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August 9, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The First Epistle to Timothy: Part Seventeen”

1 Timothy 6:11-21 (RSV)
11 But as for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the presence of God who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 I charge you to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ; 15 and this will be made manifest at the proper time by the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. 17 As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches but on God who richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good deeds, liberal and generous, 19 thus laying up for themselves a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life which is life indeed. 20 O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, 21 for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards the faith. Grace be with you.

Lord, I must admit the world and all its charms and reasoning often bedazzles me and confuses me. I wind up taking part before I’m even aware of what is going on. Lord protect me, protect all of us, give us strength, faith, absolute trust in You, courage and great resolve to be Your children, to live a life worthy of our calling and of are salvation. Lord bend us break us, mold us, do whatever it takes to make me, us, the children of Your redemption. Help us with Your Word, Your grace, and Your Holy Spirit to be ALL THAT YOU WANT US TO BE, for Your glory, for Your eternal kingdom and for the sake of the Lost that are all around us in Jesus name, Amen and eternally Amen..........................................................

Finally, the letter comes to an end with a tremendous challenge to Timothy, a challenge all the greater because of the deliberate resonant nobility of the words in which it is clothed.

Right at the outset Timothy is put upon his spirit. He is addressed as man of God. That is one of the great Old Testament titles. It is a title given to Moses.

Deuteronomy 33:1 (RSV)
1 This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death.

The title of Psalms 90 is, "A Prayer of Moses the man of God."

It is a title of the prophets and the messengers of God. God's messenger to Eli is a man of God,

1 Samuel 2:27 (RSV)
27 And there came a man of God to Eli, and said to him, "Thus the LORD has said, `I revealed myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh.

Samuel is described as a man of God,

1 Samuel 9:6 (RSV)
6 But he said to him, "Behold, there is a man of God in this city, and he is a man that is held in honor; all that he says comes true. Let us go there; perhaps he can tell us about the journey on which we have set out."

Shemaiah, God's messenger to Rehoboam, is a man of God,

1 Kings 12:22 (RSV)
22 But the word of God came to Shemai'ah the man of God:

John Bunyan in Pilgrim's Progress calls Great-Grace "God's Champion."

Here is a title of honor. When the charge is given to Timothy, he is not reminded of his own weakness and sin, which might well have reduced him to pessimistic despair; rather he is challenged by the honor which is his, of being God's man. It is the Christian way, not to depress a man by branding him as a lost and helpless sinner, but rather to uplift him by summoning him to be what he has got it in him to be. ((( By the grace of God!!! )))

The Christian way is not to fling a person's humiliating past in their face, but to set before them the splendor of THEIR POTENTIAL FUTURE in Christ Jesus. The very fact that Timothy was addressed as "Man of God" would make him square his shoulders and throw his head back as one who has received his commission from the King.

It reminds me of I time I was struggling at College, Oakland Community College. I was questioning if I should even be in College. One day a professor of mine who had taught at Harvard and Cambridge in England, was discussing something with me. As a result of that discussion, with all sincerity, he called me, me of all people, he called me a SCHOLAR!!! He changed my academic life and my own personal outlook on life FOREVER...........I went on to receive an Associate’s degree from O.C.C, a BA degree in psychology from Michigan State University, a Master’s degree in Biblical Theology, a second Master’s degree in Ministry (Christian Counseling), a Doctorate in Christian Counseling from Bethany Theological Seminary, and finally an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree for my service in God’s kingdom. I have written six published books. While in seminary at Nazarene Theological Seminary, I once again had doubts. I asked Professor Grider if he thought I had what it took to be a Pastor, he said “yes”. I have now been in the ministry over 42 years, founded, which has been viewed by over 8 million persons since 2006.

***The point I am making is this, to be called a man or woman of God is an honorable and powerful thing, which can produce in a person good fruit that can be beyond our wildest imaginations. A second point is this, words are very powerful and can be used for good or great harm, WE SHOULD BE VERY AWARE OF THIS WHEN WE SPEAK ANY WORD, OF ENCOURAGEMENT OR REBUKE!!!!!!!***

The virtues and noble qualities set before Timothy are not just heaped haphazardly together. There is an order in them.

(First), there comes "righteousness," dikaiosune. This is defined as "giving both to men and to God their due." It is the most comprehensive of the virtues; the righteous man is he who does his duty to God and to his fellow-men.

Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)
37 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

(Second), there comes a group of three virtues which look towards God. Godliness, eusebeia, is the reverence of the man who never ceases to be aware that all life is lived in the presence of God. Faith, pistis, here means fidelity, and is the virtue of the man who, through all the chances and the changes of life, down even to the gates of death, is loyal to God. LOVE, agape, is the virtue of the person who, even if they tried, could not forget what God has done for them nor the LOVE of God for us all.

(Third), there comes the virtue which looks to the conduct of life. It is hupomone, The King James Version translates this patience; but hupomone never means the spirit which sits with folded hands and simply bears things, letting the experiences of life flow like a tide over it. It is victorious endurance. "It is unswerving constancy to faith and piety in spite of adversity and suffering." It is the virtue which does not so much accept the experiences of life as conquers them.

(Fourthly), there comes the virtue which looks to men. The Greek word is paupatheia. It is translated gentleness but is really untranslatable. It describes the spirit which never blazes into anger for its own wrongs but can be devastatingly angry for the wrongs of others. It describes the spirit which knows how to forgive and yet knows how to wage the battle of righteousness. It describes the spirit which walks at once in humility and yet in pride of its high calling from God. It describes the virtue by which at all times a person is enabled rightly to treat their fellow-men and rightly to regard themselves.

As Timothy is challenged to the task of the future, he is inspired with the memories of the past.

(i) He is to remember his baptism and the vows he took there. In the circumstances of the early Church, baptism was inevitably adult baptism, for men were coming straight from heathenism to Christ. It was confession of faith and witness to all men that the baptized person had taken Jesus Christ as Savior, Master and Lord. The earliest of all Christian confessions was the simple creed: "Jesus Christ is Lord",

Romans 10:9 (RSV)
9 because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Philippians 2:11 (RSV)
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

But it has been suggested that behind these words to Timothy lies a confession of faith which said: "I believe in God the Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Christ Jesus who suffered under Pontius Pilate and will return to judge; I believe in the Resurrection from the dead and in the life immortal." It may well have been a creed like that to which Timothy gave his allegiance. So, then, first of all, he is reminded that he is a man who has given his pledge. The Christian is first and foremost a person who has pledged their entire being to Jesus Christ.

(ii) He is to remember that he has made the same confession of his faith as Jesus did. When Jesus stood before Pilate, Pilate said: "Are you the King of the Jews?" and Jesus answered: "You have said so",

Luke 23:3 (RSV)
3 And Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" And he answered him, "You have said so."

Jesus had witnessed that he was a King; and Timothy always had witnessed to the lordship of Christ. When the Christian confesses our faith, we do what our Master has already done; when we suffer for our faith, we undergo what our Master has already undergone. When we are engaged on some great enterprise, we can say: "Brothers, Sisters, we are treading where the saints have trod," but when we confess our faith before each other, we can say even more; we can say: "I stand with Christ"; and surely this must lift up our hearts and inspire our lives.

Philippians 1:29 (NIV)
29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,

((((((( WHAT A GREAT HONOR GOD GIVES US!!!!!!! )))))))

(iii) He is to remember that Christ comes again. He is to remember that his life and work must be made fit for Him to see. The Christian is not working to satisfy men; we are working to satisfy Christ. The question he must always ask himself is not: "Is this good enough to pass the judgment of men?" but: "Is it good enough to win the approval of Christ?"

(iv) Above all he is to remember God. And what a memory that is! He is to remember the One who is King of every king and Lord of every lord; the One who possesses the gift of life eternal to give to men; the One whose holiness and majesty are such that no man can ever dare look upon them. The Christian must ever remember God and say: "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

Sometimes we think of the early Church as composed entirely of poor people and slaves. Here we see that even as early as this it had its wealthy members. They are not condemned for being wealthy nor told to give all their wealth away; but they are told what not to do and what to do with it.

Their riches must not make them proud. They must not think themselves better than other people because they have more money than they. Nothing in this world gives any person the right to look down on another, least of all the possession of wealth. They must not set their hopes on wealth. In the chances and the changes of life a person may be wealthy today and a pauper tomorrow; and it is folly to set one's hopes on what can so easily be lost.

They are told that they must use their wealth to do good; that they must ever be ready to share; and that they must remember that the Christian is a member of a fellowship. And they are told that such wise use of wealth will build for them a good foundation in the world to come. As someone put it: "What I kept, I lost; what I gave I have."

There is a famous Jewish Rabbinic story. A man called Monobaz had inherited great wealth, but he was a good, a kindly and a generous man. In time of famine he gave away all his wealth to help the poor. His brothers came to him and said: "Your fathers laid up treasure, and added to the treasure that they had inherited from their fathers, and are you going to waste it all?" He answered: "My fathers laid up treasure below: I have laid it up above. My fathers laid up treasure of Mammon: I have laid up treasure of souls. My fathers laid up treasure for this world: I have laid up treasure for the world to come."

Every time we could give and do not give lessens the wealth laid up for us in the world to come; every time we give increases the riches laid up for us when this life comes to an end.

The teaching of the Christian ethic is, not that wealth is a sin, but that it is a very great responsibility. If a man's wealth ministers to nothing but his own pride and enriches no one but himself, it becomes his ruination, because it impoverishes his soul. But if he uses it to bring help and comfort to others, in becoming poorer, he really becomes richer. In time and in eternity "it is more blessed to give than to receive."

It may well be that the name Timothy is here used in the fullness of its meaning. It comes from two words, timan, to honor, and theos, God and literally means he who honors God. It may well be that this concluding passage begins by reminding Timothy of his name and urging him to be true to it.

The passage talks of the trust that has been entrusted to him. The Greek word for trust is paratheke, which literally means a deposit. It is the word for money deposited with a banker or with a friend. When such money was in time demanded back, it was a sacred duty to hand it back entire. Sometimes children were called a paratheke, a sacred trust. If the gods gave a man a child, it was his duty to present that child trained and equipped to the gods.

The Christian faith is like that, something which we received from our forefathers, and which we must pass on to our children. E. F. Brown quotes a famous passage from St. Vincent of Lerins:

"What is meant by the deposit? (paratheke)  That which is committed to thee, not that which is invented by thee; that which thou hast received, not that which thou hast devised; a thing not of wit, but of learning; not of private assumption, but of public tradition; a thing brought to thee, not brought forth of thee; wherein thou must not be an author, but a keeper; not a leader, but a follower. Keep the deposit. Preserve the talent of the Catholic faith safe and undiminished; let that which is committed to thee remain with thee, and that deliver. Thou hast received gold, render gold."

As parents it does well to remember that our duty is not only to ourselves, but also to our children and our children's children. If in our day the Church were to become weakened; if the Christian ethic were to be more and more submerged in the world; if the Christian faith were to be twisted and distorted; it would not only be we who were the losers, those of generations still to come would be robbed of something infinitely precious. We are not only the possessors but also the trustees of the faith. That which we have received, we must also hand on.

Finally the Pastorals condemn those who, as the King James Version has it, have given themselves to "the oppositions of science falsely so-called." First, we must note that here the word science is used in its original sense; it simply means knowledge, gnosis. What is being condemned is a false intellectualism and a false stressing of human knowledge.

But what is meant by oppositions? The Greek word is antitheseis. Very much later than this there was a heretic called Marcion who produced a book called The Antitheseis in which he quoted Old Testament texts and set beside them New Testament texts which contradicted them. This might very well mean: "Don't waste your time seeking out contradictions in Scripture. Use the Scriptures to live by and not to argue about." But there are two meanings more probable than that.

(i) The word antithesis could mean a controversy; and this might mean: "Avoid controversies; don't get yourself mixed up in useless and bitter arguments." This would be a very relevant bit of advice to a Greek congregation in Ephesus. The Greek had a passion for going to law. He would even go to law with his own brother, just for the pleasure of it. This may well mean, "Don't make the Church a battle-ground of theological arguments and debates. Christianity is not something to argue about, but something to live by."

(ii) The word antithesis can mean a rival thesis. This is the most likely meaning, because it suits Jew and Gentile alike. The scholastics in the later days used to argue about questions like: "How many angels can stand on the point of a needle?" The Jewish Rabbis would argue about hair-splitting points of the law for hours and days and even years. The Greeks were the same, only in a still more serious way. There was a school of Greek philosophers, and a very influential school it was, called the Academics. The Academics held that in the case of everything in the realm of human thought, you could by logical argument arrive at precisely opposite conclusions. They therefore concluded that there is no such thing as absolute truth; that always there were two hypotheses of equal weight. They went on to argue that, this being so, the wise man will never make up his mind about anything but will hold himself for ever in a state of suspended judgment. The effect was of course to paralyze all action and to reduce men to complete uncertainty. So Timothy is told: "Don't waste your time in subtle arguments; don't waste your time in 'dialectical fencing.' Don't be too clever to be wise. Listen rather to the unequivocal voice of God than to the subtle disputations of over-clever minds."

So the letter draws to a close with a warning which our own generation needs. Clever argument can never be made a substitute for Christian action. The duty of the Christian is not to sit in a study and weigh arguments but to live the Christian life in the dust and heat of the world. In the end it is not intellectual cleverness, but conduct and character which count.

Romans 3:4 (RSV)
4 By no means! Let God be true though every man be false, as it is written, "That thou mayest be justified in thy words, and prevail when thou art judged."

James 1:22 (NIV2011)
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Then comes the closing blessing—"Grace be with you." The letter ends with the beauty of the grace of God. As does the final book of the Holy Bible:

Revelation 22:21 (RSV)
21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


August 2, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The First Epistle to Timothy: Part Sixteen”

1 Timothy 6:6-10 (RSV)
6 There is great gain in godliness with contentment; 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world;
8 but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.

Most glorious heavenly Father, We praise Your holy, holy, holy name!!! Thank you this day, and every day for Your most beautiful creation, for all our family, friends, LOVED ones, all those You put in our path, and for all our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ...Oh glory hallelujah for Your most precious word the Holy Bible. Words cannot begin to describe how much we LOVE Your only begotten Son Jesus Christ. Thank You, thank You, thank You, for Your free gift of salvation!!! We shout with inexpressible joy for Your grace in each of our lives!!!!!!! We worship You with all our minds, bodies, and strength.............

Oh glory to You in the highest!!! Glory, glory, glory!!!!!!! Today Lord hear our prayers and have our study of Your word bring light into the darkness, health to our fellowman, and joy to all the heavenly hosts, in Jesus name, Amen and eternally Amen............................................

Today is a day that our Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!!!!!!!

Let us begin:

The word here used for contentment in our text is autarkeia. This was one of the great watchwords of the Stoic philosophers. By it they meant a complete self-sufficiency. They meant a frame of mind which was completely independent of all outward things, and which carried the secret of happiness within itself.

Contentment never comes from the possession of external things.

Contentment comes from an inward attitude to life. In the Third part of Henry the Sixth, Shakespeare draws a picture of the king wandering in the country places unknown. He meets two gamekeepers and tells them that he is a king. One of them asks him:

"But, if thou be a king, where is thy crown?" And the king gives a great answer:

"My crown is in my heart, not on my head;

Not deck'd with diamonds and Indian stones,

Nor to be seen; my crown is call'd content—

A crown it is that seldom kings enjoy."

Long ago the Greek philosophers had gripped the right end of the matter. Epicurus said of himself:

"To whom little is not enough nothing is enough. Give me a barley cake and a glass of water and I am ready to rival Zeus for happiness."

And when someone asked him for the secret of happiness, his answer was:

"Add not to a man's possessions but take away from his desires."

The great men have always been content with little. One of the sayings of the Jewish Rabbis was:

"Who is rich? He that is contented with his lot."

Walter Lock quotes the kind of training on which a Jewish Rabbi engaged and the kind of life he lived:

"This is the path of the Law. A morsel with salt shalt thou eat, thou shalt drink also water by measure, and shalt sleep upon the ground and live a life of trouble while thou toilest in the Law. If thou doest this, happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee—, happy shalt thou be in this world and it shall be well with thee in the world to come."

The Rabbi had to learn to be content with enough. E. F. Brown quotes a passage from the great preacher Lacordaire:

"The rock of our present day is that no one knows how to live upon little. The great men of antiquity were generally poor.... It always seems to me that the retrenchment of useless expenditure, the laying aside of what one may call the relatively necessary, is the high road to Christian disentanglement of heart, just as it was to that of ancient vigour. The mind that has learned to appreciate the moral beauty of life, both as regards God and men, can scarcely be greatly moved by any outward reverse of fortune; and what our age wants most is the sight of a man, who might possess everything, being yet willingly contented with little. For my own part, humanly speaking, I wish for nothing. A great soul in a small house is the idea which has touched me more than any other."

It is not that Christianity pleads for poverty. There is no special virtue in being poor, or in having a constant struggle to make ends meet. But it does plead for two things.

It pleads for the realization that it is never in the power of things to bring happiness. E. K. Simpson says:

"Many a millionaire, after choking his soul with gold-dust, has died from melancholia."

Happiness always comes from personal relationships. All the things in the world will not make a man happy if he knows neither friendship nor LOVE. The Christian knows that the secret of happiness lies, not in things, but in people.

It pleads for concentration upon the things which are permanent. We brought nothing into the world and we cannot take anything out of it. The wise men of every age and faith have known this. "You cannot," said Seneca,

"take anything more out of the world than you brought into it."

The poet of the Greek anthology had it:

"Naked I set foot on the earth; naked I shall go below the earth."

The Spanish proverb grimly puts it:

"There are no pockets in a shroud."

E. K. Simpson comments:

"Whatever a man amasses by the way is in the nature of luggage, no part of his truest personality, but something he leaves behind at the toll-bar of death."

Two things alone a man can take to God. He can, and must, take himself; and therefore his great task is to build up a self he can take without shame to God. He can, and must, take that relationship with God into which he has entered in the days of his life. We have already seen that the secret of happiness lies in personal relationships, and the greatest of all personal relationships is the relationship to God. And the supreme thing that a man can take with him is the utter conviction that he goes to One who is the friend and LOVER of his soul.

Content comes when we escape the servitude to things, when we find our wealth in the LOVE and the fellowship of men, and when we realize that our most precious possession is our friendship with God, made possible through Jesus Christ.

Here is one of the most misquoted sayings in the Bible. Scripture does not say that money is the root of all evil; it says that the love of money is the root of all evil. This is a truth of which the great classical thinkers were as conscious as the Christian teachers.

"Love of money," said Democritus, "is the metropolis of all evils."

Seneca speaks of

"the desire for that which does not belong to us, from which every evil of the mind springs."

"The love of money," said Phocylides, "is the mother of all evils."

Philo spoke of

"love of money which is the starting-place of the greatest transgressions of the Law."

Athenaeus quotes a saying:

"The belly's pleasure is the beginning and root of all evil."

Money in itself is neither good nor bad; but the love of it may lead to evil. With it a man may selfishly serve his own desires; with it he may answer the cry of his neighbor’s need. With it he may facilitate the path of wrong-doing; with it he may make it easier for someone else to live as God meant him to do. Money is not itself an evil, but it is a great responsibility. It is powerful to good and powerful to evil. What then are the special dangers involved in the love of money?

(i) The desire for money tends to be a thirst which is insatiable. There was a Roman proverbial saying that wealth is like sea-water; so far from quenching a man's thirst, it intensifies it. The more he gets, the more he wants.

Mark 4:19 (RSV)
19 but the cares of the world, and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

Matthew 13:22 (RSV)
22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

As Christians we often get caught up in things, things, things, not necessarily big things, just THINGS; we cannot lose our salvation over it, but to me just as serious, we CAN LOSE OUR PRODUCTIVITY FOR THE LORD!!!!!!! I must humbly admit, my finances are not what they should be, and debt can hinder our SERVICE TO THE LORD...............................

Finances is a major contributing factor to the majority of divorces in the United States of America....................................

(ii) The desire for wealth is founded on an illusion. It is founded on the desire for security; but wealth cannot buy security. It cannot buy health, nor real LOVE; and it cannot preserve from sorrow and from death. The security which is founded on material things is foredoomed to failure.

(iii) The desire for money tends to make a man selfish. If he is driven by the desire for wealth, it is nothing to him that someone has to lose in order that he may gain. The desire for wealth fixes a man's thoughts upon himself, and others become merely means or obstacles in the path to his own enrichment. True, that need not happen; but in fact it often does.

(iv) Although the desire for wealth is based on the desire for security, it ends in nothing but anxiety. The more a man has to keep, the more he has to lose and, the tendency is for him to be haunted by the risk of loss. There is an old fable about a peasant who rendered a great service to a king who rewarded him with a gift of much money. For a time the man was thrilled, but the day came when he begged the king to take back his gift, for into his life had entered the hitherto unknown worry that he might lose what he had. John Bunyan was right:

"He that is down needs fear no fall,

He that is low, no pride;

He that is humble ever shall

Have God to be his guide.

I am content with what I have,

Little be it or much;

And, Lord, contentment still I crave,

Because Thou savest such.

Fullness to such a burden is

That go on pilgrimage;

Here little, and hereafter bliss,

Is best from age to age."

(v) The love of money may easily lead a man into wrong ways of getting it, and therefore, in the end, into pain and remorse. That is true even physically. He may so drive his body in his passion to get, that he ruins his health. He may discover too late what damage his desire has done to others and be saddled with remorse.

To seek to be independent and prudently to provide for the future is a Christian duty; but to make the love of money the driving-force of life cannot ever be anything other than the most perilous of sins.

Proverbs 30:8 (NIV2011)
8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.

Proverbs 30:8 (RSV)
8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me,

May we Lord live for You and the people You graciously put in our lives...................................

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


July 26, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The First Epistle to Timothy: Part Fifteen”

1 Timothy 6:1-5 (RSV)
1 Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be defamed. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brethren; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these duties. 3 If any one teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, 5 and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

Make us today, O God, truly remorseful for our sins and grateful for Your gifts; Make us certain of Your power and will to help, So grant that today we may find forgiveness for the past, and strength to do better in the future. Grant us the faith and wisdom to discern Your living word the Bible, and with all Your LOVE, grace, and mercy, share Your blessed good news with this Lost and sinful generation, through Jesus Christ our eternal Lord, God, and Savior, Amen and eternally Amen and Amen........................

Beneath the surface of this passage there are certain supremely important Christian principles for everyday life and work.

The Christian slave was in a peculiarly difficult position. If he was the slave of a heathen master, he might very easily make it clear that he regarded his master as bound for perdition and himself as the heir of salvation. His Christianity might well give him a feeling of intolerant superiority which would create an impossible situation. On the other hand, if his master was a Christian, the slave might be tempted to take advantage of the relationship and to trade upon it, using it as an excuse for producing inefficient work in the expectation of escaping all punishment. He might think that the fact that both he and his master were Christians entitled him to all kinds of special consideration. There was an obvious problem here. We must note two general things.

(i) In those early days the Church did not emerge as the would-be destroyer of slavery by violent and sudden means. And it was wise. There were something like 60,000,000 slaves in the Roman Empire. Simply because of their numbers they were always regarded as potential enemies. If ever there was a slave revolt it was put down with merciless force, because the Roman Empire could not afford to allow the slaves to rise. If a slave ran away and was caught, he was either executed or branded on the forehead with the letter F, which stood for fugitivus, which means runaway. There was indeed a Roman law which stated that if a master was murdered all his slaves could be examined under torture, and could indeed be put to death in a body. E. K. Simpson wisely writes:

"Christianity's spiritual campaign would have been fatally compromised by stirring the smoldering embers of class-hatred into a devouring flame, or opening an asylum for runaway slaves in its bosom."

For the Church to have encouraged slaves to revolt against their masters would have been fatal. It would simply have caused civil war, mass murder, and the complete discredit of the Church. What happened was that as the centuries went on Christianity so permeated civilization that in the end the slaves were freed voluntarily and not by force. Here is a tremendous lesson. It is the proof that neither men nor the world nor society can be reformed by force or by legislation. The reform must come through the slow penetration of the Spirit of Christ into the human situation. Things have to happen in God's time, not in ours. In the end the slow way is the sure way, and the way of violence always defeats itself.

(ii) There is here the further truth, that "spiritual equality does not eradicate civil distinctions." It is a continual danger that a man may unconsciously regard his Christianity as an excuse for slackness and inefficiency. Because he and his master are both Christians, he may expect to be treated with special consideration. But the fact that both master and man are Christian does not release the employee from doing a good day's work and earning his wage. The Christian is under the same obligation to submit to discipline and to earn his pay as any other man, woman, or child.

What then is the duty of the Christian slave as the Pastorals see it? It is to be a good slave. If he is not, if he is slack and careless, if he is disobedient and insolent, he merely supplies the world with ammunition to criticize the Church. The Christian workman must acclaim his Christianity by being a better workman than other people. In particular, his work will be done in a new spirit. He will not now think of himself as being unwillingly compelled to work; he will think of himself as rendering service to his master, to God and to his fellow-men. His aim will be, not to see how little can be forced out of him, but how much he can willingly do.

As George Herbert had it:

"A servant with this clause

Makes drudgery divine:

Who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,

Makes that and the action fine."

The circumstances of life in the ancient world presented the false teacher with an opportunity which he was not slow to take. On the Christian side, the Church was full of wandering prophets, whose very way of life gave them a certain prestige. The Christian service was much more informal than it is now. Anyone who felt he had a message was free to give it; and the door was wide open to men who were out to propagate a false and misleading message. On the heathen side, there were men called sophists, wise men, who made it their business, so to speak, to sell philosophy. They had two lines. They claimed for a fee to be able to teach men to argue cleverly; they were the men who with their smooth tongues and their adept minds were skilled in "making the worse appear the better reason." They had turned philosophy into a way of becoming rich. Their other line was to give demonstrations of public speaking. The Greek had always been fascinated by the spoken word; he loved an orator; and these wandering sophists went from town to town, giving their oratorical demonstrations. They went in for advertising on an intensive scale and even went the length of delivering by hand personal invitations to their displays. The most famous of them drew people literally by the thousand to their lectures; they were in their day the equivalent of the modern pop star. Philostratus tells us that Adrian, one of the most famous of them, had such a popular power that, when his messenger appeared with the news that he was to speak, even the senate and the circus emptied, and the whole population flocked to the Athenaeum to hear him. They had three great faults.

***Their speeches were quite unreal. They would offer to speak on any subject, however remote and abstruse and unlikely, that any member of the audience might propose. This is the kind of question they would argue; it is an actual example. A man goes into the citadel of a town to kill a tyrant who has been grinding down the people; not finding the tyrant, he kills the tyrant's son; the tyrant comes in and sees his dead son with the sword in his body, and in his grief kills himself; the man then claims the reward for killing the tyrant and liberating the people; should he receive it?

***Their thirst was for applause. Competition between them was a bitter and a cut-throat affair. Plutarch tells of a travelling sophist called Niger who came to a town in Galatia where a prominent orator resided. A competition was immediately arranged. Niger had to compete or lose his reputation. He was suffering from a fishbone in his throat and had difficulty in speaking; but for the sake of prestige he had to go on. Inflammation set in soon after, and in the end he died. Dio Chrysostom paints a picture of a public place in Corinth with all the different kinds of competitors in full blast: "You might hear many poor wretches of sophists shouting and abusing each other, and their disciples, as they call them, squabbling, and many writers of books reading their stupid compositions, and many poets singing their poems, and many jugglers exhibiting their marvels, and many soothsayers giving the meaning of prodigies, and a thousand rhetoricians twisting lawsuits, and no small number of traders driving their several trades." There you have just that interchange of insults, that envy and strife, that constant wordy altercation of men with decadent minds that the writer of the Pastorals deplores. "A sophist," wrote Philostratus,

"is put out in an extempore speech by a serious-looking audience and tardy praise and no clapping."

"They are all agape," said Dio Chrysostom, "for the murmur of the crowd.... Like men walking in the dark they move always in the direction of the clapping and the shouting."

Lucian writes:

"If your friends see you breaking down, let them pay the price of the suppers you give them by stretching out their arms and giving you a chance of thinking of something to say in the intervals between the rounds of applause."

The ancient world well knew just the kind of false teacher who was invading the Church.

***Their thirst was for praise, and their criterion was numbers. Epictetus has some vivid pictures of the sophist talking to his disciples after his performance.

"'Well, what did you think of me today?' 'Upon my life, sir, I thought you were admirable.' 'What did you think of my best passage?' 'Which was that?' 'Where I described Pan and the Nymphs.' 'Oh, it was excessively well done.'" "'A much larger audience today, I think,' says the sophist. 'Yes, much larger,' responds the disciple. 'Five hundred, I should guess.' 'O, nonsense! It could not have been less than a thousand.' 'Why, that is more than Dio ever had. I wonder why it was? They appreciated what I said, too.' 'Beauty, sir, can move a stone.'"

These performing sophists were "the pets of society." They became senators, governors, ambassadors. When they died monuments were erected to them, with inscriptions such as, "The Queen of Cities to the King of Eloquence."

The Greeks were intoxicated with the spoken word. Among them, if a man could speak, his fortune was made. It was against a background like that that the Church was growing up; and it is little wonder that this type of teacher invaded it. The Church gave him a new area in which to exercise his meretricious gifts and to gain a tinsel prestige and a not unprofitable following.

Here in this passage are set out the characteristics of the false teacher.

(i) His first characteristic is conceit. His desire is not to display Christ, but to display himself. There are still preachers and teachers who are more concerned to gain a following for themselves than for Jesus Christ, more concerned to press their own views than to bring to men the word of God. In a lecture on his old teacher A. B. Bruce, W. M. Macgregor said:

"One of our own Highland ministers tells how he had been puzzled by seeing Bruce again and again during lectures take up a scrap of paper, look at it and then proceed. One day he caught at the chance of seeing what this paper contained, and discovered on it an indication of the words: 'O, send out thy light and thy truth,' and thus he realized with awe that into his classroom the professor brought the majesty and the hopefulness of worship."

The great teacher does not offer men his own light of illumination; he/she offers them the light and the truth of God, the ever inerrant, infallible written word of God the Holy Bible.

(ii) His concern is with abstruse and concealed speculations. There is a kind of Christianity which is more concerned with argument than with life. To be a member of a discussion circle or a Bible study group and spend enjoyable hours in talk about doctrines does not necessarily make a Christian. J. S. Whale in his book Christian Doctrine has certain scathing things to say about this pleasant intellectualism:

"We have as Valentine said of Thurio, 'an exchequer of words, but no other treasure.' Instead of putting off our shoes from our feet because the place whereon we stand is holy ground, we are taking nice photographs of the Burning Bush from suitable angles: we are chatting about theories of the Atonement with our feet on the mantelpiece, instead of kneeling down before the wounds of Christ."

As Luther had it:

"He who merely studies the commandments of God (mandata Dei) is not greatly moved. But he who listens to God commanding (Deum mandantem), how can he fail to be terrified by majesty so great?"

As Melanchthon had it:

"To know Christ is not to speculate about the mode of his Incarnation, but to know his saving benefits."

Gregory of Nyssa drew a revealing picture of Constantinople in his day:

"Constantinople is full of mechanics and slaves, who are all of them profound theologians, preaching in the shops and the streets. If you want a man to change a piece of silver, he informs you wherein the Son differs from the Father; if you ask the price of a loaf, you are told by way of reply that the Son is inferior to the Father; and if you enquire whether the bath is ready, the answer is that the Son is made out of nothing."

Subtle argumentation and glib theological statements do not make a Christian. That kind of thing may well be nothing other than a mode of escape from the challenge of Christian living.

(iii) The false teacher is a disturber of the peace. He is instinctively competitive; he is suspicious of all who differ from him; when he cannot win in an argument he hurls insults at his opponent's theological position, and even at his character; in any argument the accent of his voice is bitterness and not LOVE. He has never learned to speak the truth in LOVE. The source of his bitterness is the exaltation of self; for his tendency is to regard any difference from or any criticism of his views as a personal insult.

(iv) The false teacher commercializes religion. He is out for profit. He looks on his teaching and preaching, not as a vocation, but as a career. One thing is certain—there is no place for careerists in the ministry of any Church. The Pastorals are quite clear that the laborer is worthy of his hire; but the motive of his work must be public service and not private gain. His passion is, not to get, but to spend and be spent in the service of Christ and of his fellow-men.

1 Corinthians 9:16 (RSV)
16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

God  through Isaiah makes it clear who are false teachers..............

Isaiah 8:20 (KJV)
20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

The false teacher is one who claims his own insights, and declares the Bible to only be, a good book......................................And often calling other books superior!!!  

As we close for today, consider this:

“On our list of activities in life: There are some things we need to eliminate, some things we need to delegate, and the rest WE NEED TO DEDICATE!!!!!!!”  Dr. Adrian Rogers

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


July 19, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The First Epistle to Timothy: Part Fourteen”

1 Timothy 5:17-25 (RSV)
17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching; 18 for the scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages." 19 Never admit any charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. 21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without favor, doing nothing from partiality. 22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor participate in another man's sins; keep yourself pure. 23 No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments. 24 The sins of some men are conspicuous, pointing to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. 25 So also good deeds are conspicuous; and even when they are not, they cannot remain hidden.

Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, we beseech Thee, hear our prayers........First, we beg Thee intervene in the lives of those who are Lost, convince them of the reality of Your existence, by Your LOVE, grace, and most precious mercy, convict them in their hearts of their sin, of all of their sin. Have that conviction turn to sorrow in their hearts, that sorrow to remorse, remorse to confession, confession to repentance, then according to Your promises, forgive, redeem, and SAVE them from all their past, present, and future sins. Above all SAVE them and us, from ourselves.

Second, bless our reading and study of your Word today, and help us, as many as possible, be the Children You want us to be...In Jesus name, Amen and most certainly ETERNALLY AMEN...............................

Here is a series of the most practical regulations for the life and administration of the Church.

(i) Elders are to be properly honored and properly paid. When threshing was done in the East, the sheaves of corn were laid on the threshing-floor; then oxen in pairs were driven repeatedly across them; or they were tethered to a post in the middle and made to march round and round on the grain; or a threshing sledge was harnessed to them and the sledge was drawn to and fro across the corn. In all cases the oxen were left unmuzzled and were free to eat as much of the grain as they wished, as a reward for the work they were doing. The actual law that the ox must not be muzzled is,

Deuteronomy 25:4 (RSV)
4 "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.

The saying that the workman deserves his pay is a saying of Jesus,

Luke 10:7 (RSV)
7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages; do not go from house to house.

It is most likely a proverbial saying which he quoted. Any person who works deserves their support, and the harder they work, the more they deserve. Christianity has never had anything to do with the sentimental ethic which clamors for equal shares for all. A man's reward must always be proportioned to a man's toil.

It is to be noted what kind of elders are to be especially honored and rewarded. It is those who toil in preaching and teaching. The elder whose service consisted only in words and discussion and argument is not in question here. He whom the Church really honored was the person who worked to edify and build it up by their preaching of the truth and their educating of the young and of the new converts in the Christian way.

(ii) It was Jewish law that no man should be condemned on the evidence of a single witness:

Deuteronomy 19:15 (RSV)
15 "A single witness shall not prevail against a man for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed; only on the evidence of two witnesses, or of three witnesses, shall a charge be sustained.

The Mishnah, the codified Rabbinic law, in describing the process of trial says:

"The second witness was likewise brought in and examined. If the testimony of the two was found to agree, the case for the defense was opened."

If a charge was supported by the evidence of only one witness, it was held that there was no case to answer.

In later times Church regulations laid it down that the two witnesses must be Christian, for it would have been easy for a malicious heathen to fabricate a false charge against a Christian elder in order to discredit him, and through him to discredit the Church. In the early days, the Church authorities did not hesitate to apply discipline, and Theodore of Mopseuestia, one of the early fathers, points out how necessary this regulation was, because the elders were always liable to be disliked and were especially open to malicious attack "due to the retaliation by some who had been rebuked by them for sin." A man who had been disciplined might well seek to get his own back by maliciously charging an elder with some irregularity or some sin.

This permanent fact remains, that this would be a happier world and the Church, too, would be happier, if people would realize that it is nothing less than sin to spread stories of whose truth they are not sure. Irresponsible, slanderous and malicious talk does infinite damage and causes infinite heartbreak, and such talk will not go unpunished by God.

Leviticus 19:16 (RSV)
16 You shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand forth against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.

Proverbs 18:21 (RSV)
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

James 3:6 (RSV)
6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell.

This is how very important our words are!!!!!!!

Those who persist in sin are to be publicly rebuked. That public rebuke had a double value. It sobered the sinner into a consideration of his ways; and it made others have a care that they did not involve themselves in a like humiliation. The threat of publicity is no bad thing, if it keeps a person in the right way, even from fear. A wise leader will know the time to keep things quiet and the time for public rebuke. But whatever happens, the Church must never give the impression that it is condoning sin.

(iv) Timothy is urged to administer his office without favoritism or prejudice. B. S. Easton writes:

"The well-being of every community depends on impartial discipline."

Nothing does more harm than when some people are treated as if they could do no wrong and others as if they could do no right. Justice is a universal virtue and the Church must surely never fall below the impartial standards which even the world demands.

(v) Timothy is warned not to be too hasty "in laying hands on any man." That may mean one of two things.

(a) It may mean that he is not to be too quick in laying hands on any man to ordain him to office in the Church. Before a man gains promotion in business, or in teaching, or in the army or the navy or the air force, he must give proof that he deserves it. No person should ever start at the top. This is doubly important in the Church; for a person who is raised to high office and then fails in it, brings dishonor, not only on themselves, but also on the Church. In a critical world the Church cannot be too careful in regard to the kind of people whom it chooses as its leaders.

(b) In the early Church it was the custom to lay hands on a penitent sinner who had given proof of their repentance and had returned to the fold of the Church. It is laid down: "As each sinner repents, and shows the fruits of repentance, lay hands on him, while all pray for him." Eusebius tells us that it was the ancient custom that repentant sinners should be received back with the laying on of hands and with prayer. If that be the meaning here, it will be a warning to Timothy not to be too quick to receive back the person who has brought disgrace on the Church; to wait until they have shown that their penitence is genuine, and that they are truly determined to mold their life to fit their penitent professions. That is not for a moment to say that such a person is to be held at arms' length and treated with suspicion; they must be treated with all sympathy and with all help and guidance in their period of probation. But it is to say that membership of the Church is never to be treated lightly, and that a person must show their penitence for the past and their determination for the future, before they are received, not into the fellowship of the Church, but into its membership. The fellowship of the Church exists to help such people redeem themselves, but its membership is for those who have truly pledged their lives to Christ.

1 Timothy 5:23 (RSV)
23 No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

This sentence shows the real intimacy of these letters. Amidst the affairs of the Church and the problems of administration, Paul finds time to slip in a little bit of LOVING advice to Timothy about his health.

There had always been a strain of asceticism in Jewish religion. When a man took the Nazirite vow,

Numbers 6:1-4 (RSV)
1 And the LORD said to Moses, 2 "Say to the people of Israel, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the LORD, 3 he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink, and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried. 4 All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins.

They pledged never to taste any of the product of the vine. The Rechabites also were pledged to abstain from wine. The Book of Jeremiah tells how Jeremiah went and set before the Rechabites wine and cups:

Jeremiah 35:5-7 (RSV)
5 Then I set before the Re'chabites pitchers full of wine, and cups; and I said to them, "Drink wine." 6 But they answered, "We will drink no wine, for Jon'adab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, `You shall not drink wine, neither you nor your sons for ever; 7 you shall not build a house; you shall not sow seed; you shall not plant or have a vineyard; but you shall live in tents all your days, that you may live many days in the land where you sojourn.'

Now Timothy was on one side a Jew—his mother was a Jewess,

Acts 16:1 (RSV)
1 And he came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek.

It may well be that from his mother he had inherited this ascetic way of living. On his father's side he was a Greek. We have already seen that at the back of the Pastorals there is the heresy of gnosticism which saw all matter as evil and often issued in asceticism; and it may well be that Timothy was unconsciously influenced by this Greek asceticism as well.

Here we have a great truth which Christians forget at OUR own peril, that we dare not neglect the body, for often spiritual dullness and dryness come from the simple fact that the body is tired and neglected. No machine will run well unless it is cared for; and neither will the body. We cannot do Christ's work well unless we are physically fit to do it.

Ouch, this really hits me.......................................

There is no virtue—rather the reverse—in neglect of or contempt for the body. Mens sana in corpore sano, a healthy mind in a healthy body, was the old Roman ideal, and it is the Christian ideal too.

This is a text which has much troubled those who are advocates of total abstinence. It must be remembered that it does not give any man a license to indulge in drink to excess; it simply approves the use of wine where it may be medicinally helpful. If it does lay down any principle at all, E. F. Brown has well stated it:

"It shows that while total abstinence may be recommended as a wise counsel, it is never to be enforced as a religious obligation."

Paul is simply saying that there is no virtue in an asceticism ( self-denial ) which does the body more harm than good.

This saying bids us leave things to God and be content. There are obvious sinners, whose sins are clearly leading to their disaster and their punishment; and there are secret sinners who, behind a front of unimpeachable rectitude, live a life that is in essence evil and ugly. What man cannot see, God does. "Man sees the deed, but God sees the intention." There is no escape from the ultimate confrontation with the God who sees and knows everything.

There are some whose good deeds are plain for all to see, and who have already won the praise and thanks and congratulations of men. There are some whose good deeds have never been noticed, never appreciated, never thanked, never praised, never valued as they ought to have been. They need not feel either disappointed or embittered. God knows the good deed also, and He will repay, for He is never in any person's debt. ***God has always provided us with far more than we could ever imagine!!!!!!!

Hebrews 11:6B (RSV)
6b......For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Here we are told that we must neither grow angry at the apparent escape of others nor embittered at the apparent thanklessness of people, but that we must be content to leave all things to the ultimate judgment of God.

2 Corinthians 9:6-15 (RSV)
6 The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. 9 As it is written, "He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever." 10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God; 12 for the rendering of this service not only supplies the wants of the saints but also overflows in many thanksgivings to God. 13 Under the test of this service, you will glorify God by your obedience in acknowledging the gospel of Christ, and by the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others; 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


July 12, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The First Epistle to Timothy: Part Thirteen”

1 Timothy 5:9-16 (RSV)
9 Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband; 10 and she must be well attested for her good deeds, as one who has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the feet of the saints, relieved the afflicted, and devoted herself to doing good in every way. 11 But refuse to enrol younger widows; for when they grow wanton against Christ they desire to marry, 12 and so they incur condemnation for having violated their first pledge. 13 Besides that, they learn to be idlers, gadding about from house to house, and not only idlers but gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. 14 So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, rule their households, and give the enemy no occasion to revile us. 15 For some have already strayed after Satan. 16 If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her assist them; let the church not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are real widows.

O God, our most glorious heavenly Father, grant us at the end to enter into our reward. Help us to live so close to our blessed Lord, that death may be only an entering into His nearer presence; That we may so live that even here and now we may know the life which is eternal; That we may live each day that at the end of all days we may hear You say, Well done!!! May Your Spirit of Truth so help us to read and study Your word that our lives will reflect Your wisdom and Your will for our lives. May we not simply reflect Your LOVE to others, but genuinely have Your LOVE for them...Hear these, our prayers; through Jesus Christ our Lord, God, and Savior, Amen and eternally Amen.........................................

Lord I pray for JULIETh and her son Kevin in Colombia please provide for them in every way, give her a great job that she can be proud of. I also pray for Sofia and her 4 sons bless them, and release them from the tyranny of financial need. Lord please help all who are in financial, physical, emotion, or spiritual need, where ever they may live. In Jesus’ name Amen……

From this passage it is clear that the Church had an official register of widows; and it seems that the word widow is being used in a double sense. Women who were aged and whose husbands had died and whose lives were LOVELY and useful were the responsibility of the Church; but it is also true that, perhaps as early as this, and certainly later in the early Church, there was an official order of widows, an order of elderly women who were set apart for special duties.

In the regulations of the Apostolic Constitutions, which tell us what the life and organization of the Church were like in the third century, it is laid down:

"Three widows shall be appointed, two to persevere in prayer for those who are in temptation, and for the reception of revelations, when such are necessary, but one to assist women who are visited with sickness; she must be ready for service, discreet, telling the elders what is necessary, not avaricious, not given to much love of wine, so that she may be sober and able to perform the night services, and other loving duties."

Such widows were not ordained as the elders and the bishops were; they were set apart by prayer for the work which they had to do. They were not to be set apart until they were over sixty years of age. That was an age which the ancient world also considered to be especially suited for concentration on the spiritual life. Plato, in his plan for the ideal state, held that sixty was the right age for men and women to become priests and priestesses.

The Pastoral Epistles are always intensely practical; and in this passage we find seven qualifications which the Church's widows must satisfy.

*They must have been the wife of one husband. In an age when the marriage bond was lightly regarded and almost universally dishonored, ((( as it is in our age ))), they must be examples of purity and fidelity.

**They must have earned an attested reputation for good works. The office-bearers of the Church, male or female, have within their keeping, not only their personal reputation, but also the good name of the Church. Nothing discredits a church like unworthy office-bearers; and nothing is so good an advertisement for it as an office-bearer who has taken his or her Christianity into the activity of daily living.

***They must have nourished children. This may well mean more than one thing. It may mean that widows must have given proof of their Christian piety by bringing up their own families in the Christian way. But it can mean more than that. In an age when the marriage bond was very lax and men and women changed their partners with bewildering rapidity, children were regarded as a misfortune. This was the great age of child exposure. When a child was born, he was brought and laid before his father's feet. If the father stooped and lifted him, that meant that he acknowledged him and was prepared to accept responsibility for his upbringing. If the father turned and walked away, the child was quite literally thrown out, like an unwanted piece of rubbish. It often happened that such unwanted children were collected by unscrupulous people and, if girls, brought up to stock the public brothels, and, if boys, trained to be slaves or gladiators for the public games. It would be a Christian duty to rescue such children from death and worse than death, and to bring them up in a Christian home. So this may mean that widows must be women who had been prepared to give a home to abandoned children.

****They must have been hospitable to strangers. Inns in the ancient world were notoriously dirty, expensive and immoral. Those who opened their homes to the traveler, or the stranger in a strange place, or to young people whose work and study took them far from home, were doing a most valuable service to the community. The open door of the Christian home is always a precious thing.

*****They must have washed the feet of the Saints. That need not be taken literally, although the literal sense is included. To wash a person's feet was the task of a slave, the most menial of duties. This means that Christian widows must have been willing to accept the humblest tasks in the service of Christ and of His people. The Church needs its leaders who will live in prominence; but no less it needs those who are prepared to do the tasks which receive no prominence and little thanks.

