But I Say

Be Thou My Helper

Children of Light: How do We Shine

Die, Not Died

First of All; The Gospel's First Priority

I Love Thy Kingdom Lord

Let Us; Times Three

Looking Alters Living

Politically Correct Persecution

The Lord Led Me

The People of the Prince


By Elder David P. Bridgman (Deceased)

   “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive,” 1Co 15:22. All of our church life, we have heard the above text used by various ministers and writers to teach the same lesson that is taught in Ro 5:12-18, and elsewhere. But if you, my dear brother, will please read this text carefully, you will see that it does not say, “Died”, but rather says, “Die.” Of course if you just stop and look at it, you can readily see that this is present tense and not past tense. This verse is often used to prove the truth; but this is not the proper Scripture to prove what Romans, chapter five proves. The above text teaches that, with no exceptions, mortal man (all men) die.

   And we do not have to reach many years of age in this life to learn that Adam does die. They are dying each and every day all throughout the entire world, and will as long as Adam is being born into the world. Now the writer, to wit, Paul, is here teaching us, that as surely as Adam dies, then just that surely all that are in Christ shall be made alive, shall live again, shall be resurrected. No doubt about it at all. Sad as it may seem, there has been and still are some who do not believe in the resurrection of the dead. But Paul is here teaching the certainty that all Christ died for will be raised from the dead, and that indeed is a most glorious thought. A most wonderful feeling indeed, not only for us, for our own body to be raised to live forever and forever, but likewise for the bodies of our dear precious loved ones. That means so very much to us, and not only so, but for our dear precious brethren and sisters in Christ to all be raised with him to live forevermore.

   Dear brethren, it is, of course, good to teach that Adam died in the fall in the garden, as that is what the Scriptures teach and it needs teaching, when God moves us to do so. But, let’s not use the above text to try to prove it, but use those scriptures that do prove it to do so. And in so doing, we will not confuse anyone in our teaching. Somehow I hesitated to write these few lines this time for fear someone might think I feel smart for something, and might get the wrong impression of why I am writing. But it is only for the good of the cause that I have done thus. Yours in his never ending love.

   Elder David P. Bridgman
   Montgomery, AL
(From “The Christian Pathway”, March, 1980)

“First of all,” The Gospel’s Top Priority

Gospel Gleanings, “…especially the parchments

Volume 32, Number 3                                                                                                            January 18, 2015

“First of all,” The Gospel’s Top Priority


Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed. (1Co 15:1-11, KJV 1900)     


            Listen to a dozen different preachers, and you'll likely think that a dozen different ideas are the most important segment of the gospel.  Not only do modern non-Christians struggle with priorities, but Christians, even preachers, do as well.  Paul strips away the veneer and takes us directly to the heart of the gospel in this chapter, including its most important and most foundational truth, "...first of all...." 

            Although at the time of Paul's writing First Corinthians, the Corinthian Church was confused and divided in conduct and in its beliefs, apparently at one time, when he first preached to them, they believed and were united, "...which also ye received."  Even in their present disarray and confusion, they worked at standing in it as they should, "...wherein ye stand."  They seem to have been staggering profoundly, but Paul kindly honors their effort. 

            "By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you."  Folks who see heaven in the Bible every time they read the word "Saved" might have something of a problem with this verse.  If you are saved only when you have the gospel prominently in your mind, your eternal destiny stands in frightening instability.  You go to church on Sunday morning and hear a good sermon.  It is in your mind.  Heaven is yours.  On Monday morning you walk into your office or place of business and face a surprising and complicated string of problems.  You immerse your mind in solving them.  You are so involved in those problems that you don't even think about lunch or much of anything else all day long.  You definitely didn't keep your faith in memory during the day.  Think.  Stress is an insidious force to both our mind and our body.  At three o'clock in the afternoon, the stress claims its prey.  You have a massive heart attack and die.  You didn't have your faith in Jesus and the resurrection in your mind at that moment.  You were up to your neck trying to resolve your business problems.  So, do you go to heaven or not?  Are you "saved" or not?  You were definitely not keeping Jesus and the resurrection in your mind at the moment of your death.  If going to heaven when you die is what Paul intended by being saved in this verse, you just lost out, didn't you?  I suggest that being saved in this verse has nothing to do with going to heaven when you die.  If so, heaven may be frightenly underpopulated.  Contemporary Christians need to rethink the Bible's use of "salvation."  We would be wise and far more accurate in our understanding of Scripture if, when we see any form of "Save" in a verse, we'd ask of the passage, "Saved from what?" "Saved by what or by whom?"  "Saved to what or to whom?"  “Saved how?” (After all, some Bible contexts present salvation as an exclusive act of God alone, while others present it as something that we do in partnership with Him, but distinctly by our faithful action)  While Scripture uses this word across a very broad spectrum, we may logically break it down into two major categories.  Given that populist Christianity is so fixated on going to heaven when we die when they read the word, we can distinguish the Bible's use of the word to those occasions when heaven and eternity really are its objective versus when the context is dealing with discipleship and temporal issues in the here and now.  I suggest that few verses in the Bible, when interpreted in context, more clearly make the case for this approach than this verse.  To force the idea of being saved only as we keep the gospel in our memory into going to heaven when we die borders on the nonesensical.  To view the verse as relating to our peace of mind and to our present discipleship is altogether sensible and logical.  More important, this idea matches the context in which Paul uses the word in the verse. 

            Paul follows his "...first of all" point with the leading theme of the gospel, as the New Testament teaches the gospel, "...how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures."  Christians of every stripe will tell you their belief about Jesus and His death, but they each give you a different "Take" on the "How" of His death.  We need to go to Scripture for our answer to the "How" question, not to our private interpretations or beliefs.  From perhaps the most mundane perspective, you will often read in newspapers around Easter time the question, "Did the Romans or the Jews kill Jesus?"  And the answers will vary according to the author's personal opinion.  If we follow Scripture, we will discover two answers.  First, based their wicked motives, both Romans and Jews were charged with the crime.  Secondly, and far more to the Biblical point, Joh 10:17-18 and similar passages remind us that no human on earth was capable of killing Jesus.  He voluntarily gave Himself in death to the Father for our sins. 

            The greater point of the "How" of Jesus' death will take us in a different direction.  Yes, He died on His own terms.  But this point fails to adequately address the "How" question at all.  He had no personal sin, so we can't say that He died for His own sins.  Not only did He voluntarily give His life in death, but He also voluntarily came into this world as a man.  "For I came down from heaven...."  (Joh 6:38)  No other person who ever lived chose his birth circumstance, but Jesus chose both His birth and His death circumstance.  So the "How" of His death must lead us to ponder motives and objectives in Himself alone and not in those who hated and rejected Him. 

            "...for our sins."  A primary definition of the Greek word translated "for" in this verse means "Over, above, or in behalf of."  I think of the mythical "Sword of Damocles."  In the myth, the king, while apparently living in luxury actually lived under a large sword that hung directly over his head, suspended only by a horse hair.  It could drop at any moment, and he would die.  Not only did Jesus live under the weight of our sins, they actually fell on Him, and He took their legal and damning weight off of His people and onto Himself.  He suffered at the hands of divine justice what we deserved so that we could realize the full outpouring of God's love and grace.  When the sword of justice was suspended and ready to drop, He stood "Over" us, between the sword and us, so that He, not we, suffered the death of its blow.  This thought takes us far closer to the "How" of Jesus' death than any empty discussion of Roman or Jewish blame. 

            "...according to the Scriptures."  At the time of his writing, Paul specifically refers to the Old Testament Scriptures.  With this point in mind, I started this series in the Old Testament and spent significant time there before moving to the New Testament account of the actual event of “Jesus and the resurrection.”  Some scholars have documented two or three hundred different Old Testament passages that include some element of prophecy regarding Jesus and His coming.  Some of them may be a brief reference.  Others, Isa 53 for example, include a detailed account.  If you focus on the four gospels in the New Testament, specifically on their description of Jesus' activities during that last week in Jerusalem, including His death and resurrection, you will find more references to fulfilled Scripture than in any other portion of the New Testament.  The single most powerful witness to Jesus' death, to the "How" of His death, available for our instruction is Scripture itself.  Paul will go on to document the many eyewitnesses who saw Jesus in person after His resurrection, including over five hundred people who saw Him at one time, but, for Paul, and for us, if we think rightly, the most powerful witness to the "How" of Jesus' death is Scripture.  When Jesus answered the unbelieving Sadducees’ trap question about the resurrection, which they denied, He made this point.  They erred based on two major flaws in their thinking.  They did not know the Scriptures, and they did not know the power of God.  (Mt 22:29)  With these two flaws, they couldn’t know anything about God correctly. 

