“I Can’t Become A Christian Because I Know That I’ll Mess Up”

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Over my years of preaching the Gospel, I have been richly blessed to speak with several individuals about lots of different topics.  

One of the topics that has come up more times then I can count deals with excuses people make about not wanting to become a Christian.  

Often we will sit and study (sometimes for hours, sometimes for weeks), and we will notice God’s incredible grace in sending His Son to die for us (2 Corinthians 9:17). We will study about His grace in allowing us time to hear His Word and repent of our sins (Romans 2:3-4). We will study about His grace in allowing us to be baptized into Christ, being buried with Him (Romans 6:3-4).  

Then, the individual I am teaching will often make this comment (or something similar):

“Mark, I know that I need to be saved; but I can’t because I am just so afraid that I’ll mess up and sin after I become a Christian!”

Let me share with you what I tell those individuals:

“Let’s be absolutely clear here bro; I guarantee that you will mess up!!” 

I often get a look of shock when I share that sentiment.  

Friends, let me tell you something: temptation and human weakness are not things which just vanish the moment we are baptized into Christ!  

Doesn’t the New Testament teach us this fact plainly?  

When the Apostle Paul wrote to our brethren in Rome, they had been baptized with Christ (Romans 6:3-4). Yet he told them:

Romans 6:12-13 (ERV)-12  But don’t let sin control your life here on earth. You must not be ruled by the things your sinful self makes you want to do. 13  Don’t offer the parts of your body to serve sin. Don’t use your bodies to do evil, but offer yourselves to God, as people who have died and now live. Offer the parts of your body to God to be used for doing good.

Paul told these Christians that they needed to stop sinning.  

Yes, they had been buried with Christ in baptism, and had risen to walk in newness of life. What then? Some of these Christians had “messed up” and were living in sin.

Did Paul say, “Wow, since you are sinning and have messed up, you can’t be forgiven.”

No!

He said that now, they needed to repent and start living right.  

When Paul wrote to the Hebrew Christians, did he not express the same sentiments? 

Hebrews 12:1-2-1  Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Paul wrote to these Christians and encouraged them to lay down the sin which so easily ensnared them. The imagery of “the sin which so easily ensnares” is that of any type of sin which will surround us and cause us to trip. Some scholars have pointed out that this could have reference to certain types of baggage that a runner would carry in a race that would cause him to stumble, while others have related the language of Paul to certain kinds of loin clothes that a runner would wear which would cause hardship during the Olympics.  

The point I want you to see is that these Christians, who had been baptized into Christ prior to Paul’s writing (Hebrews 10:22), were still struggling with sin in their lives. They had “messed up.” They had started the race and were still struggling with sin.  

Did this mean that they were no longer saved?  

Had the grace of God abandoned them because they had sinned after becoming a Christian?

Not at all!  

I want to suggest five things to you about this mentality that “we can’t become a Christian because we will mess up later.”

First, the Bible makes it absolutely clear that you will continue to struggle with temptation and sin after being saved. Receiving the new birth does not mean that our temptations will cease, for as long as we have these bodies and live in this fallen world, we will struggle with sin. In fact, this seems to be the point that Paul makes in 1 Corinthians when he discusses the blessings of the Second Coming of Christ and how we will receive our new glorified bodies: 

1 Corinthians 15:44-It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

Our “new bodies” will be “spiritual” and not “natural.” Many teach that this means we will receive bodies that are not physical (an idea which is contrary to the text-Christ’s resurrected body is like what our new bodies will be like, and as His body was a physical body, so will be ours-1 Corinthians 15:1-8; 23).  

However, in context, the meaning of “spiritual” and “natural” is very clear: 

“Paul: You misunderstand what I meant by the term natural. The New Revised Standard Version and its predecessor the Revised Standard Version are the only translations to use the word physical. Virtually every other translation renders the word natural.[ 12] Those who translate the word as physical are mistaken, and it is easy to demonstrate this. The Greek word we are talking about is psychikos.[ 13] Would you like to know how many times in the Bible, including the intertestamental writings, this word means physical or material, as the New Revised Standard Version suggests? Zero! It is never used that way.[ 14] The Greek word we are talking about for spiritual is pneumatikos.[ 15] Would you like to know how many times this word means immaterial as the New Revised Standard Version suggests? Zero![ 16] To see what I meant by these words, you only need to look a few chapters earlier in my same first letter to the Corinthian church…I’m saying here that the natural man who is controlled by his fleshly and sinful desires does not accept the truths of God because they can only be understood by those who are controlled by desires that are centered on the true God—in other words, spiritual people. Thus, in chapter 15, verse 44, I’m saying that our bodies are buried with all of their fleshly and sinful appetites. But they are raised with only holy appetites that are focused on God. There is no reason whatsoever for translating what I wrote to mean that we are buried with physical bodies but will be raised with immaterial ones, leaving the old body in the ground.” (Michael R. Licona, Paul Meets Muhammad: A Christian-Muslim Debate On The resurrection, 1590-1602 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)

Friends, as long as we are in this world, we will struggle with temptation and sin.  

Second, please consider this: God’s grace is more then sufficient!  

Some seem to have the idea that God’s grace is abundant in leading us to become a Christian, but after that, it somehow loses its power. This is, I think, what caused some in the second and third century church to believe that there is no forgiveness to a Christian who sins. It is almost as if people think, “Well, God’s grace brought me here; now it’s up to me.” Oh, they won’t use those words; but they will often live in such a way that they believe they must be sinlessly perfect, and if not, then that’s it.  

The End.  

No hope.  

Finito.  

Game Over.  

They are “once saved, always in misery.”

Friends, please understand: the grace of God is more then sufficient for you! Isn’t that what the Apostle John meant in 1 John 1:7?

1 John 1:7-But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

John is writing to Christians, and he reminds them that if they (Christians) say that they have no sin, they are deceiving themselves (1 John 1:8). Notice the tense of the verb: John says if there are Christians who say they HAVE (present tense) no sin, then they deceive themselves. M
Could there be a more vocal claim that Christians sin and “mess up?” 

Far from claiming that Christians never “mess up,” John says if a person says they never do, they are lying to themselves!

Yet John points to a powerful truth in verse seven. He says that if we KEEP ON walking in the light, then we will KEEP ON having fellowship with each other; and the blood of Jesus Christ will KEEP ON cleansing us from our sins.  

The verb “cleanses” that is used here is very important, as are the tenses: 

“The Greek for to cleanse is katharizein, which was originally a ritual word, describing the ceremonies and washings and so on that qualified an individual to approach the gods. But, as religion developed, the word came to have a moral sense; and it describes the goodness which enables people to enter into the presence of God. So, what John is saying is: ‘If you really know what the sacrifice of Christ has done and are really experiencing its power, day by day you will be adding holiness to your life and becoming more fit to enter the presence of God.’ Here indeed is a great conception. It looks on the sacrifice of Christ as something which not only atones for past sin but also equips people in holiness day by day.” (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible: The Letters Of John And Jude, 34 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press)

The saving blood of Jesus does not lose its power after the waters of baptism. Instead, the blood of Christ continues to cleanse God’s people of sin, even as Jesus Himself continues to be the Advocate for His people (1 John 2:1-2).  

Third, this passage-and all the ones that we have studied-demonstrate that even though we will sin as Christians, we must continue to fight against sin in our lives. Salvation is not n excuse to keep on living in sin; rather, it is the means by which holiness may be attained.  

When we are baptized into Christ, there is a definite sense in which we are saved (set apart-sanctified).  

Isn’t that what Paul told the Corinthians?

And such WERE some of you? But you were WASHED, but you were SANCTIFIED, but you were JUSTIFIED in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11).  

Yet there is also a sense in which we as God’s people ARE BEING sanctified (as 1 John 1:7 teaches).  

God is perfecting us my friends. Part of that purifying process is the struggle against sin. Therefore we must not stop struggling against sin! Instead, we must fight against it (1 Timothy 6:12), as we work to discipline our body and spirit (1 Corinthians 9:24-27), and continue seeking those things which are above (Colossians 3:1-3) by continually putting to death sinful actions that would separate us from Him (Colossians 3:5-11), and adding those things which are needed to help us grow into the people that God wants us to be (Colossians 3:12-25).  

So don’t use salvation as an excuse to sin: use it as the motivation to become what God calls you to be!  

Fourth, know that when you fall short and sin, you can still come into the presence of God through repentance and prayer. Paul writes:

Hebrews 4:15-16-15  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Some of my favorite words were written by John Piper as he commented on this passage:

“But it gets even better. On the way to the cross for thirty years, Christ was tempted like every human is tempted. True, he never sinned. But wise people have pointed out that this means his temptations were stronger than ours, not weaker. If a person gives in to temptation, it never reaches its fullest and longest assault. We capitulate while the pressure is still building. But Jesus never did. So he endured the full pressure to the end and never caved. He knows what it is to be tempted with fullest force. A lifetime of temptation climaxing in spectacular abuse and abandonment gave Jesus an unparalleled ability to sympathize with tempted and suffering people. No one has ever suffered more. No one has ever endured more abuse. And no one ever deserved it less or had a greater right to fight back. But the apostle Peter said, “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:22-23). Therefore, the Bible says he is able “to sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15). This is amazing. The risen Son of God in heaven at God’s right hand with all authority over the universe feels what we feel when we come to him in sorrow or pain—or cornered with the promises of sinful pleasure. What difference does this make? The Bible answers by making a connection between Jesus’ sympathy and our confidence in prayer. It says that since he is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses… [therefore we should] with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). Evidently the thought goes like this: We are likely to feel unwelcome in the presence of God if we come with struggles. We feel God’s purity and perfection so keenly that everything about us seems unsuitable in his presence. But then we remember that Jesus is “sympathetic.” He feels with us, not against us. This awareness of Christ’s sympathy makes us bold to come. He knows our cry. He tasted our struggle. He bids us come with confidence when we feel our need.” (John Piper, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Cane To Die, 72-73 (Kindle Edition); Wheaton, Illinois; Crossway Books)

Fifth, remember that God has given you His Holy Spirit to help strengthen and perfect you. If you try to fight the struggles of the flesh on your own, you will fail; but with the help of the Holy Spirit you can succeed!

Romans 8:12-13-12  Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13  For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Friends, we need the help of the Holy Spirit to encourage us in our struggle against sin. We have to do our part-we work with the Spirit-but without the Spirit’s help, there would be no victory.  

Also notice that if we stop struggling against sin-if we just walk away from the Lord and return to the world-then we will die. Compare this with 2 Peter 2:20-22.

Finally, even though you will “mess up,” you are not alone.  

When you become a member of the church of Christ, you become part of a family of people who often “mess up” right along with you.  

But you know what’s great?  

Even though we mess up together, we pick ourselves up together and keep marching on. So we encourage each other when we assemble together (Hebrews 10:24-25), and we bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:1-2). We pray for each other (James 5:16-20), and we love each other (Romans 12:9-13). We fall short, but we strive to forgive and encourage each other (Ephesians 4:31-32).

You need your church family, and your church family needs you.  

So why are you waiting? The Lord has gone to the cross of Calvary to save you (Romans 5:8)! He was buried and arose from the dead on the third day to save you (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)! Jesus built and purchased His church with His own blood to save you (Acts 20:28; Matthew 16:18)!  

Even now, realizing your sinfulness, weaknesses, doubts, and fears, He is ready to save you (Matthew 11:28-30).  

Even knowing that you will at times “mess up,” He still wants to be your Savior (Hebrews 7:25).  

Acts 22:16-And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

If you are one of the ones like me who has “messed up” before-won’t you please come back to Christ today? He tells Christians: 

1 John 1:9-If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Come back, to the Lord and to the church. There will be great rejoicing in Heaven, and on Earth, when you do!

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

Job Bible Class: Job’s Friends-Part One

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

Quotation For Consideration 

“Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them? (Abraham Lincoln)

Introduction

Most of the Book of Job is a series of conversations between Job and his three friends: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. While much of these friends’ attitudes and actions are reprehensible, there are some commendable things about them which stand out.  

In this lesson, we will carefully consider some of the more endearing qualities of these men. The main text we will be studying comes from the second chapter of Job:

Job 2:11-Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him.

One: They Made Time To Be With Job When He Needed Them

One of the the first things which stands out to me about Job’s friends is that they actually made the time to go and visit Job.

Keep in mind, this was not just a stroll down the street to chat with Job. All three of these men came from different countries, and they each had extremely time-consuming and difficult careers (not to mention families of their own). Add to this the price of travel, and we see that they were indeed very concerned about Job!

