will (Psalm 37:4). We must understand that God only answers prayer in accordance with His will. - That’s the point John is making in this text.

Now, in verses 16-17, John refers to a “sin that leads to death” and says we shouldn’t pray about that.

What Is The Sin That Leads To Death?

Four interpretations:
1. It refers to unbelievers who commit apostasy (Hebrews 6; Matthew 12 & Hebrews 10).
- If they haven’t committed apostasy yet, pray for them and God will give them spiritual life.
- James 5:19 is often used as a reference for this view.
(The conclusion is that it is God’s will to save all those except the ones who commit apostasy.)

Apostasy is the act of a professed Christian who knowingly and deliberately rejects truth regarding the deity of Christ and redemption through His atoning sacrifice on the cross. (Ungers)

There are several problems with this interpretation:
a. The word “brother” (vs. 16) can’t refer to an unbeliever. Nowhere does John refer to an unbeliever as a “brother.”
b. 1 John is written to the family of God and deals with the family of God.
c. Unbelievers are already “spiritually dead” so how could they commit a sin that leads them to where they already are?

2. It refers to specific sins that are so terrible they are unforgivable.
- Suicide, murder, idolatry, even adultery are sometimes named as these sins.
- This view gave rise to the Catholic theology of mortal sins (sins which can’t be forgiven) and Venial sins (those which can be forgiven).

3. It refers to the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
- This is the flagrant rejection of the testimony of the Holy Spirit to Jesus Christ.
- That sin could never be committed by a committed Christian. Verse 16 says, “brother.”

4. It refers to an act of God’s discipline—in taking a believer home in physical death because of a sin they commit. – This verse tells us if a Christian sees his brother sinning—pray for him. God will move in unless that person has gone too far. And then, your prayers are useless.

There are TWO KINDS of sin:
(a) Passion – against the will. Not planned. (Romans 7; “I do what I don’t want to do.”)
(b) Deliberate – planned, premeditated, worked out ahead of time.

* It’s the second type of sin that leads to death.

Here Are Some Biblical Examples:
1. Nadab & Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-7)
- They plotted out their disobedience to God. They offered strange fire on the altar and dropped dead on the spot! 2. Korah & His Friends (Numbers 16)
- They decided to play like priests. And they plotted out to steal what belonged to God. The ground opened and swallowed them up! 3. Ananias & Sapphira (Acts 5)
- They plotted to keep part of the money from God that they publicly professed to be giving. God killed both of them! 4. The Corinthian Church (1 Corinthians 11:30)
- They planned and premeditated a willful hypocrisy against God. Some died and many others became sick!

* All sins that resulted in disciplined death were: (1) Planned, (2) Flagrantly disobedient and (3) Premeditated sins.

* All of them involved an open hypocrisy toward God.

So, the sin that leads to death isn’t a specific sin—it is more a certain “type” of sin.
- A sin that is deliberate, premeditated, decided before hand, willfully defying and flagrantly disobeying God.
- A sin of passion (in a weak moment) can lead to being a sin that leads to death if it is continued.

Conclusion:
* Avoid sin at all costs because all sin will cost you.

Soul Sleep

What The Bible Says About Soul Sleep

(Text: Matthew 22:31-32)
By: Barry L. Cameron

Some denominations teach “soul sleep” – that the soul just sleeps until the resurrection of the body.

Is this true?

Luke 16:19-31 shows that neither the soul of Lazarus nor the soul of the rich man was asleep. Lazarus was comforted. The rich man was tormented. (Both were conscious of what was going on.)

Hebrews 12:1 tells us we’re surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses” referring primarily to the people mentioned in the 11th chapter and secondarily to all deceased saints. (They could hardly be witnesses to something if they were in a state of sleep.)

Matthew 22:31-32 Jesus quotes from Exodus 3:6 and then says, “God is the God of the Living.” (Jesus was talking to the Saducees who did not believe in any resurrection and believed their soul had no more consciousness after death.)

* There is no such thing as “soul sleep.”

The Bible clearly teaches that immediately, upon death, we go to be with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Spiritual Gifts - Part 1, 2 & 3

What the Bible Says About Spiritual Gifts

Spiritual Gifts – Part 1
Text: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
By: Barry L. Cameron

* Paul begins the 12th chapter of 1st Corinthians with these simple words, “Now, about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.”

- To get some insight into what Paul was saying, it’s important to note that the word “gifts” does not appear in the original manuscripts.

- The KJV and the NAS and many other translations have the word “gifts” in italics.

Ÿ • The translators want you to know the word is implied but not included in the original text.

* The Greek word (pneumatikos) literally means “spirituals” or “spiritualities.”

Dr. G. Campbell Morgan, a terrific Bible teacher, divided the Book of 1 Corinthians into two main divisions. He called the first eleven chapters the “carnalities” and the final five chapters the “spiritualities.”

1 Corinthians 3:1, Paul said, “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly (carnal) – mere infants in Christ.”

- The first 11 chapters of 1 Corinthians deal with the “carnalities” in this church. 

- Divisions over who their favorite Bible teacher was or who’d baptized them, their tendency to get their wisdom from the world, tolerance of immorality in the church, taking each other to court, the issues of marriage, divorce and those who’d never been married, issues that concerned the gray areas of life like meat sacrificed to idols, compensation for those who do the Lord’s work, overconfidence in their spirituality, the roles of men and women in the church, and the mockery they’d made of the Lord’s Supper.

* The section on the “carnalities” was corrective. The section on the “spiritualities” is constructive.

Dr. Ray Stedman, “Beginning here, in Chapter 12 on through Chapter 15, you have his teaching concerning the great positive forces of the Spirit that help us handle the carnalities and correct the wrong things that hinder fellowship with Jesus Christ: This chapter will deal with the first of these spiritualities, i.e., the gifts of the Spirit in the Body of Christ. Then Chapter 13, the great love chapter, deals with the fruit of the Spirit. Chapter 14 deals with order by the Spirit in the Christian assembly; and Chapter 15, the resurrection chapter, deals with glory by the Spirit. So all that has to do with life in the Spirit. Then the closing section of the letter, Section 4, is what I would call the “practicalities,” and these take up matters like the collection, and how to relate to leadership, and so on. There is the whole sweep of the letter.” 

* Keep in mind THREE THINGS as we begin our discussion of spiritual gifts.

    1. The study of spiritual gifts involves every one of us.

      - 1 Corinthians 12:7. Even if you don’t want one, you still have one.

      - The purpose of God giving you a gift is so you can help build His church.

      - You have an important role to play, and if you’re not using your God-given gift the church can’t possibly become all God intended for it to be.

      * “I’m saved. I’ll come to worship. But I’m not interested in building the church. That’s not my job.”

      1. 1 Corinthians 1:7, Paul told the Corinthians, “you do not lack any spiritual gift.”

      - They were among the most carnal and worldly group of believers of all time.

      - Spiritual gifts don’t necessarily mean spiritual people. 

      - Gifted people can be godless and capable of the most carnal things imaginable.

      1. There’s more to spiritual gifts than the gift of tongues.

      - Inevitably, that’s what people think about when you talk about spiritual gifts.

      - The gift of tongues is “a” gift. It’s clearly not “the” gift. Nor is it even one of the “greater” gifts – as we shall see in our study.

      READ: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11.

      (1) THE SUBJECT OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS (1 Corinthians 12:1-3)

      - Paul begins this section with a warning to the Corinthians.

      - He has two specific dangers in mind:

      Ÿ • Their present ignorance

      Ÿ • Their previous influence

      - Paul was concerned these two things would hinder them from being effective for God.

      (a) Their present ignorance (vs. 1)

      • They didn’t understand the gifts they’d been given or what they were to do with them.

      Dr. John Philips: “Ignorance is the mother of all kinds of mischief. A great deal of ignorance still surrounds the subject of spiritual gifts. People make the most outrageous claims and statements. People who have never done a structural analysis of 1 Corinthians 12-14 and who have never carefully exegeted what the Holy Spirit has to say in these chapters set themselves up as authorities. They parrot other people’s opinions, or base their beliefs on some ecstatic experience and allow that ‘experience’ to override sound doctrine, or take texts from these three chapters wholly out of context and parade these ‘proof’ texts as sufficient authentication of their views. Some of them command vast audiences on radio and television. Some of them lead large congregations. Some of them can produce strange phenomena which, supposedly, support their claims to be right. The fact remains they are wholly out of touch with the thrust, teaching, and certainties developed by Paul in these three chapters.”

      Dr. Phillips continues: “The question of whether we are right or wrong about the teaching of these chapters is not merely academic. It is critical. We are up against a host of hostile intelligences in the spirit world eager to exploit our ignorance in this area of the Christian life.”

      - Which brings us to the second of Paul’s concerns.

      Not only …

      (a) Their present ignorance (vs. 1)

      (b) Their previous influence (vs. 2)

      Ÿ • Before they came to Christ, somehow, some way, they’d fallen under the influence of spirits other than the Holy Spirit. 

      Ÿ • This happened through their interaction with “mute idols.”

      KJV. You were “carried away unto these dumb idols.” The idols couldn’t speak.

      - But something else was speaking through them.

      1 Timothy 4:1. One of the characteristics of the end times will be “deceiving spirits” and “teaching demons.”

      Dr. MacArthur: “Demonic false teaching is purveyed through human agents. While the source is supernatural, the agents are natural. Demons use human deceivers who speak their lies.”

      * The only way this is possible is because their “consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” (1 Timothy 4:2).

      * So, how would the Corinthians know if something they heard was from God or from demons?

      Dr. Jerry Vines: “Before these Christians came to know Christ, they were deeply involved in mystery religions and cults. Their worship was characterized by frenzy, ecstasy, and by all kinds of outbursts. Had we visited one of their pagan services, we would have observed people babbling, falling to the floor, and many other experience-centered actions. Consequently, they were thrilled and overjoyed with their experience in Christ, and so they were seeking to worship Him with the same kind of worship they participated in before they were saved.”

      Verse 3. “Therefore …” Because of your present ignorance and previous influence, here’s a test so you can know the difference.

      Dr. John MacArthur, “Satan spends a lot of time in church. Nowhere is he more anxious to pervert God’s people than where they are worshipping. Some members of the church at Corinth apparently became so fleshly and confused, and their worship so paganized and frenzied that they even allowed the Lord to be cursed within their own congregation. Paul rebukes the entire church for allowing such ungodliness and for being so undiscerning about what is spiritual and what is demonic.”

      * The clear implication is that someone had actually claimed to be “speaking in the Spirit,” while manifesting some gift of prophecy or teaching and they actually cursed the name of Jesus Whom they were supposed to be worshipping.

      - Paul made it clear no such blasphemous utterance could possibly have come by the Spirit of God.

      * Then he says, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,” except by the Spirit of God” (vs. 3b).

      - He’s clearly talking about more than just saying the words.

      Here’s the acid test: “Do they exalt the name of Christ? Do they honor Jesus?”

      - That’s how you can tell if this is coming from the Holy Spirit.

      - No one who speaks by the Spirit of God ever demeans or in any way diminishes the centrality of Christ in the Christian life or in the Christian faith.

      - The Person and Work of Jesus are always the central focus.

      * When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, Jesus Christ will become preeminent in our lives.