            While Jesus' death is essential for our understanding of why He came and what He accomplished for us, we cannot stop at His death.  After His death on the cross, He was buried in a borrowed tomb.  Then He arose from the dead, no less literally, physically, or bodily than His death.  Paul goes to great length to list those who were eyewitnesses of His resurrection.  Do not overlook that Paul lists himself as an eyewitness of Jesus' resurrection.  A likely reference to his Damascus Road experience, Paul didn't merely have a mental experience, but he also literally saw Jesus so that he, despite being late in his arrival on the scene of believers, could legitimately include himself as yet one more eyewitness of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.  When a Navy officer wants to call all of his people together for something important, supposedly he uses the command, “All hands on deck.”  When God prepared His people for the news of Jesus and the resurrection, for those men whom He had chosen to be His personal eyewitnesses of this central fact of the gospel, He issued His own “All hands on deck.”  He gave Paul an untimely revelation of Himself in resurrection.  He sent word to then-absent Peter, “…and Peter.”  (Mr 16:7; so very soon after Peter had publicly denied even knowing Him) 

            Paul briefly, but in compelling words, includes in this passage an account of how this knowledge of Jesus and the resurrection impacted his life.  Folks, you can’t believe in Jesus and the resurrection and not be changed, wondrously so, by the knowledge.  Are you and I showing by our personal conduct that we truly believe this truth?  Does our life manifest to those around us that we believe Him to be alive and ruling on heaven’s throne? 

Elder Joe Holder



The above is the title of a song in the old Daily hymn book, and sung by our people in most, if not all parts of our land, and is very familiar to all Primitive Baptists. When we sing it, the question arises in my mind, “Do I love thy kingdom, Lord, the house of thine abode, the church our blessed Redeemer saved with His own precious blood?” Do I, by my life, my actions, and my character prove to those about me that I am telling the truth, when I sing this song?

   Thoughts of this kind have caused me to dampen my pillow with tears when all about me were asleep. Am I willing to sacrifice for the well-being of Zion, and brethren in a general way, to the extent that the Lord of glory has blessed me? If I am, I will sacrifice till it hurts.

   David said, “O Lord our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and all is thine own.”—1Ch 29:16. And it is also true with us today that all we possess comes from the Lord and belongs to Him, so why should we not be willing and even glad to spend and be spent in His service?

   I have had many tell me, “Oh, I love the old church; yes, I love her as much as any one,” but when some effort is required, some small sacrifice needed, they will then tell you that they do not feel well or that they are too tired. All too often they are on hand only when some visiting preacher is to be present who is known as a “big preacher.” Sometimes it seems as if some of our people did not join the church at all, but joined the preacher and try in every way they can to hinder and interfere with any and everything that would be a credit to anyone else.

   I recall to mind part of a poem I learned while in the primary grade of school, about two little girls in the same house. A few lines of which fit so well into church life in some way or other everywhere we may go. I will give a few lines of it here:

 I love you, Mother, said little Nell,
 I love you better than tongue can tell;
 But she teased and pouted full half the day,
 Till her Mother rejoiced when she went to
 I love you, Mother, said little Fan,
 Today I’ll help you all I can;
 So stepping softly, she took the broom,
 She swept the floor and dusted the room.
 Happy and cheerful all day was she,
 Helpful and useful as a child could be.

 I love you, Mother, again they said,
 Two little children going to bed;
 How do you think the Mother guessed
 Which of the children loved her best?

   This poem is not complete, but gives a comparison of children in everyday life, and is also a very favorable comparison of church life in many instances.

   One of our highly esteemed ministers said not long ago that the church is the greatest Mother that God ever blessed the children of man with. This is true, and we all should love her as did little Fan and be all the help we can, and that will never be too much.

   Let us take heed unto self and cultivate that love which God hath given us for His church.

   I fear that too many of us think that Paul’s language to Timothy in which he says, “Take heed unto thyself and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this, thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1Ti 4:16) is directed only to the ministry; but it will fit into the life of the children of God, whatever their position in life may be. Let us pray that we may “Love thy kingdom, Lord,” in the real way.

   Submitted in love to all the saints of God.
   Earl S. Smith
   Evansville, Ind.
(From “The Messenger of Zion”, July 15, 1937)

“Let us” Times Three

Dear Friends,  Scripture consistently teaches that believers in Christ must actively and consciously engage their minds and bodies to serve God and to grow in the walk of faith. God doesn't do all the doing in our faith walk. He provides every tool that we need. He has given us His permanently indwelling Holy Spirit, and He teaches us by that Spirit and by the harmonious teachings of Scripture how we are to walk to glorify Him and to live in fellowship with Him. We may choose to obey or we may choose to ignore His leading grace.  Several years ago I was shocked to read a man's idea that we remain as passive in our walk of discipleship as we were in the new birth. "God does 100% of the obeying" may be a very sincere sentiment, and one that desires to honor the Lord, but it fails the test of Scripture dreadfully. Our present study passage serves as one of countless examples from Scripture that teach us the necessity to actively, consciously, and deliberately choose to serve God with each thought, word, and deed. 

Our present study deals with faithful attendance, support, and participation in church, "Not forsaking" that assembly. In this study we examine the foundation for that teaching. God has so richly blessed us so that we are taught to "Let," to actively participate in His leading, not stand in the way or turn away from His leading and blessing. The theme of an old hymn captures this truth of Scripture. "He's done so very much for me; I want to love Him more." 

Joe Holder

“Let us” Times Three 

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Heb 10:22-25)

            First, in this context Paul reminds us of three supreme spiritual blessings that we have in Jesus. In our study passage, he builds three godly exhortations on that foundation. Each exhortation begins with “Let us.” The language refutes the idea of passive obedience, the fatalistic idea that a child of grace remains wholly passive in obedience and as depraved after the new birth as before, effectively denying any change whatever as a consequence of the new birth. According to Scripture’s teaching, the new birth fundamentally alters the child of grace. God writes His law in our hearts and minds. The Holy Spirit permanently indwells us; He doesn’t come and go as if He were merely “Passing through” and stopped in on us occasionally. In Ga 5:18-26, Paul shows us the powerful potential that we have as children of God living with the indwelling Holy Spirit. We may ignore His abiding presence and bring severe chastening upon us, or we may walk in the Spirit, “Let” His tender guiding influence direct our ways, and live fruitful lives that glorify our God in both our body and our spirit, “…which are his.” (1Co 6:19-20) Forget the idea that your physical flesh cannot please God. Paul included both your “body” and your “spirit” in this commandment to glorify the Lord. Your body is quite capable of glorifying the Lord to the extent you bring it under subjection to the indwelling Spirit of God and consciously, deliberately use it as the Lord has taught us. You can’t attend church, sing hymns of praise to His name, preach the gospel, or otherwise serve the Lord by serving His people apart from this godly use of your body.

            The “Having—let us” formula that we see in this passage teaches an invaluable lesson, one that contemporary Christians need to learn. True Christian faithfulness and service are based on the rich blessings the Lord gave us when we were not faithful and when we did not seek after Him. David echoes this truth.

What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?
(Ps 116:12)

            In our walk of faith, God owes us nothing. We owe Him everything. We do not serve God and His people to gain more blessings or rewards in heaven for our good deeds. This attitude is mercenary and carnal, not spiritual. In the New Testament Paul voices the same point. He cites Jesus’ words that we do not read in the four gospels, but they are just as much Jesus’ words as any.

I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
(Ac 20:35; emphasis added)

            The blessings of the gospel flow as we give, not as we negotiate or as we take. When we obey the gospel and walk by faith, we should never adopt the “Now God owes me” mindset. We are taught in Scripture to serve God in whatever way Scripture teaches from a grateful heart for all that He has done for us. Our service is our thanksgiving to Him for blessings that we could not buy or repay.

            Based on the carnal entitlement mindset, many contemporary believers view their church participation as a form of noble entertainment. They look for a church that fits their personal “Entertainment” desires, not a church that equips them to serve God and His people more effectively. They respect preachers based on the man’s entertainment ability, not on his insight into Scripture.

            And preachers are as vulnerable to this flaw as the people in the pew. A preacher’s pulpit time is not his entitlement because he has been ordained. His divine assignment for every minute he spends in the pulpit is to edify, to grow his hearers stronger in their faith and richer in their service to the Lord. I have often advised young preachers to make constant eye contact with their congregation when preaching. Don’t look at floors, ceilings, walls, or out the window when you are in the pulpit. If you honor your time in the pulpit, look at the people you are commanded to feed and to teach. If you sense that they are not feeding and learning, sit down. Don’t ignore them and look at walls and floors. Sadly, many years ago when I reminded a young preacher of this fact, his one-word response said volumes about his flawed mindset, “Oh.”

            A church that builds its culture on the Lord’s rich blessings is a blessing church. A church that builds on various members, officers, or families in the church ruling because they think themselves to be superior or entitled is a schismatic church that is paralyzed in its divine assignment to serve and to minister to the Lord’s people in her shadow. We must never forget or ignore this Biblical formula for our Christian service, “Having…let us….”

            In the Ga 5 passage, Paul emphasizes this point. “…if ye be led of the Spirit” does not imply an unpredictable Holy Spirit, but rather an unpredictable you who needs the reminder.

