Monday, May 3, 2021

Only God can Judge Me

 


Misuse of Matthew 7:1

 

Introduction

Aside from John 3:16, Matthew 7:1 gets quoted a lot by people from all walks of life. It’s not just the religious people; all people use this verse as a way of deflating a situation.

In Matthew 7:1, Jesus says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Does this mean that we can’t judge an individual? A known celebrity once uttered the phrase, “Only God can judge me.” However, that phrase, in itself, is a judgement. Now that’s irony!

 


Out of Context

We make judgments all the time when we meet someone. We looked at the way they’re dressed, their behavior, their mannerisms, how they talk, etc. However, people say that we can’t do this and that we should tolerate their decisions. You’ve heard women say, “My body, My choice” as a support to abortion. But that is a judgment also.

Essentially what people are saying is, “Leave me alone, I have a right to live my life the way I want to and you can’t say or do anything to change that.” Again, that is also a judgment. So, you see, you can’t escape making judgments toward anyone.

In regards to the statement, Only God can judge me; Yes, He will judge you in the final day as stated in Hebrews 9:27, And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment. This is the judgment every mortal will face in the final day; the decision that will place you in eternal rest or eternal torment (Mt. 25:46).

 

In Context

If you look at the passage that includes verse 1; by they way, this is part of what is known as The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus says more than ‘judge not’. Let’s look at the first 5 verses of chapter 7…

“Judge not, that you be not judged. "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? "Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.”

What Jesus is saying is don’t pass a condemning judgment on an individual by the way he looks or talks. We sometimes see ourselves as better than those around us; giving the false authority to judge others. However, if we look at our own lives, we’ll see that we are no better than that individual we judged; especially in the eyes of God.

In John 7:24, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” In other words, you need to get to know a person before passing judgment on someone.

Here’s an example, suppose you’re at the local church building and a man walks in wearing clothes that are stained and full of holes. He asks to speak to the preacher. Those in the foyer might immediately pass judgment saying that this is a “street person” who’s looking for money or food. When, in reality, he was either wondering when services began or wanted to know the location of the nearest gas station as his car broke down (hence, the stains). Those in the foyer should have asked his intentions without drawing unnecessary conclusions.

Another example is when the apostle Paul passed judgment on Peter in Galatians 2:11, Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed. Can you imagine what Peter’s reaction would have been if we used the out of context version of Matthew 7:1? Peter might say something like, “You can’t judge me, I was one of the original Twelve! I was with Jesus during the transfiguration, I was part of the ‘inner circle with the Sons of Zebedee.” And so on.

In truth, Paul had a right to judge Peter because he was in the wrong; see verses 12-14. And we know that Peter accepted this judgment the way it was meant because in in 2 Pet. 3:15, he referred to Paul as a ‘beloved brother’. Had he taken offense to Paul’s judgment, he wouldn’t have cited him as a brother but more of a meddler.

 

Conclusion

Judgment of others is something we do every single day whether we think we do or not. We are judged by others as well; whether righteously or not. We need to remember not to condemn any individual until we fully understand the situation they are in.

Finally remember what Jesus said in Matthew 12:36-37, "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."


Saturday, April 24, 2021

Monday, April 19, 2021

God and the Warm Fuzzies

 

Misuse of Ps. 46:10

 


Introduction

You’ve heard the old phrase, “Take time to stop and smell the roses.” This means that in life, sometimes we get so busy with our day-to-day activity that we don’t stop and appreciate the little things in life. We take for granted the landscape that is before us. If we don’t stop, once in a while, and admire the beauty of God’s creation, we might miss these opportunities when they are no longer available.

In Psalm 46:10, the psalmist writes, Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! (NKJV) Is this the same sentiment as “stop and smell the roses”? Let’s see in this article.

 

Out of Context

People today take this verse and use only the first part; Be still, and know that I am God, and plaster it all over things like mugs, T-shirts, bumper stickers, etc. It’s to give us the “warm fuzzy” feelings that God want us to remember Him in our busy day-to-day lives.

In other words, while we are living our lives, we should also take time to reading God’s word. While this is important; as most of us don’t spend time in God’s word, does this verse mean this very sentiment?

