Archives For Exposition

In a NT passage that speaks directly about an actual service in a local church, Paul declares the following:

1Co 14:23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:

25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

This text speaks of an unbeliever who comes into the midst of a whole church that has gathered together into one place and everyone prophesies with the result that the unbeliever comes under genuine conviction and is brought to worship God openly in their midst.

Because this divine revelation plainly speaks of God’s using the combined ministry of an assembled local church to bring an unbeliever to worship Him, we have biblical warrant for inviting people to come to church with us so that they are put in the position of having God work in their hearts in the manner spoken of in this passage.

Whether God chooses to work in such a manner in any given service is not our responsibility—our part is to put them in the position for Him to do so, should He see fit to do so.

Christians should invite unbelievers to come to church with them.

I believe that abortion is an act of horrific cruelty that puts to death an innocent unborn human being. More importantly, key passages point to a proper understanding of what abortion is in the eyes of Jesus.

Abortion is a Breaking of the Greatest Commandment

Jesus taught that the greatest commandment is to love God with all one’s being (Matt. 22:37-38). Putting to death an innocent unborn child is an egregious failure to love God with all one’s being because to do so is to attack unjustly a helpless human being made in the image of God (cf. James 3:9).

Abortion is a Breaking of the Second Greatest Commandment

Jesus taught that loving one’s neighbor as oneself is the second greatest commandment (Matt. 22:39). No one is a closer neighbor to another human being than an unborn baby is to his mother.

A mother who arranges to put to death her innocent unborn baby through abortion profoundly fails to obey God’s commandment that she love her neighbor as herself.

Abortion is a Breaking of the Sixth Commandment

Jesus confirmed the sixth commandment that God gave to man when He said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment (Matt. 5:21). Those who put to death an innocent unborn child who has done no wrong to anyone are guilty of breaking God’s commandment not to murder.

Abortion is a Breaking of the Golden Rule

Jesus taught that we are to do to others whatever we would want done to us (Matt. 7:12). Those who abort unborn children break the Golden Rule that Jesus gave because none of us would want to be put to death in the merciless manner that helpless children are killed when they are aborted.

Abortion is a Sin for Which Jesus Died to Provide Forgiveness to All Who Repent and Believe

The Father sent His Son Jesus into the world to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:15). Jesus laid down His life to save sinners from their sins (Matt. 1:21; 1 John 3:16).

Jesus offers forgiveness to all those who repent of their breaking the two greatest commandments, the sixth commandment, and the Golden Rule through the sin of abortion. Anyone who repents toward God and believes in Jesus Christ will receive forgiveness of this sin (and all his other sins).

Abortion is a Sin for Which Jesus Will Judge All Who Refuse to Repent and Believe

God raised Jesus from the dead and gave Him glory that the faith and hope of people might be in God (1 Pet. 1:21). God has appointed Jesus to be the Judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:42).

As the God-appointed Judge, Jesus will forgive all who repent of the sin of abortion and believe in Him (Acts 10:43). He is the Judge who will condemn eternally all who refuse to repent of their sins and believe (2 Thess. 1:7-9).

Conclusion

God does not want anyone to perish—He wants all to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). Believe in God and believe in Jesus and you will be saved and find rest for your soul (Matt. 11:28-30), no matter what sins you have committed!

Jesus does not want anyone to go on being heavy laden with the burden of the sin of abortion. If you are guilty before God in this way, acknowledge what abortion is in the eyes of Jesus.

Confess your sinfulness before God and forsake it and you will receive mercy from God (Prov. 28:13). Believe that Jesus died for that sin and all your other sins (1 Cor. 15:3), believe that God raised Him from the dead (Rom. 10:9-10), and call on His name as Lord (Rom. 10:13), and He will give you rest for your soul that no one else can or ever will (Matt. 11:28-30).

Scripture presents Paul the apostle as “the pattern believer” for all Christians (1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:17). Had Paul been a US citizen today, which candidate would he have voted for in this year’s presidential elections?

Paul as Citizen of a Non-Christian Government

Paul was a natural-born citizen of the nation of Rome (Acts 22:28). The Roman government was not a Christian government by any stretch of the imagination.

In his latter years, Paul spent much time as a prisoner of the Roman government (Acts 21-28; etc). He had several encounters with top Roman leaders in his lifetime (Acts 23-26).

From the Scriptural record of one of Paul’s encounters with a key civil official, we learn vital information about what Paul believed concerning what kind of person such a political leader needed to be.