      - When the Holy Spirit controls a church everything will center upon Jesus.

      * Any man, ministry or movement that glorifies the Spirit to the exclusion of Jesus Christ is suspect.

      - John 15:26, Jesus said, the Holy Spirit “will testify about Me.”

      - John 16:13-14, “He will not speak on His Own … He will bring glory to Me.”

      The SUBJECT of Spiritual Gifts …

      (2) THE SOURCE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)

      - When you look at verses 4-6, you immediately notice the repetition of certain words.

      Ÿ “Different kinds” appears three times.

      Ÿ “The same” appears three times.

      - So, some things are different and some things are the same.

      Notice first of all:

      (a) The same things 

      Ÿ • “The same Spirit” (vs. 4)

      Ÿ • “The same Lord” (vs. 5)

      Ÿ • “The same God” (vs. 6)

      - Whatever gifts are given they are given to us by the Trinity – God Himself. 

      Ÿ • Every Person of the Godhead is involved in the distribution of spiritual gifts.

      Ÿ • Any emphasis on one Person of the Godhead that excludes the others is wrong.

      Verse 6. Paul says, “the same God works all of them (spiritual gifts) in all men.”

      (b) The different kinds

      Ÿ • “There are different kinds of gifts” (vs. 4)

      Ÿ • “There are different kinds of service” (vs. 5)

      Ÿ • “There are different kinds of working” (vs. 6)

        * There are different endowments, different enterprises and different enablements.

          - There are different varieties, different ministries and different capabilities.

          Ÿ • But they all come from the same God. He is the source of spiritual gifts.

          * God is a God of boundless diversity. No two fingerprints are alike, no two snowflakes, no two blades of grass, no two leaves, no two sunsets, no two personalities.

          - God delights in variety.

          The SUBJECT of Spiritual Gifts and the SOURCE of Spiritual Gifts …

          (3) THE SCOPE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

          - God is a God of great variety but He has a very specific purpose behind the giving of spiritual gifts.

          (a) WHY the gifts were given (vs. 7)

          Ÿ • “For the common good.”

          Ÿ • Believers have different gifts and different ways of using them to serve God but they come from the same source and they are to serve the same purpose: to build the church of God.

          - “For the common good” (literally “to bring together”).

          - “Manifestation of the Spirit” (literally “to make known, clear and evident”).

          Dr. John MacArthur: “It is critical to understand that spiritual gifts are not given for self-edification. A teacher who studies the Word and then writes lessons that only he reads, or records messages that only he hears prostitutes his gift. A person with the gift of discernment who keeps his Spirit-given insights to himself is an unfaithful steward. Nor are God’s gifts for self-service.”

          “A Christian with the gift of helps must, by definition, be involved in serving others, just as service, by definition, involves helping others. In the broad sense, therefore, every gift is a helps gift because every gift is a service gift. A gift exercised in private is a perverted gift. God gives His gift to us but for others. We are personally blessed when we use our gifts in the Spirit’s power to serve others in His name, but that blessing is the by-product not the purpose.”

          * Gifts aren’t toys to play with, they’re tools to build with.

          So, here’s the question: ARE YOU USING WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN YOU TO BUILD HIS CHURCH?

          - If not, why not?

          - If not now, when?

          * God’s given every one of us spiritual gifts and He wants us to use them to build His church.

          Spiritual Gifts – Part 2
          Text: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
          By: Barry L. Cameron

          * People from the church at Corinth had told Paul what was going on there.

          - 1 Corinthians 1:11, “My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.”

          - 1 Corinthians 16:17, Paul talks about three friends who came to see him, apparently with good news from the church, and he said, “they refreshed my spirit.”

          * The Corinthians had also written to Paul and asked a number of questions about a number of issues.

          1 Corinthians 7:1 , “Now for the matters you wrote about . . .” (C/1-6 – “what he’d heard about”)

          * He begins the 12th chapter with these words, “Now about spiritual gifts …”

          (1) THE SUBJECT OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS (1 Corinthians 12:1-3)

          - Paul begins this section with a warning to the Corinthians.

          - He has two specific dangers in mind:

          ŸŸŸ• Their present ignorance

          ŸŸŸŸ• Their previous influence

          - Paul was concerned those two things would hinder them from being effective for God.

          (a) Their present ignorance (vs. 1)

          Ÿ ŸŸ• They didn’t understand the gifts they’d been given or what they were to do with them.

          * Judging by what Paul says in these chapters their questions most likely included:

          - What are spiritual gifts? How many are there?

          - Does every believer have a spiritual gift? How can you know which gift or gifts you have?

          - How important are spiritual gifts to the Christian life and the life of the church?

          - What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit and how does it relate to spiritual gifts?

          - Are all the gifts for every age of the church, or were some given only for a specific purpose and a limited time?

          - Can the gifts be counterfeited and, if they can, how can believers tell the true ones from the fake ones?

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ• Paul answers each of those questions, and many others in these chapters.

          Not only was he concerned about their present ignorance, he was also concerned about:

          (b) Their previous influence (vs. 2)

          ŸŸŸŸ• In the same way they’d perverted and distorted just about everything else, they’d also perverted and distorted the nature, purpose and practice of spiritual gifts.

          Ÿ Ÿ• Before they came to Christ, somehow, some way, they’d fallen under the influence of spirits other than the Holy Spirit.

          ŸŸŸŸ• This had happened through their interaction with “mute idols.” (KJV: “dumb idols”)

          * The idols couldn’t speak. But something else was speaking through them.

          - Paul said one of the characteristics of the end times would be “deceiving spirits” and “teaching demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).

          * Because of their previous influence, the Corinthians needed to be able to know if what they were seeing and hearing was coming from God or from demons?

          * Apparently, someone had actually claimed to be “speaking in the Spirit,” while manifesting some gift of prophecy or teaching and they actually cursed the name of Jesus Whom they were supposed to be worshipping.

          - Paul made it clear no such blasphemous utterance could possibly have come by the Spirit of God.

          Verse 3. “Therefore …” Because of your present ignorance and previous influence, here’s a test so you can know the difference.

          The SUBJECT of Spiritual Gifts …

          (2) THE SOURCE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)

          - In verses 4-6, Paul says:

          ŸŸŸŸ• “There are different kinds of gifts” (vs. 4)

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ• “There are different kinds of service” (vs. 5)

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ• “There are different kinds of working” (vs. 6)

          - But, they all come from:

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ• “The same Spirit” (vs. 4)

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ• “The same Lord” (vs. 5)

          ŸŸŸŸ• “The same God” (vs. 6)

          Verse 6. Paul says, “the same God works all of them (spiritual gifts) in all men.”

          The SUBJECT of Spiritual Gifts and the SOURCE of Spiritual Gifts …

          (3) THE SCOPE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

          - God is a God of great variety but He has a very specific purpose behind the giving of spiritual gifts.

          (a) WHY were the gifts given? (vs. 7)

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ• “For the common good.”

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ• Believers have different gifts and different ways of using them to serve God. But they come from the same source and are to serve the same purpose: to build the church of God.

          - “For the common good” (literally “to bring together”).

          - “Manifestation of the Spirit” (literally “to make known, clear and evident”).

          * Gifts aren’t TOYS to play with. They’re TOOLS to build with. God wants us to build His church.

          - Spiritual gifts are God-given tools to build the church.

          (b) WHAT gifts were given? (vs. 8-10)

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ• Only 9 gifts are mentioned here. It’s not an exhaustive list but a representative list.

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ• There’s another list in Romans 12, another in 1 Peter 4 and one more in Ephesians 4.

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ• From those lists, and depending upon how you identify the gifts, there are less than two dozen spiritual gifts mentioned in Scripture.

          * In 1 Peter, Peter suggests that all the gifts are divided into two major divisions: speaking gifts and serving gifts.

          - Those that involve the speaking, teaching and proclamation of the Word of God.

          - Those that involve helping and ministering to and serving other people.

          * The list Paul gives here can be grouped into 3 categories:

          Gifts of comprehension

          Gifts of confirmation

          Gifts of communication

          1. Gifts of comprehension (vs. 8)

          - It’s ironic Paul begins with these two gifts. In light of the first 11 chapters.

          (a) The word (logos) of wisdom

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ• Supernatural insight to apply truths from the Word of God.

          (b) The word (logos) of knowledge

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ• Supernatural insight to understand the truths of the Word of God.

          * The gift of knowledge logically precedes the gift of wisdom since wisdom is always based on knowledge.

          1. Gifts of confirmation (vs. 9-10)

          Dr. John Phillips: “The church was supernaturally injected into history on the day of Pentecost just as it will be ejected back out of history supernaturally at the Rapture. The church represents a radical departure from all God’s previous and promised dealings with mankind. It is unique! It is not an extension of Israel and it is radically different from Judaism. For two thousand years Israel had been the chosen people and God’s instrument for speaking to the human race. Calvary put an end to Judaism. The rent veil in the temple bore eloquent testimony to that (Matt. 27:51). Pentecost marked the setting aside of Israel, as God’s channel of revelation and blessing, until such time as ‘the fullness of the Gentiles had come’ (Rom. 11:25), that is, until God’s purposes in and through the church on earth are completed.

          Just as the Lord was accredited by many marvelous miracles, so that the Jews were wholly without excuse for rejecting Him, so the church was accredited by many marvelous miracles, too, so that the Jews would be equally without excuse for rejecting Christianity.”

          * The gifts of confirmation helped establish the message of Christ and the ministry of the church in the world.

          - Today we have over 2,000 years of recorded history and we also have the written Word of God to verify and validate truth from error.

          So what were these gifts of confirmation?

          (a) The gift of faith

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ• A supernatural ability to trust God for the impossible.

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ• This is different than saving faith or daily faith (2 Corinthians 5:7).

          (b) Gifts of healing

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ• The word is plural: “gifts” referring to the variety of afflictions that need healing.

          ŸŸŸŸ• Jesus had this gift (Matthew 8:16-17).

          ŸŸŸŸ• The Apostles had this gift (Matthew 10:1)

          ŸŸŸŸ• The Seventy had this gift (Luke 10:1-9)

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ• Phillip and other associates of the apostles had the gift (Acts 8:5-8).

          * The gifts of healing, like the other temporary sign gifts, were essential for the church to authenticate the message of the apostles as being the Word of God.

          Does God still heal today? Absolutely. God can do anything He wants any time He wants.

          - However, much that passes for healing today is psychosomatic, hypnotic and often fraudulent.

          * Nobody denies God can and still heals people in answer to our prayers.

          - But it’s highly doubtful anyone has the gift of healing today.

          * If so, they should go to the local hospital and pick out the hardest case like Peter did in Acts 3:1-10 when he healed a man at the temple who’d been crippled from birth and never walked.

          - Or like Paul did in Acts 14:8-11, healing a lame man who’d never walked, crippled from birth.

          * Or go to a local cemetery somewhere, like Jesus did in John 11:38-44 when He raised Lazarus from the dead.

          (c) The gift of miracles

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ• “Miraculous powers” – the supernatural ability to do miracles.

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ•A miracle is a supernatural intrusion into the natural world and its natural laws.

          - It’s explainable only by divine intervention.

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ• A miracle is an act of God that’s completely contrary to the ordinary working and laws of nature.