But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law
. (Ga 5:18)

            This verse opens Paul’s lesson on the choice that we face with every thought, word, and deed. We choose to either follow the Spirit or to follow our sinful disposition. If we ignore the Holy Spirit’s permanent relationship with us, we will typically migrate to legalism, “the law,” to control our sinful inclinations, and the law has no real power to supply in this struggle. It can clearly tell us what is wrong, but it can’t give us the power to resist that wrong or to perform what is good. Consequently, our actions shall fall under Paul’s description in this context of the “works of the flesh.” If we acknowledge and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, our conduct will manifest the rich and blessed “fruit of the Spirit” that Paul describes in this passage.  

            Paul closes this Galatians lesson with this same word, “Let.”

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
(Ga 5:25-26; emphasis added)

            Based on the Holy Spirit’s work in the new birth (“…so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” Joh 3:8b), we do in fact “live in the Spirit.” It is the Spirit of God who gives us life, eternal, spiritual life in the new birth. We do not direct or control that work. Jesus taught Nicodemus that the Holy Spirit works in new birth as independently and exclusively (No other aid, “Instrument,” or helper) as the wind blows. We don’t invite the wind to blow. We don’t contribute to the wind’s blowing. We observe it’s blowing, but we do not direct it. So, according to Jesus, is the Holy Spirit’s way in bringing the new birth to pass. Paul builds on this truth in his words.

            Because we live in the Spirit, Paul teaches us to “let,” willingly choose to walk in the Spirit. How will that choice to walk in the Spirit influence our lives? He answers the question with the second “let.” We shall not strive against other believers for “vain glory,” glory for ourselves and our ways or wishes. Our whole heart shall seek to glorify the Lord, not promote our own interests or wishes. We shall not act so selfishly as to “provoke” other believers to bad attitudes and words by our self-focused sinful example. Nor shall we envy another believer when they are blessed with good things. We shall rest with joyful contentment in the belief that our Lord is a full provider of all our needs from “…his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Php 4:19b)

            Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. How do we draw near? Where do we draw near? In the end Paul will show us a key factor in our drawing near to the Lord and to His example in the walk of faith. We must choose willingly and consciously with every decision to follow that true heart that the Lord has given us in the new birth, to “Let” the heart of faith govern our ways according to the powerful influence of faith, “…in full assurance of faith.” Despite the indwelling Holy Spirit in our “true heart,” we still have evil inclinations residing within. Therefore, we must “Let” or choose to cleanse ourselves from its workings, things that always produce “an evil conscience.” We must wash or bathe our “bodies” in the Spirit’s warming guiding powers so as to avoid falling back into the body’s evil con

            Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;). Our sinful inclinations would nudge us to forget Sunday’s sermon, our Bible reading and study (Yes, there is a difference. You never study the Bible when you speed read a few chapters a day. Daily reading builds a solid foundation for subsequent study, but it will never deepen our spiritual roots in the fertile soil of grace as study does), and the ever-present Holy Spirit’s nudging us into the service of our Lord. Think. Paul teaches us to choose this path “without wavering.” If we follow the idea that the Holy Spirit may come and go in our lives at will, we effectively accuse Him of “Wavering,” the very sin that He warns us to avoid. When someone tells you that he sinned because the “Spirit left me for a season,” he is accusing the Lord of the wavering that in fact he has chosen.

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
(Heb 13:5)

            Notice those closing words in the verse? “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” So am I to believe inspired Scripture that tells me the Lord has promised never to leave me or forsake me, or am I to believe a sinning believer who blames God for his sin by claiming “The Lord left me for a season”?

            Paul will conclude this “Having...let us” formula with the point of our study. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” We cannot grow to the spiritual stature of those three “Let us” teachings apart from the assembly of the Lord’s church. See you in church on Sunday?

Elder Joe Holder

“Politically Correct” Persecution

Dear Friends, 

One of the most inexplicable behaviors--to me--is the professing Christian who responds to any difficulty in life with a paranoid "I'm being persecuted." I recall a wise older preacher in my youth who was preaching from Peter's warning in 1Pe 4:15-16, "But let none of you suffer as...." If we suffer for any of those sinful reasons, our suffering is not because we are a Christian, but because we sinned. My wise older preacher friend condensed the point nicely. "Be sure your suffering is 'Persecution' and not 'Prosecution' for sins you commit." 

Christians in our culture today are liable to imitate the cliche about a frog in a pot of water on a stove burner. At first, the water is cool, and the frog is happy. The water heats up so slowly that the frog doesn't notice till it is too hot, and he is too compromised by the heat to escape. We pride ourselves on living in a culture where Christians are not "Persecuted" for their faith, but we utterly ignore the growing verbal and attitudinal hostility of our culture toward anything that resembles New Testament authentic "Biblical" Christianity. In this week's study passage, Jesus associated men's reviling (Despising and thinking derogatory things about you) and "...all manner of evil" speaking (Saying demeaning and contrived false accusations about you) with "Persecution." If we simply accept Jesus' words in this verse, we must confront the shocking reality; we are presently being persecuted for our faith! Beware. What begins as words and attitudes often advances to actions, but the naive, unthinking frog only realizes his danger when it is too late to escape. 

No time in history more cries out for Christians of all stripe who openly claim the Bible--and the Bible alone--as their authoritative source of faith and lifestyle to take note and prepare themselves for the dangers they face in the culture around them. 

We can honestly do very little to alter the culture in which we live beyond our personal lifestyle and changing our conduct when we go to the polls to vote. Instead of blindly voting for one or the other political party and its candidate, regardless what that person advocates, Christians should thoroughly evaluate every candidate and every political issue from the perspective of Biblical faith. Granted, few men or issues will fully comply with Biblical examples, but by all means choose and vote for the one that most matches what you read in the Bible, not what  or who is recommended by your favorite political party. I recall a very sincere believer many years ago who described herself by a popular cliche. "I'm a yellow-dog XXX." Her intent was obvious. If a candidate whose merits were no greater than a stray dog ran for office as a member of her preferred political party, she would gladly vote for that person. That, my friends, is the attitude of the frog in water on the stove. 

Our first thought in today's world should be to open our eyes and consider Jesus' warning words. When people in authority around you speak evil against you and revile you because you are a Christian, you already face an insidious form of true persecution. 

There is one--and only one--ray of hope in all this. Jesus encourages us with His words. "Blessed are ye when...." If we face such reviling and verbal put-downs or false accusations because of our faith, a real faith lived out according to Jesus' words and example in the New Testament, whatever the culture or people in that culture who shape what they regard as "Political correctness," even when it means belittling you for your faith in Jesus, take comfort in Jesus and His promise of "Blessed are ye...." Our first priority should always be to think, say, and do what most honors and pleases our Lord, not what the fickle tides of broken, fallen men and their prideful "What is politically correct" rationalizations dictate. The choice becomes rather stark. Shall we please our Lord or join the "PC" persecution around us? 

Lord give us grace,
Joe Holder

Politically Correct Persecution


Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (Mt 5:11 KJV 1900)


            Writing these Gleanings often stirs continuing reflection in my thinking. I write a couple pages, but my mind reflects on many more pages that could have been written. After the last Gleanings on persecution, a thoughtful friend raised an appropriate question regarding what he termed Soft persecution, what any Bible believing Christian in our present culture faces with increasing and open harshness. Politicians feed these fires with inflammatory words that fuel the fires to burn ever hotter. Consider. I offer these thoughts as a believer, not at all in favor or rejection of any particular politician or political power. To be honest, we see this conduct from both sides of our sadly divided political climate today. Consider this example from recent news headlines. A tragic event occurred in which a police officer was distracted and not thinking as clearly as she should have, so she entered an apartment, thinking it was her own only to see a stranger, who was the occupant of that apartment. She could have done many things that would have clarified the situation. Instead, she shot and killed the manin his own apartment. Yes, she was remorseful. But the man was still dead by her action. She was recently convicted of murder. At the sentencing hearing, the mans family showed admirable grace-filled forgiveness toward her. Then the judge in the case, as a private citizen, not as an official act as the judge, handed the woman a Bible to take with her to prison. From our Christian perspective, these two actions in the courtroom reflected amazing, grace-filled Christian conduct. How did the news reports depict the events? They criticized the judge unmercifully. They savaged her.


            How does this event relate to our study passage? Think. Had the police officer been a Muslim, and had the judge handed her a copy of the Koran, how would the news reports have reacted? Had she been a follower of one of the eastern religions, and the judge handed her a copy of that religions holy book, how would they have reacted? If the judge had given her any book other than a Bible, they would have praised her, not savaged her as they did. That, my friends, is what my friend described as Soft persecution. And it is in some ways as damaging to legitimate Christianity as harsh, physical persecution. Sadly, this open prejudicial hostility toward Christianity is wholly Politically correct in our present culture. Multiple similar examples could be offered. The point is simple. We obviously live in an increasingly hostile culture to anything remotely associated with authentic Biblical faith. I lay no claim to being a prophet, but logic fearfully anticipates that this trend shall escalate to the point that, within a very few generations, Christians in this country may face the same kind of historical persecution that our ancestors in the faith endured across many centuries and cultures.