Paul’s Ministry to a Roman Governor

While he was imprisoned, Paul had a noteworthy evangelistic encounter with the Roman governor Felix:

Act 24:24 And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.

 25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

Stanley D. Toussaint’s comments in the Bible Knowledge Commentary help bring out what Paul displayed was important to address on this occasion:

Felix must have taken a brief trip with his wife, Drusilla. When they returned, Felix sent for Paul who spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. Felix was brought under conviction when Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come. Well he should, for his marriage to Drusilla was his third and he had to break up another marriage to secure her. His regime was marked by injustices that contrasted with the righteousness of God. And he was a man grossly lacking in self-control (BKC: NT, 422; words in italics are in bold in the original).

Paul challenged this secular civil leader in a non-Christian government about his sinful lack of self-control. The Greek word that Luke used for “temperance” (egkrateia) in his inspired summary record of this encounter highlights that Paul confronted him about his sexual immorality.

In this encounter, Paul showed that he held that the lack of moral character of a civil official in a non-Christian government was a vital matter that he had to address in his dealings with that official.

Which Candidate Would Paul Have Voted For in 2016?

Based on what we learn from Acts 24:24-25, we can be certain that the apostle Paul would have scrutinized thoroughly all the candidates in this year’s presidential elections concerning their lack of moral character. Of the candidates that he would have had to choose from, there would have been one who would have most closely and conspicuously resembled Felix in this key respect.

Had Paul had the opportunity to vote in this year’s presidential elections, he would never have voted for a man who was like Felix because Paul would have heeded what God demands of all civil leaders: “The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God” (2 Sam. 23:3). Because God commands us to be followers of the apostle Paul (1 Cor. 11:1), we must hold that the moral character of a prospective President of the US is an essential consideration upon which we must base all our decisions about the candidate (or candidates) for whom we vote.

I recently engaged in an online discussion with some believers who assert that it is a fairly common view among believers today to hold that Boaz and Ruth fornicated on the night before they were married. In all my readings of the Book of Ruth, I do not remember ever thinking that the language of the passage shows that they engaged in sexual immorality on that occasion.

Several considerations lead me to reject this apparently widespread contemporary view categorically.

A Virtuous Woman Would Not Go Along with an Immoral Scheme

Ruth was a virtuous woman whose excellent character was known to all the people and attested to by them (Ruth 3:11). She went to the threshing floor where Boaz was sleeping that night because Naomi her mother-in-law instructed her to do so (Ruth 3:1-5).

Ruth uncovered Boaz’s feet and lay down at his feet because Naomi told her to do so (Ruth 3:4). To hold that Ruth and Boaz fornicated that night because Ruth put herself in that situation would mean that she would have gone along with an immoral scheme that her mother-in-law had devised.

Because Ruth was a virtuous woman, she would not have knowingly gone along with such an immoral scheme. The importance of this observation is heightened by a second key consideration about this encounter between Ruth and Boaz.

Their Supposedly Fornicating Does Not At All Fit the Flow of Thought

Their supposedly fornicating on the night before they were married does not fit the flow of thought at all. There was a kinsman who was closer to Ruth than Boaz was (Ruth 3:12). Neither Boaz nor Ruth knew, therefore, at that time whether they would ever be married because they did not know what that person would choose to do about his right of redemption (Ruth 3:13; 4:4).

To hold that Ruth and Boaz slept together on the night before they were married means that they would have to have given in to their fleshly lusts in spite of their not having any surety whether there would be any future for them to be together. Their having done so would thus have been a far different matter than the situation of engaged couples who succumb to their fleshly desires before their upcoming planned weddings.

Moreover, Naomi also would have been responsible for putting Ruth in that compromising situation because she was the one who directed Ruth to do what she did. She then would have shared responsibility for the defiling of Ruth without having any certainty that Boaz would even be able to marry Ruth the next day.

Our Responsibility to Give Other Believers Every Reasonable Benefit of the Doubt

We must give Ruth and Boaz every reasonable benefit of the doubt. As discussed above, Scripture does not provide any compelling evidence that shows that they engaged in premarital intimacy.

In fact, the inspired record strongly precludes their having been immoral together on that night. It would be unrighteous, therefore, for believers to assert that Boaz and Ruth were immoral on that occasion.

Conclusion

Boaz and Ruth are alive today in the presence of God. We who are believers in Jesus Christ will spend all eternity with them.

Because we do not have irrefutable evidence to show that they fornicated on the night before they were married, we should not dishonor them by suggesting that they fornicated when they met that night. If we do so, and they testify to us someday in heaven to the purity of their dealings on that occasion, we will owe them an apology in that day.