******They must have helped those in trouble. In days of persecution it was no small thing to help Christians who were suffering for their faith. This was to identify oneself with them and to accept the risk of coming to a like punishment. The Christian must stand by those in trouble for their faith, even if, in so doing, he brings trouble on him or herself.

*******They must have devoted themselves to all good works. Every man concentrates his life on something; the Christian concentrates his or her’s on obeying Christ and helping others, even our perceived or actual enemies.......

Matthew 5:43-48 (RSV)
43 "You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

When we study these qualifications for those who were to be enrolled as widows, we see that they are the qualifications of every true Christian.

As we have already said, if not as early as the time of the Pastoral Epistles, certainly in later days, the widows became an accepted order in the Christian Church. Their place and work are dealt with in the first eight chapters of the third book of The Apostolic Constitutions, and these chapters reveal the use that such an order could be and the dangers into which it almost inevitably ran.

(i) It is laid down that women who would serve the Church must be women of discretion. Particularly they must be discreet in speech:

"Let every widow be meek, quiet, gentle, sincere, free from anger, not talkative, not clamorous, not hasty of speech, not given to evil-speaking, not captious, not double-tongued, not a busybody. If she see or hear anything that is not right, let her be as one that does not see, and as one that does not hear."

Such Church officials must be very careful when they discuss the faith with outsiders:

"For unbelievers when they hear the doctrine concerning Christ, not explained as it ought to be, but defectively, especially that concerning His Incarnation or His Passion, will rather reject it with scorn, and laugh at it as false, than praise God for it."

There is nothing more dangerous than an official of the Church who talks about things which ought to be kept secret; and a Church office-bearer must be equipped to communicate the gospel in a way that will make men think more and not less of Christian truth.

(ii) It is laid down that women who serve the Church must not be gadabouts (( pleasure-seekers )): "Let the widow therefore own herself to be the 'altar of God,' and let her sit in her own house, and not enter into the houses of the unfaithful, under any pretense to receive anything; for the altar of God never runs about, but is fixed in one place. Let therefore the virgin and the widow be such as do not run about, or gad to the houses of those who are alien from the faith. For such as these are gadders and impudent." The restless gossip is ill-equipped to serve the Church.

(iii) It is laid down that widows who accept the charity of the Church are not to be greedy.

"There are some widows who esteem gain their business; and since they ask without shame, and receive without being satisfied, render other people more backward in giving.... Such a woman is thinking in her mind of where she can go to get, or that a certain woman who is her friend has forgotten her, and she has something to say to her.... She murmurs at the deaconess who distributed the charity, saying, 'Do you not see that I am in more distress and need of your charity? Why therefore have you preferred her before me?'"

It is an ugly thing to seek to live off the Church rather than for the Church.

(iv) It is laid down that such women must do all they can to help themselves:

"Let her take wool and assist others rather than herself want from them."

The charity of the Church does not exist to make people lazy and dependent. ((( As many have accused the entitlements of the state to the poor do in our age...)))

(v) Such women are not to be envious and jealous:

"We hear that some widows are jealous, envious calumniators, and envious of the quiet of others.... It becomes them when one of their fellow-widows is clothed by anyone, or receives money, or meat, or drink, or shoes, at the refreshment of their sister, to thank God."

There we have at one and the same time a picture of the faults of which the Church is all too full, and of the virtues which should be the marks of the true Christian life.

A passage like this reflects the situation in society in which the early Church found itself.

It is not that younger widows are condemned for marrying again. What is condemned is this. A young husband dies; and the widow, in the first bitterness of sorrow and on the impulse of the moment, decides to remain a widow all her life and to dedicate her life to the Church; but later she changes her mind and remarries. That woman is regarded as having taken Christ as her bridegroom. So that by marrying again she is regarded as breaking her marriage vow to Christ. She would have been better never to have taken the vow.

Deuteronomy 23:21 (RSV)
21 "When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not be slack to pay it; for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin in you.

Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 (RSV)
4 When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it; for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.

What complicated this matter very much was the social background of the times. It was next to impossible for a single or a widowed woman to earn her living honestly. There was practically no trade or profession open to her. The result was inevitable; she was almost driven to prostitution in order to live. The Christian woman, therefore, had either to marry or to dedicate her life completely to the service of the Church; there was no halfway house.

In any event the perils of idleness remain the same in any age. There was the danger of becoming restless; because a woman had not enough to do, she might become one of those creatures who drift from house to house in an empty social round. It was almost inevitable that such a woman would become a gossip; because she had nothing important to talk about, she would tend to talk scandal, repeating tales from house to house, each time with a little more embroidery and a little more malice. Such a woman ran the risk of becoming a busybody; because she had nothing of her own to take up her attention, she would be very apt to be over-interested and over-interfering in the affairs of others.

It was true then, as it is true now, that

"Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do."

The full life is always the safe life, and the empty life is always the life in peril.

So the advice is that these younger women should marry and engage upon the greatest task of all, rearing a family and making a home. Here we have another example of one of the main thoughts of the Pastoral Epistles. They are always concerned with how the Christian appears to the outside world. ***Do we give opportunity for others to criticize the Church or reason to admire it?

It is always true that "the greatest handicap the Church has is the unsatisfactory lives of professing Christians" and equally true that the greatest argument for Christianity is a genuinely Christian life.

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


July 5, 2020

a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The First Epistle to Timothy: Part Twelve”

1 Timothy 5:1-8 (RSV)
1 Do not rebuke an older man but exhort him as you would a father; treat younger men like brothers, 2 older women like mothers, younger women like sisters, in all purity. 3 Honor widows who are real widows. 4 If a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn their religious duty to their own family and make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God. 5 She who is a real widow, and is left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day; 6 whereas she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. 7 Command this, so that they may be without reproach. 8 If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

O blessed, blessed Father, we ask that You would search our hearts, minds, and souls, cleansing us from all our Sins of commission and all our Sins of omission. Help us O Father to be the people You want us to be!!! Deliver us from our own stupid and foolish behavior helping us to be the men, women, and children that reflect Your LOVE, grace, and mercy in all that we think, say, and do.......Give us the desire to soberly study Your word, and to be DOERS OF THE WORD, not merely hearers of it!!! Help us to be humble, kind, and ever serving You, and LOVING all Your creation as You do...May we declare Your one and only Son Jesus Christ to the whole of creation, in Jesus wonderful name, Amen and eternally Amen!!!!!!!

And Lord save, heal, and bless the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN JESUS NAME, AMEN AND AMEN...

It is always difficult to reprimand anyone with graciousness; and to Timothy there would sometimes fall a duty that was doubly difficult—that of reprimanding a man older than himself. Chrysostom writes:

"Rebuke is in its own nature offensive particularly when it is addressed to an old man; and when it proceeds from a young man too, there is a threefold show of forwardness. By the manner and mildness of it, therefore, he would soften it. For it is possible to reprove without offence, if one will only make a point of this; it requires great discretion, but it may be done."

Rebuke is always a problem. We may so dislike the task of speaking a warning word that we may shirk it altogether. Many a person would have been saved from sorrow and shipwreck, if someone had only spoken a warning word in time. There can be no more poignant tragedy than to hear someone say: "I would never have come to this, if you had only spoken in time." It is always wrong to shirk the word that should be spoken and perhaps IT IS EVEN A SIN......That is why we as Christians in LOVE, Must WARN AGAINST SIN!!!!!!!***OTHERWISE WE SIN AGAINST OUR SAVIOR.......

We may reprimand a person in such a way that there is clearly nothing but anger in our voice and nothing but bitterness in our minds and hearts. A rebuke given solely in anger may produce fear; and may cause pain; but it will almost inevitably arouse resentment; and its ultimate effect may well be to confirm the mistaken person in the error of his ways. The rebuke of anger and the reprimand of contemptuous dislike are seldom effective, and far more likely to do harm than good.

It was said of Florence Allshorn, the great missionary teacher, that, when she was Principal of a women's college, she always rebuked her students, when need arose, as it were with her arm around them. The rebuke which clearly comes from LOVE is the only effective one. If we ever have cause to reprimand anyone, we must do so in such a way as to make it clear that we do this, not because we find a cruel pleasure in it, not because we wish to do it, not because we think the person is evil or perverted, but because we are under the compulsion of LOVE and seek to help, not to hurt them.

The first two verses of our text lay down the spirit which the different age relationships should display.

(i) To older people we must show affection and respect. An older man is to be treated like a father and an older woman like a mother. The ancient world knew well the deference and respect which were due to age. Cicero writes:

"It is, then, the duty of a young man to show deference to his elders, and to attach himself to the best and most approved of them, so as to receive the benefit of their counsel and influence. For the inexperience of youth requires the practical wisdom of age to strengthen and direct it. And this time of life is above all to be protected against sensuality and trained to toil and endurance of both mind and body, so as to be strong for active duty in military and civil service. And even when they wish to relax their minds and give themselves up to enjoyment, they should beware of excesses and bear in mind the rules of modesty. And this will be easier, if the young are not unwilling to have their elders join them, even in their pleasures" (Cicero: De Officiis, 1: 34).

Aristotle writes:

"To all older persons too one should give honour appropriate to their age, by rising to receive them and finding seats for them and so on" (Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics, 9: 2).

It is one of the tragedies of life that youth is so often apt to find age a nuisance. A famous French phrase says with a sigh:

"If youth but had the knowledge, if age but had the power."

But when there is mutual respect and affection, then the wisdom and experience of age can cooperate with the strength and enthusiasm of youth, to the great profit of both.

(ii) To our contemporaries we must show brotherliness. The younger men are to be treated like brothers. Aristotle has it:

"To comrades and brothers one should allow freedom of speech and common use of all things" (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 9: 2).

With our contemporaries there should be tolerance and sharing.

(iii) To those of the opposite sex our relationships must always be marked with purity. The Arabs have a phrase for a man of chivalry; they call him "a brother of girls." There is a famous phrase which speaks of "Platonic friendship." LOVE must be kept for one; it is a fearful thing when physical things dominate the relationship between the sexes and a man cannot see a woman without thinking in terms of her body.

The Christian Church inherited a fine tradition of charity to those in need. No people has ever cared more for its needy and its aged than the Jews. Advice is now given for the care of widows. There may well have been two classes of women here. There were certainly widows who had become widows in the normal way by the death of their husbands. But it was not uncommon in the pagan world, in certain places, for a man to have more than one wife. When a man became a Christian, he could not go on being a polygamist, and therefore had to choose which wife he was going to live with. That meant that some wives had to be sent away and they were clearly in a very unfortunate position. It may be that such women as these were also reckoned as widows and given the support of the Church.

Jewish law laid it down that at the time of his marriage a man ought to make provision for his wife, should she become a widow. The very first office-bearers whom the Christian Church appointed, had this duty of caring fairly for the widows,

Acts 6:1 (RSV)
1 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists murmured against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.

Ignatius lays it down:

"Let not widows be neglected. After the Lord be thou their guardian."

The Apostolic Constitutions enjoin the bishop:

"O bishop, be mindful of the needy, both reaching out thy helping hand and making provision for them as the steward of God, distributing the offerings seasonably to every one of them, to the widows, the orphans, the friendless, and those tried with affliction."

The same book has an interesting and kindly instruction:

"If anyone receives any service to carry to a widow or poor woman... let him give it the same day."

As the proverb has it:

"He gives twice who gives quickly," and the Church was concerned that those in poverty might not have to wait and want while one of its servants delayed.

It is to be noted that the Church did not propose to assume responsibility for older people whose children were alive and well able to support them. The ancient world was very definite that it was the duty of children to support aged parents, and, as E. K. Simpson has well said:

"A religious profession which falls below the standard of duty recognized by the world is a wretched fraud."

The Church would never have agreed that its charity should become an excuse for children to evade their responsibility.

It was Greek law from the time of Solon that sons and daughters were, not only morally, but also legally bound to support their parents. Anyone who refused that duty lost his civil rights. Aeschines, the Athenian orator, says in one of his speeches:

"And whom did our law-giver (Solon) condemn to silence in the Assembly of the people? And where does he make this clear? 'Let there be,' he says, 'a scrutiny of public speakers, in case there be any speaker in the Assembly of the people who is a striker of his father or mother, or who neglects to maintain them or to give them a home'."

Demosthenes says:

"I regard the man who neglects his parents as unbelieving in and hateful to the gods, as well as to men."

Philo, writing of the commandment to honor parents, says:

"When old storks become unable to fly, they remain in their nests and are fed by their children, who go to endless exertions to provide their food because of their piety."

To Philo it was clear that even the animal creation acknowledged its obligations to aged parents, and how much more must men?

Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics lays it down:

"It would be thought in the matter of food we should help our parents before all others, since we owe our nourishment to them, and it is more honorable to help in this respect the authors of our being, even before ourselves."

As Aristotle saw it, a man must himself starve before he would see his parents starve. Plato in The Laws has the same conviction of the debt that is owed to parents:

"Next comes the honor of loving parents, to whom, as is meet, we have to pay the first and greatest and oldest of debts, considering that all which a man has belongs to those who gave him birth and brought him up, and that he must do all that he can to minister to them; first, in his property; secondly, in his person; and thirdly, in his soul; paying the debts due to them for their care and travail which they bestowed upon him of old in the days of his infancy, and which he is now able to pay back to them, when they are old and in the extremity of their need."

It is the same with the Greek poets. When Iphigenia is speaking to her father Agamemnon, in Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis, she says (the translation is that of A. S. Way):

"'Twas I first called thee father, thou me child.

'Twas I first throned my body on thy knees,

And gave thee sweet caresses and received.

And this thy word was: 'Ah, my little maid,

Blest shall I see thee in a husband's halls

Living and blooming worthily of me?'

And as I twined my fingers in thy beard,

Whereto I now cling, thus I answered thee:

'And what of thee? Shall I greet thy grey hairs,

Father, with loving welcome in mine halls,

Repaying all thy fostering toil for me?'"


The child's joy was to look forward to the day when she could repay all that her father had done for her.

When Euripides tells how Orestes discovered that an unkind fate had made him unwittingly slay his own father, he makes him say:

"He fostered me a babe, and many a kiss

Lavished upon me....

O wretched heart and soul of mine!

I have rendered foul return! What veil of gloom

Can I take for my face? Before me spread

What cloud, to shun the old man's searching eye?"

The New Testament ethical writers were certain that support of parents was an essential part of Christian duty. It is a thing to be remembered. We live in a time when even the most sacred duties are pushed on to the state and when we expect, in so many cases, public charity to do what private piety ought to do. As the Pastorals see it, help given to a parent is two things. First, it is an honoring of the recipient. It is the only way in which a child can demonstrate the esteem within his heart. Second, it is an admission of the claims of LOVE. It is repaying LOVE received in time of need with LOVE given in time of need; and only with LOVE can LOVE be repaid.

There remains one thing left to say, and to leave it unsaid would be unfair. This very passage goes on to lay down certain of the qualities of the people whom the Church is called upon to support. What is true of the Church is true within the family. If a person is to be supported, that person must be supportable. If a parent is taken into a home and then by inconsiderate conduct causes nothing but trouble, another situation arises. There is a double duty here; the duty of the child to support the parent and the duty of the parent to be such that that support is possible within the structure of the home.

Exodus 20:12 (RSV)
12 "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you.

Genesis 2:24 (RSV)
24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.

To LOVE and honor your parents and to LOVE and honor your spouse and children ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE; they are dependent on one another..............................................................As is LOVING God and LOVING all of His creation are absolutely dependent on one another!!!

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


June 28, 20202

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The First Epistle to Timothy: Part Eleven”

1 Timothy 4:11-16 (RSV)
11 Command and teach these things.
12 Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Till I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you. 15 Practice these duties, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Take heed to yourself and to your teaching; hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

O God, our most glorious heavenly Father, by Your grace make us fruitful in all good works. In *Kindness, that no one in need may ever appeal to us in vain; In *Generosity, that we may be concerned, not how little, but with how much we can give; In *Loyalty, that, though all deny You, we may still be true; In *LOVE, that like our Lord we may be among our fellow men and women as those who serve, and bring the spirit of reconciliation to the Lost: Grant us these things and the wisdom to discern Your words the Holy Writ, the Bible, and bestow on us in the end, ETERNITY WITH YOU. In Jesus most blessed and holy name, Amen and eternally Amen...

One of the difficulties Timothy had to overcome was that he was young. We are not to think of him as a mere stripling. After all, it was fifteen years since he had first become Paul's helper. The word used for youth neotes, can in Greek describe anyone of military age, that is up to the age of forty. But the Church has generally liked its office-bearers to be men of maturity. The Apostolic Canons laid it down that a man was not to become a bishop until he was over fifty, for by then "he will be past youthful disorders." Timothy was young in comparison with Paul, and there would be many who would watch him with a critical eye. When the elder William Pitt was making a speech in the House of Commons at the age of thirty-three, he said:

"The atrocious crime of being a young man...I will neither attempt to palliate or deny."

The Church has always regarded youth with a certain suspicion, and under that suspicion Timothy inevitably fell.

The advice given to Timothy is the hardest of all to follow, and yet it was the only possible advice. It was that he must silence criticism by conduct. Plato was once falsely accused of dishonorable conduct.

"Well," he said, "we must live in such a way that all men will see that the charge is false."

Verbal defenses may not silence criticism; conduct will. What then were to be the marks of Timothy's conduct?

(i) First, there was to be LOVE. Agape, the Greek word for the greatest of the Christian virtues, is largely untranslatable. Its real meaning is unconquerable benevolence. If a person has agape, no matter what other people do to him/her or say of them, they will seek nothing but their good. They will never be bitter, never resentful, never vengeful; They will never allow themselves to hate; they will never refuse to forgive.

((( This is why we continually NEED OUR SAVIOR!!! Our good works can never stand or match the standard of Agape LOVE without Jesus Christ in our lives.......)))

Clearly this is the kind of LOVE which takes the whole of a person's personality to achieve. Ordinarily LOVE is something which we cannot help. LOVE of our nearest and dearest is an instinctive thing. The LOVE of a man for a woman is an experience unsought. Ordinarily LOVE is a thing of the heart; but clearly this Christian LOVE is a thing of the will. It is that conquest of self whereby we develop an unconquerable caring for other people. So then the first authenticating mark of the Christian leader is that they care for others, no matter what they do to us. That is something of which any Christian leader quick to take offence and prone to bear grudges should constantly think.

(ii) Second, there was to be loyalty. Loyalty is an unconquerable fidelity to Christ, no matter what it may cost. It is not difficult to be a good soldier when things are going well. But the really valuable soldier is one who can fight well when their body is weary and their stomach empty, when the situation seems hopeless and the person is in the midst of a campaign the movements of which they cannot understand. The second authenticating mark of the Christian leader is a loyalty to Christ which defies circumstances.

(iii) Third, there was to be purity. Purity is unconquerable allegiance to the standards of Christ. When Pliny was reporting back to Trajan about the Christians in Bithynia, where he was governor, he wrote:

"They are accustomed to bind themselves by an oath to commit neither theft, nor robbery, nor adultery; never to break their word; never to deny a pledge that has been made when summoned to answer for it."

*The Christian pledge is to a life of purity. The Christian ought to have a standard of honor and honesty, of self-control and chastity, of discipline and consideration, far above the standards of the world. The simple fact is that the world will never have any use for Christianity, unless it can prove that it produces the best men and women. The third authenticating mark of the Christian leader is a life lived on the standards of Jesus Christ.

Certain duties are laid upon Timothy, the young leader designate of the Church. He is to devote himself to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation and to teaching. Here we have the pattern of the Christian Church service.

The very first description of a church service which we possess is in the works of Justin Martyr. About the year A.D. 170 he wrote a defense of Christianity to the Roman government, and in it (Justin Martyr: First Apology, 1: 67) he says:

"On the day called the day of the Sun a gathering takes place of all who live in the towns or in the country in one place. The Memoirs of the Apostles or the writings of the prophets are read as long as time permits. Then the reader stops, and the leader by word of mouth impresses and urges to the imitation of these good things. Then we all stand together and send forth prayers."

So then in the pattern of any Christian service there should be four things.

(i) There should be the reading and exposition of scripture. People ultimately do not gather together to hear the opinions of a preacher; they gather together to hear the word of God. The Christian service is Bible-centered.

(ii) There should be teaching. The Bible can be a difficult book, and therefore it often needs to be explained. Christian doctrine is not easy to understand, but we must be able to give a reason for the hope that is in us. There is little use in exhorting a person to be a Christian, if they do not know what being a Christian is.

((( So many professing Christians...............Really do not know what or who a Christian really is!!! )))

The Christian preacher has given many years of their life to gain the necessary equipment to explain the faith to others. We have been set free from the ordinary duties of life in order to think, to study and to pray that we may better expound the word of God. There can be no lasting Christian faith in any Church without a teaching ministry.

(iii) There should be exhortation. The Christian message must always end in Christian action. Someone has said that every sermon should end with the challenge: "What about it, fella?" It is not enough to present the Christian message as something to be studied and understood; it has to be presented as something to be done. Christianity is truth, but it is truth in action.

James 1:22 (KJV)
22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

Jeremiah 11:6 (RSV)
6 And the LORD said to me, "Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: Hear the words of this covenant and do them.

Romans 2:13 (RSV)
13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

Luke 11:28 (RSV)
28 But he said, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"

Philippians 4:8 (RSV)
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.


(iv) There should be prayer. The gathering meets in the presence of God; it thinks in the Spirit of God; it goes out in the strength of God. Neither the preaching nor the listening during the service, nor the consequent action in the world, is possible without the help of the Holy Spirit of God.

It would do us no harm sometimes to test our modern services against the pattern of the first services of the Christian Church.

Here in this passage is set out in the most vivid way the personal duty of the Christian leader.

(i) He must remember that he is a man set apart for a special task by the Church. The Christian leader does not make sense apart from the Church. His commission came from it; his work is within its fellowship; his duty is to build others into it. That is why the really important work of the Christian Church is never done by any itinerant evangelist but always by its settled ministry.

(ii) He must remember the duty to think about these things. His great danger is intellectual sloth and the shut mind, neglecting, to study and allowing his thoughts to continue in well-worn grooves. The danger is that new truths, new methods and the attempt to restate the faith in contemporary terms may merely annoy him. The Christian leader must be a Christian thinker or he fails in his task; and to be a Christian thinker is to be an adventurous thinker so long as life lasts.

(iii) He must remember the duty of concentration. The danger is that he may dissipate his energies on many things which are not central to the Christian faith. He is presented with the invitation to many duties and confronted with the claims of many spheres of service. There was a prophet who confronted Ahab with a kind of parable.

1 Kings 20:35-43 (RSV)
35 And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to his fellow at the command of the LORD, "Strike me, I pray." But the man refused to strike him. 36 Then he said to him, "Because you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, behold, as soon as you have gone from me, a lion shall kill you." And as soon as he had departed from him, a lion met him and killed him. 37 Then he found another man, and said, "Strike me, I pray." And the man struck him, smiting and wounding him. 38 So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, disguising himself with a bandage over his eyes. 39 And as the king passed, he cried to the king and said, "Your servant went out into the midst of the battle; and behold, a soldier turned and brought a man to me, and said, `Keep this man; if by any means he be missing, your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.' 40 And as your servant was busy here and there, he was gone." The king of Israel said to him, "So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it." 41 Then he made haste to take the bandage away from his eyes; and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. 42 And he said to him, "Thus says the LORD, `Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.'" 43 And the king of Israel went to his house resentful and sullen, and came to Sama'ria.

It is easy for the Christian leader to be busy here and there, and to let the central things go. Concentration is a prime duty of the Christian leader.

(iv) He must remember the duty of progress. His progress must be evident to all men. It is all too true of most of us that the same things conquer us year in and year out; that as year succeeds year, we are no further on. The Christian leader pleads with others to become more like Christ. How can he do so with honesty unless he himself from day to day becomes more like the Master whose he is and whom he seeks to serve?

When Kagawa decided to become a Christian, his first prayer was:

"God, make me like Christ."

The Christian leader's prayer must first be that we may grow more like Jesus Christ, in Thought, Word, and Deed, for only thus will we be able to lead others to Him.....................................

Colossians 3:17 (RSV)
17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


June 21, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“First Epistle of Timothy: Part Ten”

1 Timothy 4:1-10 (RSV)
1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 through the pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and enjoin abstinence from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for then it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. 6 If you put these instructions before the brethren, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the good doctrine which you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with godless and silly myths. Train yourself in godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.

O God, our heavenly Father, strengthen our wills this day. Give us clear sight, that we may recognize the things that matter and the things that do not matter; Give us a sense of proportion, that we may see which things are worth getting excited about, and which things are not important; Bless us with wisdom from your holy word, that in all of life’s choices we may be enabled to choose aright: Grant b vus these things, O God, in Jesus name, Amen and eternally Amen.......

Matthew 25:34-40 (RSV)
34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37 Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?'
40 And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'

The Christian Church has inherited from the Jews the understanding that in this world things will be a great deal worse before they get better. The Jews always thought of time in terms of two ages. There was this present age, which was altogether bad and in the grip of the evil powers; there was the age to come, which was to be the perfect age of God and of goodness. But the one age would not pass into the other without a last convulsive struggle. In between the two ages would come The Day of the Lord. On that day the world would be shaken to its foundations; there would be a last supreme battle with evil, a last universal judgment, and then the new day would dawn.

The New Testament writers continued in that understanding.  Being Jews, they had been brought up in it. One of the expected features of the last age was heresies and false teachers.

Matthew 24:11 (RSV)
11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.

Mark 13:22 (RSV)
22 False Christs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect.

2 Thessalonians 2:3 (RSV)
3 Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition,

In these last days Paul looks for the emergence of "the man of sin, the son of perdition," who would set himself up against God...

Into the Church at Ephesus such false teachers had come. The way in which their false teaching is regarded in this passage should make us think very seriously. At that time men believed in evil spirits who haunted the air and were out to ruin men. It was from them that this false teaching came. But though it came from the demons, it came through men. It came through men whose characteristic was a smooth hypocrisy and whose consciences had been branded by Satan. It sometimes happened that a slave was branded with a mark identifying him as belonging to a certain owner. These false teachers bear upon their consciences the very brand of Satan, marking them out as his property.

Here is the threatening and the terrible thing. God is always searching for men and women who will be His instruments in the world; but the terrible fact is that the forces of evil are also looking for men and women to use as well. Here is the terrible responsibility of humanity. People may accept the service of God or the service of the devil. Whose service are they to choose?

The heretics of Ephesus were propagating a heresy with very definite consequences for life. As we have already seen, these heretics were Gnostics; and the essence of Gnosticism was that spirit is altogether good and matter altogether evil. One of the consequences was that there were men who preached that everything to do with the body was evil and that everything in the world was evil. In Ephesus this issued in two definite errors. The heretics insisted that men must, as far as possible, abstain from food, for food was material and therefore evil; food ministered to the body and the body was evil. They also insisted that a man must abstain from marriage, for the instincts of the body were evil and must be entirely suppressed.

This was an ever-recurring heresy in the Church; in every generation men arose who tried to be stricter than God. When the Apostolic Canons came to be written, it was necessary to set it down in black and white:

"If any overseer, priest or deacon, or anyone on the priestly list, abstains from marriage and flesh and wine, not on the ground of asceticism (that is, for the sake of discipline), but through abhorrence of them as evil in themselves, forgetting that all things are very good, and that God made man male and female, but blaspheming and slandering the workmanship of God, either let him amend, or be deposed and cast out of the Church. Likewise a layman also" (Apostolic Canons 51).

Irenaeus, writing towards the end of the second century, tells how certain followers of Saturninus,

"declare that marriage and generation are from Satan. Many likewise abstain from animal food, and draw away multitudes by a feigned temperance of this kind" (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1, 24, 2).

This kind of thing came to a head in the monks and hermits of the fourth century. They went away and lived in the Egyptian desert, entirely cut off from men. They spent their lives mortifying the flesh. One never ate cooked food and was famous for his "fleshlessness." Another stood all night by a jutting crag so that it was impossible for him to sleep. Another was famous because he allowed his body to become so dirty and neglected that bugs dropped from him as he walked. Another deliberately ate salt in midsummer and then abstained from drinking water. "A clean body," they said, "necessarily means an unclean soul."

The answer to these men was that by doing things like that they were insulting God, for He is the creator of the world and repeatedly His creation is said to be good.

Genesis 1:31 (RSV)
31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.

Genesis 9:3 (RSV)
3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

Genesis 1:27-28 (RSV)
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."

***But all God's gifts have to be used in a certain way.

(i) They have to be used in the memory that they are gifts of God. There are things which come to us so unfailingly that we begin to forget that they are gifts and begin to take them as rights. We are to remember that all that we have is a gift from God and that there is not a living thing which could have life apart from Him.

(ii) They have to be used in sharing. All selfish use is forbidden. No man can monopolize God's gifts; every man must share them.

(iii) They are to be used with gratitude. Always there is to be grace before meat. The Jew always said his grace. He had a grace for different things.

*When he ate fruits he said: "Blessed art thou, King of the Universe, who createst the fruit of the tree."

*When he drank wine he said: "Blessed art thou, King of the Universe, who createst the fruit of the vine."

*When he ate vegetables he said: "Blessed art thou, King of the Universe, who createst the fruit of the earth."

*When he ate bread he said: "Blessed art thou, King of the Universe, who bringest forth bread from the ground."

The very fact that we thank God for it makes a thing sacred. Not even the demons can touch it when it has been touched by the Spirit of God.

The true Christian does not serve God by enslaving himself with rules and regulations and insulting His creation; we serve Him by gratefully accepting His good gifts and remembering that this is a world where God made all things well and by never forgetting to share God's gifts with others.

This passage is close—packed with practical advice, not only for Timothy, but for any servant of the Church who is charged with the duty of work and leadership.

(i) It tells us how to instruct others. The word used for laying these things before the brothers is most suggestive, hupotithesthai. It does not mean to issue orders but rather to advise, to suggest. It is a gentle, humble, and modest word. It means that the teacher must never dogmatically and pugnaciously lay down the law. It means that he must act rather as if he was reminding men of what they already knew or suggesting to them, not that they should learn from him, but that they should discover from their own hearts what is right. Guidance given in gentleness will always be more effective than bullying instructions laid down with force. Men may be led when they will refuse to be driven.

(ii) It tells us how to face the task of teaching. Timothy is told that he must feed his life on the words of faith. No man can give out without taking in. He who would teach must be continually learning. It is the reverse of the truth that when a man becomes a teacher he ceases to be a learner; he must daily know Jesus Christ better before he can bring him to others.

(iii) It tells us what to avoid. Timothy is to avoid profitless tales like those which old women tell to children. It is easy to get lost in side-issues and to get entangled in things which are at best embroideries. It is one of the great central truths that a person must ever feed our minds and nourish our faith.

(iv) It tells us what to seek. Timothy is told that as an athlete trains his body, so the Christian must train their soul. It is not that bodily fitness is despised. The Christian faith believes that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. But there are certain things in Paul's mind. First, in the ancient world, especially in Greece, the gymnasia were dangerous places. Every town had its gymnasium; for the Greek youth between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, gymnastics were the main part of education. But the ancient world was riddled with homosexuality and the gymnasia were notorious as hotbeds of that particular sin. Second, Paul is pleading for a sense of proportion. Physical training is good, and even essential; but its use is limited. It develops. only part of a person; and it produces only results which last for so short a time, for the body passes away. Training in godliness develops the whole person in body, mind and spirit, and its results affect not only time, but eternity as well. The Christian is not the athlete of the gymnasium, we are the athlete of God. The greatest of the Greeks well recognized this. Isocrates wrote:

"No ascetic ought to train his body as a king ought to train his soul." "Train yourself by submitting willingly to toils, so that when they come on you unwillingly you will be able to endure them."

(v) It shows us the basis of the whole matter. No one who is honest has ever claimed that the Christian life is an easy way; for it’s goal is to glorify God and our desire is to make God happy... It is because life is lived in the presence of God and ends in His still nearer presence to us and through us, that the Christian is willing to endure as we do....... The greatness of the goal makes the toil worth while.

Jesus Himself said,

Luke 14:28 (RSV)
28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?

As His children we MUST COUNT THE COST!!!

"The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self--all your wishes and precautions--to Christ.” C.S.LEWIS

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


June 14, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The First Epistle to Timothy: Part Nine”

1 Timothy 3:8-16 (RSV)
8 Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for gain; 9 they must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then if they prove themselves blameless let them serve as deacons. 11 The women likewise must be serious, no slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons be the husband of one wife, and let them manage their children and their households well; 13 for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. 14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, 15 if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

Most gracious heavenly Father, we come to You today in all humility of the heart, thanking You for all the visible and invisible things You do for us each and every day!!! O Lord, how long will You put up with this ever increasing evil world, how long will You put up with the ignorance and unfaithfulness of Your people, Your Children, us??? How long, O Lord, will You withhold Your perfect justice and redeem Your Creation from the corruption of our sins??? O beLOVED Lord, help us each, especially myself, to be the people You created and saved us to be; help us to reach out in LOVE and wisdom to the people You put around us and help us to share the words and deeds You want us to in this world.........Give us wisdom and grace, teach us Your Word, and help us to LOVE, honor, and serve You with all our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls, in Jesus name, Amen and eternally Amen!!!!!!!

Lord, I might have Covid-19, Thy will be done, in Jesus' name Amen...............................................

In the early Church the function of the deacons lay much more in the sphere of practical service. The Christian Church inherited a magnificent organization of charitable help from the Jews. No nation has ever had such a sense of responsibility for the poorer brother and sister as the Jews. The synagogue had a regular organization for helping such people. The Jews rather discouraged the giving of individual help to individual people. They preferred that help should be given through the community and especially through the synagogue.

Each Friday in every community two official collectors went round the markets and called on each house, collecting donations for the poor in money and in goods. The material so collected was distributed to those in need by a committee of two, or more if necessary. The poor of the community were given enough food for fourteen meals, that is for two meals a day for the week; but no one could receive from this fund if he already possessed a week's food in the house. This fund for the poor was called the Kuppah, or the basket. In addition to this there was a daily collection of food from house to house for those who were actually in emergency need that day. This fund was called the Tamhui or the tray. The Christian Church inherited this charitable organization, and no doubt it was the task of the deacons to attend to it.

Many of the qualifications of the deacon are the same as for the episkopos. They are to be men of dignified character; they are to be temperate; they are not to soil their hands with disreputable ways of making money; they have to undergo a test and a time of probation; they must practice what they preach, so that they can hold the Christian faith with a clear conscience.

One new qualification is added; they are to be straight. The Greek is that they must not be dilogos, and dilogos means speaking with two voices, saying one thing to one and another to another ( not: two-faced). In The Pilgrim's Progress John Bunyan puts into By-ends mouth a description of the people who live in the town of Fair-speech. There is my Lord Turn-about, my Lord Time-Server, my Lord Fair-speech, after whose ancestors the town was named, Mr. Smooth-man, Mr. Facing-both-ways, Mr. Any-thing; and the parson of the parish, Mr. Two-tongues. A deacon, in his going from house to house, and in his dealing with those who needed charity, had to be a straight-shooter, an honest man. Again and again he would be tempted to evade issues by a little timely hypocrisy and smooth speaking. But the man who would do the work of the Christian Church must be a straight-shooter, honest in all things.

It is clear that the man who performs well the office of deacon can look for promotion to the high office of elder, and will gain such a confidence in the faith that he can look any man in the face.

As far as the Greek goes, this could refer to the wives of the deacons, or to women engaged in a similar service. It seems far more likely that it refers to women who are also engaged upon this work of charity. There must have been acts of kindness and of help which only a woman could properly do for another woman. Certainly in the early Church there were deaconesses. They had the duty of instructing female converts and in particular of presiding and attending at their baptism, which was by total immersion.

It was necessary that such women workers should be warned against slanderous gossip and bidden to be absolutely reliable. When a young doctor graduates and before he begins to practice, he takes the Hippocratic oath, and part of that oath is a pledge never to repeat anything that he has heard in the house of a patient, or anything that he has heard about a patient, even if he has heard it on the street. In the work of helping the poor, things might easily be heard and be repeated and infinite damage done. It is not any insult to women that the Pastorals specially forbid gossip to them. In the nature of things a woman runs more risk of gossip than a man. A man's work takes him out into the world; a woman of necessity usually lives in a narrower sphere and for that very reason has fewer things to talk about. This increases the danger of talking about the personal relationships from which slanderous gossip arises. Whether man or woman, a tale-bearing, confidence-repeating Christian is a monstrous thing.

In Greek civilization it was essential that the women workers of the Church should preserve their dignity. The respectable Greek woman lived in the greatest seclusion; she never went out alone; she never even shared meals with her men folk. Pericles said that the duty of an Athenian mother was to live so retired a life that her name should never be mentioned among men for praise or blame. Xenophon tells how a country gentleman who was a friend of his said about the young wife whom he had just married and whom he dearly LOVED.

"What was she likely to know when I married her? Why, she was not yet fifteen when I introduced her to my house, and she had been brought up always under the strictest supervision; as far as could be managed, she had not been allowed to see anything, hear anything or ask any questions."

That is the way in which respectable Greek girls were brought up. Xenophon gives a vivid picture of one of these girl-wives gradually,

"growing accustomed to her husband and becoming sufficiently tame to hold conversation with him."

Christianity emancipated women; it liberated them from a kind of slavery. But there were dangers. She who was liberated might misuse her new-found freedom; the respectable world might be shocked by such an emancipation; and so the Church had to lay down its regulations. It was by wisely using freedom, and not misusing it, that women came to hold the proud position in the Church which they hold today.

Here in one phrase is the reason why the Pastoral Epistles were written; they were written to tell men how to behave within the Church. The word for to behave is anastrephesthai ; it describes what we might call a man's walk and conversation. It describes his whole life and character; but it specially describes him in his relationships with other people. As it has been said, the word in itself lays it down that a church member's personal character must be excellent and that his personal relationships with other people should be a true fellowship. A church congregation is a body of people who are friends with God and friends with each other. Paul goes on to use four words which describe four great functions of the Church.

(i) The Church is the household, oikos, of God. First and foremost it must be a family. In a dispatch written after one of his great naval victories, Nelson ascribed his victory to the fact that he "had the happiness to command a band of brothers." Unless a church is a band of brothers it is not a true church at all. ***LOVE of God can exist only where brotherly LOVE exists.

(ii) The Church is the assembly, ekklesia,  of the living God. The word ekklesia  literally means a company of people who have been called out. It does not mean that they have been selected or picked out. In Athens the ekklesia  was the governing body of the city; and its membership consisted of all the citizens met in assembly. But, very naturally, at no time did all attend. The summons went out to come to the Assembly of the City, but only some citizens answered it and came. God's call has gone out to every man; but only some have  accepted it; and they are the ekklesia, the Church. It is not that God has been selective. The invitation comes to all; but to an invitation there must be a response.

Matthew 22:14 (RSV)
14 For many are called, but few are chosen."

(iii) The Church is the pillar of the truth, stulos. In Ephesus, to which these letters were written, the word pillar would have a special significance. The greatest glory of Ephesus was the Temple of Diana or Artemis. "Great is Diana of the Ephesians"

Acts 19:28 (RSV)
28 When they heard this they were enraged, and cried out, "Great is Ar'temis of the Ephesians!"

It was one of the seven wonders of the world. One of its features was its pillars. It contained one hundred and twenty-seven pillars, every one of them the gift of a king. All were made of marble, and some were studded with jewels and overlaid with gold. The people of Ephesus knew well how beautiful a thing a pillar could be. It may well be that the idea of the word pillar here is not so much support—that is contained in buttress—as display. Often the statue of a famous man is set on the top of a pillar that it may stand out above all ordinary things and so be clearly seen, even from a distance. The idea here is that the Church's duty is to hold up the truth in such a way that all men may see it.

(iv) The Church is the buttress, hedraioma, of the truth. The buttress is the support of the building. It keeps it standing intact. In a world which does not wish to face the truth, the Church holds it up for all to see. In a world which would often gladly eliminate unwelcome truth, the Church supports it against all who would seek to destroy it.

The great interest of this passage is that here we have a fragment of one of the hymns of the early Church. It is a setting of belief in Christ to poetry and to music, a hymn in which men sang their creed. We cannot expect in poetry the precision of statement for which we would look in a creed; but we must try to see what each line in this hymn is saying to us.

(i) He who was manifested in the flesh. Right at the beginning it stresses the real humanity of Jesus. It says: "Look at Jesus, and you will see the mind and the heart and the action of God, in a form that men can understand."

(ii) He who was vindicated by the Spirit. This is a difficult line. There are three things it may mean. (a) It may mean that all through His earthly days Jesus was kept sinless by the power of the Spirit. It is the Spirit who gives a man guidance; our error is that we so often refuse His guidance. It was Jesus' perfect submission to the Spirit of God which kept him without sin. (b) It may mean that Jesus' claims were vindicated by the action of the Spirit who dwelt in Him. When Jesus was accused by the scribes and Pharisees of effecting cures by the power of the devil, His answer was:

Matthew 12:28 (RSV)
28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

The power that was in Jesus was the power of the Spirit, and the mighty acts He performed were the vindication of the tremendous claims which He made. (c) It may be that this is a reference to the Resurrection. Men took Jesus and crucified Him as a criminal upon a cross; but through the power of the Spirit He rose again; the verdict of men was demonstrated to be false, and He was vindicated. No matter how we take this line, its meaning is that the Spirit is the power who proved Jesus to be what He claimed to be, God incarnet.

(iii) He who was seen by angels. Again there are three possible meanings. (a) It may be a reference to Jesus' life before He came to earth. (b) It may be a reference to His life on earth. Even on earth the hosts of heaven were looking on at His tremendous contest with evil. (c) It may connect with the belief of all men in the time of Jesus that the air was full of demonic and angelic powers. Many of these powers were hostile to God and to man, and bent on the destruction of Jesus. Paul at least once argued that they were bent on the destruction of Jesus through ignorance, and that Jesus brought to them and to men the wisdom which had been hidden since the world began,

1 Corinthians 2:7-8 (RSV)
7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

This phrase may mean that Jesus brought the truth even to the angelic and demonic powers who had never known it. However we take it, it means that the work of Jesus is so tremendous that it includes both heaven and earth.

(iv) He who has been preached among the nations. Here we have the great truth that Jesus was the exclusive possession of no race. He was not the Messiah who had come to raise the Jews to earthly greatness, but the Savior of the whole wide world.

(v) He in whom people have believed all over the world. Here is an almost miraculous truth stated with utter simplicity. After Jesus had died and risen again and ascended to His glory, the number of His followers was one hundred and twenty,

Acts 1:15 (RSV)
15 In those days Peter stood up among the brethren (the company of persons was in all about a hundred and twenty), and said,

All that His followers had to offer was the story of a Galilaean carpenter who had been crucified on a hilltop in Palestine as a criminal. And yet before seventy years had passed that story had gone out to the ends of the earth and men of every nation accepted this crucified Jesus as Savior and Lord. In this simple phrase there is the whole wonder of the expansion of the Church, an expansion which on any human grounds is incredible and clearly miraculous!!!!!!!

(vi) He who was taken up into glory. This is a reference to the Ascension. The story of Jesus begins in heaven and ends in heaven. He lived as a servant; He was branded as a criminal; He was crucified on a cross; He rose with the nailprints still upon Him; but the end is glory.

John 2:19 (RSV)
19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."

Jesus raised Himself !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


June 7, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The First Epistle to Timothy: Part Eight: B”

1 Timothy 3:1-7 (RSV)
1 The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task. 2 Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, 3 no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; 5 for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God's church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil; 7 moreover he must be well thought of by outsiders, or he may fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Grant, O God, that we may never grudge any time that we give to You, but that we may always be, Eager to hear Your word; Glad to sing Your praise; Ready to hear Your TRUTH; Delighted to pray to You!!!

Lord, please bring healing to this land. Bring truth to light, and words to action. Those who protest in honesty, bless their positive goals, and those who use this time of disharmony to riot, loot, and even kill, destroy their foundations, and bring Your will and solution to this unrest.

The pandemic is still here, bring physical healing to those who are ill, extinguish Covid-19, and if Your will all such diseases.

This and all our unspoken requests we ask through Jesus Christ, our Lord, God, and Savior. Amen and eternally Amen....................................

Last week we ended with the concern of the early Church’s rules on marriage in the life of the Overseer, the Elder, the Deacon, the Pastor of the Church..........................We leave polygamy and turn to divorce.

Apart altogether from those polygamy cases, divorce was tragically easy in the Jewish world. The Jews had the highest ideals of marriage. They said that a man must surrender his life rather than commit murder, idolatry or adultery. They had the faith that marriages are made in heaven. In the story of the marriage of Isaac and Rebecca it is said: "The thing comes from the Lord",

Genesis 24:50 (RSV)
50 Then Laban and Bethu'el answered, "The thing comes from the LORD; we cannot speak to you bad or good.

This was taken to mean that the marriage was arranged by God. So it is said in,

Proverbs 19:14 (RSV)
14 House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.

In the story of Tobit, the angel says to Tobit:

Tobit 6:17 (RSV) (((a book of the "Apocrypha")))
17 Then the demon will smell it and flee away, and will never again return. And when you approach her, rise up, both of you, and cry out to the merciful God, and he will save you and have mercy on you. Do not be afraid, for she was destined for you from eternity. You will save her, and she will go with you, and I suppose that you will have children by her." When Tobias heard these things, he fell in love with her and yearned deeply for her.

The Rabbis said:

"God sits in heaven arranging marriages."

"Forty days before the child is formed a heavenly voice proclaims its mate."

For all that, the Jewish law allowed divorce. Marriage was indeed the ideal but divorce was permitted. Marriage was "inviolable but not indissoluble." The Jews held that once the marriage ideal had been shattered by cruelty or infidelity or incompatibility, it was far better to allow a divorce and to permit the two to make a fresh start. The great tragedy was that the wife had no rights whatsoever. Josephus says:

"With us it is lawful for a husband to dissolve a marriage, but a wife, if she departs from her husband, cannot marry another, unless her former husband put her away" (Antiquities of the Jews, 15: 8, Antiquities of the Jews, 15: 7).

In a case of divorce by consent, in the time of the New Testament, all that was required was two witnesses, and no court case at all. A husband could send his wife away for any cause; at the most a wife could petition the court to urge her husband to write her a bill of divorcement, but it could not compel him even to do that.

In face of that situation, things came to such a pass that "women refused to contract marriages, and men grew grey and celibate." A brake was put upon this process by legislation introduced by Simon ben Shetah. A Jewish wife always brought her husband a dowry which was called Kethubah. Simon enacted that a man had unrestricted use of the Kethubah, so long as he remained married to his wife, but on divorce he was absolutely liable to repay it, even if he had "to sell his hair" to do so. This checked divorce; but the Jewish system was always vitiated by the fact that the wife had no rights.