            Christians of our culture need to think seriously. We pride ourselves in living in a Christian country where persecution shall never come. If you ponder Jesus words in this verse, people reviling you or saying “…all manner of evil against you falsely is in fact an insidious form of persecution. From this perspective, we are living in a culture that increasingly makes persecuting Christians in this manner the Politically correct thing to do.


            The point of Jesus words gives us the only bright light available in this darkthis love darkness more than lightworld. While the Christian of our day faces Politically correct persecution, their successors in the faith may well face historical persecution for their faith, Jesus reminds us and them, Blessed are ye, when.


            Jesus qualifies this blessing with two principles. First, He requires our unqualified obedience. We cannot be obnoxious, arrogant people, earn the reviling criticisms of unbelievers, and still claim to be innocent persecuted Christians. Our lives must be so livedindeed, our Christian faith must be so livedthat any such charge from unbelievers is factually and obviously false. Consider Pauls point.


Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. (Col 4:6)


            Reflect on the last tense confrontation you had with another person, even with another believer. Can you honestly conclude that your Speech was tempered and governed by grace? Or did you turn abrasive and obnoxious, perhaps even ridiculing that person because you disagreed with them?


            The lesson is actually quite demanding on our conduct. The word speech in this verse was translated from the same Greek word as Word in Joh 1:1. Jesus is not merely Gods Speech, but, in the Incarnation, Jesus exhibited the whole character of God in everything He said and did. Logos identifies the rational basis or principle that defines and governs a person. When Paul chose this word, he intended far more than the words or attitudes we use when we interact with other people. He intended our whole demeanor with others.


As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. (Ga 6:10)


            While our Christian conduct should govern our words and actions, our whole Persona, regardless the audience, we owe a double debt of Grace, Logos, toward other believers. Only when we practice this Grace living faithfully can we honor Jesus requirement that we ensure that any reviling words spoken against us are wholly False. Much tension and schism in churches grows out of such truly ungodly conduct by people in those churches who think themselves to be superior Christians and allow pride in that false self-assessment to corrupt their relationships with other believers. I have occasionally used a conversation I heard many years ago from a young and prideful believer as an example of this problem, There is one major difference between you and me. My sins are forgiven; yours are not. All of this ungodly and prideful conduct would vanish if believers truly practice Pauls requirement that we season our whole lives with Grace.


            for my sake. It is so very easy and comfortable for us in our broken humanity, even as believers, to say or do things and claim they are for Jesus, when, in fact, they are wholly for our personal gain. I recall a preacher from my youth who stated, Sometimes we must lie for the sake of the Kingdom of God. I was shocked at his words and let him know that I wholly disagreed. If God teaches us not to lie as part of His Kingdom ethics, there is no justification or rationalization to contradict His Kingdom ethics. Such conduct is sin, and God forbids it. Period! Some years later I was in this same mans presence. When he was questioned regarding something he had done that was sinful, he denied having done it, despite being in the presence of witnesses. While he may well have thought he was lying for the sake of the kingdom, in fact, he was obviously lying for his sinful personal interest. Such self-serving conduct is never for Jesus sake. And so it shall never gain His Blessed approval. It rather earns His chastening judgment.


            Sometimes we close our public prayers with For Jesus sake. What does this mean? When you do something for Jesus sake, what did you do? More to the point, why did you do it? In the two examples given, the My sins are forgiven believer was thinking far more about himself than about Jesus. Pride drove him to rub his arrogance in the other persons face. In the Lie for the sake of the Kingdom case, the man lied for his own sake, not in any remote way for God or His kingdom.


            If we say or do anything For Jesus sake, our exclusive motivation is to honor Him, to Bless Him. You think it strange that you can Bless God? At its core the word Bless means to speak well of another. We should never

2Pe 3:11-12, KJV 1900)  
 All too often when preachers preach on the Second Coming, they focus on the “Sweet Bye and Bye” at the expense of the very challenging “Here and Now.”  This disjointed and “Dysfunctional” attitude appears among believers who hold to more Biblical ideas of eschatology (The doctrine of final things such as the Second Coming) as well as among believers of the popular Dispensational ideas.  In my years of work in a profession, I had occasion to observe a significant number of believers in their secular career conduct.  Many of them loudly professed their faith, but they showed little or no Christian ethic in their business dealings.  Regardless of one’s view of end times, Scripture is quite clear in its demand that every person who so much as names the name of Christ should “…depart from iniquity.”  (2Ti 2:19)  When our daughters (Now in their forties) were in high school, they would occasionally mention students whom they called “Jezoids.”  These students vacillated regularly between being almost fanatic Christians and being drug addicts.  They showed no consistency whatever in their attitudes and conduct.  I have observed similarly disjointed conduct among adults in the business world regardless of their views of the Second Coming.  Rather than blame the disconnect between conduct and eschatology, I suspect that the problem lies in a more intimate flaw in these people.  Regardless their broad eschatological views, failure to maintain a vigilant eye of faith on the Lord and His return, the professed believers who fail to show their faith by their works fail to keep their faith’s view fixed on Jesus. 

 Our study verses confront and reject this inconsistent and immoral lifestyle.  If we believe in the Lord’s return, the passage commands us to show our faith in our returning and victorious Lord by the way we live and the way we treat other people. 

But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  (Mt 24:48-51)

 This wicked servant depicts Jesus’ description of the believer who does not maintain a fixed faith-view of Jesus and His return.  What is this servant’s first sinful act that follows his wrong-headed thinking, “My lord delayeth his coming”?  His first sin is to beat his fellow-servants.  Thankfully, very few professing believers choose to physically attack those with whom they disagree.  However, it is sadly commonplace for many who profess faith in Christ to use their words as a club, abusively beating and attacking anyone who dares to disagree with their private ideas or interpretations of Scripture. 

 ....what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.  In Scripture, the word “holy” does not imply sinless perfection.  It rather identifies something or someone wholly devoted to God and God’s use.  (2Ti 2:20-22)  This passage reminds us that God chooses the vessels that He uses in His “great house” with discretion and righteous judgment.  He will not use a “Vessel,” in the passage, a person, for His sacred use who has failed to purge himself from profane and vain babbling and endless wrangling that always increases to greater ungodliness and strife.  (2Ti 2:16,23)  God chooses to use the believer who consciously and consistently avoids such spiritual “Profanity” in His “Great house.”  When a believer in a church compromises his faith by such ungodly conduct toward other believers, quietly observe this person for a time.  Slowly but ever so surely the Lord will nudge this person to the sidelines and begin to use the peaceful and gracious believer for His glory in His church.  Will we ever learn?  I suggest that the consistent command in Scripture that links repentance with baptism includes repentance from far more ungodly conduct than black immoral sins.  It also commands repentance from these destructive and self-serving spiritual attitudes and conduct toward other believers.  When a professing believer refuses to repent of these unethical and unbiblical attitudes and behaviors, the Lord will turn away from him/her, and He will use those believers whom He describes in this passage as…

…a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.  (2Ti 2:21)

 In our study passage, “holy conversation” implies our interaction with other believers.  Often in the New Testament “conversation” in the King James Bible is translated from a Greek word that identifies one’s whole lifestyle, not just the words that he/she may choose in dialogue with other believers.  The point of the two words commands a “Devoted to God lifestyle,” not just a devoted to God vocabulary.  Our “holy conversation” convicts us to regard our brother and sister in Christ as being one of the Lord’s chosen vessels, so we should treat that brother or sister with the godly and respectful grace befitting a vessel wholly devoted to the Lord’s use.  Regardless what a person believes about God and eternal issues, our humanity makes it frighteningly easy for any believer to rationalize attitudes and conduct that ignore or abuse other believers.  A strong and Bible oriented belief in Biblical grace imposes an ethical obligation to practice similar grace toward other believers that the Lord has shown toward us. 

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. (Col 4:6

In Jesus’ words, cited above, how much grace did the unbelieving servant show to his fellow-servants whom he beat?  It is immaterial whether someone beats you with his fist or with harsh words.  The “Beating” is equally abusive and equally condemned by Scripture.  Often words are used by such people to inflict far more lasting hurt than they could possibly inflict with their fist.  Every believer in Christ who truly longs to live to and for the Lord’s honor needs to constantly keep grace in mind as the filter and controlling factor in their words, attitudes, and actions toward other believers.  You are a “Grace believer.”  Are you also a “Grace speaker,” a “Grace worker” toward your brothers and sisters in Christ?  Did you ever think how dreadfully inconsistent and how dishonoring your life is to the Lord if you say that you believe strongly in God’s grace, but you constantly treat other believers as if they and you are under the Law and you are God’s appointed judge and jury of those other believers?  “holy conversation” specifically deals with our interaction with other believers—and non-believers for that matter. 

 …and godliness.  This word turns our focus from interaction with other believers inward to how we live in relation to the Lord and His commandments.  In another passage, Paul uses two similar terms, “…work of faith, and labor of love.”  (1Th 1:3)  Here “work of faith” addresses our God-ward conduct, and “labor of love” our interactions with other believers. 

