Category: Articles

Articles of Biblical truth for today’s world

Plagues Leading to the Exodus

Meditating on the Word

                                            “In His law he meditates day and night” Psalm 1:2

 

“Meditating on the Word,” edited by Wayne Burger, is a work of the church of Christ, which meets at 11873 Springs Rd. Unit #250, Conifer, CO 80433. E-mail: gwburger@q.com – Website: coniferchurchofchrist.com

Vol. 15                                                                             No. 4                                                                         January 25, 2015

 

 

Plagues Leading to the Exodus

 

If one did not know that the movie “Exodus, Gods and Kings” was based upon the bible, one might never guess that it was. Although it was about Moses delivering Israel from Egyptian bondage, there was very little Bible in it. They did a pretty good job of depicting the plagues, but nearly everything else was inaccurate. The biblical exodus was exciting enough, why degrade it by putting inhuman opinion?

 

The account of Moses freeing the twelve tribes of Israel from bondage is recorded in Exodus 1-19. Exodus one gives the record of the growth in numbers of the Israelite people. Chapter two records Moses’ birth, events in Egypt, and his escape to the land of Midian. Exodus three and four give the details of God’s call of Moses. Pathetically, the movie doesn’t even portray Moses bring called from a burning bush and to make it even worse, God is depicted as coming to Moses through Moses’ own son. Chapters five and six tell the first consequences brought upon the Israelites because Moses talked to Pharaoh about freeing Israel. Bringing the plagues upon Egypt begins in chapter seven and are recorded through chapter 13.

 

The Biblical Account of the Plagues

(1) Water to blood, Exodus 7:14-25.

 

(2) Frogs, Exodus 8:1-15.

 

(3) Lice (KJV, ASV, NKJ) – Gnats (NASU, NIV), (NASB, NIV), Exodus 8:16-19.

 

(4) Flies (KJV, ASV, NIV, NKJV), insects (NASB), Exodus 8:20-32.

 

(5) Murrain (KJV, ASV), Pestilence on your livestock (NASB, NKJ), Plague on your livestock (NIV), Exodus 9:1-7.

 

(6) Boils, Exodus 9:8-17.

 

(7) Hail with lightning on the ground, Exodus 9:18-35).

 

(8) Locusts, Exodus 10:1-20.

 

(9) Darkness, Exodus 10:21-28.

 

(10) Death of the first born male, Exodus 11-12, (Exodus 4:23).

 

Details of the Biblical Plagues

Water to Blood, Exodus 7:14-25: the magicians were able to duplicate this sign, Exodus 7:22. Only the water in the rivers, streams, pond, reservoirs, and vessels turned to blood (Exodus 7:19). The Egyptians dug around the Nile for waer to drink, (Exodus 7:24). This plague lasted seven days, (Exodus 7:25). Also, because the fist died there was a great stecnch in the land (Exodus 7:21).

 

Frogs, Exodus 8:1-15: The Egyptian magicians were able to duplicate this sign, (Exodus 8:7). Frogs covered the land, (Exodus 8:2-6). When the plague ended the land became foul with their stench, (Exodus 8:14).

 

Lice (Gnats), Exodus 8:16-19: The magicians could not duplicate this sign, (Exodus 8:18). The magicians said “this is the finger of God,” Exodus 8:19.

 

Flies (Insects), Exodus 8:20-32: The land of Goshen where the Israelites lived was not affected, (Exodus 8:22). When the plague ended not one fly (insect) remained in the land, (Exodus 8:31).

 

Murrain (Death of cattle), Exodus 9:1-7: All livestock affected – horses, donkey, camels, herds, and flocks, (Exodus 9:3). The animals of the Israelites were not affected, (Exodus 9:4).

 

Boils, Exodus 9:8-17: Moses took soot and threw it into the air to bring the plague, (Exodus 9:8). Men and animals were affected, (Exodus 9:9).

 

Hail, Exodus 9:18-35: The Egyptians were warned to bring in their livestock, (Exodus 9:18-21). Fire (lightning) accompanied the hail, (Exodus 9:23-24). The land of Goshen was spared, (Exodus 9:26). The Egyptians’ flax and barley were ruined, (Exodus 9:31). The Egyptians’ wheat and spelt were not ruined because they had not sprouted, (Exodus 9:32).

 

Locust, Exodus 10:1-20: So many locusts were brought in that the surface of the land could not be seen, (Exodus 10:5, 15). They ate what the hail had not destroyed, (Exodus 10:5). It was a worse plague of locust than had ever been seen, (Exodus 10:6). The locusts were brought by an east wind, (Exodus 10:13). God removed the locust by a west wind which drove them into the Red Sea, (Exodus 10:19). Not one locust remained, (Exodus 10:19).

 

Darkness, Exodus 10:21-29: It was so dark that it could be felt, (Exodus 10:21). The darkness lasted three days, (Exodus 10:22). The Egyptians could not see one another nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, (Exodus 10:23). Pharaoh called for Moses, but refused to grant Moses’ wish, (Exodus 10:24-27). Pharaoh threatened Moses with death if he ever saw his face again, (Exodus 10:28). Moses said, “You are right; I shall never see your face again,” (Exodus 10:29).

 

Death of the firstborn male: (A Separate Study)

 

The Plagues Analyzed

The plagues seem to be grouped in threes, except for the last one which was unique. The groups are 1-2-3, 4-5-6, and 7-8-9 and there is a pattern in the presentations.

 

Plagues one and two in each group were announced to Pharaoh before they occurred while the third in each group came without warning. Warnings given for plagues one (Water to blood, 7:17) and two (Frogs 8:2), four (Flies 8:21), and five (Murrain 9:3), and seven (Hail 9:13), and eight (Locust 10:4). No warning was given for plagues three (Lice), six (Boils), and nine (Darkness).

 

There is a pattern about how the plagues were brought about by different rods. Aaron’s rod was used to bring plagues one (Water to blood 7:19), two (Frogs 8:5), and three (Lice 8:16). No rod is mentioned in the second series, plagues four (Flies), five (Murrain), and six (Boils). Moses’ rod was used to bring plagues seven (Hail 9:22), eight (Locust 10:12), and nine (Darkness 10:22).

 

Distinction between Egyptians Israelites

The pattern is not as clear in this category. Plagues number four (Flies or Insects) did not affect Israel (8:22), five (Murrain) did not affect Israel (9:4), and seven (Hail) did not affect Israel (9:26). The text telling about the sixth plague (Boils) does not specifically mention that they did not happen to Israel.

 

The Plagues Were Miraculous

Even though the plagues involved natural phenomena, there were miraculous elements connected with them. Joseph Free lists five respects in which the plagues were miraculous in nature (College Press Commentary Series on Exodus by Wilbur Fields).

 

(1) Intensification – all were more numerous and severe than those which occur naturally.

 

(2) Prediction – often Moses and Aaron predicted when they would come or leave which is not possible with natural disasters.

 

(3) Discrimination – several plagues affected only the land or people of Egypt which is not the way natural disasters occur.

 

(4) Orderliness — the severity of the plagues gradually increased and often came and went in an orderly manner.

 

(5) Moral purpose – the plagues were not just freaks of nature, but carried a moral purpose in several ways

 

The Plagues – Their Purposes

(College Press Commentary

on Exodus 7 by Wilbur Fields).

 

(1) To force Pharaoh to let Israel go, Exodus 3:20; 7:4.

 

(2) To show that God was the only true and living God, Exodus 7:5, 17; 8:22; 9:14; 14:4, 18.

 

(3) To show the Israelites that God was taking them as His people and He was to be their God, Exodus 6:7; 10:2; 15:11.

 

(4) To show the power of God, Exodus 9:16.

 

(5) To punish the Egyptians for their mistreatment of the Israelites (the word judgment conveys this idea), Psalm 78:49-50; Exodus 10:2.

 

(6) To execute judgment upon the gods of Egypt, Exodus 12:12; Numbers 33:4.

 

(7) To show that God made a distinction between His people and those who were not His people, Exodus 6:7; 8:23; 11:7.

 

(8) To cause God’s name and fame to be spread abroad through the earth, Exodus 9:16; 10:2.

 

(9) To produce fear in the surrounding nations, Joshua 2:8-11; 9:9; I Samuel 4:8 (This fulfilled Genesis 12:3 “cursed those who curse you).

 

(10) To be signs to give Israel a greater faith, Deuteronomy 4:32-35; 7:17-19; Psalm 78:42-43; 106:6-7, 21-22.

 

(11) To cause Israel to fear God and keep His commandments, Deuteronomy 6:20-25.