          * The gift of miracles is the supernatural ability to release the power of God in a unique and completely supernatural fashion like Jesus did when He turned water into wine in Cana of Galilee, walked on water at the Sea of Galilee or raised Lazarus from the dead in Bethany. (He’d been dead for 4 days.)

          * These kinds of miracles were evident in the early church and authenticated God’s messengers.

          - Today, we have the Word of God to determine if someone’s really representing God or not.

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ• Paul had the ability to strike a man with blindness (Acts 13:8-12/Elymas the sorcerer).

          Ÿ Both Peter and Paul could raise the dead (Acts 9:36-42/Tabitha; Acts 20:8-12/Eutychus).

          Ÿ ŸŸŸ• Paul could be bitten by a snake and suffer no harm (Acts 28:3-6).

          - I don’t know anyone on earth who can do that today or who needs to be able to do that.

          Some people say we still need miracles today for people to believe.

          John 12:37, “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in Him.”

          * The testimony of Jesus was that miracles wouldn’t convince people to believe, the Word would.

          - Luke 16:19-31

          - Matthew 28:12-15. Even when Jesus rose from the dead, people still refused to believe.

          Gifts of COMPREHENSION, Gifts of CONFIRMATION.

          - NEXT TIME: Gifts of Communication.

          Spiritual Gifts – Part 3
          Text: 1 Corinthians 12:7-31
          By: Barry L. Cameron

          * Paul begins the 12th chapter of 1st Corinthians with these words, “Now about spiritual gifts …”

          (1) THE SUBJECT OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS (1 Corinthians 12:1-3)

          - Many sincere, genuine, Christians have disagreed over the subject of spiritual gifts for many years.

          - There are some things in the Christian life we absolutely have to agree on:

          The Virgin Birth, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, the substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross, salvation is only possible through Christ alone, the Bible is the revealed Word of God and is completely authoritative and sufficient for man, there’s a Heaven to be gained and a Hell to be shunned. Those things we have to agree on.

          * Good, Christian people can disagree over eschatologyend times events.

          - Pre-millennial, post-millennial, a-millennial, pan-millennial.

          * Others may disagree over whether or not a believer can have security in their salvation.

          ILL. Some people will get to heaven and be glad they barely made it.

          • Like a tightrope walker on a high wire. (I’ll take the net, thank you!)

          - 1 John 5:13, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

          * Christians can even disagree over spiritual gifts – as long as they do it agreeably.

          - Any discussion of spiritual gifts shouldn’t be a source of conflict among Christians.

          * If we’re “Spirit-filled,” and “Spirit-led” we’ll do what the Spirit does.

          Ephesians 4:3, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

          - I have no intention to in any way disparage any Christian or group of Christians.

          - I have no desire to be unkind or unfair to anyone.

          * My purpose is to study the Bible and see what the Bible says about spiritual gifts.

          - There’s a lot of misinformation when it comes to spiritual gifts.

          * For the Christian, our final authority is always the Word of God.

          - For the Christian, the question is always, “What does the Bible say?”

          Ÿ Ÿ• We don’t build our doctrine on the basis of our experience.

          Ÿ Ÿ• Rather, we build our doctrine on the basis of the Bible.

          Michael Horton, CHRISTLESS CHRISTIANITY: “When push comes to shove, many Christians today justify their beliefs and practices on the basis of their own experience. Regardless of what the church teaches – or perhaps even what is taught in Scripture – the one unassailable authority in the American religion is the self’s inner experience. This means, however, that it is not only one’s relationship with Jesus but Jesus himself who becomes a wax figure to be molded according to whatever experiences, feelings and felt needs one has decided to be most decisive.”

          * What the Bible says, we have to say. What the Bible teaches, we have to teach.

          Two more points:

          1. Gifts are never given for selfish or self-centered enjoyment.

          - They are given for “the common good” (vs. 7)

          1. There is no gift that every believer is supposed to have (1 Corinthians 12:29-30).

          (1) THE SUBJECT OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS

          (2) THE SOURCE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)

          - Verses 4-6: “The same Spirit, the same Lord, the same God.”

          - Verses 4-6, “There are different kinds of gifts, different kinds of service and different kinds of working.”

          - Verse 6, “But the same God works all of them in all men.”

          (3) THE SCOPE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

          (a) WHY were the gifts given? (vs. 7)

          Ÿ Ÿ• “For the common good” (literally “to bring together”).

          Ÿ Ÿ• “Manifestation of the Spirit” (literally “to make known, clear and evident”).

          Ÿ Ÿ• Gifts aren’t toys to play with, they’re tools to build with. God wants us to build His church.

          - Spiritual gifts are God-given tools to build the church.

          (b) WHICH gifts were given? (vs. 8-10)

          Ÿ Ÿ• Only 9 gifts are mentioned here. It’s not an exhaustive list but a representative list.

          Ÿ Ÿ• There’s another list in Romans 12, another list in 1 Peter 4 and one more in Ephesians 4.

          Ÿ Ÿ• From those lists and depending upon how you identify the gifts there are less than two dozen spiritual gifts mentioned in Scripture.

          * In 1 Peter, Peter suggests that all the gifts are divided into two major divisions: speaking gifts and serving gifts.

          - Those that involved the speaking, teaching and proclamation of the Word of God.

          - Those that involve helping and ministering to and serving other people.

          * The list Paul gives can be categorized like this:

          Gifts of comprehension

          Gifts of confirmation

          Gifts of communication

          1. Gifts of comprehension (vs. 8)

          (a) The word (logos) of wisdom

          Ÿ Ÿ• Supernatural insight into applying truths from the Word and will of God.

          (b) The word (logos) of knowledge

          Ÿ Ÿ• Supernatural insight into the truths of the Word of God.

          1. Gifts of comprehension (vs. 8)
          1. Gifts of confirmation (vs. 9-10)

          - The gifts of confirmation helped establish the message of Christ and the ministry of the church in the World.

          * Today we have over 2,000 years of recorded history and we also have the written Word of God to verify and validate truth from error.

          So, what were these gifts of confirmation?

          (a) The gift of faith

          Ÿ Ÿ• A supernatural ability to trust God for the impossible.

          Ÿ Ÿ• This is different than saving faith or daily faith (2 Corinthians 5:7).

          (b) Gifts of healing

          Ÿ Ÿ• The supernatural ability to heal all sicknesses and diseases.

          Ÿ Ÿ• The word is plural: “gifts” referring to the variety of afflictions that need healing.

          Ÿ Ÿ• Jesus had this gift (Matthew 8:16-17).

          Ÿ Ÿ• The Apostles had this gift (Matthew 10:1)

          Ÿ Ÿ• The Seventy had this gift (Luke 10:1-9)

          Ÿ Ÿ• Phillip and other associates of the apostles had this gift (Acts 8:5-7).

          * The gifts of healing, like the other temporary sign gifts, were essential for the church to authenticate the message of the apostles as being the Word of God.

          Does God still heal today? Absolutely. God can do anything He wants any time He wants.

          - God still heals people today in answer to our prayers.

          ŸŸ• But it’s highly doubtful anyone has the biblical gifts of healing today. (Prominent in the NT)

          (c) The gift of miracles

          Ÿ Ÿ• “Miraculous powers” – the supernatural ability to do miracles.

          ŸŸ• A miracle is a supernatural intrusion into the natural world and its natural laws.

          - It’s explainable only by divine intervention.

          Ÿ Ÿ• A miracle is an act of God that’s completely contrary to the ordinary working and laws of nature.

          * The gift of miracles is the supernatural ability to release the power of God in a unique and completely supernatural fashion like Jesus did when He turned the water into wine in Cana of Galilee, walked on the water at the Sea of Galilee or raised Lazarus from the dead in Bethany. (He’d been dead for 4 days.)

          Some say we still need miracles today for people to believe.

          - Does God still do miracles today? ABSOLUTELY.

          - Are miracles necessary for people to believe? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

          John 12:37, “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in Him.”

          * The testimony of Jesus was that miracles wouldn’t convince people to believe. The Word would.

          - Matthew 28:12-15. Even after Jesus rose from the dead, people still refused to believe.

          Matthew 12:22-32. They brought a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute. Jesus healed him.

          What was their response? They said He did this “by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons.”

          - They committed the ultimate sin. A sin for which there is no further remedy.

          HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS: You can’t commit what’s been called “the unpardonable sin.”

          - Why not? One phrase: Matthew 12:32, “Either in this age or in the age to come.”

          Ÿ You and I can’t commit this sin.

          * But the bigger point I want to make is this: Miracles don’t cause people to believe.

          Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

          2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

          Hebrews 1:1-3, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.”

          * So, Gifts of COMPREHENSION, Gifts of CONFIRMATION …

          1. Gifts of COMMUNICATION (vs. 10)

          (a) Primary gifts

          1. The gift of prophecy

          - This is the supernatural ability to express biblical truth.

          - It is generally considered to be synonymous with preaching.

          * This is different from the gift of a prophet which Paul speaks about in Ephesians 4:11.

          - In Ephesians 2:20, Paul said the church was “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”

          * Paul will have much more to say about this gift of prophecy in Chapter 14, when he contrasts it with the gift of tongues.

          1. The gift of discernment

          - This is the supernatural ability to expose error.

          - The ability to “distinguish between spirits.”

          * This gift was necessary because of the presence of evil spirits and false prophets.

          - 1 John 4:1-3.

          - Jesus warned that as the end of the age approached there would be more and more false Christs and false prophets.

          - Paul warned in 1 Timothy 4:1-2 that in the last days some would “abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons

          * We ought to be more discerning and more careful now than ever before in our Christian lives.

          - If there ever were a time when Christian people ought to be in the Word, checking everything out in line with what the Bible says – that time is now.

          Acts 17:11, “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true.”

          (b) Passing gifts (We’ll see that more definitively in our study of Chapters 13-14).

          1. The gift of tongues

          - We’re going to take a much closer look at this gift when we get to C/14.

          - This is the supernatural ability to speak a language unknown to you but known to others.

          Acts 2:1-12. This was an extraordinary gift demonstrated on the Day of Pentecost when Peter was able to stand up with the other disciples and preach to thousands even though they came from diverse backgrounds and spoke different languages.

          Acts 2:7-8, “Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language’?”

          - It was the gift of tongues.

          1. The gift of interpretation of tongues.

          - This is a parallel gift to the gift of tongues.

          - It’s the supernatural ability to interpret the gift of tongues.

          * No interpreter was necessary on the Day of Pentecost or in the other passages where tongues are mentioned in Scripture.

          - ONLY at the church in Corinth where they were abusing and misusing this gift.

          1 Corinthians 14:28. Paul warned the Corinthians if there was no interpreter, whoever wanted to speak had to keep quiet in the church and they were to keep their thoughts to themselves and God.

          -We’ll get into more detail on the gift of tongues when we get to Chapter 14.

          WHY gifts were given. WHICH gifts were given

          (c) The WAY gifts were given (vs. 11)

          Ÿ Ÿ• “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit and He gives them to each one, just as He determines.”

          Ÿ Ÿ• We can’t give ourselves a gift, God does.

          1 Corinthians 12:18, “But in fact, God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them just as he wanted them to be.”