 Why does one’s belief in the Second Coming impact how we live?  Think.  If you believe that you shall spend eternity praising God for your redemption alongside all His other redeemed children, you remind yourself that both you and that brother or sister whom you look down on or verbally abuse will be there side by side with you, both equally there by merciful grace and not by your works.  If you know that you and that person will be so changed at the Second Coming that you will together rejoice beyond anything you can now imagine, the thought urges you to treat that person with more respect and grace now.  Further, the awareness that Jesus died for your sins, including your sin of offense against even one of the least of the Lord’s little ones (Mt 18:6-11), should convict you as powerfully to avoid such offense against His “little ones” as faithfully as you strive to avoid carnal sins of the flesh.  If there is any significant difference, a sin against one of the Lord’s little ones may well be more heinous in the Lord’s nostrils than a sin of the flesh.

 A steady fixed focus on the Second Coming and that glory to come is the strongest possible deterrent against personal sin, as well as relational sins.  In 1Co 6:14, Paul injects a clear affirmation of both Jesus’ resurrection and ours into one of the most focused lessons in the New Testament against sexual sin.  If we try to ignore the present moral power of a right belief in the Second Coming, we will gloss over this verse and miss Paul’s powerful point.  If you believe that your physical body shall go to the grave and never be raised to praise God, you easily become careless about how you use your body.  However, if you believe that the Lord shall literally raise and glorify your physical body to join your spirit and soul in praising Him for eternity to come, you will be more careful about how you use that body now.  And that moral truth explains Paul’s injection of resurrection truth into his teaching against moral, sexual sin. 

 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God.  The Biblically informed, faithful believer keeps the Lord’s return constantly fresh in his heart.  The “day of God” is coming.  We bear faithful witness to our belief in that day’s reality only to the extent that we impose its “Resurrection ethic” on every aspect of our conduct, especially how we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

 …hasting unto the coming of the day of God.  Nothing that we do can alter the date of the Lord’s return.  However, by keeping that day fresh in our minds, we live and make every decision, govern every word, and frame our relationship with other believers in the mindset of eagerly awaiting that day.  If the people who know you best were to judge your belief in the Second Coming only by your words (Both what and how you say it) and deeds, would they conclude that you truly do believe in that day, or would they see your behavior as a sad contradiction to your belief in that day?  Do you words and deeds witness your belief in that day? 

Elder Joe Holder

Ps 30:10
by Elder Clayton Nowell … 10-10-16

In Ps 30:10, we read David saying, 10 Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: Here, David’s language reveals that he is confident that the one to whom he is calling, is ABLE. And, there is nothing awkward, nor uncomfortable, in his plea. He knows God hears the cries of His people and David knows that God is merciful. But, a lesson we see in this is that no matter how closely we walk with God, it is good that we remember our need for God’s mercy toward us. God is perfect – we are not. True humility will always acknowledge this even while in the midst of drawing near.

But even though David acknowledges his need for mercy, his request is made with great confidence. After all, he is praying for help in a time of need! Isn’t it a blessing to have that experience with the Lord that we can look back at those times when we called upon Him and He has helped us? That kind of experience causes faith to grow stronger and stability to be deepened. Today, this brings to mind Paul’s lesson on what this kind of experience produces, saying, “knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Ro 5:3-5)

As the verse continues, David added, LORD, be thou my helper. David didn’t speak of the Holy Ghost, but he certainly knew Him as Lord! So through his tribulations, David gained experience of God’s ability and willingness to deliver him. And, that experience gave him hope that God would deliver him in the future. Therefore, he was not ashamed to call unto the Lord for mercy and help when his next trouble came. How is it with you?

Elder Clayton Nowell

“But I say…”

Gospel Gleanings, “…especially the parchments”

Volume 22, Number 51 December 16, 2007

“But I say…”

But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. (Ro 10:18)

In this series of studies I have presented a somewhat different interpretation of the tenth chapter of Romans to the commonplace view. As I have mentioned, Albert Barnes, respected Reformed commentator, interpreted this chapter as a dialectical argument or dialogue between Paul and his critics, though Barnes held to a distinctly different theological view to the one that I’ve presented.116 It should be noted that a respected Primitive Baptist elder from the past, Elder Greg Thompson, also held to a dialectical view of the chapter.117

A primary evidence that Paul in fact was engaging his critics in dialectical reasoning appears in this verse, “But I say….” If the words of the prior verse were Paul’s words, why would Paul need to punctuate the beginning of this verse with “But I say…”? It would be presumed that his words were continuing, making this introductory clause wholly unnecessary. However, if Paul was interacting with other minds and ideas, giving voice to them in the seventeenth verse, it would be both appropriate and necessary for him to emphasize at the beginning of this verse that he was responding to the ideas of another.

There is a distinction in the emphasis between Paul’s ideas and those of his critics. They allege in Ro 10:16, “But they have not all obeyed the gospel….” Their emphasis is on the human response, whether all of God’s elect obey the gospel or not. Paul’s emphasis, as affirmed in our study verse, is more on their hearing it, not their obedience to it. We will examine this distinction further.

Several years ago I was engaged with a good friend of the Reformed faith in a discussion on the issues related to these verses. When I raised our study verse to him, he rather obviously ignored Paul’s affirmation in favor of his gospel instrumentality view with this response, “I do not deny that God reveals Himself in nature. However, I do not believe that the degree of God’s self-revelation in nature rises to the degree of ‘saving knowledge.’” You see, he could not extract himself from his preconception that God in some way uses the gospel to effect regeneration, even when Paul here affirms in a wholly spiritual context that God in fact does preach the gospel to His children in the natural creation. The gospel does not convey “saving knowledge” in terms of efficiently or instrumentally effecting regeneration. It rather proclaims the source and power of the one who causes it by His personal and sovereign power.

In 1Pe 1:23 Peter affirmed that we are born again by the “…Word of God.” Peter qualifies that “Word of God” as the incorruptible Word of God who “…liveth and abideth for ever.” Paul affirms that the gospel can indeed be corrupted. Do we need to question this fact? Every time a false teacher offers a Scripture with an errant interpretation and uses it to deceive and mislead those who hear the message we witness this fact!

For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
(2Co 2:17, KJV)

However, we note that the “Word of God” by which Peter affirms that we are born again is “incorruptible.”

The word translated “incorruptible” means


Notice the emphasis—“…not liable to corruption or decay, imperishable….” The preached gospel is commonly presented in a corrupted, decayed, and perishable form. However, Jesus, God’s eternal, living Word (Restudy the prologue of John’s gospel for an intense examination of Jesus as the exclusive, incorruptible, and eternally living “Word” of God.

Peter will further affirm the distinction between Jesus, God’s eternal, living Word who personally, sovereignly, and directly effects regeneration or the new birth, and the message of the gospel that proclaims the good news regarding Him and His finished and perfectly efficient and efficacious work.

But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
(1Pe 1:25, KJV)

Do not overlook the crucial point that Peter makes in these words, “…this is the word which by the gospel is preached….” The gospel is not the regenerating “Word,” but rather the gospel proclaims the identity of that living, eternal, regenerating Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. If Peter had intended to affirm that the gospel itself effected regeneration, there would be no purpose served by his carefully chosen “...by the gospel…” qualifier. John Gill’s thoughts regarding this lesson from First Peter (in his Body of Divinity) are quite clear, especially when you understand that Gill’s common “It might be this, or it might be that…” style actually is presenting ideas that he knows, but does not believe. Once Gill moves past these “might be” ideas offered by other people, his reasoning clearly affirms the direct, sovereign, effective work of Jesus, God’s eternal, living Word in our regeneration.

As we take these thoughts back to our study verse, we observe Paul’s objection to the points made by his critics leading up to this protest, a protest/refutation that he will continue to the end of the chapter without further citations from these critics.

A major advancement in Paul’s reasoning appears in this verse, especially when weighed against the contradictory ideas of his critics voiced in earlier verses. Whether we impute full gospel instrumentality, as depicted above, onto these people (likely far too anachronistic to be correct) or we simply impute the more likely idea that they rejected the role of faith in godly discipleship, preferring legalism to faith, Paul leaves these people in a logical dilemma. If the only way a person obtains rich spiritual blessings is by external legalistic rites, not by faith, advocates of the errant view must wrestle with the Biblical passages and personal cases that simply defy their view. What do you do with the sincere believer who does not obey? Paul affirmed in Ro 10:16 that they have not all obeyed the gospel. Now in our present study verse he affirms that they have all heard. So we face the embarrassing dilemma. We have in Scripture (by no means limited to this passage) the case of the legitimate believer who has heard—Paul here affirmed it—and believed, but has not obeyed. What do you do with this person? Do you contradict Scripture and send him to hell? Do you embrace antinomian heresy and pretend that obedience is irrelevant? Or do you agree with Paul and affirm the simple—and altogether observable—fact that some who truly believe the gospel do not obey it?119

Occasionally in this study I have mentioned a teaching that I refer to as “lordship perseverance.”120 This view contradicts both Paul’s teaching in our present study context, and it equally contradicts multiple other passages, notable among them the account of the young man from Mark’s gospel. Rather than accepting the teaching of Scripture that refutes the notion, typically advocates of this errant view simply redefine either the meaning of Scripture or the meaning of their terminology. It has been my personal observation that the typical believer in this error appears to be controlled by guilt (never feeling as if they’ve done enough to really be sure of their salvation) and fear (regarding both his/her personal spiritual state and the spiritual state of others; sometimes this fear expresses itself as a judgmental doubt about a person’s salvation). Not only do they miss the joy-based blessings of liberating Biblical truth, but they also at times seem almost compulsive in their desire to imprison others in their self-made prison of hopeless failure and spiritual insecurity. The typical conclusion of this view is that, unless a person to some never-clearly-defined degree “holds on his way,” he is “…not really saved at all.” Advocates of this view seek to champion Abraham and his exemplary faith, something that Scripture surely deserves in the Biblical record, but they fail to interpret Abraham’s faith according to Scripture.121 Based on the contemporary teaching of “lordship perseverance,” let’s see if even Abraham in fact exemplifies this errant view. In fact, even Abraham in the common evaluation of this view would be rejected! Read the final description of Abraham’s life immediately prior to his death.