 

Wayne Burger

Miracles Ceased

Meditating on the Word

                                            “In His law he meditates day and night” Psalm 1:2

 

“Meditating on the Word,” edited by Wayne Burger, is a work of the church of Christ, which meets at 11873 Springs Rd. Unit #250, Conifer, CO 80433. E-mail: gwburger@q.com – Website: coniferchurchofchrist.com

Vol. 15                                                                             No. 1                                                                          January 4, 2015

 

 

Miracles Ceased

 

   A miracle is God accomplishing an event which is contrary to the laws of nature. Examples of miracles being accomplished can be found throughout the Bible. God created the universe by miraculously speaking these objects into existence (Genesis 1; Hebrews 11:3). He began life on earth by forming man from the dust of the ground and breathing into his nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). Miracles were done by the prophets in the Old Testament (I Kings 18; II Kings 4). Jesus and the apostles performed them in the first century (John 3:2; Acts 4:13-22). They were done to cause people to believe and to confirm that the word spoken by those sent by God, truly came from God (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:1-4). But, miracles came to an end after they accomplished their purpose. There are two basic reasons they ceased: (1) They were no longer needed, (2) After the apostles died, there was no way for men to receive the power to perform miracles. Notice the evidence given below.

 

Miracles Served Their Purpose

 

Miraculous signs were done in New Testament times to confirm that the word spoken by the New Testament men really came from God. Speaking about those who preached, Mark said, “And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed” Mark 16:20. Since the New Testament had not been written, the preachers could not say, “Turn to this scripture to see that I’m teaching the truth.” Instead they performed miracles which proved that God was with them and that what they said was truth. This truth was illustrated by Nicodemus. When he saw Jesus performing miracles he knew that Jesus had to be from God. He said to Jesus, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” John 3:2.

 

The purpose of miracles was to cause people to believe. When the New Testament was written and the miraculous signs recorded, miracles were not needed to cause people to believe. The written word could do the same thing that the miracles had done. The apostle John said, “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” John 20:30-31.

 

Can’t Receive Miraculous Power

 

The second reason that miracles can’t be done today is that men and women do not have a way to receive the power to perform miracles. God’s miraculous power was given to two ways: (1) The apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit which enabled them to perform miracles (Acts 2:1-4; 4:13-22). (2) These apostles could give the power to perform miracles to those on whom they laid their hands (Acts 8:18). Examples of the apostles doing this can be seen with Stephen and Philip. The apostles laid their hands on them and they performed miracles (Acts 6:7-15; 8:9-13). But, these men could not pass the power to perform miracles on to others. Because Philip could not give this power on to others, Peter and John, who were apostles, came to Samaria to impart this power to others (Acts 8:14-17).

 

God Still Works

 

Many people believe that the only way God can work is through miracles. That is not so. Many people believe that if we say God does not work miracles today that we are saying God does not work today. That is not so. God is still working in our world. God raises nations to power and even determines where they will reign (Daniel 4:25; Acts 17:24-26). He does not do that through miracles, but through natural means. He promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He promises to give us the necessities of life (Matthew 6:25-33). He promises that if we ask for bread He will give it to us (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-13). But, God does not give us these things miraculously, but providentially. God can and does take care of His people. God still works.

 

Wayne Burger

 

A Solid Foundation

 

A world, a nation, a society, and individuals all need a solid foundation in order to exist in an orderly manner and help to maintain stability. Anarchy flourishes when foundations are eroded. One example of a nations need for a solid foundation is found in Judges 21:25. “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

The influence of society upon individuals has a powerful impact. Take for example the entertainment industry. Most attempts for moral standards are rejected, and mocked. “Live for the moment,” and “if it feels good do it,” is the essential philosophy by which most in that environment live their lives.

A few days ago the tragic death of Whitney Houston was reported. She apparently drowned in a bathtub. In the past Whitney had admitted to being addicted to drugs. She was currently taking different kinds of prescription drugs to help her deal with her struggles.

Michael Jackson is also an example of a life that was destroyed by the abuse of drugs.

Both Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson had been brought up with a strong religious foundation. Whitney began singing in a Baptist church. Michael was raised a Jehovah’s Witness. While these foundations are certainly not accurate to the Scriptures, they do teach very strongly against using illicit drugs and abusing prescription drugs. But their foundation was eroded away with the influence of worldly people and the appeal of fame and fortune.

In contrast to worldly standards, Jesus lived a perfect life. He never sinned (1 Peter 2:22). His character and His conduct always demonstrated godliness. His sacrifice on the cross portrayed the great courage in His heart. His trust in his heavenly Father was without bounds. He is the living example for all who would seek a solid foundation. Paul said, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11). In 1 Corinthians 10:4 Paul said that Jesus Christ is the rock.

Jesus realized that a solid foundation was necessary for a man to stand firm. In Luke 6:49 Jesus said, “But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”

The key to having a solid foundation is given in the two previous verses in Luke 6. “Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock” (Luke 6:47-48). I recently saw these words on a church sign: “A Bible that is falling apart is usually owned by someone who is not.”

Is your life falling apart? Then maybe you need to shore up the foundation by spending more time reading and studying God’s word. It is also a good idea to spend more time in prayer. Then walk as Jesus walked. God has given to each one the building blocks for a solid foundation. Will you use His materials?   Or, will you seek your own

Steve Vice

How to Begin a New Year

As significant as it is to consider how to end a year, we also need to know how to begin a new year. The beginning of a new year is special. We like a fresh start, new opportunities, a renewed sense of hope that things will be better. Perhaps this is why New Year’s Resolutions are popular, even though the majority do not keep them.

How should we approach the beginning of a new year? Let us consider four possibilities.

1) Establish essential resolutions. These are the kind of resolutions we must keep lest others lose confidence in our leadership.

2) Set daily reminders. Any system (hardcopy or electronic) that helps us remember the necessity of keeping our resolutions strengthens the potential of fulfilling them.

3) Connect resolutions to others. When those we work closest to are involved in the same resolution, we have a support system to encourage the development and fulfillment of each one.

4) Celebrate every victory. With each step toward established goals, find a small way to celebrate the achievement with a reminder of more to come.

These are only four steps, but beneficial in beginning this New Year.

Bob Turner

A Study of Miracles

Meditating on the Word

                                            “In His law he meditates day and night” Psalm 1:2

 

“Meditating on the Word,” edited by Wayne Burger, is a work of the church of Christ, which meets at 11873 Springs Rd. Unit #250, Conifer, CO 80433. E-mail: gwburger@q.com – Website: coniferchurchofchrist.com

Vol. 14                                                                             No. 28                                                                  December 28, 2014

 

 

A Study of Miracles

The January-February 2009 issue of AARP The Magazine had a lengthy article about miracles. It was entitled “The Mystery of Miracles” and written by Bill Newcott. Below are some quotes from that article and some information about miracles from God’s word.

 

“In an AARP THE MAGAZINE survey, we asked 1,300 people 45 and over what they thought about miracles, and the results were striking: fully 80 percent said they believe in them, 41 percent said they happen every day – and 37 percent said they have actually witnessed one. Intriguingly, though, the older you are, the less likely you are to believe in miracles.”

 

They defined a miracle as, “an incredible event that cannot be scientifically explained” which is a pretty good definition. The word “miracle” is thrown around in today’s society pretty loosely. The 1969 New York baseball team is known as “the miracle Mets.” Numerous people have walked away unscathed from a terrible car accident and it was said to have been a miracle.

 

Their survey found that “seventy-one percent of those with a college or post-college degree are believers, for example, compared with 85 percent of those with a high-school degree. And the more money you make the less likely you are to believe in miracles: 78 percent of those making $75,000 or more believe; 86 percent of those making $25,000 or less do.”

 

They also found that “85 percent of them (women) do (believe), compared with just 73 percent of men. Most intriguingly, older folks are less inclined to believe: 85 percent of those ages 45 through 54 believe in miracles, compared with 78 percent of those 55 through 64, and 75 percent of those 65 and up.” They also found “18 percent of people who simply reject the whole notion.”

 

The Bible and Miracles

 

The information in that article is probably pretty accurate in terms of views people have of miracles today. There are three views about miracles: (1) Some deny that miracles were ever done, (2) Some believe that miracles were done in the Bible times for a particular purpose, and (3) Some believe that miracles are still done today.

How Does God Work?

He works through natural laws through the rains and fertile ground in order to produce food, Genesis 8:22. Babies are born thorough natural laws of reproduction. The sun rises and sun sets the same all the time. The tides come in and go out on a regular schedule.

 

God also works through “providence,” Genesis 22:9-14. God will work to provide through natural events. We are to pray for our daily food, Matthew 6:11, but God doesn’t drop bread directly from heaven onto our plates. But, God promises to give us what we need, Matthew 6:31-33.

 

God has also worked through miracles (supernatural laws). God once made a man out of the dust of the ground, Genesis 1:26-2:7. God fed the children of Israel in the wilderness by a miracle, Exodus 16. God made the sun stand still, Joshua 10:13-14.

Defining a Miracle

The Bible doesn’t give a definition of a miracle, but by studying the miracles recorded in the Bible one can arrive at the correct definition of a miracle. It is a term used in the Bible that refers to an act where God directly suspends the natural laws. Webster’s English Dictionary has: “An event or action that apparently contradicts known scientific laws and is hence thought to be due to supernatural causes, especially to an act of God.” We might say it is an event that goes beyond the natural laws that God has ordained.