In the heathen world things were infinitely worse. There, too, according to Roman law, the wife had no rights. Cato said:

"If you were to take your wife in adultery, you could kill her with impunity, without any court judgment; but if you were involved in adultery, she would not dare to lift a finger against you, for it is unlawful."

Things grew so bad, and marriage grew so irksome, that in 131 B.C. a well-known Roman called Metellus Macedonicus made a statement which Augustus was afterwards to quote:

"If we could do without wives, we would be rid of that nuisance. But since nature has decreed that we can neither live comfortably with them, nor live at all without them, we must look rather to our permanent interests than to passing pleasure."

((( If anything, you at least now know where the statement: “you can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them” came from. )))

Even the Roman poets saw the dreadfulness of the situation.

"Ages rich in sin," wrote Horace, "were the first to taint marriage and family life. From this source the evil has overflowed." "Sooner will the seas be dried up," said Propertius, "and the stars be raft from heaven, than our women reformed." Ovid wrote his famous, or infamous, book The Art of love, and never from beginning to end mentions married love. He wrote cynically:

"These women alone are pure who are unsolicited, and a man who is angry at his wife's love affair is nothing but a rustic boor."

Seneca declared:

"Anyone whose affairs have not become notorious, and who does not pay a married woman a yearly fee, is despised by women as a mere lover of girls; in fact husbands are got as a mere decoy for lovers." "Only the ugly," he said, "are loyal." "A woman who is content to have only two followers is a paragon of virtue."

Tacitus commended the supposedly barbarian German tribes for

"not laughing at evil, and not making seduction the spirit of the age."

When a marriage took place, the home to which the couple were going was decorated with green bay leaves. Juvenal said that there were those who entered on divorce before the bays of welcome had faded. In 19 B.C. a man named Quintus Lucretius Vespillo erected a tablet to his wife which said:

"Seldom do marriages last until death undivorced; but ours continued happily for forty-one years."

*******The happy marriage was the astonishing exception.*******

((( As it often appears so in our age!!! )))

Ovid and Pliny had three wives; Caesar and Antony had four; Sulla and Pompey had five; Herod had nine; Cicero's daughter Tullia had three husbands. The Emperor Nero was the third husband of Poppaea and the fifth husband of Statilla Messalina.

It was not for nothing that the Pastorals laid it down that the Christian leader must be the husband of one wife. In a world where even the highest places were deluged with immorality, the Christian Church must demonstrate the chastity, the stability and the sanctity of the Christian home.

The Christian leader must be sober (nephalios) and he must not over-indulge in wine, paroinos. In the ancient world wine was continually used. Where the water supply was very inadequate and sometimes dangerous, wine was the most natural drink of all. It is wine which cheers the hearts of gods and men,

Judges 9:13 (RSV)
13 But the vine said to them, `Shall I leave my wine which cheers gods and men, and go to sway over the trees?'

In the restoration of Israel she will plant her vineyards and drink her wine,

Amos 9:14 (RSV)
14 I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.

Strong drink is given to those who are ready to perish, and wine to those whose hearts are heavy,

Proverbs 31:6 (RSV)
6 Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress;

This is not to say that the ancient world was not fully alive to the dangers of strong drink. Proverbs speaks of the disaster which comes to the man who looks on the wine when it is red,

Proverbs 23:29-35 (RSV)
29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? 30 Those who tarry long over wine, those who go to try mixed wine. 31 Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. 32 At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder. 33 Your eyes will see strange things, and your mind utter perverse things. 34 You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. 35 "They struck me," you will say, "but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I will seek another drink."

Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler,

Proverbs 20:1 (RSV)
1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.

There are terrible stories of what happened to people through over-indulgence in wine. There is the case of Noah,

Genesis 9:18-27 (RSV)
18 The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. 19 These three were the sons of Noah; and from these the whole earth was peopled. 20 Noah was the first tiller of the soil. He planted a vineyard; 21 and he drank of the wine, and became drunk, and lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it upon both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father's nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, "Cursed be Canaan; a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers." 26 He also said, "Blessed by the LORD my God be Shem; and let Canaan be his slave." 27 God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his slave."

Consider Lot,

Genesis 19:30-38 (RSV)
30 Now Lot went up out of Zo'ar, and dwelt in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to dwell in Zo'ar; so he dwelt in a cave with his two daughters. 31 And the first-born said to the younger, "Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring through our father." 33 So they made their father drink wine that night; and the first-born went in, and lay with her father; he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. 34 And on the next day, the first-born said to the younger, "Behold, I lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve offspring through our father." 35 So they made their father drink wine that night also; and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. 36 Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father.
37 The first-born bore a son, and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. 38 The younger also bore a son, and called his name Ben-ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites to this day.


2 Samuel 13:28-29 (RSV)
28 Then Ab'salom commanded his servants, "Mark when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, `Strike Amnon,' then kill him. Fear not; have I not commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant." 29 So the servants of Ab'salom did to Amnon as Ab'salom had commanded. Then all the king's sons arose, and each mounted his mule and fled.

Although the ancient world used wine as the commonest of all drinks, it used it most temperately. When wine was drunk, it was drunk in the proportion of two parts of wine to three parts of water. A man who was drunken would be disgraced in ordinary heathen society, let alone in the Church.

The interesting thing is the double meaning that both words in this section possess. Nephalios  means sober, but it also means watchful and vigilant; paroinos  means addicted to wine, but it also means quarrelsome and violent. The point that the Pastorals make here is that the Christian must allow himself no indulgence which would lessen his Christian vigilance or soil his Christian conduct.

I had a great Christian friend of mine back at Michigan State University, who stated he would try “POT” if it were legal. Now it is legal in many states, but it is still illegal in the eyes of God............................

There follow two Greek words which describe two great qualities which must characterize the Christian leader. He must be prudent sophron  and well-behaved kosmios.

We have translated sophron  by prudent, but it is virtually untranslatable. It is variously translated of sound mind, discreet, prudent, self-controlled, chaste, having complete control over sensual desires. The Greeks derived it from two words which mean to keep one's mind safe and sound. The corresponding noun is sophrosune, and the Greeks wrote and thought much about it. It is the opposite of intemperance and lack of self-control. Plato defined it as

"the mastery of pleasure and desire."

Aristotle defined it as

"that power by which the pleasures of the body are used as law commands."

Philo defined it as

"a certain limiting and ordering of the desires, which eliminates those which are external and excessive, and which adorns those which are necessary with timeliness and moderation."

Pythagoras said that it was

"the foundation on which the soul rests."

Iamblichus said that

"it is the safeguard of the most excellent habits in life."

Euripides said that it was

"the fairest gift of God."

Jeremy Taylor called it

"reason's girdle and passion's bridle."

Trench describes sophrosune  as

"the condition of entire command over the passions and desires, so that they receive no further allowance than that which law and right reason admit and approve."

Gilbert Murray wrote of sophron:

"There is a way of thinking which destroys and a way which saves. The man or woman who is sophron  walks among the beauties and perils of the world, feeling love, joy, anger, and the rest; and through all he has that in his mind which saves. Whom does it save? Not him only, but, as we should say, the whole situation. It saves the imminent evil from coming to be."

E. F. Brown quotes in illustration of sophrosune  a prayer of Thomas Aquinas which asks for

"a quieting of all our impulses, fleshly and spiritual."

The man who is sophron  has every part of his nature under perfect control, which is to say that the man who is sophron  is the man in whose heart Christ reigns supreme.

The companion word is kosmios,  which we have translated well-behaved. If a man is kosmios  in his outer conduct it is because he is sophron  in his inner life. Kosmios  means orderly, honest, modest. In Greek it has two special usages. It is common in tributes and in inscriptions to the dead. And it is commonly used to describe the man who is a good citizen. Plato defines the man who is kosmios ) as

"the citizen who is quiet in the land, who duly fulfils in his place and order the duties which are incumbent upon him as such."

This word has more in it than simply good behavior. It describes the man whose life is beautiful and in whose character all things are harmoniously integrated.

The leader of the Church must be a man who is sophron,  his every instinct and desire under perfect control; he must be a man who is kosmios,  his inner control issuing in outward beauty. The leader must be one in whose heart Christ's power reigns and on whose life Christ's beauty shines.

The Character of the Christian Leader

The Christian leader must be hospitable philoxenos. This is a quality on which the New Testament lays much stress. Paul bids the Roman Church to "practise hospitality",

Romans 12:13 (RSV)
13 Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.

Peter says,

1 Peter 4:9 (RSV)
9 Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another.

In the Shepherd of Hermas, one of the very early Christian writings, it is laid down:

"The episkopos  must be hospitable, a man who gladly and at all times welcomes into his house the servants of God."

The Christian leader must be a man with an open heart and an open house.

The ancient world was very careful of the rights of the guest. The stranger was under the protection of Zeus Xenios, the Protector of Strangers. In the ancient world, inns were notoriously bad. In one of Aristophanes' plays Heracles asks his companion where they will lodge for the night; and the answer is: "Where the fleas are fewest." Plato speaks of the inn-keeper being like a pirate who holds his guests to ransom. Inns tended to be dirty and expensive and, above all, immoral. The ancient world had a system of what were called Guest Friendships. Over generations families had arrangements to give each other accommodation and hospitality. Often the members of the families came in the end to be unknown to each other by sight and identified themselves by means of what were called tallies. The stranger seeking accommodation would produce one half of some object; the host would possess the other half of the tally; and when the two halves fitted each other the host knew that he had found his guest, and the guest knew that the host was indeed the ancestral friend of his household.

In the Christian Church there were wandering teachers and preachers who needed hospitality. There were also many slaves with no homes of their own to whom it was a great privilege to have the right of entry to a Christian home. It was of the greatest blessing that Christians should have Christian homes ever open to them in which they could meet people like-minded to themselves. We live in a world where there are still many who are far from home, many who are strangers in a strange place, many who live in conditions where it is hard to be a Christian. The door of the Christian home and the welcome of the Christian heart should be open to all such.

The Christian leader must be possessed of an aptitude for teaching didaktikos. It has been said that his duty is "to preach to the unconverted and to teach the converted." There are two things to be said about this. It is one of the disasters of modern times that the teaching ministry of the Church is not being exercised as it should. There is any amount of topical preaching and any amount of exhortation; but there is little use in exhorting a man to be a Christian when he does not know what being a Christian means. Instruction is a primary duty of the Christian preacher and leader. The second thing is this. The finest and the most effective teaching is done not by speaking but by being. Even the man with no gift of words can teach, by living in such a way that in him men see the reflection of the Master. A saint has been defined as someone "in whom Christ lives again."

((( The best Teacher is one who practices what he teaches!!!!!!! )))

The Christian leader must not be a man who assaults others, plektes,  a striker. That this instruction was not unnecessary is seen in one of the very early regulations of the Apostolic Canons:

"A bishop, priest or deacon who smites the faithful when they err, or the unbelievers when they commit injury, and desires by such means as this to terrify them, we command to be deposed; for nowhere hath the Lord taught us this. When he was reviled, he reviled not again, but the contrary. When he was smitten, he smote not again; when he suffered, he threatened not." It will not be likely that any genuine Christian leader will nowadays strike another Christian, but the fact remains that blustering, bullying, irritable, bad-tempered speech or action is forbidden to the Christian.

The Christian leader must be gentle. The Greek is epieikes,  another of these completely untranslatable words. The noun is epieikeia  and Aristotle describes it as

"that which corrects justice" and as that which "is just and better than justice."

He said that it was that quality which corrects the law when the law errs because of its generality. What he means is that sometimes it may actually be unjust to apply the strict letter of the law. Trench said that epieikeia  means

"retreating from the letter of right better to preserve the spirit of right" and is "the spirit which recognizes the impossibility of cleaving to all formal law... that recognizes the danger that ever waits upon the assertion of legal rights, lest they should be pushed into moral wrongs... the spirit which rectifies and redresses the injustice of justice."

Aristotle describes in full the action of epieikeia:

"To pardon human failings; to look to the law-giver, not to the law; to the intention, not to the action; to the whole, not to the part; to the character of the actor in the long run and not in the present moment; to remember good rather than evil, and the good that one has received rather than the good that one has done; to bear being injured; to wish to settle a matter by words rather than deeds."

If there is a matter under dispute, it can be settled by consulting a book of practice and procedure, or it can be settled by consulting Jesus Christ. If there is a matter of debate, it can be settled in law, or it can be settled in LOVE. The atmosphere of many a Church would be radically changed if there was more epieikeia  within it.

The Christian leader must be peaceable amachos. The Greek word means disinclined to fight. There are people who, as we might put it, are "trigger-happy" in their relationships with other people. But the real Christian leader wants nothing so much as he wants peace with his fellow-men.

The Christian leader must be free from the love of money. He will never do anything simply for profit's sake. He will know that there are values which are beyond all money price. THERE ARE THINGS THAT ARE CLEARLY: “PRICELESS”!!!!!!!

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


May 31, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The First Epistle to Timothy: Part Eight: A”

1 Timothy 3:1-7 (RSV)
1 The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task. 2 Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, 3 no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; 5 for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God's church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil; 7 moreover he must be well thought of by outsiders, or he may fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Help us, O God, to find here today, Wisdom to discern what is right. And strength to do what is right. Enlighten our minds with Your TRUTH; Warm our hearts with Your LOVE; Fill our lives with Your power to serve. That we may go forth from this place to live for You: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen and eternally Amen.................................................

Forgive me Father for being incredibly unworthy today. In Jesus' wonderful name Amen...

 This is a very important passage from the point of view of Church government. It deals with the man whom the King James and Revised Standard Versions call the bishop, and whom we have translated overseer.

In the New Testament there are two words which describe the principal office-bearers of the Church, the office-bearers who were to be found in every congregation, and on whose conduct and administration its welfare depended.

(i) There was the man who was called the elder presbuteros. The eldership is the most ancient of all offices within the Church. The Jews had their elders, and they traced their origin to the occasion when Moses, in the desert wanderings, appointed seventy men to help him in the task of controlling and caring for the people,

Numbers 11:16 (RSV)
16 And the LORD said to Moses, "Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you.

Every synagogue had its elders, and they were the real leaders of the Jewish community. They presided over the worship of the synagogue; they administered rebuke and discipline where these were necessary; they settled the disputes which other nations would have taken to the law-courts. Amongst the Jews the elders were the respected men who exercised a fatherly oversight over the spiritual and material affairs of every Jewish community. But more nations than the Jews had an eldership. The presiding body of the Spartans was called the gerousia, which means the board of the elder men. The Parliament of Rome was called the senate, which comes from senex, which means an old man. In England the men who looked after the affairs of the community were called the aldermen, which means the elder men. In New Testament times every Egyptian village had its village elders who looked after the affairs of the community. The elders had a long history, and they had a place in the life of almost every community.

(ii) But sometimes the New Testament uses another word, episkopos, which the King James and Revised Standard Versions translate bishop, and which literally means overseer, or superintendent. This word, too, has a long and honorable history. The Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures, uses it to describe those who were the taskmasters, who were over the public works and public building schemes,

2 Chronicles 34:17 (RSV)
17 They have emptied out the money that was found in the house of the LORD and have delivered it into the hand of the overseers and the workmen."

The Greeks use it to describe the men appointed to go out from the mother city to regulate the affairs of a newly founded colony in some distant place. They use it to describe what we might call commissioners appointed to regulate the affairs of a city. The Romans use it to describe the magistrates appointed to oversee the sale of food within the city of Rome. It is used of the special delegates appointed by a king to see that the laws he had laid down were carried out. Episkopos  always implies two things; first, oversight over some area or sphere of work and second, responsibility to some higher power and authority.

The great question is: What was the relationship in the early Church between the elder, the presbuteros, and the overseer, the episkopos?

Modern scholarship is practically unanimous in holding that in the early Church the presbuteros and the episkopos  were one and the same. The grounds for that identification are:

(a) Elders were everywhere appointed. After the first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in all the Churches they had founded,

Acts 14:23 (RSV)
23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they believed.

Titus is instructed to appoint and ordain elders in all the cities of Crete,

Titus 1:5 (RSV)
5 This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you,

(b) The qualifications of a presbuteros and of an episkopos are to all intents and purposes identical,

1 Timothy 3:2-7 (RSV)
2 Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, 3 no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; 5 for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God's church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil; 7 moreover he must be well thought of by outsiders, or he may fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Titus 1:6-9 (RSV)
6 if any man is blameless, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of being profligate or insubordinate. 7 For a bishop, as God's steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of goodness, master of himself, upright, holy, and self-controlled; 9 he must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it.

(c) At the beginning of Philippians, Paul's greetings are to the bishops and the deacons,

Philippians 1:1 (RSV)
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philip'pi, with the bishops and deacons:

It is quite impossible that Paul would have sent no greetings at all to the elders, who, as we have already seen, were in every Church; and therefore the bishops and the elders must be one and the same body of people.

(d) When Paul was on his last journey to Jerusalem, he sent for the elders of Ephesus to meet him at Miletus,

Acts 20:17 (RSV)
17 And from Mile'tus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.

In the course of his talk to them he says that God has made them episkopoi  to feed the Church of God,

Acts 20:28 (RSV)
28 Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son.

That is to say, he addresses precisely the same body of men first as elders and second as bishops or overseers.

(e) When Peter is writing to his people, he talks to them as an elder to elders ,

1 Peter 5:1 (RSV)
1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed.

Then he goes on to say that their function is oversight of the flock of God,

1 Peter 5:2 (RSV)
2 Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly,

The word he uses for oversight, is the verb episkopein  from which episkopos  comes. All the evidence from the New Testament goes to prove that the presbuteros  and the episkopos, the elder and the bishop or overseer, were one and the same person.

Two questions arise. First, if they were the same, why were there two names for them? The answer is that presbuteros  described these leaders of the Church as they personally were. They were the elder men, the older and respected members of the community. Episkopos, on the other hand, described their function, which was to oversee the life and the work of the Church. The one word described the man; the other described his task.

The second question is—if the elder and the bishop were originally the same, how did the bishop become what he did? The answer is simple. Inevitably the body of the elders would acquire a leader. Someone to lead would be essential and would inevitably emerge. The more organized the Church became, the more such a figure would be bound to arise. And the elder who stood out as leader came to be called the episkopos, the superintendent of the Church. But it is to be noted that he was simply a leader amongst equals. He was in fact the elder whom circumstances and personal qualities had combined to make a leader for the work of the Church.

It will be seen that to translate episkopos  by the word bishop in the New Testament now gives the word a misleading meaning. It is better to translate it overseer or superintendent.

The Appointment and Duties of the Leaders in the Church

This passage is further interesting in that it tells us something of the appointment and the duties of the leaders of the Church.

(i) They were formally set apart for their office. Titus was to ordain elders in every Church,

Titus 1:5 (RSV)
5 This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you,

The office-bearer of the Church is not made an office-bearer in secret; he is set apart before the eyes of men; the honor of the Church is publicly delivered into his hands.

(ii) They had to undergo a period of testing. They had first to be proved,

1 Timothy 3:10 (RSV)
10 And let them also be tested first; then if they prove themselves blameless let them serve as deacons.

No one builds a bridge or a piece of machinery with metal which has not been tested. The Church might do well to be more strict than she is in the testing of those chosen for leadership.

(iii) They were paid for the work which they had to do. The laborer was worthy of his hire,

1 Timothy 5:18 (RSV)
18 for the scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages."

The Christian leader does not work for pay, but, on the other hand, the duty of the Church which chose him for the work is to supply him with the means to live.

(iv) They were liable to censure,

1 Timothy 5:19-22 (RSV)
19 Never admit any charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. 21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without favor, doing nothing from partiality.
22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor participate in another man's sins; keep yourself pure.

In the early Church the office-bearer had a double function. He was a leader of the Church; but he was also the servant of the Church. He had to answer for his stewardship. No Christian office-bearer must ever consider himself answerable to no one; he is answerable to God and to the people over whom God gave him the task of presiding.

(v) They had the duty of presiding over the Christian assembly and of teaching the Christian congregation ,

1 Timothy 5:17 (RSV)
17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching;

The Christian office-bearer has the double duty of administration and instruction. It may well be that one of the tragedies of the modern Church is that the administrative function of the office-bearer has usurped the teaching function almost entirely. It is, for instance, sad to see how few elders of the Church are actively engaged in the teaching work of Sunday schools.

(vi) The office-bearer was not to be a recent convert. Two reasons are given for this advice. The first is quite clear. It is "in case he becomes inflated with a sense of his own importance." The second is not so clear. It is, as the Revised Standard Version has it, "lest he fall into the condemnation of the devil." There are three possible explanations of that strange phrase.

(a) It was through his pride that Lucifer rebelled against God and was expelled from heaven. And this may simply be a second warning against the danger of pride.

(b) It may mean that, if the too quickly advanced convert becomes guilty of pride, he gives the devil a chance to level his charges against him. A conceited Church office-bearer gives the devil a chance to say to critics of the Church: "Look! There's your Christian! There's your Church member! That's what an office-bearer is like!"

(c) The word diabolos  has two meanings. It means "Devil," and that is the way in which the Revised Standard Version has taken it here; but it also means "slanderer." It is in fact the word used for slanderer in,

1 Timothy 3:11 (RSV)
11 The women likewise must be serious, no slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things.

Where the women are forbidden to be slanderers. So then this phrase may mean that the recent convert, who has been appointed to office, and has acquired, as we say, a swelled head, gives opportunity to the slanderers. His unworthy conduct is ammunition for those who are ill-disposed to the Church. No matter how we take it, the point is that the conceited Church official is a bad liability to the Church.

But, as the early Church saw it, the responsibility of the office-bearer did not begin and end in the Church. He had two other spheres of responsibility, and if he failed in them, he was bound also to fail in the Church.

(i) His first sphere of duty was his own home. If a man did not know how to rule his own household, how could he engage upon the task of ruling the congregation of the Church?

1 Timothy 3:5 (RSV)
5 for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God's church?

A man who had not succeeded in making a Christian home could hardly be expected to succeed in making a Christian congregation. A man who had not instructed his own family could hardly be the right man to instruct the family of the Church.

(ii) The second sphere of responsibility was the world. He must be "well thought of by outsiders".

1 Timothy 3:7 (RSV)
7 moreover he must be well thought of by outsiders, or he may fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

He must be a man who has gained the respect of his fellow-men in the day-to-day business of life. Nothing has hurt the Church more than the sight of people who are active in it, whose business and social life belies the faith which they profess and the precepts which they teach. The Christian office-bearer must first of all be a good man. A good person!!!

We have just seen that the Christian leader must be a man who has won the respect of all. In this passage there is a great series of words and phrases describing his character; and it will be worth while to look at each in turn. Before we do that it will be interesting to set beside them two famous descriptions by great heathen thinkers of the good leader's character. Diogenes Laertius (7: 116-126) hands down to us the Stoic description. He must be married; he must be without pride; he must be temperate; and he must combine prudence of mind with excellence of outward behaviour. A writer called Onosander gives us the other. He must be prudent, self-controlled, sober, frugal, enduring in toil, intelligent, without love of money, neither young nor old, if possible the father of a family, able to speak competently, and of good reputation. It is interesting to see how the pagan and the Christian descriptions coincide.

The Christian leader must be a man against whom no criticism can be made anepileptos.  Anepileptos is used of a position which is not open to attack, of a life which is not open to censure, of an art or technique which is so perfect that no fault can be found with it, of an agreement which is inviolable. The Christian leader must not only be free from such faults as can be assailed by definite charges; he must be of such fine character as to be even beyond criticism. The Rheims version of the New Testament translates this Greek word by the very unusual English word irreprehensible, unable to be found fault with. The Greeks themselves defined the word as meaning "affording nothing of which an adversary can take hold." Here is the ideal of perfection. We will not be able fully to attain to it; but the fact remains that the Christian leader must seek to offer to the world a life of such purity that he leaves no loophole even for criticism of himself.   ((( True, yet very hard to live up to.....................)))

The Christian leader must have been married only once. The Greek literally means that he must be "the husband of one wife." Some take this to mean that the Christian leader must be a married man, and it is possible that the phrase could mean that. It is certainly true that a married man can be a recipient of confidences and a bringer of help in a way that a single man cannot be, and that he can bring a special understanding and sympathy to many a situation. Some few take it to mean that the Christian leader cannot marry a second time, even after his wife's death. In support they quote Paul's teaching in First Corinthians chapter 7...........................

But in its context here we can be quite certain that the phrase means that the Christian leader must be a loyal husband, preserving marriage in all its purity. In later days the Apostolic Canons laid it down: "He who is involved in two marriages, after his baptism, or he who has taken a concubine, cannot be an episkopos, a bishop."

We may well ask why it should be necessary to lay down what looks obvious. We must understand the state of the world in which this was written. It has been said, and with much truth, that the only totally new virtue which Christianity brought into this world was chastity. In many ways the ancient world was in a state of moral chaos, even the Jewish world. Astonishing as it may seem, certain Jews still practiced polygamy. In the Dialogue with Trypho, in which Justin Martyr discusses Christianity with a Jew, it is said that

"it is possible for a Jew even now to have four or five wives" (Dialogue with Trypho, 134).

Josephus can write:

"By ancestral custom a man can live with more than one wife" (Antiquities of the Jews, 17.1, Antiquities of the Jews, 17.2).

At this point we will stop for now and continue on next week discussing the polity, the government of God’s local Church.......................

Till then, read and study God’s words the Bible, and please, please, please, LET US DO WHAT IT SAYS!!!!!!!

Submitted by Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


May 24, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The First Epistle of Timothy: Part Seven”

1 Timothy 2:8-15 (RSV)
8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 also that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire 10 but by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. 12 I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

Lord God YHWH, most blessed Father, we praise You and magnify Your name. We thank You and glorify You for each and every breath we take, each moment we live, each day we can worship You, and serve You! We thank you for the opportunity to study Your only inerrant, infallible written word the Bible!!! We pray You will open, our hearts, minds, and souls to listen, discern and live out our lives in complete unity with Your will for our lives.

We pray for the men, women, and their families that have given so much to defend this country against evil, and to keep this country “FREE”, safe, and secure. Let us never as a nation or as individuals betray their lives by giving up those freedoms and rights to any government or human entity that exists now or ever.

We pray all these things in Jesus most blessed name, Amen and eternally Amen…………………………….

Before we continue our study of 1 Timothy, let us think of the men, women, and their families that gave so much to keep this country free:

For plenty of people, Memorial Day means a three-day weekend and awesome cookouts. Of course it's wonderful to spend the day enjoying the company of your friends and family, but it's also crucial to take a moment and reflect on the somber history behind this occasion as well.

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season.

Let us remember:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place, and in the sky,

The larks, still bravely singing, fly,

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead; short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe!

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high!

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

By: John McCrae

The early Church continued the Jewish viewpoint of prayer, which was to pray standing, with hands outstretched and the palms upwards.

Later Tertullian was to say that this depicted the attitude of Jesus upon the Cross.

The Jews had always known about the barriers which kept a man's prayers from God. Isaiah heard God say to the people:

Isaiah 1:15 (RSV)
15 When you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.

Here, too, certain things are demanded.

(i) Those who pray must stretch forth holy hands. We must hold up to God hands which do not touch the forbidden things. This does not mean for one moment that the sinner is debarred from God; but it does mean that there is no reality in the prayers of the person who then goes out to soil their hands with forbidden things, as if they had never prayed. It is not thinking of the person who is helplessly in the grip of some passion and desperately fighting against it, bitterly conscious of their own failure. It is thinking of the person whose prayers are a sheer formality.

(ii) Those who pray must have no anger in their heart. It has been said that "forgiveness is indivisible." Human and divine forgiveness go hand in hand. Again and again Jesus stresses the fact that we cannot hope to receive the forgiveness of God so long as we are at enmity with our fellow-men.

Matthew 5:23-24 (RSV)
23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Matthew 6:15 (RSV)
15 but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Matthew 18:35 (RSV)
35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."

To be forgiven, we must be forgiving. The Didache, the earliest Christian book on public worship, which dates from about A.D. 100, has it: "Let no one who has a quarrel with his neighbor come to us, until they are reconciled." The bitterness in a person's heart is a barrier which hinders our prayers from reaching God.

(iii) We who pray must have no doubts in our minds. This phrase can mean two things. The word used is dialogismos, which can mean both an argument and a doubt. If we take it in the sense of argument, it simply repeats what has gone before and restates the fact that bitterness and quarrels and venomous debates are a hindrance to prayer. It is better to take it in the sense of doubt. Before prayer is answered there must be belief that God will answer. If a person prays pessimistically and with no real belief that it is any use, their prayer falls wingless to the ground. Before a person can be cured, we must believe that we can be cured; before a person can lay hold on the grace of God, that person must believe in that grace. We must take our prayers to God in the complete confidence that He hears and answers prayer.

The second part of this passage deals with the place of women in the Church. It cannot be read out of its historical context, for it springs entirely from the situation in which it was written.

(i) It was written against a Jewish background. No nation ever gave a bigger place to women in home and in family things than the Jews did; but officially the position of a woman was very low. In Jewish law she was not a person but a thing; she was entirely at the disposal of her father or of her husband. She was forbidden to learn the law; to instruct a woman in the law was to cast pearls before swine. Women had no part in the synagogue service; they were shut apart in a section of the synagogue, or in a gallery, where they could not be seen. A man came to the synagogue to learn; but, at the most, a woman came to hear. In the synagogue the lesson from Scripture was read by members of the congregation; but not by women, for that would have been to lessen "the honor of the congregation." It was absolutely forbidden for a woman to teach in a school; she might not even teach the youngest children. A woman was exempt from the stated demands of the Law. It was not obligatory on her to attend the sacred feasts and festivals. Women, slaves and children were classed together. In the Jewish morning prayer a man thanked God that God had not made him "a Gentile, a slave or a woman." In the Sayings of the Fathers Rabbi Jose ben Johanan is quoted as saying:

"'Let thy house be opened wide, and let the poor be thy household, and talk not much with a woman.' Hence the wise have said: 'Everyone that talketh much with a woman causes evil to himself, and desists from the works of the Law, and his end is that he inherits Gehenna.'"

A strict Rabbi would never greet a woman on the street, not even his own wife or daughter or mother or sister. It was said of woman:

"Her work is to send her children to the synagogue; to attend to domestic concerns; to leave her husband free to study in the schools; to keep house for him until he returns."

(ii) It was written against a Greek background. The Greek background made things doubly difficult. The place of women in Greek religion was low. The Temple of Aphrodite in Corinth had a thousand priestesses who were sacred prostitutes and every evening plied their trade on the city streets. The Temple of Diana in Ephesus had its hundreds of priestesses called the Melissae, which means the bees, whose function was the same. The respectable Greek woman led a very confined life. She lived in her own quarters into which no one but her husband came. She did not even appear at meals. She never at any time appeared on the street alone; she never went to any public assembly. The fact is that if in a Greek town Christian women had taken an active and a speaking part in its work, the Church would inevitably have gained the reputation of being the resort of loose women.

Further, in Greek society there were women whose whole life consisted in elaborate dressing and braiding of the hair. In Rome, Pliny tells us of a bride, Lollia Paulina, whose bridal dress cost the equivalent of $1,296,000.00. Even the Greeks and the Romans were shocked at the love of dress and of adornment which characterized some of their women. The great Greek religions were called the Mystery religions, and they had precisely the same regulations about dress as Paul has here. There is an inscription which reads:

"A consecrated woman shall not have gold ornaments, nor rouge, nor face-whitening, nor a head-band, nor braided hair, nor shoes, except those made of felt or of the skins of sacrificed animals."

The early Church did not lay down these regulations as in any sense permanent, but as things which were necessary in the situation in which it found itself.

In any event there is much on the other side. In the old story it was the woman who was created second and who fell to the seduction of the serpent tempter; but it was Mary of Nazareth who bore and who trained the child Jesus; it was Mary of Magdala who was first to see the risen Lord; it was four women who of all the disciples stood by the Cross. Priscilla with her husband Aquila was a valued teacher in the early Church, who led Apollos to a knowledge of the truth,

Acts 18:24-26 (RSV)
24 Now a Jew named Apol'los, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, well versed in the scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aq'uila heard him, they took him and expounded to him the way of God more accurately.

Euodia and Syntyche, in spite of their quarrel, were women who labored in the gospel,

Philippians 4:2-3 (RSV)
2 I entreat Eu-o'dia and I entreat Syn'tyche to agree in the Lord.
3 And I ask you also, true yokefellow, help these women, for they have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Philip, the evangelist, had four daughters who were prophetesses

Acts 21:9 (RSV)
9 And he had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied.

The aged women were to teach,

Titus 2:3 (RSV)
3 Bid the older women likewise to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good,

Paul held Lois and Eunice in the highest honor,

2 Timothy 1:5 (RSV)
5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lo'is and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you.

There is many a woman's name held in honor in Romans chapter sixteen...

All the things in this chapter are mere temporary regulations to meet a given situation. If we want Paul's permanent view on this matter, we get it in,

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

In Christ the differences of place and honor and function within the Church are all wiped out.

And yet this passage ends with a real truth. Women, it says, will be saved in child-bearing. There are several possible meanings here. It is just possible that this is a reference to the fact that Mary, a woman, was the mother of Jesus and that it means that women will be saved—as all others will—by that supreme act of child-bearing that gave birth to the only Savior Jesus Christ ((( This is what I believe it to means ))). Some suggest a more likely meaning is much simpler; and that it means that women will find salvation, not in addressing meetings, but in motherhood, which is their crown. Being whatever God means for each individual woman to be, each being unique with their own calling from God on their life... Whatever else is true, a woman is suppose to be the queen within her own home.

We must not read this passage as a barrier to all women's service within the Church, but in the light of its Jewish and its Greek background. And we must look for Paul's permanent views in the passage where he tells us that the differences are wiped out, and that men and women, slaves and freemen, Jews and Gentiles, are all eligible to serve Christ.

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


May 17, 2020

a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The First Epistle of Timothy: Part Six”

1 Timothy 2:1-7 (RSV)
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. 3 This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

O God, our most beLOVED Father, the life of all who live, the strength of the weak, and the hope of all who are in distress, put this moment Your truth into our minds and Your purity into our hearts. Strengthen our wills that we may be able always to choose the right and always to refuse the wrong. And help us at all times to bear one another’s burdens and to forgive one another’s faults that we may obey Your Law and become daily more like our blessed Lord. This we ask in Jesus name and for Your LOVE’S sake, Amen and eternally Amen…………………

"Biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world." ((( Francis Schaeffer )))

Before we study this passage in detail we must note one thing which shines out from it in a way that no one can fail to see. *Few passages in the New Testament so stress YHWH’s compassion and desire THAT the gospel of salvation is for EVERYONE WHO WILL, not just a chosen few. Prayer is to be made for all people; God is the Savior who wishes all people to be saved; Jesus gave His life a ransom for all, for the whole world and ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE IN IT!!!!!!!

John 3:16-17 (RSV)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

As Walter Lock writes:

 "God's will to save is as wide as his will to create."

This is a note which sounds in the New Testament again and again. Through Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself,

2 Corinthians 5:18-19 (RSV)
18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

((( This message of reconciliation is for ALL GENUINE CHRISTIANS TO SHARE, not just Pastors and Preachers, EVEY CHRISTIAN!!!!!!!

It was Jesus' confidence that, if He was lifted up on His Cross, soon or later He would draw all men to him,

John 12:32 (RSV)
32 and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."

All that is who will surrender themselves completely to LOVING Jesus Christ!!! By God’s grace salvation IS AVAILABLE TO ALL PEOPLE, but we individually and personally MUST CHOOSE TO SAY “YES” TO JESUS CHRIST!!!

E. F. Brown calls this passage

"the charter of missionary work."

He says that it is the proof that all people are capax dei, capable of receiving God. They may be lost, but they can be found; they may be ignorant, but they can be enlightened; they may be sinners, but they can be saved.

George Wishart, the forerunner of John Knox, writes in his translation of the First Swiss Confession:

"The end and intent of the Scripture is to declare that God is benevolent and friendly-minded to mankind; and that he hath declared that kindness in and through Jesus Christ, his only Son; the which kindness is received by faith."

That is why prayer must be made for all. God wants all humanity, and so, therefore, must His Church. ((( The gospel is for all the Lost, individually to reject or accept, it is not for us the Church, the saved, to reject or neglect any of the Lost!!! )))

(i) The gospel includes high and low. Both the Emperor in his/her power and the slave in his/her helplessness were included in the sweep of the gospel. Both the philosopher in his/her wisdom and the simple person in their ignorance need the grace and truth that the gospel can bring. Within the gospel there are no class distinctions. King and commoner, rich and poor, aristocrat and peasant, master, Democrat, or Republican, Liberal or Conservative or anyone else, all are included in its limitless embrace.

(ii) The gospel includes those we call good and bad. A strange malady has sometimes afflicted the Church in modern times, causing it to insist that a person be suitable before they are allowed in, and to look suspiciously at sinners who seek entry to its doors. But the New Testament is clear that the Church exists, not only to edify the good, but to welcome and save the sinner.

C. T. Studd used to repeat four lines of doggerel:

"Some want to live within the sound

Of Church or Chapel bell;

I want to run a rescue shop

Within a yard of hell."

One of the great saints of modern times, and indeed of all time, of which most American Christians have never heard of was Toyohiko Kagawa. It was to Shinkawa that he went to find men and women for Christ and he lived there in the filthiest and most depraved slums in the world. W. J. Smart describes the situation:

"His neighbours were unregistered prostitutes, thieves who boasted of their power to outwit all the police in the city, and murderers who were not only proud of their murder record but always ready to add to their local prestige by committing another. All the people, whether sick, or feeble-minded or criminal, lived in conditions of abysmal misery, in streets slippery with filth, where rats crawled out of open sewers to die. The air was always filled with stench. An idiot girl who lived next door to Kagawa had vile pictures painted on her back to decoy lustful men to her den. Everywhere human bodies rotted with syphilis."

Kagawa wanted people like that, and so does Jesus Christ, for He wants all people, those that seem good and bad alike. For we all fall short of the glory of God, WE ARE ALL EQUALLY GUILTY OF SIN AND DESERVE DAMNATION!!!!!!!

Romans 3:23 (NIV2011)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

James 2:10 (NIV2011)
10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

For me, it is hard to envision any genuine Christian looking down on a Lost person; EXCEPT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD THERE GO I !!!!!!!

(iii) The gospel embraces Christian and non-Christian. Prayer is to be made for all people. The Emperors and rulers for whom this letter bids us pray were not Christians; they were in fact hostile to the Church; and yet they were to be born to the throne of grace by the prayers of the Church. For the true Christian there is no such thing as an enemy in all this world. None is outside our prayers, for none is outside the LOVE of Christ, and none is outside the purpose of God, who desires everyone to be saved.

Some have said of Christ, He was the greatest of gamblers because,

Romans 5:8 (RSV)
8 But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

He died, that we might CHOOSE HIM……………………………………..

Four different words for prayer are grouped together. It is true that they are not to be sharply distinguished; nevertheless each has something to tell us of the way of prayer.

(i) The first is deesis, which we have translated supplication. It is not exclusively a religious word; it can be used of a request made either to a fellow-man or to God. But its fundamental idea is a sense of need. No one will make a request unless a sense of need has already wakened a desire. Prayer begins with a sense of need. It begins with the conviction that we cannot deal with life ourselves. That sense of human weakness is the basis of all approach to God.

"Let not conscience make you linger,

Nor of fitness fondly dream;

All the fitness he requireth

Is to feel your need of him."

(ii) The second is proseuche, which we have translated prayer. The basic difference between deesis and proseuche  is that deesis may be addressed either to man or God, but proseuche  is never used of anything else but approach to God. There are certain needs which only God can satisfy. There is a strength which God alone can give; a forgiveness which God alone can grant; a certainty which God alone can bestow. It may well be that our weakness haunts us because we so often take our needs to the wrong place.

(iii) The third is enteuxis, which we have translated intercession. Of the three words this is the most interesting. It has a most interesting history. It is the noun from the verb entugchanein. This originally meant simply to meet, or to fall in with a person; it went on to mean to hold intimate conversation with a person; then it acquired a special meaning and meant to enter into a king's presence and to submit a petition to him. That tells us much about prayer. It tells us that the way to God stands open and that we have the right to bring our intercessions to one who is a king.

"Thou art coming to a King;

Large petitions with thee bring;

For his grace and power are such,

None can ever ask too much."

It is impossible to ask too great a godsend from this King.

(iv) The fourth is eucharistia, which we have translated thanksgiving. Prayer does not mean only asking God for things; it also means thanking God for things. For too many of us prayer is an exercise in complaint, when it should be an exercise in thanksgiving. Epictetus, not a Christian but a Stoic philosopher, used to say:

"What can I, who am a little old lame man, do, except give praise to God?"

We have the right to bring our needs to God; but we have also the duty of bringing our thanksgivings to Him.

This passage distinctly commands prayer for kings and emperors and all who are set in authority. This was a cardinal principle of communal Christian prayer. Emperors might be persecutors and those in authority might be determined to stamp out Christianity. But the Christian Church never, even in the times of bitterest persecution, ceased to pray for them.

It is extraordinary to trace how all through its early days, those days of bitter persecution, the Church regarded it as an absolute duty to pray for the Emperor and his subordinate kings and governors.

1 Peter 2:17 (RSV)
17 Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

We must remember that that Emperor was none other than Nero, that monster of cruelty. Tertullian insists that for the Emperor the Christian pray for "long life, secure dominion, a safe home, a faithful senate, a righteous people, and a world at peace" (Apology 30).

This would include all our Presidents as well, whether we voted for them or not, or whether what they did in their term of service we agreed with or not!!!!!!!

"We pray for our rulers," he wrote, "for the state of the world, for the peace of all things and for the postponement of the end" (Apology 39).

He writes:

"The Christian is the enemy of no man, least of all of the Emperor, for we know that, since he has been appointed by God, it is necessary that we should LOVE him, ((( OUCH, DO WE LOVE OUR PRESIDENT??? ))) and reverence him, and honor him, and desire his safety, together with that of the whole Roman Empire. Therefore we sacrifice for the safety of the Emperor" (Ad Scapulam 2).

Cyprian, writing to Demetrianus, speaks of the Christian Church as

 "sacrificing and placating God night and day for your peace and safety" (Ad Demetrianum 20).

In A.D. 311 the Emperor Galerius actually asked for the prayers of the Christians, and promised them mercy and indulgence if they prayed for the state.

Tatian writes:

"Does the Emperor order us to pay tribute? We willingly offer it. Does the ruler order us to render service or servitude? We acknowledge our servitude. But a man must be honoured as befits a man but only God is to be reverenced" (Apology 4).

Theophilus of Antioch writes:

"The honour that I will give the Emperor is all the greater, because I will not worship him, but I will pray for him. I will worship no one but the true and real God, for I know that the Emperor was appointed by him.... Those give real honour to the Emperor who are well-disposed to him, who obey him, and who pray for him" (Apology 1: 11).

Justin Martyr writes:

"We worship God alone, but in all other things we gladly serve you, acknowledging kings and rulers of men, and praying that they may be found to have pure reason with kingly power" (Apology 1: 14,17).

The greatest of all the prayers for the Emperor is in Clement of Rome's First Letter to the Church at Corinth which was written about A.D. 90 when the savagery of Domitian was still fresh in men's minds:

"Thou, Lord and Master, hast given our rulers and governors the power of sovereignty through thine excellent and unspeakable might, that we, knowing the glory and honour which thou hast given them, may submit ourselves unto them, in nothing resisting thy will. Grant unto them, therefore, O Lord, health, peace, concord, stability, that they may administer the government which thou hast given them without failure. For thou, O heavenly Master, King of the Ages, givest to the sons of men glory and honour and power over all things that are upon the earth. Do thou, Lord, direct their counsel according to that which is good and well-pleasing in thy sight, that, administering the power which thou hast given them in peace and gentleness with godliness, they may obtain thy favour. O thou, who alone art able to do these things, and things far more exceeding good than these for us, we praise thee through the High Priest and Guardian of our souls, Jesus Christ, through whom be the glory and the majesty unto thee both now and for all generations, and for ever and ever. Amen" (1 Clement 61).

The Church always regarded it as a bounden duty to pray for those set in authority over the kingdoms of the earth; and brought even its persecutors before the throne of grace.

The Church prayed for certain things for those in authority.

(i) It prayed for "a life that is tranquil and undisturbed." That was the prayer for freedom from war, from rebellion and from anything which would disturb the peace of the realm. That is the good citizen's prayer for his country.

(ii) But the Church prayed for much more than that. It prayed for "a life that is lived in godliness and reverence." Here we are confronted with two great words which are keynotes of the Pastoral Epistles and describe qualities which not only the ruler but every Christian must covet.

First, there is godliness, eusebeia. This is one of the great and almost untranslatable Greek words. It describes reverence both towards God and man. It describes that attitude of mind which respects man and honors God. Eusebius defined it as

"reverence towards the one and only God, and the kind of life that he would wish us to lead."

To the Greek, the great example of eusebeia was Socrates whom Xenophon describes in the following terms:

"So pious and devoutly religious that he would take no step apart from the will of heaven; so just and upright that he never did even a trifling injury to any living soul; so self-controlled, so temperate, that he never at any time chose the sweeter in place of the bitter; so sensible and wise and prudent that in distinguishing the better from the worse he never erred" (Xenophon: Memorabilia, 4, 8, 11).

Eusebeia  comes very near to that great Latin word pietas, which Warde Fowler describes thus:

"The quality known to the Romans as pietas rises, in spite of trial and danger, superior to the enticements of individual passion and selfish ease. Aeneas' pietas became a sense of duty to the will of the gods, as well as to his father, his son and his people; and this duty never leaves him."

Clearly eusebeia  is a tremendous thing. It never forgets the reverence due to God; it never forgets the rights due to men; it never forgets the respect due to self. It describes the character of the man who never fails God, man or himself.

Second, there is reverence, semnotes. Here again we are in the realm of the untranslatable. The corresponding adjective semnos  is constantly applied to the gods. R. C. Trench says that the man who is semnos,

"has on him a grace and a dignity, not lent by earth."

He says that he is one who

"without demanding it challenges and inspires reverence."

Aristotle was the great ethical teacher of the Greeks. He had a way of describing every virtue as the mean between two extremes. On the one side there was an extreme of excess and on the other an extreme of defect, and in between there was the mean, the happy medium, in which virtue lay. Aristotle says that semnotes  is the mean between areskeia, subservience, and authadeia, arrogance. It may be said that for the person who is semnos all life is one act of worship; all life is lived in the presence of God; they move through the world, as it has been put, as if it was the temple of the living God. They never forget the holiness of God or the dignity of man.

These two great qualities are magnificent qualities which every Christian must covet and for which every Christian must pray.

Paul concludes with a statement of the greatest truths of the Christian faith.