 

In Context

Once again, we need to look at passage that verse is a part of to get its true meaning. At only 11 verses, you can read the entire psalm and understand what God is really saying here. But, for the purposes of this article, we’ll look at verses 8-11:

Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah (NKJV)

Essentially, this psalm serves as a warning to the enemies of God’s people; as well as an encouragement to His own people. It is to say that God will fight for His people and all should be fearful who go up against the Israelites.

The prophet Amos traveled to Bethel to warn the Northern ten tribes in similar fashion all through chapter 4. Finally, in verse 12, the prophet declares, “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” In other words, repent or suffer the wrath which is to come and the hands of Jehovah. Needless to say, they didn’t repent and thus were carried off into captivity and scattered throughout Assyria.

The prophet Ezekiel, during the Babylonian captivity of Judah, gave a similar warning throughout his book (67 verses), when he said, and you shall know that I am the LORD.

 

Conclusion

If you’re looking for encouragement for today, turn to Ephesians 1:22-23; in which the apostle Paul writes, And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.  

Another passage would be Romans 8:31-33 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Personally, I’d rather have Rom. 8:31 on a coffee mug or T-shirt as it shows confidence in the creator and the protector of His own people.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Does God have a Plan for You?

 


Misuse of Jer. 29:11

 

Introduction

Have you ever had this happen to you? You go through life and a string of negative things take place. And when you feel really low about your current situation, someone will come along and say something like, “Don’t worry, God has a plan for you!”

Although God does have a plan, this is not what they mean. They make it sound like He has something in the works specifically for you and no one else. The verse, from scriptures, that they connect to this is Jeremiah 29:11, which says, For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (RSV) Is this what the prophet was talking about?

 

Out of Context


As we stated, this is a sentiment given to those who are at a “low” in their life; laid off from work, in between jobs, a crisis at home, or tragedy within the family.

Sometimes it might be encouragement for those arriving at the next step in their life; graduating college, new job, a promotion, or recently married. Either way, this verse is given and they make it sound like a daytime talk show host giving away something to their audience: You get a plan, YOU get a plan, everyone that is in the audience will get a plan!!


This all sounds great but when you isolate this verse, you give the impression that God is giving you health, wealth, and prosperity. Naturally, everyone would like that but it’s called, The American Dream. Can you honestly use this verse to those who are Christians in third world countries? People who are just as faithful to God but barely have food in their stomachs and a roof over their head? Does this apply to them as well? The answer is NO! Then, what does this verse really mean?

 

In Context

     This encouragement is given to an entire group not an individual. Verses 10 and 14 give you the answer, 10. For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place… 14. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.

This passage; verses 10-14, is encouragement to the Israelites during the time of Babylonian captivity. Jeremiah, the prophet of God was telling them that although things look bleak right now, it will get better. They were still His children and, although they would spend 70 years in captivity, they will return to their own land after it is over.

You will notice that verse 11 (shown above) is from the Revised Standard Version of the bible. All other translations use “peace” instead of “wealth”. This is about physical and spiritual salvation; returning to their own land. It’s not about material blessings at all.

 

Conclusion



But God does have a plan for you, and for me, and for everyone on this planet. However, it’s the exact same plan for everyone; not specifically designed for any one individual. That plan is the Plan of Salvation. I’ve posted it many times before and, for the benefit of anyone who hasn’t read it, I’ll post it here now…

Hear the Word of God (Rom. 10:17)

Believe Jesus is the Son of God (John 8:24)

Confess Jesus is the Son of God (Rom. 10:9-10)

Repent of your sins (Acts 2:38)

Become baptized to wash away your sins (Acts 22:16)

Live Faithfully even unto Death (Rev. 2:10)

Start your new life as a Christian by being obedient to God’s word (Mt. 7:21). If you have any questions, comments, or would like further study, feel free to post them here.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Whatever you do…

 

Misuse of Col. 3:17

 

Introduction

In Colossians 3:17 the apostle Paul wrote, And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. What exactly did he mean by “whatever you do…”? This article will look at what man says versus what the bible says.

