Archive for June, 2012

What Does “God Winked At … Ignorance” in Acts 17:30 Mean ?

June 30, 2012

Somebody asked me recently, what does “God winked at … ignorance” in times past in Acts 17:30 mean? I honestly am not sure what it means, but I don’t think it means God just overlooked sin in the sense that he forgave it without repentance. Under the law of Moses, even sins of ignorance had to be learned of and conditions met in order to be forgiven (Leviticus 4:13-14).

Acts 17:30 is most likely a contrast between the Jews and Gentiles. The previous verse speaks of idolatry and Romans 1:23-24 says God “gave them up” to sin those who were in such a condition. This doesn’t mean God forgave them in their idolatry and homosexuality without their turning from their sin, but that he gave up on them by ceasing to regularly challenge them with opportunities for spiritual about face. God quit giving “that which is holy unto the dogs” (Matthew 7:5).

If this is the meaning of the text, then Acts 17:30 is saying God is now giving renewed effort to turn the Gentiles’ hearts toward him. In the New Testament dispensation, the gospel is to be preached to every nation (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:15), not just to the Jews. Today he “commandeth all men everywhere to repent,” with the emphasis on “all” and “everywhere.” Not only are the Jews challenged to repent of their sins, but today all Gentiles are also. God is not winking at / giving up on Gentiles anymore. He is not ignoring their sin as perhaps he did before. Instead he is actively pursuing their obedience to the gospel so they can be forgiven and come into his one fold (John 10:16).

Jesus Is “God With Us”

June 22, 2012

Matthew 1:23 reads “… and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

The NIV translates this verse “… and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel — which means, ‘God with us.’”

According to the scriptures then, Jesus was “God with us.” Even if we don’t understand how Jesus could be God (deity), we must still accept it, because the scriptures plainly say it here and in many other places.

Fasting Shall Cease ?

June 16, 2012

I Corinthians 13:8 predicted “tongues shall cease” at some point in the first century timeframe, but many Christians act like the same is said about fasting. However, nowhere does the Bible teach fasting has ceased.

Should Christians fast today?:

· Matt 6:16-18 yes, because we will be rewarded by God if we do

· Matt 6:16-17 Jesus assumed his disciples would fast (it says “when” not “if”)

· Matt 9:14-15 disciples should fast after the bridegroom (Jesus) was gone, which is true today

· Phil 4:9, I Cor 11:1, I Pet 2:21 yes, because approved examples are binding:

· Matt 4:2 Jesus fasted

· Acts 13:1-3, 14:23 groups of Christians fasted

· II Cor 11:27, 6:5 Paul fasted

· I Cor 7:3-5 fasting must be important today as it is the only reason (accompanied by prayer) for which God allows married couples to suspend sexual relations

(caveat – there is some question about whether the Greek word for “fasting” is in the original text of I Cor 7:5 – I will let the reader investigate that at his discretion)

I am told there is more teaching in the New Testament on fasting than repentance and confession, and that Jesus taught more on fasting than on baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Many correctly understand that Acts 20:7 teaches by example that we should eat the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week. But we have many more approved examples of Christians fasting than we do of the first day of the week Lord’s Supper. Isn’t it inconsistent to uphold the latter, but not the former?

Being Only Religious Does Not Guarantee Salvation by Dwight Edwards

June 10, 2012

It is evident that many, if not most, of those who make up our society believe that if one is religious he or she is surely saved from sin and will go to heaven when this life has ended. A majority of funerals we attend (of those who are not Christians by God’s standard), as well as the general conversation wherein life, death, and the future state of departed souls is discussed, verifies that this is so. However, if we believe that God is, and that the New Testament contains His final and complete revelation to man, should we not study it to learn what He has said about salvation?

One of the things we learn from the New Test. Is that all power or authority in heaven and earth was given to Jesus Christ by God the Father (Matt. 28:18). He is the one we are to hear in all things (Acts 3:22). The writer of Hebrews, speaking of Christ, said, “He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9). And it was the Christ who said that the gate is small and the way narrow that leads to life and few that find it (Matt. 7:13,14). It was He who also said, “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Therefore, being only religious will not guarantee salvation!