“Eliphaz, who took the lead in the debate against Job, is identified in the text as a Temanite. Teman is a city in Edom. Edom encompasses the southern portion of what is now the nation of Jordan. Teman was famous in the ancient world for its exceptionally wise scholars.[4] Ancient literature indicates this fame persisted for centuries. The prophet Jeremiah comments on Teman in a series of rhetorical questions: “Is there no longer wisdom in Teman? Has counsel perished from the prudent? Has their wisdom decayed?” (Jer. 49:7). Given the eight-hundred-mile distance between Teman and Job’s home in the land of Uz (see fig. 2.1) and the investment required to undertake such a journey, it seems likely that Teman’s leaders sent their most gifted scholar, Job’s friend and peer, to offer comfort. It makes sense that Eliphaz, the most revered, was probably the Temanite best known to Job, and the text indicates (see Job 2:11 and 42:10) that, despite the distance, Eliphaz was among Job’s dearest friends. The text suggests that Zophar and Bildad were of virtually equal abilities to Eliphaz and also close friends to Job. Apparently, when word of Job’s devastating losses and sufferings spread, the world of that time sent their three most eminent wise men to offer comfort and counsel. Who else could even try?” (Hugh Ross, Hidden Treasures In The Book Of Job: How The Oldest Book In The Bible Answers Today’s Scientific Questions, 28-29 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books) 

Notice specifically WHY they were coming together:

Job 2:11-Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him.

The words used in this passage are extremely significant. They show us the deep relationship of these men with each other, and with Job. Furthermore, they highlight the godly intentions for which they are going to visit with the suffering patriarch.

“On learning of Job’s affliction, three beloved friends . . . Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, agreed together to travel to Uz in order to console Job. The term for friends has a wide range of meanings, including an intimate counselor . . . a close friend . . . a party in a legal dispute. Friends often solemnized their relationship with a covenant, promising to care for each other under all kinds of circumstances. The relationship between Job and his three friends gives every evidence of being based on a covenant. . . . Such a relationship was characterized by loyal love. . . . Motivated by love and their commitment, these men came to console and to comfort Job. The word to console . . . means literally “to shake the head or to rock the body back and forth” as a sign of shared grief. To comfort . . . is to attempt to ease the deepest pain caused by a tragedy or death . . . With the noblest intentions, these three earnestly desired to help Job bear his sorrow.” (John E. Hartley, The Book of Job (NICOT) (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988), 85) 

True friends will want to help and encourage us, even in the midst of our pain.

Romans 12:15-Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

1 Thessalonians 4:18-Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 5:11-Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:14-Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.

Two: They Joined Job In His Sorrow

Please notice that for a time, Job’s friends were silent and didn’t say anything at all. Sometimes the best way to help a friend who is going through a difficult time is to simply be there, even if you don’t say anything at all. 

“For one thing, they cared enough for Job to travel a long distance to visit him. And when they commiserated with him, they didn’t sit in a comfortable home or hospital room: They sat with him on the ash heap, surrounded by refuse. Because their grief was so great, they couldn’t speak for seven days. (Of course, they made up for their silence afterward.)…The best way to help people who are hurting is just to be with them, saying little or nothing, and letting them know you care. Don’t try to explain everything; explanations never heal a broken heart. If his friends had listened to him, accepted his feelings, and not argued with him, they would have helped him greatly; but they chose to be prosecuting attorneys instead of witnesses. In the end, the Lord rebuked them; and they had to ask Job’s forgiveness (Job 42: 7–10).” (Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Patient: Waiting On God In Difficult Times, 24-25 (Kindle Edition); Colorado Springs, CO; David C. Cook)

Often, our actions speak louder then our words. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar joined Job in his suffering and in his grief. Notice that they went to the city dump with Job.  

Job 2:8-And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes.

The Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint) renders this phrase as “the dung heap,” which is identified as the city garbage heap.  

Job 2:8 (CEV)-Then Job sat on the ash-heap to show his sorrow. And while he was scraping his sores with a broken piece of pottery,

In ancient times, the city dump was where garbage and dung were burned, and wild animals were known to roam. This was a site of horrible sights and smells, very real danger, and nothing pleasant. Yet it was to this place that they went and stayed with Job for at least seven days!  

“Truth be told, these men were initially shocked when they saw what they saw. They didn’t even recognize Job! They probably first went to his old home site, where they had been before. The place didn’t even look familiar. Everything around it was destroyed. There was nothing stirring. It was ghostly silent; all they could see were the gravestones on the hillside. And somebody nearby says, “Oh, Job? He left sometime ago. I think he’s staying out at the city dump.” Another shock. When they arrived, even before they got up close, they could tell the difference immediately. Their friend had no hair, his robe was torn, and he is sitting there with dung burning near him, a pack of wild dogs not far away, and stinking, rotten garbage everywhere. They stood and stared in disbelief. That’s when their feelings came out. “Man, look at this.” And “they threw dust over their heads toward the sky” (an ancient expression of grief) as they cried. That implies they were down near the dust. The narrative states, “they sat down on the ground” (v. 13). That’s what friends do. They don’t worry about getting dirty or messy. This brings me to my fourth principle. Friends aren’t turned off by distasteful sights. On the contrary, they come alongside and they get as close as possible. Friends are not offended because the room has a foul smell. Friends don’t turn away because the one they’ve come to be with has been reduced to the shell of his former self, weighing half of what he used to weigh. Friends see beyond all of that. They don’t walk away because the bottom has dropped out of your life and you’re at wits’ end. On the contrary, that draws them in. These men literally raised their voices and sobbed as they sat down on the ground with Job. They demonstrated the depth of their anguish by staying seven days and seven nights without uttering a word.” (Charles R. Swindoll, Job: A Man Of Heroic Endurance, 51 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson) 

Becoming a better friend means that we will strive to help our friends wherever they are at, regardless of the unpleasantness of their situation. It means that we will do our best to console them, and allow even our wordless presence to be a refuge for them, knowing that simply “being there” can speak volumes more then our tongues ever could.

Three: They Stuck Around Even When It Would Have Been Easier To Leave

Several times, it is clear from the text that Job was not overly thrilled that Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar were there with him. Several times, he made this known to them!  

It would have been very easy for them to say, “Adios buddy!” Yet, they did not do so. They stayed and stuck it out! Even when it would have been much easier for them to hit the road, they decided to stay with Job.  

Job had LOTS of “friends” who had turned away from him (carefully study Job 29-31). It is a sad fact that sometimes, our “friends” disappear when we run out of money or are of no benefit to them any longer:

Proverbs 14:20 (CEV)-You have no friends if you are poor, but you have lots of friends if you are rich.

Proverbs 19:4 (CEV)-The rich have many friends; the poor have none.

Proverbs 19:6 (CEV)-Everyone tries to be friends of those who can help them.

That doesn’t mean that there is never a time to leave, of course. Several times in the Bible, we are warned of the dangers of allowing wicked people to influence us (Proverbs 13:20; 1 Corinthians 15:33). In fact, one of the reasons for church discipline is to try and bring an openly sinning brother or sister to repentance (1 Corinthians 5:5). However, such withdrawal of fellowship is a last resort.  

Four: They Were Still Job’s Friends Even Though They Were Convinced He Had Committed Some Horrible Sin

Job’s friends were convinced that Job had committed some terrible sin, and that it was for this reason that God was punishing him.

Job 4:7-11-7 No truly innocent person has ever died young.

8 In my experience, only those who plant seeds of evil harvest trouble,

9 and then they are swept away by the angry breath of God.

10 They may roar and growl like powerful lions. But when God breaks their teeth,

11 they starve, and their children are scattered.

Job 8:4-6-4 He made your children pay for their sins.

5 So why don’t you turn to him

6 and start living right? Then he will decide to rescue and restore you to your place of honor.

Job 15:4-6-4 Your words are enough to make others turn from God and lead them to doubt.

5 And your sinful, scheming mind is the source of all you say.

6 I am not here as your judge; your own words are witnesses against you.

Job 22:4-11-4 Is he correcting you for worshiping him?

5 No! It’s because of your terrible sins.

6 To guarantee payment of a debt, you have taken clothes from the poor.

7 And you refused bread and water to the hungry and thirsty,

8 although you were rich, respected, and powerful.

9 You have turned away widows and have broken the arms of orphans.

10 That’s why you were suddenly trapped by terror,

11 blinded by darkness, and drowned in a flood.

Now of course, they were completely wrong! Job was not suffering because of sin in his life.  

Yet what stands out to me is that even though Job’s friends thought that he had committed some terrible sin, they were still there!  

A true friend will try to love their fellows well, even in the worst of circumstances.

Proverbs 17:17-A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.  

Five: They Tried To Strengthen Job’s Hand In God

Finally, please consider that Job’s three friends had a strong desire in trying to strengthen Job’s relationship with God.

Job 5:8 (CEV)-Job, if I were you, I would ask God for help.

Job 8:5-6 (CEV)-5 So why don’t you turn to him

6 and start living right? Then he will decide to rescue and restore you to your place of honor.

Job 11:13 (CEV)–Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer,

Job 22:21-23 (CEV)–21 Surrender to God All-Powerful! You will find peace and prosperity.

22 Listen to his teachings and take them to heart.

23 If you return to God and turn from sin, all will go well for you.

Job 22:24-30 (CEV)-24 So get rid of your finest gold, as though it were sand.

25 Let God All-Powerful be your silver and gold,

26 and you will find happiness by worshiping him.

27 God will answer your prayers, and you will keep the promises you made to him.

28 He will do whatever you ask, and life will be bright.

29 When others are disgraced, God will clear their names in answer to your prayers.

30 Even those who are guilty will be forgiven, because you obey God.

While the three friends of Job were horribly mistaken as to why Job was suffering, and while they were in so many ways “miserable comforters,” it is very commendable that they were trying to encourage Job to walk with the Lord.  

We read in the Bible about the close friendship between Jonathan and David:

1 Samuel 18:1-3-1 Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

2 Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore.

3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.

While there are many commendable traits about Jonathan, one of the greatest is found later in 1 Samuel:

1 Samuel 23:16 (ERV)-But Saul’s son Jonathan went to see David at Horesh and encouraged him to have a stronger faith in God.

1 Samuel 23:16 (NLT)-Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God.

Good friends will help us to have a closer walk with God.  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

Questions

Which ancient translation of the Old Testament says that Job was in the “ding heap” when his friends found him? __________________

Lost some passages which show that Job’s friends thought that he was suffering as punishment from God for personal sin. _________________________________________

Which passage in the Book of Jeremiah identifies Teman as a land of great wisdom? ________________

What are some reasons to believe that Job’s friends had godly motivations for coming and visiting with Job? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
For Prayer Partners:

Look carefully at Job’s three friends. What are some other commendable qualities that they possess?  

Prophesying In Proportion To Our Faith

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

In the Book of Romans, there is a very interesting passage which the Apostle Paul has left for us:

Romans 12:6-Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;

What lessons may we glean from this inspired Word of God? 

To answer that, let us look carefully at three things.  

The Context Of The Passage 

When studying anything, we need to consider it in its’ context. I have personally seen more harm done to Scripture when the context of a passage is not carefully examined. Remember that the devil tried to deceive the Lord Jesus Himself by taking a passage of Scripture out of its’ intended context; and it was only by quoting another passage from the Word of God that the Lord showed how the devil had misapplied Holy Writ (Matthew 4:5-7).  

The Book of Romans consists of sixteen chapters. It was written by the Apostle Paul to the church of Christ at Rome. Paul was writing in the hopes that he would soon be visiting there, and he tells us that he had a very special reason for his desired stop with the brethren in that city:

Romans 1:11-For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—

The Apostles of Jesus had been given His special authority, to bind and to loose His Word (Matthew 18:18; John 17:8). Implied in the very word “Apostle” is the idea of one who was sent forth with the authority of a king or ruling body who dispatched them.

One example of this important authority of an Apostle is seen in the way that the Jewish ruling body, the Sanhedrin, operated: 

“The Sanhedrin was the supreme court of the Jews. In matters of religion, the Sanhedrin had authority over every Jew throughout the world. When the Sanhedrin came to a decision, that decision was given to an apostolos to convey it to the persons whom it concerned and to see that it was carried out. When such an apostolos went out, behind him and in him lay the authority of the Sanhedrin, whose representative he was.” (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible: The Letters To The Galatians And Ephesians, 85 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press).  

This special authority of the Apostles included their Divine guidance by the baptism of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 16:13; Acts 2:1-4).  

In the first century, when the Apostles wanted to convey the ability to perform miraculous gifts to others, they did so through the laying on of their hands: 

Acts 8:18-And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,

Now, please notice that one of the reasons why Paul was so eager to come to Rome was so that he could impart spiritual gifts to the Romans. This is important, because it shows us that there were no inspired Prophets at Rome already.  

In the first three chapters of Romans, Paul talks about the condemnation of mankind (due to sin). He concludes that all-both Gentiles and Jews (Romans 2:12-15; 3:1-5) are under condemnation from God because of failure to perfectly keep God’s perfect Law (Romans 3:23).