 

Characteristics of Miracles

 

(1) It is an event recognized by the senses – see, hear, etc. Acts 4:16. (2) It is an instantaneous event, (3) It is a complete event, not one in which one is partial healed, etc. (4) It is a certifiable – real event, (5) It is a verifiable event – one that can be proven, and (6) It is an event that is acknowledged by unbelievers, Acts 3:3-10; 4:16; John 11:47.

Nearly every time a miracle is accomplished in the New Testament it is described with three words – “sign – wonder – power,” (Acts 2:22; Hebrews 2:1-4). The word “sign” is used as a token, an indication of the working of God. It is to tell us something. A second word that is used to describe the event is “miracle” or “power.” This identifies the event as something special. The third word “amazed” or “wonder” or “astonished” tell the reaction of the people who see the miraculous event (Mark 7:37; 6:51). Interestingly, these words are never used without the word “sign” (Acts 2:43; 4:30; 5:12; 6:8).

Five Classes of Miracles

(1) There were miracles that dealt with nature: (Matthew 8:23-27; 14:28-31; 21:18-21). (2) There were miracles that dealt with disease, (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 3:1-5; Luke 17:11-19). (3) There were miracles that dealt with demons, (Matthew 8:28-34; 9:32-35). (4) There were miracles that dealt with material things, (Matthew 14:15-21; John 2:1-11; 21:6-14). (5) There were miracles that dealt with death, (John 9:32-44; Luke 7:11-16; Mark 5:22-24).

Jesus’ Miracles

He did not do miracles to make Himself famous. At least five miracles that He performed He said, “tell no man,” (Matthew 8:1-4; 9:27-31; Mark 3:7-12; 7:31-37; 8:22-26). The miracles that He performed were instantaneously complete, without the person later having a relapse. There was never a question as to whether or not a miracle was performed. Only one time in 31 miracles did Jesus require faith, (Matthew 9:27-31). Some were healed because of the faith of others, (Matthew 15:21-28; John 4:46-54; Matthew 9:1-8; Matthew 8:5-12). Cases where He raised people from the dead are clear cases where the person had no faith. This is a contrast to so called “faith-healers” today. If they fail they blame the person’s lack of faith. Clearly miracles were seen in that: (1) A severed ear was restored, (Matthew 26:51; Mark 14:47). (2) Lepers were healed, (Mark 1:40-45; Luke 17:11-19). (3) A man lame for 38 years, (John 5:1-16). (4) A blind man given sight, (John 9). (5) A withered hand was restored, (Mark 3:1-5).

 

People did not have to be present for Jesus to heal them, (Luke 7:1-10; John 4:46-54). Neither Jesus nor his apostles collected money when performing miracles. This is a sharp contrast to so-called modern day “faith healers.”

The Purpose of Biblical Miracles

   Before the New Testament was written, the miracles were done to prove to others that the one speaking was a man from God and should be listened to. We see this illustrated when Nicodemus came to Jesus. He said, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” John 3:2. When Jesus sent the disciples into the world to preach the gospel the Bible states, “And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word by the signs that followed” Mark 16:20. Thus, miracles were not used because of compassion or for the benefit of the one performing the miracle, but to confirm that the word that was being preached was from God, (Hebrews 2:1-4). When the Holy Spirit finished guiding the apostles in writing the New Testament, there was no longer a need for miracles. Thus, miracles ceased.

 

The inspired word of God could do the same thing that miracles accomplished – cause people to believe. As the apostle John finished his gospel he gave testimony to that fact. He said, “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His same” John 20:30-31. Miracles are not needed today because the written word of God can accomplish what miracles accomplished before the New Testament was written.

Miracles Not Done – Why?

Paul was a tremendous worker for God, yet he struggled with what he called “a thorn in the flesh.” He asked God three times to remove it (II Corinthians 12). Paul and the other apostles had miraculous powers, why wasn’t a miracle done to remove that thorn? Trophyimus was a traveling companion of Paul, but Paul said, “Trophimus I left sick at Miletus” II Timothy 4:20. Since Paul had the ability to heal miraculously, why didn’t he heal him? The young preacher Timothy had stomach trouble. Why didn’t Paul heal him? Instead of healing him he told him “No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments,” I Timothy 5:23. Timothy was so opposed to drinking anything that appeared to be alcoholic he had not even been drinking grape juice. Why didn’t Paul just heal him instead of telling him to take some medicine? Miracles were performed to confirm the word, not out of compassion or for medicinal purposes.

 

Wayne Burger

Gathered Together Part 2

Meditating on the Word

                                            “In His law he meditates day and night” Psalm 1:2

 

“Meditating on the Word,” edited by Wayne Burger, is a work of the church of Christ, which meets at 11873 Springs Rd. Unit #250, Conifer, CO 80433. E-mail: gwburger@q.com – Website: coniferchurchofchrist.com

Vol. 14                                                                             No. 27                                                                  December 21, 2014

 

 

Gathered Together Part 2

 

In the previous article we noted the prophecy in John 11:52 that Jesus was going to “gather together into one the children of God” John 11:52. We showed that this was partially fulfilled when God brought the Jews and Gentiles together in the church (Ephesians 2:15; 3:6). Involved in the fulfillment of gathering together was God gathering the Jews from the kingdom of Judah and the Jews who were part of the northern Israelite kingdom who had been scattered among the people. Ezekiel, the prophet, spoke extensively about gathering the Jews from these two areas into one body, making one flock.

 

In Ezekiel 34 the prophet condemned the leaders of Israel because they were poor shepherds (vs. 1-16). In verse 17 he begins to tell about God’s Shepherd who was going to gather into one fold His sheep who had been scattered. He said, “As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day. I will bring them out from the people and gather them from the countries and bring them to their own land” Ezekiel 34:12-13. Notice His sheep (the Jewish people) had been scattered and God would “gather” (there is our word) them.

 

After He gathered His sheep He said, “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd” Ezekiel 34:23. This was not going to be literal David, but Jesus, who is a descendent of David. This is why Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd” John 10:14. The prophecy said that “He will feed them.” Jesus said, “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world….I am the bread of life” John 6:33, 35. That bread is the word that Jesus gave. Jesus said, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” John 6:63. When Jesus asked if His disciples were going to leave Him, Peter responded saying, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” John 6:68.

Covenant of Peace

God then said, “I will make a covenant of peace with them” Ezekiel 34:25. How and when was that covenant of peace to be established? Paul explained, “He (Jesus) Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall” Ephesians 2:14. Paul had just said, “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off (Gentiles) have been brought near by the blood of Christ” Ephesians 2:13. The Hebrew writer spoke about this covenant of peace when he wrote, “Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord” Hebrews 13:20. Paul used a combination of these key words when he said that Jesus “made peace through the blood of His cross” Colossians 1:20. When Jesus died on the cross the covenant of peace about which the prophet spoke had been established. “Peace” conveys the idea of security. The prophet went on to describe the blessings of this peace by saying, “I (God) will make them and the places around My hill a blessing. And I will cause showers to come down in their season; they will be showers of blessing” (34:26). Those showers of blessing were not just the peace between men, but peace between men and God. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” Romans 5:1. The prophet concluded this theme by saying, “As for you, My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, you are men, and I am your God, declares the Lord God” (34:31). A shower of God’s blessing is that we belong to Him and He is our God.

 

Conclusion

Have you been gathered together? Are you receiving those showers of blessings? God has done all He can do to bring you into the fold. He has given the sacrifice. He has established the fold (more on this next week) and He has given instructions as to the way we are to enter that fold. Jesus said, “For many are called, but few are chosen” Matthew 22:14. God lets each individual decide if he wants to enter the fold.

 

Wayne Burger

 

Saint Surfer Angel

 

These three words aren’t normally seen together. They are certainly an odd combination. However, this usual assortment of terms is being used to describe a Brazilian man by the name of Guido Schaffer. Shaffer is a young man who died while surfing back in 2009. Besides being a man of faith, he was known for being giving and loving to others. For these reasons, people labeled him as the “surfer angel.” Before his death, he was weeks away from being ordained as a Catholic priest. Now the Vatican is considering him for sainthood (Catholic News Agency).

 

Schaffer certainly seemed to be a good person. He obviously helped many people. The problem comes with the label of “saint.” See, if Shaffer wasn’t a saint while he was living, then he cannot become one after death. This isn’t to minimize what he did, but merely to point out that people often misunderstand what a saint actually is. A saint is not a person the Catholic Church deliberates on and then comes to a decision whether or not he or she is worthy to be called a saint. The Bible actually paints a very different picture of what a saint actually is. The word “saint” literally means, “holy one.” So, this is talking about people who are especially holy in God’s eyes. Who are these people? Let’s explore some facts.

 

First, saints live on the earth. Only living saints would have physical requests and would need a contribution to be taken up for them (Romans 12:13; 15:25-26; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 9:12). Only living saints could be persecuted and put into prison (Acts 9:13; 26:10). Only living saints would have physical homes in certain cities (Acts 9:32; Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 1:1). Only living saints could have their feet washed (1 Timothy 5:10). Paul was a saint while still alive (Ephesians 3:8). Clearly saints are people living on earth.