          * You need to find out which gift or gifts you’ve been given and begin using them “for the common good,” helping to build God’s church.

          * None of us should ever attempt to make someone else feel inferior because they don’t have our gift.

          - You and I had nothing to do with the gifts we were given.

          * Paul begins this section on spiritual gifts by saying, “Brothers, now about spiritual gifts, I do not want you to be ignorant.”

          - We don’t want to BE ignorant or ACT ignorant when it comes to spiritual gifts.

          * The only way to do that is to go with what the Bible says.

          - Not our feelings or our experiences. We need to let the Word of God, and it alone, be our guide.

          Suicide

          What The Bible Says About Suicide

          (Text: Psalm 42:1-11)
          By: Barry L. Cameron

          ILL. Suicide is the senseless taking of a life.
          (1) Linda Welch
          (2) Hungary
          (3) Coast Guard Officer
          (4) Football Coach
          (5) CEO of Luby’s

          * According to USA Today, suicide is the eighth leading cause of death among the general population in America.
          * Some 23,000 people are murdered in the United States each year.
          * 32,000 Americans commit suicide.
          * Children ages 10-15 are now twice as likely to commit suicide as they were 15 years ago.

          Facts About Suicide:
          1. There are four male suicides for every one female; however, at least twice as many females as males attempt suicide.
          2. Sixty percent of all people who commit suicide kill themselves with firearms.
          3. Guns are now used in more suicides than homicides.
          4. Women are most likely to use barbiturates, drugs or poison rather than more violent means; men are more likely to use a quick, violent means of suicide such as a gun or hanging.
          5. 750,000 Americans attempt suicide each year, but survive.
          6. No evidence exists of a genetic or biological tendency toward suicide.
          7. Of those who commit suicide, 25% are mentally ill.
          8. Of those who take their lives, 80% warned someone.
          9. The highest suicide rates are among people ages 35-49 and people 65 and over.
          10. The suicide rate on some reservations is five times the national average. This reflects the poverty, disease, and despair for many Native Americans today. Gay and lesbian youth are also at increased risk.
          11. Suicide is not the unpardonable sin. The unpardonable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit–the unwillingness to yield to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit which leads to salvation through Jesus Christ (Mark 3:29; John 15:26)
          12. The hopelessness that accompanies severe depression can undermine faith and the most religious person can become of victim of suicidal despair. (Proverbs 13:12; Hebrews 6:19) (Source: Associated Press, Public Health Service, Irving Christian Counseling Centers, and Hope for the Heart.)

          Myths About Suicide:
          (1) People who talk about committing suicide never actually do it.
          False: Statistics show that 80% of suicide victims talked with someone about it.
          (2) The chances of suicide happening can be reduced by avoiding the subject.
          False: Experts say that getting the suicidal person to talk about it helps them feel their burden has been lifted.
          (3) All people who kill themselves are mentally ill.
          False: Many people are “not themselves” when they commit suicide, but only a few are mentally ill.
          (4) Only a certain type of person commits suicide.
          False: Demographics show that all ages, races, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds are represented.
          (5) Suicide happens without warning.
          False: Studies show that most suicidal people drop numerous clues about their intent, but they go unnoticed by loved ones and friends.
          (6) Once a person is suicidal, he will remain so forever.
          False: Most people feel suicidal for a limited time, ranging from a few hours to a few months. They’ll usually survive if carefully nurtured through this unstable contemplation period. (7) Suicidal attempts are rarely repeated.
          False: Odds indicate that without proper help, 12% who have attempted suicide in the last year will try again–and will kill themselves within two years.
          (8) Signs of improvement after a suicidal attempt mean that the risk is over.
          False: Repeat attempts often occur within three months of the first signs of recovery.
          (9) Suicidal people are committed to dying.
          False: Most actually are undecided about living and dying. They don’t realize until after the attempt how badly they still want to live, even if they don’t know how to deal with life’s problems.
          (10) There’s nothing you can do about suicide.
          False: Caring intervention and counseling have convinced thousands of people that their lives are worth living.
          (11) People who attempt suicide are weird in the first place.
          False: They are people just like you and me.

          Causes of Suicide:
          There is no single answer as to why people kill themselves, but there are a number of circumstances that can serve as the catalyst.
          - Ultimately, suicide is not about dying, but about living.
          - The suicidal person can’t take it any more. They want to silence the emotional pain of life.

          * Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
          - And it always creates more pain than it alleviates.

          1. Absence of hope.
          2. Feelings of worthlessness.
          3. Rejection
          4. Loneliness
          5. Inability to overcome addictions.
          6. Aging
          7. Inability to overcome difficult circumstances
          8. Death of a family member or close friend.
          9. Divorce
          10. Prolonged illness
          11. Loss of employment
          12. Fear of humiliation (being found out)
          13. Family history of suicide

          Biblical Examples of Suicide:
          1. Abimelech (Judges 9:54)
          - Motive: PRIDE (He didn’t want people to know that a woman killed him.)
          2. Samson (Judges 16:29-30)
          - Motive: REVENGE. (He wanted to get the Philistines back.)
          3. Saul (1 Samuel 31:4)
          - Motive: FEAR (He didn’t want to be tortured by the Philistines.)
          4. Saul’s Armor Bearer (1 Samuel 31:5)
          - Motive: HOPELESSNESS (With Saul dead, he knew he was a dead man.)
          5. Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23)
          - Motive: HUMILIATION (When he saw that his advice wasn’t followed.)
          6. Zimri (1 Kings 16:18-19)
          - Motive: HOPELESSNESS (When he saw the city was taken, he set it on fire.)
          7. Judas (Matthew 27:3-5)
          - Motive: DEPRESSION. (He’d betrayed the Lord and there was no hope left.)

          How To Help Those Who Are Considering Suicide:
          1. Don’t wait to help. Talk to them NOW.
          - Share the hope of the gospel with them. Salvation means deliverance … eternally.
          2. Surround them with love and support. NOW.
          3. Get them to talk about their problems (the past) and their solutions (the future).
          4. Remind them of the Scriptures. NOW.
          - Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
          - John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
          - Philippians 4:6-7; Philippians 4:13; Isaiah 40:31
          5. Get them professional help. NOW.
          - If you can carefully nurture them through the present crisis, they will look back on it and be eternally grateful that you helped them through it.

          Conclusion: “Why Suicide Is NOT Painless” by Ann Landers

          Can A Christian Commit Suicide And Still Go To Heaven?
          * That’s really not the question we should be asking.
          - It’s like asking, “How sinful can I live and still go to Heaven?”
          * That’s not the question Christians ought to be asking.
          * We ought to be asking, “How can I avoid sin and live a more godly life and honor the Lord?”
          - Even Paul said in Romans 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

          * Someone has said, “Our lives are God’s gift to us. What we do with them is our gift back to God.”
          - We have so much to live for and even more important than that, Someone to live for.
          - So, we ought to make our lives count, every day, for God and for His kingdom, making sure that we’re giving Him the best gift we can by living the best life we can.
          * Ultimately, the answer to the question, “Can a Christian commit suicide and still go to Heaven?” is one only God can and will answer.
          - One thing’s for sure: we can trust that His answer will be the right one.

          Tithing

          What The Bible Says About Tithing

          GIVING: TITHES & OFFERINGS

          (Text: Psalm 24:1) By: Barry L. Cameron

          There is no argument when it comes to giving to God. It all belongs to Him – ALL OF IT – period. (Psalm 24:1) When King David and all his people had given so willingly, generously and sacrificially to build God’s temple, He said to God, “Who am I, and what is my people that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you” (1 Chronicles 29:14). David knew what most people today still don’t get: we never give God anything of ours. Everything we have came from Him.

          Mark Batterson, in his excellent book, ALL IN, writes: “I cannot prove this quantitatively, but I know it’s true: the more you give away, the more you will enjoy what you have. If you give God the tithe, you’ll enjoy the 90 percent you keep 10 percent more. You’ll also discover that God can do more with 90 percent than you can do with 100 percent … Most of us spend most of our lives accumulating the wrong things. We’ve bought into the consumerist lie that more is more. But in God’s upside-down economy, our logic is backward. You ultimately lose whatever you keep and you ultimately keep whatever you lose for the cause of Christ.”

          Jack Graham, who pastors the great Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, said, “The purpose of tithing is to teach us to put God first in our lives. God doesn’t need our money. Instead, He wants what our money represents: our priorities, passions, purposes. Make a commitment to tithe and dedicate yourself to it. And more than anything … trust God and let Him prove His promises.”

          Tithing is giving back to God 10% of whatever He blesses us with financially. God said, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. ‘Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’” (Malachi 3:10/NIV1984)

          Dr. Charles Stanley explains the storehouse generally meant “His tabernacle or temple in the Old Testament, and the church in the New Testament. We are to give our tithes wherever we regularly worship the Lord – not only to care for the church building and those who work there but to support the expansion of His kingdom by spreading the gospel and ministering to the community for His name’s sake.”

          Tithing is not the finish line in giving. It’s the starting line. Every Christian ought to at least be a faithful tither of everything God gives them. It’s hard to “run the race” that has been set before you (Hebrews 12:1) if you haven’t begun to trust God with your finances. Why is it so easy for us to trust God to save us? But, when it comes to trusting Him with our money (more accurately, the money He has given us), we struggle? Especially when He’s told us to bring the whole tithe and “test Him” to see if He won’t “open the floodgates of Heaven and pour out so much blessing” that we won’t have room enough for it.

          You may have heard arguments against tithing. Here are 6 arguments FOR tithing:

          (1)    The LOGICAL argument. Consider the logic. In Matthew 5:27, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus raised the standard to a higher level than before.

          In Matthew 5:21, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” Once again, Jesus raised the standard to a higher level than before.

          Over and over again, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “You have heard it said, but I say to you,” and He raised everything to a higher level than before. So what makes people think, when it comes to tithing, Jesus would now say, “I understand about the tithe, giving 10% back to God in the Old Testament. But here’s how it works now: you just decide whatever you want to give and whatever you want to give is fine with Me.”

          Some will quote 2 Corinthians 9:7 where Paul said, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver,” as their response. However, the context is an over and above, “love offering” for the poor saints in Jerusalem. In the case of love offerings above and beyond the tithe, each one should decide in his own heart, and we should give cheerfully and generously as we are able.

          (2)    The CUSTODIAL argument. Whose money is this anyway? The fact is we brought nothing into this world and won’t be taking anything out of this world (Job 1:21). We’re just privileged custodians, and we’re supposed to be faithful stewards (1 Corinthians 4:2) of whatever blessings God gives us for a few years here on earth. He gives them, and He can take them away (Haggai 1:5-11). Because He’s God and everything belongs to Him and everything we have comes from Him, we’re to honor Him with the “first fruits of all our produce (income)” (Proverbs 3:9-10).

          Even when we are faithful tithers (giving 10% of our income back to God), we need to keep in mind the 90% left over is STILL HIS. We’re just managers. Stewards. Custodians.

          (3)    The BIBLICAL argument.