He then begins a detailed study of the justification of God’s people, demonstrating that we are saved through faith-and not through perfect law-keeping. Abraham was a perfect example of this justification by faith, and the Law itself testified of how we wold be saved through faith in the perfectly righteous Messiah of God: 

Romans 4:23-25-23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him,

24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,

25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

As a result of this imputed righteous, we are now able to stand before God based upon faith:

Romans 5:1-2-1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Paul then goes on to describe the perfect obedience of Jesus, the Last Adam, as contrasted with the disobedience of the first Adam.

The focus of the Apostle on Jesus’ perfect life and obedience leads him to demonstrate the salvation that God’s people enjoy, which is achieved in the watery grave of baptism (Romans 6:3-4).   

The Apostle then begins a detailed discussion regarding sanctification, reminding Christians of all ages that sanctification is actually a two stage concept (being both an event and a process).  
“The English word sanctify or sanctification is built on the Latin word sanctus , which means “holy.” In English, we don’t turn the adjective holy into a verb. The world holify does not exist. But in the Greek language of the New Testament, the adjective holy ( hagios ) can be made into a verb ( hagiazō ), which means “to make holy” or to “treat as holy.” In Greek, that same adjective for holy ( hagios ) can be made into three different nouns ( hagiosmos , hagiōsunē , hagiotēs ), which sometimes mean “the condition of being holy” (“holiness”) or “the process of becoming holy”—which would be “holification” if such a word existed in English, but since it doesn’t, we use “sanctification.” Here’s the crucial point: any time you read in the New Testament any form of the word “sanctify,” you know you are reading about holiness . So a book like this on sanctification is a book on being or becoming holy. And the reason I use the terms “being” or “becoming” holy is that the New Testament refers to our holiness in both of those senses—a condition of being holy and a process of becoming holy. The clearest place to see both of these in one chapter is Hebrews 10. Hebrews 10:10 says, “By [God’s] will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” So there is a sense in which all those who believe in Jesus “have been sanctified.” They are holy. And then four verses later (v. 14) we read, “By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified .” So there is a sense in which Christians are both perfected already (are perfectly holy) and are being sanctified (being made holy). Both the condition of being holy and the process of becoming holy are prominent in the New Testament. Neither is minimized. The most obvious way to see the prominence of the Christian condition or state of holiness is to see that Paul calls Christians “saints” forty times in his thirteen letters. Paul’s favorite name for Christians is saints . The New Testament word behind the English “saint” is simply the adjective for “holy” turned into a noun—“holy ones” ( hagioi ). You can see the connection between the condition of being sanctified and the name “saints” in 1 Corinthians 1:2: “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified ( hēgiasmenois ) in Christ Jesus, called to be saints ( klētois hagiois ).” So the picture is that God calls us, and unites us by faith to Jesus, so that “in Christ Jesus,” we are holy, sanctified, and the name that we get, therefore, is “saints” or “holy ones.” But the process of becoming holy (sanctification) is also prominent in the New Testament. We saw Hebrews 10:14, “By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified .” We see it in 2 Corinthians 7:1: “Let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” So if we are bringing holiness to completion, there is a process of becoming fully holy. We are not there yet. Or 1 Thessalonians 5:23: “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely .” This prayer shows that our becoming holy is not yet complete. So Paul asks God to complete it. Or Hebrews 12:10: “[Our earthly fathers] disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but [God] disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness .” So a fuller holiness is coming through God’s discipline. The upshot of all this so far is that whenever the New Testament talks about sanctification, it is talking about holiness. And when it is talking about our holiness, it is either talking about the condition of our being holy (because we are in Christ Jesus—and thus saints), or it is talking about the process of our becoming holy through God’s work in our lives.” (John Piper & David Mathis (General Editors), Acting the Miracle: God’s Work and Ours in the Mystery of Sanctification, 345-381 (Kindle Edition); Wheaton, Illinois; Crossway). 

In chapters 9-11, we then read about the predestination of God for His people throughout eternity. This predestination was in harmony with the free will of the people. This is especially demonstrated through Paul’s description of the unbelieving Jews who rejected Jesus by the words “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” (Romans 9:22). Speaking of the grammar of this passage, we are reminded: 

“28 They are , “objects of wrath.” They are “prepared for destruction” in the sense that by their life and conduct they have determined their own destiny. Murray comments that “there is an exact correspondence between what they were in this life and the perdition to which they are consigned. This is another way of saying that there is continuity between this life and their lot of the life to come” ( Romans , 2:36).” (Robert Mounce, The New American Commentary Volume 27: Romans, 234 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group)  

However, the disobedient Jews may still be redeemed if they continue not in their unbelief, but instead obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 11:23-27).  

This leads us to Romans 12.  

In Paul’s writings, we find this pattern: the Apostle often begins a section of Scripture with a doctrinal discourse, and then spends the next part of his Epistle discussing how these teachings are to be applied in the lives of God’s people.  

Having established these great truths, Paul reminds the Christians about the incredible grace that God has bestowed upon them, and how this demands a proper response from them: 

Romans 12:1-2-1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

The Apostle now establishes the fact that these mercies of God demand a proper response from us: they demand a complete surrender of ourselves (body and spirit) to the will of God.  

Romans 12:3-5-3  For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4  For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5  so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

Stressing the importance of their unity in Christ, Paul is now going to exhort the members of the church to use their gifts in a way that will benefit and bless the entire church.  

With this context in mind, let’s now notice the incredible content of this passage of Scripture.  

The Content Of The Passage 

Let’s notice the passage again:

Romans 12:6-Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;
Let’s carefully break down the content of this passage and study.  

The Gifts 

The first thing to notice is that Paul says “gifts” have been given to the church.  

What does this mean?  

The Greek word used here that is translated as “gifts” is charisma. This word had several different connotations.  

For example, sometimes it could refer to miraculous gifts (I.e., to the ability for some to work miracles such as raising the dead, opening the eyes of the blind, speaking and interpreting tongues, receiving and imparting the Divine Word miraculously, etc.-see for example 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; 2 Timothy 1:6).  

There are many times where it could be used to refer to the “gift” of God in bringing salvation for sinners (Romans 5:15-16; 6:23; 11:29).  

The word was also used to refer to the “gift” of God in helping a person to develop celibacy and continence during times of “present distress” (1 Corinthians 7:7).

Charis could also be used to refer to the many “gifts” that God provides in answer to our prayers (2 Corinthians 1:11).  

It is important to realize that the gifts that God provides to mankind are gifts that are given to be a blessing; and that they are to be used for the establishment and edifying of the family of God.  

With that in mind, notice that Paul points out that God has given gifts to His people. Every Christian has gifts that God has given him through the Spirit that can and should be used to help the church to grow.  

The Meaning Of Prophecy 

The word “prophecy” is an interesting word. The most common Old Testament word translated as “prophet” is naba, and was no doubt related to the Akkadian word nabu, which meant “to be called.” It also carried the idea of “one who bubbles,” I.e., one in whom the Word of God was proclaimed to the people.  

It is important to realize that in Scripture, words often contain at least two different meanings: a general meaning, and a specific meaning. Don’t we see this, for example, in regards to the use of the word “elder?” An “elder” can simply be an older person; or it can have reference to a leader in the church (Acts 14:23).  

In the same way, the word “prophet” can have the general meaning of a teacher, and the specific meaning of an inspired Prophet to whom God directly gives His Word.  

The general meaning of the word “prophet” (and uninspired teacher) is perhaps best illustrated in the words of the Apostle Peter: 

2 Peter 2:1-But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.

Notice how the words “teacher” and “prophet” are used interchangeably. In its most basic and general form, the word “prophet” meant simply a teacher.  

This is also illustrated in the famous “schools of the prophets” mentioned in the Old Testament, where several people would go and learn to preach and teach the Word of God (1 Samuel 19:18-24; 2 Kings 4:38-41; Amos 7:14).

These prophets were not granted new Revelation from God per se, but were proclaimers of God’s Word that had been already delivered to the people.  

Thus, the word “prophet” sometimes had reference to uninspired public proclaimed of the Aoes of God.  

When speaking of miraculously endowed Prophets, the Bible teaches that gift would cease (along with all of the miraculous gifts) when the New Testament Scriptures had been completed and confirmed (1 Corinthians 13:8-10). Vine’s comments are instructive here: 

““Though much of OT prophecy was purely predictive, see Micah 5:2, e.g., and cf. John 11:51, prophecy is not necessarily, nor even primarily, fore-telling. It is the declaration of that which cannot be known by natural means, Matt. 26:68, it is the forth-telling of the will of God, whether with reference to the past, the present, or the future, see Gen. 20:7; Deut. 18:18; Rev. 10:11; 11:3.… “In such passages as 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 2:20, the ‘prophets’ are placed after the ‘Apostles,’ since not the prophets of Israel are intended, but the ‘gifts’ of the ascended Lord, Eph. 4:8, 11; cf. Acts 13:1; … ; the purpose of their ministry was to edify, to comfort, and to encourage the believers, 1 Cor. 14:3, while its effect upon unbelievers was to show that the secrets of a man’s heart are known to God, to convict of sin, and to constrain to worship, vv. 24, 25. “With the completion of the canon of Scripture prophecy apparently passed away, 1 Cor. 13:8, 9.” (W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 49513-49533 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson Publishers).  

The second and third century Christians mention how these miraculous gifts did indeed cease. Their writings are quite clear about it. For example: 

Chrysostom-“[Commenting on 1 Corinthians 12:] “This whole place is very obscure: but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation, being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place.” (John Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Corinthians , 36.7. Chrysostom is commenting on 1 Corinthians 12:1–2 and introducing the entire chapter. Cited from Gerald Bray, ed., 1–2 Corinthians , Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1999), 146)

Chrysostom (Commenting On 2 Thessalonians 2:7)-“One may naturally inquire what is that which restrains the man of lawlessness, and in addition, why Paul expresses it so obscurely. What then is it that holds back, that is, that hinders the revealing of, the Antichrist? Some indeed say, the grace of the Spirit, but others the Roman Empire. I agree with the latter position. Why? Because if Paul meant to say the Spirit, he would not have spoken obscurely but plainly, that even now the grace of the Spirit, that is the gifts, hold back the Antichrist. If not, he should have come by now, if his coming was to occur with the cessation of the gifts of the Spirit; for they have long since ceased….But because Paul said this of the Roman Empire, he merely touched the topic, understandably speaking covertly and darkly. For he had no need to create unnecessary enemies and useless dangers.…(Homilies on 2 Thessalonians 4. [NPNF 1 13:388-89*.])

Theodoret of Cyril-“In former times those who accepted the divine preaching and who were baptized for their salvation were given visible signs of the grace of the Holy Spirit at work in them. Some spoke in tongues which they did not know and which nobody had taught them, while others performed miracles or prophesied. The Corinthians also did these things, but they did not use the gifts as they should have done. They were more interested in showing off than in using them for the edification of the church.” (Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians 240. [PG 82:319])

Augustine-““In the earliest times, the Holy Spirit fell upon them that believe and they spoke with tongues, which they had not learned, as the Spirit gave them utterance. These were signs adapted to the time. For there was this betokening of the Holy Spirit in all tongues to show that the gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth. That thing was done for a sign, and it passed away.” (Augustine, Homilies on the First Epistle of John , 6.10. Cited from Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post- Nicene Fathers , 1st series (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2012), 7:497–98)  

Gregory the Great-“Is it, my brethren, because we do not have these signs that you do not believe? These were needed at the church’s beginning. The new faith needed to be nourished by miracles to grow. When we plant a vineyard, we must water the plants till we see they have begun to grow in the earth, and when they have once taken root we cease to water them constantly.… But true life cannot be obtained by means of these outward signs by those who perform them. For although corporeal works of this kind sometimes do proclaim an inner holiness of life, they do not bring it about.” (Homilies on the Gospels 29. [Cetedoc 1711, 2.29.4, 5, 4.39; SSGF 2:428*; PL 76.])

Now, here is a question about our text: is Paul taking here in Romans 12 about inspired Prophets, or non-inspired preachers of the already delivered Word of God?  

I believe he is talking about uninspired “prophets” or preachers.  

Here are the reasons why.  

First, there is nothing in the context to suggest that Paul is talking about miraculously given gifts.  

Second, the passage clearly shows that the gifts Paul is talking about were already in the possession of the church in Rome.  

Third, the gifts that Paul talks about were gifts that were common gifts to all the believers; and yet the miraculous gifts were not for every believer (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:29-30).  

Fourth, that there were no miraculous gifts of the Spirit in Rome at this time seems evident from the fact that Paul had a strong desire to impart miraculous gifts to the church (Romans 1:11).  

All of these factors lead me to the conclusion that the gift of prophecy here has reference to uninspired preachers of the Word of God.  

The Motivation Of Prophecy 

Paul wants us to understand here that the preacher of God’s Word must have the right motivations in proclaiming Scripture. He must be intent on building up the church.

The most important aim of the Gospel preacher is preaching the Word of God.  