 

Second, the word saint is almost always used in the plural (67 times). Only one time is it used in the singular, but even it is used in a plural sense, “Greet every saint in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 4:21). Today, the word saint is typical used to speak about a certain person. In scripture, it is used to talk about a certain group of people. The question is, who are these people?

 

Third, the description of saints. (1) Saints are the people who are “beloved of God” (Romans 1:7). This word “beloved” simply means, “to love more” or those who have a “special love” from God. So, while God loves everyone on the earth, it appears there is a special group of people on earth who are “beloved” by God. (2) Saints are people who are “sanctified by Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:2). Sanctified means to be “set apart.” So, there are certain people God has “set apart” on this earth. (3) Only saints have the Holy Spirit to intercede and translate their prayer to God (Romans 8:26-27). Clearly there is a special connection between saints and God. This Scripture also shows that saints are living since dead saints wouldn’t need something like this.

 

So, who are saints? There is only one group that could possible fit all of these descriptions – Christians. Follow along with me. What type of people would fit the plural sense? Christians. What type of people might be called saints and still be living on earth and have physical needs? Christians. What type of people would God have a special love for? Christians. What type of people has God “set apart” from everyone else to have salvation? Christians. What people are alive and would need the Holy Spirit to intercede in prayer for them? Christians.

 

All saints are Christians and all Christians are saints. You can’t be one without being the other. The Vatican may decide to call Guido Schaffer a saint, but this doesn’t mean he is one. The only way a person becomes a saint is the same way a person becomes a Christian, through baptism (Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:26-27). Only God knows if Shaffer was a true Christian.

 

If we aren’t already saints, the good news is we can change this at any moment (Acts 22:16). If we already are, then let’s praise God for allowing us to be a part of the special group who are beloved, set apart, and have the Holy Spirit.

Brett Petrillo

 

Insight – Obey the Gospel

 

The gospel is God’s power to save us (Romans 1:16). Paul tells us that the fundamental facts of the gospel are: the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (I Corinthians 15:1-4). He also warns that those who do not obey the gospel will suffer God’s retribution (II Thessalonians 1:8). How does one obey the gospel? Just as Jesus died, was buried, and raised so the sinner must go through this process also. One dies to the old man of sin, is buried in water for the forgiveness of his sins, and is raised to walk a new life (Romans 6:3-4; Acts 2:38). Have you obeyed the gospel? Let us assist you in doing this so that you will not “pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” II Thessalonians 1:9.

Wayne Burger

Gathered Together

Meditating on the Word

                                            “In His law he meditates day and night” Psalm 1:2

 

“Meditating on the Word,” edited by Wayne Burger, is a work of the church of Christ, which meets at 11873 Springs Rd. Unit #250, Conifer, CO 80433. E-mail: gwburger@q.com – Website: coniferchurchofchrist.com

Vol. 14                                                                             No. 26                                                                  December 14, 2014

 

 

Gathered Together

 

Without realizing it, Caiaphas, speaking about what Christ would do, prophesied saying, “Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” John 11:51-52 (NASU). Notice the facts stated above: (1) Jesus was going to die, (2) He was going to die for the nation (Jews), (3) Jesus was going to die for others – Gentiles, who were scattered, (4) Jesus was going to gather all of those who were God’s children into one fold. Earlier in his gospel, John recorded a similar statement when Jesus, speaking about the Gentile people, said, “I have other sheep (Gentiles), which are not of this fold (the Jews); I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd” John 10:16.

 

God has always planned to bring into His family the Gentile people. In order to save mankind He had to give His Son as a sacrifice. Since that Son could only come through one family, God chose the family of Abraham who eventually produced the Jewish nation. The Jewish nation became God’s chosen nation for the purpose of bringing Christ into the world. But, even when God first called Abraham, He indicated that through Abraham all people of the world would be saved. God said to Abraham, “And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” Genesis 12:3. When the Jews saw the word “families” they saw only Jewish families, but the passage clearly states, “All the families of the earth.”

 

Gathered Together

The phrase and the idea of people being “gathered together” is found throughout the Bible. It is used to point to the time all of God’s children would be brought into one fold – thus made into one flock. Paul in particular uses this phrase often, especially in the book of Ephesians. Speaking about the Christian age in which God would work through Christ he said, “That in the dispensation of the fullness of time, he might gather together in one all things in Christ” Ephesians 1:10 (KJV).

 

In the second chapter of Ephesians Paul develops the idea of bringing the Jews and Gentiles together, even though he doesn’t use the phrase, “gathered together.” He noted that the Gentiles were separated from God by the barrier (the Old Law). Speaking about what Jesus did to gather together Jews and Gentiles Paul wrote, “For He Himself is our peace who made both groups (Jews and Gentiles) into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall” Ephesians 2:14. He goes on to explain how that was accomplished when he wrote, “By abolishing in His flesh (through Christ’s death) the enmity (the hate between Jews and Gentiles), which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity” Ephesians 2:15-16. When God gave the Law of Moses to the Jews, it became a barrier which put the Gentiles outside. But, when Jesus died on the cross He removed the Law of Moses and gathered together Jews and Gentiles into the church – the one body (Ephesians 4:4), thus making one flock about which He spoke (John 10:16).

 

Foretold by the Prophets

Hosea preached to the northern kingdom (Israel) who had become so wicked that God said of them, “You are not My people and I am not your God” Hosea 1:9. But he goes on to say, “Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea which cannot be measured or numbered and in the place where it is said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ it will be said to them, ‘You are the sons of the living God.’ And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together” Hosea 1:10-11a.

 

Israel had become so wicked that they had become like the Gentiles and for that reason both Peter and Paul apply this passage to the Gentiles and spoke of them being gathered together. Paul said, “He (God) (made) known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. As He says, also in Hosea, ‘I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’ and her who was not beloved ‘beloved.’ And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ there they shall be called the sons of the living God.’” Romans 9:23-26. This is why earlier in this chapter Paul said, “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel” Romans 9:6. Just as there was a physical Israel who was God’s chosen people, so today there is a spiritual Israel who is God’s chosen people (Galatians 6:16; I Peter 2:9).

 

Speaking about Gentile people Peter taught the same message when he wrote, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” I Peter 2:9-10.

 

Conclusion

Even though it may have looked for a long time like God had abandoned the Gentile people, we can rejoice to know that He had not. He had a plan and now that He has executed that plan we can be God’s chosen people – spiritual Israel. Most people today who are Christians are Gentiles. It is so sad that most of those who had been God’s chosen people have rejected Christ as the Messiah. We ought to pray for them as Paul did. He said, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” Romans 10:1-3 (KJV).

Wayne Burger

 

Each Tuesday night Mike Hite and Neal Pollard have a Bible class called Teens in the Word. Below is an article about a recent class.

 

A Visit to a Teen’s Religious World

 

I love the World War II generation and the enormous impact they have had on our nation!  Perhaps no generation has had a greater challenge since them than the one presently coming to maturity.  Last night, at Teens In The Word, we asked the teens to describe the religious philosophy of their peers as they interact with them at school, their jobs, and their extracurricular activities.  It was heartening to see and hear our teens’ conviction, knowledge, and heart, but disheartening to discuss the fruit of a couple of generations of our culture’s social experiment to reprogram the thinking of people, especially this burgeoning generation.

Our teens attend schools in Douglas, Jefferson, and Denver Counties, go to large High Schools, charter schools, private schools, and homeschools. Despite these diversities, what they encounter is remarkably similar.  It might surprise you that many of their peers believe in a Higher Power and would consider themselves spiritual. More than anywhere else, these peers attend community churches.  Whatever the church growth gurus and experts claim, the teens that go to these churches tell our teens something very different.  Their religious experience is heavily dependent upon entertainment, doing fun things with a party atmosphere, not motivated or influenced by much biblical teaching, segregated from adults, hard-rocking music, dancing, and overall a very tactile experience.  What impact does it have on “faith”?  If speaking in terms of growing closer to God and learning more about Him, not that much. The prevailing worldview of many of our teens’ friends is “what’s right for me may not be right for you,” that God and the devil, heaven and hell are mindsets more than realities (really just your conscience inside of you), and that essentially the only or worst sins, the “objective wrongs,” are offending others and judging others.  When our teens seek to assert objective truth from scripture, they sometimes encounter scorn or rejection. While our teens know a varying degree of peers whose faith and beliefs are more concrete and committed, perhaps the most frequently observed comment last night was that many of their peers “believe in God but not the Bible or Christ.”  They see the Bible as a book of myths or fairytales and not the revealer of truth or a standard of authority.

 

As we closed our class last night, I was left awestruck.  Our teens are among my most cherished heroes.  They are on the frontline of faith, battling in a world more opposed to truth than that of any generation now living which preceded them.  We were struck with more than admiration, though.  We felt determination, the need to redouble our efforts to establish and defend the trustworthiness and integrity of the Bible, the existence of God, and from that the authoritative nature of Scripture.  Not only will this bolster the faith of our teens, but it will help them in dialoging with those among their peers possessing good and honest hearts (cf. Luke 8:15).