 

Out of Context

Taking this statement of Paul’s, at face value, could easily open the flood gates for all kinds of activity. One of the warning signs that people are a denominational fueled individual is when they call for information about your congregation, one of the first questions asked is, “What programs do you offer?” The idea of programs includes activities for children, singles night, couples’ activities, various ‘anonymous’ programs, rehab, soup kitchens, etc.


But it doesn’t stop there; pancake breakfasts, car washes, Church softball teams, casino night, etc. In addition to all of this, people look at their God-given talents as reason to “praise God” and to do it in the worship assembly. Guitar players, singers/choirs, bands, performing plays (talent of writing/acting), and so on.

All of these activities people believe they have a right to do as long as they are doing it “in the name of the Lord Jesus”. But is that what Paul really meant? Are pancake breakfasts and church softball the work of the church?

 

In Context

The answer to this question is given by Paul in the passage that includes verse 17. Starting at verse 16, and going through verse 25, he tells us exactly what he means. Verse 16 is about teaching and admonishing one another in the worship service, verses 18-21 talk about our home life, and verse 22 tell us how we are to behave on the job.

It’s all about our spiritual attitude and how we are the live the lifestyle of a Christian. Most people see their religion as an outfit of clothes they put on for Sunday then remove when Monday arrives. They never think about their religion during the week; on the job, with friends, or at home. To them, religion is what you do at the church building.

When one becomes a Christian, it’s a change of heart and a change of lifestyle. Paul wrote in Colossians 3:9-10, Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him. This is not something set aside for one day of the week. It’s about complete change 24/7/365 of your life.

 

Conclusion

When you ask, “What can I do to praise God in His name?” make sure it’s according to God’s Will which is found in the bible. There’s not against having a talent; God gave us all talents to use. But not all talents given are to be used in the worship assembly. Please re-read my articles on worship.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

I Can Do All Things…

 


Misuse of Phil. 4:13

 

Introduction

In Philippians 4:13, the apostle Paul writes; I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. What did Paul mean when he wrote, “I can do all things?” A lot of people in the religious world cling to this verse as if it’s a lifesaver and that, even when times are tough, this verse will remind them that nothing is too hard.

 

Out of Context

Many people think that they can accomplish anything if God (or Christ) is on their side. For example: Slam dunk a basketball, make the winning play in baseball, bench press more weights than one should, or win the lottery. Given that the last one is a form of gambling, God is not going to approve of that; nor will He take credit if you should win. If this is the case, then what does it mean?

 

In Context

The first thing you need to know is that Paul wrote this letter from prison. Like Ephesians and Colossians, Philippians is what is known as a Prison Epistle.

Secondly, verse 13 shouldn’t be isolated, but part of the passage that begins in verse 8. In the interest of space in this article, let’s look at verses 11-13, Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.


Let’s look closer at verse 11; he says, …in whatever state I am, to be content. Paul is in prison and he says he’s content? Seriously? Yes! As a side note, we should take Paul’s comment to heart that when things get too rough for us in life, remember that Paul was content in prison.

Suppose we assume, for just a moment, that the out of context example is true. Wouldn’t Paul have broken out of prison stating that he was doing it as Christ strengthens him? Some might argue that breaking out of prison is wrong. True but, then again, Paul being put in prison in the first place is wrong also.

The idea here is that Paul gains strength from Christ to withstand the daily toil of being locked up with no sign of being released. He was allowed visitors (Acts 24:23), and treated well, but he couldn’t continue his work of his visits to the congregations. It’s not a physical attribute of doing all things but rather being content in his current state knowing that as long as he does the will of God (Mt. 7:21), he will be well-cared for.

 

Conclusion

Leaning on the scriptures for strength is a daily necessity and shouldn’t be taken lightly. If we are ever in a situation like Paul was in, there may be a time when our only hope is God and His Word.

Monday, March 15, 2021

The Brevity of the Scriptures

 



 Introduction

“Okay kids, it’s time for bible study!” “Groan. The bible is too big” “It takes forever to get through it.” Does this sound familiar in your household? I’ll agree that some parts of scripture seem tedious; Leviticus springs instantly to mind.