2 Timothy 4:2-4-2  Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4  and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

We have the obligation of speaking to the truth in love as Christians (Ephesians 4:15), of proclaiming the saving Message of Christ to a lost and dying world (1 Corinthians 1:18), of being true to Christ and His Word when people all around us would try and destroy us for being true to the Holy Scriptures (1 Peter 4:16).  

Those with the gift of preaching must remember the solemn work that had been entrusted to them. Only when we have fully accepted the solemnity of the work that God has given us will we be able to say:

2 Timothy 4:6-8-6  For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

The Measure Of Prophecy 

The last part of the verse is very interesting.  

What does Paul mean when he says that we must prophesy according to the proportion of our faith?”  

The word “proportion” that is used here was sometimes used in the Ancient Greek-speaking world to mean “standard” or “rule” (or as we might say, “canon”).  

Before the word “faith” in this passage, the definite article is found. In other words, it says “THE faith.”  

Now, in the Mew Testament, the phrase “the faith” has reference to the revealed Word of God. For example: 

Acts 6:7-Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Acts 13:6-8-6 Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus, 7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear THE WORD OF GOD. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from THE FAITH. (Notice how “the faith” is used synonymously with “the Word of God”).

Acts 16::4-5-4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them THE DECREES to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in THE FAITH, and increased in number daily. (Notice how “the faith” is synonymous with the Divine “decrees”).  

Philippians 1:27- Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for THE FAITH OF THE GOSPEL.”  

Colossians 1:23-if indeed you continue in THE FAITH, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of THE GOSPEL, which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.  

2 Timothy 3:8-Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist THE TRUTH: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning THE FAITH; (Notice that “the faith” is synonymous with “the truth”).

With that in mind, what is Paul telling preachers?  

Romans 12:6 (DRB)-And having different gifts, according to the grace that is given us, either prophecy, to be used according to the rule of faith;

Romans 12:6 (GW)-God in his kindness gave each of us different gifts. If your gift is speaking God’s word, make sure what you say agrees with the Christian faith.

“‘Proportion’ is a translation of analogia in the Greek, a word used nowhere else in the New Testament; it means ‘in right relationship to,’ ‘in agreement with’. We tend to take ‘the faith’ as meaning ‘that which is believed, a body of doctrine,’ so that the exhortation here to the prophets is to make sure the message they deliver is in agreement with already admitted Christian doctrine.” (Gareth Reese, New Testament Epistles: Romans-A Commentary, 584-585; Moberly, Missouri; Scripture Exposition Books) 

“The αναλογια της πιστεως, which we here translate the proportion of faith, and which some render the analogy of faith, signifies in grammar “the similar declension of similar words;” but in Scriptural matters it has been understood to mean the general and consistent plan or scheme of doctrines delivered in the Scriptures; where every thing bears its due relation and proportion to another.”. (Adam Clarke)

Thus interpreted, the meaning is that the prophet must make sure that what he teaches people is in harmony with the revealed Word of God, i.e., the Scriptures.  

If it is argued that the New Testament Scriptures were not yet considered authoritative by the church, a little study will show the error in that thinking.  

First, the Apostles were already referring to their writings as Scripture. For example:

1 Timothy 5:18-For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE AN OX WHILE IT TREADS OUT THE GRAIN,” and, “THE LABORER IS WORTHY OF HIS WAGES.”

Paul here quotes two Scriptures in order to demonstrate his point that elders in the church are entitled to pay. The first reference is rom Deuteronomy 25:4. However, the second quotation is only found in one place:

Luke 10:7-And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house.

Paul quotes from the New Testament, and calls it Scripture. 

The same thing is found in the Apostle Peter’s letter, when he is referring to the Epistles of Paul:

2 Peter 3:16-as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

Please notice that Paul refers to the writings of Peter, and classifies them as “Scripture.”  

These examples show us that the early church was already recognizing the New Testament Books as “Scripture”. 

Second, the Apostles clearly point out that their writings were as authoritative as their own teachings. Notice:

1 Corinthians 14:37-If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.

2 Thessalonians 2:15-Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.

2 Thessalonians 3:14-And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.

The Apostles of Christ invested their authority into the written New Testament Scriptures.  

Finally, notice that the earliest church outside of the apostolic age clearly acknowledged the authority of the New Testament. For example, consider these quotations from the early Christian writers: 

“Renouncing the error of your fathers, you should read the prophecies of the sacred writers…Learn from them what will give you everlasting life.” (Justin Martyr, 160)

“More strength will be given you, and the knowledge of the heart will be increased more and more, as you examine more fully the Scriptures, old and new, and read through the complete volumes of the spiritual books.” (Cyprian, 250)  

“”We have learned the plan of our salvation from no one else other than from those through whom the gospel has come down to us. For they did at one time proclaim the gospel in public. And, at a later period, by the will of God, they handed the gospel down to us in the Scriptures-to be ‘the ground and pillar of our faith.'” (Irenaeus, 180).

“”In order that we might acquire an ampler and more authoritative knowledge of Himself, His counsels, and His will, God has added a written revelation for the benefit of everyone whose heart is set on seeking Him.” (Tertullian, 197)  

“”It will be your duty, however, to present your proofs out of the Scriptures, as plainly as we do.” (Tertullian, 213)  

“”Brethren, there is one God, the knowledge of whom we gain from the Holy Scriptures and from no other source…Even as He has chosen to teach them by the Holy Scriptures, so let us discern them.” (Hippolytus, 205)  

“We have the Lord as the source of teaching— both by the Prophets, the Gospel, and the blessed apostles. . . . He, then, who of himself believes the Scripture and the voice of the Lord (which by the Lord acts to the benefit of men) is rightly [regarded] as being faithful. Certainly we use it as a criterion in the discovery of things. Clement of Alexandria (c. 195)

“To those who thus ask questions, in the Scriptures there is given from God . . . the gift of the God- given knowledge. Clement of Alexandria (c. 195).

(All of these quotations are from David Bercot, A Dictionary Of Early Christian Belief: A Reference Guide To More Than 700 Topics Discussed By The Early Church Fathers, 22294-22380 (Kindle Edition); Peabody, Massachusetts; Hendrickson Publishers Marketing) 

So in this passage, Paul is telling preachers to make sure that what they teach is in harmony with what God’s Divinely inspired Word has declared. In this regard, the exhortation of the Apostle is the same that God has given to His people throughout time: be faithful in what you teach!  

if there is anything that is needed in this world, it is the need for people to return to the teaching of Scripture.

We need to get away from the things which cause denominationalism and put God’s Word first again.

We need for preachers to be true to His Word again, no matter how many people it offends (in the church, or outside of it).  

The Consequence Of The Passage

Finally, let’s notice of the natural consequences of this passage of Scripture.

First, please consider that the natural and mandatory response to God’s gifts (the reasonable service to God’s mercies) is complete obedience to God (Romans 12:1-2). The love of Christ compels us (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).  

Second, God has given gifts to each of His people.  

1 Peter 4:10-As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

God has given you a gift Christian! How are you using it?  

Third, the gifts that God gives to His people are all important. Sometimes Christians feel that if their gifts for the church are different from other people’s gifts, then they are somehow unimportant.

It reminds me of the following story I read years ago.  

Once there was a huge and beautiful church building. It was incredibly crafted, well-designed, with beautiful stained glass windows. There were nice and cushioned pews, amazing large print Bibles, and hymnals with old and newer songs. At the top of the ceiling, where the handsome ceiling beams were laid, there was a big black nail. Well one day, as the nail was looking down at the church building, he began to start feeling quite disgusted with himself. What difference did little Old Mr. Nail make?  

After all, look at the pews that provided comfort and ease to the partitioner; what a great service Mr. Pew was very important!

The beautiful humans were so needed; they helped the people to sing such beautiful praises to God!

The ceiling fans helped keep the people comfortable (and let’s be honest, they helped keep the people awake during the sometimes long and drawn out sermons).  

Yet what good did Mr. Nail do? 

So the nail became annoyed and disgruntled, and over the next few weeks, he just gave up and let himself go.

After all, what did he do that was important?

He wouldn’t be missed if he was gone, right?  

Before long, Mr. nail just fell out of the ceiling.  

That night, a terrible storm blew through the area; and that beautiful church building had something terrible happen! The feeling of the building collapsed, and the whole place was ruined.  

One of the firefighters found the reason for the collapse: a nail had fallen down out of the ceiling. The other nails, and the support of the entire place, had relied on that nail.  

The entire church had collapsed because of one nail that do not realize how important its work really was.  

Friends, YOU and YOUR WORK in the Lord is vital, it is needed, and it is appreciated.

1 Corinthians 15:58-Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Galatians 6:9-And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Finally, preachers of the Word of God: be faithful to His Word. No matter what persecution you may face (from either in the church or outside of the church), preach God’s Word.

And let me also encourage all the brethren: lift up your preachers and encourage them. Be a strength for them in this difficult world.  

My friends, the greatest gift that God has given has been the gift of His Son, Jesus to pay the price for our sins (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 9:15). Through His death, burial, and resurrection from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him (Hebrews 7:25).

If you are not a Christian: will you not today repent of your sins as a believer, and be baptized into Christ in a profession of faith in Him (Acts 2:37-37; 8:35-39)?  

If you are a child of God who has left the Lord in sin: will you not today repent of that sin and confess it to God in prayer to be forgiven and restored (1 John 1:8-2:2)?

Your family in Christ is ready to help you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

Not Under Bondage

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

In the seventh chapter of the Book of First Corinthians, the Apostle Paul discusses questions that the Christians in Corinth had posed, especially relating to questions of marriage.  

After pointing out that Christians who are married to non-Christians need to do everything they can to maintain their marriage (in the hopes that they might be able to one day save their unbelieving spouses-1 Corinthians 7:12-16), Paul discusses the situation of a Christian whose unbelieving spouse deserts them.

He writes these intriguing words: 

1 Corinthians 7:15-But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.

Here, the Apostle points out that the Christian is not under obligation to continue and pursue the relationship with the unbeliever in such circumstances. More to the point, he says that brothers or sisters are “not under bondage” in these cases.  

What does this phrase mean?  

One researcher, carefully examining this phrase as used in extra-biblical documents from the first century, has demonstrated that these particular words were commonly used in Jewish certificates of divorce. More to the point, the phrase “not under bondage” was used in such certificates of divorce to authorize the divorced person to remarry:

“I have also argued that Paul’s words “you are no longer enslaved” in i Corinthians 7:15 is a reference to the Jewish divorce certificate, which was often likened to a certificate of emancipation from slavery because of the similar wording and procedures for them both. Paul was certainly familiar with the wording of the Jewish divorce certificate because he cites the right to remarry that is found on the certificate with regard to widows, who shared this same right (1 Cor. 7:39). This citation suggests that Paul expects his readers to be familiar with this wording too, as they no doubt were. When Paul said “you are no longer enslaved” in verse 15, this was in the context of release from a marriage to an unbeliever who had deserted. Paul used wording that was reminiscent of the wording on both Greek and Jewish divorce certificates. There would have been no doubt in the minds of his readers that Paul was referring to the right of a divorcee to remarry.” (David Instone-Brewer, Divorce And Remarriage In The Bible: The Social And Literary Context, 3418-3423 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) 

Contextually, this interpretation makes sense for at least two reasons.  

First, In describing the relationship of husband and wife, the Apostle describes such as a form of slavery:

1 Corinthians 7:3-4-3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.
4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does 

Second, when describing how Christian widows have the right to remarry, Paul uses virtually the same wording: 

1 Corinthians 7:39-A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.

Please notice that in verse 39, the fact that the widow is no longer “bound” authorizes the right to remarry.  

Even though the verbs in verse 39 different than those found in verse 15, the idea seems to be the same:

“A major question surrounds verse 15a. If a believer is not bound to try to preserve a marriage in cases of permissible divorce, is he or she then free to remarry? Verse 39 uses similar language in addressing the widow. Once her husband dies, she is no longer “bound” to that marriage and is free to find another partner. The verb for binding is different in that context, but seemingly synonymous. If remarriage was universally granted to the legally divorced in both Jewish and Greco-Roman circles, it would seem that Paul would have been much more explicit in forbidding it if that was his intention.” (Craig L. Blomberg, 1 Corinthians: The NIV Application Commentary-From Biblical Text…To Contemporary Life, 108 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan) 

A Christian who is married to a non-Christian should do everything possible (within reason, that is) to maintain the marriage; yet if the unbeliever departs, the brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases.  

What this definitely means is that the Christian is not obligated to pursue the relationship with the unbelieving spouse; and it also likely teaches that a Christian in such circumstances is free to remarry.  

Of course, the greatest marriage is that between Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:22-33). Are you a member of Christ’s church?  

Jesus Christ came and died on the cross of Calvary to save you from your sins (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 2:6). He was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day after His death (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Will you not day accept His gracious invitation to be saved?  

Acts 8:35-39-35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.

36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”

37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.