And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.
(Ge 25:5-6, KJV)

Apparently after Sarah’s death, Abraham not only married another woman, not in Scripture at all condemned, but, according to the inspired record of Scripture in these two verses, he also embraced the common practice of his day to take concubines in addition to his wife. Abraham didn’t “…hold on his way!” Some might rationalize that Abraham was merely following the commonly accepted norms of society, but I would ask the obvious question, Where—ever in Scripture—does God waive His fixed moral commands in favor of commonly accepted societal norms that contradict His fixed moral code? The idea is patently preposterous! New Testament inspired Scripture affirms God’s true moral directive.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
(Ro 12:2, KJV)

…be not conformed
…! We need not attempt to justify Abraham’s final lapse—or any other believer’s sin for that matter.122 Nor, if we follow Scripture, do we need to question Abraham’s eternal state. We may simply conclude—rightly from the example and teaching of Scripture—that God’s regenerate children, Abraham as just one among a countless and consistent number of similar examples, experience a lifelong struggle against sin. At times we overcome; at other times we fail.

The fierce internal struggle described in the seventh chapter of Romans describes our lifelong Christian experience. Based on Paul’s development of this point in that context, our struggle with sin is compromised, not enhanced, by a legalistic outlook. Paul directs us to live according to the facts; through our Lord Jesus Christ, the Law is dead to us, so that we “…should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Ro 7:4). The mood of the verb “should bring” in this verse is subjunctive, describing potential or possibility. We only bring forth fruit to God and move toward victory in this struggle to the extent that we live, not as if married to the Law—any law for that matter—but with the joyful, conscious knowledge of our present guilt-removed, redeemed, joy-filled “marriage” to the Lord Jesus Christ! Do not overlook the attitudinal impact of Ro 6:11-12 in this context. Never does Paul instruct us to live with the attitude of doubting defeatists, but rather as “…dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Our eternal salvation is not contingent on our attitudinal success! Our salvation is solely contingent on Jesus’ finished work and purpose of grace and love. If advocates of the typical “lordship perseverance” view of our time were talking with Abraham, they’d leap into a long moralistic lecture to him, “Abraham, if you choose to forsake God’s way and take concubines to yourself, I cannot give you any assurance that you are really saved at all.” Let them wrestle with Abraham and with Scripture, but let us not follow this fear-driven, never-comforted, torture chamber of insecure doubt about the effects of God’s grace. Paul is focused on refuting the foundational legalistic, non-faith foundations of such an attitude. Its insidious erosion of Christ-centered, secure-in-God’s-grace faith explains why he so intently confronts it and rejects it. So should we!

I have known several sincere and quite conscientious believers who embraced this view. I love them for Jesus’ sake. I can sincerely join Paul’s confession in our study context, “…my heart’s desire and prayer to God…” for them is that they might be delivered from the gray, joyless prison of this idea. The joy-killing effects of this belief are amazing! Advocates of the idea see “joy” in the Scriptures and speak of it, but it is the most elusive trait in the Bible for them to experience. They suffer with a near-constant obsession regarding whether they themselves are “really saved” or not, as well as question the salvation of those around them. They often praise God for sovereign grace, but then, almost in the next breath, they obsess regarding their own fears and uncertainties regarding their own salvation. This deep emotional uncertainty about their own personal state seems to drive them to view others with equal scrutiny regarding their salvation.

The “Abraham” example presents us with a realistic and balanced view of God’s moral grace and sovereign goodness. Yes, without question, Abraham deserves the honored position of Scripture as a “man of faith.” However, he no less exemplifies in Scripture our own struggle with sin and our occasional failures, a struggle that shall remain with us till our dying breath.
Rather than obsessing about our own salvation, Scripture directs us to serve God and to serve His people, denying self, not obsessing about our personal state of grace. The more we follow this Biblical example the more we escape the joyless prison of legalism that Paul so directly confronted both in Romans and in Galatians. We experience Biblical joy to the extent we develop a servant’s heart and minister to others, at the same time spurning this self-centered obsessive view of self.

Sadly this joyless prison is self-imposed and wholly contrary to God’s Biblical design for his beloved children. “…we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous….” (1Jo 2:1)

Will you join me in praying for God’s dear children who are caught in this joyless prison? Will you join me in working intently for their “prison break”?

“Children of Light;” How do We Shine

Dear Friends, 

If you think, we've often heard whole sermons that focus on the rich literary tools that we find in Scripture. The sermon may well have given good thought to the literary device and the vivid word picture that it painted in our minds. But did the sermon really break through our minds and give us specific details about how to fulfill the pretty image by a transformed lifestyle? How can we become salt instead of grit? How can we be a "Child of light," to use our present passage and its word picture, instead of simply coasting through life under the influence and shadow of the people and the world around us? 

Both of these examples, as well as most such word pictures in Scripture, require the faithful and grounded believer to rise above the culture in which we live and to be an influence of change to that culture, not drift along and be dragged with the culture, even the more commendable parts of that culture. The objective of being like someone else or of fitting into a group of people who may appeal to us for what we think to be good reasons is often in Scripture depicted as a dangerous mindset to our faith and to our relationship with the Lord. The faithful and Biblical follower of Jesus changes the culture in which he lives. He doesn't adjust his life to fit into it. 

In this process of changing the world in which we live instead of changing ourselves to fit into it, Scripture becomes the one reliable road map to show us the way. As easy as it might be for us in this process, Scripture also teaches us to work toward changing our world, not by adopting the world's favorite bullying and strong-arm strategies and thus trying to force others to mindlessly embrace us and our way. It teaches us to demonstrate the winsome and gracious godliness of the meek and lowly Lamb. In His combat with our chief adversary, Scripture depicts the Lord as the Lion, but in His relationships with His children in this world, Scripture depicts Him as the Lamb. 

If we hope to ever convince others that our beliefs regarding God's grace are the right and Biblical view, we must learn to immerse our own minds, lives, actions, attitudes, and words, in that same grace. If we say we believe in grace and never manifest anything other than abrasive sandpaper in our relationships with other believers, we shall miserably fail to convince them that we truly even believe in grace. The message of action always speaks louder than the message of words. 

One of my first and rather shocking realizations of this life changing truths occurred very early in my faith walk. A church in our area was hosting a special meeting. They weren't a large church, so my parents gladly hosted some of the visitors from a distance away. A preacher and his family stayed in our home through the meeting. They seemed kind and gracious. We enjoyed good visitation with them. When this preacher was asked to preach, I literally fell into shock when he started to develop his message. He started slowly building to a decent point to make. Then with no real warning, he paused, his face morphed from that kind man who had visited with us at home into an angry scowl, and he spoke words that shocked my sense of pulpit conduct when he literally shifted his voice from clear and conversational to a near shout, "Now you get this!" I got it! I got his attitude, and sadly that attitude was the last thing I wanted to get from the man. He lost me by his attitude of no grace whatever. 

Jesus used the metaphor of light often in the gospels in His teaching. The apostles pick up the habit and use it in their writings. Even if we can't fully put the right words to the idea, we tend to strongly favor light over darkness. Life seems brighter in the daylight than it ever seems in the dark middle of the night. I've worried more about life's problems in the night than I ever worried about them during the day. 