There are many examples in the Bible if folks who were religious but unsaved. We shall now give some attention to some of these.

1. Saul of Tarsus was a devout, well educated, zealous Jew before he became a Christian (Acts 22:1-3). Yet he was not saved at this point. He persecuted Christians even casting his vote against some resulting in their death (Acts 26:10). While on his way to Demascus to secure letters from the high priest granting him permission to take any disciples of the Lord to Jerusalem, a light shined about him and Jesus spoke to him. Saul asked, “Lord, what will you have me to do? (Acts 9:2-6)” That was indeed a strange question if this religious man was already saved, as some claim. However, we know from the remainder of the story that he was not yet saved even though he was very religious, saw a vision, prayed, etc. because it was after these events that Ananias was sent to him and encouraged him to be baptized to wash away his sins (Acts 22:12-16).

2. There was probably not a more religious group of non-Christians than the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. Josephus, a contemporary Jewish historian, aptly describes them as “a body of Jews who professed to be more religious than the rest, and to explain the laws more precisely.” (Zonder-van’s Pictorial Bible Dictionary, pg. 647) They were indeed the religious leaders of Jesus’ day!

The Pharisees professed great respect for God’s Word but placed their tradition above it. Jesus said of them in Mark 7:7, 9 (ASV) 7 But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men.9 And he said unto them, Full well do ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your tradition. He said later13 making void the word of God by your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things ye do. They were also religious hypocrites for which they were severely condemned by Jesus Christ (see Matt. 23:1-33). Their religion alone would not save them! They were in need of making a change!

3. Another example of a religious man who made a change, such as did Saul of Tarsus, is the one whom Philip met after he had been instructed to go to the road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza. Acts 8:27 says this27 And he arose and went: and behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem to worship. Note that this man was from Ethiopia and had gone to Jerusalem to worship. This was an exceedingly long distance, estimated by some to have been between 1,000 and 1,500 miles. The distance travelled shows his devotion to God, in addition to his reading from the scriptures and raising questions about the text (vs.28-34). Upon being told about Jesus from this text, the eunuch wanted to know what prevented his being baptized which brought this response from Philip and action of both he and the eunuch37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 8 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they both went down into the water, both P3hilip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.

This man was not saved because he was religious. He had been taught about Jesus and about the need to be baptized, which baptism is for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) or as Ananias told Saul, “arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins” (Acts 22:16).

This story is repeated over and over again in the New Test. My friend, if you are religious, that’s great, but being religious is not enough. You must be right religiously! This might involve you making a change, as did these in the examples cited, and of course as did many of US.

Taking The Sum Of God’s Word

June 4, 2012

Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” When it comes to what conditions a person must meet in order to be saved, some are confused by the fact that one passage will state belief is necessary without mentioning repentance or baptism (for example, John 3:16), one passage will say repentance is necessary without mentioning belief (Luke 13:3), and a third passage will mention that baptism is necessary without mentioning belief or repentance (Acts 22:16, I Peter 3:21).

Taking the intersection of all such passages won’t work, because their intersection (what they all have in common) is equal to nothing. Instead what we should do is take their union, that is, all of what God’s word says on the subject of salvation. This would be analogous to a man saying he caught a bass with a Zebco 202 fishing reel. The next day he might say he caught that same fish with a 5 pound test line. And the third day he might say he caught it with an artificial worm. One way of putting it doesn’t rule out the truth of the other sentences. In this case, we would all understand the man used a Zebco 202, a 5 pound line, and an artificial worm (all three) to catch that bass.

There isn’t just one passage that tells us everything about Jesus’ death. We learn the whole story from taking all of what the Bible says on the matter. It is the same with what a sinner must do to be saved. We must take all God says on the topic. A sinner has to believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of his sins (Acts 2:38), and be baptized (Mark 16:16) in order to be saved. There is no inconsistency whatsoever.