39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.

If you are a Christian who has turned from the Lord, won’t you come back to Him today? Listen to what God’s Word tells Christians who wander from Him: 

1 John 1:8-9-8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

Original Sin?

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

One of the prominent teachings of our day and age is that children are born as sinners.  

This teaching (largely borrowed from the Catholic Church) embodies the idea that humans are born as sinners as a direct result of the sins of Adam and Eve.  

Of course, Scripture is clear that children do not inherit the sins of their parents.

For example, Ezekiel the Prophet declared:

Ezekiel 18:20-The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

Later in his Book, Ezekiel discusses the king of Tyre. This wicked ruler is being compared to the downfall of another villain (possibly Satan himself).  

In the passage, we are told:

Ezekiel 28:15-You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you.

Please notice that the king of Tyre had been perfect and free from sin until he chose to rebel against God.  

Years later, the Apostle Paul wrote about the fact that before sin entered into his life, he was spiritually alive: 

Romans 7:9-I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.

All of these facts go to demonstrate to us that children are not born as sinners.  

It is also interesting to notice that the earliest Christians did not subscribe to the idea that children are born as sinners. Consider these quotations from the early church writings: 

“They are as infant children, in whose hearts no evil originates. Nor did they know what wickedness is, but always remained as children.” (Hermas, 150; 2.53)  

“Who are they that have been saved and have received the inheritance? Those, doubtless, who believe God and who have continued in HIs love-as did Caleb of Jephuneh and Joshua of Nun-and innocent children, who have had no sense of evil.” (Irenaeus, 180; 1.502) 

“Behold, Christ takes infants and teaches how all should be like them, if they ever wish to be greater. However, (the Gnostics point out that) the Creator, in contrast, let loose bears against children, in order to avenge His prophet Elisha, who had been mocked by them. This antithesis is impudent enough, since it throws together things so different as ‘infants’ and ‘children.’ The first is an age that is still innocent. The other is one already capable of discretion (able to mock, if not to blaspheme). Therefore, God is a just God.” (Tertullian, 207; 3.386)   

“If you mean the (region in Hades of the) good, why should you judge the souls of infants and of virgins to be unworthy of such a resting place-those who by reason of their condition in life were pure and innocent?” (Tertullian, 210; 3.233)  

When Truth Hits Home

One of my favorite books is written by a former nun named Joanne Howe.  

In describing a conversation she had with a minister who was a member of the church of Christ, she explains her amazement at seeing how the Bible conflicts with Catholic teaching on this point: 

“Study began with Genesis and the story of Adam and Eve. This suggestion annoyed me. I had taught creation and the fall of man for years. I knew the story well and was aware of its theological teachings, I thought I knew all there was to know about sin and its consequences. How wrong I was! Paul asked for my definition of the word “sin.” Quoting from memory the Baltimore Catechism’s definition, I responded, “Sin is my willful thought, desire, word, action, or omission forbidden by the law of God. On account of Adam and Eve’s sin (which is called original sin), we, his descendants, come into the world deprived of sanctifying grace and inherit his punishments.”….Paul seemed confused by this lengthy explanation of sin, especially original sin. He then referred me to Ezekiel 18:20, where I read in the Catholic Bible: “Only the one who sins shall die. The son shall not be charged with the guilt of his father, nor shall the father be charged with the guilt of his son. The virtuous man’s virtue shall be his own, as the wicked man’s wickedness shall be his.” The words startled me, a conflict arose in my mind. I had always understood that every person enters this world with both sinful nature and inherited original sin. As a descendant of Adam, I not only was born a sinner, but was personally guilty and under condemnation before God. Before I read Ezekiel, I was unaware that I had not inherited the guilt of Adam’s sin or the guilt of my parents, but had inherited both the ability to learn good and evil. Turning to the New Testament, Paul asked me to read James 1:13-15: “No one who is tempted is free to say, ‘I am being tempted by God.’ Surely, God, who is beyond the grasp of evil, tempts no one. Rather, the tug and lure of his own passion tempts every man. Once passion has conceived it gives birth to sin, and when sin reaches maturity it begets death.” “Amazing!” I said to myself. Contrary to all I had learned and taught as a Roman Catholic nun, God’s Word told me that we must answer for our own sins, not for those of our forefathers. I concluded that Roman Catholic theologians were in error on that subject.” (Joanne Howe, A Change Of Habit: The Autobiography Of A Former Catholic Nun, 1530-1547 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Gospel Advocate Company)

In studying the Word of God, Joanne learned about the terrible consequence that every sinner brings upon himself/herself: eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23).

As horrible as this news is, it pales in comparison to the gift that God freely offers through His Son Jesus Christ: eternal life!  

Because of Jesus’ death, burial, and Resurrection on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), sinners can be saved by the amazing grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Through repentance and baptism, believers are set free from the guilt and condemnation of sin and receive every spiritual blessing that can only be found in the church of Christ (Ephesians 1:3; Acts 2:37-38).

Josnne describes the joy of that day in these words: 

“October 4, 1972, will long be remembered as my day of liberation. I arose early that morning, anxious to begin the day with an hour of study in God’s Word and a brisk morning walk. Later, I would worship with New Testament Christians with whom I had been meeting on Sunday and Wednesday evenings….I felt angry that I had lived by man’s standards for perfection. My life had been spent attempting to keep the commandments perfectly but often failing! Jesus was the perfect sin-bearer before God and the only atonement for sins. I felt numb as the impact of the Scriptures sank in. I had never before grasped the meaning of the Bible’s truths! My worship was unacceptable before God. Scripture once again confirmed that my acts of penance, reparation, praying the rosary, and participations in religious devotions were totally unacceptable before God. I was convicted anew of my ignorance of God’s plan. Why? A passage I read in Ephesians 2:8 jolted my thinking. I said: “For by grace have you been saved through faith; this is not your own doing, it is God’s gift—not a reward for anything you have accomplished, so let no one pride himself on it.” That was a message of tremendous significance. Throughout my life I was taught and believed that when I was a baby God had sanctified my life with His grace in my spiritual birth at baptism and that grace increased with every worthy reception of one of the sacraments (communion, confession, and confirmation) and with every spiritual meritorious work I performed daily. I was now learning that all my righteousness was as filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6). God’s Word told me that I could not earn righteousness before Him; that works such as penance and supplication for sins would have no deeper roots than my own strength; and that if I continued to depend on works for security I would ultimately fail and inevitably lose eternal salvation. I was convinced that salvation could not be purchased by any religious or moral actions on my part. Salvation was a gift from God to me, and I was to accept it by faith, in accordance with the simple plan of salvation set forth in the Bible. In pursuit, I had finally learned God’s unerring truth in His Word! As the autumn wind blew rustling leaves about me, my conscience chilled. I had lived on the ragged edge of spiritual destruction, and the compunction to respond to God’s gift became overwhelming!…During the worship service that morning, my thoughts were exploding. I had trouble focusing on the preacher’s message. I wanted to shout to the world my realization of God’s love, my sorrow for unrepented sins, and my wish to become “born again.” My decision to put on Christ in baptism had been made during the early-morning walk. In a short time, it seemed that my whole life had passed before me, and I became fully aware that my questions had been answered. I will never forget the hymn that was sung as I moved slowly up the aisle to meet my Lord in baptism: There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel’s veins. And sinners plunged beneath that blood lose all their guilty stains. Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power . . . Till all the ransomed church of God be saved to sin no more. E’er since by faith I saw the stream, Thy flowing wounds supply, Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die! My friend Paul reached out his hands to accept my surrender to God. Hugging me and drawing me close, he whispered, “Welcome home, Joanne.” Then, turning me to the assembled congregation, he said, “Most of you know Joanne and the struggles and challenges she has faced in making her life-changing decision. I never fail to stand in awe and wonderment of God’s grace. Today, Joanne has come forward to be buried with her Lord in Baptism. Would several of the ladies accompany her to prepare her for this glorious occasion?” Assisting me with preparation for the baptism was Helen Pearson and Lydia Holby, two of the women who had befriended me during that long and wearisome journey. I thought, “What if someone had not shared with me the simple truth of the Gospel?” The message of redemption was so simple, yet so deeply moving and convicting. Its powerful words had brought me to the fountain of life—Jesus! Standing in front of the congregation in the baptismal water, clothed in a robe of white, I confessed openly my belief in Jesus, and my desire to be born again. Following the example in I Timothy 6:12, and as the Ethiopian nobleman did in Acts 8:27, I died to my past with Christ and was buried with Him in the water of baptism to arise as a new creature (Romans 6:2-4). After all the public and private presentations I had made in teaching others about religious convictions and consecration, this surrender climaxed my complete dedication to God, to whom I had made a commitment at the tender age of six. Baptism into Christ (Galatians 3:27) was the transition between my old life and the new in Jesus. Baptism is the only way the Bible teaches that anyone can get “into Christ.” Faith had started the salvation process, but the power of the Word of God had changed my thinking and purpose in life. I felt so unworthy, for it was only by God’s grace that I was being saved. Believing in His promises, I was immersed in the water of Baptism. Now justified before my God (Romans 5:9), I had the seal of God’s covenant (Acts 2:38, Hebrews 9:15-17, and Hebrews 8:8). Cleansed of all past sins (I John 1:9), I would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:16-21), and would be admitted into the citizenship of Heaven when I died (Hebrews 10:19). God had broken my will; through the power of the Gospel I was now a New Testament Christian according to God’s plan for salvation. Amid hugs and smiles of congratulations, and amid my own tears, I recognized that this overwhelming joy and contentment were greater than any cost I could possibly pay. An enormous burden had been lifted from my heart—the load of sin!” (Joanne Howe, A Change Of Habit: The Autobiography Of A Former Catholic Nun, 1796-1874 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Gospel Advocate Company) 

Why not follow Joanne’s example today (Acts 2:41)? 

Or if you are a Christian who has left the Lord through sin, why not repent and come back to Him through repentance and prayer (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9)?

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

The Bible And Drugs 

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

Introduction 

Our area of the country has been ravaged by the scourge of drug abuse.  

When I first moved to Kentucky, a friend of my father was speaking with him about life in Hazard. His advice?  

“Tell your son not to move to Hazard, it’s the drug center of America!”  

I am thankful that I did move to this area, and I am thankful for all of the addicts that we are blessed to work with.  

In this article, I want to examine a very important question: what does the Bible teach about drugs?  

The Medicinal Use Of Drugs

The Scriptures are clear that God has placed medicines into the world for the good of mankind. Contrary to much speculation in the religious world, the Bible teaches that there is a legitimate medicinal use of drugs.  

One of my favorite examples of this is from the story of King Hezekiah.  

Being sick and near to death, the king prayed to the Lord. Having mercy on the king of Judah, the Lord told Israel the Prophet how to heal him:

Isaiah 38:21-Now Isaiah had said, “Let them take a lump of figs, and apply it as a poultice on the boil, and he shall recover.”

Did you notice that? God instructed Isaiah to make medicine to heal the king.  

The Scriptures are full of references to medicines of various kinds.

For example:

“In the figurative account of the evil case of Judah and Israel because of their backsliding (Jer 30:13), the prophet says they have had no rephu’ah, or “healing medicines.” Later on (Jer 46:11), when pronouncing the futility of the contest of Neco against Nebuchadrezzar, Jeremiah compares Egypt to an incurably sick woman going up to Gilead to take balm as a medicine, without any benefit. In Ezekiel’s vision of the trees of life, the leaves are said (the King James Version) to be for medicine, the Revised Version (British and American) reads “healing,” thereby assimilating the language to that in Re 22:2, “leaves of the tree …. for the healing of the nations” (compare Eze 47:12). Very few specific remedies are mentioned in the Bible. “Balm of Gilead” is said to be an anodyne (Jer 8:22; compare Jer 51:8). The love-fruits, “mandrakes” (Ge 30:14) and “caperberry” (Ec 12:5 margin), myrrh, anise, rue, cummin, the “oil and wine” of the Good Samaritan, soap and sodic carbonate (“natron,” called by mistake “nitre”) as cleansers, and Hezekiah’s “fig poultice” nearly exhaust the catalogue. In the Apocrypha we have the heart, liver and gall of Tobit’s fish (Tobit 6:7). In the Egyptian pharmacopoeia are the names of many plants which cannot be identified, but most of the remedies used by them were dietetic, such as honey, milk, meal, oil, vinegar, wine. The Babylonian medicines, as far as they can be identified, are similar. In the Mishna we have references to wormwood, poppy, hemlock, aconite and other drugs. The apothecary mentioned in the King James Version (Ex 30:25, etc.) was a maker of perfumes, not of medicines. Among the fellahin many common plants are used as folk-remedies, but they put most confidence in amulets or charms, which are worn by most Palestinian peasants to ward off or to heal diseases.” (Alexander Macalister, “Medicine,” in James Orr, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 117347-117366 (Kindle Edition); Osnova) 

“Medical care in biblical times frequently employed the use of different kinds of salves and ointments. Olive oil was used widely, either alone or as an ingredient in ointments. The use of oil for the treatment of wounds is mentioned in Isa. 1: 6 and Luke 10: 34. Oil also became a symbol of medicine, and its use was coupled with prayer for the ill (Mark 6: 13; James 5: 14). Herbs and various products obtained from many different plants were among the most popular of ancient medicines. These were applied to the body as a poultice, or, in many cases, taken by mouth. Frankincense and myrrh—gum resins obtained from trees—were commonly used to treat a variety of diseases, although their main use was in perfumes and incense. Wine was commonly thought to have medicinal value. One of its uses was to alleviate pain and discomfort. Wine, mixed with gall and myrrh, was offered to Jesus prior to His crucifixion, but He refused to drink it (Matt. 27: 34; Mark 15: 23). Wine also was used to sooth stomach and intestinal disorders (1 Tim. 5: 23) and to treat a variety of other physical problems. Beer was also widely used as an ingredient in several medicines, especially by the Babylonians….When Leah suffered a temporary period of sterility, she sent her son, Reuben, to the field to obtain mandrakes. Her barren sister, Rachel, also asked for some of the mandrakes (Gen. 30: 9-24). The root of the mandrake was widely used in the ancient world to promote conception, although there is no reason to believe it was truly effective. It was also used as a narcotic.” (Kenneth Eakins, “Diseases,” in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary,14729-14755 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: Holman Reference) 

The writer of Proverbs teaches us about the importance of alcohol as a remedy for those who are suffering and near death:

Proverbs 31:6-8-6 Give strong drink to him who is perishing, And wine to those who are bitter of heart. 7 Let him drink and forget his poverty, And remember his misery no more. 8 Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die.

When Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, He instructed us about the important medicinal use of drugs:

Luke 10:34-So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

The Samaritan used oils and wines to bring healing to the man who had been injured.

When Paul wrote to Timothy, he instructed him about the importance of using medicine: 

1 Timothy 5:23-No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.

Timothy (like many in our day and age) did not want to take medicine that was needed. Yet Paul encouraged him to do so!  

It is interesting to notice that the ‘wine” in this verse may have had reference to regular grape-juice, or to fermented wine. Ancient physicians often wrote of the medicinal use of both:

“It is generally assumed that the wine Paul recommended to Timothy was alcoholic. But this is by no means certain, for two reasons. First, because the term oinos (“ wine”), as we have shown, was used in a generic way to denote either fermented or unfermented wine. Second, because there are historical testimonies attesting the use of unfermented wine for medical purposes. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) recommends the use of a sweet grape juice, called glukus in Greek, because, he says, “though called wine [oinos], it has not the effect of wine . . . and does not intoxicate like ordinary wine.” 7 Athenaeus, the Grammarian (A.D. 280), specifically counsels the use of unfermented “sweet wine” (glukon oinon) for stomach disorders. He writes: “Let him take sweet wine, either mixed with water or warmed, especially that kind called protropos, the sweet Lesbian glukus, as being good for the stomach; for sweet wine [oinos] does not make the head heavy.” 8 Here we have advice which sounds strikingly similar to that of Paul, with the difference that Athenaeus qualifies the kind of wine recommended, namely, the sweet wine, called “lesbian” because its alcoholic potency had been removed. A similar advice regarding the medical use of wine is given by Pliny (A. D. 79), a contemporary of Paul and author of the celebrated Natural History. He recommends using a boiled, unfermented wine called adynamon for sick persons “for whom it is feared that wine may be harmful.” 9 He also recommends to avoid the side effects of alcohol by using wines whose alcohol content had been removed through filtration: “Wines are most beneficial when all their potency has been overcome by the strainer.”” (Samuele Bacchiocchi, WINE IN THE BIBLE A BIBLICAL STUDY ON THE USE OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES, 920-936 (Kindle Edition); Biblical Perspectives)  

Regardless of whether the alcohol here was alcoholic or non-alcoholic, the point is that it was used as MEDICINE.  

Further, doesn’t the Apostle Paul himself refer to the legitimacy of medicine when he writes these words to the Colossians?

Colossians 4:14-Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you.

From these Scriptures (and many others could be referenced), we see that the Bible authorizes the legitimate use of medicines. 

The Recreational Use Of Drugs

While the Bible is clear that the legitimate medicinal use of drugs is acceptable before God, they are also very clear that the recreational abuse of drugs is sinful.  

Let’s notice a few Scriptures which discuss this.  

Ephesians 5:18-And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

The word “drunk” is from a Greek word that basically means “intoxicated” or “inebriated.”  

“There are several Greek terms which are translated ‘drunk,’ ‘drunken,’ and ‘drunkenness’ in the New Testament. Along with several others, W.E. Vine makes an interesting distinction in regard to methusko. He defines it as ‘to make drunk, or to grow drunk (an inceptive verb, marking the process of the state expressed in methuo), to become intoxicated, Luke 12:45; Ephesians 5:18; I Thessalonians 5:17a.’ Robert Young, along with W.A. Haynes, defines it as ‘to begin to be softened.’ S.T. Bloomfield views the term as meaning, ‘to moisten, or to be moistened with liquor, and in a figurative sense, to be saturated with drink.’ E.W. Bullinger says methusko means, ‘to grow drunk (marking the beginning of methuo.’) The renowned Joseph Henry Thayer states that the term means ‘to get drunk, become intoxicated.’ These definitions clearly establish beyond a doubt that drunkenness is something that can grow, progress from one state to another, be considered as a state of becoming softened, and, therefore, that it is the beginning of even an advanced degree. The implication is that persons begin to be drunk when they begin to drink. No doubt the reason that some fail to see this fact is because of what they literally see. They have built into their systems the idea that persons must be staggering or in a stupor to be drunk. If they see them in such condition, they consider them as drunk, and otherwise they do not. This is not, however, the basis upon which the Bible determines drunkenness. Medical science also testifies in regard to alcoholic influence.” (W.D. Jeffcoat, The Bible And “Social” Drinking: In-Depth Research Of A Universal Problem, 106-107; Huntsville, Alabama; Publishing Designs, Inc.)  

What is really fascinating is that in the original language of the phrase “do not be drunk,”, there is an incentive verb that is used.  

The significance of this is in realizing that the incentive verb means “to mark the beginning of a process.”  

“2. Ingressive (Inceptive, Inchoative) Aorist…The aorist tense may be used to stress the beginning of an action or the entrance into a state.” (Daniel B. Wallace, The Basics Of New Testament Syntax: An Intermediate Greek Grammar, 5263 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)

“The inceptive imperfect expresses the initiation of an action in the past (‘I began to loose’).” (David Alan Black, Learn To Read New Testament Greek,1145 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; B&H Academic)

“inceptive…Giving emphasis to the beginning of the verbal action (Lat. inceptivus, ‘starting’). This term often appears in connection with the aorist (see 2 Cor 8:9) or imperfect-tense verbs (see Mt. 3:5). Also called inchoative, incipient or ingressive.” (Mathew S. Demoss, Pocket Dictionary For The Study Of New Testament Greek, 779 (Kindle Edition); Downers Grove, Illinois; InterVarsity Press)  

Paul is telling the Ephesians, “Do not even begin the process of becoming intoxicated.”  

In other words, “Don’t even take the first drink!”  

Consider another passage of Scripture which teaches us about God’s condemnation of recreational drug abuse.  

Titus 2:11-14-11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

Paul says that God desires His people to live “soberly.”

The word here literally means to be “free from the influence of intoxicants” (W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 55472 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson Publishers).  

Didn’t God make this clear in the Old Testament Scriptures as well?  

Proverbs 23:29-35-29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? 30 Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine. 31 Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it swirls around smoothly; 32 At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper. 33 Your eyes will see strange things, And your heart will utter perverse things. 34 Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: 35 “They have struck me, but I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?”

Solomon makes it clear about the best way to deal with drugs and alcohol: do not even look on them!  

In our studies, we should also investigate this passage from the Book of Revelation:

Revelation 9:20-21-20 But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. 21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

Someone says, “Mark, what does this have to do with drugs?”  

If you have a NKJV of the Bible, you will notice that it has a footnote with the word “sorceries” that says, “Or drugs.”

What is the significance of this word? 

“One of the items Paul also includes in his list is “sorcery”. So, what is sorcery? Some Bible translations use the word “Witchcraft”. From the English context it is difficult to determine exactly what this refers to considering today’s terminology. This is where it useful to use a Greek Lexicon (dictionary) to examine more closely the intention of the meaning as used in the New Testament compared with non-Biblical definitions. A non-biblical definition indicates the witchcraft uses herbalism or the “magical art of botanicals” and that a “pharmakis” is an “herbalist”. 28 Now let us compare this secular (non-religious) definition to the Bible. Sorcery comes from the root Greek word “pharmakeia” that, again, is also translated as “witchcraft” in other verses of the Bible. These words are misleading in today’s vocabulary but the Greek root sounds a lot like our English word “Pharmacy” (as in a place where you get medicine from a doctor). To get a clearer picture it is important to read the definition from scholars. The respected Strong’s concordance, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the New Testament, Thayer’s Greek Lexicon and others have the following definitions29: 1) primarily signified “the use of medicine, drugs, spells;” 2) “medication” i.e. (by extension) magic (literally or figuratively) 3) the use or the administering of drugs 4) poisoning 5) properly, a sorcerer; used of people using drugs and “religious incantations” to drug people into living by their illusions 6) sorcery, magical arts, often found in connection with idolatry…The first observation is that Revelation 9: 21 is not associating “witchcraft” in the modern definition of “spells and magic” but places this unique sin between two very universal common and physical and fleshly crimes. If you read the newspaper headlines today is very easy to associate illegal drug use with “murders, rape/ promiscuity, and stealing”. I argue from context that because sorcery is between these two items, this has more to do with the latter definition of drug use as opposed to “spells” in the traditional fairy tale sense or strict occult definition.” (The Doors of Deception?: The Bible, Marijuana, and Recreational Drugs, 587-652 (Kindle Edition)

Please notice that the word used here condemns the illicit use of “pharmakeia.”

It is also interesting to notice that the Apostle John puts this idea of “pharmakeia” into the category of sin that some people refuse to repent of.  

Scripture is clear that God approves the legitimate medicinal use of drugs, and that He condemns the recreational abuse of them.

Is Drug Addiction A Disease?  

Several believe that alcohol and drug addiction is a disease.  

I am not a doctor (I’m a soul man).  

However, I know of several doctors and nurses who do not subscribe to the ‘addiction is a disease’ mentality.  

One nurse told me that she doesn’t accept that for the simple reason that the word “disease” had reference to a virus or bacteria that caused a systematic breakdown of the body.  

Furthermore, where in the Scriptures does God rebuke people for being sick?  

To be completely honest, I am suspicious of the way that several addictions and conditions are presently being characterized as a “disease.” 

For example: 

“Today’s cultural elite, including those in the healing arts, basically no longer think of man in spiritual terms, of morality, character, self-understanding, repentance, and forgiveness. Rather, most of today’s experts look at man and see a soulless animal whose behavior problems are mostly genetic or organic in origin and, in any event, usually manageable with drugs….Are you an angry volcano inside? You may have “intermittent explosive disorder.” Hostile toward authority? You could be suffering from “oppositional defiant disorder.” Worry too much? Probably a case of “generalized anxiety disorder.” Do you suffer from “road rage”? It’s now a mental illness, according to some psychologists, called “aggressive driving spectrum disorder.” Are you a normal boy who fidgets because you don’t like shutting up and sitting still at a desk for six hours a day listening to a teacher? You may be diagnosed, as millions of American children already have been, with “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” After it became widely known that public school administrators and other nonmedical personnel were coercing multitudes of American children—between 4 and 9 million, by most estimates—into taking Ritalin and similar psychostimulant drugs, experts finally got concerned and put the brakes on the rampant overdiagnosis of ADHD.26….What about addiction? Do you compulsively get drunk when the stress seems too great? While such was once considered a moral flaw or a character weakness, it is now widely categorized as a disease—which logically would make addiction to all other drugs, legal or illegal, a “disease” as well. Are you a lying, cheating jerk? Then you have a disease—especially if you have tattoos. I’m not kidding. Research conducted at Michigan’s Center for Forensic Psychiatry has determined that “certain criminals with tattoos are more likely to suffer from anti-social personality disorder,” or ASPD…Do you get it? Everything bad, from temper tantrums, drunkenness, and road rage to “pathological lying, cheating, stealing, physical aggression and drug abuse,” is now a disease. Everything is physiological or genetic and treated with drugs. Nothing is your fault. You’re an innocent victim. Furthermore, many of us like it that way. We like the idea that whatever is wrong with us amounts to an organic disorder, that there’s no sin, no weakness, no deficit of character on our part. Our egos love that; it comforts us.” (David Kupelian, How Evil Works: Understanding And Overcoming The Destructive Forces That Are Transforming America, 104-107 (Kindle Edition); New York, N.Y.; Threshold Editors) 

Whether or not addiction may be classified as a “disease,” it doesn’t change the fact that addicts often need medical help as well as spiritual. When a person abuses drugs, it can have severe effects upon the body.