(i) There is one God. We are not living in a world such as the Gnostics produced with their theories of two gods, hostile to each other. We are not living in a world such as the heathen produced with their horde of gods, often in competition with one another. Missionaries tell us that one of the greatest reliefs which Christianity brings to the heathen is the conviction that there is only one God. They live forever terrified of the gods and it is an emancipation to discover that there is one God only whose name is Father ( YHWH ) and whose nature and essence  is LOVE!!!!!!!.

1 John 4:8 (RSV)
8 He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.

(ii) There is one Mediator. Even the Jews would have said that there are many mediators between God and man. A mediator is one who stands between two parties and acts as go-between. To the Jews the angels were mediators. The Testament of Dan (Dan 6:2) has it:

"Draw near unto God, and unto the angel who intercedes for you, for he is a mediator between God and man."

To the Greeks there were all kinds of mediators. Plutarch said it was an insult to God to conceive that he was in any way directly involved in the world; he was involved in the world only through angels and demons and demigods who were, so to speak, his liaison officers.

Neither in Jewish nor in Greek thought had a man direct access to God. But, through Jesus Christ, the Christian has that direct access, with nothing to bar the way between. Further, there is only one Mediator. E. F. Brown tells us that that is, for instance, what the Hindus find so hard to believe. They say:

"Your religion is good for you, and ours for us."

But unless there is one God and one Mediator there can be no such thing as the brotherhood of man. If there are many gods and many mediators competing for their allegiance and their LOVE, religion becomes something which divides men instead of uniting them. It is because there is one God and one Mediator that men are brethren one of another.

Paul goes on to call Jesus the one who gave His life a ransom for all. That simply means that it cost God the life and death of His One and Only begotten Son to bring us back to Himself. There was a man who lost a son in the war. He had lived a most careless and even a godless life; but his son's death brought him face to face with God as never before. He became a changed man. One day he was standing before the local war memorial, looking at his son's name upon it. And very gently he said:

"I guess he had to go down to lift me up."

That is what Jesus did; it cost His life and death to tell us, all of us, of the LOVE of God and to bring us home to Him.

Then Paul claims to himself four offices.

(i) He is a herald of the story of Jesus Christ. A herald is a person who makes a statement and who says: "This is true." He is a man who brings a proclamation that is not his own, but which comes from the king.

(ii) He is a witness to the story of Christ. A witness is a man who says: "This is true, and I know it" and says also "It works." He is a man who tells, not only the story of Christ, but also the story of what Christ has done for him.

(iii) He is an envoy. An envoy is one whose duty is to commend his country in a foreign land. An envoy in the Christian sense is therefore one who commends the story of Christ to others. He wishes to communicate that story to others, so that it will mean as much to them as it does to him.

(iv) He is a teacher. The herald is the person who proclaims the facts; the witness is the person who proclaims the power of the facts; the envoy is the person who commends the facts; the teacher is the person who leads people into the meaning of the facts. It is not enough to know that Christ lived and died; we must think out what that meant. A Christian not only sees and feels intimately the wonder of the story of Christ; we must intently think out its meaning for ourselves and for the world.

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


May 10, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The First Epistle of Timothy: Part Five”

1 Timothy 1:18-20 (RSV)
18 This charge I commit to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophetic utterances which pointed to you, that inspired by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among them Hymenae'us and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Lord, God, YHWH, we beseech Thee in the name of Your one and only begotten Son Jesus Christ, that Your Holy Spirit would permeate every fabric of our beings, guiding us in every area of our lives, to LOVE You, to serve You, to reach out to the Lost and needy of this world in compassion, tenderness, and in great resolve to win many to You Kingdom for their sake and in keeping with Your LOVE for all of Your creation. This day and every day, teach us through You holy, inerrant, infallible Word, Your only Bible the truths that must always be part of our lives, now and forever and ever, in Jesus name, Amen and Eternally Amen!!!!!!!

The first section of this passage is highly compressed. What lies behind it is this. There must have been a meeting of the prophets of the Church. They were men known to be within the confidence and the counsels of God.

Amos 3:7 (RSV)
7 Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.

This meeting thought about the situation which was threatening the Church and came to the conclusion that Timothy was the man to deal with it. We can see the prophets acting in exactly the same way in,

Acts 13:1-3 (RSV)
1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyre'ne, Man'a-en a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

The Church was faced with the great decision whether or not to take the gospel out to the Gentiles; and it was to the prophets that there came the message of the Holy Spirit, saying:

Acts 13:2 (RSV)
2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."

That was what had happened to Timothy. He had been marked out by the prophets as the man to deal with the situation in the Church. It may well have been that he shrank from the greatness of the task which faced him, and here Paul encourages him with certain considerations.

(i) Paul says to him: "You are a man who has been chosen and you cannot refuse your task."

Something like that happened to John Knox. He had been teaching in St. Andrews. His teaching was supposed to be private but many came to it, for he was obviously a man with a message. So the people urged him "that he would take the preaching place upon him. But he utterly refused, alleging that he would not run where God had not called him.... Whereupon they privily among themselves advising, having with them in council Sir David Lindsay of the Mount, they concluded that they would give a charge to the said John, and that publicly by the mouth of their preacher."

So Sunday came and Knox was in Church and John Rough was preaching. "The said John Rough, preacher, directed his words to the said John Knox, saying:

'Brother, ye shall not be offended, albeit that I speak unto you that which I have in charge, even from all those that are here present, which is this: In the name of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ, and in the name of these that presently call you by my mouth, I charge you that you refuse not this holy vocation, but... that you take upon you the public office and charge of preaching, even as you look to avoid God's heavy displeasure, and desire that he shall multiply his graces with you.'

And in the end he said to those that were present:

'Was not this your charge to me? And do ye not approve this vocation?'

They answered:

'It was: and we approve it.'

Whereat the said John, abashed, burst forth in most abundant tears, and withdrew himself to his chamber. His countenance and behavior, from that day till the day that he was compelled to present himself to the public place of preaching, did sufficiently declare the grief and trouble of his heart; for no man saw any sign of mirth in him, neither yet had he pleasure to accompany any man, many days together."

John Knox was chosen; he did not want to answer the call; but he had to, for the choice had been made by God. Years afterwards the Regent Morton uttered his famous epitaph by Knox's graveside:

"In respect that he bore God's message, to whom he must make account for the same, he (albeit he was weak and an unworthy creature, and a fearful man) feared not the faces of men."

The consciousness of being chosen gave him courage.

1 Corinthians 9:16 (RSV)
16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

So too it is with many who are called, the humility of knowing you are unworthy of the call to preach, yet the glorious compulsion from within because of God’s most blessed call on your life!!!

I for several years refused my call for those very reasons, I WAS AND STILL AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH to preach, to pastor !! Yet God called me. Again God called me, He through my pastors called me to teach Teens, something I dreaded. But this time, I said “GOD’S WILL BE DONE”, the call gave me the courage to obey God. My best days of ministry were serving God with working and LOVING Teens…….

So Paul says to Timothy:

"You have been chosen; you cannot let down God and man."

To every one of us there comes God's choosing; and when we are summoned to some work for Him, we dare not refuse it.

(ii) It may be that Paul was saying to Timothy:

"Be true to your name."

Timothy—its full form is Timotheos)—is composed of two Greek words, time which means "honor," and theos which means "God," and so means "honor to God." If we are called by the name Christian, one of Christ's folk, to that name we must be true.

(iii) Finally, Paul says to Timothy:

"I entrust this charge to you".

The word which he uses for to entrust is paratithesthai, which is the word used of entrusting something valuable to someone's safe keeping. It is used, for instance, of making a deposit in a bank, or of entrusting someone to another's care. It always implies that a trust has been reposed in someone for which he will be called to account. So Paul says:

"Timothy, into your hands I am placing a sacred trust. See that you do not fail."

God rests His trust in us; into our hands He puts His honor and His Church. We too must see to it that we do not fail.

What then is entrusted to Timothy? He is sent off to fight a good campaign. The picture of life as a campaign is one which has always fascinated men's thoughts. Maximus of Tyre said:

"God is the general; life is the campaign; man is the soldier."

Seneca said:

"For me to live, my dear Lucilius, is to be a soldier."

When a man became a follower of the goddess Isis and was initiated into the Mysteries connected with the goddess' name, the summons to him was:

"Enroll yourself in the sacred soldiery of Isis."

There are three things to be noted.

(i) It is not to a battle that we are summoned; it is to a campaign. Life is one long campaign, a service from which there is no release, not a short, sharp struggle after which a man can lay aside his arms and rest in peace. To change the metaphor, life is not a sprint; it is a marathon race. It is there that the danger enters in. It is necessary to be forever on the watch.

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

The temptations of life never cease their search for a chink in the armor of the Christian. It is one of the commonest dangers in life to proceed in a series of spasms. We must remember that we are summoned to a campaign which goes on as long as life does.

(ii) It is to a fine campaign that Timothy is summoned. Here again we have the word kalos of which the Pastorals are so fond. It does not mean only something which is good and strong; it means something which is also winsome and LOVELY. The soldier of Christ is not a conscript who serves grimly and grudgingly; he is a volunteer who serves with a certain knightly chivalry. He is not the slave of duty, but the servant of joy.

(iii) Timothy is commanded to take with him two weapons of equipment. (a) He is to take FAITH. Even when things are at their darkest, he must have faith in the essential rightness of his cause and in the ultimate triumph of God. It was faith which kept up John Knox when he was in despair. Once when he was a slave on the galleys, the ship came in sight of St. Andrews. He was so weak that he had to be lifted up bodily in order to see. They showed him the church steeple and asked if he knew it. "Yes," he said, "I know it well: and I am fully persuaded, how weak that ever I now appear, that I shall not depart this life till that my tongue shall glorify His godly name in the same place." He describes his feelings in 1554 when he had to flee the country to escape the vengeance of Mary Tudor.

"Not only the ungodly, but even my faithful brethren, yea, and my own self, that is, all natural understanding, judged my cause to be irremediable. The frail flesh, oppressed with fear and pain, desireth deliverance, ever abhorring and drawing back from obedience giving. O Christian brethren, I write by experience.... I know the grudging and murmuring complaints of the flesh; I know the anger, wrath, and indignation which it conceiveth against God, calling all His promises in doubt, and being ready every hour utterly to fall from God. Against which remains only faith."

The Christian soldier needs in the darkest hour the faith that will not shrink. (b) He is to take the defense of a good conscience. That is to say, the Christian soldier must at least try to live in accordance with his own doctrine. The virtue is gone out of a man's message when his conscience condemns him as he speaks.

The passage closes with a stern rebuke to two members of the Church who have injured the Church, grieved Paul, and made shipwreck of their own lives. Hymenaeus is mentioned again in,

2 Timothy 2:17 (RSV)
17 and their talk will eat its way like gangrene. Among them are Hymenae'us and Phile'tus,

Alexander may well be the Alexander who is referred to in,

2 Timothy 4:14 (RSV)
14 Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will requite him for his deeds.

Paul has three complaints against them.

(i) They had rejected the guidance of conscience. They had allowed their own desires to speak with more persuasiveness than the voice of God.

(ii) They had relapsed into evil practices. Once they had abandoned God, life had become soiled and debased. When God went from life, beauty went along with Him.

(iii) They had taken to false teaching. Again it was almost inevitable. When a man takes the wrong way, his first instinct is to find excuses for himself. He takes the Christian teaching and twists it to suit himself. Out of the right he finds perverted arguments to justify the wrong. He finds arguments in the words of Christ to justify the ways of the devil. The moment a person disobeys the voice of conscience, their conduct becomes debased and their thinking twisted.

So Paul goes on to say that he has "handed them over to Satan." What is the meaning of this terrible phrase? There are three possibilities.

(i) He may be thinking of the Jewish practice of excommunication. According to synagogue practice, if a man was an evil-doer he was first publicly rebuked. If that was ineffective, he was banished from the synagogue for a period of thirty days. If he was still stubbornly unrepentant, he was put under the ban, which made him a person accursed, debarred from the society of men and the fellowship of God. In such a case a man might well be said to be handed over to Satan.

(ii) He may be saying that he has barred them from the Church and turned them loose in the world. In a heathen society it was inevitable that men should draw a hard and fast line between the Church and the world. The Church was God's territory; the world was Satan's; and to be debarred from the Church was to be handed over to that territory which was under the sway of Satan. The phrase may mean that these two troublers of the Church were abandoned to the world.

(iii) The third explanation is the most likely of the three. Satan was held to be responsible for human suffering and pain. A man in the Corinthian Church had been guilty of the terrible sin of incest. Paul's advice was that he should be delivered to Satan,

1 Corinthians 5:5 (RSV)
5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

The idea is that the Church should pray for some physical chastisement to fall on that man so that, by the pain of his body, he might be brought to the senses of his mind. In Job's case it was Satan who brought the physical suffering upon him,

Job 2:6-7 (RSV)
6 And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, he is in your power; only spare his life." 7 So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD, and afflicted Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.

In the New Testament itself we have the terrible end of Ananias and Sapphira,

Acts 5:5 (RSV)
5 When Anani'as heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.

Acts 5:10 (RSV)
10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.

The blindness which fell upon Elymas because of his opposition to the gospel,

Acts 13:8-11 (RSV)
8 But El'ymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) withstood them, seeking to turn away the proconsul from the faith.
9 But Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, "You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind and unable to see the sun for a time." Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand.

It may well be that it was Paul's prayer that these two men should be subjected to some painful visitation which would be a punishment and a warning.

That is all the more likely because it is Paul's hope that they will be, not obliterated and destroyed, but disciplined out of their evil ways. To Paul, as it ought to be to us, punishment was never mere vindictive vengeance but always corrective discipline, never meant simply to hurt but always meant TO CURE!!!

How many of us get joy out of the Sinner suffering, and little out of the Sinner’s redemption???

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


May 3, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The First Epistle of Timothy: Part Four”

1 Timothy 1:12-17 (RSV)
12 I thank him who has given me strength for this, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful by appointing me to his service, 13 though I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted him; but I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners; 16 but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Lord, God, YHWH, we pray that You will assist us in every way to be the men, women, and children that You want us to be. Guide us in all works of kindness and LOVE that You would have us do, give us the strength and the resolve to live each moment of our lives according to Your most precious and glorious word the Bible, be with us in times of great emotional, spiritual, or physical need, and never leave us or forsake us in Jesus name, Amen and Eternally Amen!!!!!!!

This passage begins with a very song of thanksgiving. There were four tremendous things for which Paul wished to thank Jesus Christ.

(i) He thanked Him because He chose him. Paul never had the feeling that he had chosen Christ, but always that Christ had chosen him. It was as if, when he was heading straight for destruction, Jesus Christ had laid His hand upon his shoulder and arrested him in the way. It was as if, when he was busy throwing away his life, Jesus Christ had suddenly brought him to his senses.

In the days of World War 2, there was a story about a Polish airman who liked to tell stories himself. He crowded more thrilling hairbreadth escapes from death and from worse into a few years than the vast majority of men do into a lifetime. Sometimes he would tell the story of escape from occupied Europe, of parachute descents from the air, of rescue from the sea, and at the end of this amazing odyssey, he would always say, with a look of wonder in his eyes: "And now I am God's man." That is how Paul felt; he was Christ's man for Christ had chosen him.

(ii) He thanked Him because he trusted Him. It was to Paul an amazing thing, that he, the arch-persecutor, had been chosen as the missionary of Christ. It was not only that Jesus Christ had forgiven him; it was that Christ trusted him. Sometimes we forgive a man who has committed some mistake or been guilty of some sin, but we make it very clear that his past makes it impossible for us to trust him again with any responsibility. But Christ had not only forgiven Paul; he entrusted him with work to do. The man who had been Christ's persecutor had been made his ambassador.

Jeremiah 15:19A (NIV2011)
19 Therefore this is what the LORD says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman…


(iii) He thanked Him because He had appointed him. We must be very careful to note that to which Paul felt himself appointed. He was appointed to service. Paul never thought of himself as appointed to honor, or to leadership within the Church. He was saved to serve. Plutarch tells that when a Spartan won a victory in the games, his reward was that he might stand beside his king in battle. A Spartan wrestler at the Olympic games was offered a very considerable bribe to abandon the struggle; but he refused. Finally, after a terrific effort, he won his victory. Someone said to him: "Well, Spartan, what have you got out of this costly victory you have won?" He answered: "I have won the privilege of standing in front of my king in battle." His reward was to serve and, if need be, to die for his king. It was for service, not honor, that Paul knew himself to be chosen.

Philippians 1:29 (NIV)
29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,

((((((( Truly, truly an awesome service to our Savior!!! )))))))

(iv) He thanked God because He had empowered him. Paul had long since discovered that Jesus Christ never gives a man a task to do without also giving him the power to do it. Paul would never have said, "See what I have done," but always, "See what Jesus Christ has enabled me to do." No person is good enough, or strong enough, or pure enough, or wise enough to be the servant of Christ. But if we are willing to give ourselves to Christ, we will go, not in our own strength, but in the strength of our Lord.

There are two further interesting things in this passage.

Paul's Jewish background comes out. He says that Jesus Christ had mercy on him because he committed his sins against Christ and his Church in the days of his ignorance. We often think that the Jewish viewpoint was that sacrifice atoned for sin; a man sinned, his sin broke his relationship with God, then sacrifice was made and God's anger was appeased and the relationship restored.

It may well have been that that was in fact the popular, debased view of sacrifice. But the highest Jewish thought insisted on two things. First, it insisted that sacrifice could never atone for deliberate sin, but only for the sins a person committed in ignorance or when swept away in a moment of passion. Second, the highest Jewish thought insisted that no sacrifice could atone for any sin unless there was contrition in the heart of the person who brought it. Here Paul is speaking out of his Jewish background. His heart had been broken by the mercy of Christ; his sins had been committed in the days before he knew Christ and his LOVE. And for these reasons he felt that there was mercy for him.

There is a still more interesting matter, which is pointed out by E. F. Brown.

1 Timothy 1:14 (RSV)
14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

The first part is not difficult; it simply means that the grace of God rose higher than Paul's sin. But what exactly is the meaning of the phrase "with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus"?

E. F. Brown suggests that it is that the work of the grace of Christ in Paul's heart was helped by the faith and the LOVE he found in the members of the Christian Church, things like the sympathy and the understanding and the kindness he received from men like Ananias, who opened his eyes and called him brother,

Acts 9:10-19 (RSV)
10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Anani'as. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Anani'as." And he said, "Here I am, Lord."
11 And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying, 12 and he has seen a man named Anani'as come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight." 13 But Anani'as answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon thy name." 15 But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." 17 So Anani'as departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized, 19 and took food and was strengthened. For several days he was with the disciples at Damascus.

Barnabas, who stood by him when the rest of the Church regarded him with bleak suspicion,

Acts 9:26-28 (RSV)
26 And when he had come to Jerusalem he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem,

That is a very LOVELY idea. And if it be correct, we can see that there are three factors which cooperate in the conversion of any person.

(i) First, there is God. It was the prayer of Jeremiah:

Lamentations 5:21 (RSV)
21 Restore us to thyself, O LORD, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old!

As Augustine had it, we would never even have begun to seek for God unless He had already found us. The prime mover is God; at the back of a person's first desire for goodness there is our seeking LOVE.

(ii) There is a person's own self.

Matthew 18:3 (KJV)
3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

The King James Version renders the text entirely passive...The Revised Standard Version gives a much more active rendering,

Matthew 18:3 (RSV)
3 and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

There must be human response to divine appeal. God gave us a limited free will and we can use it either to accept or to refuse His offer.

(iii) There is the agency of some Christian person. It is Paul's conviction that he is sent,

Acts 26:18 (RSV)
18 to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'

It is James' belief that any person who converts the sinner from the error of their way,

James 5:19-20 (RSV)
19 My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

So then there is a double duty laid upon us. It has been said that a saint is someone who makes it easier to believe in God, and that a saint is someone in whom Christ lives again. We must give thanks for those who showed us Christ, whose words and example brought us to Him; and we must strive to be the influence which brings others to Him. ((( THAT MEANS ALL OF US WHO PROFESS SALVATION THROUGH FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST!!! NOT JUST PASTORS!!! )))

I was in search for God by His grace, when God sent me a Gideon ( of Gideon’s International ) who gave me a GREEN POCKET NEW TESTAMENT WITH PSALMS AND PROVERBS, and on March 26, 1975 after reading,

Romans 10:9-10 (RSV)
9 because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.

Thinking very, very seriously about it, I prayed, giving EVERY PART OF MY BEING TO JESUS CHRIST, I signed, and accepted Jesus Christ, as my ONLY LORD, my ONLY GOD, and my ONLY SAVIOR……………..I praise and thank God every day for the faithfulness of that Gideon. I wish to thank him personally in heaven for what God did through him!!!!!!!!

While I was still going to Redford High School, God sent a student who was faithful to share his faith with me. I had and have thanked God for this brave peer of mine for attempting to share his faith with me, attempted because I only blew him off…………But just a few years ago God corrected me, the young man DID SHARE HIS FAITH WITH ME, just because I chose not to listen, did not mean, he hadn’t accomplished his task for me!!!

Isaiah 55:11 (RSV)
11 so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

He also, I want to thank in heaven, and many others as well……….

In this matter of conversion the initiative of God, the response of a person, and the influence of the Christian all combine.

The thing which stands out in this passage is Paul's insistence upon remembering his own sin. He heaps up a very climax of words to show what he did to Christ and the Church. He was an insulter of the Church; he had flung hot and angry words at the Christians, accusing them of crimes against God. He was a persecutor; he had taken every means open to him under the Jewish law to annihilate the Christian Church. Then comes a terrible word; he had been a man of insolent and brutal violence. The word in Greek is hubristes. It indicates a kind of arrogant sadism; it describes the man who is out to inflict pain for the sheer joy of inflicting it. The corresponding abstract noun is hubris which Aristotle defines: "Hubris means: to hurt and to grieve people, in such a way that shame comes to the man who is hurt and grieved, and that not that the person who inflicts the hurt and injury may gain anything else in addition to what he already possesses, but simply that he may find delight in his own cruelty and in the suffering of the other person."

That is what Paul was once like in regard to the Christian Church. Not content with words of insult, he went to the limit of legal persecution. Not content with legal persecution, he went to the limit of sadistic brutality in his attempt to stamp out the Christian faith. He remembered that; and to the end of the day he regarded himself as the chief of sinners. As an example, that we should see our own filthy sinful behavior, and realize, I am, we are, the WORST OF SINNERS!!!!!!! *IT WAS OUR SINS THAT CRUCIFIED JESUS CHRIST, THE LIVING GOD!!!!!!! True, he could never forget, we must never forget, that he, we, are forgiven and saved; but neither should we ever forget that we were once sinners, but ARE NOW SAVED BY GRACE ALONE. Why should he, we, remember our sin with such vividness?

(i) The memory of his sin was the surest way to keep him from pride. There could be no such thing as spiritual pride for a person who had done the things that he had done, that we have done. John Newton was one of the great preachers and the supreme hymn-writers of the Church; but he had sunk to the lowest depths to which a man can sink, in the days when he sailed the seas in a slave-trader's ship. So when he became a converted man and a preacher of the gospel, he wrote a text in great letters, and fastened it above the mantlepiece of his study where he could not fail to see it:

"Thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt and the Lord thy God redeemed thee."

He also composed his own epitaph:

"John Newton, Clerk, once an Infidel and Libertine, a Servant of Slaves in Africa, was by the Mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Preserved, Restored, Pardoned, and Appointed to Preach the Faith he had so long laboured to destroy."

John Newton never forgot that he was a forgiven sinner; neither did Paul. Neither must we. It does a person good to remember our sins; it saves us from spiritual pride.

(ii) The memory of his sin was the surest way to keep his gratitude aflame. To remember what we have been forgiven is the surest way to keep awake our LOVE to Jesus Christ. F. W. Boreham tells of a letter which the old Puritan, Thomas Goodwin, wrote to his son.

"When I was threatening to become cold in my ministry, and when I felt Sabbath morning coming and my heart not filled with amazement at the grace of God, or when I was making ready to dispense the Lord's Supper, do you know what I used to do? I used to take a turn up and down among the sins of my past life, and I always came down again with a broken and a contrite heart, ready to preach, as it was preached in the beginning, the forgiveness of sins." "I do not think," he said, "I ever went up the pulpit stair that I did not stop for a moment at the foot of it and take a turn up and down among the sins of my past years. I do not think that I ever planned a sermon that I did not take a turn round my study table and look back at the sins of my youth and of all my life down to the present; and many a Sabbath morning, when my soul had been cold and dry, for the lack of prayer during the week, a turn up and down in my past life before I went into the pulpit always broke my hard heart and made me close with the gospel for my own soul before I began to preach."

When we remember how we have hurt God and hurt those who LOVE us and hurt our fellow-men and when we remember how God and men have forgiven us, that memory must awake the flame of gratitude within our hearts.

(iii) The memory of his sin was the constant urge to greater effort. It is quite true that a man can never earn the approval of God, or deserve his LOVE; but it is also true that he can never stop trying to do something to show how much he appreciates the LOVE and the mercy which have made him what he is. Whenever we LOVE anyone we cannot help trying always to demonstrate our LOVE. When we remember how much God LOVES us and how little we deserve it, when we remember that it was for us that Jesus Christ hung and suffered on Calvary, it must compel us to effort that will tell God we realize what He has done for us and will show Jesus Christ that His sacrifice was not in vain..

(iv) The memory of his sin was bound to be a constant encouragement to others. Paul uses a vivid picture. He says that what happened to him was a kind of outline-sketch of what was going to happen to those who would accept Christ in the days to come. The word he uses is hupotuposis  which means an outline, a sketch-plan, a first draft, a preliminary model. It is as if Paul were saying, "Look what Christ has done for me! If someone like me can be saved, there is hope for everyone." Suppose a man was seriously ill and had to go through a dangerous operation, it would be the greatest encouragement to him if he met and talked with someone who had undergone the same operation and had emerged completely cured. Paul did not shrinkingly conceal his record; he blazoned it abroad, that others might take courage and be filled with hope that the grace which had changed him could change them too.

Greatheart said to Christian's boys:

"You must know that Forgetful Green is the most dangerous place in all these parts."

Paul's sin was something which he refused to forget, for every time he remembered the greatness of his sin, he remembered the still greater greatness of Jesus Christ. It was not that he brooded unhealthily over his sin; it was that he remembered it to rejoice in the wonder of the grace of Jesus Christ.

And so should we……………………………………………………

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


April 26, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The First Epistle of Timothy: Part Three”

1 Timothy 1:8-11 (RSV)
8 Now we know that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 immoral persons, sodomites, kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

1 Timothy 1:10 (NIV2011)
10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality,  for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine,

I have been and will continue to be called a “homophobe”; but the Bible clearly teaches homosexuality is a SIN!!!

Lord God YHWH, we pray that Your will would be done during this terrible pandemic, that our hearts would continue to grow in LOVE of You and of all of Your creation according to Thy will. That our minds would be focused on serving You with our whole beings, that we would LOVE our fellow humankind as You do, and desiring THAT EVERYONE WOULD BE SAVED!!! Yet knowing it is a free choice that all of us must make for ourselves. Lord bless today, our study of Your holy, inerrant, infallible word the Bible, and help us not just read it or hear Your word and do nothing and so, foolishly deceive ourselves, but with all our mind, body, and strength that You give us, let us: DO WHAT IT SAYS, in Jesus glorious name Amen and eternally Amen………………………….

This passage begins with what was a favorite thought in the ancient world. The place of the law is to deal with evil-doers. The good man, the good person, does not need any law to control his or her actions or to threaten them with punishments; and in a world of good people there would be no need for laws at all.

Antiphanes, the Greek, had it:

"He who does no wrong needs no law."

It was the claim of Aristotle that

"philosophy enables a man to do without external control that which others do because of fear of the laws."

Ambrose, the great Christian bishop, wrote:

"The just man has the law of his own mind, of his own equity and of his own justice as his standard; and therefore he is not recalled from fault by terror of punishment, but by the rule of honor."

Pagan and Christian alike regarded true goodness as something which had its source in a man's heart; as something which was not dependent on the rewards and punishments of the law.

But in one thing the pagan and the Christian differed. The pagan looked back to an ancient golden time when all things were good and no law was needed. Ovid, the Roman poet, drew one of the most famous pictures of that ancient golden time

(Metamorphoses 1: 90-112).

"Golden was that first age, which with no one to compel, without a law, of its own will, kept faith and did the right. There was no fear of punishment, no threatening words were to be read on brazen tablets; no suppliant throng gazed fearfully upon the judge's face; but without judges men lived secure. Not yet had the pine tree, felled on its native mountains, descended thence into the watery plain to visit other lands; men knew no shores except their own. Nor, yet were cities begirt with steep moats; there were no trumpets of straight, no horns of curving brass, no swords or helmets. There was no need at all of armed men, for nations, secure from war's alarms, passed the years in gentle peace."

Tacitus, the Roman historian, had the same picture

(Annals 3: 26).

"In the earliest times, when men had as yet no evil passions, they led blameless, guiltless lives, without either punishment or restraint. Led by their own nature to pursue none but virtuous ends, they required no rewards; and as they desired nothing contrary to the right, there was no need for pains and penalties."

The ancient world looked back and longed for the days that were gone. *But the Christian faith does not look back to a lost golden age; it looks forward to the day when the only law will be the LOVE of Christ within a person's heart, for it is certain that the day of law cannot end until the day of LOVE dawns.

There should be only one controlling factor in the lives of every one of us. Our goodness should come, not from fear of the law, not even from fear of judgment, but from fear of disappointing the LOVE of Christ and of grieving the fatherly heart of God. The Christian's dynamic comes from the fact that we know sin is not only breaking God's law but also breaking His heart. It is not the law of God but the LOVE of God which constrains us.

In an ideal state, when the Kingdom comes, there will be no necessity for any law other than the LOVE of God within a person's heart; but as things are, the case is very different. And here Paul sets out a catalogue of sins which the law must control and condemn. The interest of the passage is that it shows us the background against which Christianity grew up. This list of sins is in fact a description of the world in which the early Christians lived and moved and had their being. Nothing shows us so well how the Christian Church was a little island of purity in a vicious world. We talk about it being hard to be a Christian in modern civilization; we have only to read a passage like this to see how hard it must have been in the circumstances in which the Church first began.

Let us take this terrible list and look at the items on it.

There are the lawless (anomoi). They are those who know the laws of right and wrong and break them open-eyed. No one can blame a person for breaking a law they do not know exists; but the lawless are those who deliberately violate the laws in order to satisfy their own ambitions and desires.

There are the undisciplined (anupotaktoi). They are the unruly and the insubordinate, those who refuse to obey any authority. They are like soldiers who mutinously disobey the word of command. They are either too proud or too unbridled to accept any control.

There are the irreverent (asebeis). Asebeis is a terrible word. It describes not indifference nor the lapse into sin. It describes "positive and active irreligion," the spirit which defiantly withholds from God that which is His right. It describes human nature "in battle array against God."

There are the sinners (hamartoloi). In its commonest usage this word describes character. It can be used, for instance, of a slave who is of lax and useless character. It describes the person who has no moral standards left.

There are the impious (anosioi). Hosios is a noble word; it describes, as Trench puts it,

"the everlasting ordinances of right, which no law or custom of man has constituted, for they are anterior to all law and custom."

The things which are hosios are part of the very constitution of the universe, the everlasting sanctities. The Greek, for instance, shudderingly declared that the Egyptian custom where brother could marry sister and the Persian custom where son could marry mother, were anosia, unholy. The person who is anosios is worse than a mere lawbreaker. They are those who violate the ultimate decencies of life.

There are the polluted bebeloi. Bebelos is an ugly word with a strange history. It originally meant simply that which can be trodden upon, in contradistinction to that which is sacred to some god and therefore inviolable. It then came to mean profane in opposition to sacred, then the person who profanes the sacred things, who desecrates God's day, disobeys His laws and belittles His worship. The person who is bebelos soils everything they touch…...

There are those who strike or even kill their parents (patraloai), and metraloai. Under Roman law a son who struck his parents was liable to death. The words describe sons or daughters who are lost to gratitude, lost to respect and lost to shame. And it must ever be remembered that this most cruel of blows can be one, not upon the body, but upon the heart.

There are the murderers (androphonoi), literally man-slayers. Paul is thinking of the Ten Commandments and of how breach after breach of them characterizes the heathen world. We must not think that this at least has nothing to do with us, for Jesus widened the commandment to include not only the act of murder, but also the feeling of anger against a brother.

There are the fornicators and the homosexuals (pornoi), and (arsenokoitai). It is difficult for us to realize the state of the ancient world in matters of sexual morality. It was riddled with unnatural vice. One of the extraordinary things was the actual connection of immorality and religion.

The Temple of Aphrodite, goddess of love, at Corinth had attached to it a thousand priestesses who were sacred prostitutes and who at evening came down to the city streets and plied their trade. It is said that Solon was the first law-maker in Athens to legalize prostitution and that with the profits of the public brothels he instituted a new temple was built to Aphrodite, the goddess of love.

E. F. Brown was a missionary in India, and in his commentary on the Pastoral Epistles he quotes an extraordinary section from the Penal Code of India. A section of that code forbade obscene representations and then went on to say:

"This section does not extend to any representation or sculpture, engraved, painted or otherwise represented on or in any temple, or any car used for the conveyance of idols, or kept or used for any religious purpose."

It is an extraordinary thing that in the non-Christian religions time and time again immorality and obscenity flourish under the very protection of religion. It has often been said and said truly that chastity was the one completely new virtue which Christianity brought into this world. Yet people will attempt to say, man wrote the scriptures, when in fact the morals of the scriptures are in complete opposition to mankind’s desired ends, and It was no easy thing in the early days to endeavor to live according to the Christian ethic in a world like that, and the same is true in the world we find ourselves!!!

There are the andrapodistai. The word may either mean slave-dealers or slave-kidnappers. Possibly both meanings are involved here. It is true that slavery was an integral part of the ancient world. It is true that Aristotle declared that civilization was founded on slavery, that certain men and women existed only to perform the menial tasks of life for the convenience of the cultured classes. But even in the ancient world voices were raised against slavery. Philo spoke of slave-dealers as those

"who despoil men of their most precious possession, their freedom."

But this more probably refers to kidnappers of slaves. Slaves were valuable property. An ordinary slave with no special gifts fetched from 48 to 60 dollars. A specially accomplished slave would fetch three or four times as much. Beautiful youths were in special demand as pages and cupbearers and would fetch as much as 2400 or 2700 dollars way back then. Marcus Antonius is said to have paid $6,000.00 for two well-matched youths who were wrongly represented to be twins. In the days when Rome was especially eager to learn the arts of Greece and slaves who were skilled in Greek literature and music and art were especially valuable, a certain Lutatius Daphnis was sold for $10,500.00 back then. The result was that frequently valuable slaves were either seduced from their masters or kidnapped. The kidnapping of especially beautiful or especially accomplished slaves was a common feature of ancient life.

Finally, there are liars (pseustai) and perjurers (epiorko), men who did not hesitate to twist the truth to gain dishonorable ends.

Here is a vivid picture of the atmosphere in which the ancient Church grew up. It was against an infection like that that the writer of the Pastorals sought to protect the Christians in his charge.

Into this world came the Christian message, and this passage tells us four things about it.

(i) It is sound teaching. The word used for sound (hugiainein) literally means health-giving. Christianity is an ethical religion. It demands from a person not only the keeping of certain ritual laws, but the living of a good life. E. F. Brown draws a comparison between it and Islam; a Mohammedan may be regarded as a very holy man if he observes certain ceremonial rituals, even though his moral life is quite unclean. He quotes a writer on Morocco:

"The great blot on the creed of Islam is that precept and practice are not expected to go together, except as regards the ritual, so that a man may be notoriously wicked yet esteemed religious, having his blessing sought as that of one who has power with God, without the slightest sense of incongruity. The position of things was very well put to me one day by a Moor in Fez, who remarked: 'Do you want to know what our religion is? We purify ourselves with water while we contemplate adultery; we go to the mosque to pray and as we do so we think how best to cheat our neighbors; we give alms at the door and go back to our shop to rob; we read our Korans and go out to commit unmentionable sins; we fast and go on pilgrimage and yet we lie and kill.'"

It reminds me of a fellow student I knew at Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri; he claimed a good Christian could cheat in business, because he believed Christian ethics DID NOT NEED TO BE APPLIED TO BUSINESS ETHICS……………..I disagreed!!!

It must always be remembered that Christianity does not mean observing a ritual, even if that ritual consists of bible-reading and church-going; it means living a good life, a righteous life. Christianity, if it is real, is health-giving; it is the moral antiseptic which alone can cleanse life.

(ii) It is a glorious gospel; that is to say, it is glorious good news. It is good news of forgiveness for past sins and of power to conquer sin in the days to come, good news of God's mercy, God's cleansing and God's grace.

(iii) It is good news which comes from God. The Christian gospel is not a discovery made by humans; it is something revealed by God. It does not offer only the help of man; it offers the power of God.

(iv) That good news comes through men. It was entrusted to Paul to bring it to others. God makes His offer and He needs his messengers.

There is an old, old story; about an Angel walking along the streets of gold in heaven with Jesus at his side. They are discussing the events that are going on down on earth. The evil and corruption of mankind. They are discussing the gospel as applied to fallen humanity, God’s great LOVE, MERCY, and FORGIVENESS THROUGH THE BLOODY SACRIFICE OF JESUS!!! The Angel says,

“What you did for mankind, it is immense, it is awesome, it is so glorious, it is so LOVING and kind, certainly You must have some other way of sharing to fallen humanity, than using people??? They are so untrustworthy, so lazy…”

Jesus stopped for a moment, looked at the Angel with compassionate LOVE in His eyes, began to walk again, and still looking at the Angel, Jesus said,

“No, there is no other way……………Just people telling people…”

The genuine Christian is the person who has truly accepted Jesus Christ as their Only Lord, their Only God, and their Only Savior, and because of their UTTER LOVE FOR JESUS, they can’t help themselves, that great LOVE, that great mercy, that awesome forgiveness they received from Jesus, OVER FLOWS FROM THEM TO THE WORLD!!!!!!!

The true Christian cannot keep such good news to themselves, ourselves, but necessity compels us to share it with others who have not yet found it…WE CAN’T STOP SHARING OUR COLOSSAL JOY, IT JUST BUBBLES UP FROM OUR VERY BEING IN LOVE!!!!!!!

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


April 19, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The First Epistle to Timothy: Part Two”

1 Timothy 1:3-7 (RSV)
3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies which promote speculations rather than the divine training that is in faith; 5 whereas the aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith. 6 Certain persons by swerving from these have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions.

Lord, our most gracious and beautiful heavenly Father, we praise and glorify Your most precious and magnificent name. We come to You in all humility beseeching You to deliver us from our weaknesses and the sins we suffer and struggle with on an almost daily basis; we acknowledge our absolute LOVE for You and our failure to live up to our LOVE, and how so often we do not stand firm in our faith. We pray this day that You would bestow upon us the ability to thoroughly comprehend, and make proper and devout application of Your Word to our daily, moment by moment lives!

Father, daddy, we pray for those who are ill, or who have LOVED ones who are ill with the covid-19 virus or any illness. Guide our Doctors, our Nurses, our Cna’s, all medical responders, and our government officials, especially our President, in this hour of unsurpassed need. Please bring healing in every way.

Pause all our needs and present distractions that we are able to worship You with all our hearts, minds, and bodies in Jesus most awesome name, Amen and Eternally Amen…….

Let us return to the study of the epistle to Timothy.

It is clear that at the back of the Pastoral Epistles there is some heresy which is endangering the Church. Right at the beginning it will be well to try to see what this heresy is. We will therefore collect the facts about it now.

This very passage brings us face to face with two of its great characteristics. It dealt in idle tales and endless genealogies. These two things were not peculiar to this heresy but were deeply engrained in the thought of the ancient world.

First, the idle tales. One of the characteristics of the ancient world was that the poets and even the historians loved to work out romantic and fictitious tales about the foundation of cities and of families. They would tell how some god came to earth and founded the city or took in marriage some mortal maid and founded a family. The ancient world was full of stories like that.

Second, the endless genealogies. The ancient world had a passion for genealogies. We can see that even in the Old Testament with its chapters of names and in the New Testament with the genealogies of Jesus with which Matthew and Luke begin their gospels. A man like Alexander the Great had a completely artificial pedigree constructed in which he traced his lineage back on the one side to Achilles and Andromache and on the other to Perseus and Hercules.

It would be the easiest thing in the world for Christianity to get lost in endless and fabulous stories about origins and in elaborate and imaginary genealogies. That was a danger which was inherent in the situation in which Christian thought was developing.

It was peculiarly threatening from two directions.

It was threatening from the Jewish direction. To the Jews there was no book in the world like the Old Testament. Their scholars spent a lifetime studying it and expounding it. In the Old Testament many chapters and many sections are long genealogies; and one of the favorite occupations of the Jewish scholars was to construct an imaginary and edifying biography for every name in the list! A man could go on forever doing that; and it may be that that was what was partly in Paul's mind. He may be saying, "When you ought to be working at the Christian life, you are working out imaginary biographies and genealogies. You are wasting your time on elegant fancies, when you should be getting down to life and living." This may be a warning to us never to allow Christian thinking to get lost in speculations which do not matter.

But this danger came with an even greater threat from the Greek side. At this time in history there was developing a Greek line of thought which came to be known as Gnosticism. We find it especially in the background of the Pastoral Epistles, the Letter to the Colossians and the Fourth Gospel.

Gnosticism was entirely speculative. It began with the problem of the origin of sin and of suffering. If God is altogether good, he could not have created them. How then did they get into the world? The Gnostic answer was that creation was not creation out of nothing; before time began matter existed. They believed that this matter was essentially imperfect, an evil thing; and out of this essentially evil matter the world was created.

No sooner had they got this length than they ran into another difficulty. If matter is essentially evil and God is essentially good, God could not Himself have touched this matter. So they began another set of speculations. They said that God put out an emanation, and that this emanation put out another emanation, and the second emanation put out a third emanation and so on and on until there came into being an emanation so distant from God that he could handle matter; and that it was not God but this emanation who created the world.

They went further. They held that each successive emanation knew less about God so that there came a stage in the series of emanations when the emanations were completely ignorant of Him and, more, there was a final stage when the emanations were not only ignorant of God but actively hostile to Him. So they arrived at the thought that the god who created the world was quite ignorant of and hostile to the true God. Later on they went even further and identified the God of the Old Testament with this creating god, and the God of the New Testament with the true God.

They further provided each one of the emanations with a complete biography. And so they built up an elaborate mythology of gods and emanations, each with his story and his biography and his genealogy. There is no doubt that the ancient world was riddled with that kind of thinking; and that it even entered the Church itself. It made Jesus merely the greatest of the emanations, the one closest to God. It classed him as the highest link in the endless chain between God and man.

This Gnostic line of thought had certain characteristics which appear all through the Pastoral Epistles as the characteristics of those whose heresies were threatening the Church and the purity of the faith.

(i) Gnosticism was obviously highly speculative, and it was therefore intensely intellectually snobbish. It believed that all this intellectual speculation was quite beyond the mental grasp of ordinary people and was for a chosen few, the elite of the Church. So Timothy is warned against,

1 Timothy 6:20 (RSV)
20 O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge,

He is warned against a religion of speculative questions instead of humble faith.

1 Timothy 1:4 (RSV)
4 nor to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies which promote speculations rather than the divine training that is in faith;

He is warned against the man who is proud of his intellect but really knows nothing and dotes about questions and strifes of words,

1 Timothy 6:4 (RSV)
4 he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions,

He is told to shun,

2 Timothy 2:16 (RSV)
16 Avoid such godless chatter, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,

He is told to avoid,

2 Timothy 2:23 (RSV)
23 Have nothing to do with stupid, senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.

Further, the Pastoral Epistles go out of their way to stress the fact that this idea of an intellectual aristocracy is quite wrong, for God's LOVE is universal. God wants,

1 Timothy 2:4 (RSV)
4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

God is the Savior of all men, especially those who believe,

1 Timothy 4:10 (RSV)
10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.

((( God’s salvation is available to all people, but they, we, MUST ACCEPT GOD’S FREE GIFT OF GRACE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST!!! )))

The Christian Church would have nothing to do with any kind of faith which was founded on intellectual speculation and set up an arrogant intellectual aristocracy.

(ii) Gnosticism was concerned with this long series of emanations. It gave to each of them a biography and a pedigree and an importance in the chain between God and men. These gnostics were concerned with "endless genealogies",

1 Timothy 1:4 (RSV)
4 nor to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies which promote speculations rather than the divine training that is in faith;

They went in for "godless and silly myths" about them,

1 Timothy 1:7 (RSV)
7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions.

They turned their ears away from the truth to myths,

2 Timothy 4:4 (RSV)
4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.

They dealt in fables like the Jewish myths,

Titus 1:14 (RSV)
14 instead of giving heed to Jewish myths or to commands of men who reject the truth.

Worst of all, they thought in terms of two gods and of Jesus as one of a whole series of mediators between God and man; whereas "there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus",

1 Timothy 2:5 (RSV)
5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

There is only one King of ages, immortal, invisible, there is only one God,

1 Timothy 1:17 (RSV)
17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

***Christianity had to repudiate a religion which took their unique place from God and from Jesus Christ.

The danger of Gnosticism was not only intellectual. It had serious moral and ethical consequences. We must remember that its basic belief was that matter was essentially evil and spirit alone was good. That issued in two opposite results.

(i) If matter is evil, the body is evil; and the body must be despised and held down. Therefore Gnosticism could and did issue in a rigid asceticism. It forbade men to marry, for the instincts of the body were to be suppressed. It laid down strict food laws, for the needs of the body must as far as possible be eliminated. So the Pastorals speak of those who forbid to marry and who command to abstain from meats,

1 Timothy 4:3 (RSV)
3 who forbid marriage and enjoin abstinence from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

The answer to these people is that everything which God has created is good and is to be received with thanksgiving,

1 Timothy 4:4 (RSV)
4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving;

The Gnostic looked on creation as an evil thing, the work of an evil god; the Christian looks on creation as a noble thing, the gift of a good God. The Christian lives in a world where all things are pure; the Gnostic lived in a world where all things were defiled,

Titus 1:15 (RSV)
15 To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are corrupted.

(ii) But Gnosticism could issue in precisely the opposite ethical belief. If the body is evil, it does not matter what a man does with it. Therefore, let him gorge his appetites. These things are of no importance, therefore a man can use his body in the most licentious way and it makes no difference. So the Pastorals speak of those who lead away weak women until they are laden with sin and the victims of all kinds of lusts,

2 Timothy 3:6 (RSV)
6 For among them are those who make their way into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and swayed by various impulses,

Such men profess to know God, but they deny him by their deeds,

Titus 1:16 (RSV)
16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their deeds; they are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good deed.