 

Here are four things you can do right now for our teens: (1) Pray for them. (2) Live Christ without hypocrisy before them. (3) Actively encourage them. (4) Help equip them. Look for heroes where you will. I have found mine!

Neal Pollard

Daily Bread, 12-10-14

The Holiday Season

Meditating on the Word

                                            “In His law he meditates day and night” Psalm 1:2

 

“Meditating on the Word,” edited by Wayne Burger, is a work of the church of Christ, which meets at 11873 Springs Rd. Unit #250, Conifer, CO 80433. E-mail: gwburger@q.com – Website: coniferchurchofchrist.com

Vol. 14                                                                             No. 25                                                                    December 7, 2014

 

 

Hugo McCord was a Biblical scholar who taught many years at Oklahoma Christian College (University). He gives some good insights into the subject of the holiday season.

 

The Holiday Season

 

At year’s end for centuries, even before the birth of Christ, people in Europe enjoyed a holiday season. An occasion of rejoicing was the fact that at year’s end the northern hemisphere was at its farthest point away from the sun and was about to turn back closer to its light and warmth. Days would begin to lengthen. Gradually the long nights would be shorter. As a symbol of returning life the ancient Theutonic tribes decorated their houses with evergreen and the fireplace burned brightly with the yuletide log. Good luck gifts were freely exchanged. It was a time of joy and good cheer.

 

Over three hundred years after Jesus was born the year’s end holiday season was appropriated to make a religious celebration. It was recognized that Jesus was not born in the wintertime, for shepherds do not have their flocks out in the open around Bethlehem in December. The continual weather forecast for December in the Bethlehem area is “Hail, snow on higher hills, and occasionally on lower levels.” Nevertheless, the date of December 25 was selected by Liberius, bishop of Rome, in 353 A.D. to coincide with the established year’s end holiday. Since that time, the bishop’s order has been followed by the Roman Catholic Church, and when the Protestant churches were established, they began following Rome’s lead in making December 25 a sacred day.

 

God did not make any day of the week as a holy day for Christians. If anyone does so, it is his own private doing from “his own mind” (Rom. 14:5). And if he does so he must not push that day on others, for, said Paul, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls” (Romans 14:4). The Christians in Galatia were pushing certain days as holy, and they received a blistering condemnation from Paul: “You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you” (Gal. 4:10-11). The first day of the week to Christians is not more sacred than any other day. Every day is a gift from the Lord, and so every day is the Lord’s day but Christians do remember the first day of the week as a day of precious memory that Jesus arose on that day (Mk. 16:9), and in that sense the first day of the week is a day of memorial, and they call it the “Lord’s Day” (Rev. 1:10). But they do not regard Sunday as a Sabbath or a more holy day than any other. On that day by apostolic teaching they assemble to observe the Lord’s Supper and to make financial offerings (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:1-2).

 

After the Roman Catholic Church had fitted an erroneous birthday of Christ to coincide with the established holiday season, more and more additions became part of the celebration. “St. Nicholas” was a 4th century bishop, who was called “the patron saint of children, sailors and scholars,” who is now called “Santa Claus.” In the 11th Century someone invented the word “Christmas,” meaning “Christ’s Mass” (Christes Masse). In France the word was “Noel,” meaning pertaining to a birthday.

 

The burning of candles and the use of bright lights during the December holidays are believed to have come from the Jewish custom in their celebration of the Feast of Dedication at Hanukkah, the “Feast of Lights,” December 23-30, mentioned in John 10:22.

 

The use of trees as decorations began in German mystery plays as symbolic of the Garden of Eden. The use of mistletoe came from the English belief of its magical powers: if one’s enemy stood under the mistletoe he would disarm himself.

 

Manger displays started in Italy, and mincemeat pies began to be baked in oblong shapes to represent the manger. The poinsettia was discovered in Mexico, and came to be called the “Flower of the Holy Night.” The sending of greeting cards originated in England. Today, such a custom spreads good cheer the world around.

 

To thousands, Christmas does not mean a mass for Christ, just as Saturday does not mean a day of worship, and as Thursday does not mean a day dedicated to the god of war, Thor. To thousands, Christmas means only a time for families and good friends to get together to exchange gifts, and to relax.

 

All Christians rejoice that the great Father planned that Mary, sitting on donkey’s back, riding toward Bethlehem had, in her womb, God in the flesh, being protected by a water bag. But when inns are full, they are full. Sleep where you can. So, in a stable, “God deep in the flesh became deep in the straw.” Lying in a feeding trough was the creator of the universe (John 1:3), one who would become a brother (Rom. 8:29), a friend (John 15:14), the sin-bearer (2 Cor. 5:21), and the redeemer (I Pet. 1:18-19).

 

On any day at any season of the year it is edifying to sing songs about the birth of the Anointed One, the Christ-child. Songs about the birth of the Babe of Bethlehem continue to make millions happy and draw them closer to one another and to the One who came to live among humans and who wants to take them to Heaven. The earliest of such carols, from the 4th century, is “Jesus, Light of All the Nations.” Other famous ones are: “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen,” Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” “Away in the Manger,” “Joy to the World,” and “Silent Night.”

Hugo McCord

 

 

 

A Beautiful Mind

 

You may recognize the title of this article as also being an academy award winning film about the life of Nobel Laureate in Economics winner John Nash (played by Russell Crowe). He was a wizard at mathematics, but his personal life was chaos.   The film focused on his paranoid schizophrenia and how he worked to eventually overcome his delusions. The film told a heartwarming fictional story based loosely on his life. But the truth of his life was not as heartwarming as the film portrayed

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Beautiful_Mind_

 

The word “heart” is often used in the Bible to describe a person’s mind. Proverbs 23:7a says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”   Jesus asked, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?” (Matthew 9:4b). From these and other passages it is deduced that the word “heart” is sometimes used figuratively to represent the thinking part of man—the mind.

 

The heart is also described as being deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). It is said of the wicked man, “Perversity is in his heart, He devises evil continually, He sows discord” (Proverbs 6:14). In Genesis 6:5 it was written about mankind, “…that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” That is a sad commentary on the hearts of men. It is certainly not beautiful in the eyes of God.

 

On the other hand, there are those who had a beautiful heart [mind] in the eyes of God. When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, He said, “Behold, and Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” (John 1:47.) David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). Mary, the mother of Jesus, is another example of a person who had a beautiful mind, for she found favor with God (Luke 1:28, 30).

 

The ultimate example of a beautiful mind is found Jesus Christ. Peter wrote of Him, “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). Paul said of Jesus, that He, “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

 

What are some of the characteristics that make up “a beautiful mind”?

 

In Nathaniel we find that he had a heart in which there was no deceit. He did not use trickery or subtlety. He was a man of honesty and integrity.

 

In David we find a man who was willing to love God and follow His words. When you read the Psalms you can’t help but recognize the awe and respect David had for God and for His word. In Psalm 51 you also see David’s willingness to openly repent when he failed to do God’s will.

 

Words are inadequate to describe the beauty of Jesus. Although He was not comely or beautiful to look upon (Isaiah 53:2), He was fairer than any work that any artist has ever created. Jesus said of Himself that He was “gentle and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). Jesus was obedient from His heart (John 8:29). Jesus served His Father with gladness and love (John 14:31). Even when faced with death for work His Father had given Him to do, He pressed forward because His heart was wholly given to His Father (Matthew 26:50-52).

 

In like manner, the First Commandment teaches everyone, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” A beautiful mind begins here. When God looks at you, does He see a beautiful mind?

Steve Vice

Reformation Day – October 31

Meditating on the Word

                                            “In His law he meditates day and night” Psalm 1:2

 

“Meditating on the Word,” edited by Wayne Burger, is a work of the church of Christ, which meets at 11873 Springs Rd. Unit #250, Conifer, CO 80433. E-mail: gwburger@q.com – Website: coniferchurchofchrist.com

Vol. 14                                                                             No. 19                                                                      October 26, 2014

 

 

Reformation Day – October 31

 

Halloween is not the only holiday that is celebrated on October 31st. A big portion of the Protestant Christian Denominations honor this day and call it “Reformation Day.” They honor the fact that on this day in 1517 Martin Luther, a Catholic priest, nailed to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany what came to be called “The 95 Theses.” These were 95 doctrines and practices of the Romans Catholic Church that Martin Luther thought were unscriptural. The main issue was the “sale of indulgence.”

 

To understand the “sale of indulgence” one must first understand what the Roman Catholic Church teaches about forgiveness of sin. They teach that sins must be paid for in two ways (1) Temporal (physical), (2) Eternal (Spiritual). They believe that Jesus paid for the spiritual punishment for sin, but each sinner or his friends, must pay for his temporal sins through physical actions or by serving time in purgatory (a concept that is not taught in the Bible). Shaff in History of the Christian Church says this about the sale of indulgence: “The remission of the temporal (not the eternal) punishment of sin (not the sin itself), on condition of penitence and the payment of money to the church or some charitable object” (Vol. 7, 147, as quoted in The Arrogant Journey by Victor Vadney, p. 214).