However, when you get right down to it, the bible isn’t nearly as long as you think it is. Let’s face it, if man wrote the bible, it would be so much longer. So much more would have been added to it. Here’s a look at how brief the scriptures actually are.

 

This article is not to be confused with my other one titled, Who Wrote the Bible?

 

In the Beginning

The creation of the earth, and everything within, only takes one chapter. One separate chapter was given to the creation of Adam and Eve. Had these chapters been written by man, you would see multiple chapters of what transpired during these six literal days.

And that’s another point; some would argue that the days of creation are, in actuality, millions of years. If this was the case, why don’t we read more description of what took place in those millions of years? Where are the mention of dinosaurs?

Moses wrote Genesis through inspiration of the Holy Spirit and all that is given is one chapter. This shows that although this was an incredible event, it’s not that noteworthy to remember numerous details.

 

Jesus Wept

Turning to the New Testament, in John 11, when Jesus was brought to where his friend Lazarus was buried, in verse 35 it simply reads, “Jesus wept.” That’s it. Seriously? Had this been written by man, it would have Jesus spouting a lamentation about his friend who had died, maybe sing a funeral dirge, and add some little poetry filled with emotion.

So why only two words? Because Jesus already knew what he was about to do and that was the focus of this scene. If you read the entire chapter, one of the central focuses of this chapter was the conversation between Jesus and Martha in verses 20-32, then later with Mary in verses 39-42. We read Jesus saying, “…I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” (John 11:25). This was the focus; Jesus was the Son of the Living God and not even a death; four days in the tomb, would prevent His power from being known.


The Disciples Mourned and Wept

During the time Jesus walked the earth, his disciples were with him for about 3½ years and they grew very close. They ate with him, traveled with him, and learned from him. Yet, when he was crucified, here’s what was said about it in Mark 16:10, “She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept.”  The ‘she’, referenced here, is Mary Magdalene. She came to inform the disciples that she’d seen that Jesus had risen.

Yet all that’s given, in regards to the eleven, was that they “mourned and wept.” Again, had this been written by man, there would have been lamentations, poetry, anecdotes, and other things you would hear at a funeral.

Once again, the focus was not on the disciples themselves but on the resurrected Christ. His proof of being raised from the dead was by showing himself to the eleven and, even, eating in front of them. Further, he gave instructions of what was yet to come; in regards to the kingdom, and the role they played in it.

 

Conclusion

There are many more examples that can be given but these will suffice for this article. As you can see, God chose brevity as He wanted to get to the point and not pontificate about anything as it would overshadow the main message. That message is that Jesus is the Christ; The Son of the living God, and it is through Him that all of humanity might be saved (Acts 4:12).

Monday, February 15, 2021

The Best Commentary on the Bible

 



 Introduction

As Christians develop in their walk with God, a desire to do a deeper study comes along; with a group or alone. Some will turn to commentaries for assistance as previous scholars are known to write much on the various books and verses of the bible. But which is the best one and should I even bother with them at all?

 

Teaching Bible Class

In early 2018, I was given the task to teach the main bible class on Sunday morning. It was a chapter-by-chapter study on the book of Ezekiel. For a novice teacher, such as myself, this isn’t the book you want to start with.

However, at the time, I had previously done a personal study with a preacher and felt I had enough of an understanding of the book to be able to teach it to a class. In addition, gave me a bible software with featured bible dictionaries and commentaries from men like Matthew Henry, Albert Barnes, and others.

I managed to muddle through the class; skipping a handful of chapters that discussed other kingdoms (instead of Judah). The information I had from commentators was helpful and it even helped me to develop my own commentary for verses. Before you ask, No, I won’t be writing a commentary book. In the end, I felt that I grew as a Christian with the opportunity to teach being armed with this extra information.