          Tithing is a Bible doctrine not just an Old Testament teaching (Malachi 3:8-12; Leviticus 27:30; Deuteronomy 12:11; Proverbs 3:9-10). It’s in the New Testament, which comes as a surprise to many. Especially to those who don’t tithe and have used that erroneous claim as an excuse not to do so. We have two reliable eyewitness accounts in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 where Jesus affirmed and encouraged the practice of tithing. In Luke 18:12, Jesus used the example of tithing in telling a parable to illustrate the folly of self-righteousness. If tithing were only for the Old Testament Israelites and had no bearing whatsoever on, or importance to, anyone living during New Testament times or beyond, why would Jesus use it in an illustration when He’s communicating biblical truths?

          Tithing is also mentioned in Hebrews 7:1-10 no less than seven times. It recounts how Abraham gave tithes (or a tenth) to Melchizedek the king/priest. The point of the passage is that Jesus is better than Melchizedek and His priesthood is far superior to that of Melchizedek’s.

          By the way, Abraham did this long before the law was ever established. So did Jacob. In Genesis 28; after Jacob had an incredible dream about how God was going to bless him and use him, he set up a memorial stone and made a commitment “of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you” (Genesis 28:22).

          (4)    The CHRISTOLOGICAL argument.

          What did Jesus say about tithing?

          Matthew 23:23, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”

          Luke 11:42, “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”

          If tithing were irrelevant or unnecessary, wouldn’t Jesus have said, “Why are you still tithing? You don’t have to do that anymore.” Instead, when referencing tithing, He said, “These you ought to have to done.”

          Tithing is also clearly implied in what Jesus said in Matthew 22:21, “Therefore render (or give) to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” How would they know what was Caesar’s? Simple. Caesar told them. Just like Uncle Sam does today, and it is always a percentage of our income.

          (5)    The TEMPORAL argument.

          Think about this … We give at least 15%, more likely 18-20% to “temporary servants” for “temporary meals” in a “temporary world.” So why would we give less than that to The Eternal God of the universe Who has given us eternal life and blessings, which, if we were honest, would take us an eternity just to list them all?

          (6)    The FINAL argument.

          In the final analysis, what are you going to be glad you did once you step out into eternity? Some people excuse the fact they don’t tithe by saying they tithe in other ways. The Bible says, “A tithe of everything belongs to the Lord and is holy to the Lord” (Leviticus 27:30). We should tithe our time and our talents, etc. But we must also tithe our treasure (Proverbs 3:9-10; Malachi 3:8-12; Matthew 22:21).

          Do you want to stand before God and explain why you looked for every opportunity and rationalization you could find to get out of giving what was rightfully His?

          Do you want to have to answer why you gave yourself the best and gave Him leftovers? If there was anything left over. Even though Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

          Or do you want to hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?

          Luke 21:1-4 tells us one day Jesus was watching what people gave as they put their gifts in the “offering box.”  He noticed several rich people putting their gifts in and Luke says, “He saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’”

          Jesus’ point was: out of her pittance came abundance. Out of their abundance came pittance. We can’t say our heart is right until our treasure is right.

          … and it all begins with the tithe.

          Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

          © 2014. Barry L. Cameron

           

          THE BEST INVESTMENT YOU’LL EVER MAKE

          (Text: Luke 16:9) By: Barry L. Cameron

          In Luke 16:9, Jesus said, “And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.” The NIV (1984 edition) puts it this way: “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”

          What Jesus was saying was we should use the wealth He gives us to help reach people with the gospel: men, women, boys and girls. So, that when our wealth is gone, and we are gone as well, those we’ve helped reach with the gospel will welcome us into Heaven, with words something like this: “Thank you for giving. I’m here because you gave.” Or, “Thank you! I wouldn’t be here unless you gave.”

          Talk about a motivation for giving! Faithfully. Regularly. Enthusiastically. Cheerfully. Why would tithing and giving above and beyond the tithe ever be an issue to anyone? Why do so many struggle with the money God gave us and the mandate He gave us to “bring the whole tithe into the storehouse?”

          My friend Dr. O.S. Hawkins, who has preached at Crossroads many times, served years ago as the pastor of the historic First Baptist Church in Dallas and then became CEO of GUIDESTONE Financial Resources also based in Dallas, said, “Many are victimized by greed. The principal hindrance to the advancement of the kingdom of God is greed. It is the chief obstacle to heaven-sent revival. It seems that when the back of greed is broken, the human spirit soars into regions of unselfishness. I believe it is safe to say there can be no continuous revival without ‘hilarious’ giving. And I fear no contradiction: wherever there is ‘hilarious’ giving, there will soon be revival.”

          Dr. Jerry Falwell, who’s now in Heaven, founded and served as Pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA (one of the largest in America) and started Liberty University, which is now the largest Christian university in the world said this about tithing and giving: “Where should tithes and offerings of believers go? Logic alone would suggest people contribute to the local church where they are fed spiritually. The local church is God’s plan of salvation. It is the only organization He established. Just as God did not allow giving to other places than the one He designated in the Old Testament, God wants gifts to go to His organization in the New Testament. Programs which reach beyond the local church can be supported by funds channeled through the local church.

          “Money or offerings were never given to individuals in the New Testament. Money was given to the churches. It was taken up on Sunday at the church (1 Cor 16:1). Money was sent to the elders at Jerusalem (Acts 11:29-30). This was similar to laying it at the apostles’ feet (Acts 4:37). Our tithes belong to the local church. We have no right to tamper with what belongs to God. Our gifts to parachurch ministries should always be over and above our tithes and offerings to our local church. We give with the assurance that it is God’s will when we give to the local church. The sum total of godly counsel in a church will determine the best use of God’s money … If a person gives ‘over and above’ money to deserving extra-church agencies and bypasses the local church, that is something for which that person is directly accountable to the Lord. Storehouse tithing is giving to one’s local church.”1

          The BEST INVESTMENT we can ever make is to tithe (giving 10%) of everything God gives us and to give an offering above that, as the Lord blesses, so we can reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. THE BEST PLACE to make that investment is THE LOCAL CHURCH. Today, corporations and businesses, civic groups, non profits and numerous parachurch organizations appeal for our hearts and our resources to help them in the work they are doing. Helping fund cancer research, providing assistance to the homeless, helping with natural disasters and feeding the hungry are all good causes that tug at our hearts. And if you want to give occasionally or even regularly to help those organizations out, that’s wonderful. But there are two things you need to be aware of: 1) Any giving to any other good cause or organization should be above and beyond your tithes and offerings to your own local church.  And 2) You may be surprised to find out your own local church is already doing many of those very things.

          For example, here’s a quick look at some of the things we are able to do here at Crossroads because of the tithes and offerings of God’s people in our church family.

          Want to sponsor starving or orphaned children? Crossroads already does that.

          Want to help troubled teens or abandoned kids? Crossroads already does that.

          Want to help abused women? Crossroads already does that.

          Want to help teenagers who are contemplating abortion? Crossroads already does that.

          Want to help the poor and needy? Crossroads already does that.

          Want to help people when a natural disaster strikes? Crossroads already does that.

          Want to help educate and train future ministers and missionaries? Crossroads already does that.

          Want to help make sure the Bible is translated into every language so everyone can hear the gospel at least once?  Crossroads already does that.

          Want to minister to college students on secular campuses who are being bombarded with a liberal, anti-Christian worldview? Crossroads already does that.

          Want to help combat false teaching and the cults both here at home and around the world? Crossroads already does that.

          Want to reach Muslims with the the gospel of Jesus Christ? Crossroads already does that.

          Want to help defend the constitutional rights and liberties of Christians being persecuted for their faith? Crossroads already does that.

          Want to help reach the Jewish people with the good news of the Gospel – that JESUS is the Messiah?  Crossroads already does that.

          Want to help start churches here in America and in foreign countries? Crossroads already does that.

          Want to help provide medicine and care for sick people in other parts of the world?  Crossroads already does that.

          Want to provide HD quality teaching and evangelistic tools that can be used to reach the lost here at home and overseas? Crossroads already does that.

          Want to minister to people in prison? Crossroads already does that.

          Want to help people in poor countries with more than a hand out and actually give them a hand up? Crossroads already does that.

          Want to provide food to the hungry? Crossroads already does that.

          … and more!

          The BEST INVESTMENT we can ever make is to tithe (giving 10%) of everything God gives us and to give an offering above that, as the Lord blesses, so we can reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. THE BEST PLACE to make that investment is THE LOCAL CHURCH.

          There’s never been a better time to be ALL IN! And not a better place to be ALL IN! than Crossroads!

          © 2014.  Barry L. Cameron

          1    Dr. Jerry Falwell, “Why Every Christian Should Tithe,” sermon dated January 31, 1999.

          Tongues - Part 1 & 2

          What the Bible Says About Tongues

          Tongues – Part 1
          Text: 1 Corinthians 14:1-40
          By: Barry L. Cameron

          * For the past several weeks, we’ve been studying spiritual gifts. In Chapters 12-13, several things are obvious:

          1. Paul didn’t want the Corinthians to be ignorant when it came to spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1)
          2. He warned them that counterfeits were clearly possible and they needed to know how to discern the true from the false (vs. 2-3).
          3. There are different kinds of gifts and different ways to use them in the church but they all come from the same God (vs. 4-6).
          4. Spiritual gifts are given for one purpose and that is to build up the body of Christ. They are not for private use but rather for public edification – “for the common good” (vs. 7).
          5. None of the gifts are the same, but they come from the same Source, serve the same purpose, and have been given sovereignly and strategically (vs. 8-11).
          6. The body of Christ has many parts. Each part is essential and no part can do the work of God all by itself. Each part has been arranged by God just as He wanted them to be (vs. 12-18).
          7. The parts of the body were designed by God to be interdependent, not independent. The parts which seem less important are actually far more important to the success of the body than we might imagine. The body can’t function effectively without each part doing its work and working together (vs. 19-26).
          8. No one has all the gifts nor does everyone have the same gifts (vs. 27-30).
          9. In the church, we should desire the gifts that help the body be most effective – the “greater” gifts (vs. 31).
          10. Without love, gifts are meaningless and useless. Spiritual gifts won’t last forever, but love will. We need to make love the pursuit of our lives, not the gifts and guard against childish behavior that would adversely affect our ability to serve and honor God (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

          * Paul repeats that priority in verse 1 of Chapter 14, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.”

          Two important points:

          1. That statement was addressed to the church, not individuals.

          - “You should want spiritual gifts in your church so you can be all God wants you to be.”

          1. The gift of prophecy (“preaching”) should be the gift you really desire for your church.

          - Why? So the Word of God can be proclaimed.

          * Then, Paul does two things:

          1. He discusses the CONTRAST between the gift of prophecy and the gift of tongues.
          1. He details the CONDUCT that should characterize the church in their worship services.

          (1) THE CONTRAST OF GIFTS (1 Corinthians 14:1-25)

          - There’s no question Paul’s giving a detailed contrast between the gift of prophecy and the gift of tongues. 

          - There’s also no question Paul viewed the gift of prophecy as a superior gift to the gift of tongues.

          Why is the gift of prophecy superior to the gift of tongues?

          (a) Tongues is between a believer and God and no one can understand what is being said not even the speaker (vs. 2).

          (b) Prophecy can be understood by everyone, including the speaker, and everyone can be strengthened, encouraged and comforted (vs. 3). 

          (c) Someone who speaks in tongues edifies himself (not literally as we’ll see in a moment) but someone who prophesies edifies the church (vs. 4).