They used their religious beliefs as an excuse for immorality.

(iii) Gnosticism had still another consequence. The Christian believes in the resurrection of the body. That is not to say that we ever believed that we are resurrected with simply our mortal bodies, human body as we know it; but we always believed that after resurrection from the dead a person would have their physical body transformed instantly to a spiritual body ( as a seed dies and takes on a new body ), provided by God. Paul discusses this whole question in First Corinthians 15. The Gnostic held that there was no such thing as the resurrection of the body,

2 Timothy 2:18 (RSV)
18 who have swerved from the truth by holding that the resurrection is past already. They are upsetting the faith of some.

After death a person would be a kind of disembodied spirit. The basic difference is that the Gnostic believed in the body's destruction; the Christian believes in its redemption and spiritual transformation. The Gnostic believed in what he would call soul salvation; the Christian believes in whole salvation.

So behind the Pastoral Epistles there are these dangerous heretics, who gave their lives to intellectual speculations, who saw this as an evil world and the creating god as evil, who put between the world and God an endless series of emanations and lesser gods and spent their time equipping each of them with endless fables and genealogies, who reduced Jesus to the position of a link in a chain and took away His uniqueness, who lived either in a rigorous asceticism or an unbridled licentiousness, who denied the resurrection of the body. It was their heretical beliefs that the Pastorals were written to combat.

In this passage there is a clear picture of the mind of the dangerous heretic. There is a kind of heresy in which a man differs from orthodox belief because he has honestly thought things out and cannot agree with it. He does not take any pride in being different; he is different simply because he has to be. Such a heresy does not spoil a man's character; it may in fact enhance his character, because he has really thought out his faith and is not living on a second-hand orthodoxy. None the less it is a heresy… But that is not the heretic whose picture is drawn here. Here are distinguished five characteristics of the dangerous heretic.

(i) He is driven by the desire for novelty. He is like someone who must be in the latest fashion and must undergo the latest craze. He despises old things for no better reason than that they are old, and desires new things for no better reason than that they are new. Christianity has always the problem of presenting old truth in a new way. The truth does not change, but every age must find its own way of presenting it. Every teacher and preacher must talk to men, women, and children in language which they understand. The old truth and the new presentation go ever hand in hand.

 (ii) He exalts the mind at the expense of the heart. His conception of religion is speculation and not experience. Christianity has never demanded that a man should stop thinking for himself, but it does demand that his thinking should be dominated by a personal experience of Jesus Christ.

(iii) He deals in argument instead of action. He is more interested in complex discussion than in the effective administration of the household of the faith. He forgets that the truth is not only something which a person accepts with their mind, but is also something which we must translate into action. Long ago the distinction between the Greek and the Jew was drawn. The Greek LOVED argument for the sake of argument; there was nothing that he liked better than to sit with a group of friends and indulge in a series of mental acrobatics and enjoy "the stimulus of a mental hike." But he was not especially interested in reaching conclusions, and in evolving a principle of action. The Jew, too, liked argument; but he wished every argument to end in a decision which demanded action. There is always a danger of heresy when we fall in LOVE with words and forget deeds, for deeds are the acid test by which every argument must be tested.

(iv) He is moved by arrogance rather than by humility. He looks down with a certain contempt on simple-minded people who cannot follow his flights of intellectual speculation. He regards those who do not reach his own conclusions as ignorant fools, those who blindly follow the Bible. The Christian has somehow to combine an immovable certainty with a gentle humility.

(v) He is guilty of dogmatism without knowledge. He does not really know what he is talking about nor really understand the significance of the things about which he dogmatizes. The strange thing about religious argument is that everyone thinks that he has a right to express a dogmatic opinion. In all other fields we demand that a person should have a certain knowledge before he lays down the law. But there are those who dogmatize about the Bible and its teaching although they have never even tried to find out what the experts in language and history have said. It may well be that the Christian cause has suffered more from ignorant dogmatism than from anything else.

When we think of the characteristics of those who were troubling the Church at Ephesus we can see that their descendants are still with us.

As this passage draws the picture of the thinker who disturbs the Church, it also draws the picture of the really Christian thinker. He, too, has five characteristics.

(i) His thinking is based on faith. Faith means taking God at His word; it means believing that He is as Jesus proclaimed Him to be. That is to say, the Christian thinker begins from the principle that Jesus Christ has given the full revelation of God.

(ii) His thinking is motivated by LOVE. Paul's whole purpose is to produce LOVE. To think in LOVE will always save us from certain things. It will save us from arrogant thinking. It will save us from contemptuous thinking. It will save us from condemning either that with which we do not agree, or that which we do not understand. It will save us from expressing our views in such a way that we hurt other people. LOVE saves us from destructive thinking and destructive speaking. To think in LOVE is always to think in sympathy. The man who argues in LOVE argues not to defeat his opponent, but to win him.

(iii) His thinking comes from a pure heart. Here the word used is very significant. It is katharos, which originally simply meant clean as opposed to soiled or dirty. Later it came to have certain most suggestive uses. It was used of corn that has been winnowed and cleansed of all chaff. It was used of an army which had been purified of all cowardly and undisciplined soldiers until there was nothing left but first-class fighting men. It was used of something which was without any debasing admixture. So, then, a pure heart is a heart whose motives are absolutely pure and absolutely unmixed. In the heart of the Christian thinker there is no desire to show how clever he is, no desire to win a purely debating victory, no desire to show up the ignorance of his opponent. The Christian’s only desire is to help and to illumine and to lead nearer to God. The Christian thinker is moved only by LOVE of truth and LOVE for all people.

(iv) His thinking comes from a good conscience. The Greek word for conscience is suneidesis. It literally means a knowing with. The real meaning of conscience is a knowing with oneself. To have a good conscience is to be able to look in the face the knowledge which one shares with no one but oneself and not be ashamed. Emerson remarked of Seneca that he said the loveliest things, if only he had the right to say them. The Christian thinker is the person whose thoughts and whose deeds give them the right to say what they do—and that is the most acid test of all.

(v) The Christian thinker is the man of undissembling faith. The phrase literally means the faith in which there is no hypocrisy. That simply means that the great characteristic of the Christian thinker is sincerity. He is sincere both in his desire to find the truth—and in his desire to communicate it.

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


April 12, 2020

A “Church

Evanston, Wyoming

Welcome, Blessed Easter to you

“He Is Risen !!!“

Let us pray:

Dear God,
Thank You that You make all things new. Thank You for the victory and power in Your Name. Thank You that You hold the keys over death, that by Your might, Jesus raised Himself from the grave, paving the way for us to have new life with You. Thank You that You had a plan, that You made a way for us to be with You.

We confess our need for You…fresh…new…again. We ask that You renew our hearts, minds, and lives, for the days ahead. We pray for Your refreshing over us.

Keep Your words of truth planted firmly within us, help us to keep focused on what is pure and right, give us the power to be obedient to Your word. And when the enemy reminds us where we have been, hissing his lies and attacks our way, we trust that Your voice speaks louder and stronger, reminding us we are safe with You and that Your purposes and plans will not fail. We ask that You will be our defense and rear guard, keeping our way clear, removing the obstacles, and covering the pitfalls. Lord, lead us on Your level ground.

Shine Your light in us, through us, over us. May we make a difference in this world, for Your glory and purposes. That we may reflect Your peace and hope to a world that so desperately needs Your presence and healing.

Lord God, You LOVED this world so much, that You gave Your one and only Son, that we might be called Your children too. Lord, help us to live in the gladness and grace, of Easter Sunday, everyday. Let us have hearts of thankfulness for Your sacrifice. Let us have eyes that look upon Your grace and rejoice in our salvation.
Help us to walk in that mighty grace and tell Your good news to the world.

Thanks be to You God, for Your indescribable gift! To You be glory and honor, on this Resurrection Day, and forever.

In Jesus our resurrected, and only Savior’s name, Amen and eternally Amen…………………………………………….

One last thing Lord, be with those who have or will have the Covid-19 virus, be with their LOVED ones, be with this country, and in all things, not our wills but Thy Will Be Done.  In Jesus’ name Amen and Amen…

THY WILL BE DONE ! ! ! ! ! ! !

The historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ is very good. Scholars such as William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland, Gary Habermas, and others have done an especially good job of detailing that evidence.

A method commonly used today to determine the historicity of an event is "inference to the best explanation." William Lane Craig describes this as an approach where we "begin with the evidence available to us and then infer what would, if true, provide the best explanation of that evidence." In other words, we ought to accept an event as historical if it gives the best explanation for the evidence surrounding it.

When we look at the evidence, the truth of the resurrection emerges very clearly as the best explanation. There is no other theory that even come close to accounting for the evidence. Therefore, there is solid historical grounds for the truth that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

It is worth pointing out that in establishing the historicity of the resurrection, we do not need to assume that the New Testament is inspired by God or even trustworthy. While we know the Holy Bible is absolutely inerrant and, we are going to focus here on three truths that even critical scholars admit. In other words, these three truths are so strong that they are accepted by serious historians of all stripes. Therefore, any theory must be able to adequately account for these data.

The three truths are:

The tomb in which Jesus was buried was discovered empty by a group of women on the Sunday following the crucifixion. Jesus' disciples had real experiences with one whom they believed was the risen Christ. As a result of the preaching of these disciples, which had the resurrection at its center, the Christian church was established and grew.

Virtually all scholars who deal with the resurrection, whatever their school of thought, assent to these three truths. We will see that the resurrection of Christ is the best explanation for each of them individually. But then we will see, even more significantly, that when these facts are taken together we have an even more powerful case for the resurrection--because the skeptic will not have to explain away just one historical fact, but three. These three truths create a strongly woven, three chord rope that cannot be broken.

The Empty Tomb

To begin, what is the evidence that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was discovered empty by a group of women on the Sunday following the crucifixion?

First, the resurrection was preached in the same city where Jesus had been buried shortly before. Jesus' disciples did not go to some obscure place where no one had heard of Jesus to begin preaching about the resurrection, but instead began preaching in Jerusalem, the very city where Jesus had died and been buried. They could not have done this if Jesus was still in his tomb--no one would have believed them. No one would be foolish enough to believe a man had raised from the dead when his body lay dead in the tomb for all to see. As Paul Althaus writes, the resurrection proclamation "could not have been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact for all concerned."

Second, the earliest Jewish arguments against Christianity admit the empty tomb.

Matthew 28:11-15 (ASV)
11  Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city, and told unto the chief priests all the things that were come to pass. 12  And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave much money unto the soldiers, 13  saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. 14  And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and rid you of care. 15  So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying was spread abroad among the Jews, and continueth until this day.

There is a reference made to the Jew's attempt to refute Christianity be saying that the disciples stole the body. This is significant because it shows that the Jews did not deny the empty tomb. Instead, their "stolen body" theory admitted the significant truth that the tomb was in fact empty. The Toledoth Jesu, a compilation of early Jewish writings, is another source acknowledging this.

Toledoth Yeshua 3:72

“Rabbi Tanchuma replied, it is because of this bastard who hath be hanged and buried near the place of stonning; he to hath been taken away from the grave, and none of us know where to find him.”

It acknowledges that the tomb was empty, and attempts to explain it away. Further, we have a record of a second century debate between a Christian and a Jew, in which a reference is made to the fact that the Jews claim the body was stolen. So it is pretty well established that the early Jews admitted the empty tomb.

Why is this important? Remember that the Jewish leaders were opposed to Christianity. They were hostile witnesses. In acknowledging the empty tomb, they were admitting the reality of a fact that was certainly not in their favor. So why would they admit that the tomb was empty unless the evidence was too strong to be denied? Dr. Paul Maier calls this

"positive evidence from a hostile source. In essence, if a source admits a fact that is decidedly not in its favor, the fact is genuine."

Third, the empty tomb account in the gospel of Mark is based upon a source that originated within seven years of the event it narrates. This places the evidence for the empty tomb too early to be legendary, and makes it much more likely that it is accurate.

Fourth, the empty tomb is supported by the historical reliability of the burial story. New Testament scholars agree that the burial story is one of the best established facts about Jesus. One reason for this is because of the inclusion of Joseph of Arimethea as the one who buried Christ.

Mark 15:42-47 (ASV)
42  And when even was now come, because it was the Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43  there came Joseph of Arimathaea, a councillor of honorable estate, who also himself was looking for the kingdom of God; and he boldly went in unto Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. 44  And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. 45  And when he learned it of the centurion, he granted the corpse to Joseph. 46  And he bought a linen cloth, and taking him down, wound him in the linen cloth, and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of a rock; and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47  And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.

Joseph was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrein, a sort of Jewish supreme court. People on this ruling class were simply too well known for fictitious stories about them to be pulled off in this way. This would have exposed the Christians as frauds. So they couldn't have circulated a story about him burying Jesus unless it was true. Also, if the burial account was legendary, one would expect to find conflicting traditions--which we don't have.

But how does the reliability of Jesus' burial argue that the tomb was empty? Because the burial account and empty tomb account have grammatical and linguistic ties, indicating that they are one continuous account. Therefore, if the burial account is accurate the empty tomb is likely to be accurate as well. Further, if the burial account is accurate then everyone knew where Jesus was buried. This would have been decisive evidence to refute the early Christians who were preaching the resurrection--for if the tomb had not been empty, it would have been evident to all and the disciples would have been exposed as frauds at worst, or insane at best.

Fifth, Jesus' tomb was never venerated as a shrine. This is striking because it was the 1st century custom to set up a shrine at the site of a holy man's bones. There were at least 50 such cites in Jesus' day. Since there was no such shrine for Jesus, it suggests that his bones weren't there.

Sixth, Mark's account of the empty tomb is simple and shows no signs of legendary development. This is very apparent when we compare it with the gospel of Peter, a forgery from about 125 AD. This legend has all of the Jewish leaders, Roman guards, and many people from the countryside gathered to watch the resurrection. Then three men come out of the tomb, with their heads reaching up to the clouds. Then a talking cross comes out of the tomb! This is what legend looks like, and we see none of that in Mark's account of the empty tomb--or anywhere else in the gospels for that matter!

Seventh, the tomb was discovered empty by women. Why is this important? Because the testimony of women in 1st century Jewish culture was considered worthless. As Craig says,

"if the empty tomb story were a legend, then it is most likely that the male disciples would have been made the first to discover the empty tomb. The fact that despised women, whose testimony was deemed worthless, were the chief witnesses to the fact of the empty tomb can only be plausibly explained if, like it or not, they actually were the discoverers of the empty tomb."

Because of the strong evidence for the empty tomb, most recent scholars do not deny it. D.H. Van Daalen has said,

"It is extremely difficult to object to the empty tomb on historical grounds; those who deny it do so on the basis of theological or philosophical assumptions."

Jacob Kremer, who has specialized in the study of the resurrection and is a NT critic, has said

"By far most exegetes hold firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements about the empty tomb" and he lists twenty-eight scholars to back up his fantastic claim.

I'm sure you've heard of the various theories used to explain away the empty tomb, such as that the body was stolen. But those theories are laughed at today by all serious scholars. In fact, they have been considered dead and refuted for almost a hundred years. For example, the Jews or Romans had no motive to steal the body--they wanted to suppress Christianity, not encourage it by providing it with an empty tomb. The disciples would have had no motive, either. Because of their preaching on the resurrection, they were beaten, killed, and persecuted. Why would they go through all of this for a deliberate lie? No serious scholars hold to any of these theories today. What explanation, then, do the critics offer, you may ask? Craig tells us that

"they are self-confessedly without any explanation to offer. There is simply no plausible natural explanation today to account for Jesus' tomb being empty. If we deny the resurrection of Jesus, we are left with an inexplicable mystery."

The resurrection of Jesus is not just the best explanation for the empty tomb, it is the only explanation in town!

The Resurrection Appearances

Next, there is the evidence that Jesus' disciples had real experiences with one whom they believed was the risen Christ. This is not commonly disputed today because we have the testimony of the original disciples themselves that they saw Jesus alive again. And you don't need to believe in the reliability of the gospels to believe this.

1 Corinthians 15:3-8 (ASV)
3  For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4  and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures; 5  and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; 6  then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; 7  then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles;
8  and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also.

Paul records an ancient creed concerning Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection appearances that is much earlier than the letter in which Paul is recording it.

It is generally agreed by critical scholars that Paul received this creed from Peter and James between 3-5 years after the crucifixion. Now, Peter and James are listed in this creed as having seen the risen Christ. Since they are the ones who gave this creed to Paul, this is therefore a statement of their own testimony. As the Jewish Scholar Pinchahs Lapide has said, this creed

"may be considered the statement of eyewitnesses."

Now, we must consider that just because the disciples think they saw Jesus doesn't automatically mean that they really did. There are three possible alternatives:

They were lying
They hallucinated
They really saw the risen Christ

Which of these is most likely? Were they lying? On this view, the disciples knew that Jesus had not really risen, but they made up this story about the resurrection. But then why did 10 of the disciples willingly die as martyrs for their belief in the resurrection? People will often die for a lie that they believe is the truth. But if Jesus did not rise, the disciples knew it. Thus, they wouldn't have just been dying for a lie that they mistakenly believed was true. They would have been dying for a lie that they knew was a lie. Ten people would not all give their lives for something they know to be a lie. Furthermore, after witnessing events such as Watergate, can we reasonably believe that the disciples could have covered up such a lie?

Because of the absurdity of the theory that the disciples were lying, we can see why almost all scholars today admit that, if nothing else, the disciples at least believed that Jesus appeared to them. But we know that just believing something to be true doesn't make it true. Perhaps the disciples were wrong and had been deceived by a hallucination?

The hallucination theory is untenable because it cannot explain the physical nature of the appearances. The disciples record eating and drinking with Jesus, as well as touching him. This cannot be done with hallucinations. Second, it is highly unlikely that they would all have had the same hallucination. Hallucinations are highly individual, and not group projections. Imagine if I came in here and said to you, "wasn't that a great dream I had last night?" Hallucinations, like dreams, generally don't transfer like that. Further, the hallucination theory cannot explain the conversion of Paul, three years later. Was Paul, the persecutor of Christians, so hoping to see the resurrected Jesus that his mind invented an appearance as well? And perhaps most significantly, the hallucination theory cannot even deal with the evidence for the empty tomb.

Since the disciples could not have been lying or hallucinating, we have only one possible explanation left: the disciples believed that they had seen the risen Jesus because they really had seen the risen Jesus. So, the resurrection appearances alone demonstrate the resurrection. Thus, if we reject the resurrection, we are left with a second inexplicable mystery--first the empty tomb and now the appearances.

The Origin of the Christian Faith

Finally, the existence of the Christian church is strong proof for the resurrection. Why is this? Because even the most skeptical New Testament scholars admit that the disciples at least believed that Jesus was raised from the grave. But how can we explain the origin of that belief? William Lane Craig points out that there are three possible causes:

***Christian influences

***pagan influences  or

***Jewish influences.

Could it have been Christian influences? Craig writes,

"Since the belief in the resurrection was itself the foundation for Christianity, it cannot be explained as the later product of Christianity."

Further, as we saw, if the disciples made it up, then they were frauds and liars--alternatives we have shown to be false. We have also shown the unlikeliness that they hallucinated this belief.

But what about pagan influences? Isn't it often pointed out that there were many myths of dying and rising savior gods at the time of Christianity? Couldn't the disciples have been deluded by those myths and copied them into their own teaching on the resurrection of Christ? In reality, serious scholars have almost universally rejected this theory since WWII, for several reasons.

*First, it has been shown that these mystery religions had no major influence in Palestine in the 1st century.

*Second, most of the sources which contain parallels originated after Christianity was established.

*Third, most of the similarities are often apparent and not real--a result of sloppy terminology on the part of those who explain them. For example, one critic tried to argue that a ceremony of killing a bull and letting the blood drip all over the participants was parallel to holy communion.

*Fourth, the early disciples were Jews, and it would have been unthinkable for a Jew to borrow from another religion. For they were zealous in their belief that the pagan religions were abhorrent to God.

Jewish influences cannot explain the belief in the resurrection, either. 1st century Judaism had no conception of a single individual rising from the dead in the middle of history. Their concept was always that everybody would be raised together at the end of time. So the idea of one individual rising in the middle of history was foreign to them. Thus, Judaism of that day could have never produced the resurrection hypothesis. This is also another good argument against the theory that the disciples were hallucinating. Psychologists will tell you that hallucinations cannot contain anything new--that is, they cannot contain any idea that isn't already somehow in your mind. Since the early disciples were Jews, they had no conception of the messiah rising from the dead in the middle of history. Thus, they would have never hallucinated about a resurrection of Christ. At best, they would have hallucinated that he had been transported directly to heaven, as Elijah had been in the Old Testament, but they would have never hallucinated a resurrection.

So we see that if the resurrection did not happen, there is no plausible way to account for the origin of the Christian faith. We would be left with a third inexplicable mystery.

Three Independent Facts

These are three independently established facts that we have recognized. If we deny the resurrection, we are left with at least three inexplicable mysteries. But there is a much, much better explanation than a wimpy appeal to mystery or a far-fetched appeal to a stolen body, hallucination, and mystery religion.

The best explanation is that Christ in fact rose from the dead! Even if we take each fact by itself, we have good enough evidence. But taken together, we see that the evidence becomes even stronger. For example, even if two of these facts were to be explained away, there would still be the third truth to establishes the fact of the resurrection.

These three independently established facts also make alternative explanations less plausible. It is generally agreed that the explanation with the best explanatory scope should be accepted. That is, the theory that explains the most of the evidence is more likely to be true. The resurrection is the only hypothesis that explains all of the evidence. If we deny the resurrection, we must come up with three independent natural explanations, not just one. For example, you would have to propose that the Jews stole the body, then the disciples hallucinated, and then somehow the pagan mystery religions influenced their beliefs to make them think of a resurrection. But we have already seen the implausibility of such theories. And trying to combine them will only make matters worse. As Gary Habermas has said,

"Combining three improbable theories will not produce a probable explanation. It will actually increase the degree of improbability. Its like putting leaking buckets inside each other, hoping each one will help stop up the leaks in the others. All you will get is a watery mess."


Before examining, briefly, the implications of the resurrection, lets take a quick look at perhaps the most popular theory today against the resurrection--that it was a legend that developed over time. The facts we have established so far are enough to put to rest any idea of a legend.

*First, we have seen that the testimony of the resurrection goes back to the original experiences. So it is not the case that the resurrection belief evolved over time. Instead, we have testimony from the very people who claimed to have experienced it.

*Second, how can the myth theory explain the evidence for the empty tomb?

*Third, the myth theory cannot explain the origin of the Christian faith--for we have already seen that the real resurrection of Christ is the only adequate cause for the resurrection belief.

*Fourth, the myth theory cannot explain the conversion of Paul. Would he be convinced by a myth? His conversion was in fact too early for any myth to have developed by then. How then can we explain his conversion? Do we dare accuse him of lying when he said he saw the risen Christ?

Acts 9:1-6 (ASV)
1  But Saul, yet breathing threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2  and asked of him letters to Damascus unto the synagogues, that if he found any that were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3  And as he journeyed, it came to pass that he drew nigh unto Damascus: and suddenly there shone round about him a light out of heaven: 4  and he fell upon the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5  And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: 6  but rise, and enter into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

*Fifth, we have seen the evidence that the empty tomb story in Mark was very early--within seven years of the events. That is not long enough for legends. *Sixth, we have seen that the empty tomb narrative lacks the classic traits of legendary development.

*Seventh, critical scholars agree that the resurrection message was the foundation of the preaching of the early church.

1 Corinthians 15:12-19 (ASV)
12  Now if Christ is preached that he hath been raised from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13  But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither hath Christ been raised: 14  and if Christ hath not been raised, then is our preaching vain, your faith also is vain. 15  Yea, we are found false witnesses of God; because we witnessed of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead are not raised. 16  For if the dead are not raised, neither hath Christ been raised: 17  and if Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18  Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19  If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable.

Thus, it could not have been the product of the later church.

*Ninth, there is very good evidence that the gospels and Acts were written very early. For example, the book of Acts never records the death of Paul, which occurred in about 64 AD, or the destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred in 70 AD.

Since both Jerusalem and Paul are key players in the book of Acts, it seems strange that their demises would be omitted. The best explanation seems to be that Paul's death and Jerusalem's destruction are omitted because the book of Acts had been completed before they happened. This means that Acts was written before 64 AD, when Paul died. Since Acts is volume 2 of Luke's writings, the book of Luke being the first, then the Gospel of Luke was even earlier, perhaps 62 AD. And since most scholars agree that Mark was the first gospel written, that gospel would have been composed even earlier, perhaps in the late 50s AD. This brings us within twenty years of the events, which is not enough time for legends to develop. So the legend theory is not very plausible.

On the basis of the evidence we have seen, it appears that the resurrection is the best explanation. It explains the empty tomb, the resurrection appearances, and the existence of the Christian church. No other competing theory can explain all three of these facts. In fact, none of these competing theories can even give a satisfying explanation for even one of these facts. So it seems like the rational person should accept that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

The Importance of the Resurrection

But, in conclusion, don't we have to ask ourselves what implications this has? Why does it matter? Or is this some dry, dusty old piece of history that has no relevance to our lives? The resurrection is the most important truth in the world. It has far reaching implications on our lives.

***First, the resurrection proves that the claims Jesus made about himself are true. What did Jesus claim? He claimed to be God.

Mark 14:60-62 (ASV)
60  And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? 61  But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and saith unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? 62  And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.

John 10:30-33 (ASV)
30  I and the Father are one. 31  The Jews took up stones again to stone him.
32  Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from the Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? 33  The Jews answered him, For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

One might say, "I don't believe that He claimed to be God, because I don't believe the Bible." But the fact is that even if we take only the passages which skeptical scholars admit as authentic, it can still be shown that Jesus claimed to be God.

***Second, have you ever wondered what reasons there are to believe in the Bible? Is there good reason to believe that it was inspired by God, or is it simply a bunch of interesting myths and legends? The resurrection of Jesus answers the question. If Jesus rose from the dead, then we have seen this validates His claim to be God. If He is God, He speaks with absolute certainty and final authority. Therefore, what Jesus said about the Bible must be true.

Matthew 4:4 (ASV)
4  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

 Surely you are going to accept the testimony of one who rose from the dead over the testimony of a skeptical scholar who will one day die himself--without being able to raise himself on the third day.

John 2:19-22 (ASV)
19  Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20  The Jews therefore said, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou raise it up in three days? 21  But he spake of the temple of his body. 22  When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he spake this; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

What did Jesus say about the Bible?

Matthew 5:17-18 (ASV)
17  Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil. 18  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished.

He said that it was inspired by God and that it cannot error. We must accept the testimony of Jesus over what we would like to be true and over the opinions of other men and women. Therefore we should believe that the Bible is inspired by God, without error. Don't get misled by the numerous skeptical and unbelieving theories about the Bible. Trust Jesus--He rose from the dead.

***Third, many people are confused by the many different religions in the world. Are they all from God? But on a closer examination we see that they cannot all be from God, because they all contradict each other. They cannot all be true any more than 2+2 can equal both 4 and 5 at the same time. For example, Christianity is the only religion that believes Jesus Christ is both God and man. All other religions say that he was a good man only-and not God. Clearly, both claims cannot be right! Somebody is wrong. How are we to know which religion is correct? By a simple test: which religion gives the best evidence for its truth? In light of Christ's resurrection, Christianity has the best reasons behind it.

Jesus is the only religious leader who has risen from the dead. All other religious leaders are still in their tombs. Who would you believe? The answer is clear: Jesus' resurrection demonstrates that what He said was true. Therefore, we must accept his statement to be the only way to God:

John 14:6 (ASV)
6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.

***Fourth, the resurrection of Christ proves that God will judge the world one day. The apostle Paul said,

Acts 17:30-31 (ASV)
30  The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: 31  inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

The resurrection of Christ proves something very personal and significant to each of us--we will have to give an account of ourselves to a holy God. And if we are honest with ourselves, we will have to admit that we do not measure up to His standard. We are sinful, and therefore deserve to be condemned at His judgment.

***Fifth, the resurrection of Christ provides genuine hope for eternal life. Why? Because Jesus says that by trusting in Him, we will be forgiven of our sins and thereby escape being condemned at the judgment. The New Testament doesn't just tell us that Christ rose from the dead and leave us wondering why He did this. It answers that He did this because we are sinners. And because we have sinned, we are deserving of God's judgment. Since God is just, He cannot simply let our sins go. The penalty for our sins must be paid.

Romans 3:23 (ASV)
23  for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;

Romans 6:23 (ASV)
23  For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 10:9-11 (ASV)
9  because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: 10  for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame.

The good news is that God, out of His LOVE, became man in Jesus Christ in order to pay the penalty for sinners. On the cross, Jesus died in the place of those who would come to believe in Him. He took upon Himself the very death that we deserve. The apostle Paul says

Romans 4:25 (ASV)
25  who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification.

But the apostle Paul goes on to say

"He was raised to life because of our justification."

Paul is saying that Christ's resurrection proves that His mission to conquer sin was successful. His resurrection proves that He is a Savior who is not only willing, but also able, to deliver us from the wrath of God that is coming on the day of judgment. The forgiveness that Jesus died and rose to provide is given to those who trust in Him for salvation and a blessed future.

Let us close with the sixth reason the resurrection is significant.

***The Bible says that Christ's resurrection is the pattern that those who believe in Him will follow. In other words, those who believe in Christ will one day be resurrected by God just as He was. The resurrection proves that those who trust in Christ will not be subject in eternity to a half-human existence in just their souls. It proves that our bodies will be resurrected one day. Because of the resurrection of Christ, believers will one day experience, forever, the freedom of having a glorified soul and body.

Jesus, who was abandoned, rejected, scorned, tortured, and crucified, is the recipient of God’s most powerful demonstration of favor. And because of Jesus’ BLOOD SACRIFICE UNTO DEATH, AND HIS RESURRECTION three days later, THE TRULY REPENTANT SINNER WILL RECEIVE THAT SAME FAVOR !!!


God bless this Easter, God bless each of you, now and forever.

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


April 5, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The First Epistle to Timothy: Part One”

1 Timothy 1:1-2 (RSV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, 2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Blessed Lord, who has caused all the Holy Scriptures to be written for our leaning and well-being; Grant that we wisely comprehend them, read them, mark them, learn them, and inwardly digest them, and LOVINGLY and whole heartedly do what they say; that by patience, and comfort of the holy Word the Bible, we may embrace them, and EVER hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given to us who are “Born Again” through the precious shed blood of our blessed Redeemer and Savior Jesus Christ.

Give us the LOVE, compassion, and emphatic desire to reach out to those who have physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of any kind, that we may be willing to die ourselves if necessary, to bring others to a saving knowledge of Your ONLY BEGOTTEN SON JESUS THE CHRIST.

Help us do our part during this awful pandemic in our nation and world, give us health and strength to do Your will, give us perseverance to do whatever is needed. Heal Lord the sick, the dying, give peace to their families and friends, give wisdom to those who are in authority over us, bless their decisions, and bless them. Bless those who by call are caring for the ill in any way, give them health, strength, wisdom, bless them and their willing efforts to serve those who are in great need. Lord be with us all, with all of Your creation.

Bless this service, this message, ALL THOSE WHO HEAR IT OR READ IT, in Jesus name, Amen and ETERNALLY AMEN!!!!!!!

A Brief Introduction…………………

Personal Letters

1 and 2 Timothy and Titus have always been regarded as forming a separate group of letters, different from the other letters of Paul. The most obvious difference is that they, along with the little letter to Philemon, are written to persons, whereas all other Pauline letters are written to Churches. The Muratorian Canon, which was the earliest official list of New Testament books, says that they were written "from personal feeling and affection." They are private rather than public letters.


Ecclesiastical Letters

But it very soon began to be seen that, though these are personal and private letters, they have significance and relevance far beyond the immediate. In,

1 Timothy 3:15 (RSV)
15 if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.

The letters’ aims are set down. They are written to Timothy "that you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the Church of the living God." So, then, it came to be seen that these letters have not only a personal significance, but also what one might call an ecclesiastical significance. The Muratorian Canon says of them that, though they are personal letters written out of personal affection, "they are still hallowed in the respect of the Catholic Church, and in the arrangement of ecclesiastical discipline." Tertullian said that Paul wrote:

"two letters to Timothy and one to Titus, which were composed concerning the state of the Church (de ecclesiastico statu)."

It is not then surprising that the first name given to them was Pontifical Letters, that is, written by the pontifex, the priest, the controller of the Church.

Pastoral Letters

Bit by bit they came to acquire the name by which they are still known—The Pastoral Epistles. In writing of 1 Timothy Thomas Aquinas, as long ago as 1274, said,

"This letter is as it were a pastoral rule which the Apostle delivered to Timothy."

In his introduction to the second letter, he writes,

"In the first letter he gives Timothy instructions concerning ecclesiastical order; in this second letter he deals with a pastoral care which should be so great that it will even accept martyrdom for the sake of the care of the flock."

But this title, The Pastoral Epistles, really became affixed to these letters in 1726 when a great scholar, Paul Anton by name, gave a series of famous lectures on them under that title.

These letters then deal with the care and organization of the flock of God; they tell men how to behave within the household of God; they give instructions as to how God's house should be administered, as to what kind of people the leaders and pastors of the Church should be, and as to how the threats which endanger the purity of Christian faith and life should be dealt with.

The Growing Church

The supreme interest of these letters is that we get in them a picture of the infant Church. In those early days it was an island in a sea of paganism. The people in it were only one remove from their heathen origin. It would have been so easy for them to relapse into the pagan standards from which they had come; the tarnishing atmosphere was all around. It is most significant that missionaries tell us that of all letters the Pastoral Epistles speak most directly to the situation of the younger Churches. The situation with which they deal is being re-enacted in India, in Africa, in China every day. They can never lose their interest because in them we see, as nowhere else, the problems which continually beset the growing Church.

Let us begin First Timothy……………………………..

Never a man magnified his office as Paul did. He did not magnify it in pride; he magnified it in wonder that God had chosen him for a task like that. Twice in the opening words of this letter he lays down the greatness of his privilege.

(i) First, he calls himself an apostle of Christ Jesus. Apostle is the Greek word apostolos, from the verb apostellein which means to send out; an apostolos was one who was sent out. As far back as Herodotus it means an envoy, an ambassador, one who is sent out to represent his country and his king. Paul always regarded himself as the envoy and ambassador of Christ. And, in truth, that is the office of every Christian. It is the first duty of every ambassador to form a liaison between the country to which he is sent and the country from which he has come. He is the connecting link. And the first duty of every Christian is to be a connecting link between his fellow-men and women with Jesus Christ.

(ii) Secondly, he says that he is an apostle by the royal command of God. The word he uses is epitage. This is the word Greek uses for the injunctions which some inviolable law lays on a man; for the royal command which comes to a man from the king; and above all for the instructions which come to a man either directly or by some oracle from God. For instance, a man in an inscription dedicates an altar to the goddess Cybele, kat' epitagen, in accordance with the command of the goddess, which, he tells us, had come to him in a dream. Paul thought of himself as a man holding the king's commission.

If any person can arrive at this consciousness of being sent forth by God, a new splendor enters into life. However humble our part may be in it, we are on royal service.

"Life can never be dull again

When once we've thrown our windows open wide

And seen the mighty world that lies outside,

And whispered to ourselves this wondrous thing,

'We're wanted for the business of the King!'"

It is always a privilege to do even the most menial things for someone whom we LOVE and respect and admire. All the life of a Christian is on the business of the King.

Paul goes on to give to God and to Jesus two great titles.

He speaks of God, our Savior. This is a new way of speaking. We do not find this title for God in any of Paul's earlier letters. There are two backgrounds from which it comes.

(a) It comes from an Old Testament background. It is Moses' charge against Israel that Jeshurun "forsook God who made him, and scoffed at the Rock of his Salvation",

Deuteronomy 32:15 (RSV)
15 "But Jesh'urun waxed fat, and kicked; you waxed fat, you grew thick, you became sleek; then he forsook God who made him, and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.

The Psalmist sings of how the good man will receive righteousness from the God of his salvation,

Psalm 24:5 (RSV)
5 He will receive blessing from the LORD, and vindication from the God of his salvation.

It is Mary's song,

Luke 1:46-47 (RSV)
46 And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

When Paul called God Savior, he was going back to an idea which had always been dear to Israel.

(b) There is a pagan background. It so happened that just at this time the title soter, Savior, was much in use. Men had always used it. In the old days the Romans had called Scipio, their great general, "our hope and our salvation." But at this very time it was the title which the Greeks gave to Aesculapius, the god of healing. And it was one of the titles which Nero, the Roman Emperor, had taken to himself. So in this opening sentence Paul is taking the title which was much on the lips of a seeking and a wistful world and giving it to the only person to whom it belonged by right.

We must never forget that Paul called God Savior. It is possible to take a quite wrong idea of the Atonement. Sometimes people speak of it in a way which indicates that something Jesus did pacified the anger of God. The idea they give is that God was bent on our destruction and that somehow his wrath was turned to LOVE by Jesus. Nowhere in the New Testament is there any support for that. It was because God so LOVED the world that He sent Jesus into the world,

John 3:16-17 (RSV)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.


God is Savior. We must never think or preach or teach of God who had to be pacified and persuaded into LOVING us, for everything begins from His LOVE.

Paul uses a title which was to become one of the great titles of Jesus—"Christ Jesus, our hope." Long ago the Psalmist had demanded of himself:

Psalm 43:5 (RSV)
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.

Paul himself speaks of,

Colossians 1:27 (RSV)
27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

John speaks of the dazzling prospect which confronted the Christian, the prospect of being like Christ; and goes on to say:

1 John 3:2-3 (RSV)
2 Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

In the early Church this was to become one of the most precious titles of Christ. Ignatius of Antioch, when on his way to execution in Rome, writes to the Church in Ephesus:

"Be of good cheer in God the Father and in Jesus Christ our common hope" (Ignatius: To the Ephesians 21:2).

Polycarp writes:

"Let us therefore persevere in our hope and the earnest of our righteousness, who is Jesus Christ" (Epistle of Polycarp 8).

(i) Men found in Christ the hope of moral victory and of self-conquest. The ancient world knew its sin. Epictetus had spoken wistfully of

"our weakness in necessary things."

Seneca had said that

"we hate our vices and love them at the same time."

He said,

"We have not stood bravely enough by our good resolutions; despite our will and resistance we have lost our innocence. Nor is it only that we have acted amiss; we shall do so to the end."

Persius, the Roman poet, wrote poignantly:

"Let the guilty see virtue, and pine that they have lost her for ever."

Persius talks of

"filthy Natta benumbed by vice."

The ancient world knew its moral helplessness only too well; and Christ came, not only telling men what was right, but giving them the power to do it. Christ gave to men who had lost it the hope of moral victory instead of defeat.

(ii) Humankind found in Christ the hope of victory over circumstances. Christianity came into the world in an age of the most terrible personal insecurity. When Tacitus, the Roman historian, came to write the history of that very age in which the Christian Church came into being, he began by saying,

"I am entering upon the history of a period rich in disaster, gloomy with wars, rent with seditions; nay, savage in its very hours of peace. Four emperors perished by the sword; there were three civil wars; there were more with foreigners, and some had the character of both at once... Rome wasted by fires; its oldest temples burned; the very capitol set in flames by Roman hands; the defilement of sacred rites; adultery in high places; the sea crowded with exiles; island rocks drenched with murder; yet wilder was the frenzy in Rome; nobility, wealth, the refusal of office, its acceptance, everything was a crime, and virtue was the surest way to ruin. Nor were the rewards of the informers less odious than their deeds. One found his spoils in a priesthood or a consulate; another in a provincial governorship, another behind the throne. All was one delirium of hate and terror; slaves were bribed to betray their masters, freedmen their patrons; and he who had no foe was betrayed by his friend." (Tacitus: Histories 1, 2).

((((((( Does History repeat itself??? )))))))

As Gilbert Murray said, the whole age was suffering from

"the failure of nerve."

Men were longing for some ring-wall of defense against

"the advancing chaos of the world."

It was Christ who in such times gave men the strength to live, and the courage, if need be, to die. In the certainty that nothing on earth could separate them from the LOVE of God in Christ Jesus, men found victory over the terrors of the age.

(iii) Men found in Christ the hope of victory over death. They found in Him, at one and the same time, strength for mortal things and the immortal hope. Christ, our hope, was—and still should be—the battle-cry of the Church.

It is to Timothy that this letter is sent, and Paul was never able to speak of him without affection in his voice.

Timothy was a native of Lystra in the province of Galatia. It was a Roman colony; it called itself "the most brilliant colony of Lystra," but in reality it was a little place at the ends of the civilized earth. Its importance was that there was a Roman garrison quartered there to keep control of the wild tribes of the Isaurian mountains which lay beyond. It was on the first missionary journey that Paul and Barnabas arrived there. ( Acts 14:8-21 ) At that time there is no mention of Timothy; but it has been suggested that, when Paul was in Lystra, he found a lodging in Timothy's home, in view of the fact that he knew well the faith and devotion of Timothy's mother Eunice and of his grandmother Lois,

2 Timothy 1:5 (RSV)
5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lo'is and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you.

On that first visit Timothy must have been very young, but the Christian faith laid hold upon him, and Paul became his hero. It was at Paul's visit to Lystra on the second missionary journey that life began for Timothy,

Acts 16:1-3 (RSV)
1 And he came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brethren at Lystra and Ico'nium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews that were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

Young as he was, he had become one of the ornaments of the Christian Church in Lystra. There was such a charm and enthusiasm in the lad that all men spoke well of him. To Paul, he seemed the very man to be his assistant. Maybe even then he had dreams that this lad was the very person to train to take up his work when his day was over.

Timothy was the child of a mixed marriage; his mother was a Jewess, and his father a Greek. Paul circumcised him. It was not that Paul was a slave of the law, or that he saw in circumcision any special virtue; but he knew well that if Timothy was to work amongst the Jews, there would be an initial prejudice against him if he was uncircumcised, and so he took this step as a practical measure to increase Timothy's usefulness as an evangelist.

From that time forward Timothy was Paul's constant companion. He was left behind at Beroea with Silas when Paul escaped to Athens, and later joined him there,

Acts 17:14-15 (RSV)
14 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. 15 Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed.

Acts 18:5 (RSV)
5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedo'nia, Paul was occupied with preaching, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus.

He was sent as Paul's emissary to Macedonia,

Acts 19:22 (RSV)
22 And having sent into Macedo'nia two of his helpers, Timothy and Eras'tus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.

He was there when the collection from the Churches was being taken to Jerusalem,

Acts 20:4 (RSV)
4 Sop'ater of Beroe'a, the son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalo'nians, Aristar'chus and Secun'dus; and Ga'ius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tych'icus and Troph'imus.

He was with Paul in Corinth when Paul wrote his letter to Rome,

Romans 16:21 (RSV)
21 Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosip'ater, my kinsmen.

He was Paul's emissary to Corinth when there was trouble in that unruly Church,

1 Corinthians 4:17 (RSV)
17 Therefore I sent to you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.

1 Corinthians 16:10 (RSV)
10 When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am.

He was with Paul when he wrote 2 Corinthians,

2 Corinthians 1:1 (RSV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother. To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Acha'ia:

2 Corinthians 1:19 (RSV)
19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you, Silva'nus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No; but in him it is always Yes.

It was Timothy whom Paul sent to see how things were going in Thessalonica and he was with Paul when he wrote his letter to that Church,

1 Thessalonians 1:1 (RSV)
1 Paul, Silva'nus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalo'nians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

1 Thessalonians 3:2 (RSV)
2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's servant in the gospel of Christ, to establish you in your faith and to exhort you,

1 Thessalonians 3:6 (RSV)
6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you --

He was with Paul in prison when he wrote to Philippi, and Paul was planning to send him to Philippi as his representative,

Philippians 1:1 (RSV)
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philip'pi, with the bishops and deacons:

Philippians 2:19 (RSV)
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be cheered by news of you.

He was with Paul when he wrote to the Church at Colossae and to Philemon,

Colossians 1:1 (RSV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

Philemon 1:1 (RSV)
1 Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Phile'mon our beloved fellow worker

Constantly Timothy was by Paul's side, and when Paul had a difficult job to do Timothy was the man sent to do it.

Over and over again Paul's voice vibrates with affection when he speaks of Timothy. When he is sending him to that sadly divided Church at Corinth, he writes:

1 Corinthians 4:17 (RSV)
17 Therefore I sent to you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.

When he is planning to send him to Philippi, he writes:

Philippians 2:20, 22 (RSV)
20 I have no one like him, who will be genuinely anxious for your welfare…
22 But Timothy's worth you know, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.

Here he calls him "his true son." The word that he uses for "true" is gnesios. It has two meanings. It was the normal word for a legitimate child in contradistinction to illegitimate. It was the word for genuine, as opposed to counterfeit.

Timothy was the man whom Paul could trust and could send anywhere, knowing that he would go. Happy indeed is the leader who possesses a lieutenant like that. Timothy is our example of how we should serve in the faith. Christ and his Church need servants like that, and deserve servants like that.

Paul always began his letters with a blessing,

Romans 1:7 (RSV)
7 To all God's beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:3 (RSV)
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:2 (RSV)
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 1:3 (RSV)
3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ,

Ephesians 1:2 (RSV)
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:2 (RSV)
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1:2 (RSV)
2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ at Colos'sae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

1 Thessalonians 1:1 (RSV)
1 Paul, Silva'nus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalo'nians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

2 Thessalonians 1:2 (RSV)
2 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philemon 1:3 (RSV)
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

In all these other letters only Grace and Peace occur. It is only in the letters to Timothy that Mercy is used,

2 Timothy 1:2 (RSV)
2 To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Titus 1:4 (KJV)
4 To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Let us look at these three great words.

(i) In Grace there are always three dominant ideas.

(a) In classical Greek the word means outward grace or favor, beauty, winsomeness, sweetness. Usually, although not always, it is applied to persons. The English word charm comes near to expressing its meaning. Grace is characteristically a LOVELY and a winsome thing.