The task before us as we study the broad teachings of Scripture as it uses any of these rich work pictures is to go beyond the symbol to the reality of personal conduct and lifestyle that the word picture conveys to us. In this transition from pretty image to reality that gives substance to the image, we may rely on our personal and private imagination, or we may rely on Scripture itself to put meat on those images' bones. My intent in current writings is to follow Scripture, to let Scripture lead us from the word picture to its meaning as a lifestyle that gives substance to the word picture.  Light never makes a sound. Light never shouts, "Look at me!" Light quietly shines its energy into the darkness, and its power pushes the darkness back. What a perfect image of the godly believer when we follow the Lamb and "Let" His light in us shine, instead of turning on our abrasive flashlight in people's eyes and trying to force them to clone our own ways. Are we prepared to cover self up and stay out of the way so that our lives can shine the "...light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" to those in our world? (2Co 4:6

God bless, Joe Holder

Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. (1Th 5:5-6)

            I love to study my Bible! It is the richest book I ever read with various literary devices that make its message come alive and stir my mind. And yet it also puts “Meat on the bones” of those rich mental images to teach me what those images mean and what I need to do to live up to them. I grew up in a time and region w preachers would often read a passage and impose their own often fanciful and imaginative “This is a type of…” onto a passage. As a young man, I was confused. Ask three men who held to this view, and you’d get three different explanations, not one. Did the Holy Spirit include three different meanings in the passage, or an endless number? Or did He intend one meaning that we should seek to discover and understand? I recall hearing multiple sermons about how the Lord’s people are like a lodge in a garden of cucumbers. (Isa 1:8) Sadly, all I can remember is how the preacher had such little authentic insight into the passage that his point was how cucumbers made him burp with indigestion. Man’s fanciful typology always fails to give priority to God’s inspired insight that He gives us in Scripture. If we follow the Scriptures instead of trying to lead them, the Holy Spirit’s text, Scripture itself, will provide the richest of all explanations to make its message come alive and teach us its true meaning that He intended.

Our present study of the Lord’s people in His church, the symbol of light, provides a perfect example. If we examine a verse and t and ignore the context, we are inclined to use our imagination to fabricate our own meaning of the symbol. Wver you find a Biblical symbol, the context always “Shines the light” on the true meaning. Let’s examine Paul’s use of the symbol to “Flesh out” his stated meaning of the term.

The closing lesson in 1Th 4 deals with the Second Coming and how it shall impact believers who live at that time. Paul continues that theme in the fifth chapter. Folks who try to wrest the Scriptures and suggest that Paul fully expected the Second Coming in his lifetime have a hard time with the fifth chapter. Paul begins this chapter with a clear reminder to the Thessalonians that neither he nor they knew when that time would come. That is hardly the sentiment of a man who expected the Lord’s return in his lifetime.

A thief in the night, Paul uses this word picture to teach us about our lack of ability to know when the Lord shall return. We cannot know when the Lord shall return, but Scripture leaves no question; He shall return. How does a “Thief in the night” burglarize your home? When I was a child, my parents didn’t have locks on a single door in our home. When we left home for the day, we’d close the doors, but they were never locked. We never had a burglary. Today you wouldn’t think of leaving home without locking every door and window. Often we install various security systems or “Burglar alarms” to add yet another layer of security to our homes.

No burglar will send you an official notice to inform you that he plans to burglarize your home on a certain night. He carries on his crime not only in the dark, but with the element of surprise. If you knew a burglar planned to break into your home tonight shortly after midnight, would you leave home and let him steal your possessions? No, you’d take every precaution to capture him and have him arrested. Paul makes the same point. The Lord’s return shall occur in a manner that shall be similar to the thief’s invasion of your home. You do not—cannot—know when the burglar shall break in. You also do not—and cannot—know when the Lord shall return, but Scripture repeatedly affirms that His return is the most certain event in this world’s history.

If we as believers cannot—and do not—know when the Lord shall return, how should we conduct ourselves while we look for, long for, and wait for His return? Scripture devotes much “Ink” to that question, and its answer is always the same. It teaches us to work while we wait for His coming. And our work while we wait is to be working for Him and for His glory, not for ourselves and our personal interests. From Jesus and the Olivet Discourse to Paul and the other writers of the various New Testament letters, the message is always the same. Consider the major movements or sections in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse as an example.

1.     Mt 23. Jesus rebukes and rejects the religious leaders of Judaism in His day.

2.     Mt 24. The disciples, perhaps as their confused reaction to His sharp rebuke in Chapter 23, point out the temple, and Jesus devotes this chapter to His prophecy that the time is imminent when this temple, beautiful as it was, would be destroyed, and Judaism as it then existed, would be likewise destroyed. This chapter does not teach about the Second Coming, but about God’s righteous judgment against the religious establishment of His day that should have been most expecting and welcoming to Him, but utterly rejected and despised Him.

3.     Mt 25. This chapter begins with the Parable of the Ten Virgins, a parable limited to a specific time, the time prophesied in Chapter 24, when God’s judgment would fall on Jerusalem, the temple, and its people, an event that occurred less than forty years after Jesus spoke these words. Following this parable, Jesus taught the lesson of the talents. Some servants use the talent given to their care by their Lord, and some servants squander their responsibility to their Lord and ignore or neglect His talent—His, not theirs. What is the lesson ? The Lord gives each of us a precious treasure. It belongs to Him. It never belongs to us, never. He charges us to use “His” talents for His glory. This scenario started during the first century with Jesus and His disciples, and it shall continue till the Second Coming. Chapter 25 ends with the lesson of judgment, the lesson of the sheep and the goats. This lesson deals with a final and epochal judgment of humanity in which all shall be separated and either taken to glorious joys, eternal joys with the Lord, or to eternal punishment. Our present study deals with the Lord’s teachings and commandments to us during the time between His first coming and His final coming, related to the lesson of the talents. How are we using the Lord’s blessings and resources that He has given to us in stewardship?

            Our study verses remind us. In this season of waiting and serving, of using or neglecting what the Lord has given to our charge of His treasures, we are commanded to be what He has in fact made us, children of light. How do we live up to that charge? How do we act like children of light? That is the question of the day. And the Holy Spirit directed Paul to answer that question in clear and detailed terms throughout the remainder of this chapter.

1.     First and foremost, Paul affirms that a “Thief in the night” view of the time of the Lord’s return should characterize children of light. When a man tries to wrest Scripture and claim that he has “Figured out” the precise date and time of the Lord’s return, he forsakes his “Child of light” heritage and presumes infallibility to himself instead of in faith leaving that question w it belongs, with the Lord alone. (1Th 5:1-4) Some appeal to Paul’s “…that that day should overtake you as a thief.” Paul is not writing coded secret messages telling believers when the time shall be. In the context, he follows the pattern that Jesus taught in the Olivet Discourse. He reminds them—and us—that we do not hang our faith on a certain date, but rather on our faithful and certain Lord. We live with a mindset that is constantly watchful for the Lord’s return. He shall come when He chooses, not when we imagine that He should come. If He comes today, the faithful believer will rejoice. If He delays His coming for centuries, the faithful believer of today will live his life in service to the Lord, faithfulness measured by the care and wise use he makes of the treasures the Lord commits to him and commands that he use to the Lord’s glory.

2.     But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. (1Th 5:8-10) How rich these instructions; we approach our life with a stable, balanced, and sober mind. We avoid the extremes and the “Hobby-horse” ideas that come and go like yesterday’s news. To be sober minded in a spiritual sense requires that we not over-indulge and become drunken with one extreme and unbiblical idea or another. We affirm that sober-mindedness by following the “Child of light” matrix that Paul sets before us. We protect our tenderest emotions, not with our own wishes and preferences, but with “…the breastplate of faith and love.” We protect our minds with the conviction “helmet” of our salvation based on Jesus’ death for us, not based on our often wavering and fickle love for Him. The believer who lives up to his “Child of light” goal lives with a steadfast faith in his Lord and his Lord’s faithfulness. Our spending eternity in heaven does not, in our faith, rely on our own bootstrap faithfulness, but on the Lord, “Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.” In this context, a context that includes the Second Coming teaching in Chapter 4, waking or sleeping refers to whether we are alive or dead at the time of the Second Coming. This lesson leaves no grounds for any kind of “Secret Rapture” in which believers are taken or left, depending on their faithfulness, not on the Lord’s redemption and loving grace. It isn’t your or my faithfulness that determines our eternal blessedness. It is rather a matter of Jesus’ death, “Who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep….”

            Lord willing, we shall continue our detailed examination of what it means, Biblically, to live as a child of light. God never leaves us with vague, but flowery metaphors of the godly life. He gives us powerful and authentic details. We need to learn them well.

Elder Joe Holder

 By Jonathan Wise
Pontotoc, Mississippi

   “And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the Lord. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren.” (Gen. 24:26-27)

   These words were spoken by Abraham’s eldest servant after the Lord had mercifully answered his prayer in the matter of finding a bride for Isaac. Abraham, being old and not knowing how much longer he had to live, had sent this unnamed man to his family’s homeland to pick out an acceptable woman for his promised son to wed. Given clear instructions not to take a wife from among the pagan Canaanites, this servant does a very wise thing in taking the situation before Almighty God in prayer when he arrives at a well outside the Mesopotamian city of Nahor. He prays to the Lord that the woman whom He desired for Isaac to marry reveal herself by offering both him and his camels a drink of water (Gen 24:12-14). Incredibly, before he is even finished speaking Rebekah arrives on the scene and does exactly what he had asked of God. Realizing this to be the providential working of the Lord, the servant bows and utters this beautiful verse that still is applicable to the followers of Christ today.