          Verses 2 and 4 are often quoted by those who seek to promote the gift of tongues as a private “prayer language” between a believer and God.

          - What they fail to understand is that both of those verses are criticisms not compliments for the Corinthians.

          Verses 13-17. Anyone who speaks in tongues should pray that God will give them the interpretation of what he or she just said.

          - Verse 14. “If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.”

          • “I don’t understand what I’m saying,”
          • When the disciples spoke in tongues on the Day of Pentecost, they didn’t know what they were saying.

          - That’s the gift of tongues, the ability to speak in a language you didn’t previously know.

          • The gift is not for you but for others – those who hear you.

          - Others heard the disciples speaking in their own language. But the disciples didn’t understand it.

          Acts 2:14-41. One man, Peter, preached to the entire crowd, speaking in his own language, yet people from as many as 14 different dialects and languages heard him speaking in theirs.

          - He understood what he was saying and that’s all he would’ve heard. (Not 14 other languages.)

          Warren Wiersbe: “It is unfortunate that our translators inserted unknown in 1 Corinthians 4:2, because the New Testament knows nothing of an ‘unknown tongue.’ From the very beginning of the church, tongues were known languages, recognized by the listeners (Acts 2:4, 6, 8 & 11).”

          Verses 15-17. Paul’s point is: there’s no place for mindless praying or mindless singing.

          - If you’re speaking in tongues in a public worship service neither you nor anyone else can be edified by what you are saying.

          • When we worship God we’re never told to check our brains at the door.

          - We’re never encouraged to engage in mindless chaos and call it worship.

          Mark 12:30, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

          • Some worship leaders encourage people to completely let yourself go. (Physically, emotionally, mentally.)

          - Sing anything you want to the Lord. Make up your own melody, your own words, etc.

          - And the crazier people act the more they mistakenly believe its worship.

          • There’s not half of one verse in the Bible to support such nonsense.

          ILL. Fellow at a worship conference, jumping, shaking his head and waving a flag.

          - He did it for almost half an hour, then sat down totally exhausted and covered with sweat.

          - He didn’t worship for the rest of the conference. In fact, he got up and left. (To get a drink?)

          • If that was Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered he wouldn’t have gotten worn out.

          - The saddest part to me was that he probably believed that’s what’s supposed to happen in worship because someone told him that’s what he’s supposed to do.

          • There’s too much “monkey-see, monkey-do,” monkey business in the church today and people call it WORSHIP. But there’s not enough searching the Scriptures to know what God really wants from us.

          In Matthew 6:5-15, Jesus warned His disciples about “vain repetitions,” saying the same thing over and over again. The NIV translates it “babbling.” (Vs. 7, “Do not keep on babbling like pagans.”)

          Here’s my question:

          • If Jesus said repeating words over and over again in prayer is not what God wants, why do some people think singing the same words over and over again in worship is what God wants?

          Matthew 6:5, Jesus also warns them not to make a spectacle of themselves when they pray to be seen of men.

          - So, why would people think making a spectacle of themselves in worship is okay?

          Here’s my question:

          • How could anyone draw attention to themselves in worship and somehow think that helps anyone worship God better?

          - I’m not saying you shouldn’t raise your hands in worship or clap or sing with all your heart.

          What I am saying is you shouldn’t do it to be recognized by others.

          - And you shouldn’t do anything that would distract others from worshipping God.

          (a) Tongues is between a believer and God and no one can understand what is being said not even the speaker (vs. 2). 

          (b) Prophecy can be understood by everyone, including the speaker, and everyone can be strengthened, encouraged and comforted (vs. 3).

          (c) Someone who speaks in tongues edifies himself (and Paul’s already explained how that’s impossible – vs. 14) but someone who prophesies edifies the church (vs. 4).

          (d) The person who prophesies has a greater impact than the person who speaks in tongues, unless the tongues are interpreted and then, it has become prophecy (vs. 5).

          * In vs. 5, Paul makes a statement that people have debated for years: “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy.” (He didn’t despise the gift of tongues.)

          - He was simply saying, “If the Spirit of God wanted to give all of you the gift of tongues, that’s fine with me. But I would rather you have the gift of prophecy.” 

          Why? Because the only way tongues can edify anyone is if people can understand them. (Acts 2)

          - There’s no benefit or blessing from mindless, meaningless words no one can understand (vs. 14).

          Verses 6-12. Paul expands on this point.

          (a) An explanation (vs. 6)

          • “If I came to you and just spoke in tongues there’d be no benefit or blessing for you.”
          • The benefits and blessings come when I bring a word from the Lord.

          (b) An illustration (vs. 7-8)

          • Even lifeless instruments like a flute or a harp are expected to make sensible sounds people can understand.

          Verse 7b, “How will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes?”

          ILL. Ever listen to an elementary school band concert?

          - The band director announces the song they are going to play.

          • In most cases, if you didn’t know what it was supposed to be, you’d never have a clue.

          * But if you go and listen to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra it’s a completely different experience.

          (c) An illumination (vs. 9-11)

          • Verse 9. “Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.”

          - You’re not even speaking to God – you’re just mouthing a bunch of nonsense.

          • Verse 10. Every language in the world has meaning.

          Don’t miss this: Paul is saying “a language without meaning is pointless. A language without meaning is not really a language.

          - The whole point of language is to communicate. Not to give us goose bumps or warm and fuzzy feelings.

          • Verse 11. Both the speaker and the hearer must understand the language in order for it to be legitimate.

          - If the genuine gift of tongues is meaningless without interpretation, where people can understand it, how much more meaningless is a language no one (including the speaker) can understand?

          Verse 12a. “So it is with you.” 

          - Once again, the Corinthians were messing something up. In this case, it was the gift of tongues.

          - “You’ve become foreigners to one another and none of you know what you’re doing or what you’re saying.”

          • There’s no benefit or blessing for anyone.

          (d) An inspiration (vs. 12)

          • Paul says, “Since you are passionate about spiritual gifts, try to elevate and excel in the gifts that build up the church.”
          • That’s clearly an exclusion of tongues.

          (e) An application (vs. 18-20)

          • Paul gives his own testimony here.

          Verses 18-19. “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.”

          - Paul had the gift of tongues and had more experience with it than any of the Corinthians.

          - Even though we have no specific instance in Scripture, most likely it was similar to the way it was used on the Day of Pentecost – to bring a supernatural message to people God wanted to reach. 

          Dr. J. Vernon McGee said, “Now I think Paul means that, as a missionary, he had spoken in at least a dozen different tongues – and probably that could be multiplied by four or five. When he was out on the mission field with a foreign tribe, they couldn’t understand his language and he couldn’t understand theirs. Then he spoke to them in their tongue. He made sense to them, but it didn’t make sense to Paul himself. But when he is in the church where there are believers who speak the same language as he does, he will speak in a tongue that everyone can understand.”

          Verse 20. Paul repeats the admonition he already gave in Chapter 13, verse 11.

          - “Stop thinking like children.” Grow up in your thinking.

          - “Don’t be childish.”

          Verse 20b. “In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.”

          - They were anything but babies when it came to evil.

          • They’d tried and experienced everything sin had to offer.

          * This is a great word for all of us to apply to our lives this morning:

          “Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.”

          * Paul has more to say about the gift of tongues and the gift of prophecy in the final 20 verses of this 14th chapter.

          - We’ll see that next time. 

          Tongues – Part 2
          Text: 1 Corinthians 14:20-40
          By: Barry L. Cameron

          In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul does two things:

          1. He discusses the CONTRAST between the gift of prophecy and the gift of tongues.
          2. He details the CONDUCT that should characterize the church in their worship services.

          (1) THE CONTRAST OF GIFTS (1 Corinthians 14:1-20)

          - There’s no question Paul’s giving a detailed contrast between the gift of prophecy and the gift of tongues.

          - There’s also no question Paul viewed the gift of prophecy as a superior gift to the gift of tongues.

          * In our passage this morning, Paul continues to show the contrast between the gift of prophecy and the gift of tongues.

          (2) THE CONDUCT OF BELIEVERS (1 Corinthians 14:20-40)

          - How were they supposed to conduct themselves in their worship services?

          - Verse 20 sets the stage: “Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.”

          * Some people today quote verse 39. “And do not forbid speaking in tongues,” and completely ignore verse 22, “Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers.”

          - To do that is not only childish; it’s dangerous biblical exposition.

          * The Corinthians weren’t teachable. They were more interested in experience than truth.

          - More interested in pleasing themselves than pleasing the Lord or their fellow Christians.

          • Experience always won out over exposition of God’s truth.
          • Emotion always won out over reason.
          • Self-will always won out over submission to God’s will.

          * They didn’t bother to check out the Scriptures like the Bereans did (Acts 17:11).

          * They didn’t bother to “test the spirits to see whether they were from God” (1 John 4:1).

          * They were more interested in doctrine that sounds good than in sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3).

          So, Paul begins by explaining the true nature and purpose of tongues:

          (a) A simple SIGN (vs. 21-22)

          • This is a quote from Isaiah 28:11-12.
          • Hundreds of years before Jesus came, God told Israel that one day He would speak to his people through men of strange tongues.

          - It would be a miraculous demonstration of the power and purpose of God.

          - But even then, the unbelieving Jews still wouldn’t listen to God.

          * That’s the heart and soul of 1 Corinthians 14 and the most important fact about this phenomenon: it was a simple sign from a supernatural Savior to unbelieving Jews. It was a sign to unbelieving Israel.

          Verse 22, “Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers.”

          - The gift of tongues was a sign that God would no longer work through one nation and favor one people: the Jews.

          • That’s exactly what happened on the Day of Pentecost.

          * Tongues were a sign pointing to what God was going to do.

          - As a sign, the purpose of tongues ended when that to which it pointed ended.

          ILL. Like someone driving to Dallas. They may see the first sign 300 hundred miles away. The more they drive they see another sign that reads “200 miles.” Then another, “100 miles” and another “50 miles,” then “5 miles.” Once they get to Dallas and drive through the city the signs end.

          - Why? They’re no longer needed.

          • Verse 22b, “Prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers.”

          A simple SIGN.

          (b) A sensible STRATEGY (vs. 23-25)

          • “Therefore, if you make tongues the focus of your worship and everyone speaks in tongues at once, believers who don’t have that gift and unbelievers will think you’re out of your mind.”
          • The Texas translation of that? “They’ll think you’re NUTS!”
          • “But,” (verse 24) if everyone is prophesying and a believer who doesn’t have that gift or an unbeliever comes in, they’ll be convicted by what they hear.”

          * Preaching brings conviction to everyone’s heart and mind. (1 Corinthians 1:21)

          “God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.”

          - Their response depends on them. They can reject it or receive it.

          - They can repent or rationalize why they won’t.

          * The point is: our strategy ought to be to do everything we can so people will come face to face with God and give their hearts to Christ.

          A simple SIGN, a sensible STRATEGY …

          (c) A systematic SERVICE (vs. 26-35)

          • When the Corinthians came together for worship they all brought something and I’m not talking about an offering of money.
          • They had an offering alright. But it was a song they wanted to sing or a directive they wanted to deliver (“The Lord told me to tell you …”), a revelation (new truth from God), or they wanted to speak in tongues or interpret what someone else had said.