(b) In the New Testament there is always the idea of sheer generosity. Grace is something unearned and undeserved. It is opposed to that which is a debt. Paul says that if it is a case of earning things, the reward is not a matter of grace, but of debt,

Romans 4:4 (KJV)
4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

It is opposed to works. Paul says that God's election of his chosen people is not the consequence of works, but of grace,

Romans 11:16 (RSV)
16 If the dough offered as first fruits is holy, so is the whole lump; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

(c) In the New Testament there is always the idea of sheer universality. Again and again Paul uses the word grace in connection with the reception of the Gentiles into the family of God. He thanks God for the grace given to the Corinthians in Jesus Christ,

1 Corinthians 1:4 (RSV)
4 I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus,

He talks of the grace of God bestowed on the Churches of Macedonia,

2 Corinthians 8:1 (RSV)
1 We want you to know, brethren, about the grace of God which has been shown in the churches of Macedo'nia,

He talks of the Galatians being called into the grace of Christ,

Galatians 1:6 (RSV)
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel --

The hope which came to the Thessalonians came through grace,

2 Thessalonians 2:16 (RSV)
16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,

It was God's grace which made Paul an apostle to the Gentiles,

1 Corinthians 15:10 (RSV)
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me.

It was by the grace of God that he moved amongst the Corinthians,

2 Corinthians 1:2 (RSV)
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

It was by grace that God called him and separated him from his mother's womb,

Galatians 1:15 (RSV)
15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace,

It is the grace given to him by God which enables him to write boldly to the Church at Rome,

Romans 15:15 (RSV)
15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God

To Paul the great demonstration of the grace of God was the reception of the Gentiles into the Church and his apostleship to them.

Grace is a LOVELY thing; it is a free thing; and it is a universal thing. As F. J. Hort wrote so beautifully:

"Grace is a comprehensive word, gathering up all that may be supposed to be expressed in the smile of a heavenly king, looking down upon his people."

(ii) Peace was the normal Jewish word of greeting, and, in Hebrew thought, it expresses, not simply the negative absence of trouble, but "the most comprehensive form of well-being." It is everything which makes for a person's highest good. It is the state a person is in when we are within the LOVE of God. F. J. Hort writes:

"Peace is the antithesis to every kind of conflict and war and molestation, to enmity without and distraction within."

"Bowed down beneath a load of sin, By Satan sorely pressed,

By war without and fears within, I come to thee for rest."

(iii) Mercy is the new word in the apostolic blessing. In Greek the word is eleos, and in Hebrew chesed. Now chesedh is the word which is often in the Old Testament translated loving-kindness; and when Paul prayed for mercy on Timothy, he is saying, to put it very simply, "Timothy, may God be good to you." But there is more to it than that. Chesed is used in the Psalms no fewer than one hundred and twenty-seven times. And time and time again it has the meaning of help in time of need. It denotes, as Parry puts it, "God's active intervention to help." As Hort puts it,

"It is the coming down of the Most High to help the helpless."

The Psalmist rejoices,

Psalm 40:11 (RSV)
11 Do not thou, O LORD, withhold thy mercy from me, let thy steadfast love and thy faithfulness ever preserve me!


Psalm 57:3 (RSV)
3 He will send from heaven and save me, he will put to shame those who trample upon me. [Selah] God will send forth his steadfast love and his faithfulness!


Psalm 86:14-16 (RSV)
14 O God, insolent men have risen up against me; a band of ruthless men seek my life, and they do not set thee before them. 15 But thou, O Lord, art a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. 16 Turn to me and take pity on me; give thy strength to thy servant, and save the son of thy handmaid.

He thinks of the forces of the evil men which are arrayed against him, and comforts himself with the thought that God is "abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness." It is by God's abundant mercy that he has given us the living hope of the resurrection,

1 Peter 1:3 (RSV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

The Gentiles should glorify God for that mercy which has rescued them from sin and hopelessness,

Romans 15:9 (RSV)
9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore I will praise thee among the Gentiles, and sing to thy name";

God's mercy is God active to save. It may well be that Paul added Mercy to his two usual words, Grace and Peace, because Timothy was up against it and he wanted in one word to tell him that the Most High was the help of the helpless.

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


March 29, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The Second Epistle of Peter: Part Ten”

2 Peter 3:10-18 (RSV)
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up. 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire! 13 But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15 And count the forbearance of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, beware lest you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Let us pray,

O Lord God, who sees that we put not our trust in anything that we do: Mercifully grant that by Thy omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence we may be defended against all our adversaries, including our often own foolish behavior and will, and through all our adversities as well; grant us to ever be humble, teachable, kind, LOVING, and obedient to Your word, guide us today and every day as we study your word the holy word the Bible.

We pray for our Church, all Christian Churches, all communities, our country, and the world during this modern-day pandemic, with the Corna-virus. We do not know why this is happening now, and we need not know. But we pray with all our hearts that You would intervene in this terrible time, bless the wisdom, skill, and health of all those in the medical health field, bring speedily a vaccine or medicine that can bring victory over this virus. Heal those who are sick, comfort those who have died or are dying. Comfort families, friends, and LOVED ones, in this unprecedented time in human history.  Lord help us…

 In Jesus most blessed name, Amen and Eternally Amen…….

It inevitably happens that we speak and think in the terms which we know. That is what Peter is doing here. He is speaking of the New Testament doctrine of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, but he is describing it in terms of the Old Testament doctrine of the Day of the Lord.

The Day of the Lord is a conception which runs all through the prophetic books of the Old Testament. The Jews saw time in terms of two ages—this present age, which is wholly bad and past remedy  (( which I think we are understanding about our own present society!!! )); and the age to come, which is the golden age of God. How was the one to turn into the other? The change could not come about by human effort or by a process of development, for the world was on the way to destruction. As the Jews saw it and as the Bible fully teaches, there was only one way in which the change could happen; it must be by the direct intervention of God. The time of that intervention they called the Day of the Lord. It was to come without warning. It was to be a time when the universe was shaken to its foundations. It was to be a time when the judgment and obliteration of sinners would come to pass and, therefore, it would be a time of terror.

Isaiah 13:9 (RSV)
9 Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the earth a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it.

Joel 2:1-2 (RSV)
1 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming, it is near, 2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations.

Zephaniah 1:14-18 (RSV)
14 The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter, the mighty man cries aloud there. 15 A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, 16 a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements. 17 I will bring distress on men, so that they shall walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the LORD; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. 18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the LORD. In the fire of his jealous wrath, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full, yea, sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.

Isaiah 13:10-13 (RSV)
10 For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising and the moon will not shed its light. 11 I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pride of the arrogant, and lay low the haughtiness of the ruthless. 12 I will make men more rare than fine gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir. 13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at the wrath of the LORD of hosts in the day of his fierce anger.

What Peter and many of the New Testament writers did through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit was to identify the Old Testament pictures of the Day of the Lord with the New Testament conception of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Peter's picture here of the Second Coming of Jesus is drawn in terms of the Old Testament picture of the Day of the Lord.

He uses one very vivid phrase. He says that the heavens will pass away with a crackling roar (roizedon). That word is used for the whirring of a bird's wings in the air, for the sound a spear makes as it hurtles through the air, for the crackling of the flames of a forest fire.

One thing has to be held in the memory. The whole conception of the Second Coming is full of immense difficulty and ultimate despair for the Lost and final great joy for the Saints. But this is sure—there comes a day when God breaks into every life, for there comes a day when we must die; and for that day we must be prepared. We may say what we will about the Coming of Christ as a future event; we may feel it is a doctrine we have to lay on one side; but we cannot escape from the certainty of the entry of God into our own experience.

Hebrews 9:27 (RSV)
27 And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment,

Whether we die or Christ returns first, WE WILL MEET OUR MAKER, and He will either be our JUDGE or our MOST BELOVED and BLESSED SAVIOR………………………………..

The one thing in which Peter is supremely interested is the moral dynamic of the Second Coming. Since these things are going to happen and the world is hastening to judgment, obviously a person, we, must live a life of piety and of holiness. Not because our good works save us, BECAUSE THEY, NOT A ONE OF OUR OWN WORKS OR DEEDS CAN SAVE US:

Titus 3:5-8 (RSV)
5 he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, 6 which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7 so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is sure. I desire you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to apply themselves to good deeds; these are excellent and profitable to men.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (RSV)
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God -- 9 not because of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

But it is our obligation of LOVE that we willingly and joyfully make EVERY EFFORT to live Holy and devout lives for our God and to obey and live out in practical, authentic ways what His inerrant, infallible word the Holy Bible says!!!!!!! And not what we think it says, or even what a well-liked commentary might say it means, but obey and live out WHAT IT ACTUALLY DECLARES!!!!!!! So that we can be a Light, a reflective Light mind you, of God’s LOVE, but non-the-less a Light of hope and salvation, for those around us!!!

Matthew 5:14-16 (RSV)
14 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.
15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

John 9:5 (RSV)
5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

If there are to be a new heaven and a new earth and if that heaven and earth are to be the home of righteousness, obviously we must seek with all our minds and hearts and souls and strength to be fit to be a dweller in that new world.

That is what God means, when He inspires Paul to write:

Philippians 2:12 (RSV)
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

Or as James says,

James 1:22 (RSV)
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

And again,

James 2:14 (RSV)
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?

Our works and deeds can never save us, nor can they maintain our salvation in anyway; however, how we live our lives, how we genuinely LOVE others, even our enemies, IS PERHAPS THE ONLY LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST THAT A PERSON WILL EVER SEE!!! What a glorious obligation of our LOVE for Our Lord, God, and Savior…….Jesus the Christ!!!!!!!

To Peter, as Moffatt rightly puts it,

"it was impossible to give up the hope of the advent without ethical deterioration."

Peter was right. If there is nothing in the nature of the Second Coming, nothing in the nature of a goal to which the whole creation moves, then life is going nowhere. That, in fact, was the heathen position. If there is no goal, either for the world or for the individual life, other than extinction, certain attitudes to life become well-nigh inevitable. These attitudes emerge in heathen epitaphs.

(i) If there is nothing to come, a man may well decide to make what he can of the pleasures of this world. So we come on an epitaph like this:

"I was nothing: I am nothing. So thou who art still alive, eat, drink, and be merry."

(ii) If there is nothing to live for, a man may well be utterly indifferent. Nothing matters much if the end of everything is extinction, in which a man will not even be aware that he is extinguished. So we come on such an epitaph as this:

"Once I had no existence; now I have none. I am not aware of it. It does not Concern me."

(iii) If there is nothing to live for but extinction and the world is going nowhere, there can enter into life a kind of lostness. Man ceases to be in any sense a pilgrim for there is nowhere to which he can make pilgrimage. He must simply drift in a kind of lostness, coming from nowhere and on the way to nowhere. So we come on an epigram like that of Callimachus.

"Charidas, what is below?" "Deep darkness." "But what of the paths upward?" "All a lie." "And Pluto?" (The God of the underworld). "Mere talk." "Then we're lost."

Even the heathen found a certain almost intolerable quality in a life without a goal.

In the doctrine of the Second Coming there is a blessed truth, a marvelous truth, it conserves that LIFE IS INDEED GOING SOMEWHERE—and without that conviction there is nothing to live for.

There is in this passage still another great conception. Peter speaks of the Christian as not only eagerly awaiting the Coming of Christ but as actually hastening it on. The New Testament tells us certain ways in which this may be done.

(i) It may be done by prayer. Jesus taught us to pray:

Matthew 6:10 (RSV)
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

The earnest prayer of the Christian heart hastens the coming of the King. If in no other way, it does so in this—that we who pray open our own hearts for the entry of the King.

(ii) It may be done by preaching.  Matthew tells us that Jesus said,

Matthew 24:14 (RSV)
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come.

All humanity must be given the chance to know and to LOVE Jesus Christ before the end of creation is reached. The missionary activity of the Church is the hastening of the coming of the King.

((( God bless all our missionaries and all those who share the Gospel of Jesus Christ!!! )))

(iii) It may be done by penitence and obedience. Of all things this would be nearest to Peter's mind and heart. The Rabbis had two sayings: "It is the sins of the people which prevent the coming of the Messiah. If the Jews would genuinely repent for one day, the Messiah would come." The other form of the saying means the same: "If Israel would perfectly keep the law for one day, the Messiah would come." In true penitence and in real obedience a person opens their own heart to the coming of the King and brings nearer that coming throughout the world. We do well to remember that our coldness of heart and our disobedience delay the coming of the King.

((((((( Ouch……………………..That hurts!!!!!!! )))))))…….It should!!!

Peter here cites Paul as teaching the same things as he himself teaches. It may be that he is citing Paul as agreeing that a pious and a holy life is necessary in view of the approaching Second Coming of the Lord. More likely, he is citing Paul as agreeing that the fact that God withholds His hand is to be regarded not as indifference on God's part but as an opportunity to repent and to accept Jesus Christ. Paul speaks of those who despise the riches of God's goodness and forbearance and patience, forgetting that his kindness is designed to lead people to repentance,

Romans 2:4 (RSV)
4 Or do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

More than once Paul stresses the forbearance and the patience of God,

Romans 3:25 (RSV)
25 whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins;

Romans 9:22 (RSV)
22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction,

Both Peter and Paul were agreed that the fact that God withholds his hand is never to be used as an excuse for sinning but always as a means of repentance and an opportunity of improvement.

With its reference to Paul and its tinge of criticism of him, this is one of the most intriguing passages in the New Testament. It was this passage which made John Calvin certain that Peter did not himself write Second Peter because, he says, Peter would never have spoken about Paul like this. What do we learn from it?

(i) We learn that Paul's letters by this time were known and used throughout the Church. They are spoken of in such a way as to make it clear that they have been collected and published, and that they are generally available and widely read. We are fairly certain that it was about the year A.D. 90 that Paul's letters were collected and published in Ephesus. This means that Second Peter cannot have been written before that and, therefore, cannot be of the physical hand of Peter, who was martyred in the middle sixties of the century.

(ii) It tells us that Paul's letters have come to be regarded as Scripture. The misguided men twist them as they do the other Scriptures. This again goes to prove that Second Peter must come from a time well on in the history of the early Church, for it would take many generations for the letters of Paul to rank alongside the Scriptures of the Old Testament.

(iii) It is a little difficult to determine just what the attitude to Paul is in this passage. He is writing "in the wisdom which has been given to him." Bigg says neatly that this phrase can be equally a commendation or a caution! The truth is that Paul suffered the fate of all outstanding men. He had his critics. He suffered the fate of all who fearlessly face and fearlessly state the truth. Some regarded him as great but dangerous.

(iv) There are things in Paul's letters which are hard to understand and which ignorant people twist to their own ruin. The word used for hard to understand is (dusnoetos), which is used of the utterance of an oracle. The utterances of Greek oracles were always ambiguous. There is the classic example of the king about to go to war who consulted the oracle at Delphi and was given the answer:

"If you go to war, you will destroy a great nation."

He took this as a prophecy that he would destroy his enemies; but it happened that he was so utterly defeated that by going to war he destroyed his own country. This was typical of the dangerous ambiguity of the ancient oracles. It is that very word which Peter uses of the writings of Paul. They have things in them which are as difficult to interpret as the ambiguous utterance of an oracle.

Not only, Peter says, are there things in Paul's writings that are hard to understand; there are things which a man may twist to his own destruction. Three things come immediately to mind. Paul's doctrine of grace was twisted into an excuse and even a reason for sin ( Romans 6 ). Paul's doctrine of Christian freedom was twisted into an excuse for unchristian license,

Galatians 5:13 (RSV)
13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another.

Paul's doctrine of faith was twisted into an argument that Christian action was unimportant, as we see in James,

James 2:14-26 (RSV)
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. 18 But some one will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe -- and shudder. 20 Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, 23 and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.

G. K. Chesterton once said that orthodoxy was like walking along a narrow ridge; one step to either side was a step to disaster. Jesus is God and man; God is LOVE and holiness; Christianity is grace and morality; the Christian lives in this world and lives in the world of eternity. Overstress either side of these great two-sided truths, and at once destructive heresy emerges. One of the most tragic things in life is when a person twists Christian truth and Holy Scripture into an excuse and even a reason for doing what they want to do instead of taking them as guides for doing what God wants them, us, to do.

In conclusion Peter tells us certain things about the Christian life.

(i) The Christian is a person who is forewarned. That is to say, We cannot plead ignorance. We know the right way and its rewards; we know the wrong way and its disasters. We have no right to expect an easy way, for we have been told that Christianity means a cross, and we have been warned that there will always be those who are ready to attack and to pervert the faith. To be forewarned is to be forearmed; but to be forewarned is also a grave responsibility, for we who know the right and does the wrong is under a double condemnation.

James 4:17 (RSV)
17 Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

(ii) The Christian is a person with a basis for life. We ought to be rooted and founded in the faith. There are certain things of which we as genuine Christians can be absolutely certain. James Agate once declared that his mind was not a bed to be made and remade but that on certain things it was finally made up. There is a certain inflexibility in the Christian life; there is a certain basis of belief which never changes. The Christian will never cease to believe that, "Jesus Christ is Lord",

Philippians 2:11 (RSV)
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

That Jesus is our Lord and God,

John 20:28 (RSV)
28 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"

That Jesus is the ONLY Savior for ALL OF HUMANKIND!!!

John 14:6 (RSV)
6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.

Acts 4:12 (RSV)
12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."


Matthew 4:4 (RSV)
4 But he answered, "It is written, `Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"

We must never cease to be aware that there is laid on us the obligation of LOVE to make our lives fit our FAITH!!!!!!!

(iii) The Christian are men, women, and children with developing lives. The inflexibility of the Christian life is not the rigidity of death. The Christian must daily experience the wonder of grace, and daily grow in the gifts which grace can bring; and we must daily enter more and more deeply into the wonder which is in Jesus Christ. It is only on a firm foundation that a great building can tower into the air; and it is only because it has a deep root that a great tree can reach out to the sky with its branches. The Christian life is at once a life with a firm foundation and with an ever outward and upward growth.

1 Corinthians 3:11 (RSV)
11 For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

The only foundation for a TRUE Christian is Jesus Christ!!! And if we do not believe Jesus is and must be the foundation for ALL people, CAN WE REALLY BE CHRISTIANS???????

And so the letter finishes by giving glory to Christ, both now and to the end of time.

Amen and ETERNALLY AMEN!!!!!!!

Now that we have gone through First and Second Peter verse by verse we will continue in this vein by going through First and Second Timothy……………All being dependent on the will of God!!!!!!! The Lord Jesus Christ be with you all…….

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


March 22, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The Second Epistle of Peter: Part Nine”

2 Peter 3:1-9 (RSV)
1 This is now the second letter that I have written to you, beloved, and in both of them I have aroused your sincere mind by way of reminder; 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles. 3 First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation." 5 They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago, and an earth formed out of water and by means of water, 6 through which the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist have been stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Oh Lord God YHWH, who has prepared for them who genuinely LOVE You such magnificent things as pass all of our understanding and comprehension; Pour into our hearts such LOVE toward You, that we, LOVING You above all things, may obtain Your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; open our minds to your holy and precious word today, and help us to not leave this place today without the wisdom to go forward and serve you and LOVE all of your creation as You do.

Lord we know this sinful world deserves the Corona-virus and worse, but still, we pray for your healing touch on this world, our country, save us from our selves, save us from this pandemic.

Through Jesus Christ we pray, Amen and Eternally Amen……………..

Lord, please bless and save all the children of the world, protect them, and LOVE them……………..

In this passage we see clearly displayed the principles of preaching which Peter observed.

(i) He believed in the value of repetition. He knows that it is necessary for a thing to be said over and over again if it is to penetrate the mind. When Paul was writing to the Philippians, he said that to repeat the same thing over and over again was not a weariness to him, and for them it was the only safe way,

Philippians 3:1 (RSV)
1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is not irksome to me, and is safe for you.

***It is by continued repetition that the rudiments of knowledge are settled in the mind of the child. There is something of significance here. It may well be that often we are too desirous of novelty, too eager to say, or hear new things, when what is needed is a repetition of the eternal truths which people so quickly forget and whose significance they so often refuse to see. There are certain foods of which a person does not get tired of; necessary for our daily sustenance they are set before us every day. We speak about a man's daily bread and there are certain great Christian truths which have to be repeated again and again and which must never be pushed into the background in the desire for novelty or innovation or perceived freshness.

(ii) Peter’s God and ours believe in the need for reminders. Again and again the New Testament makes it clear that preaching and teaching are so often not the introducing of new truth but the reminding of a person of what they, we, already know. Moffatt quotes a saying of Dr. Johnson:

"It is not sufficiently considered that men more frequently require to be reminded than informed."

The Greeks spoke of "time which wipes all things out," as if the human mind were a slate and time a sponge which passes across it with a certain erasing quality. We are so often in the position of people whose need is not so much to be taught as to be reminded of what we already know.

(iii) Peter believed in the value of a compliment. It is his intention to rouse their pure mind. The word he uses for pure is (eilikrines), which may have either of two meanings. It may mean that which is sifted until there is no admixture of chaff left; or it may mean that which is so flawless that it may be held up to the light of the sun. Plato uses this same phrase—(eilikrines) (dianoia)—in the sense of pure reason, reason which is unaffected by the seductive influence of the senses. By using this phrase Peter appeals to his people as having minds uncontaminated by heresy. It is as if he said to them: "You really are fine people—if you would only remember it." The approach of the preacher should so often be that his hearers are not wretched creatures who deserve to be damned but splendid creatures who must be saved.

((( This is also true for those who share their faith with others. Most Sinners do not need to be told they are Sinners, whether they admit it or not, THEY KNOW, what they need to be told is GOD LOVES THEM ABSOLUTELY, and GOD CAN SAVE THEM RIGHT NOW!!! )))

They are not so much like rubbish fit to be burned as like jewels to be rescued from the mud into which they have fallen. Donald Hankey tells of "the beLOVED captain" whose men would follow him anywhere. He looked at them and they looked at him, and they were filled with the determination to be what he believed them to be. We always get further with people when we believe in them than when we despise them.

(iv) Peter believed in the unity of Scripture. As he saw it there was a pattern in Scripture; and the Bible was a book centered in Jesus Christ. The Old Testament foretells the coming of the Christ; the gospels tell of Jesus The Christ; and the apostles bring the message of that Christ to mankind!!!

1 Corinthians 3:11 (RSV)
11 For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

The characteristic of the heretics which worried Peter most of all was their denial of the Second Coming of Jesus. Literally, their question was: "Where is the promise of his Coming?" That was a form of Hebrew expression which implied that the thing asked about did not exist at all. "Where is the God of justice?" asked the evil men of Malachi's day,

Malachi 2:17 (RSV)
17 You have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet you say, "How have we wearied him?" By saying, "Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them." Or by asking, "Where is the God of justice?"

"Where is your God?" the heathen demanded of the Psalmist,

Psalm 42:3 (RSV)
3 My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me continually, "Where is your God?"

Psalm 79:10 (RSV)
10 Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?" Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of thy servants be known among the nations before our eyes!

"Where is the word of the Lord?" his enemies asked Jeremiah,

Jeremiah 17:15 (RSV)
15 Behold, they say to me, "Where is the word of the LORD? Let it come!"

In every case the implication of the question is that the thing or the person asked about does not exist. The heretics of Peter's day were denying that Jesus Christ would ever come again. It will be best here at the beginning to summarize their argument and Peter's answer to it.

The argument of Peter's opponents was twofold,

2 Peter 3:4 (RSV)
4 and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation."

"What has happened," they demanded, "to the promise of the Second Coming?" Their first argument was that the promise had been so long delayed that it was safe to take it that it would never be fulfilled. Their second assertion was that their fathers had died and the world was going on precisely as it always did. Their argument was that this was characteristically a stable universe and convulsive upheavals like the Second Coming did not happen in such a universe.

Peter's response is also twofold. He deals with the second argument first,

2 Peter 3:5-7 (RSV)
5 They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago, and an earth formed out of water and by means of water, 6 through which the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist have been stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

His argument is that, in fact, this is not a stable universe, that once it was destroyed by water in the time of the Flood and that a second destruction, this time by fire, is on the way.

The second part of his reply is,

2 Peter 3:8-9 (RSV)
8 But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

His opponents speak of a delay so long that they can safely assume that the Second Coming is not going to happen at all. Peter's is a double answer. (a) We must see time as God sees it. With him a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day. "God does not pay every Friday night." (b) In any event God's apparent slowness to act is not dilatoriness, negligent. It is, in fact, mercy. He holds his hand in order to give sinning men, women, and children another chance to repent and find salvation.

Peter goes on to his conclusion,

2 Peter 3:10 (RSV)
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.

The Second Coming is on the way and it will come with a sudden terror and destruction which will dissolve the universe in melting heat.

*******Dissolving that which is polluted by SIN and DECAY, and that which remains will be reborn, renewed, to it’s pure created and eternal state!!!*******

Finally comes Peter’s practical demand in face of all this. If we are living in a universe on which Jesus Christ is going to descend and which is hastening towards the destruction of the wicked, surely it behaves us to live in holiness so that we may be ready when the terrible day does come. The Second Coming is used as a tremendous motive for moral amendment so that we may prepare ourselves to meet THE GOD.

Such, then, is the general scheme of this chapter and now we look at it section by section.

Peter's first argument is that the world is not eternally stable. The point he is making is that the ancient world was destroyed by water, just as the present world is going to be destroyed by fire. The detail of this passage is, however, difficult.

He says that the earth was composed out of water and through water. According to the Genesis story in the beginning there was a kind of watery chaos.

Genesis 1:2 (RSV)
2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:6 (RSV)
6 And God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters."

Out of this watery chaos the world was formed. Further, it is through water that the world is sustained, because life is sustained by the rain which comes down from the skies. What Peter means is that the world was created out of water and is sustained by water; and it was through this same element that the ancient world was destroyed.

Further to clarify this passage we have to note that the flood story developed. As so often in Second Peter and Jude the picture behind this comes not directly from the Old Testament but from the Book of Enoch. In Enoch 83: 3-5 Enoch has a vision:

"I saw in a vision how the heaven collapsed and fell to the earth, and, where it fell to the earth, I saw how the earth was swallowed up in a great abyss."

In the later stories the flood involved not only the obliteration of sinners but the total destruction of heaven and earth. So the warning which Peter is giving may be put like this: "You say that as things are, so they have ever been and so they ever will be. You build your hopes on the idea that this is an unchanging universe. You are wrong, for the ancient world was formed out of water and was sustained by water, and it perished in the flood."

We are left with this permanent truth that the person who will read history with open eyes can see within it the moral law at work and God's dealings with mankind.

Froude, one of the great historians, said that history is a voice sounding across the centuries that in the end it is always ill with the wicked and well with the good.

When Oliver Cromwell was arranging his son Richard's education, he said, "I would have him know a little history." In fact, the lesson of history is that there is a moral order in the universe and that he who defies it does so at his peril.

It is Peter's conviction that, as the ancient world was destroyed by water, the present world will be destroyed by fire. He says that that is stated "by the same word." What he means is that the Old Testament tells of the flood in the past and warns of the destruction by fire in the future. There are many passages in the prophets which Peter took  literally and which must have been in his mind. Joel foresaw a time when God would show blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke,

Joel 2:30 (RSV)
30 "And I will give portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.

The Psalmist has a picture in which, when God comes, a devouring fire shall precede him,

Psalm 50:3 (RSV)
3 Our God comes, he does not keep silence, before him is a devouring fire, round about him a mighty tempest.

Isaiah speaks of a flame of devouring fire,

Isaiah 29:6 (RSV)
6 you will be visited by the LORD of hosts with thunder and with earthquake and great noise, with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of a devouring fire.

Isaiah 30:30 (RSV)
30 And the LORD will cause his majestic voice to be heard and the descending blow of his arm to be seen, in furious anger and a flame of devouring fire, with a cloudburst and tempest and hailstones.

The Lord will come with fire; by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh,

Isaiah 66:15-16 (RSV)
15 "For behold, the LORD will come in fire, and his chariots like the stormwind, to render his anger in fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. 16 For by fire will the LORD execute judgment, and by his sword, upon all flesh; and those slain by the LORD shall be many.

Nahum has it that the hills melt and the earth is burned at his presence; his fury is poured out like fire,

Nahum 1:5-6 (RSV)
5 The mountains quake before him, the hills melt; the earth is laid waste before him, the world and all that dwell therein. 6 Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken asunder by him.

In the picture of Malachi the day of the Lord shall burn as an oven,

Malachi 4:1 (RSV)
1 "For behold, the day comes, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.

Peter has plenty of material for his prophecy…….

The Stoics also had a doctrine of the destruction of the world by fire; but it was a grim thing. They held that the universe completed a cycle; that it was consumed in flames; and that everything then started all over again, exactly as it was. They had the strange idea that at the end of the cycle the planets were in exactly the same position as when the world began. "This produces the conflagration and destruction of everything which exists," says Chrysippus. He goes on: "Then again the universe is restored anew in a precisely similar arrangement as before...Socrates and Plato and each individual man will live again, with the same friends and fellow-citizens. They will go through the same experiences and the same activities. Every city and village and field will be restored, just as it was. And this restoration of the universe takes place, not once, but over and over again—indeed to all eternity without end.... For there will never be any new thing other than that which has been before, but everything is repeated down to the minutest detail." History as an eternal tread-mill, the unceasing recurrence of the sins, the sorrows and the mistakes of men—that is one of the grimmest views of history that the mind of man has ever conceived. ((( And just to make it clear, that is not biblical!!! )))

Hebrews 9:27 (RSV)
27 And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment,

No reincarnation, no past early lives, no pre-existence; one life, ONE JUDGMENT!!!

It must always be remembered and understood that, as the Jewish prophets saw it, and as Peter saw it, this world will be destroyed with the conflagration of God but the result will not be obliteration and the grim repetition of what has been before; the result will be a new heaven and a new earth. For the biblical view of the world there is something beyond destruction; there is the new creation of God. The worst that the prophet can conceive is not the death agony of the old world so much as the birth pangs of the new.

There are in this passage three great truths on which to nourish the mind and rest the heart.

(i) Time is not the same to God as it is to man. As the Psalmist had it:

Psalm 90:4 (RSV)
4 For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.

When we think of Eternity it is easy to feel dwarfed into insignificance; when we think of the slowness of human progress, it is easy to become discouraged into pessimism. There is comfort in the fact of God having all eternity to work in. It is only against the background of eternity that things appear in their true proportions and assume their real value.

(ii) We can also see from this passage that time is always to be regarded as an opportunity. As Peter saw it, the years God gave the world were a further opportunity for mankind to repent and turn to Him. Every day which comes to us is a gift of mercy. It is an opportunity to develop ourselves; to render some service to our fellow-men; to take one step nearer to God.

(iii) Finally, there is another echo of a truth which so often lies in the background of New Testament thought. God, says Peter, does not wish any to perish. God, says Paul, has shut them all up together in unbelief, that he might have mercy on all,

Romans 11:32 (RSV)
32 For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all.

Timothy in a tremendous phrase speaks of God who will have all men to be saved,

1 Timothy 2:4 (RSV)
4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Ezekiel hears God ask:

Ezekiel 18:23 (RSV)
23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?

Ever and again there shines in Scripture the glint of the larger hope. We are not forbidden to believe that somehow and some time the God who LOVES the world will bring the whole world to Himself.

John 3:16-17 (RSV)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

Though as Christians we understand, salvation is a LOVE relationship with Jesus Christ, and as much as He deserves our LOVE, LOVE is a free gift, and there are a plethora of people WHO WILL ULTIMATELY CHOOSE NOT TO LOVE HIM…….

God’s heart will truly ache on judgment day for the Lost, those who choose not to LOVE Him!!!

God grant us the desire and ability to share your LOVE with ALL THE WORLD!!!!!!! May we live our lives adamantly in an effort to draw ALL PEOPLE UNTO YOU in LOVE…………………In Jesus name, Amen and ETERNALLY AMEN…

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


March 15, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The Second Epistle of Peter: Part Eight”

2 Peter 2:12-22 (RSV)
12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and killed, reviling in matters of which they are ignorant, will be destroyed in the same destruction with them, 13 suffering wrong for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their dissipation, carousing with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15 Forsaking the right way they have gone astray; they have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Be'or, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a dumb ass spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet's madness. 17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm; for them the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved. 18 For, uttering loud boasts of folly, they entice with licentious passions of the flesh men who have barely escaped from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, The dog turns back to his own vomit, and the sow is washed only to wallow in the mire.

Let Thy merciful ears, O Lord God YHWH, be open to the prayers of Thy humble servants; that we may obtain our petitions, to LOVE Thee with our whole heart and being, to serve Thee with all our might, to LOVE  all of your creation as You do, to read and study Your Word the Bible, gleaning from it’s glorious pages wisdom and understanding that only Your Holy Spirit can supply us, and finally Lord, that we desire only that which pleases You from this day forward, in Jesus most magnificent name, Amen and Eternally Amen………………. 

Let us began today’s message:

Peter launches out into a long passage of magnificent invectives. Through it glows the fiery heat of flaming moral indignation. Evil people are like brute beasts, slaves of their animal instincts. But a beast is born only for capture and death, says Peter; it has no other destiny. Even so, there is something self-destroying in fleshly pleasure. To make such pleasure the be-all and the end-all of life is a suicidal policy and in the end even the pleasure is lost. The point Peter is making is this, and it is eternally valid—if a person dedicates their lives to these fleshly pleasures, in the end they ruin their bodily health and destroy their spiritual and mental character, and finally they cannot even enjoy their sinful appetites. The glutton destroys his appetite in the end, the drunkard his health and often his family, the sensualist his body and often that of their partner, the drug addict must take more and more drugs, ever increasing the quantity until they often over-dose and die, the self-indulgent his character and peace of mind.

These people regard daylight debauchery, dissipated reveling, abandoned carousing as pleasure. They are blots on the Christian fellowship; they are like the blemishes on an animal, which make it unfit to be offered to God. Once again we must note that what Peter is saying is not only religious truth but also sound common sense. The pleasures of the body are demonstrably subject to the law of diminishing returns. In themselves they lose their thrill, so that as time goes on it takes more and more of them to satisfy. The luxury must become ever more luxurious; the wine must flow ever more freely; everything must be done to make the thrill sharper and more intense. Further, a person becomes less and less able to enjoy these pleasures. They, those without Christ have given themselves to a life that has no future and so often to pleasure which ultimately has no end of pain……….

Peter goes on.

2 Peter 2:14 (RSV)
14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!

Peter uses an extraordinary phrase which, strictly, will not translate into English at all. We have translated it: "They have eyes full of adultery." The Greek literally is: "They have eyes which are full of an adulteress." Most probably the meaning is they see a possible adulteress in every woman, wondering how she can be persuaded to gratify their lusts. "The hand and the eye," said the Jewish teachers, "are the brokers of sin." As Jesus said, such people look in order to lust,

Matthew 5:28 (RSV)
28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

They have come to such a stage that they cannot look on anyone without lust's intention.

As Peter speaks of this, there is a terrible deliberateness about it. They have hearts trained in unbridled ambition for the things they have no right to have. We have taken a whole phrase to translate the one word (pleonexia) which means the desire to have more of the things which a person has no right even to desire, let alone have. The picture is a terrible one. The word used for trained is used for an athlete exercising himself for the games. These people have actually trained their minds to concentrate on nothing but the forbidden desire. They have deliberately fought with conscience until they have destroyed it; they have deliberately struggled with their finer feelings until they have strangled them.

There remains in this passage one further charge. It would be bad if these people deluded only themselves; it is worse that they delude others. They entrap souls not firmly founded in the faith. The word used for to entrap is (deleazein), which means to catch with a bait. A person becomes really bad when they set out to make others as bad as themselves. The hymn has it:

All the mischief we have wrought,

All forbidden things we've sought,

All the sin to others taught:

Forgive, O Lord, for Jesus' sake.

Every individual must bear the responsibility for their own sins, but to add to that the responsibility for the sins of others is to carry an intolerable burden.

Peter likens the evil person of his time to the prophet Balaam. In the popular Jewish mind Balaam had come to stand as the type of all false prophets. His story is told in Numbers chapters 22 thru 24. Balak, King of Moab, was alarmed at the steady and apparently irresistible advance of the Israelites. In an attempt to check it he sent for Balaam to come and curse the Israelites for him, offering him great rewards. To the end of the day Balaam refused to curse the Israelites, but his covetous heart longed after the rich rewards which Balak was offering. At Balak's renewed request Balaam played with fire enough to agree to meet him. On the way his ass stopped, because it saw the angel of the Lord standing in its path, and rebuked Balaam.

It is true that Balaam did not succumb to Balak's bribes, but if ever a man wanted to accept a bribe, that man was he. In Numbers chapter 25 there follows another story. It tells how the Israelites were seduced into the worship of Baal and into lustful alliances with Moabite women. Jewish belief was that Balaam was responsible for leading the children of Israel astray; and when the Israelites entered into possession of the land, "Balaam the son of Beor they slew with the sword"…

Numbers 31:8 (RSV)
8 They slew the kings of Mid'ian with the rest of their slain, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Mid'ian; and they also slew Balaam the son of Be'or with the sword.

In view of all this Balaam became increasingly the type of the false prophet. He had two characteristics which were repeated in the evil men of Peter's day.

(i) Balaam was covetous. As the Numbers story unfolds we can see his fingers itching to get at the gold of Balak. True, he did not take it; but the desire was there. The evil men of Peter's day were covetous; out for what they could get and ready to exploit their membership of the Church for gain.     ((( Again, sound familiar??? )))

(ii) Balaam taught Israel to sin. He led the people out of the straight and into the crooked way. He persuaded them to forget their promises to God. The evil men of Peter's day were seducing Christians from the Christian way and causing them to break the pledges of loyalty they had given to Jesus Christ.

The man who LOVES gain and who lures others to evil forever stands condemned. ((( Unless they truly repent and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior!!! )))

Peter is still rolling out his tremendous denunciation of the evil men, the evil people.

They flatter only to deceive. They are like wells with no water and like mists blown past by a squall of wind. Think of a traveler in the desert being told that ahead lies a spring where he can quench his thirst and then arriving at that spring to find it dried up and useless. Think of the husbandman praying for rain for his parched crops and then seeing the cloud that promised rain blown uselessly by. As Bigg has it:

"A teacher without knowledge is like a well without water."

James 3:1 (RSV)
1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness.

I constantly analyze my intentions as I preach or teach, and that is why, though some have complained, I share many scriptures as a validity of what I teach……………………. And also why I expect EACH OF YOU TO STUDY GOD'S WORD BEYOND WHAT YOU HEAR OR READ BY OTHERS!!!

But I digress………………………..

These men and even women are like Milton's shepherds whose "hungry sheep look up and are not fed." They promise a gospel and in the end have nothing to offer the thirsty soul.

Their teaching is a combination of arrogance and futility. Christian liberty always carries danger. Paul tells his people that they have indeed been called to liberty but that they must not use it for an occasion to the flesh,

Galatians 5:13 (RSV)
13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another.

Peter tells his people that indeed they are free but they must not use their freedom as a cloak of maliciousness,

1 Peter 2:16 (RSV)
16 Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God.

These false teachers offered freedom, but it was freedom to sin as much as a person liked. They appealed not to the best but to the worst in a man’s desires. Peter is quite clear that they did this because they were slaves to their own lusts. Seneca said,

"To be enslaved to oneself is the heaviest of all servitudes."

Persius spoke to the lustful debauchees of his day of

"the masters that grow up within that sickly breast of yours."

These teachers were offering liberty when they themselves were slaves, and the liberty they were offering was the liberty to become slaves of lust. Their message was arrogant because it was the contradiction of the message of Christ; it was futile because those who followed it would find themselves a slave. Here again in the background is the fundamental heresy which makes grace a justification for sin instead of a power and a summons to nobility.

If they have once known the real way of Christ and have relapsed into this, their case is even worse. They are like the man in the parable whose last state was worse than his first,

Matthew 12:45 (RSV)
45 Then he goes and brings with him seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. So shall it be also with this evil generation."

Luke 11:26 (RSV)
26 Then he goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first."

If a person has never known the right way, they cannot be condemned for not following it. But, if we have known it and then deliberately take the other way, we sin against the light; and it was better for us that we had never known the truth, for our knowledge of the truth has become our condemnation.


Romans 1:19-20 (RSV)
19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse;

We should never forget the responsibility which knowledge brings.

Peter ends with contempt. These evil men are like dogs who return to their vomit,

Proverbs 26:11 (RSV)
11 Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool that repeats his folly.

Like a sow which has been scrubbed and then goes back to rolling in the mud. They have seen Christ but are so morally degraded by their own choice that they prefer to wallow in the depths of sin rather than to climb the heights of virtue. It is a dreadful warning that men, women and even children can make themselves such that in the end the tentacles of sin are intimately around them and virtue for THEM, has lost its beauty.

Isaiah 5:20 (RSV)
20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Proverbs 17:15 (RSV)
15 He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD.

Malachi 3:14-15 (RSV)
14 You have said, `It is vain to serve God. What is the good of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the LORD of hosts? 15 Henceforth we deem the arrogant blessed; evildoers not only prosper but when they put God to the test they escape.'"

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


March 8, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The Second Epistle of Peter: Part Seven”

2 Peter 2:4-11 (RSV)
4 For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven other persons, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomor'rah to ashes he condemned them to extinction and made them an example to those who were to be ungodly; 7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the wicked 8 (for by what that righteous man saw and heard as he lived among them, he was vexed in his righteous soul day after day with their lawless deeds), 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and wilful, they are not afraid to revile the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a reviling judgment upon them before the Lord.

Let us open in prayer:

Almighty and supremely gracious merciful God, of whose gift it cometh that thy faithful people do unto Thee true and valiant service: Grant, we beseech Thee, that we may most faithfully serve Thee in this life, in prayer, in worship, in diligent study of your word, in caring for the needs of others, in sharing your LOVE with ALL, even those we perceive to be our enemies, and in holiness of heart, mind, and body; that we fail not to attain Thy heavenly promises; through the merits of Jesus Christ and Him alone, our only Lord, our only God, and our only eternal Savior, in Jesus name we pray, Amen and Eternally Amen………………

Here before us is a passage which combines undoubted power and equally undoubted obscurity. The white heat of its rhetorical intensity glows through it to this day; but it moves in allusions which would be terrifyingly effective to those who heard it for the first time, but which have become unfamiliar to us today. It cites three notorious examples of sin and its destruction; and in two of the cases it shows how, when sin was obliterated, righteousness was rescued and preserved by the mercy and the grace of God. Let us look at these examples one by one.

(1) The Sin of the Angels

Before we retell the story which lies behind this in Jewish legend, there are two separate words at which we must look.

Peter says that God condemned the sinning angels to the lowest depths of hell. Literally the Greek says that God condemned the angels to Tartarus (tartaroun). Tartarus was not a Hebrew conception but Greek. In Greek mythology Tartarus was the lowest hell; it was as far beneath Hades as the heaven is high above the earth. In particular it was the place into which there had been cast the Titans who had rebelled against Zeus, the Father of gods and men.

The second word is that which speaks of the pits of darkness. Here there is a doubt. There are two Greek words, both rather uncommon, which are confused in this passage. One is siros or seiros which originally meant a great earthenware jar for the storing of grain. Then it came to mean the great underground pits in which grain was stored and which served as granaries. Siros has come into English via Provencal in the form of silo, which still describes the towers in which grain is stored. Still later the word went on to mean a pit in which a wolf or other wild animal was trapped. If we think that this is the word which Peter uses, and according to the best manuscripts it is, it will mean that the wicked angels were cast into great subterranean pits and kept there in darkness and in punishment. This well suits the idea of a Tartarus beneath the lowest depths of Hades.

But there is a very similar word seira, which means a chain. This is the word which the King James Version translates when it speaks of chains of darkness,

2 Peter 2:4 (KJV)
4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

The Greek manuscripts of Second Peter vary between seiroi), pits, and seirai, chains. But the better manuscripts have seiroi, and pits of darkness makes better sense than chains of darkness; so we may take seiros as right, and assume that here the King James Version is in error.

The story of the fall of the angels is one which rooted itself deeply in Hebrew thought and which underwent much development as the years went on. The original story is:

Genesis 6:1-5 (RSV)
1 When men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, "My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years." 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.
5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

There the angels are called the sons of God, as they commonly are in the Old Testament. In Job, the sons of God come to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan comes amongst them,

Job 1:6 (RSV)
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.

Job 2:1 (RSV)
1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD.

Job 38:7 (RSV)
7 when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

The Psalmist speaks of the sons of gods,

Psalm 89:6 (KJV)
6 For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD?

These angels came to earth and seduced mortal women. The result of this lustful union was the race of giants; and through them wickedness came upon the earth. Clearly this is an old, old story belonging to the childhood of the race.

This story was much developed in the Book of Enoch, and it is from it that Peter is drawing his allusions, for in his day that was a book which everyone would know. In Enoch the angels are called The Watchers. Their leader in rebellion was Semjaza or Azazel. At his instigation they descended to Mount Hermon in the days of Jared, the father of Enoch. They took mortal wives and instructed them in magic and in arts which gave them power. They produced the race of the giants, and the giants produced the nephilim, the giants who inhabited the land of Canaan and of whom the people were afraid,

Numbers 13:33 (RSV)
33 And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim); and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them."

These giants became cannibals and were guilty of every kind of lust and crime, and especially of insolent arrogance to God and man. The apocryphal literature has many references to them and their pride.

Wisdom of Solomon 14:6 (KJVApocrypha)
6 For in the old time also, when the proud giants perished, the hope of the world governed by thy hand escaped in a weak vessel, and left to all ages a seed of generation.

Wisdom tells how the proud giants perished.

Sirach 16:7 (KJVApocrypha)
7 He was not pacified toward the old giants, who fell away in the strength of their foolishness.

Tells how the ancient giants fell away in the strength of their foolishness. They had no wisdom and they perished in their folly.

Baruch 3:26-28 (KJVApocrypha)
26 There were the giants famous from the beginning, that were of so great stature, and so expert in war. 27 Those did not the Lord choose, neither gave he the way of knowledge unto them: 28 But they were destroyed, because they had no wisdom, and perished through their own foolishness.

Josephus says that they were arrogant and contemptuous of all that was good and trusted in their own strength (Antiquities 1.3.1). Job says that God charged his angels with folly,

Job 4:18 (KJV)
18 Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly:

This old story makes a strange and fleeting appearance in the letters of Paul.

1 Corinthians 11:10 (RSV)
10 That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels.

Paul says that women must have their hair covered in the Church because of the angels. Behind that strange saying lies the old belief that it was the LOVEliness of the long hair of the women of the olden times which moved the angels to desire, and Paul wishes to see that the angels are not tempted again.

In the end even men complained of the sorrow and misery brought into the world by these giants through the sin of the angels. The result was that God sent out his archangels. Raphael bound Azazel hand and foot and shut him up in darkness; Gabriel slew the giants; and the Watchers, the sinning angels, were shut up in the abysses of darkness under the mountains for seventy generations and then confined for ever in everlasting fire. Here is the story which is probably in Peter's mind; and which his readers well knew. The angels had sinned and God had sent His destruction, and they were shut up forever in the pits of darkness and the depths of hell. That is what happens to rebellious sin.

The story does not stop there; and it reappears in another of its forms in this passage of Second Peter.