   One of the themes you hear most often in the Christian world today is “following God’s will.” I will agree that this is absolutely a critical subject, as we should all seek to please the Lord in everything we do. However, this is an area in which God’s word is increasingly intertwined with secular philosophy under the guise of biblical truth. Many sincere people have fallen prey to the so-called “prosperity gospel” that portrays discipleship as being tied to financial or career success. According to these teachings, the Lord’s will is for you to be successful, and someone who isn’t obviously is not serving the Lord as he or she should. My friends, this is totally contrary to scripture. God has not promised His children any more than the material things that they stand in need of, such as food, shelter, and clothing. In fact, for the devoted follower of the Lord Jesus these things should not be a source of anxiety or worry as they are promised to us. As Jesus said in His sermon on the mount: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33).

   God certainly sometimes blesses His disciples with a significant degree of success in the secular realm, for which He should be given all the glory. However, when the scriptures speak of God’s will it is generally in the context of His desire for us to be obedient to His commandments and serve him. Paul told the church at Thessalonica, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication.” (I Thes. 4:3). Just a chapter later he would admonish them to give thanks in every thing “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (I Thes. 5:18). As a final example, Peter writes: “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” (I Peter 2:15).

   The Lord’s primary will is for His children to make serving Him the foremost priority in their lives. When your treasure is His kingdom (Matt. 5:19-21), you will be able to live a life of contentment and obedience that glorifies His holy name. However, in this world in which we live we are all faced with a multitude of decisions that are not explicitly spelled out in God’s word. Scripture doesn’t name all who are going to be called into the ministry or where they are to labor. It does not tell one what to do for a living, where to go to college, or who to marry. So, how do we know what the Lord’s will for us is in these type areas, which are all admittedly important as we live in the world? First and foremost, it is important to remember the Lord will not lead you in a way contrary to His word. Therefore, we should study what the scripture has to say about whatever problem or situation we are dealing with. For example, God doesn’t tell us exactly who to marry, but He lays out some fundamental principles to follow, such as not being “unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Cor. 6:14). Our career paths are not specified, but we are told that “whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:31). Therefore, a job that asks someone to practice ungodly behavior would be contrary to the will of God.

   With these parameters in mind, God’s children should fervently pray to the Lord to lead them and show them what His will is in whatever situation they might be facing, just as Abraham’s servant did when he traveled into a far country seeking the right woman for His master’s son. You might not get an answer immediately, but if you are following a path pleasing unto the Lord He will providentially open doors to reveal that to you, or he might close doors to chart you on a different course. Keep in mind things might not be a walk in the park. They seldom are for the faithful followers of Christ. God has promised his obedient child that He will “direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5-6), not that he would make them easy or smooth. Abraham’s servant sought the counsel and guidance of God in his journey, and the Lord answered his petitions by allowing him to cross paths with Isaac’s future bride. The Psalmist writes, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” (Ps. 32:8). The Lord has promised to teach us the way He would have us to go, and the best way to obtain this instruction is obey him and draw nigh unto Him. The “way” that Abraham’s servant describes is primarily the way of obedience to God and seeking His guidance in his journey. In my short life I can look back and see Lord’s providential hand guiding my life, both opening and closing doors that helped me arrive at where I am today. I believe the same could be said for almost anyone reading this. I’ve never heard of anyone who lamented the fact that they made God’s kingdom a priority in his or her life, because the Lord is always faithful to his promise and guides us with his eye. May we all continue to put the Lord’s service first so that we can also boldly exclaim, “I being in the way, the Lord led me.”

Gospel Gleanings, “…especially the parchments”

Volume 25, Number 32 August 16, 2009

“The People of the Prince”

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (Daniel 9:25-27)

…and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. If we accept the integrity of Gabriel’s timeline, Jesus began His public ministry at the beginning of the seventieth “week” of years in the prophecy. If we also accept the consistent depiction throughout Daniel that the four world empires were the four that dominated the Mediterranean world from Daniel’s time till Jesus’ coming; Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, we understand that Jesus made His appearance during the Roman era, the fourth and final of the four empires described in Daniel’s writings.

This brings us to something of a challenge regarding the prophecy regarding “…the people of the prince that shall come….” In the spring of 70 A. D., after several years of escalating hostilities, the Roman occupying army engaged in a major offensive against the rebellious Jewish people in Judea. The offensive reached a crucial point as the Roman army approached and besieged Jerusalem, the capital city. This siege lasted till August of that year. The problem—this event did not occur within the sequential seventy weeks of years era—may be resolved by the simple observation that Gabriel’s prophecy does not list this event as one of the six events included in that time frame. It occurred as a corollary to those events and the Jews’ rejection of Jesus, but it was not part of the seventy week work outlined in Daniel 9:24.

Initially Vespasian commanded the Roman army in Judah, but during this offensive against the Jews Vespasian learned of major changes in Rome, changes that opened the door to his becoming the new Caesar, so he left his son Titus in charge of the occupying army and returned to Rome. Vespasian was successful in gaining the position of Caesar. Caesar in Latin is equivalent to kurios in Greek (translated “Lord” in the New Testament), and it is equivalent to Kaiser in German. Effectively the position is that of ruler over the country. Thus Titus, the Roman general who commanded the siege of Jerusalem, was in effect a “prince,” the son of the king. I find it amazing, a true witness to God’s supernatural guiding of the writing of Scripture, that Gabriel would reveal these details to Daniel some time prior to five hundred B. C. Almost six hundred years before Vespasian rushed off to Rome, leaving his son Titus in charge of the Roman army in Judea, Gabriel revealed the matter to Daniel. The military commander who directed the flooding destruction of the city of Jerusalem was not merely an accomplished general; he was in fact a “prince.”

“…the end thereof shall be with a flood….” Do not discount the solemn words, words that Daniel would have not missed at all. In fact those words, “the end thereof,” would likely be the cause for Daniel’s broken heart and prolonged grief. His beloved people not only would so provoke their God as to bring His certain judgment against them, but they would also by that provocation end their existence as a nation favored and protected by God.

Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. (Matthew 23:34-39)

The religious leaders of the nation in Jesus’ day self-righteously denied their ancestors and said, “…If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.” (Matthew 23:30) Yet Jesus warned them that their own rebellion against their God would be profoundly greater than any of their ancestors. They would reject and seek the death of their promised Messiah, God Incarnate. It was this precise fact that prompted Jesus’ words of severe judgment in the verses cited above. Upon first century Judah would fall God’s pent up judgment against all the stubborn and rebellious people and their sins that went before. The sin of first century Jewish religious leaders was far greater than any sin of their ancestors.

Again in this citation we see the incredible precision of inspired words in Scripture.

…how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

The problem was not primary to the Jewish people of the first century, but to their leaders. Notice Jesus’ words; “…would I have gathered thy children together….” Then notice the reason Jerusalem’s children were not so gathered under God’s motherly protective care; “…ye would not!” The English Bible does not contain many exclamation points, but we find one here, one that is well placed, for Jesus’ words in this passage cry out to these people. The “ye” who would not permit Jerusalem’s children to gather under their God’s care were the religious leaders of the nation.

There are indications, as mentioned, that Gabriel informed Daniel that his beloved people would meet their end as God’s favored people within the events of the seventy weeks of years prophecy. What does Jesus say about the future of the Jewish people in the passage cited above?

Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

I do not advocate or condone one human imposing senseless abuse or prejudice against any other human being because of his/her race, gender, or culture; nor does Scripture.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

Therefore I offer the following thoughts with the careful precaution that they are Jesus’ words, based on His knowledge and righteous judgment against that generation. They are not words that you or I are authorized to take upon ourselves and impose upon contemporary Jews or any other people.

Many people reacted with joy when Jewish pilgrims from many countries around the world united and gained a foothold in their old native land in 1947. Many Christians celebrated the event, claiming it was the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and, trumpeted by the dispensational camp, heralded the beginning of the end. To them, this event clearly indicated that the final chapter of human history was closing in upon us.

Did the Jews’ return to their historical land in 1947 fulfill Scripture? Listen to Jesus’ words. Let them echo in your mind long and clearly.

Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Who came in the name of the Lord? Was it not Jesus Himself, God Incarnate? Is that not the message that Jesus delivered to the religious leaders of the day who were then plotting Jesus’ death? I must ask the obvious question. Is there any indication that the returning Jews to the “Holy Land” in 1947 were returning to their God or to Jesus, their promised and long rejected Messiah? History answers the question without any doubt. These people were seeking relief from dreadful oppression and from the painfully recent memory of Hitler’s ovens. I am thankful that they found or forged out a piece of land to call their own. However, I find nothing in the history leading up to 1947 or since that in any way indicates that the Jewish people who returned had also decided to embrace Jesus, He who came in the name of the Lord, as God Incarnate. And for that simple reason I see no basis to claim that their return was the fulfillment of any Bible prophecy. Noble as their plight was from a truly humanitarian point of view, they did not embrace Jesus, and they did not fulfill a Biblical prophecy.

The whole paradigm of the dispensational school of thought that alleges that the Second Coming cannot possibly occur until the Jews possess the whole of their ancient land, or any other human accomplishment for that matter, has no support from Scripture. The date of the Second Coming depends on God’s timetable, not man’s accomplishments.

Elder Joe Holder