 

A Warning about commentaries


First thing you must realize about commentaries is that they are written by men. They are NOT the word of God. They should NEVER be used as a substitution for the scriptures; more as an aid. If a preacher quotes more from a fellow preacher, or commentator, than he does from the bible he isn’t preaching God’s word. Jesus warned in Matthew 15:7-9, "Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"

Secondly, although these men are scholars in theology and “all things bible”, they are also denominationalist. This means that most will put a spin on what the scriptures that connect to their own beliefs. For example, I was taught that Matthew Henry is a Baptist; believing in “Once Saved, Always Saved.” His commentary on the Old Testament is solid but that of the New Testament should be largely ignored as it would have a denominational slant on salvation.

Thirdly, just because a commentator has a slew of degrees with letters after his name doesn’t make him better than someone who has no degrees. Remember, Jesus primarily fishermen as his disciples. He didn’t look for the most educated or the most qualified.

Lastly, when you study a passage, draw your own conclusions of what is being said; remembering to look at the entire context (don’t just isolate one verse) before you view the commentaries. Just because they say something different from your conclusion doesn’t make you wrong. You could be right and all of them wrong. When I studied baptism in depth, and knew it was through submersion, I read the commentaries and got a variety of differing opinions. Again, that doesn’t make me wrong; especially I know that Jesus and the apostles supported this belief. Just because they have the academics on their side, they are still wrong.

 

What is the Best Commentary?

The best commentary of the bible is the bible itself! It may seem disappointing to you but when dealing with the word of God, you want God’s word to verify itself.


One of the best things you can do for your study is to use the Center-column references; scripture references found in the middle of the page which will take you to other verses and passages that discuss the same subject.

Keep in mind, these are also created by men and sometimes they might just take you to a verse that uses the same word and declare it to be similar. But the more you study, the more you realize what’s worth reading and what isn’t.

Going back to what Jesus said in Mt. 15:7-9, Paul makes a similar statement in Colossians 2:18-22, Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations-- "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using--according to the commandments and doctrines of men?

 

Conclusion

As we stated in a previous article, there is only ONE author who wrote the bible. And who better to do commentary on His work than the author himself. This is not to say you can’t learn from these educated men but, rather, be careful not to draw conclusions because So and So said it.

As Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. If the bible has everything, then it needs to be our central focus.

 

Monday, February 8, 2021

Monday, February 1, 2021

Does the Bible Contradict itself? Part I

 


 

Introduction

Several years ago, I was visited by a certain religious group and one of the things that stood out in my memory of that encounter is that they told me that the bible was full of contradictions. Their example is the one I’ll show you, in just a moment, but they went on to say that there were all kinds of contradictions. The question, we’ll look at in this article is, does the bible contradict itself?

 

Who Saw the Light and heard the Voice?

In Acts 9:3-8, tells the story of Saul encountering Jesus on his way to Damascus. Here’s verse 7, And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.

However, in Acts 22:6-11, Paul (formerly Saul), recounts the story but in verse 9 it states, “And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me.”

This is what they referred to as a contradiction. Let’s examine what we know for sure. First, if we believe that the bible is inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16-17), then we know that He is the one who wrote it all; one author. Second, we know that Luke penned the book of Acts as he refers to someone as Theophilus (Acts 1:1); the name is referenced in Luke 1:3. So if Luke penned all of Acts; inspired by the Holy Spirit, then whatever he wrote was given to him, even if it seems different.

Thirdly, and most important, the answer is given to us in Acts 26 when Paul recounts his conversion a third time before Agrippa. Let’s look at verses 13-14, "at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. “And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’” At the time, I was unaware of this passage; being new in the faith. But you can clearly see that, although Paul’s traveling companions could hear a voice, they could not understand as it was a language (Hebrew) that they were not familiar with.

To go one step further, Paul stated that his companions didn’t hear the voice as Jesus wasn’t speaking to them but to him; and him alone. Paul was recounting the story to a group of people in Acts 22, whereas Luke was writing of the incident in Acts 9. Overall, it was all written by one individual; the Holy Spirit.

 

Conclusion

We’ll look at another example next time. The reason people strive to find contradictions, or loopholes, is to show that the bible isn’t as reliable as it is made out to be. Usually, depending on the person, it’s to promote their own religion and its writings. Others, to disprove the bible as the word of God to show that it’s nothing more than stories. Either way, they try harder to find fault that isn’t there than to simply accept the bible as it is written.