As such, said persons may need medical help.

Furthermore, it is possible that the body of an addict may become physically dependent on a certain substance, which is my further medical aid may be necessary.  

Regardless, let’s be sure that we understand that according to the Scriptures, the recreational abuse of drugs is sinful.  

At the conclusion of this article, I want to share a poem with you that I found on the Internet. I don’t know the name of the person who wrote it, but from what I can tell, she is a young woman who struggled (or struggles) with the terrible addiction to the drug known as meth.  

My Name: “Is Meth” 

I destroy homes, I tear families apart, take your children, and that’s just the start.

I’m more costly than diamonds, more precious than gold,

The sorrow I bring is a sight to behold.

If you need me, remember I’m easily found, 
I live all around you – in schools and in town

I live with the rich; I live with the poor,

I live down the street, and maybe next door.

I’m made in a lab, but not like you think,

I can be made under the kitchen sink. 
In your child’s closet, and even in the woods,

If this scares you to death, well it certainly should.

I have many names, but there’s one you know best,

I’m sure you’ve heard of me, my name is crystal meth. 
My power is awesome; try me you’ll see,

But if you do, you may never break free.

Just try me once and I might let you go,

But try me twice, and I’ll own your soul. 
When I possess you, you’ll steal and you’ll lie,

You do what you have to — just to get high.

The crimes you’ll commit for my narcotic charms

Will be worth the pleasure you’ll feel in your arms,your lungs your nose. 
You’ll lie to your mother; you’ll steal from your dad,

When you see their tears, you should feel sad.

But you’ll forget your morals and how you were raised,

I’ll be your conscience, I’ll teach you my ways. 
I take kids from parents, and parents from kids,

I turn people from God, and separate friends.

I’ll take everything from you, your looks and your pride,

I’ll be with you always — right by your side. 
You’ll give up everything – your family, your home,

Your friends, your money, then you’ll be alone.

I’ll take and take, till you have nothing more to give,

When I’m finished with you, you’ll be lucky to live. 
If you try me be warned – this is no game,

If given the chance, I’ll drive you insane.

I’ll ravish your body, I’ll control your mind,

I’ll own you completely, your soul will be mine. 
The nightmares I’ll give you while lying in bed,

The voices you’ll hear, from inside your head.

The sweats, the shakes, the visions you’ll see,

I want you to know, these are all gifts from me. 
But then it’s too late, and you’ll know in your heart,

That you are mine, and we shall not part.

You’ll regret that you tried me, they always do,

But you came to me, not I to you. 
You knew this would happen, many times you were told, 

But you challenged my power, and chose to be bold.

You could have said no, and just walked away,

If you could live that day over, now what would you say? 
I’ll be your master, you will be my slave,

I’ll even go with you, when you go to your grave.

Now that you have met me, what will you do?

Will you try me or not? It’s all up to you. 
I can bring you more misery than words can tell, 

Come take my hand, let me lead you to heck.

(Poem Copied From: http://www.fearlessfriday.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=46227.0)

To all of my fellow Christians, please consider these words: as members of the church of Christ, we have a solemn obligation and a Divine calling to share the Gospel with drug addicts. The Great Commission is for every creature (Mark 16:15-16), and many addicts in the first century found spiritual healing through the Gospel of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). We need to do everything in our power to help addicts, and to help the family and friends of addicts, no matter how difficult it may be.  

Yes, we must be wise as we minister (Matthew 10:16), but we MUST have compassion and reach out to those who are lost (Jude 22-23).  

Conclusion 

The Bible does authorize the legitimate medicinal use of drugs, but it condemns the recreational abuse of them.  

Instead of becoming intoxicated, God calls upon us to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). This is far greater than anything the world can offer, although the devil tries to offer cheap imitations.  

God gives His Spirit to those who turn to Him for salvation (Acts 2:38; 5:32). Jesus has made salvation possible for mankind by going to the cross of Calvary and shedding His blood to save us from our sins: 

Colossians 1:19-20-19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. 

By His death, burial, and resurrection on the third day, Jesus is able to be the Savior of all Who come to God through Him (Hebrews 7:25; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8).  

How may we receive the spiritual blessings that are only found in Him (Colossians 2:1-3)? The Bible tells us:

Colossians 2:11-13-11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,

The Colossians, believing in Jesus and repenting of their sins, had been buried with Christ in baptism. In that action, their sins were removed and they were able to rise to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).  

Why not obey this same plan of God today?  

If you are a child of God who has wandered away from the Lord, the Scriptures call upon you to stop living in sin and turn back to the Lord (Colossians 3:1-8). Why not accept His forgiveness by repentance and prayer (1 John 1:9)?  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

Qualities Of A Godly Mother

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” (Washington Irving, 1783 -1859)

I am convinced that one of the greatest blessings in the entire world is a godly mother.  

Of course, there are others who share this sentiment, as evidenced by the holiday known as Mother’s Day.  

In researching the history of when Mother’s Day became a national holiday, we find the following:

“A PROCLAMATION BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Whereas, By a Joint Resolution approved May 8, 1914, ” designating the second Sunday in May as Mothers’ Day, and for other purposes,”…Now, Therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the said Joint Resolution, do hereby direct the government officials to display the United States flag on all government buildings and do invite the people of the United States to display the flag at their homes or other suitable places on the second Sunday in May as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.”

It is good that people have set aside a certain day to honor Mothers’ around the world, but in truth, godly mothers should be continually honored.

How people need to emulate the example of Solomon: 

1 Kings 2:19-Bathsheba therefore went to King Solomon, to speak to him for Adonijah. And the king rose up to meet her and bowed down to her, and sat down on his throne and had a throne set for the king’s mother; so she sat at his right hand.

In this article, I would like to consider with you an example of a godly and gracious mother.

The Gospel of Matthew tells us:

Matthew 15:21-28-21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon.

22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”

23 But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”

24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”

26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”  

27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

The Context Of The Passage

In the account of Matthew 15 (and Mark 7), Jesus has been engaged in public debate with the Pharisees.  

These self-righteous traditionalists were always attacking Jesus and His followers. After entering into debate with the Pharisees, we read that Jesus leaves the general area and goes to the region of Tyre and Sidon.  

Mark 7:24-From there He arose and went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And He entered a house and wanted no one to know it, but He could not be hidden.  

Now please consider: this was not just a stroll down the road!  

Exiting the area of Gennesaret,(where Jesus had been healing the sick and afflicted-Matthew 14:34-36; Mark 6:53-56), Jesus teaches His disciples about the need to focus on keeping the heart pure (Matthew 15:16-20; Mark 7:18-19). Proceeding to Tyre and Sidon, and then back to the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 15:29; Mark 7:31), the Lord and His Apostles travelled between 60-100 miles on foot!  

It is on this journey that we find this fascinating account of the Canaanite woman.

Wait…Does Jesus Call This Woman A DOG???

If you are like me, you are drawn to the words of Jesus calling this woman a “dog.”  

How could Jesus call this woman a dog, when she is there trying to help her daughter?

Was He racist towards the Gentiles? 

Actually, when we we study the Gospels, we see that Jesus had a high regard for Gentiles.  

Michael Brown has well pointed out: 

“To give you the bigger picture, here are some important things to know about Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel and the Savior of the whole world: • His disciple Matthew, in recording Yeshua’s ancestry through his adoptive father’s royal line, makes specific mention of two Gentile tile women who contributed to the royal line: Rahab, who was a Canaanite by birth, and Ruth, who was a Moabite by birth (Matt. 1:5). There was no genealogical need to mention either of these women, but he did so-in his very Jewish book!-for a specific theological reason (see also 1:3a). • In his first sermon in his hometown synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus drew attention to instances in the Tanakh in which God went out of his way to care for a Gentile widow and heal a Gentile general, thereby infuriating everyone in the synagogue (Luke 4:24-30). • After healing the servant of a Roman soldier, Yeshua said to those following him, “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west [meaning the Gentiles!], and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom [meaning the Jews who did not believe] will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:11-12; see 8:5-13; note again that the very Jewish Matthew records these words). • In John 4, Jesus reached out to a Samaritan woman, despite the fact that the Samaritans were despised by other Jews as half-breeds, even staying in Samaria for two days to minister to the people there (John 4:42). • In the famous parable of the Good Samaritan, Yeshua made the hero of his parable a Samaritan, in contrast with a priest and a Levite, commending him as an example of a true neighbor (Luke 10:29-37). • Luke also records Jesus’ healing of ten lepers as they followed the Messiah’s instructions and made their way to the priest, noting that only one of the men returned to give him thanks-a Samaritan, whom the Lord then commended (Luke 17:11-19).” (Michael L. Brown, Answering Jewish Objections To Jesus: Volume Four-New Testament Objections, 170-172 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books) 

So, why did Jesus call this woman a dog?

First, we need to understand the word that is used in this passage.

Barclay points out:

“So Jesus at last turned to her: ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and to throw it to the pet dogs.’ To call a person a dog was a deadly and a contemptuous insult. The Jews spoke with arrogant insolence about ‘Gentile dogs’, ‘infidel dogs’ and later ‘Christian dogs’. In those days, the dogs were the unclean scavengers of the street –lean, savage, often diseased. But there are two things to remember. The tone and the look with which a thing is said make all the difference. A thing which seems hard can be said with a disarming smile. We can call a friend ‘an old villain’ or ‘a rogue’, with a smile and a tone which take all the sting out of it and fill it with affection. We can be quite sure that the smile on Jesus’ face and the compassion in his eyes robbed the words of all insult and bitterness. Second, it is the diminutive word for dogs (kunaria) which is used, and the kunaria were not the street dogs, but the little household pets, very different from the stray dogs that roamed the streets and probed in the refuse heaps. The woman was a Greek; she was quick to see, and she had all a Greek’s ready wit. ‘True,’ she said, ‘but even the dogs get their share of the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.’ And Jesus’ eyes lit up with joy at such an indomitable faith; and he granted her the blessing and the healing which she so much desired.” (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible: The Gospel According To Matthew-Volume Two, 2359-2370 (Kindle Edition); Edinburgh, England; Saint Andrew Press) 

The word that Jesus uses here is very important to consider. The Jewish people often looked upon the Gentiles as the ones that were in need of their guidance. The Gentiles were thus often viewed as people who needed the saving light of God which the Jewish people had been entrusted to provide.

God had given this Divine mission to the Hebrews:

“Centrifugal witnessing, it will be argued here, is the role assigned to Israel as it was to share actively with others the Man of Promise who was to come. This is why Paul quoted Isaiah 49:6 in his attempt to convince the Jews at Antioch Pisidia that it had been God’s intent all along to extend his blessings of redemption to the Gentiles (apart from any process of proselytism by which Gentiles converted to Judaism). And this will be my contention in this work as well. The source of world missionary activity is rooted in God’s call to the nation Israel in the Old Testament, which will then be the extended call to all who believe in all ages….Roger D. Aus suggested that the “offering of the Gentiles” in Romans 15:16 would fulfill what the prophet Isaiah saw (Isa. 66:19–23). [2] As a result of missionary activity, “all flesh” (Isa. 66:23), including Jews and Gentiles, would one day worship the Lord. They would come from as far away as Tarshish, that is, Spain (Isa. 66:19), [3] a site often linked with “from the ends of the earth” (Ps. 72:8–11; see also Jon. 1:3). The fact remains that the goal of the Old Testament was to see both Jews and Gentiles come to a saving knowledge of the Messiah who was to come. Anything less than this goal was a misunderstanding and an attenuation of the plan of God. God’s eternal plan was to provide salvation for all peoples; it was never intended to be reserved for one special group, such as the Jews, even as an initial offer! It is the history of this offer, and the way it was carried out in Old Testament times, that will form the heart of our study here.” (Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Mission In The Old Testament: Israel As A Light To The Nations, 113-131 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Academic) 

As such, Gentiles were not often considered wicked and vicious beasts, but rather untrained and ignorant persons who were in need of God’s Word to restore and make them whole. 