 

Luther’s actions of nailing the 95 Theses to the door in protest was the first action that motivated others to challenge the Romans Catholic Church. This movement was an effort by men to correct the corruptions they saw in the Roman Catholic Church. Neither Luther, nor other men who led this movement intended to start other churches. They simply wanted to “reform” the church of which they were a part. But, the Catholic Church forced these men out of the Catholic Church which caused each of them to begin another denomination. Each denomination that was begun was an effort by a number of individuals to correct the corruptions each saw.

 

There had been earlier efforts to correct the Catholic Church. Such men as John Wyclif (1324-1384) and John Huss (1369-1415) and many others preceded Luther, but it was Luther’s action which brought about the Protestant Reformation Movement. Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531 led a Reformation Movement in Switzerland. John Calvin (1509-1564) was probably the second most influential leader in the Reformation Movement. He was the chief founder of the Reformed Church in France and French Switzerland. A close associate of Calvin, John Knox, took these ideas and began the Presbyterian Church in Scotland.

 

Not Far Enough

The men who led the Reformation Movement are to be commended. They performed a great work in a number of different areas. For one, they believed in giving the Bible to all people and not just having it in the hands of the Catholic Church. Second, they believed that anyone could understand the Bible and thus, it did not have to be interpreted by the Catholic Church. Third, they believed in the “priesthood of all believers” which is the belief that there are not special men or women who must lead the service.

 

Every Christian should be appreciative for what each of those men contributed toward breaking the powerful hold that the Catholic Church had on individuals. It took great courage to “buck” what seemed to be the only church in existence. For the most part, the Catholic Church not only had power over one’s spiritual lives, but also had power in the civil and secular areas of one’s life. It would have been easy to have felt that there was no way one could win the battle if he/she departed from and fought against the Roman Catholic Church. But, these brave men and women stood up against this mighty power and it cost them dearly with the loss of physical blessings and often the loss of their lives. Where does one go and what does one do when he breaks with what he thinks is the only church – the one that claims to be the church Jesus started? As much as we respect these men and women, we also believe that they fell short of restoring the true New Testament Church. (Next week we’ll look at the concept of “Restoration.”)

Wayne Burger

 

 

 

 

More Church History

 

The Defeat of Islam

The Islamic religion started in 632 A.D. by Mohammed and for the first 100 years it spread like wildfire. It began in Saudi Arabia and spread in all directions. It came west across northern Africa and crossed into Europe through the Gibraltar Strait. It quickly conquered Spain, and crossed the Pyrenees Mountains into France. It looked like it was going to march through all of Europe, destroying the Catholic Church and any other religious group. But, Charles Martel defeated the Muslims and the spread of the Islamic faith in a great and significant historical battle called “The Battle of Tours” in 732. Charles was called “Martel” because “Martel” means “The Hammer.” He “hammered” them back across the Pyrenees Mountains so that they were not able to conquer the rest of Europe.

 

It may be through the providence of God that he was able to accomplish such a feat. Think about the significance of that victory. Had the Muslims continued to march across Europe they would have extinguished

“Christianity.” They would have destroyed all Bibles. If that had happened, it would have been very difficult for the Reformers to have reformed the Catholic Church, because there would have been no Catholic Church. It would have been impossible to re-establish the true New Testament church because there would have been no Bibles to read. God has a hand in the affairs of men. Daniel said, “The Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever he wishes” Daniel 4:25. Paul echoed and expanded on that idea when he said that God determined the boundaries of mankind. He said, He (God) “having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation” Acts 17:26.

 

God still works today and bestows governments on whomever He wishes and sets the limits of their rule as well as the length of time they rule. God knows His church and the people who form it. He will accomplish what He wants the church to accomplish if His people will be submissive to His will. Our prayer is that God will bless His church all over the world and especially here in these mountain communities. Let’s be submissive to Him and be tools in His hands.

 

Wayne Burger

 

 

 

Looking To Faith

 

Today‘s Scripture: Hebrews 12:1-2 – “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus…”

 

   One of the most iconic symbols of the Unites States of America is the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. Interestingly, it is noted for the crack which appeared shortly after its arrival in Philadelphia in 1752 from London.

 

This crack was repaired by a couple of local foundry men and things were fine for a time. In 1835 the crack reappeared. It has never been repaired. That crack has become a part of the bells character. Actually it is emblematic of our country itself which is not perfect.

 

   That pretty well describes you and me as well. But rather than imply that we are cracked or flawed, I will say that we are all scarred. Most of us have one or two scars that remind us of some stupid thing that we have done. But not all the scars are physical, many of them are emotional. What do we do with them?

 

   First of all, remember the peace of Christ. There are numerous occasions in which Jesus mentions His peace. Jesus knew that His disciples would be under constant scrutiny and danger.

 

   There is always someone lurking just around the corner looking to land a blow to your faith. But the resurrection of Jesus Christ promises that the enemy does not have the last word.

 

   Secondly, remember the continual presence of Jesus. When doubt and fear sneak into our lives, we need to remember the witness of the Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit that enables us to demonstrate the character of Christ.

 

   Let us also remember that our faith is not an idea or a principle, but rather it is in the person of Jesus Christ. Our faith does not subscribe to the old adage, “seeing is believing.”

 

   Our sense of peace does not depend upon circumstances, but on the person of Jesus Christ.

 

Dennis Russell

A Biblical Study of Alcohol (Part 3)

Meditating on the Word

                                            “In His law he meditates day and night” Psalm 1:2

 

“Meditating on the Word,” edited by Wayne Burger, is a work of the church of Christ, which meets at 11873 Springs Rd. Unit #250, Conifer, CO 80433. E-mail: gwburger@q.com – Website: coniferchurchofchrist.com

Vol. 14                                                                             No. 18                                                                       October 19, 2014

 

 

A Biblical Study of Alcohol (Part 3)

(Should a Faithful Christian Drink?)

 

How Drunk Is Drunk?

Everyone I know believes the Bible teaches that one sins when he/she gets drunk. This brings us to a valid question, “How drunk does one have to be before one sins?” Is it when one begins to vomit? Is it when one begins to stagger? Is it when one’s mind is affected?

 

Sin begins in the mind or heart (Mark 7:22-23; James 1:13-15). When alcohol affects the mind, sin has occurred. This takes place before there are physical symptoms. It takes place before the staggering, and vomiting, and hang-over manifests itself.

 

Dr. Haven Emerson of Columbia University said, “The higher qualities of the mind are the very first to be rubbed out by alcohol. The delicate capacities of intellectual decision and choice and discretion and will power are those faculties which are first dulled and then wiped out by alcohol because they are the least capable of withstanding its toxic effects” (The Problem: Alcohol – Narcotics, Texas Alcohol Narcotics Education, Inc,, Dallas, Texas, p. 14).

 

Studies show that .005% — one drop of alcohol with 20,000 drops of blood can bring about the effect Emerson is talking about. This degree of drunk can be brought about by half a can of beer in some people. Generally, one can of beer, a glass of wine, or one cocktail brings this degree of intoxication in all (Ibid).

 

Physical impairment begins at .05%, but moral impairment begins at .005%. It is the moral impairment that affects one’s relationship to God.

 

The level of alcohol in one’s system varies depend-ing upon a number of factors. A drinking chart endorsed by “Distilled Spirits Council of U.S.” shows how drunkenness is determined by how many drinks one has had compared to one’s weight. They consider a drink: (1) One and one-fourth ounces of 80 proof liquor, (2) Twelve ounces of beer, or (3) Four ounces of table wine. If one weighs 120 pounds his blood alcohol level is .06 with two drinks. If one weighs 240 pounds one’s alcohol level is .05 with three drinks. Since the degree of drunkenness is determined by a number of factors, one cannot say “x” number of drinks will make one drunk, but alcohol does affect the mind, a lot quicker than most people realize.

 

Wayne Jackson has insightful information which shows that the Bible speaks of degrees of drunkenness. He writes, “Moreover, the New Testament, by its employment of various terms, seems to imply that drunkenness is progressive and hence, a matter of degree. For example, methuo ‘signifies to be drunk with wine,’ while a related verb, methusko, means ‘to grow drunk (an inceptive verb, marking the process of the state expressed’ by methuo).The noun methe suggests ‘habitual intoxication’ (W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Word, I, pp. 341-342. (Christian Courier Vol. XVIII No. 8, December 1982).

 

In the next paragraph of that same article he points out this truth as seen in I Peter 4:3. It says, “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desires of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of…winebibibbings (ASV) [drunkenness (NASB)], revellings (ASV) [carousing (NASB)], carousing (ASV) [drinking parties (NASB)].” The Greek word for ‘winebibbings’ is (oinophlugiais) is a drunkenness that ‘marks a step in advance of methe’ (R. C. Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament, LXXI). ‘Revellings’ (komois) denotes the conduct that is ‘concomitant and consequence of drunkenness’ (Vine, III, 293), and ‘carousing’ (potois) is a ‘drinking bout, the banquet, the symposium, not of necessity excessive…but giving opportunity for excess’ (Trench, LXI).”