2 Peter 2:10 (RSV)
10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and wilful, they are not afraid to revile the glorious ones,

Peter speaks of those who live lives dominated by the polluting lusts of the flesh and who despise the glorious ones. The word is kuriotes), which is the name of one of the ranks of angels. They speak evil of the angelic glories. The word is doxai, which also is a word for one of the ranks of angels. They slander the angels and bring them into disrepute.

Here is where the second turn of the story comes in. Obviously this story of the angels is very primitive and, as time went on, it became rather an awkward and embarrassing story because of its ascription of lust to angels. So in later Jewish and Christian thought two lines of thought developed. First, it was denied that the story involved angels at all. The sons of God were said to be good men who were the descendants of Seth, and the daughters of men were said to be evil women who were the daughters of Cain and corrupted the good men. There is no scriptural evidence for this distinction and this way of escape. Second, the whole story was allegorized. It was claimed, for instance by Philo, that it was never meant to be taken literally and described the fall of the human soul under the attack of the seductions of lustful pleasures.

Augustine declared that no man could take this story literally and talk of the angels like that.

Cyril of Alexandria said that it could not be taken literally, for did not Jesus say that in the after-life men would be like angels and there would be no marrying or giving in marriage,

Matthew 22:30 (RSV)
30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Chrysostom said that, if the story was taken literally, it was nothing short of blasphemy.

And Cyril went on to say that the story was nothing other than an incentive to sin, if it was taken as literally true.

It is clear that men began to see that this was indeed a dangerous story. Here we get our clue as to what Peter means when he speaks of men who despise the glorious ones and bring the angelic glories into disrepute by speaking slanderously of them. The men whom Peter was opposing were turning their religion into an excuse for blatant immorality.

Cyril of Alexandria makes it clear that in his day the story could be used as an incentive to sin.

Most probably what was happening was that the wicked men of Peter's time were citing the example of the angels as a justification for their own sin. They were saying, "If angels came from heaven and took mortal women, why should not we?" They were making the conduct of the angels an excuse for their own sin.

We have to go still further with this passage.

2 Peter 2:11 (RSV)
11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a reviling judgment upon them before the Lord.

It finishes very obscurely. It says that angels who are greater in strength and in power do not bring a slanderous charge against them in the presence of God. Once again Peter is speaking allusively, in a way that would be clear enough to the people of his day but which is obscure to us. His reference may be to either of two stories.

(a) He may be referring to the story to which Jude refers in,

Jude 1:9 (RSV)
9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, disputed about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a reviling judgment upon him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you."

The archangel Michael was entrusted with the burying of the body of Moses. Satan claimed the body on the grounds that all matter belonged to him and that once Moses had murdered an Egyptian. Michael did not bring a railing charge against Satan; all he said was: "The Lord rebuke you." The point is that even an angel so great as Michael would not bring an evil charge against an angel so dark as Satan. He left the matter to God. If Michael refrained from slandering an evil angel, how can men bring slanderous charges against the angels of God?

(b) He may be referring to a further development of the Enoch story. Enoch tells that when the conduct of the giants on earth became intolerable, men made their complaint to the archangels Michael, Uriel, Gabriel and Raphael. The archangels took this complaint to God; but they did not rail against the evil angels who were responsible for it all; they simply took the story to God, for Him to deal with (Enoch 9).

As far as we can see today, the situation behind Peter's allusions is that the wicked men who were the slaves of lust claimed that the angels were their examples and their justification and so slandered them; Peter reminds them that not even archangels dared slander other angels and demands how men can dare to do so.

This is a strange and difficult passage; but the meaning is clear. Even angels, when they sinned, were punished. How much more shall men be punished? Angels could not rebel against God and escape the consequences. How shall men escape? And men need not seek to put the blame on others, not even on angels; nothing but their own rebelliousness is responsible for their sin.

((((((( The Devil made me do it, Demons made me do it……….NO YOU CHOSE TO DO IT!!!!!!! )))))))

(2) The Men of the Flood and the Rescue of Noah

The second illustration of the destruction of wickedness which Peter chooses may be said to lead on from the first. The sin introduced into the world by the sinning angels led to that intolerable sin which ended in the destruction by the deluge,

Genesis 6:5 (RSV)
5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

In the midst of this destruction God did not forget those who had clung to Him, Noah was saved together with seven others, his wife, his sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and their wives. In Jewish tradition Noah acquired a very special place. Not only was he regarded as the one man who had been saved; but also as the preacher who had done his best to turn men from the evil of their ways. Josephus says,

"Many angels of God lay with women and begat sons, who were violent and who despised all good, on account of their reliance on their own strength.... But Noah displeased and distressed at their behaviour, tried to induce them to alter their dispositions and conduct for the better" (Antiquities 1.3.1).

Attention in this passage is concentrated not so much on the people who were destroyed as on the man who was saved. Noah is offered as the type of man who, amidst the destruction of the wicked, receives the salvation of God. His outstanding qualities were two.

(i) In the midst of a sinning generation he remained faithful to God. Later Paul was to urge his people to be not conformed to the world but transformed from it,

Romans 12:2 (RSV)
2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

It may well be said that often the most dangerous sin of all is conformity. To be the same as others is always easy; to be different is always difficult. But from the days of Noah until now he who would be the servant of God must be prepared to be different from the world. *Interestingly the word "holy", literally means: "To be different".......................

(ii) The later legends pick out another characteristic of Noah. He was the preacher of righteousness. The word for preacher used here is kerux, which literally means a herald.

Epictetus called the philosopher the kerux of the gods. The preacher is the man who brings to men an announcement from God. Here is something of very considerable significance. The good person is concerned not only with the saving of his or her own soul but just as much with the saving of the souls of others. We MUST NOT, in order to preserve our own purity live apart from humanity. We must be concerned to bring God's message to the Lost, not just the preachers, but all genuine Christians MUST REACH OUT TO THE LOST IN LOVE!!!!!!! A person ought never to keep to themselves the grace which they have received. It is always our duty to bring light to those who sit in darkness, guidance to the wanderer and warning to those who are going astray.


(3) The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the Rescue of Lot

The third example is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the rescue of Lot.

The terrible and dramatic story is told in Genesis chapters 18 and 19. It begins with Abraham's plea that God should not destroy the righteous with the guilty and his request that, if even ten just men are found in these cities, they may be spared ( Genesis 18: 16-33 ) Then follows one of the grimmest tales in the Old Testament.

The angelic visitors came to Lot and he persuaded them to stay with him; but his house was surrounded by the men of Sodom demanding that these strangers might be brought out for them to use for their unnatural lust ( Genesis 19: 1-11 ). By that terrible deed—at once the abuse of hospitality, the insulting of angels and the raging of unnatural lust—the doom of the cities was sealed. As the destruction of heaven came upon them Lot and his family were saved, except his wife, who lingered and looked back and turned into a pillar of salt ( Genesis 19: 12-26 ).

Genesis 19:29 (RSV)
29 So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in which Lot dwelt.

Here again is the story of the destruction of sin and the rescue of righteousness. As in Noah, we see in Lot the characteristics of the righteous man.

(i) Lot lived in the midst of evil, and the very sight of it was a constant distress to him.

Moffatt reminds us of the saying of Newman: "Our great security against sin lies in being shocked at it."

Here is something very significant. It often happens that, when evils first emerge, people are shocked at them; but, as time goes on, they cease to be shocked at them and accept them as a matter of course. There are many things at which we ought to be shocked. In our own generation there are the problems of prostitution and promiscuity, drunkenness and drugs, the extraordinary gambling fever which has the country in its grip, the breakdown of the marriage bond, violence, vandalism and crime, death upon the roads, still-existing slum conditions and many others. In many cases the tragedy is that these things have ceased to shock and are accepted in a matter-of-fact style as part of the normal order of things. For the good of the world and of our own souls, we must keep alive the sensitiveness which is shocked by sin.

(ii) Lot lived in the midst of evil, and yet he escaped its taint. Amidst the sin of Sodom he remained true to God. If a person will remember it, we have in the grace of God an antiseptic which will preserve us from the infection of sin. ***No person, I repeat NO PERSON need be the slave of the environment in which we happen to find ourselves.

(iii) When the worst came to the worst, Lot was willing to make a clean break with his environment. He was prepared, however much he did not want to do so, to leave it forever. It was because his wife was not prepared to make the clean break that she perished. There is a strange verse in the Old Testament story. It says that, when Lot lingered, the angelic messengers took hold of his hand,

Genesis 19:16 (RSV)
16 But he lingered; so the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him forth and set him outside the city.

Consider this text from the New Testament:

1 Corinthians 10:13 (RSV)
13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

There are times when the influence of heaven tries to force us out of some evil situation. It may come to any person to have to make the choice between security and the new start; and there are times when a person can save their soul only by breaking clean away from their present situation and beginning all over again. It was in doing just this that Lot found his salvation; and it was in failing to do just this that his wife lost hers.

2 Peter 2:9-11 (RSV)
9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and wilful, they are not afraid to revile the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a reviling judgment upon them before the Lord.

Gives us a picture of the evil man. Peter with a few swift, vivid strokes of the pen paints the outstanding characteristics of him who may properly be called the bad man, the bad person.

(i) They are the desire-dominated person. Their life is dominated by the lusts of the flesh. Such a person is guilty of two sins.

(a) Every person has two sides to their nature. We have a physical side; we have instincts, passions and impulses which we share with the animal creation. These instincts are good—if they are kept in their proper place. They are even necessary for the preservation of individual life and the continuation of the race. The word temperament literally means a mixture. The picture behind it is that human nature consists of a large variety of ingredients all mixed together. It is clear that the efficacy of any mixture depends on each ingredient being there in its proper proportion. Wherever there is either excess or defect the mixture is not what it ought to be. We have a physical nature and also a spiritual nature; and personhood depends on a correct mixture of the two. The desire-dominated person has allowed their animal nature to usurp a place it should not have; they have  allowed the ingredients to get out of proportion and the recipe for personhood has gone wrong.

(b) There is a reason for this loss of proportion—selfishness. The root evil of the lust-dominated life is that it proceeds on the assumption that nothing matters but the gratification of its own desires and the expression of its own feelings. It has ceased to have any respect or care for others. Selfishness and desire go hand in hand.

The bad person is the one who has allowed one side of their nature a far greater place than it ought to have and who has done so because they are essentially selfish.

(ii) The audacious person. The Greek is tolmetes, from the verb tolman, to dare. There are two kinds of daring. There is the daring which is a noble thing, the mark of true courage. There is the daring which is an evil thing, the shameless performance of things which are an affront to decency and right. As the character in Shakespeare had it:

"I dare do all becomes a man. Who dares do more is none."

The bad person is the one who has the audacity to defy the will of God as it is known to them.

(iii) They are self-willed people. Self-willed is not really an adequate translation. The Greek is authades, derived from autos, self, and hadon, pleasing, and used of a person who has no idea of anything other than pleasing themselves. In it there is always the element of stubbornness. If a person is authades, no logic, nor common sense, nor appeal, nor sense of decency will keep them from doing what they want to do. As R. C. Trench says,

"Thus obstinately maintaining his own opinion, or asserting his own rights, he is reckless of the rights, opinions and interests of others."

The person who is authades is stubbornly and arrogantly and even brutally determined on their own way. The bad person is the one who has no regard for either human appeal or divine guidance.

(iv) They are the person who is contemptuous of the angels. We have already seen how this goes back to allusions in Hebrew tradition which are obscure to us. But it has a wider meaning. The bad person insists on living in one world. To them the spiritual world does not exist and they never hear the voices from beyond. They are of the wisdom of this world……They have forgotten that there is a heaven and are blind and deaf when the sights and sounds of heaven and faith try to break through to them.

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


March 1, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The Second Epistle of Peter: Part Six”

2 Peter 2:1-3 (RSV)
1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their licentiousness, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled.
3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words; from of old their condemnation has not been idle, and their destruction has not been asleep.

Almighty God, who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life; we most humbly beseech thee, that, as by thy special grace preventing us thou dost put into our minds GOOD desires, so by thy continued help we may bring the same to good effect. As we study Your word this day, this week, may our hearts and minds be enlightened, may we receive Your Wisdom, Your Truth, and submit in every way to Your will and service; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen and Eternally Amen………………….. 

Dr. Adrian Rogers wrote:

“To believe in heaven is not to run away from life; it is to run toward it.”

That there should arise false prophets within the Church was something only to be expected, for in every generation false prophets had been responsible for leading God's people astray and for bringing disaster on the nation. It is worth while looking at the false prophets in the Old Testament story for their characteristics were recurring in the time of Peter and are still recurring today.

(i) The false prophets were more interested in gaining popularity than in telling the truth. Their policy was to tell people what they wanted to hear. The false prophets said,

Jeremiah 6:14 (RSV)
14 They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, `Peace, peace,' when there is no peace.

They saw visions of peace, when the Lord God was saying that there was no peace,

Ezekiel 13:16 (RSV)
16 the prophets of Israel who prophesied concerning Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her, when there was no peace, says the Lord GOD.

In the days of Jehosaphat, Zedekiah, the false prophet, donned his horns of iron and said that Israel would push the Syrians out of the way as he pushed with these horns; Micaiah the true prophet foretold disaster if Jehosaphat went to war. Of course, Zedekiah was popular and his message was accepted; but Jehosaphat went forth to war with the Syrians and perished tragically,

1 Kings 22:34-37 (RSV)
34 But a certain man drew his bow at a venture, and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate; therefore he said to the driver of his chariot, "Turn about, and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded." 35 And the battle grew hot that day, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Syrians, until at evening he died; and the blood of the wound flowed into the bottom of the chariot. 36 And about sunset a cry went through the army, "Every man to his city, and every man to his country!" 37 So the king died, and was brought to Sama'ria; and they buried the king in Sama'ria.

In the days of Jeremiah, Hananiah prophesied the swift end of the power of Babylon, while Jeremiah prophesied the servitude of the nation to her; and again the prophet who told people what they wished to hear was the popular one.

Jeremiah 28:1-17 (RSV)
1 In that same year, at the beginning of the reign of Zedeki'ah king of Judah, in the fifth month of the fourth year, Hanani'ah the son of Azzur, the prophet from Gibeon, spoke to me in the house of the LORD, in the presence of the priests and all the people, saying, 2 "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. 3 Within two years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the LORD's house, which Nebuchadnez'zar king of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon. 4 I will also bring back to this place Jeconi'ah the son of Jehoi'akim, king of Judah, and all the exiles from Judah who went to Babylon, says the LORD, for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon." 5 Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to Hanani'ah the prophet in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the LORD; 6 and the prophet Jeremiah said, "Amen! May the LORD do so; may the LORD make the words which you have prophesied come true, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the LORD, and all the exiles. 7 Yet hear now this word which I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. 8 The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. 9 As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the LORD has truly sent the prophet." 10 Then the prophet Hanani'ah took the yoke-bars from the neck of Jeremiah the prophet, and broke them. 11 And Hanani'ah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, "Thus says the LORD: Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnez'zar king of Babylon from the neck of all the nations within two years." But Jeremiah the prophet went his way. 12 Sometime after the prophet Hanani'ah had broken the yoke-bars from off the neck of Jeremiah the prophet, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: 13 "Go, tell Hanani'ah, `Thus says the LORD: You have broken wooden bars, but I will make in their place bars of iron. 14 For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: I have put upon the neck of all these nations an iron yoke of servitude to Nebuchadnez'zar king of Babylon, and they shall serve him, for I have given to him even the beasts of the field.'" 15 And Jeremiah the prophet said to the prophet Hanani'ah, "Listen, Hanani'ah, the LORD has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. 16 Therefore thus says the LORD: `Behold, I will remove you from the face of the earth. This very year you shall die, because you have uttered rebellion against the LORD.'" 17 In that same year, in the seventh month, the prophet Hanani'ah died.

Diogenes, the great cynic philosopher, spoke of the false teachers of his day whose method was to follow wherever the applause of the crowd led. One of the first characteristics of the false prophet is that he tells men what they want to hear and not the truth they need to hear.

(ii) The false prophets were interested in personal gain. As Micah said,

Micah 3:11 (RSV)
11 Its heads give judgment for a bribe, its priests teach for hire, its prophets divine for money; yet they lean upon the LORD and say, "Is not the LORD in the midst of us? No evil shall come upon us."

They teach for filthy lucre's sake,

Titus 1:11 (RSV)
11 they must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for base gain what they have no right to teach.

They identify godliness and gain, making their religion a money-making thing,

1 Timothy 6:5 (RSV)
5 and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

We can see these exploiters at work in the early church. In The Didache, The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, which is what might be called the first service-order book, it is laid down that a prophet who asks for money or for a table to be spread in front of him, is a false prophet. "Traffickers in Christ," the Didache  calls such men (The Didache 11). The false prophet  is a covetous creature who regards people as dupes to be exploited for his own ends.

((( Sound familiar??? It should!!!!!!! )))

(iii) The false prophets were dissolute in their personal life. Isaiah writes:

Isaiah 28:7 (RSV)
7 These also reel with wine and stagger with strong drink; the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, they are confused with wine, they stagger with strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in giving judgment.

Jeremiah says,

Jeremiah 23:14 (RSV)
14 But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his wickedness; all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomor'rah."

Jeremiah 23:32 (RSV)
32 Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, says the LORD, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them; so they do not profit this people at all, says the LORD.

The false prophet in himself is a seduction to evil rather than an attraction to good.

(iv) The false prophet was above all a man who led other men further away from God instead of closer to Him. The prophet who invites the people: "Let us go after other gods," must be mercilessly destroyed,

Deuteronomy 13:1-5 (RSV)
1 "If a prophet arises among you, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder which he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, `Let us go after other gods,' which you have not known, `and let us serve them,' 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him, and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and cleave to him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from the midst of you.

Which DOES NOT mean we as present day Christians kill or somehow destroy false teachers or prophets, it means WE TAKE EVERY PRECAUTION AGAINST THEM, BECAUSE THAT IS HOW HEINOUS AND DESTRUCTIVE FALSE, POOR, OR INCOMPLETE TEACHING CAN BE!!!


2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Acts 17:11 (RSV)
11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessaloni'ca, for they received the word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Hebrews 10:25 (RSV)
25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

So that we, all of us who profess to be Children of the One True God, can,

2 Timothy 4:2 (RSV)
2 preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching.

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV2011)
15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

This is the only way, THAT WE CAN BE PREPARED, and we MUST be prepared, for there are a plethora of false prophets and teachers and on the surface they look, they smell, they can talk, JUST LIKE ONE OF US……………..Be prepared!!!!!!! And know even with sincere, sober, and diligent preparation, NO ONE IS BEYOND BEING DECEIVED!!!

 2 Peter 3:17 (RSV)
17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, beware lest you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your own stability.

1 Corinthians 10:12 (RSV)
12 Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

The false prophet takes people in the wrong direction.

These were the characteristics of the false prophets in the ancient days and in Peter's time; and they are their characteristics still.

In this verse Peter has certain things to say about these false prophets and their actions.

(i) They insidiously introduce destructive heresies. The Greek for heresy is (hairesis). It comes from the verb (haireisthai), which means to choose; and originally it was a perfectly honorable word. It simply meant a line of belief and action which a man had chosen for himself. In the New Testament we read of the (hairesis) of the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Nazarenes,

Acts 5:17 (RSV)
17 But the high priest rose up and all who were with him, that is, the party of the Sad'ducees, and filled with jealousy

Acts 15:5 (RSV)
5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up, and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses."

Acts 24:5 (RSV)
5 For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, an agitator among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.

It was perfectly possible to speak of the (hairesis) of Plato and to mean nothing more than those who were Platonist in their thought. It was perfectly possible to speak of a group of doctors who practiced a certain method of treatment as a (hairesis).

But very soon in the Christian Church (hairesis) changed its complexion. In Paul's thought heresies and schisms go together as things to be condemned:

1 Corinthians 11:18-19 (RSV)
18 For, in the first place, when you assemble as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.  

(haireseis), (the plural form of the word) are part of the works of the flesh;

Titus 3:10 (RSV)
10 As for a man who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him,

Why the change? The point is that before the coming of Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life, there was no such thing as definite, God-given truth. A person was presented with a number of alternatives any one of which they at the time were perfectly free to choose to believe. But with the coming of Jesus, God's truth came to humanity and WE MUST EITHER ACCEPT IT OR REJECT IT BECAUSE JESUS CHRIST IS THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH!!! The Truth on which all genuine TRUTH is founded!!!

Hebrews 13:8 (RSV)
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.

1 Corinthians 3:11 (RSV)
11 For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

A heretic then became a person who believed what they wished to believe instead of accepting the truth of God which they, we, all of us,  ought to believe.

What was happening in the case of Peter's people was that certain self-styled prophets were insidiously persuading people to believe the things they wished to be true rather than the things which God had revealed to be true. They did not set themselves up as opponents of Christianity. Far from it. They set themselves up as the finest fruits of Christian thinking; and so it was gradually and subtly that people were being lured away from God's truth to other men's private opinions, which is what heresy is.

(ii) These people denied the Lord who had bought them. This idea of Christ buying people for Himself is one which runs through the whole New Testament. It comes from His own words that He had come to give His life a ransom for many,

Mark 10:45 (RSV)
45 For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

The idea was that people were slaves to sin and Jesus purchased them at the cost of, His own sinless innocent life, for Himself, and, therefore, for freedom.

1 Corinthians 7:23 (RSV)
23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.

Christ redeemed us,

Galatians 3:13 (RSV)
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us -- for it is written, "Cursed be every one who hangs on a tree" --

In the new song in the Revelation the hosts of heaven tell how Jesus Christ bought them with His blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation,

Revelation 5:9 (RSV)
9 and they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

This clearly means two things. It means that the Christian by right of purchase belongs absolutely to Christ; and it means that a life which cost so much cannot be squandered on sin or on cheap things.

The heretics in Peter's letter were denying the Lord who bought them. That could mean that they were saying that they did not know Christ; and it could mean that they were denying His authority. But it is not as simple as that; one might say that it is not as honest as that. We have seen that these men claimed to be Christians; more, they claimed to be the wisest and the most advanced of Christians.

Let us take a human analogy. Suppose a man says that he LOVES his wife and yet is consistently unfaithful to her. By his acts of infidelity he denies, gives the lie to his words of LOVE. Suppose a man protests eternal friendship to someone, and yet is consistently disloyal to him. His actions deny, give the lie to, his assertions of friendship. What these evil men, who were troubling Peter's people, were doing, was to say that they LOVED and served Christ, while the things they taught and did were a complete denial of Him.

(iii) The end of these evil men was destruction. They were insidiously introducing destructive heresies, but these heresies would in the end destroy themselves. There is no more certain way to ultimate condemnation than to teach another to sin.

In this short passage we see four things about the false teachers and their teaching.

(i) We see the cause of false teaching. It is evil ambition. The word is (pleonexia); (pleon) means more and -exia comes from the verb (echein), which means to have. (Pleonexia) is the desire to possess more but it acquires a certain flavor. It is by no means always a sin to desire to possess more; there are many cases in which that is a perfectly honorable desire, as in the case of virtue, or knowledge, or skill. But (pleonexia) comes to mean the desire to possess that which a person has no right to desire, still less to take. So it can mean covetous desire for money and for other people's goods; lustful desire for someone's person; unholy ambition for prestige and power. False teaching comes from the desire to put its own ideas in the place of the truth of Jesus Christ; the false teacher is guilty of nothing less than of usurping the place of Christ.

(ii) We see the method of false teaching. It is the use of cunningly forged arguments. Falsehood is easily resisted when it is presented as falsehood; it is when it is disguised as truth that it becomes menacing. There is only one touchstone. Any teacher's teaching must be tested by the only inerrant, infallible words of God the Holy Bible ( The 66 books of the Old and New Testaments ) and presence of Jesus Christ Himself.

Isaiah 8:20 (KJV)
20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

Matthew 4:4 (RSV)
4 But he answered, "It is written, `Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"

Luke 6:46 (RSV)
46 "Why do you call me `Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you?

(iii) We see the affect of the false teaching. It was twofold. It encouraged people to take the way of blatant immorality. The word is (aselgeia) which describes the attitude of the person who is lost to shame and cares for the judgment of neither society nor God. We must remember what was at the back of this false teaching. It was perverting the grace of God into a justification for sin. The false teachers were telling people that grace was inexhaustible and that, therefore, they were free to sin as they liked for grace would forgive.

This false teaching had a second effect. It brought Christianity into disrepute. In the early days, just as now, every Christian was a good or bad advertisement for Christianity and the Christian Church. It is Paul's accusation to the Jews that through them the name of God has been brought into disrepute,

Romans 2:24 (RSV)
24 For, as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."

In the Pastoral Epistles the younger women are urged to behave with such modesty and chastity that the Church will never be brought into disrepute,

Titus 2:5 (RSV)
5 to be sensible, chaste, domestic, kind, and submissive to their husbands, that the word of God may not be discredited.

Any teaching which produces a person who deters people from Christianity instead of attracting them to it is false teaching, and the work of those who are enemies of Jesus Christ.

(iv) We see the ultimate end of false teaching and that is destruction. Sentence was passed on the false prophets long ago; the Old Testament pronounced their doom,

Deuteronomy 13: 3, 5 (RSV)
3 "you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul…5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from the midst of you.

It might look as if that sentence had become inoperative or was slumbering, but it was still valid, and the day would come when the false teachers would pay the terrible price of their falsehood. No Person, honestly sincere or otherwise who leads another person or persons astray against the genuine faith in Jesus Christ will never escape his or her own judgment!!!!!!!

That is why the scriptures warn, vividly and clearly:

James 3:1 (RSV)
1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness.

Let us close in a very special prayer today:

Lord, God, Jehovah, we pray for ALL OF YOUR CREATION, may all that will, accept YOUR SON JESUS CHRIST as absolutely their only Savior, their only Lord, and their only God ((( Father, Son, and Holy Spirit ))). And Lord we pray for the fast and miraculous healing of all those with the Corna-virus, and may it’s affects on mankind and all Your creation be exceedingly insignificant. In Jesus’ precious name Amen and eternally Amen and Amen !!!!!!!

Submitted by, Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


February 23, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The Second Epistle of Peter: Part Five”

2 Peter 1:16-21 (RSV)
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," 18 we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word made more sure. You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

O God, our refuge and strength, who art the author of all purity, goodness, and grace: Be ready we beseech thee, to hear the devout prayer of this, one of your Churches; and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain effectually; May our minds be focused on you, living our daily, moment, by moment lives for you; helping us to serve you and all of your creation in a noble and practical way; help O gracious heavenly Father,  for us to worship you with every breath we take, and give us your Spirit as we study your word, in Jesus name, Amen and Eternally Amen!!!

Let us begin our study……………………………

Peter comes to the message which it was his great aim to bring to his people, concerning "the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." As we shall see quite clearly as we go on, the great aim of this letter is to recall people to the outright unconditional certainty in regard to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The heretics whom Peter is attacking no longer believed in it; it was so long delayed that people had begun to think it would never happen at all.

((( Even back then……………….)))

Such, then, was Peter's message. Having stated it, he goes on to speak of his right to state it; and does something which is, at least at first sight, surprising. His right to speak is that he was with, Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and that there he saw the glory and the honor which were given to him and heard the voice of God speak to him. That is to say, Peter uses the transfiguration story, not as a foretaste of the Resurrection of Jesus, as it is commonly regarded, but as a foretaste of the triumphant glory of the Second Coming. The transfiguration story is told in,

Matthew 17:1-8 (RSV)
1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Eli'jah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli'jah." 5 He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Rise, and have no fear." 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

Mark 9:2-8 (RSV)
2 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them, 3 and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Eli'jah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus.
5 And Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli'jah." 6 For he did not know what to say, for they were exceedingly afraid. 7 And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is my beloved Son; listen to him." 8 And suddenly looking around they no longer saw any one with them but Jesus only.

Luke 9:28-36 (RSV)
28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Eli'jah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli'jah" -- not knowing what he said. 34 As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

Was Peter right in seeing in it a foretaste of the Second Coming rather than a prefiguring of the Resurrection?

There is one particularly significant thing about the transfiguration story. In all three gospels, it immediately follows the prophecy of Jesus which said that there were some standing there who would not pass from the world until they had seen the Son of Man coming in His kingdom,

Matthew 16:28 (RSV)
28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom."

Mark 9:1 (RSV)
1 And he said to them, "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power."

Luke 9:27 (RSV)
27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."

That would certainly seem to indicate that the transfiguration and the Second Coming were in some way linked together.

Whatever we may say, this much is certain, that Peter's great aim in this letter is to recall his people to a living belief in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and he bases his right to do so on what he saw on the Mount of Transfiguration.


2 Peter 1:16 (RSV)
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

There is a very interesting word. Peter says, "We were made eye-witnesses of his majesty." The word he uses for eye-witness is (epoptes). In the Greek usage of Peter's day this was a technical word. We have already mentioned the “Mystery Religions”. They were all of the nature of passion plays, in which the story of a god who lived, suffered, died, and rose again was played out. It was only after a long course of instruction and preparation that the worshipper was finally allowed to be present at the passion play, and to be offered the experience of becoming one with the dying and rising God. When he reached this stage, he was an initiate and the technical word to describe him was (epoptes); he was a privileged eye-witness of the experiences of God. So Peter says that the Christian is an eye-witness of the sufferings of Christ. With the eye of faith we see the Cross; in the experience of faith we die with Christ to sin and rise to righteousness.

***The Christian is made one with Jesus Christ in His death and in His risen life and power.***

This is a particularly difficult passage, because in both halves of it the Greek can mean quite different things. We look at these different possibilities and in each case we take the less probable first.

(i) The first sentence can well mean: "In prophecy we have an even surer guarantee, that is, of the Second Coming." If Peter did say this, he means that the words of the prophets are an even surer guarantee of the reality of the Second Coming than his own experience on the Mount of Transfiguration.

However unlikely it may seem, it is by no means impossible that he did say just that. When he was writing there was a tremendous interest in the words of prophecy whose fulfillment in Christianity was seen to prove its truth. We get case after case of people converted in the days of the early church by reading the Old Testament books and seeing their prophecies fulfilled in Jesus. It would be quite in line with that to declare that the strongest argument for the Second Coming is that the prophets foretold it.

(ii) But we think that the second possibility is to be preferred: "What we saw on the Mount of Transfiguration makes it even more certain that what is foretold in the prophets about the Second Coming must be true."

However we take it, the meaning is that the glory of Jesus on the mountain top and the visions of the prophets combine to make it absolute-certain that the Second Coming is a living reality which all people must expect and for which all people must prepare.

There is also a double possibility about the second part of this passage. "No prophecy of the Scripture," as the Revised Standard Version has it, "is a matter of one's own interpretation."

(i) Many of the early scholars took this to mean: "When any of the prophets interpreted any situation in history or told how history was going to unfold itself, they were not expressing a private opinion of their own; they were passing on a revelation which God had given them." This is a perfectly possible meaning. In the Old Testament the mark of a false prophet was that he was speaking of himself, as it were, privately, and not saying what God had told him to say. Jeremiah condemns the false prophets,

Jeremiah 23:16 (RSV)
16 Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes; they speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.

Ezekiel says,

Ezekiel 13:3 (RSV)
3 Thus says the Lord GOD, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!

Hippolytus describes the way in which the words of the true prophets came:

"They did not speak of their own power, nor did they proclaim what they themselves wished, but first they were given right wisdom by the word, and were then instructed by visions."

((( The Prophets and their visions were in subjection to the inerrant, infallible WORD OF GOD!!! )))

On this view the passage means that, when the prophets spoke, it was no private opinion they were giving; it was a revelation from God and, therefore, their words must be carefully heeded.

(ii) The second way to take this passage is as referring to our interpretation of the prophets. A situation was confronting Peter in which the heretics and the evil men were interpreting the prophets to suit themselves. On this view, which we support, Peter is saying: "No man can go to Scripture and interpret it as it suits himself."

This is of first-rate practical importance. Peter is saying that no person has the right to interpret Scripture, to use his own word, privately. How then must it be interpreted? To answer that question we must ask another. How did the prophets receive their message? They received it from the Spirit. It was sometimes even said that the Spirit of God used the prophets as a writer uses a pen or as a musician uses a musical instrument. In any event the Spirit gave the prophet his message. The obvious conclusion is that it is only through the help of that same Spirit that the prophetic message can be understood. As Paul had already said, spiritual things are spiritually discerned,

1 Corinthians 2:14-15 (RSV)
14 The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.

As the Jews viewed the Holy Spirit, He has two functions—He brings God's truth to people and He enables people to understand that truth when it is brought. So, then, Scripture is not to be interpreted by private cleverness or private prejudice; it is to be interpreted by the help of the Holy Spirit by whom it was first given.

Practically that means two things.

(a) Throughout all the ages the Spirit has been working in devoted scholars who under the guidance of God have opened the Scriptures to us. If, then, we wish to interpret Scripture, we must never arrogantly insist that our own interpretation must be correct; we must humbly go to the works of the scholars to learn what they have to teach us because of what the Spirit taught them.

(b) There is more than that. The one place in which the Spirit specially resides and is especially operative is the Church; and, therefore, Scripture must interpret Scripture in the light of the teaching, the belief and the tradition of the Church. God is our Father in the faith, but the Church is our mother in the faith. If a person finds that their interpretation of Scripture is at variance with the teaching of the Church, they must humbly examine themselves and ask whether their guide has not been their own private wishes rather than the Holy Spirit.

It is Peter's insistence that Scripture does not consist of any man's private opinions but is the revelation of God to mankind through His Holy Spirit; and that, therefore, its interpretation must not depend on any person's private opinions but must ever be guided by that same Spirit who is still especially operative within the Church today and will be throughout eternity.

As we close today, I would like to quote Dr. Adrian Rogers:

“When the child of God LOVES the Word of God, and sees the Son of God, He is changed by the Holy Spirit of God into the image of God because he, we, have found the Truth of God.”

May this be true of each of us, In Jesus beautiful name Amen and Eternally Amen!!!!!!!

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


February 16, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The Second Epistle of Peter: Part Four”

2 Peter 1:8-15 (RSV)
8 For if these things are yours and abound, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall; 11 so there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these things, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to arouse you by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. 15 And I will see to it that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

Lord, may we find mercy in your sight, that we may worship you this moment, this hour, this week, with all our mind, body, soul, and strength. Grant to us, those to whom you have given a hearty desire to pray, a focused mind, a dedicated heart, a sober thought, to do thy will in all that we think, say, and do. Deliver us from the distractions of this life that we may concentrate on discerning and doing your will in our lives, now, and forever. Bless the reading and studying of your word, and may we grasp the knowledge and wisdom that you want to give us, and use it to the furtherance of your Kingdom to Your glory and for the salvation of the multitudes of the Lost, in Jesus name, Amen and ETERNALLY AMEN!!!

Peter strongly urges his people to keep climbing up this ladder of virtues which he has set before them. The more we know of any subject the more we are fit to know. It is always true that "to him that hath it shall be given." Progress is the way to more progress.

Moffatt says of ourselves and Jesus Christ:

"We learn him as we live with him and for him."

As the hymn has it:

May every heart confess thy name,

And ever thee adore,

And, seeking thee, itself inflame

To seek thee more and more.

***To keep climbing up the ladder of the virtues is to come ever nearer to knowing Jesus Christ; and the further we climb, the further we are able to climb.

On the other hand, if we refuse to make the effort of the upward climb, certain things happen.

(a) We grow blind; we are left without the guiding light that the knowledge of Jesus Christ brings. As Peter sees it, to walk without Christ is to walk in the dark and not to be able to see the way.

(b) We grow what Peter calls (muopazon). This word can have either of two meanings. It can mean short-sighted. It is easy to become short-sighted in life, to see things only as they appear at the moment and to be unable to take the long view of things, to have our eyes so fixed upon earth that we never think of the things beyond. It can also mean blinking, shutting the eyes. Again, it is easy in life to shut our eyes to what we do not wish to see, and to walk, as it were, in blinkers. To walk without Christ is to be in danger of taking the short-sighted or the blinkered view of life.

Further, to fail to climb the ladder of virtue is to forget that the sins of the old way of life have been cleansed away. Peter is thinking of baptism. At that time baptism was adult baptism; it was a deliberate act of decision to leave the old way and to enter upon the new. The person who, after baptism, does not begin upon the upward climb has forgotten, or never realized, the meaning of the experience through which they had passed. For many of us the parallel to baptism in this sense is entry into the membership of the Christian Church. To make our commitment to God and then to remain exactly the same, is to fail to understand what being a Christian and what church membership means, for our entry into it should be the beginning of a climb upon the upward way.

In view of all this, Peter urges his people to make every effort to confirm their calling by God. Here is a most significant demand. In one way all is of God; it is God's call which gives us entry into the fellowship of His people; without His grace and His mercy we could do nothing and could expect nothing. But that does not absolve us from every possible effort.

Let us take an analogy, which, although not perfect, may help us to understand. Suppose a man who is wealthy and kind picks out a poor boy, who would never otherwise have had the chance, and offers him the privilege of a university education. The benefactor is giving the boy something which he could never have achieved for himself; but the boy cannot make use of that privilege unless he is prepared to work, and the harder he works the more he will enter into the privilege offered to him. The gracious free offer and the personal hard work have to combine before the privilege becomes fully effective. Our personal effort and deeds cannot and never will save us, nor can our righteous works maintain our salvation, yet in order to receive fully the grace that God has given us, to live as close to Jesus Christ’s example as possible, WILL TAKE OUR EFFORT TOO!!!!!!!

((( We must work at it!!! )))

Philippians 2:12-13 (RSV)
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

*******Saved by God’s grace and His grace alone, YET TO LIVE AND TO DO GOOD WORKS!!!!!!!*******

Ephesians 2:10 (RSV)
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

It is so with us and God. God has called us in His free mercy and His unmerited, undeserved  grace; but at the same time we for LOVE’S sake, joyously, and willingly desire to do EVERY thing in our power to labor upwards and onwards on the way to becoming more like our blessed Savior!!!!!!! ((((((( Not because we must, but because, WE GENUINELY WANT TO!!!!!!! )))))))

For we who are saved, born again, twice born, ARE NEW CREATURES, NEW CREATIONS IN JESUS CHRIST!!!

2 Corinthians 5:17 (RSV)
17 Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.

If we follow this upward way, Peter says, we shall in the end be richly gifted with the right of entry into his eternal kingdom; and we shall not slip upon the way. By this Peter does not mean that we will never sin. The picture in his mind is of a march and he means that we will never fall out upon the march and be left behind. If we set out upon this upward and onward way, the effort will be great but God's help will be exceedingly greater; and in spite of all the toil, God will enable us to keep going until we reach our journey's end.

Philippians 1:6 (RSV)
6 And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Here speaks the pastor's care. In this passage Peter shows us two things about preaching and teaching.

First, preaching is very often reminding a person of what they already know. It is the bringing back to memory that truth which has often been forgotten, or at which we refuse to look, or whose meaning we have not fully appreciated.  

Second, Peter is going to go on to uncompromising rebuke and warning, but he begins with something very like a compliment. He says that his people already possess the truth and are firmly established in it. Always a preacher, a teacher or a parent will achieve more by encouragement than by scolding. We do more to reform people and to keep them safe by, as it were, putting them on their honor than by condemning them with criticism. Peter was wise enough to know that the first essential to make people listen is to show that we believe in them.

Peter looks forward to his early death. He talks of his body as his tent, as Paul does,

2 Corinthians 5:4 (RSV)
4 For while we are still in this tent, we sigh with anxiety; not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

This was a favorite picture with the early Christian writers. The Epistle to Diognetus says,

"The immortal soul dwells in a mortal tent."

The picture comes from the journeyings of the patriarchs in the Old Testament. They had no abiding residence but lived in tents because they were on the way to the Promised Land. The Christian knows well that our life in this world is not a permanent residence but a journey towards the world beyond. We get the same idea in,

2 Peter 1:15 (RSV)
15 And I will see to it that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

Peter speaks of his approaching death as his exodus, his departure. Exodus is, of course, the word which is used for the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt, and their setting out to the Promised Land. Peter sees death, not as the end but as the going out into the Promised Land of God.

((( I almost, can’t wait…………………. )))

Peter says that Jesus Christ has told him that for him the end will soon be coming. This may be a reference to the prophecy in,

John 21:18-19 (RSV)
18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go." 19 (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, "Follow me."

Jesus foretells that there will come a day when Peter also will be stretched out upon a cross. That time is about to come.

Peter says that he will take steps to see that what he has got to say to them will be held before their memory even when he is gone from this earth. That may well be a reference to the Gospel according to St. Mark. The consistent tradition is that it is the preaching material of Peter.

lrenaeus says that, after the death of Peter and Paul, Mark, who had been his disciple and interpreter, handed on in writing the things which it had been Peter's custom to preach.

Papias, who lived towards the end of the second century and collected many traditions about the early days of the Church, hands down the same tradition about Mark's gospel:

"Mark, who was Peter's interpreter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, all that he recollected of what Christ had said or done. For he was not a bearer of the Lord, or a follower of his; he followed Peter, as I have said, at a later date and Peter adapted his instruction to practical needs, without any attempt to give the Lord's words systematically. So that Mark was not wrong in writing down some things in this way from memory, for his one concern was neither to omit nor to falsify anything that he had heard."

It may well be that the reference here means that Peter's teaching was made still available to his people in Mark's Gospel after his death.

In any event, the pastor's aim was to bring to his people God's truth while he was still alive and to take steps to keep it in their memories after he was dead. Peter/Mark wrote, not to preserve his own name, but the name of Jesus Christ.

As all preachers and teachers of God’s holy word should do, WE ARE TO PREACH CHRIST NOT OURSELVES!!!!!!!

Galatians 2:20 (RSV)
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

1 Corinthians 9:16 (RSV)
16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

Lord, make us an instrument of Your peace;

Where there is hatred, let us sow LOVE;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is error, the truth;

Where there is doubt, the faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, Grant that We may not so much seek

To be consoled, as to console;

To be understood, as to understand;

To be LOVED as to LOVE.

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,

The power, and the glory,

For ever and ever. In Jesus precious name,

Amen and ETERNALLY AMEN…………….

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


February 9, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The Second Epistle of Peter: Part Three”

2 Peter 1:3-7 (RSV)
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature. 5 For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

Lord God YHWH, We pray today with our hands and heads lifted heavenwardly in adoration. We pray today with our eyes, Lord, looking for the things that are not seen. We pray today with our hands, Lord, raising them in jubilant praise. We pray today with our knees, Lord, bowing in submission and contrition. We pray today with our feet, Lord, working with all our might.

May you be pleased Lord, with our hearts, our souls, our actions, our daily prayers and worship……………….In Jesus name, Amen and Eternally AMEN!!!

Lord bless and protect my wife, and everyone’s family, friends, and LOVED ones that are not with us this week. In Jesus’ name Amen…….

In 2 Pet 1:3-4 there is a tremendous and comprehensive picture of Jesus Christ.

(i) He is the Christ of power. In Him there is the divine power which cannot be ultimately defeated or frustrated. In this world one of the tragedies of life is that LOVE is so often frustrated because it cannot give what it wants to give, cannot do what it wants to do and must so often stand helpless while the LOVED one meets disaster. But always Christ's LOVE is backed by His power and is, therefore, an ABSOLUTELY victorious LOVE.

(ii) He is the Christ of generosity. He bestows on us all things necessary for true life and true religion. The word Peter uses for religion is (eusebeia), the characteristic meaning of which is practical religion. Peter is saying that Jesus Christ tells us what life is and then enables us to live it as it ought to be lived. He gives us a religion which is not withdrawal from this side of eternity but triumphant involvement in it.

(iii) He is the Christ of the precious and great promises. That does not so much mean that He brings us the great and precious promises, as that in Him, these promises come true. Paul put the same thing in a different way when he said that all the promises of God are Yes and Amen in Christ,

2 Corinthians 1:20 (RSV)
20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God.

That is to say Christ says, "Yes. So let it be," to these promises; Jesus Himself confirms and guarantees them. It has been put this way—once we know Jesus Christ, every time we meet a promise in Scripture which begins with the word "Whosoever," we can immediately say to ourselves, "That means me."

(iv) He is the Christ by whom we escape the world's corruption. Peter had to meet the antinomians, the people who used the grace of God as an excuse for sin. They declared that grace was wide enough to cover every sin; therefore, sin does not matter anymore, the grace of Christ will win forgiveness for it. For any person to speak like that is simply to show that person wants to sin. But Jesus Christ is the person who can help us overcome the fascination of the world's lust and cleanse us by His presence and His power. ***So long as we live in this world sin will never completely lose its fascination for us; but in the presence of Christ we have our defense against that fascination.

(v) He is the Christ who makes us sharers in the divine nature. Here again Peter is using an expression which the pagan thinkers well knew. They spoke much about sharing in the divine nature. But there was this difference—they believed that man had a share in the divine nature by virtue of being man. All men had to do was to live in accordance with the divine nature already in them. The trouble about that is that life flatly contradicts it. On every side we see bitterness, hatred, lust, crime; on every side we see moral failure, helplessness and frustration. Christianity says that people are capable of becoming sharers in the divine nature. It realistically faces man's actuality but at the same time sets no limit to OUR potentiality.

John 10:10B (RSV)
10B …I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

As one of the great early fathers said, "He became what we are to make us what he is." We as human beings through Christ have the very REAL potential to share the nature of God—but only through a LOVE relationship with Jesus Christ can that potentiality be realized.

Peter says that we must bend all our energies to equip ourselves with a series of great qualities. The word he uses for to equip is (epichoregein) which he uses again in,

2 Peter 1:11 (RSV)
11 so there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

When he speaks of us being richly gifted with the right of entry into the eternal kingdom.

This is one of the many Greek words which have a pictorial background. The verb (epichoregein) comes from the noun (choregos), which literally means "the leader of a chorus." Perhaps the greatest gift that Greece, and especially Athens, gave to the world was the great works of men like Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, which are still among its most cherished possessions. All these plays needed large choruses and were, therefore, very expensive to produce. In the great days of Athens there were public-spirited citizens who voluntarily took on the duty, at their own expense, of collecting, maintaining, training and equipping such choruses. It was at the great religious festivals that these plays were produced. For instance, at the city Dionysia there were produced three tragedies, five comedies and five dithyrambs. Men had to be round to provide the choruses for them all, a duty which could cost as much as 3,000 drachmae. The men who undertook these duties out of their own pocket and out of LOVE for their city were called (choregoi), and (choregein) was the verb used for undertaking such a duty. The word has a certain lavishness in it. It never means to equip in any cheese-paring and miserly way; it means lavishly to pour out everything that is necessary for a noble performance. (Epichoregein) went out into a larger world and it grew to mean not only to equip a chorus but to be responsible for any kind of equipment. It can mean to equip an army with all necessary provisions; it can mean to equip the soul with all the necessary virtues for life. But always at the back of it there is this idea of a lavish generosity in the equipment.