Notice that the woman in the passage clearly understood these important facts: 

“Second, the Greek word for “dog” is not the usual word for an unkempt street dog (Gk. kyōn), but a diminutive (Gk. kynarion), meaning a small dog that could be kept in the house as a pet. 14 In casting the word in the diminutive form Mark essentially empties it of opprobrium, for one feels entirely differently of a house pet than of an unclean street mongrel. The fact that the woman refers to her daughter and herself with the same term in her reply to Jesus shows that she does not take kynarion in a hostile or contemptuous sense. Third, “dog” signifies a traditional distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles that is important to the story. In the thought-world of the day, the Jews considered themselves “children” of God (Exod 4: 22; Deut 14: 1; Isa 1: 2). They differed from other nations because of their inclusion in the covenant of Abraham (Genesis 17) and because they possessed the Torah (Exodus 19). The issue at stake between Jesus and the woman is whether Jesus is sent to “the children” or “to the dogs.” The woman maintains the same distinction between “children” and “dogs” in her reply to Jesus, though with one slight change. Whereas Jesus refers to Israel as teknōn (” biological children”), the woman refers to Israel as paidiōn, which is more inclusive, implying both children and servants in a household. The change in terminology suggests that the woman understands the mercies of God to extend beyond ethnic Israel. The basic issue in the repartee between Jesus and the woman is not whether Gentiles have a claim on God’s mercies, but the relation of that claim to the Jewish claim. Jesus does not deny the woman’s request. “First let the children eat all they want” simply establishes a priority of mission; it does not exclude other hungry mouths. In the present context it implies the messianic priority of Jesus’ ministry to Israel to his ministry to the Gentiles, particularly, as we suggested earlier, with regard to teaching about the kingdom of God. But the priority of Israel in Jesus’ mission does not imply the exclusion of the Gentiles. The Servant of the Lord must first “restore the tribes of Jacob,” and then be “a light to the nations” (Isa 49: 6; also 42: 1; 61: 1-11). The choice of kynarion implies the dogs are house pets; that is, they belong to the household and will be fed along with the children. Indeed, the analogy of the children and dogs suggests a relationship to Jesus himself, for who might be the “father” who feeds the children —and their dogs —if not Jesus? The woman’s reply to Jesus in v. 28 shows her understanding and acceptance of Israel’s privilege. 15 Indeed, she appears to understand the purpose of Israel’s Messiah better than Israel does. Her pluck and persistence are a testimony to her trust in the sufficiency and surplus of Jesus: his provision for the disciples and Israel will be abundant enough to provide for one such as herself. Mark provides a clue to this understanding in the Gk. chortazō (NIV, “eat all they want”). This word occurs only twice elsewhere in Mark, in the feedings of the five thousand (6: 42) and four thousand (8: 4, 8). In its present location, the word bridges Jesus’ feeding of the Jews (6: 31-44) and his subsequent feeding of the Gentiles (8: 1-10). When dogs eat crumbs from the table they do not rob children of their food; they simply eat what is theirs from the surplus of the children.” (James R. Edwards, The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel According To Mark, 4179-4205 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans’ Publishing Company) 

So, Jesus was not insulting this woman; instead, He was acknowledging the fact that His first and primary mission was to the nation of Israel.

Included within His answer, however, is the affirmation that His mission would also include saving the Gentiles (and the woman’s answer demonstrates that she also understood this).  

The Apostles clearly begin to understand this, for they ask Jesus to grant her request and to send her back to her home (Matthew 15:23).  

In this passage, we see Jesus teaching His disciples some very important lessons. They are able to see the importance of compassion and persistence.

Consider how this would be contrasted with the unbending and self-righteous Pharisees, who often looked upon Gentiles with disgust and contempt.  

The Lord, understanding that He had been sent to truly call all the nations to repentance, first had need to reach out to the descendants of Abraham; and here, He teaches these important lessons to HIs followers by testing the faith and persistence of the Canaanite woman.  

With these things in mind, please notice some important qualities of a godly mother with me from this woman.  

A Godly Mother Will Seek Jesus First 

The passage makes it clear that this woman understands Who Jesus is. Please observe several things which show that this woman understood Who Jesus is.

First, look at how she refers to Jesus:

Matthew 15:22-And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”

She clearly understood that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of David. This indicates that perhaps she had heard of the promised Messiah from the Jewish Scriptures.  

Indeed, there were several people in the ancient world who were seeking the Savior from Israel.  

John 12:20-21-20 Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast.

21 Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

In the first century, there were many Gentiles who were known as “God-Fearers,” people who (although not official converts to Judaism) looked to the Hebrew Messiah for their hope. 

“In addition to proselytes, there were many Gentile “God Fearers” who gravitated to the synagogue; accepting at least some forms and ceremonies of Judaism. It is possible that the name of these partial converts originated from the Tanakhi phrase “those who fear the LORD.”[ 36] A homily on Isaiah 44.5 identifies the four classes mentioned in the verse as children of wicked Israelites, penitents, righteous converts and “fearers of heaven.”[ 37] Naaman is described as such, as he was not by any stretch of the imagination a resident alien, but a foreigner who accepted Jewish monotheism; a “fearer of heaven” (yirei shamayim). In Josephus and Philo, the Christian Testament, the inscriptions to which we will soon look and elsewhere, we learn of this category who had not formally entered the Jewish fold, who nevertheless depended on Judaism for their spiritual direction.[ 38] Contrary to the aforementioned preconceptions, it would appear that it was quite easy to enter Judaism by both pagans and later by Christians.[ 39] Contrary to the aforementioned preconceptions, it is entirely likely that this was a name imposed upon the God Fearers, not a personal ascription….These partial adherents, described in Acts as well as Josephus in the first century CE, were distinguished from proselytes and yet they were publicly associated with Judaism[ 40] without yet being regarded as Jews.[ 41] Josephus recorded the existence in Antioch of Gentiles who were “in some way” attached to the local Jewish community.[ 42] They appear to have been welcomed by the Jewish leaders. A distinction was thus made between the idolatrous Gentile and the Gentile who feared God.[ 43]” (Micah Ben David Naziri, The Significance Of The God-Fearers In The Environment Of Early Christianity-Gentile Sympathizers Of Of Judaism And The Success Of The Paulean Meme239-282 (Kindle Edition); New Dawn Publications)

Further, notice that this woman worships Jesus:

Matthew 15:25-Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”

Godly mothers are entrusted (along with godly fathers) with the Divine commission to teach the Word of God to children: 

Proverbs 1:8-My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother;

Proverbs 6:20-My son, keep your father’s command, And do not forsake the law of your mother.

Several times, the Psalmist talks about how his mother had always been a servant of Jehovah:

Psalm 86:16-Oh, turn to me, and have mercy on me! Give Your strength to Your servant, And save the son of Your maidservant.

Psalm 116:16-O LORD, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my bonds.

We are reminded that Timothy was taught the Word of God by his godly mother:

2 Timothy 1:5-when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.

2 Timothy 3:15-and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

The powerful influence of a godly mother can stay with children throughout all their lives:

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” (Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

“We search the world for truth; we cull The good, the pure, the beautiful, From all old flower fields of the soul; And, weary seeker of the best, We come back laden from out quest, To find that all the sages said Is in the Book our mothers read.” (John Greenleaf Whittier, 1807 -1892)

A Godly Mother Will Put The Needs Of Her Family Above Her Own 

Notice that this godly woman is willing to put the needs of her family above her own.

Is this not what godly mothers have done throughout time?  

Godly mothers throughout Scripture have always been a portrait of love. Even in their imperfections, the example of motherly love is often set forth as an example for God’s people to emulate. Indeed, God often pictures Himself as a Mother Who will care for her children in the midst of their trails and afflictions: 

Isaiah 66:12-13-12 For thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, And the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. Then you shall feed; On her sides shall you be carried, And be dandled on her knees.

13 As one whom his mother comforts, So I will comfort you; And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”

Consider some examples of godly mothers in the Bible and what they did for their children:

Eve (Genesis 3-4). Even though Eve helped to introduce sin into the world, we are reminded of the fact that she eventually saw her need to put God first and come back to Him.  

“Whatever Eve may have meant by that expression in Genesis 4:1, it was nonetheless a clear expression of hope and rejoicing because of God’s grace, compassion, kindness, and forgiveness toward her. There’s a tone of exultation in it: “I have acquired a man from the LORD.” It is also clear that her hope was personified in her own children. She saw them as tokens of God’s goodness and reminders of the promise that her seed would be the instrument by which the tempter’s ultimate destruction was accomplished….Were Adam and Eve saved? I believe they were. God’s grace to them is exemplified in the way He “made tunics of skin, and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21 NKJV). In order for Him to do that, some animals had to be slain. Thus the first ever blood sacrifice was made by the hand of God on their behalf. Furthermore, concealed in God’s declaration that the woman’s Seed would defeat the serpent was an implicit promise that their sin and all its consequences would one day be vanquished and the guilt of it would be eradicated. We know from a New Testament perspective that this promise involved the sending of God’s own Son to undo what Adam’s sin did. They believed that promise, insofar as they understood it. Scripture records that Seth founded a line of godly people: “As for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the LORD” (Gen. 4:26 NKJV). Where would their knowledge of the Lord have come from? Obviously, it came from Adam and Eve, who had more direct and firsthand knowledge of God than anyone else since the fall. This godly line (which endures in the faith of millions even today) was to a large degree their legacy. Happily for Eve, it will eventually prove to be an infinitely more enduring legacy than her sin. After all, heaven will be filled with her redeemed offspring, and they will be eternally occupied with a celebration of the work of her Seed.” (John MacArthur, Twelve Extraordinary Women: How God Shaped Women of The Bible, And What He Wants To Do With You, 24-25 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson) 

Sarah (Genesis 21). Even though Sarah was an imperfect sinner, she showed great love for her son Isaac.  

Hannah (1 Samuel 1-3). Hannah desperately wanted a child. When God granted her heart’s prayer, she dedicated him to the Lord and provided for him every way she could.  

Elizabeth (Luke 1). The godly mother of John the Baptist was a woman of faith, strength, prayer, and courage.  

Mary (Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-20, 25-35; John 19:25-27). Even though Mary was destined to be the Mother of the Messiah, she would face heartbreak and trial. She would suffer terribly; yet she was the mother that raised Jesus and provided for Him.  

There are so many other examples of godly mothers in the Bible who loved their children and provided for them with whatever they had.  

How blessed we are to have godly mothers who sacrifice for their children!  

A Godly Mother Will Understand The Need For Good And Productive Instruction And Discipline 

Finally, the Canaanite woman teaches us about the fact that godly mothers will understand the need for instruction and discipline.  

The word that Jesus uses here to refer to the Canaanite (“dog”) was understood as the beloved pet that needed instruction and discipline.

The woman, understanding this, was not offended; for she was one of those who looked to the God of Israel to bring forth the Messiah.  

Godly mothers understand the need to instruct and discipline children.  

Proverbs 13:24-He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

Proverbs 19:18-Chasten your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction.

Proverbs 22:15-Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.

Proverbs 23:13-Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.

Godly mothers and fathers understand the need for instructive discipline. 

Conclusion 

Having learned some of these qualities of a godly mother, I want to bring this article to a conclusion with the following tribute to mothers. I am not entirely sure who wrote these words, but they are powerful and speak so strongly to godly motheers of all ages.  

Tribute To Mothers

The young mother set her foot in the path of life. “Is the way long?” she asked. And her guide said, “Yes, and the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning.” But the young mother was happy and she would not believe that anything could be better than those years. So, she played with her children, she gathered flowers for them in the way, and bathed them in clear streams; and the sun shone on them and life was good, and the young mother said, “Nothing will be lovelier than this.” The night came, and the storm; the path was dark, and the children shook with fear and cold; and Mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle, and the children said, “Oh, Mother, we are not afraid, for you are near and no harm can come.” The mother said, “This is better than the brightness of the day, for I have taught them courage.”

And the morning came, and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary, but at times she said to the children, “A little patience and we are there.” So the children climbed and when they reached the top, they said, “We could not have done it without you, Mother,” and the mother, when she lay down that night said, “This is better than the last, for my children have learned fortitude in the face of hardness. Yesterday I gave them courage– today I gave them strength.

And the next day came strange clouds– clouds of war and hate and evil, and the children groped and stumbled; and the mother said, “Look up. Lift up your eyes to the light.” And the children looked and saw above the clouds an Everlasting glory, and it guided them and brought them beyond the darkness. “This is the best of all,” she said, “for I have shown my children–God.”

And the days went on, and the years– and Mother grew old and bent. But her children were strong and walked with courage. And when the way was hard, they helped their mother; and when she was very rough, they lifted her, for she was light as a feather. At last they came to a hill beyond which they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide. The mother said, “I have reached the end of the journey and I know the first, for my children will walk alone. The children said, “You will walk with us.” And they watched her go alone and the gates closed after her. It was said, “We cannot see her, but she is still with us. A mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a living presence.” 

The Son of God came forth from a godly woman, and offers salvation to all (1 Timothy 2:15; 2 Corinthians 5:15). Dying for the sins of mankind (1 Timothy 2:4), Jesus was buried and arose from the grave on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

Why not today, as a believer, repent of your sins and be baptized into Christ to have your sins washed away by the blood of the Lamb (Acts 2:38; 22:16)?

If you are an erring child of God who has left the Lord, why not return to Him today in repentance and prayer (Acts 8:22; Revelation 3:20)?  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.