          * Can you imagine what kind of worship service that would’ve been like?

          - Imagine if every musician brought an instrument and came prepared to play their favorite song.

          - If every person who could sing came to share his or her favorite selection.

          - If every teacher came and wanted to teach their favorite verse.

          - If every preacher came and wanted to preach their favorite passage.

          • All at the same time.

          * Talk about chaos and complete confusion. That’s exactly what was happening at Corinth.

          * In light of the chaos and disorder that characterized the Corinthian church, Paul gave the following command: Verse 26c, “All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.”

          - OIKODOME: edification. It literally means “housebuilding,” “the construction of a house.”

          - “We’re trying to build something here.”

          * Over and over again, Paul’s made the point that selfish worship wasn’t worship at all.

          - It was a complete waste of time.

          * The Corinthians were only concerned about themselves.

          - Their lack of concern for others was evidenced by the fact they weren’t interested in building others up or blessing them – they only wanted to bless themselves. (People are still like that today.)

          So Paul gave them some guidelines for tongues (vs. 27-28)

          * There’s to be a distinct order and direction for their worship:

          1. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two or at the most three should speak (vs. 27a).
          2. Only one person may speak at a time (vs. 27b).
          3. Someone must interpret (vs. 27c).
          4. If there isn’t an interpreter the speaker should keep quiet and speak only to himself and God. (vs. 28)

          Dr. Jerry Vines said, “I have attended many services where tongues have been spoken and almost without exception they have violated all of the guidelines that Paul gives in verses 27-28.”

          Paul also gives them four guidelines for prophecy (vs. 29-33). He’s talking about “preaching.”

          Dr. John MacArthur: “The unique office of prophet ceased to exist while the church was still very young. Judging from Paul’s pastoral epistles (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus), prophets ceased to function in the church even before the end of the apostolic age. In those letters he makes considerable mention of church leadership – elders, deacons, deaconesses, and bishops – but makes no mention of prophets. Along with the apostles, prophets were a part of the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20) and are the first office to have disappeared from the New Testament church.

          But when Paul wrote this letter to Corinth, prophets were still very central to the work of that church. In fact, nowhere in this letter is there a mention of a pastor, elder or overseer. The prophets seem to have been the key leaders in the early days of the church (cf. Acts 13:1). Because this was obviously the case in Corinth, Paul was compelled to give some principles for the prophets to follow.”

          Guidelines for prophesying (vs. 29-33).

          1. Only two or three prophets were to speak at any given service (vs. 29a).
          1. The other prophets were to discern if what they said was from the Lord (vs. 29b)

          - The word literally means “to pass judgment.”

          - Their job was to protect the doctrinal integrity of the church. (Elders do that today.)

          1. A new revelation or truth was to take precedent over an older teaching (vs. 30)

          - This isn’t an issue today since we have the completed New Testament.

          - In that day the prophetic ministry hadn’t ceased yet. (Just as Paul was writing to them here.)

          1. Prophets were to speak one at a time (vs. 31)

          - You get the picture of what they’d been doing by what Paul’s directing them to do.

          Verse 32. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.

          - Sometimes, people claim they just can’t help themselves and blame what they do on the Spirit.

          - No, “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the control of the prophets.”

          • If someone is truly Spirit-filled, they can control themselves with the Spirit’s help.

          Verse 33a. This is one of the keys to the entire chapter.

          - God is a God of peace and harmony and unity. Not confusion, frustration, division and disorder.

          - God is not and cannot be honored by chaos and confusion.

          One commentator said, “God cannot be honored where there is disharmony and confusion, competition and frenzy, self-serving and self-glorying. Chaos and discord in a church meeting is certain proof that the Spirit of God is not in control. Where His Spirit rules there is always peace (cf. James 3:14-18).”

          Verse 34. This verse is one of the most misquoted, misused, misunderstood and misapplied verses in the entire Bible.

          - This isn’t a restriction that women were never to speak in tongues.

          - Nor was it a prohibition for women ever to prophesy.

          * Paul had already stated women could pray and prophesy (1 Corinthians 11:5).

          - I think the best interpretation is that his instruction applies to the immediate context.

          • That of passing judgment on what was being prophesied (vs. 29).

          Dr. Warren Wiersbe: “It would appear that the major responsibility for doctrinal purity in the early church rested on the shoulders of the men, the elders in particular (1 Timothy 2:11-12).

          The context of this prohibition would indicate that some of the women in the assembly were creating problems by asking questions and perhaps even generating arguments. Paul reminded the married women to be submitted to their husbands and to get their questions answered at home.”

          Some final pointers from Paul (vs. 36-40)

          A QUESTION:

          1. “Did the Bible come from you Corinthians?” (vs. 36)

          - “If you didn’t write the Bible, you need to obey it.”

          - “Every believer is bound to the Word of God.”

          A CAUTION:

          1. “If someone claims to be God’s man with God’s gifts he’ll acknowledge what I’m teaching as coming from Almighty God.” (vs. 37-38)

          - “If they ignore my teaching, they should be ignored by the church.”

          A COMMENDATION:

          1. “Be FOR prophecy and DON’T FORBID tongues.” (vs. 39) “Be eager to … don’t forbid.”

          - Don’t be known for what you’re against. That doesn’t attract anyone.

          - Tongues was a limited gift, but it was also the Lord’s gift.

          Dr. Warren Wiersbe: “It might be helpful to summarize what Paul wrote about the gift of tongues. It is the God-given ability to speak in a known language with which the speaker was not previously acquainted. Not every believer had this gift, nor was this gift an evidence of spirituality or the result of a ‘baptism of the Spirit.’”

          “Only three persons were permitted to speak in tongues in any one meeting, and they had to do so in order and with interpretation. If there was no interpreter, they had to keep silent. Prophecy is the superior gift, but tongues were not to be despised if they were exercised according to Scripture.

          When the foundational work of the Apostles and prophets ended, it would seem that the gifts of knowledge, prophecy, and tongues would no longer be needed. ‘Whether there be tongues, they shall cease’ (1 Cor. 13:8). Certainly God could give this gift today if He pleased, but I am not prepared to believe that every instance of tongues is divinely energized. Nor would I go so far to say that all instances of tongues are either satanic or self-induced.

          It is unfortunate when believers make tongues a test of fellowship or spirituality. That in itself would alert me that the Spirit would not be at work. Let’s keep our priorities straight and major on winning the lost and building the church.”

          Verse 40. The final word.

          - Public worship ought to be one of the most beautiful things anyone ever experiences.

          - It ought to be a demonstration of order and grace, variety and yet, harmony.

          * God is a God like that.

          - A God of order and beauty and harmony.

          * Everything His children do ought to reflect the kind of God He is.

          The Tribulation

          What The Bible Says About The Tribulation

          (Text: Selected Scriptures)
          By: Barry L. Cameron

          * There are numerous passages that deal with the Tribulation. Among them are: Deuteronomy 4:30-31; Isaiah 2:19; Isaiah 24:1, 3, 6; 26:20-21; Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 9:27; Daniel 12:1; Joel 1:15; Joel 2:1-2; Amos 5:18-20; Zephaniah 1:14-15, 18 Matthew 24:21-22; Luke 21:25-26; 1 Thessalonians 5:3; Revelation 3:10; 6:15-17.

          * From these Scriptures it is obvious that the NATURE or CHARACTER of this period is a time of WRATH (Zephaniah 1:15, 18 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9; Revelation 6:16-17), JUDGMENT (Revelation 14:7; 15:4; 16:5, 7; 19:2; INDIGNATION (Isaiah 26:20-21; 34:1-3), TRIAL (Revelation 3:10), TROUBLE (Jeremiah 30:7; Zephaniah 1:14-15; Daniel 12:1), DESTRUCTION (Joel 1:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:3), DARKNESS (Joel 2:2; Amos 5:18; Zephaniah 1:14-18), DESOLATION (Daniel 9:27; Zephaniah 1:14-15), OVERTURNING (Isaiah 24:1-4, 19-21), and PUNISHMENT (Isaiah 24:20-21).

          What Is The Source Of The TRIBULATION?
          * This period of time is when God’s wrath and judgment fall upon the earth. This is not wrath from men, or from Satan, except as God may use these agents or agencies as channels for the execution of His will.
          * The SOURCE of the TRIBULATION is GOD!

          What Is The Purpose Of The TRIBULATION?
          (1) The first great purpose of the Tribulation is to prepare the nation of Israel for her Messiah.
          - God’s purpose for Israel, during the TRIBULATION, is to bring about the conversion of a multitude of Jews, who will enter into the blessings of the Kingdom and experience the fulfillment of all of Israel’s covenants.
          - Ezekiel 20:33-38. It will be a time of judgment for those who do not believe, and a time of salvation for those who do believe.
          - Matthew 24:14. The good news that the King is about to return will be preached.

          * It is also God’s purpose to populate the millennial Kingdom with a multitude of saved Gentiles, who are redeemed through the preaching of the believing remnant (Revelation 7:9)

          Who Are The Great Multitude In White Robes? (Revelation 7:9)
          * Verse 14. These are the Gentiles who are saved during the TRIBULATION because of the believing remnant.
          * They are martyred for their faith and are translated to Heaven (Revelation 7:16-17)

          Who Are The 144,000? (Revelation 7)
          * Before the antichrist can destroy God’s covenant nation once and for all, the Lord will seal with invincibility a believing remnant of 12,000 literal descendants of Abraham from each of the 12 tribes of the sons of Jacob, to be His witnesses in the world.

          * What will infuriate the antichrist is that he will not be able to kill them.

          (2) The second purpose of the TRIBULATION is to pour out judgment on unbelieving man and nations. (Revelation 3:10; Isaiah 26:21; 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12)

          * So, in capsule form: the TRIBULATION provides a time for (a) salvation for Jews and Gentiles who believe and, (b) judgment for the Jews and Gentiles who do not believe.

          What Is The Time Of The TRIBULATION?
          * The “key” to this is Daniel’s prophecy of the “70 weeks” in Daniel 9:24-27.

          Here is a “capsule summary” of that prophecy:
          1. The entire prophecy has to do with Daniel’s people and city (Israel & Jerusalem).
          2. There are two different leaders mentioned: the “Anointed One,” and the “ruler.” (This is Jesus and the “antichrist.”)
          3. The entire time period involved is specified as “70 weeks,” divided into 3 sections of: seven weeks, sixty-two weeks, and one-week respectively.
          4. This time period begins at the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (vs. 25).

          The SIX PURPOSES For The Seventy Weeks Are In Verse 24:
          (1) To finish transgression
          (2) To put an end to sin
          (3) To atone for wickedness
          (4) To bring in everlasting righteousness
          (5) To seal up vision and prophecy
          (6) To anoint the most holy

          What About The Seventy Weeks?
          * Permission and authorization to rebuild the Temple and the city was given under the 2nd decree of Artaxerxes in Nehemiah 2:1-8. Since he began his reign in 465 B.C., his 20th year of reign would have been 445 B.C., and that would have been March 14th, 445 B.C. on our calendar.
          - The 70 Weeks in reality refers to 490 years.
          - Three periods: 7, 62 and 1.