 

Alcohol Worse than Other Drugs

In the November 1, 2010 Denver Post there was an article entitled “Study: alcohol’s danger worst” by Maria Cheng. The article begins, “Alcohol is more dangerous than illegal drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine, according to a new study” Later it says, “Heroin, crack cocaine and crystal meth were the most lethal to individuals. When considering their wider social effects, alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine were the deadliest. But overall, alcohol outranked all other substances, followed by heroin and crack cocaine. Marijuana, ecstasy and LSD scored far lower.” Still farther in the article it says, “When consumed in excess, alcohol damages nearly all organ systems. It is also connected to higher death rates and is involved in a greater percentage of crime than most other drugs, including heroin.”

 

Teen Drinking

Even though it is an old statistic, the following points to sad truths. “Alcohol kills 6.5 times more young people in the United States than all other illicit drugs combined. There are 10 million drinkers between the ages of 12 and 20 in the United States today. Recent research by the National Institutes of Health shows that the brain is not fully developed until about the age of 21, and research by Duke University has shown conclusively that alcohol causes irreparable damage to adolescent brains. Teen drinkers suffer a 10% reduction in the hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for many types of learning and memory) over their non-drinking peers. A study published by the Journal of American Medical Association shows that people drinking regularly before the age of 14 are more than three times as likely to experience diagnosable alcohol dependence as those that began drinking at 21 or older. Half of all European countries have teenage intoxication rates that exceed those in the United States (Driven, Fall 2001, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, page 24-25).” [“The Drug of Choice” Does God Exist? By John Clayton, September/October 2003].

 

Note also in that article the fact that half of the European countries have intoxication rates that exceed those in the United States. It is not true that if we will introduce drinking to our teens at home they will not have problems with alcohol. “A study just out says that, contrary to popular myth, European youth, meaning 15-and 16-year olds, ‘drink more often, drink more heavily, and get drunk more often than American teens” (“Early drinking doesn’t help” by Betsy Hart, Denver Post Monday, November 21, 2005).

 

That same article goes on to show the error in the common thinking that if parents will allow their teenage children to drink in front of them that it will help. Hart’s last sentence was “Sure, we need to keep our kids physically safe, but we best do that by giving a clear ‘no’ to all sorts of illegal, immoral or other inappropriate behaviors.”

 

What About?

What about Jesus being called a “winebibber” (Matthew 11:19)? In the context Matthew is showing that the Jews didn’t accept John or Jesus. They didn’t accept John because he was an ascetic – didn’t socialize – stayed away from anything having to do with fruit of the vine and the people said, “He has a demon” Matthew 11:18. They rejected Jesus calling him a gluttonous man and a drunkard. Just because the people said Jesus drank doesn’t make it so. Did Jesus sin – No (Hebrews 4:15). When it says that Jesus drank, it is an assumption to say that He drank alcohol. Matthew closes that discussion by saying, “Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds” Matthew 11:19. He says, both John and Jesus’ action proved that they were obedient to God.

 

What about Jesus making wine at the wedding feast (John 2:1-11)? As we have show earlier, the word wine doesn’t mean that it was alcoholic wine. Besides, Habakkuk 2:15 says it is a sin for one to give his neighbor drink. Jesus would not have violated the Old Testament law.

 

What about Paul telling Timothy to “no longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” I Timothy 5:23). First, the fact that he had to tell him to drink wine shows that Timothy was not accustomed to drinking alcoholic beverages. Paul’s advice was to take wine as a medicine. If one has an ailment today, go to the doctor and get a prescription to take care of it. It may have a lot of alcohol in it, but it is being taken to cure an ailment, and not being drunk for pleasure. “The American Heart Association adamantly warns against its use (drinking alcohol), stating on its official web site, “There is no scientific proof that drinking wine or any other alcoholic beverage can replace…conven-tional measures.”

(http://www.anericanheart.rg/presenter,jhtml?identifier+4422).

Reasons Not to Drink

(1) One out of 12 people who begin to drink become alcoholics. (2) Alcohol harms the body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19-20), (3) Drinking becomes addictive which is forbidden in scripture (I Corinthians 6:12; – Galatians 5:23), (4) The Bible warns against drinking, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise” Proverbs 20:1. “Who has woe? Who has Sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, those who go to taste mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly” Proverbs 23:29-32.

\Wayne Burger

A Biblical Study of Alcohol (Part 2)

Meditating on the Word

                                            “In His law he meditates day and night” Psalm 1:2

 

“Meditating on the Word,” edited by Wayne Burger, is a work of the church of Christ, which meets at 11873 Springs Rd. Unit #250, Conifer, CO 80433. E-mail: gwburger@q.com – Website: coniferchurchofchrist.com

Vol. 14                                                                             No. 17                                                                        October 12, 2014

 

 

A Biblical Study of Alcohol (Part 2)

(Should a Faithful Christian Drink?)

 

Strength of Biblical Alcohol

Depending upon the English version one reads, there are several different terms used in the Bible for alcoholic drinks. We find the word “wine,” “strong drink,” “liquor” (which means the juice of fruit) and according to Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament “beer” is the translation in the NIV (Vol. I. p. 376). The question is, “What percent or what “proof” alcohol were they?

 

Again TWOT (Ibid) under the topic #864 (Hebrews yayin) has some very interesting and factual information on this subject. “Wine was the most intoxicating drink known in ancient times. All the wine was light wine, i.e. not fortified with extra alcohol. Concentrated alcohol was only known in the Middle Ages (500-1500 AD, GWB) when the Arabs invented distillation (’alcohol’ is an Arabic word) so what is now called liquor or strong drink (i.e. whiskey gin, etc.) and the twenty per cent fortified wines were unknown in Bible times. Beer was brewed by various methods, but its alcoholic content was light. The strength of natural wines is limited by two factors. The percentage of alcohol will be half of the percentage of the sugar in the juice. And if the alcoholic content is much above 10 or 11 percent, the yeast cells are killed and fermentation ceases. Probably ancient wines were 7-10 per cent” (p. 376) – (In modern terminology it would be considered 14 to 20 proof alcohol, while today there is 180 proof alcohol). As you can tell, there really is no comparison in the alcoholic strength of biblical alcohol and modern day alcoholic drinks.

 

Also, whatever proof or percentage of alcohol those drinks had, when they drank them they mixed them with water which lowered the alcoholic content. Alfred Edersheim, who was a recognized biblical scholar, said “According to one statement, two parts, according to another, three parts, of water were to be added to the wine” (Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Vol. II, p. 208). It is interesting to note that Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, “considered twenty parts water to one of the Thracian wine to be a proper beverage” (Biblical Commentary by Nott, p. 42 as quoted by Jim Waldron, “Bulletin Briefs” Vol. 12, No. 5, May 2009). “Homer (Odyssey, book ix.) tells us that Ulysses took in his boat ‘a goat-skin of sweet black wine, a divine drink, which Marion, the priest of Apollo, had given him – it was sweet as honey – it was imperishable, or would keep forever; that when it was drunk, it was diluted with twenty parts water, and that from it a sweet and divine odor exhaled’” (Bible Wines by William Patton, p. 42).

 

The “Best Wine”

For many today, the best wine or alcohol is that which has the strongest alcohol or that which gives the greatest feelings. This was not the way first century people felt about wine. Pliny, Plutarch, and Horace (men of the first few centuries) mention the best wine was that which was harmless or innocent. Pliny said good wine is that which is destitute of spirit. Others from that time said that the best wines were not fermented, but ordinary grape juice, served hot or cold or mixed with spices and mixed with water (The American Encyclopedia, p. 388. This information comes from some notes in my files from many years ago, and I believe them to be accurate, I have not been able to verify them today).

 

Preservation of Grape Juice

William Patton’s book, mentioned above, has an exceeding amount of information about biblical wines. He goes into great detail to show four ways that the ancients had to preserve grape juice so that fermentation would not occur: (pp. 26-41). The most common way was to boil the juice down to one-half and that which was left was called defrutum and some even boiled it to one-third of its original amount and that was called sapa (pp. 26-27). (The common term for that to which it had been boiled down is “must” and was about the consistency of molasses). It was then reconstituted by adding water. “Aristotle, born 384 B.C., says, ‘The wine of Arcadia was so thick that it was necessary to scrape it from the skin bottles in which it was contained, and to dissolve the scrapings in water….Some of the celebrated Opinian wine mentioned by Pliny had, in his day, two centuries after its production, the consistence of honey” (p. 27). Patton’s book goes on to say, “After the boiling, for preserving it cool, and that it be less liable to ferment, it is put into earthen instead of wooden vessels, closely tied over with skin to exclude the air. It ordinarily has not a particle of intoxicating qulities” (p. 32).

 

In the Christian Courier Vol. XVIII No. 8, December, 1982 Wayne Jackson quotes from R. C. Foster’s work, Studies in the Life of Christ, p. 1220. He says, “A Greek wine ship of the second century B.C. found by divers off the southern coast of France several years ago contained a great number of wine flasks that had been sealed so tight that after more than 2,000 years the sea water had not seeped into them.”