Moreover, the biblical account of the threshold encounter of Boaz and Ruth does not provide any support for holding that premarital sex is somehow legitimate or not such a big deal because supposedly Ruth and Boaz slept together on the night before they were married. Using this account to try to excuse such immoral behavior is to misuse Scripture.

 

Muchas personas creen que los líderes civiles no son responsables cuando ellos permiten a las personas que gobiernan tener la libertad de elegir hacer lo que es malvado. La Escritura proporciona información definitiva que demuestra que este punto de vista es falso.

Fue Pilato responsable por la elección de la gente de tener a Jesús crucificado?

Pilato era un gobernador secular que fracasó liberar a Jesús a pesar de saber y declaró repetidamente que Jesús era inocente (Lucas 23: 4, 14, 15, 22; Juan 19: 4, 6). En su lugar, Pilato dio a las autoridades judías y los judíos la elección de quién querían Pilato para liberar: Barrabás o Jesús (Mat. 27:15-23; Lucas 23:17-20; Juan 18:37-40).

Así Pilato dio a estas personas la opción de optar hacer algo que era pecaminoso (liberar Barrabás y condenar a Jesús) o hacer lo correcto (liberar Jesús y condenar a Barrabás).  Las autoridades judías y la gente (Mat. 27:20) optaron por hacer lo que era pecaminoso, solicitando la liberación de Barrabás y la condenación de Jesús (Mat. 27:21; Juan 18:40).

En vano, Pilato lavó sus manos y dijo que él era inocente de la sangre de Jesús (Mat. 27:24). La gente dijo que su sangre sería sobre ellos y sus hijos (Mat. 27:25). Fue Pilato absuelto de hacer maldades porque él dio a la gente la opción de hacer lo que estaba bien o hacer lo que estaba mal y la gente optó hacer lo que estaba mal?

A través de los apóstoles, Dios no sólo acusó a las autoridades judías y los judíos de la muerte de Jesús, sino también a las autoridades romanas (Hechos 3:13-15; 4:27; 13:28). Así, Dios sostuvo a Pilato también responsable de la injusticia que se llevó a cabo a pesar de que la gente y no Pilato fue quien hizo la libre elección de tener a Jesús crucificado (Mat. 27:22-23).

Conclusión

Cuando una autoridad gubernamental da a la gente la libertad por la ley de hacer una elección pecaminosa, Dios sostiene tanto a la autoridad gubernamental como a las personas que hacen la elección pecaminosa responsables. Esta verdad tiene un profundo significado para lo que las autoridades gubernamentales opten hacer en cuanto a su promulgación y aplicación de la legislación que le da a la gente que gobiernan la libertad de elegir para hacer lo que es pecaminoso.

(Trasladado con la ayuda de Google Translate y Daniela Medina.)

Many people believe that civil leaders are not responsible when they allow the people that they govern to have the freedom to choose to do what is evil. Scripture provides definitive information that shows that this view is false.

Was Pilate Responsible for the People’s Free Choice to Have Jesus Crucified?

Pilate was a secular governor who failed to release Jesus even though he knew and declared repeatedly that Jesus was innocent (Luke 23:4, 14, 15, 22; John 19:4, 6). Instead, Pilate gave the Jewish authorities and the Jewish people the choice of whom they wanted Pilate to release: Barabbas or Jesus (Matt. 27:15-23; Luke 23:17-20; John 18:37-40).

Pilate thus gave these people the choice to choose to do something that was sinful (release Barabbas and condemn Jesus) or to do what was right (release Jesus and condemn Barabbas). The Jewish authorities and people (Matt. 27:20) chose to do what was sinful by requesting the release of Barabbas and the condemnation of Jesus (Matt. 27:21; John 18:40).

In vain, Pilate washed his hands and said that he was innocent of Jesus’ blood (Matt. 27:24). The people said that His blood would be on them and on their children (Matt. 27:25) Was Pilate absolved of wrongdoing because he gave the people the choice to do what was right or to do what was wrong and they chose to do what was wrong?

Through the apostles, God indicted not just the Jewish authorities and the Jewish people for the murder of Jesus but also the Roman authorities (Acts 3:13-15; 4:27; 13:28). God thus held Pilate also responsible for the injustice that took place even though the people and not Pilate made the free choice to have Jesus crucified (Matt. 27:22-23).

Conclusion

When a governmental authority gives people the freedom by law to make a sinful choice, God holds both the governmental authority and the people who make that sinful choice responsible. This truth has profound significance for what governmental authorities choose to do concerning their enacting and enforcing legislation that gives the people that they govern the freedom to choose to do what is sinful.