          (a) The Seven Weeks: A 49-year period from 445 B.C. would end in 396 B.C. In that year Jerusalem was completed as well as the Old Testament Canon. God completed the physical foundations and the spiritual foundations in the same year. (Interesting point.)
          (b) The Sixty-Two Weeks: This period lasts for 434 years and concludes with the “triumphal entry.”

          * Adding the two periods together gives the figure 483 years. Using 360-day years, the duration of the first two periods of the “seventy weeks” equals a total of 173,880 days from the decree in 445 B.C. to the “triumphal entry.”

          * Dr. Harold Hoehner, with some elaborate scientific help, discovered that March 30, A.D. 33 is the proper day for the “triumphal entry” – when Jesus was publicly presented as Messiah.

          GUESS WHAT? That comes out to exactly 173,880 days!
          * Every time Jesus said, “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4), He knew what He was talking about. – Isaiah 46:10. God runs the show.

          (c) The Final Week: is clearly 7 years, since that is the definite makeup of the other two periods. * This is the “70th week” of Daniel 9:24-27.

          Daniel 9:27. The 7-year TRIBULATION is divided in the middle, creating 2 equal halves of 3 1/2 years each.

          * According to Revelation 7:14, the last half is called THE GREAT TRIBULATION.

          * The first 3 1/2 years of Daniels “70th Week” is a time of relative peace.

          * But, in the middle of the “70th Week,” the antichrist desecrates the temple in Jerusalem and begins his tremendous persecution of Israel. This starts THE GREAT TRIBULATION.

          How Does The Antichrist Desecrate The Temple?
          * At the beginning of the Tribulation, the antichrist makes a 7-year covenant with Israel, which allows them to worship in their temple (Daniel 9:27). In the middle of the 7 years, he violates his covenant and desecrates the temple.

          * Apparently, what is going to happen is that the “antichrist” is going to set up an idol to himself in the temple (2 Thessalonians 2:4). Once this happens, Israel begins to be violently persecuted.
          - Revelation 12:6. Israel flees to the wilderness to a place prepared by God for 1,260 days. (That’s 3 1/2 years.)

          Here’s a brief outline for the TRIBULATION from Matthew 24

          (1) First Half Of The Tribulation (vs. 4-8)
          a. Great deception by many false Christs (vs. 4-5)
          b. Wars and rumors of wars (vs. 6-7a)
          c. Famines, pestilences and earthquakes (vs. 7b)

          (2) Second Half Of The Tribulation (vs. 9-14)
          a. Persecution and martyrdom (vs. 9)
          b. Betrayal and hatred (vs. 10)
          c. Great deception by many false prophets (vs. 11)
          d. Departure of phony believers from the truth (vs. 12)
          e. Endurance of true believers (vs. 13)
          f. Evangelistic blitz by the TWO WITNESSES and the 144,000 (vs. 14)

          What Are The Signs The Jesus Is About To Return?
          1. The desecration of the temple (Matthew 24:15-22)
          2. The deception of the deceived (Matthew 24:23-26)
          3. The devouring of divine judgment (Matthew 24:27-28)

          The Unpardonable Sin

          What The Bible Says About The Unpardonable Sin

          (Text: Matthew 12:24-27)
          By: Barry L. Cameron

          * Jesus presented Himself to Israel as the King, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the fulfillment of all Old Testament prophecy. The Jewish mentality had gone from indifference clear to blatant rejection, led by her leaders.

          * By the time you get to Matthew 12; the consensus among Jewish leadership is that Jesus cannot be ignored. He must be contended with because He is satanic. (They concluded the exact opposite of the truth because of the blindness of their hearts and made the conclusion that Jesus was demonic. Further, they concluded that the demons He cast out — He cast out by the power of Satan.)

          We pick up the narrative in verse 24 of Matthew 12.
          - Jesus says that the issue here is that Satan cannot be casting out Satan. (That would divide himself.)
          - Then, Jesus zeroes in on the problem: verse 28.
          - “The Kingdom of God has come upon you and not only have you missed the Kingdom — you’ve missed the King.

          Now, notice verses 31-32: Here is the “unpardonable sin.” Jesus is very emphatic (twice — once in each verse) that you will not be forgiven.

          What is it that you can’t be forgiven of?
          * Some say it is rejection of Jesus Christ. But, it can’t be that because you can reject Him at one point in your life and accept Him at another and be forgiven. (Isn’t that true?)
          * Some charismatics have erroneously said that the “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” is when you say the experiences they claim to have experienced aren’t valid. (That isn’t even the issue here — nobody’s talking about that.)

          Here’s the issue: Jesus did what He did under the power of the Holy Spirit. It was one thing to say something against the Son of man. (i.e. To say something about His earthly presence or His earthly work.) But, to blaspheme the Holy Spirit was quite another thing.

          Here’s what it means: These people had received all the revelation they could possibly receive. They had heard Jesus teach. They had seen miracle after miracle. Here were a group of men, the leaders of Israel, who had the epitome of revelation.
          - The fulfillment of all messianic prophecy in the Old Testament.
          - The corroboration of the statements and deeds of Christ, that He was indeed the Messiah.

          … and their conclusion was that He was of Satan.

          * With all the revelation that God could possibly give them, they’d concluded the exact opposite and Jesus said to them, “It’s impossible for you to be saved.” They were hopeless.

          * This is the “unpardonable sin.” It was an historic thing. It was committed at a very specific period and time. By some specific people who saw Jesus face to face and attributed the works He did to Satan. (When they’d evaluated all that Jesus said and did, they determined He was of the Devil.)

          * This was the opposite of the truth. And Jesus said, “After all you’ve seen and heard — you decide that I’m of Satan — you’re done.” (Because, they couldn’t get any more revelation than they had already received. Nothing else could be done to convince them otherwise.)

          * The Greek construction has to do with Christ. Being able to see literal, physical presence and hearing His actual “spoken” words. People will see Him and hear Him, just like they did here in Matthew 12; and will conclude He is of the Devil.

          Note: The phrase, “either in this age or in the age to come” is a key aspect to understanding this verse. It refers to the fact that this sin will happen again in the Kingdom when Christ will set up His Kingdom here on earth for the 1,000-year millennial reign mentioned in Revelation 20. It is clear you and I cannot commit this sin, since it must take place in the literal, physical presence of Christ. (Only possible during His days on earth as recorded in the New Testament and when He comes again to establish His millennial reign.)

          * There are more prophecies in the Word of God concerning the Millennium than any other period of time.

          Daniel 2:44-45. The prophet saw the course of world history in the likeness of an image. He saw, last of all, a stone cute without hands falling from Heaven, which struck the image and smashed it to pieces. The stone then grew to become a great mountain that filled the entire earth. (Ref: Isaiah 2:2-4; Matthew 19:28)

          * Jesus will sit on the throne of David’s heir as promised in 2 Samuel 7:16; Psalm 89:20-37; Isaiah 11:1-16; and Jeremiah 33:19-21.

          * The first time, Jesus came as a King (Luke 1:32, 33), was rejected as a King (Mark 15:12-13; Luke 19:14) and died as a King (Matthew 27:37).

          WHEN HE RETURNS: He will again come as a King. (Revelation 19:16; Jeremiah 23:5-6).

          Witnessing

          What The Bible Says About Witnessing

          (Text: Matthew 28:18-20)
          By: Barry L. Cameron

          THE GREAT COMMISSION: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20)

          * According to the most recent church growth statistics, less than 2% of the church members in America have ever had a role of any kind in leading someone else to Christ. Nor can they even quote Matthew 28:18-20. Perhaps there’s a connection?

          * In short, when it comes to witnessing, the Bible says to DO IT!!

          Luke 5:1-11

          Quote: Tony Evans in his book, What Matters Most writes:
          “Jesus said, ‘I will make you fishers of men.’ I don’t know any fisherman who says, ‘Oh well, if the fish bite, fine. But if they don’t that’s OK. I’m not going to bother baiting my hook or making sure I have a strong line. No big deal either way.’ Nobody fishes that way. You go fishing to catch something.”

          * Jesus assumed that we would be sharing our faith. (Acts 1:8)
          - Unfortunately a large portion of the body of Christ is not doing it.

          Quote: Mark Mittleberg in his book, Becoming A Contagious Church writes:
          Bill Hybels recently spoke about this to a group of church leaders in Europe: “If you went to the airport, and there were no airplanes landing, and there were no airplanes taking off, you’d say, ‘There’s a problem!’ If you went to the train station, and there were no trains coming in and no trains leaving, you’d say, ‘There’s a problem!’ So why is it that we can be a part of churches that go year after year with almost no truly unchurched people coming to faith in Christ, and with very few people really becoming more Christlike, and yet think there’s no problem. Friends, if that describes your church, ‘There’s a problem’!”

          John 1:40-42

          Quote: Leith Anderson in his book Winning The Values War writes:
          “Most Chinese Christians in the house churches say that if a person does not evangelize, that person is not a Christian. Despite large numbers of imprisonments and executions, they keep on evangelizing and multiplying. Nothing stops them.”

          Quote: Luis Palau said, “The church is like manure. Pile it up, and it stinks up the neighborhood; spread it out, and it enriches the world.”

          Quote: Dr. John MacArthur in his book Nothing But The Truth writes:
          “If God’s primary purpose for believers was loving fellowship, He would take us immediately to Heaven, where spiritual fellowship is perfect, unhindered by sin, disharmony, or loneliness. If His primary purpose for us was learning His Word, He would also take us immediately to Heaven, the only place where we can know His Word perfectly. And if His primary purpose for us was to give Him praise, He would take us to Heaven, where praise is perfect and unending. There is only one reason the Lord allows His church to remain on earth–to reach the lost, just as Christ’s only reason for coming to earth was to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:10)

          John 20:21, “As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.”

          Romans 10:14-15, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” (Quoting Isaiah 52:7)

          Proverbs 11:30, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.”

          Daniel 12:3, “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”

          * Sharing our faith is not only a sacred duty, but also a supreme delight.

          Quote: Tom Youngblood, vice president of U.S. Field Ministries at International Bible Society, described the effect on Christians, “Lead a seeker to Christ and you will experience spiritual growth on steroids.”

          * Unfortunately, much of contemporary Christianity has withdrawn from the very world we are supposed to be reaching. We retreat to the confines of everything Christian and, in the process have become, in fact, not very Christian at all.

          Quote: Billy Graham, “Instead of becoming salt and light, we have been content to withdraw into our separate ecclesiastical ghettos, preoccupied with our own internal affairs and unconcerned about the deepest needs of those around us. In the eyes of many, religion has lost its relevance.”

          * Some mistakenly believe and teach that what we do has nothing to do with people getting saved.

          * They say God has already decided who will be a part of the elect and our efforts can’t alter that one bit.

          Quote: Jerry Falwell in his autobiography, writes:
          “Many theologians do battle over election and predestination. It has been my experience that the more persons with whom you share the Gospel, the more persons that get elected.”

          “When you enter that beautiful city, and the saved all around you appear.
          What joy when someone will tell you, it was you who invited me here.”

          * You and I are under divine mandate to share the gospel with every living creature on this planet.

          * So, we need to learn how to share our faith and then get busy doing it.

          SIMPLE MESSAGE … SIMPLE METHOD