 

Other methods of preserving grape juice were: (1) Filtration. “By filtration, the gluten or yeast is separated from the juice of the grape.” He goes on to say, “If the juice be filtered and deprived of its gluten or ferment, the production of alcohol is impossible: (p. 33). (2) Fumigation. This is a process whereby “fermentation “may be stopped by the application or admixture of substances containing sulphur” (p. 39).

 

Conclusion

In this article it has been shown that one cannot justify what is drunk as alcoholic beverages today by looking to the Bible. They are far different in alcoholic strength. It is as the common expression like comparing “apples and oranges.” They really are two different drinks which differ greatly in the degree of alcohol in each. Also, it has been shown from ancient sources that they had the ability to preserve grape juice and that it was grape juice which was thought to be the “best wine.”                                         Continued next week

 

Wayne Burger

 

What Is Your Peace?

 

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27).

   Inner turmoil, troubling dilemmas, unresolved conflicts, guilt, unsure future. All these and more rob a person of peace. We worry about our health, the health and welfare of our loved ones. We worry about our wealth and running out of money before we run out of time (as the commercial says).

                                                                           I am convinced that too many of us turn to the wrong place for peace. Self help books may be of help, but do that really provide the peace that Jesus gives? Isn’t it about time we begin to lean on Jesus and trust His promises rather than fallible man with his tricks for happiness?

   The Hebrew word for peace is Shalom. In Israel today, it is used to ask about one’s health, a greeting and a farewell. Mashalomecha means “how are you doing?” Literally, it reads, “What is your peace?” There is a close connection between what is our peace and how we are doing. To the Jew of the Old Testament, the source of peace was God. “The LORD will bless His people with peace” (Psalm 29:11), if we “depart from evil and do good, Seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14).

   Our peace is none other than Jesus, our Lord. The Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6), is our peace (Ephesians 2:14). He is the only real solution to the turmoil in our lives. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God” (Romans 5:1). In Paul’s greetings to those he wrote, he begins by praying “grace and peace” be with them. In every instance, grace precedes peace. Have you noticed this? Paul knew the order. Without an encounter with the grace of God, there can be no real peace.

   God will not extend to us His unmerited favor of grace unless we prove our faith is real. There is no way to do that apart from obedience (Lk. 6:46). “‘There is no peace,’ says God, ‘for the wicked'” (Isaiah 57:21). This is why God says “righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10). What is your peace?

Rob Redden

 

Insight – Relationship and Character

 

To be a true Christian one must have the proper relationship with God and the proper kind of character. To have the proper relationship one must be born into God’s family. That occurs when one is born of the water and the Spirit in the act of being baptized (John 3:1-8; Acts 2:38; Titus 3:5). One must then have the character of God – maintain the proper relationship with the world. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” Romans 12:1. “Friendship with the world is hostility toward God” James 4:4. A true Christian has to have the proper relationship with God – being born into His family and must have the proper kind of character – the character of God – “You shall be holy, for I am holy” I Peter 1:16. Unless one has both, he/she is not a true Christian.

Wayne Burger

Read other “Insights” on my Facebook page.

A Biblical Study of Alcohol

Meditating on the Word

                                            “In His law he meditates day and night” Psalm 1:2

 

“Meditating on the Word,” edited by Wayne Burger, is a work of the church of Christ, which meets at 11873 Springs Rd. Unit #250, Conifer, CO 80433. E-mail: gwburger@q.com – Website: coniferchurchofchrist.com

Vol. 14                                                                             No. 16                                                                        October 5, 2014

 

 

 

A Biblical Study of Alcohol

(Should a Faithful Christian Drink?)

 

Since drinking alcoholic beverages is accepted by most people few people even question whether or not one should drink. Most have not considered whether or not God’s word even addresses the subject. Actually, there is a lot in the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments, about this subject. This is the first in a series of articles in which we will see what God says about this subject.

 

First, according to a good English dictionary and the Bible, the word “wine” does not always have reference to an alcoholic drink. Second, as we will show later, there really is very little comparison between the strength of biblical alcoholic drinks and today’s alcoholic drinks. But, nearly every biblical reference to alcoholic drinks is spoken of negatively.

 

Priests were forbidden to drink when they entered the tabernacle or temple to carry out their service, Leviticus 10:9.

 

A Nazirite was one who made a vow to dedicate himself in God’s service. Part of that vow was, “He shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink, nor shall he drink any grape juice nor eat fresh or dried grapes. All the days of his separation he shall not eat anything that is produced by the grape vine, from the seeds even to the skin” Numbers 6:3-4.

 

Sons who were drunkards were to be killed by stoning, Deuteronomy 21:20-21. (Wow! If that were true today, how much fewer would our population be?)

 

Hannah was condemned because Eli thought she was drunk. He said, “How long will you make yourself drunk? Put away your wine from you.” I Samuel 1:14.

 

Proverbs 4:17 connects wine with violence.

 

Solomon said that those who become drunk are not wise. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise” Proverbs 20:1. Most of us do not like to be mocked – made fun of. Notice that wine mocks those who drink it. Notice also that wine is connected to brawling. That truth is proven true in the news nearly every day.

 

Proverbs 23 contains numerous warnings against alcohol:

 

“Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe one with rags” vs. 20-21. How many families do you know who have a hard time financially because so much of their income goes toward alcohol?

 

“Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaint? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, those who go to taste mixed wine” vs. 29-30.

 

   “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper” vs. 31-32. To “look on” means to partake of it. Solomon’s comparison to a serpent and viper’s bite is so accurate. These are two kinds of snakes. One stings with the fangs, the other bites. They also affect the body in different ways. The sting, like a rattlesnake affects one’s blood system. The bite of a viper affects one’s nervous system. That is exactly what alcohol does. It affects one’s blood system and one’s nervous system.

 

“Your eyes will see strange things and your mind will utter perverse things. And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, or like one who lies down on the top of a mast. ‘They struck me, but I did not become ill; They beat me, but I did not know it. When shall I awake? I will seek another drink’” vs. 33-35. Again, this is so accurate. Alcohol causes one to see strange things and utter language that one would not utter when sober. It causes one to be sick to the point of vomiting just as when one is sea-sick. It causes one to awaken with injuries, but not remember how the injuries occurred. How true that when all of this happens, and one is sober again, he/she wants another drink.

 

Can anything that affects one the ways described above be something that a faithful child of God should partake of?

 

Isaiah Warns Against Alcohol

 

   “Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink, who stay up late in the evening that wine may inflame them! Isaiah 5:11. Again, we see that God warns against strong drink and wine. It inflames people!

 

   “And these also reel with wine and stagger from strong drink; The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, They are confused by wine, they stagger from strong drink; They reel while having visions, They totter when rendering judgment” Isaiah 28:7-8. Should faithful Christians reel, stagger, and totter? Should preachers and leaders in the church be like this?

 

“Come,” they say, “let us get wine, and let us drink heavily of strong drink; and tomorrow will be like today, only more so” Isaiah 56:12. Drinking clouds one’s view of life.

 

Daniel, even while a youth had the courage to refuse drinks from the king. “The king appointed for them a daily ration from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank…But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank” Daniel 1:5, 8.

 

“Harlotry, wine and new wine take away the understanding” Hosea 4:11. Should a faithful child of God partake in what will take away from his understanding?

 

“Furthermore, wine betrays the haughty man, so that he does not stay at home” Habakkuk 2:5. Should a faithful Christian partake of anything that will betray him? It is so true that alcohol causes one to forsake his home by staying away from the family and by neglecting his family responsibilities. That doesn’t describe a faithful Christian does it?

“Woe to you who make your neighbor drink, who mix in your venom even to make them drunk so as to look on their nakedness” Habakkuk 2:15. One is condemned if he gives his neighbor a drink. Also, one who would do so in order to take advantage of his neighbor is condemned.

 

The Gravest of Sins

   The gravest of sins were committed by those who were drunk. Noah’s drunkenness led to the Canannites being cursed (Genesis 9:21).

 

The daughters of Lot got their father drunk so that they could have sex with him (Genesis 19:32-38).

 

Absalom got his brother, Amnon, drunk so that he could kill him, II Samuel 13:28.

 

It was when Ahasuerus was drunk that he wanted his wife Vashti to parade her beauty before the people and the princes, Esther 1:10-11.

 

It was when Belshazzar and his nobles were drunk that God wrote on the wall telling him that his kingdom was going to be taken from him, Daniel 5.

 

In the New Testament

To the Corinthians Paul said, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? …nor drunkards…will inherit the kingdom of God” I Corinthians 6:9-11. Again he said, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident …drunkenness…that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” Galatians 5:19-21.

 

Nowhere in scripture does it speak of alcoholic beverages as being good and bringing a blessing. Every reference warns against drinking. Where do you go to justify or prove from scripture that drinking alcoholic beverages is an activity in which a faithful Christian should engage?

 

“Abstain from every form of evil” I Thessalonians 5:22. “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever” I John 2:15-17.

 

Nest week we will look at how drunk is drunk and other information related to drinking.

Wayne Burger