The entire Bible testifies to the inexhaustible goodness of God. God gave the Israelites revelation concerning the Sabbath that testifies to another glorious dimension of His goodness that I had not given much thought to until recently.

Speaking directly to Moses, God declared the following concerning the Sabbath:

Exodus 23:12 Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed.

In giving the Sabbath to His people, God displayed that He cared not just for the well-being of humans but also for the well-being of their animals! God is so good that He wanted even the Israelites’ oxen and donkeys to have one day out of seven that they could rest physically from the exhausting labors that they endured on the other six days of each week!

Let us praise our God for this glorious dimension of His infinite goodness!

It is a very sad reality that many people in the world suffer greatly because they are poor. Three Scriptural statements provide these many millions of poor people with crucial revelation that they desperately need.

In three successive chapters in Proverbs, God sets forth three truths that go contrary to the thinking and practice of many of the people in the world today. By giving attention to these words from God, they will have essential truth that they need to have God’s mind about being poor.

Proverbs 19:22

Given the opportunity to do so, some people lie to try to get out of their poverty. Some provide false information to governmental authorities in order to get assistance for which they would not otherwise qualify or the amounts that they would receive would be substantially reduced were they to tell the truth about their situation.

People cheat on their tax returns in order not to pay as much taxes as they should. By doing so, they seek to have more money than they would were they to be truthful about their finances.

Contrary to the thinking and practice of all such people, Scripture declares,

A poor man is better than a liar (Prov. 19:22).

Because God teaches that it is better to be poor than to be a liar, everyone who does deceitful things to get wealth shows that he does not have God’s mind about being poor.

By faith and trust in God, every poor person should be truthful. They should not lie to try to escape their poverty. Showing that they fear God, they should commit themselves to God to take care of them. 

Proverbs 20:17

Many people obtain material goods and money through deceitful means. Because they temporarily enjoy the fruit of their lies, they think that what they have done is justified by the sweetness of what they obtain through their falsehoods.

God warns such people,

Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel (Prov. 20:17).

No matter how appealing it may be to acquire and enjoy things through lying that you otherwise would not be able to have, God wants us to be certain that the ultimate consequence of such actions will not be sweet. By faith in God, people who are poor must reject opportunities to get things and wealth through deceitful ways.

Proverbs 21:6

Poor people are often tempted to think that they need to lie in order to change the sad realities of their circumstances. Such people must heed what God says about such wrong attempts to acquire wealth:

The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death (Prov. 21:6).

God teaches that people who lie to get treasures are actually pursuing death even while they think they are trying to improve their lives by their dishonest acquisitions. Poor people must take God’s viewpoint and reject such fatal seeking of wealth!

Conclusion

God cares so much about all human beings that He has provided us with these (and many other) key truths so that we will have His mind about being poor. God wants all people, including poor people, to put their faith in Him by being truthful and honest in all their ways at all times.

Do you have God’s mind about being poor?

 

 

 

 

In my last post, I treated three reasons why cremation is unbiblical. A striking statement about Joseph in Hebrews 11 provides additional conclusive evidence for the case against cremation.

Joseph’s Charge to the Israelites Prior to His Death

As he neared death, Joseph communicated his full assurance that God would fulfill His promises to His people about bringing them out of Egypt and into the land that He had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Gen. 50:24). Joseph then made the Israelites take an oath that they would carry his bones with them out from Egypt (Gen. 50:25).

By giving this charge to his own, Joseph displayed that he valued highly what would become of his bones after he had died. Not only did he not want his body to be cremated so that it would be reduced to ashes, but also he cared about where his remains would be buried.

Joseph wanted his bones to be buried in the Promised Land into which he was certain that God would one day lead His people. Was Joseph’s desire concerning his bones simply a manifestation of a cultural practice of his time or was it a display of something far greater?

Israel’s Obedience to Joseph’s Charge

When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, he obeyed Joseph’s charge by taking his bones with them (Exod. 13:19). The children of Israel later finally fully fulfilled the wishes of Joseph when they buried his bones in a parcel of ground in Shechem, which parcel “became the inheritance of the children of Joseph (Josh. 24:32).

The OT Scriptural record of Joseph’s charge and the Israelites full obedience to that charge shows that God has wanted all His people who have ever received His Word to know what Joseph ordained concerning his bones and what ultimately happened to them. Does this Scriptural record merely relate the fulfillment of self-chosen instructions given by a powerful Israelite leader who was following the cultural customs of his time or is the record intended by God to communicate something of far greater importance?

Divine Commendation of Joseph’s Charge

The writer of Hebrews explicitly commends Joseph to NT believers as one who “obtained a good report through faith” (Heb. 11:39). Considering all that Scripture reveals about Joseph that is commendable, it is highly instructive that the explicit commendation given concerning Joseph in this key NT passage concerns the very charge that we read of twice in preceding Scripture:

Heb 11:22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

God thus highlights that Joseph’s giving the charge that he did concerning his bones was the exemplary manifestation of his faith in God that God wants to call to the attention of all Christians! God’s commendation of Joseph’s believing desires that his bones be buried in the Promised Land shows that what he did was not just a record of a powerful Israelite following his own wishes in keeping with a cultural custom of his people and time.

Conclusion

Joseph wanted his bones to be buried—not cremated, and his wanting to do so was a vital expression of his faith in the promises of God. All Christians must likewise display their faith in God by seeking to have their bodies buried when they die.

The Scriptural record concerning Joseph’s charge about his bones powerfully argues against any legitimacy of cremation for God’s people. Christians must not cremate their own!

Many biblical facts show why cremation is unbiblical. This post examines three reasons why cremation is unbiblical.

No OT support for cremation instead of burial

The OT does not record a single instance of God’s people cremating one of their own instead of burying him. Although it does have one passage that relates when some Israelites burned the bodies of some of their people when they died, a close examination of that account shows that it does not support cremation at all.

First Samuel 31 records the tragic end of the lives of king Saul and his three sons. When the Philistines decapitated them and fastened their bodies to a wall (1 Sam. 31:7-10), some inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what had taken place and valiantly acted to attend properly to their bodies:

1Sa 31:11 And when the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul;

 12 All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there.

Scripture provides no explanation for why these men burned the bodies of Saul and his sons. Regardless of why they did so, they did not burn their bodies instead of burying them, as the next verse plainly states:

13 And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

This key statement reveals that the men did not burn the bodies of Saul and his sons until they became ashes and then dispose of the ashes in whatever way they thought was acceptable. Rather, they burned the bodies in a way that preserved their bones, and then they buried them.

First Samuel 13 does not provide any support for Christians cremating a loved one instead of burying him. In fact, it shows that cremating a dead Christian is not at all either a biblically acceptable form of burial or a biblically acceptable substitute for burial.

God’s condemnation of people who completely burned the bones of a person

Amos 2 relates God’s declaration of His fierce wrath upon the Moabites for what they did to the bones of the king of Edom:

Amo 2:1 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime:

 2 But I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth: and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet:

 3 And I will cut off the judge from the midst thereof, and will slay all the princes thereof with him, saith the LORD.

Because the Moabites burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime, God was going to judge them fiercely. C.F. Keil explains,

The burning of the bones of the king of Edom is not burning while he was still alive, but the burning of his corpse into lime, i. e. so completely that the bones turned into powder like lime . . . This is the only thing blamed, not his having put him to death (Keil-Delitzsch, 10:250).

This passage reveals God’s wrath on those who desecrated a man’s body after he had died by burning his bones until they became a powder. Based on this passage, Christians must not think that the Bible does not have anything to say against cremation.

No evidence of Christians ever cremating their own

The NT does not record a single instance of Christians cremating anyone after he had died. Furthermore, the account of the death of John the Baptist strengthens the case against cremation in a telling way.

Mark 6 records the horrific death of John the Baptist at the hands of wicked king Herod. Having had John beheaded, Herod had his head brought in a platter to the daughter of Herodias, who then gave it to her mother (Mark 6:27-28).

The disciples of John responded to the tragic murder of John by properly attending to his body:

Mar 6:29 And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.

A comparison of the accounts of the deaths of King Saul and John the Baptist reveals that the disciples of John did not first burn his decapitated body—they buried his body in a tomb. Any possible support that a believer could try to make for cremation from the account in First Samuel 31 is invalidated by this parallel account in Mark 6.

The disciples of John, who through progressive revelation knew even more about the ways of God than the people of Jabesh Gilead did in their earlier time, did not employ any kind of burning in dealing with the decapitated body of John the Baptist. Mark 6 compared with First Samuel 31 shows that there is no New Testament support for God’s people even in an extreme circumstance to use some form of cremation prior to or in place of burial.

Conclusion

Cremation is not a biblically acceptable form of burial nor is it a biblically acceptable substitute for burial. Christians should not cremate their own.