So Peter urges his people to equip their lives with every virtue; and that equipment must not be simply a necessary minimum, but lavish and generous. The very word is an incitement to be content with nothing less than the LOVEliest and the most splendid life.

But there is something else at the back of this. In,

2 Peter 1:5-6 (RSV)
5 For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,

Peter goes on that we must, as the Revised Standard Version has it, add virtue to virtue, until the whole culminates in Christian LOVE. Behind this is a Stoic idea. The Stoics insisted that in life there must continuously be what they called (prokope), moral progress. (Prokope) can be used for the advance of an army towards its objective. In the Christian life there must be steady moral advance. Moffatt quotes a saying that,

"the Christian life must not be an initial spasm followed by a chronic inertia."

It is very apt to be just that; a moment of enthusiasm, when the wonder of Christianity is realized, and then a failure to work out the Christian life in continuous progress.

That brings us to still another basic idea here. Peter bids his people bend every energy to do this. That is to say, in the Christian life the supreme effort of a person must cooperate with the grace of God. As Paul has it:

Philippians 2:12-13 (RSV)
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

It is true that everything is of faith; but a faith which does not issue in life is not faith at all, as Paul would heartily have agreed with James.

James 2:17 (RSV)
17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

Faith is not only commitment to the promises of Christ; it is also commitment to our obligations of LOVE in Christ!!!

Bigg well points out that Aristotle, in the Nicomachean Ethics, says that there are three theories of the source of happiness.

(i) It is something which can come by training, by learning and by the formation of right habits.

(ii) It is a matter of divine allotment, the gift of God.

(iii) It is all a matter of chance. (gk: ‘hap’ means: chance)

The truth is that, as the Christian sees it, happiness depends both on God's gift and on our effort. We do not earn salvation but at the same time we have to bend every energy towards the Christian objective of a LOVELY life. NOT BECAUSE WE MUST, BUT BECAUSE OF GOD’S GRACE WE GENUINELY WANT TO!!!!!!! Bengel, in commenting on this passage, asks us to compare the Parable of the Ten Virgins, five of whom were wise and five of whom were foolish. He writes:

"The flame is that which is imparted to us by God and from God without our own labor; but the oil is that which a man must pour into life by his own study and his own faithful effort, so that the flame may be fed and increased."

Faith does not exempt a person from good works, or authentic personal effort; the generosity of God does not absolve a person from exertion. Life is at its noblest and its best when our effort cooperates with God's grace to produce the necessary LOVEliness.

Ephesians 2:10 (RSV)
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Let us then look at the list of virtues which have to be added one to another. it is worth noting that in the ancient world such lists were common. It was a world in which books were not nearly so cheap and so readily available as they are today. Instruction, therefore, had for the most part to be carried in the pupil's head; and easily memorized lists were one of the commonest ways of inculcating instruction. One ingenious way of teaching the child the names of the virtues was by means of a game played with counters which could be won or lost, each of which bore the name of one of the virtues. Lists of virtues were common in the early Christian writings. Paul gives us the fruit of the Spirit,

Galatians 5:22-23 (RSV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.

In the Pastoral Epistles the man of God is bidden to follow after,

1 Timothy 6:11 (RSV)
11 But as for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

In The Shepherd of Hermas (Visions 3.8.1-7), faith, self-control, simplicity, innocence and reverence, understanding and love are daughters one of another.

In the Epistle of Barnabas (2) fear and endurance are the helpers of faith; patience and self-control are our allies; and when these are present a man can develop and possess wisdom, prudence, understanding and knowledge. Let us look one by one at the stages in the list which this letter gives us.

(i) It begins with faith (pistis); everything goes back to that. For Peter faith is the conviction that what Jesus Christ says is true and that we can commit ourselves to His promises and launch ourselves on His desires for our lives. It is the unquestioning certainty that the way to happiness and peace and strength on earth and in heaven is to accept Him at His word.

((( Trust and Obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey…)))

(ii) To faith must be added what the Revised Standard Version calls virtue and we have called courage. The word is (arete); it is very rare in the New Testament but it is the supreme Greek word for virtue in every sense of the term. It means excellence. It has two special directions in which its meaning moves.

(a) (Arete) is what we might call operative or efficient excellence. To take two examples of its usage from widely differing spheres—it can be used of land which is fertile; and it can be used of the mighty deeds of the gods. (Arete) is that virtue which makes a person a good citizen and friend; it is that virtue which makes a person an expert in the technique of living well.

(b) (Arete) often means courage. Plutarch says that God is a hope of (arete), not an excuse for cowardice. In 2 Maccabees we read of how Eleazar died rather than be false to the laws of God and his fathers; and the story ends by saying that he left his death for an example of noble courage (arete) and a memorial of virtue, not only to young men, but also to all the nation,

2 Maccabees 6:31 (KJVApocrypha)
31 And thus this man died, leaving his death for an example of a noble courage, and a memorial of virtue, not only unto young men, but unto all his nation.

In our main text it is not necessary to choose between these two meanings; they are both there. Faith must issue, not in the retirement of the monastery and the cell, but in a life effective in the service of God and man; and it must issue in the courage always to show whose it is and whom it serves.

(iii) To courage must be added knowledge. The word is (gnosis). In ethical Greek language there are two words which have a similar meaning with a very significant difference. (Sophia) is wisdom, in the sense of "knowledge of things both human and divine, and of their causes." It is knowledge of first causes and of deep and ultimate things. (Gnosis) is practical knowledge; it is the ability to apply to particular situations the ultimate knowledge which (sophia) gives. (Gnosis) is that knowledge which enables a person to decide rightly and to act honorably and efficiently in the day to day, moment by moment circumstances of life. So, then, to faith must be added courage and effectiveness; to courage and effectiveness must be added the practical wisdom to deal with life.

(iv) To this practical knowledge must be added self-control, or self-mastery. The word is (egkrateia), and it means literally the ability, to take a grip of oneself. This is a virtue of which the great Greeks spoke and wrote and thought much. In regard to a man and his passions Aristotle distinguishes four states in life.

There is (sophrosune), in which passion has been entirely subjugated to reason; we might call it perfect temperance.

There is (akolasia), which is the precise opposite; it is the state in which reason is entirely subjugated to passion—we might call it unbridled lust.

In between these two states there is (akrasia), in which reason fights but passion prevails; we might call it incontinence. There is (egkrateia), in which reason fights against passion and prevails; we call it self-control, or self-mastery.

(Egkrateia) is one of the great Christian virtues; and the place it holds is an example of the realism of the Christian ethic. That ethic does not contemplate a situation in which a person is emasculated of all passion; it envisages a situation in which our passions remain, but are under perfect control and so become our servants, not our tyrants.

(v) To this self-control must be added steadfastness. The word is (hupomone). Chrysostom called (hupomone) "The Queen of the Virtues." In the King James Version it is usually translated patience; but patience is too passive a word. (Hupomone), has always a background or courage.

Cicero defines patientia, its Latin equivalent, as:

"The voluntary and daily suffering of hard and difficult things, for the sake of honor and usefulness."

Didymus of Alexandria writes on the temper of Job:

"It is not that the righteous man must be without feeling, although he must patiently bear the things which afflict him; but it is true virtue when a man deeply feels the things he toils against, but nevertheless despises sorrows for the sake of God."

(Hupomone) does not simply accept and endure; there is always a forward look in it. It is said of Jesus, by the writer to the Hebrews,

Hebrews 12:2 (RSV)
2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

That is (hupomone), Christian steadfastness. It is the courageous acceptance of everything that life can do to us and the transmuting of even the worst event into another step on the upward way.

(vi) To this steadfastness must be added piety. The word is (eusebeia) and is quite untranslatable. Even piety is inadequate, carrying as it does a suggestion sometimes of something not altogether attractive. The great characteristic of (eusebeia) is that it looks in two directions. The person who has (eusebeia) always correctly worships God and gives Him His due; but the person always correctly serves their fellow-men and women and gives them their due. The person who is (eusebes) (the corresponding adjective) is in a right relationship both with God and our fellow-men and women. (Eusebeia) is piety but in its most practical aspect.

We may best see the meaning of this word by looking at the man whom the Greeks held to be its finest example. That man was Socrates whom Xenophon describes as follows:

"He was so pious and devoutly religious that he would take no step apart from the will of heaven; so just and upright that he never did even a trifling injury to any living soul; so self-controlled, so temperate, that he never at any time chose the sweeter instead of the better; so sensible, so wise, and so prudent that in distinguishing the better from the worse he never erred" (Xenophon: Memorabilia 1.5.8-11).

In Latin the word is pietas; and Warde Fowler describes the Roman idea of the man who possesses that quality:

"He is superior to the enticements of individual passion and of selfish ease; (pietas is) a sense of duty which never left a man, of duty first to the gods, then to father and to family, to son and to daughter, to his people and to his nation."

(Eusebeia) is the nearest Greek word for religion; and, when we begin to define it, we see the intensely practical character of the Christian religion. When a person becomes a Christian, they we, acknowledge a double obligation of LOVE, to God and to our fellow-men, women, and children.

Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)
37 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

(vii) To this piety must be added brotherly affection. The word is (philadelphia), which literally means LOVE of the brethren. The point is this—there is a kind of religious devotion which separates a person from other people. The claims of others become an intrusion on our prayers, our study of God's word and our meditation. The ordinary demands of human relationships become a nuisance. Epictetus, the great Stoic philosopher, never married. Half-jestingly he said that he was doing far more for the world by being an unfettered philosopher than if he had produced "two or three dirty-nosed children." "How can he who has to teach mankind run to get something in which to heat the water to give the baby his bath?" What Peter is saying is that there is something wrong with the religion which finds the claims of personal relationships a nuisance.

In studying and praying, I often get interrupted by other people and things, to be honest it often bothers me. Yet, I finally realize, what I’m doing IS FOR THEM, if I can’t stop, listen and help others, WHAT IS THE POINT OF MY STUDIES AND FAITH???????

I understood this in Seminary as well; there was a sense of guilt I felt in taking the time studying God’s word compared to actually PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE BY SERVING HIM AND THE PEOPLE AROUND ME!!!!!!!

James 1:22 (RSV)
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

There MUST BE TIME FOR BOTH, not, one or the other. To LOVE God is to spend time with Him, in reading the Bible, praying, and meditation, and our relationship with God is MEANT TO ENCOURAGE IN US THE DESIRE TO LOVE AND SERVE ALL OF HIS CREATION ACCORDING TO HIS WILL AND HIS TIMING!!!!!!!

(viii) The ladder of Christian virtue must end in Christian LOVE. Not even affection for the brethren is enough; the Christian must end with a LOVE which is as wide as that LOVE of God which causes His sun to rise on the just and on the unjust, and sends His rain on the evil and the good. The LOVE that sent His ONLY BEGOTTEN SON JESUS CHRIST TO DIE FOR ALL MANKIND, NOT JUST THOSE WHO LOVE HIM BACK!!!!!!! The Christian must show to all humanity, all of God’s creation, the LOVE which God has shown to them, to us!!!!!!!

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


February 2, 2020

A most glorious and wonderful birthday to my beLOVED wife, my "Forever Only", Maureen and to her sweet TWIN SISTER Kathleen !!! May you both have many more beautiful years to come.......

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The Second Epistle of Peter: Part Two”

2 Peter 1:1-2 (RSV)
1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Almighty God, from whom every good prayer cometh, and who pourest out on all who desire it the Spirit of grace and supplication: deliver us, when we draw nigh to Thee, from coldness of heart and wanderings of mind, that with steadfast and focused thoughts and kindled affections we may worship Thee in spirit and in truth: through Jesus Christ our Lord…….Amen and ETERNALLY AMEN!!!!!!!

Adrian Rogers wrote:

“It’s not the length of the prayer but the depth that counts.”

The Second Epistle of Peter opens with a very subtle and beautiful allusion for those who have eyes to see it and knowledge enough of the New Testament to grasp it. Peter writes to "those to whom there has been allotted a faith equal in honor and privilege with our own" and he calls himself Simon Peter. Who were these people? There can really be only one answer to that. They must once have been Gentiles in contradistinction to the Jews who were uniquely the chosen people of God. Those who had once been no people are now the chosen people of God,

1 Peter 2:10 (RSV)
10 Once you were no people but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.

Those who were once aliens and strangers to the commonwealth of Israel, and who were once far off, have been brought nigh,

Ephesians 2:11-13 (RSV)
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called the uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands -- 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ.

Peter puts this very vividly, using a word which would at once strike an answering chord in the minds of those who heard it. Their faith is equal in honor and privilege. The Greek is (isotimos); (isos) means "equal" and time means "honor." This word was particularly used in connection with foreigners who were given equal citizenship in a city with the natives. Josephus, for instance, says that in Antioch the Jews were made (isotimoi), equal in honor and privilege, with the Macedonians and the Greeks who lived there. So Peter addresses his letter to those who had once been despised Gentiles but who had been given equal rights of citizenship with the Jews and even with the apostles themselves in the kingdom of God.

Two things have to be noted about this great privilege which had been extended to the Gentiles.

(a) It had been allotted to them. That is to say, they had not earned it; it had fallen to them through no merit of their own, as some prize falls to a man by lot. In other words, their new citizenship was all of grace.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (RSV)
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God -- 9 not because of works, lest any man should boast.

Titus 3:5 (RSV)
5 he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit,


(b) It came to them through the impartial justice of their God and Savior Jesus Christ. It came to them because with God there is no "most favored nation clause"; His grace and favor go out impartially to every nation upon earth. The only responsibility on our part is to ACCEPT JESUS CHRIST AND HIM ALONE AS OUR ONLY SAVIOR!!!

Acts 4:12 (RSV)
12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

John 14:6 (RSV)
6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.


What has this to do with the name Simon, by which Peter is here called? In the New Testament, he is most often called Peter; he is fairly often called Simon, which was, indeed, his original name before Jesus gave him the name of Cephas or Peter,

John 1:41-42 (RSV)
41 He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, "So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas" (which means Peter).

But only once in the rest of the New Testament is he called Simeon or Simon. It is in the story of that Council of Jerusalem in Acts chapter fifteen, which decided that the door of the Church should be opened wide to the Gentiles. There James says,

Acts 15:14 (RSV)
14 Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.

In this letter which begins with greetings to the Gentiles who have been granted by the grace of God privileges of equal citizenship in the kingdom with the Jews and with the apostles Peter is called by the name of Simon; and the only other time he is called by that name is when he is the principal instrument whereby that privilege is granted.

Simon has in it the memory that Peter is the man who opened doors. He opened the doors to Cornelius, the Gentile centurion (Acts 10); his great authority was thrown on the side of the open door at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15).

Peter calls himself the servant of Jesus Christ. The word is (doulos) which really means slave. Strange as it may seem, here is a title, apparently one of humiliation, which the greatest of men took as a title of greatest honor. Moses the great leader and lawgiver was the (doulos) of God,

Deuteronomy 34:5 (RSV)
5 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD,

Psalm 105:26 (RSV)
26 He sent Moses his servant, and Aaron whom he had chosen.

Malachi 4:4 (RSV)
4 "Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and ordinances that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.

Joshua the great commander was the (doulos) of God,

Joshua 24:29 (RSV)
29 After these things Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being a hundred and ten years old.

David the greatest of the kings was the (doulos) of God,

2 Samuel 3:18 (RSV)
18 Now then bring it about; for the LORD has promised David, saying, `By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines, and from the hand of all their enemies.'"

Psalm 78:70 (RSV)
70 He chose David his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds;

In the New Testament Paul is the (doulos) of Jesus Christ,

Romans 1:1 (RSV)
1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God

Philippians 1:1 (RSV)
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philip'pi, with the bishops and deacons:

Titus 1:1 (RSV)
1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to further the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth which accords with godliness,

A title which James,

James 1:1 (RSV)
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greeting.

Jude 1:1 (RSV)
1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:

Both proudly claim. In the Old Testament the prophets are the (douloi) of God,

Amos 3:7 (RSV)
7 Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.

Isaiah 20:3 (RSV)
3 the LORD said, "As my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Ethiopia,

And in the New Testament the Christian frequently is Christ's (doulos),

Acts 2:18 (RSV)
18 yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

 1 Corinthians 7:22 (RSV)
22 For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ.

Ephesians 6:6 (RSV)
6 not in the way of eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,

Colossians 4:12 (RSV)
12 Ep'aphras, who is one of yourselves, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always remembering you earnestly in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.

2 Timothy 2:24 (RSV)
24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to every one, an apt teacher, forbearing,

There is deep meaning here.

(i) To call the Christian the (doulos) of God means that he or she is inalienably possessed by God. In the ancient world a master possessed his slaves in the same sense as he possessed his tools. A servant can change his master; but a slave cannot. The Christian inalienably belongs to God.


(ii) To call the Christian the (doulos) of God means that he or she is unqualifiedly at the disposal of God. In the ancient world the master could do what he liked with his slave; he had even the power of life and death over him. The Christian has no rights of his or her own, for all are rights are surrendered to God.

(iii) To call the Christian the (doulos) of God means that we owe an unquestioning obedience to God. A master's command was a slave's only law in ancient times. In any situation the Christian has but one question to ask: "Lord, what will you have me do?" The command of God is his only law.

(iv) To call the Christian the (doulos) of God means that we must be constantly in the service of God. In the ancient world the slave had literally no time of his own, no holidays, no leisure. All his time belonged to his master. The Christian cannot, either deliberately or unconsciously, compartmentalize life into the time and activities which belong to God, and the time and activities in which he or she does what he or she likes. The Christian is necessarily the person every moment of whose time is spent in the service of God.

((((((( And some people preach being a Christian is easy, I don’t think so…………………………………………………………)))))))

We note one further point. Peter speaks of the impartial justice of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. The King James Version translates, "the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ," as if this referred to two persons, God and Jesus; but, as Moffatt and the Revised Standard Version both show, in the Greek there is only one person involved and the phrase is correctly rendered our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Its great interest is that it does what the New Testament very, very seldom clearly expresses. It calls Jesus God. The only unmistakable parallel to this is the eternal cry of Thomas:

John 20:28 (RSV)
28 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"

Peter puts this in an unusual way. Grace and peace are to come from knowledge, the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Is he turning Christian experience into something dependent on knowledge? Or is there some other meaning here? First, let us look at the word which he uses for knowledge (epignosis). It can be interpreted in two directions.

(a) It can mean increasing knowledge. (Gnosis), the normal Greek word for knowledge, is here preceded by the preposition (epi) which means towards, in the direction of. (Epignosis) then could be interpreted as knowledge which is always moving further in the direction of that which it seeks to know. Grace and peace are multiplied to the Christian as he or she comes to know Jesus Christ better and better. As it has been put:

"The more Christians realize the meaning of Jesus Christ, the more they realize the meaning of grace and the experience of peace."

(b) (Epignosis) has a second meaning. Often in Greek it means full knowledge. Plutarch, for instance, uses it of the scientific knowledge of music as opposed to the knowledge of the mere amateur. So it may be that the implication here is that knowledge of Jesus Christ is what we might call "the master-science of life." The other sciences may bring new skill, new knowledge, new abilities, but the master-science, the knowledge of Jesus Christ, alone brings the grace men, women, and children need and the peace for which our hearts crave.

There is still more. Peter has a way of using words which were commonly on the lips of the pagans of his day and charging them with a new meaning. Knowledge was a much used word in pagan religious thought in the days when this letter was written. To take but one example, the Greeks defined (sophia), wisdom, as knowledge of things both human and divine. The Greek seekers after God sought that knowledge in two main ways.

(a) They sought it by philosophic speculation. They sought to reach God by the sheer power of human thought. There are obvious troubles there. For one thing, God is infinite; the mind of man is finite; and the finite can never grasp the infinite. Long ago Zophar had asked:

Job 11:7 (RSV)
7 "Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?

If God is ever to be known, He must be known, not because man's mind discovers Him but because He chooses to reveal Himself. For another thing, if religion is based on philosophic speculation, at its highest it can be the preserve of only the few, for it is not given to every person to be a philosopher. Whatever Peter meant by knowledge, he did not mean that.

(b) They sought it by mystical experience of the divine, until they could say, "I am thou, and thou art I." This was the way of the Mystery Religions. They were all passion plays; the dramatically acted story of some God who suffered and died and rose again. The initiate was carefully prepared by instruction in the inner meaning of the story, by long fasting and continence, and by the deliberate building up of psychological tension. The play was then played out with a magnificent liturgy, sensuous music, carefully calculated lighting and the burning of incense. The aim was that, as the initiate watched, he should so enter into this experience that he became actually one with the suffering, dying, rising, and eternally triumphant God. Again there are troubles here. For one thing, not everyone is capable of mystical experience. For another thing, any such experience is necessarily transient; it may leave an effect, but it cannot be a continual experience. Mystical experience is the privilege of the few.

(c) If this knowledge of Jesus Christ does not come by philosophic speculation or by mystical experience, what is it and how does it come? In the New Testament knowledge is characteristically personal knowledge. Paul does not say, "I know what I have believed"; he says,

2 Timothy 1:12 (RSV)
12 and therefore I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.

Christian knowledge of Christ is a deeply personal relationship with Him; it is knowing Him as a person and entering day by day, moment by moment, into a more intimate relationship with Him, a LOVE relationship.

When Peter speaks of grace and peace coming through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, he is not intellectualizing religion; he is saying that Christianity means an ever-deepening personal LOVE-relationship with Jesus Christ. And that LOVE-relationship with Jesus Christ works to make all our relationships better…………………………

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


January 26, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“Introduction to the Second Epistle of Peter”

Help us, O God, now and at all times,

*To respect ourselves;

*To LOVE our fellow men, women, children, and every baby in their Mother’s womb;

*To reverence You O blessed Lord, with all our mind, body, and heart, with every micro-speck of our being;

That we may do nothing,

*To shame ourselves;

*To injury others;

*To grieve you;

*May we live and serve YOU Heavenly Father to bring the Lost to a saving knowledge of you ONLY BEGOTTEN SON JESUS THE CHRIST!!!!!!!

Through Jesus Christ our most beLOVED Savior we pray, Amen and ETERNALLY AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Neglected Book and Its Contents

Second Peter is one of the neglected books of the New Testament. Very few people will claim to have read it, still less to have studied it in detail.

E. F. Scott says

"it is far inferior in every respect to First Peter"; and goes on "it is the least valuable of the New Testament writings."

It was only with the greatest difficulty that Second Peter gained entry into the New Testament, and for many years the Christian Church seemed to be unaware of its existence. But, before we approach its history, let us look at its contents.

The Lawless Men

Second Peter was written to combat the beliefs and activities of certain men who were a threat to the Church. It begins by insisting that the Christian is a person, who has escaped from the corruption of this world,

2 Peter 1:4 (RSV)
4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.

We must always remember that we have been purged of our old sins,

2 Peter 1:9 (RSV)
9 For whoever lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

There is laid upon us the duty of moral goodness, which culminates in the great Christian virtue of LOVE,

2 Peter 1:5-8 (RSV)
5 For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,
7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

((( So who said being a Christian is EASY??????? Not me!!! )))

Let us set out the characteristics of the men whom Second Peter rebukes. They twist Scripture to make it suit their own purpose,

2 Peter 1:20 (RSV)
20 First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation,

2 Peter 3:16 (RSV)
16 speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

They bring the Christian faith into disrepute,

2 Peter 2:2 (RSV)
2 And many will follow their licentiousness, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled.

They are covetous of gain and exploiters of their fellow-men,

2 Peter 2:3 (RSV)
3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words; from of old their condemnation has not been idle, and their destruction has not been asleep.

2 Peter 2:14-15 (RSV)
14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!
15 Forsaking the right way they have gone astray; they have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Be'or, who loved gain from wrongdoing,

They are doomed and will share the fate of the sinning angels,

2 Peter 2:4 (RSV)
4 For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment;

The men before the Flood,

2 Peter 2:5 (RSV)
5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven other persons, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;

The citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah,

The false prophet Balaam,

2 Peter 2:15 (RSV)
15 Forsaking the right way they have gone astray; they have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Be'or, who loved gain from wrongdoing,

They are base creatures, ruled by their brute instincts,

Dominated by their lusts,

2 Peter 2:10 (RSV)
10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and wilful, they are not afraid to revile the glorious ones,

2 Peter 2:18 (RSV)
18 For, uttering loud boasts of folly, they entice with licentious passions of the flesh men who have barely escaped from those who live in error.

Their eyes are full of adultery,

2 Peter 2:14 (RSV)
14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!

((( Sound familiar??? )))

They are presumptuous, self-willed and arrogant,

2 Peter 2:10 (RSV)
10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and wilful, they are not afraid to revile the glorious ones,

2 Peter 2:18 (RSV)
18 For, uttering loud boasts of folly, they entice with licentious passions of the flesh men who have barely escaped from those who live in error.

They spend even the daylight hours in unrestrained and luxurious revelry,

2 Peter 2:13 (RSV)
13 suffering wrong for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their dissipation, carousing with you.

They speak of liberty but what they call liberty is unbridled license and they themselves are the slaves of their own lusts,

2 Peter 2:19 (RSV)
19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved.

((( Scary Stuff…………….turning Christian grace and freedom to SLAVERY TO LUST AND SIN!!! )))

Not only are they deluded, they also delude others and lead them astray,

2 Peter 2:18 (RSV)
18 For, uttering loud boasts of folly, they entice with licentious passions of the flesh men who have barely escaped from those who live in error.

They are worse than those who never knew the right, because they knew what goodness is and have relapsed into evil, like a dog returning to its vomit and a sow returning to the mud after it has been washed,

2 Peter 2:20-22 (RSV)
20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, The dog turns back to his own vomit, and the sow is washed only to wallow in the mire.

((( I have to admit, this sounds like me some times……. )))

1 John 2:1-2 (RSV)
1 My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

It is clear that Peter is describing antinomians, men who used God's grace as a justification for sinning. In all probability they were Gnostics, who said that only spirit was good and that matter was essentially evil and that, therefore, it did not matter what we did with the body and that we could glut its appetites and it made no difference. They lived the most immoral lives and encouraged others to do so; and they justified their actions by perverting grace and interpreting Scripture to suit themselves.

The Denial of the Second Coming

Further, these evil men denied the Second Coming,

2 Peter 3:3-4 (RSV)
3 First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation."

((( Lets be honest, in human terms, their arguments SOUND QUITE REASONABLE AND LOGICAL. ***BUT THEY ARE LIES OF SATAN!!!!!! )))

They argued that this was a stable world in which things remained unalterably the same, and that God was so tardy that it was possible to assume that the Second Coming was never going to happen at all. The answer of Second Peter is that this is not a stable world; that it has, in fact, been destroyed by water in the Flood and that it will be destroyed by fire in the final conflagration (blaze),

2 Peter 3:5-7 (RSV)
5 They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago, and an earth formed out of water and by means of water, 6 through which the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist have been stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

What they regard as being EXTREMELY TARDY is in fact God withholding His hand in patience to give all mankind another chance to repent and be saved,

2 Peter 3:8-9 (RSV)
8 But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

((( Amen and ETERNALLY Amen!!!!!!! )))

But the day of destruction is coming,

2 Peter 3:10 (RSV)
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.

((((((( A rebirth of this polluted world which was  caused by humanity’s sins, reborn into the ETERNAL DWELLING OF GOD AND HIS PEOPLE………………………………………………………..)))))))

A new heaven and a new earth are on the way; therefore. goodness is an absolute necessity if a person is to be saved in the day of judgment,

With this Paul agrees, however difficult his letters may be to understand, and however false teachers deliberately misinterpret them,

2 Peter 3:15-16 (RSV)
15 And count the forbearance of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,
16 speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

The obligation of LOVE for us who are genuine Christians is to stand fast, firmly founded in the faith, and to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ,

2 Peter 3:17-18 (RSV)
17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, beware lest you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your own stability.
18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

The Doubts of the Early Church

Such are the contents of the letter. For long it was regarded with doubt and with something very like misgiving. There is no trace of it until after A.D. 200. It is not included in the Muratorian Canon Of A.D. 170 which was the first official list of New Testament books. It did not exist in the Old Latin Version of the Scriptures; nor in the New Testament of the early Syrian Church.

The great scholars of Alexandria either did not know it or were doubtful about it.

Clement of Alexandria, who wrote outlines of the books of Scripture, does not appear to have included Second Peter.

Origen says that Peter left behind one epistle which is generally acknowledged; "perhaps also a second, for it is a disputed question."

Didymus commented on it, but concluded his work by saying: "It must not be forgotten that this letter is spurious; it may be read in public; but it is not part of the canon of Scripture."

Eusebius, the great scholar of Caesarea, who made a careful investigation of the Christian literature of his day, comes to the conclusion:

"Of Peter, one Epistle, which is called his former Epistle, is acknowledged by all; of this the ancient presbyters have made frequent use in their writings as indisputably genuine; but that which is circulated as his second Epistle we have received to be not canonical although, since it appeared to be useful to many, it has been diligently read with the other Scriptures."

It was not until well into the fourth century that Second Peter came to rest in the canon of the New Testament.

The Objections

It is the well-nigh universal judgment of scholars, both ancient and modern, that Peter is not the author of Second Peter. Even John Calvin regarded it as impossible that Peter could have spoken of Paul as Second Peter speaks of him,

2 Peter 3:15-16 (RSV)
15 And count the forbearance of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,
16 speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

Although he was willing to believe that someone else wrote the letter at Peter's request. What, then, are the arguments against Peter's authorship?

(i) There is the extreme slowness, and even reluctance, of the early church to accept it. If it had been truly Peter's, there can be little doubt that the Church would have welcomed and honored it from the first. But the case was very different. For the first two centuries the letter is never quoted at all in any certain instance; it is regarded with doubt and suspicion for more than another century; and only late in the fourth century is it accepted.

(ii) The contents make it difficult to believe that it is Peter's. There is no mention of the Passion, the Resurrection and the Ascension of Jesus Christ; no mention of the Church as the true Israel; no mention of that faith which is undefeatable hope and trust combined; no mention of the Holy Spirit, of prayer, of baptism; and no passionate desire to call men to the supreme example of Jesus Christ. If one took away these great verities from First Peter there would be little or nothing left, and yet none of them occurs in Second Peter.

(iii) It is wholly different in character and style from First Peter. This was realized as early as Jerome who wrote:

"Simon Peter wrote two Epistles which are called Catholic, of which the authenticity of the second is denied by many because of the difference of the style from the first."

The Greek style of this letter is very difficult. Clogg calls it ambitious, artificial and often obscure, and remarks that it is the only book in the New Testament which is improved by translation.

Bishop Chase writes:

"The Epistle does produce the impression of being a somewhat artificial piece of rhetoric. It shows throughout signs of self-conscious effort. The author appears to be ambitious of writing in a style which is beyond his literary power."

He concludes that it is hard to reconcile the literary character of this letter with the supposition that Peter wrote it. Moffatt says:

"Second Peter is more periodic and ambitious than First Peter, but its linguistic and its stylistic efforts only reveal by their cumbrous obscurity a decided inferiority of conception, which marks it off from First Peter."

It might be claimed, as Jerome claimed, that, while Peter used Silvanus for First Peter, he used a different amanuensis for Second Peter and that this explains the change in style. But J. B. Mayor compares the two letters. He quotes some of the great passages of First Peter and then says:

"I think that none who read these words can help feeling that, not even in Paul, not even in John, is there to be found a more beautiful or a more living description of the secret of primitive Christianity, of the force that overcame the world, than in the perfect quaternion of faith and hope and love and joy, which pervades this short epistle (i.e. First Peter). No one could make the same assertion with regard to Second Peter: thoughtful and interesting as it is, it lacks that intense sympathy, that flame of love, which marks First Peter.... No change of circumstances can account for the change of tone of which we are conscious in passing from one epistle to the other."

It is the conclusion of that great and conservative scholar that no explanation, other than difference of authorship, can explain, not so much the difference in style as the difference in atmosphere between First and Second Peter. It is true that from the purely linguistic point of view there are 369 words which occur in First Peter which do not occur in Second Peter; and there are 230 words which occur in Second Peter and not in First Peter. But there is more than a difference in style. A writer can change his style and his vocabulary to suit his audience and his occasion. But the difference between the two letters in atmosphere and attitude is so wide that it is hardly possible that the same person should have written both.

(iv) Certain things within Second Peter point well-nigh irresistibly to a late date. So much time has passed that men have begun to abandon hope of the Second Coming altogether,

2 Peter 3:4 (RSV)
4 and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation."

The apostles are spoken of as figures of the past,

2 Peter 3:2 (RSV)
2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles.

The fathers, that is the founders of the Christian faith, are now figures of the almost dim and distant past; there have been generations between this letter and the first coming of the Christian faith,

2 Peter 3:4 (RSV)
4 and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation."

There are references which require the passing of the years to explain them. The reference to Peter's approaching death looks very like a reference to Jesus' prophecy in,

John 21:18-19 (RSV)
18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go." 19 (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, "Follow me."

The Fourth Gospel was not written until about A.D. 100.

Above all there is the reference to the letters of Paul,

2 Peter 3:15-16 (RSV)
15 And count the forbearance of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,
16 speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

From this it is quite certain that Paul's letters are known and used throughout all the Church; they are public property, and furthermore they are regarded as Scripture and on a level with "the other Scriptures"

2 Peter 3:16 (RSV)
16 speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

It was not until at least A.D. 90 that these letters were collected and published, and it would take many years for them to acquire the position of sacred Scripture. It is practically impossible that anyone should write like this until midway through the second century A.D.

Most of the evidence converges to genuinely suggest that Second Peter is a late book. It is not until the third century that it is quoted. The great scholars of the early church did not regard it as Peter's although they did not question its usefulness. The letter has references which require the passing of the years to explain them. The great interest of Second Peter lies in the very fact that it was the last book in the New Testament to be written and the last to gain entry into the New Testament.

In Peter's Name

How, then, did it become attached to the name of Peter? The answer is that it was deliberately attached. This may seem to us a strange proceeding but in the ancient world this was common practice. Plato's letters were written not by Plato but by a disciple in the master's name. The Jews repeatedly used this method of writing. Between the Old and the New Testament, books were written under the names of Solomon, Isaiah, Moses, Baruch, Ezra, Enoch and many another. And in New Testament times there is a whole literature around the name of Peter—The Gospel of Peter, The Preaching of Peter, The Apocalypse of Peter.

One salient fact makes this method of writing even more intelligible. The heretics used it. They issued misleading and malignant books under the names of the great apostles, claiming that they were the secret teaching of the great founders of the Church handed down by word of mouth to them. Faced with this, the Church retaliated in kind and issued books in which men set down for their own generation the things they were quite sure that the apostles would have said had they been facing this new situation. There is nothing either unusual or discreditable in a book being issued under the name of Peter although Peter did not write it. The writer in humility was putting the message which the Holy Spirit had given him into the mouth of Peter because he felt his own name was unworthy to appear upon the book.

We will not find Second Peter easy to read; but it is a book of first-rate importance because it was written to men who were undermining the Christian ethic and the Christian doctrine and who had to be stopped before the Christian faith was wrecked by their perversion of the truth.

After sober, prayful study of the criticisms to determine whether they were based on provable fact or assumption. The external evidence is not very strong for this epistle, but as we have seen, the fact that it was accepted into the canon in spite of the other pseudo-Petrine literature argues favorably for it. Concerning the internal evidence, it should be obvious that the critics’ interpretations of historical references are based on assumption. Valid explanations can be given for each historical reference fitting in the first century. The dependence on stylistic differences is too subjective to place much emphasis on, and it can be explained as caused by use of an amanuensis for First Peter. The denial of personal references seems to display an unwarranted prejudice and questionable understanding on the part of the critic. Until actual, objective proof is shown to the contrary, I and the majority of conservative scholars Know and will continue to believe the author of Second Peter IS MOST CERTAINLY THE APOSTLE  PETER HIMSELF……………..

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


January 19, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The First Epistle of Peter: Part Sixteen”

1 Peter 5:12-14 (RSV)
12 By Silva'nus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God; stand fast in it. 13 She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark. 14 Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you that are in Christ.

“O God, our most blessed Father, grant that this short time of worship may not be to us a nuisance and something with which we cannot be bothered. Grant that it may not be a mere formality which has to be pushed through because it is our custom. Give us today, this week, hearts which really want to tell You of their gratitude for Your gifts and of their sorrow for our mistakes. And make us to come with gladness, to wait with expectation, and to worship with concentration this day as we study Your word: in Jesus name, Amen and eternally Amen!!!”

Today, we study the final 3 verses of First Peter……………….

Peter bears witness that what he has written is indeed the grace of God, and he bids his people, amidst their difficulties, to stand fast in it.

He says that he has written through Silvanus. The Greek phrase (dia,  Silouanou) means that Silvanus was his agent in writing. Silvanus is the full form of the name Silas and he is almost certainly to be identified with the Silvanus of Paul's letters and the Silas of Acts. When we gather up the references to Silas or Silvanus, we find that he was one of the pillars of the early church.

Along with Judas Barsabas, Silvanus was sent to Antioch with the epoch-making decision of the Council of Jerusalem that the doors of the Church were to be opened to the Gentiles; and in the account of that mission Silvanus and Judas are called leading men among the brethren:

Acts 15:22 (RSV)
22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsab'bas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren,

Acts 15:27 (RSV)
27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth.

Not only did he simply bear the message, he commended it in powerful words, for Silvanus was also a prophet,

Acts 15:32 (RSV)
32 And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, exhorted the brethren with many words and strengthened them.

During the first missionary journey Mark left Paul and Barnabas and returned home from Pamphylia,

Acts 13:13 (RSV)
13 Now Paul and his company set sail from Paphos, and came to Perga in Pamphyl'ia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem;

(( John Mark ))

In preparing for the second missionary journey Paul refused to have Mark with him again; the result was that Barnabas took Mark as his companion and Paul took Silvanus,

Acts 15:37-40 (RSV)
37 And Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphyl'ia, and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp contention, so that they separated from each other; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus,
40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord.

From that time forward Silvanus was Paul's right-hand man. He was with Paul in Philippi, where he was arrested and imprisoned with him,

Acts 16:19 (RSV)
19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place before the rulers;

Acts 16:25 (RSV)
25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,

Acts 16:29 (RSV)
29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas,

He rejoined Paul in Corinth and with him preached the gospel there,

Acts 18:5 (RSV)
5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedo'nia, Paul was occupied with preaching, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus.

2 Corinthians 1:19 (RSV)
19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you, Silva'nus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No; but in him it is always Yes.

So closely was he associated with Paul that in both the letters to the Thessalonians he is joined with Paul and Timothy as the senders of the letters,

1 Thessalonians 1:1 (RSV)
1 Paul, Silva'nus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalo'nians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

2 Thessalonians 1:1 (RSV)
1 Paul, Silva'nus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalo'nians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

It is clear that Silvanus was a most notable man in the early church.

It is most probable that Silvanus was far more than merely the scribe who wrote this letter for Peter and the bearer who delivered it. One of the difficulties of First Peter is the excellence of the Greek. It is Greek with such a classical tinge that it seems impossible that Peter the Galilaean fisherman should have written it for himself. Now Silvanus was not only a man of weight in the Church; he was also a Roman citizen,

Acts 16:25 (RSV)
25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,

Acts 16:37 (RSV)
37 But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now cast us out secretly? No! let them come themselves and take us out."

In context, ‘the us’, is Paul and Silas………………..

Silas would be much better educated than Peter was. Most probably he had a large share in the composition of this letter. We are told that in China, when a missionary wished to send a message to his people, he often wrote it in the best Chinese he could achieve, and then gave it to a Christian Chinese to correct and put into proper form; or, he might even just tell the Christian Chinese what he wished to say, leaving him to put it into literary form for his approval. That is most likely what Peter did. He either gave his letter to Silvanus to polish into excellent Greek or else he told Silvanus what he wished said and left him to say it, adding the last three verses as his personal greeting.

Silvanus was one of those men the Church can never do without. He was content to take the second place and to serve almost in the background so long as God's work was done. It was enough for him that he was Paul's assistant, even if Paul forever overshadowed him. It was enough for him to be Peter's penman, even if it meant only a bare mention of his name at the end of the letter. For all that, it is no little thing to go down in history as the faithful friend and companion of both Peter and Paul of whom they so greatly depended. The Church always has need of people like Silvanus and many who cannot be Peters or Pauls can still assist the Peters and Pauls to do their work.

Although it sounds so simple, this is a troublesome verse. It presents us with certain questions difficult of solution.

(i) From whom are these greetings sent? The King James Version has "the Church that is at Babylon elected together with you, saluteth you." But "the Church that is" is in italics, which means that there is no equivalent in the Greek which simply says "the one elected together with you at Babylon" and the phrase is feminine. There are two possibilities.

(a) It is quite possible that the King James Version is correct. That is the way Moffatt takes it when he translates "your sister Church in Babylon." The phrase could well be explained as being based on the fact that the Church is the Bride of Christ and may be spoken of in this way. On the whole, the commonest view is that it is a Church which is meant.

(b) But it does have to be remembered that there is actually no word for Church in the Greek, and this feminine phrase might equally well refer to some well-known Christian lady. If it does, by far the best suggestion is that the reference is to Peter's wife. We know that she did actually accompany him on his preaching journeys,

1 Corinthians 9:5 (RSV)
5 Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife, as the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?

***Clement of Alexandria (Stromateis 7.11.63) tells us that she died a martyr, executed in Peter's own sight, while he encouraged her by saying, "Remember the Lord." She was clearly a well-known figure in the early church.

Stromateis 7.11.63

“They say, accordingly, that the blessed Peter, on seeing his wife led to death, rejoiced on account of her call and conveyance home, and called very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, "Remember thou the Lord." Such was the marriage of the blessed and their perfect disposition towards those dearest to them.”

We would not wish to speak dogmatically on this question. It is perhaps more likely that the reference is to a Church; but it is not impossible that Peter is associating his wife and fellow-evangelist in the greetings which he sends.

(ii) From where was this letter written? The greetings are sent from Babylon. There are three possibilities.

(a) There was a Babylon in Egypt, near Cairo. It had been founded by Babylonian refugees from Assyria and was called by the name of their ancestral city. But by this time it was almost exclusively a great military camp; and in any event the name of Peter is never connected with Egypt. This Babylon may be disregarded.

(b) There was the Babylon in the east to which the Jews had been taken in captivity. Many had never come back and it was a center of Jewish scholarship. The great commentary on the Jewish Law is called the Babylonian Talmud. So important were the Jews of Babylon that Josephus had issued a special edition of his histories for them. There is no doubt that there was a large and important colony of Jews there; and it would have been quite natural for Peter, the apostle of the Jews, to preach and to work there. But we do not find the name of Peter ever connected with Babylon and there is no trace of him having ever been there. Scholars so great as Calvin and Erasmus have taken Babylon to be this great eastern city but, on the whole, I think the probabilities are against it.

(c) Regularly Rome was called Babylon, both by the Jews and by the Christians. That is undoubtedly the case in the Revelation where Babylon is the great harlot, drunk with the blood of the saints and the martyrs, (Revelation chapters 17-18). Rome being Babylon for John’s immediate readers, yet ultimately symbolic of the future Babylon of the end-time…The Godlessness, Just and luxury of ancient Babylon were, so to speak, reincarnated in Rome. Peter is definitely connected in tradition with Rome; and the likelihood is that it was from there that the letter was written.

(iii) Who is the Mark, whom Peter calls his son, and from whom he sends greetings? If we take the elect lady to be Peter's wife. Mark might quite well be literally Peter's son. But it is much more likely that he is the Mark who wrote the gospel. Tradition has always closely connected Peter with Mark, and has handed down the story that he was intimately involved with Mark's gospel. Papias, who lived towards the end of the second century and was a great collector of early traditions, describes Mark's gospel in this way:

"Mark, who was Peter's interpreter, wrote down accurately though not in order, all that he recollected of what Christ had said or done. For he was not a hearer of the Lord or a follower of his; he followed Peter, as I have said, at a later date, and Peter adapted his instructions to practical needs, without any attempt to give the Lord's words systematically. So that Mark was not wrong in writing down some things in this way from memory, for his one concern was neither to omit nor to falsify anything he had heard."

According to Papias, Mark's gospel is nothing other than the preaching material of Peter. In similar vein Irenaeus says that after the death of Peter and Paul at Rome,

"Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, also handed down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter."

It is the consistent story of tradition that Mark, the evangelist, was indeed a son to Peter, and all the likelihood is that these greetings are from him.

So, then, we may gather up the possibilities. "She who is at Babylon, and who has been chosen, as you have been chosen," may either be the Church or the wife of Peter, herself a martyr. Babylon may be the Babylon of the east but is more likely to be the great and wicked city of Rome. Mark might possibly be the actual son of Peter, about whom we know nothing else, but is more likely to be Mark, the writer of the gospel, who was to Peter as a son.

The most interesting thing here is the injunction to give each other the kiss of love. This was for centuries an integral and precious part of Christian fellowship and worship; and its history and gradual elimination, is of the greatest interest.

With the Jews it was the custom for a disciple to kiss his Rabbi on the cheek and to lay his hands upon his shoulder. That is what Judas did to Jesus,

Mark 14:44 (RSV)
44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "The one I shall kiss is the man; seize him and lead him away under guard."

The kiss was the greeting of welcome and respect, and we can see how much Jesus valued it, for he was grieved when it was not given to him,

Luke 7:45 (RSV)
45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.

Paul's letters frequently end with the injunction to salute each other with a holy kiss,

Romans 16:16 (RSV)
16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

1 Corinthians 16:20 (RSV)
20 All the brethren send greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

2 Corinthians 13:12 (RSV)
12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.

1 Thessalonians 5:26 (RSV)
26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.

In the early church the kiss became an essential part of Christian worship. "What prayer is complete," asks Tertullian, "from which the holy kiss is divorced? What kind of sacrifice is that from which men depart without the peace?" (Dex Oratione 18). The kiss, we see here, was called the peace. It was specially a part of the communion service. Augustine says that, when Christians were about to communicate, "they demonstrated their inward peace by the outward kiss" (De Amicitia 6). It was usually given after the catechumens ((a person under instruction in the rudiments of Christianity, as in the early church; a neophyte )) had been dismissed, when only members of the Church were present, and after the prayer before the elements were brought in. Justin Martyr says,

"When we have ceased from prayer, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president bread and a cup of wine".

The kiss was preceded by the prayer

"for the gift of peace and of unfeigned love, undefiled by hypocrisy or deceit," and it was the sign that "our souls are mingled together, and have banished all remembrance of wrongs" (Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 25.5.3).

The kiss was the sign that all injuries were forgotten, all wrongs forgiven, and that those who sat at the Lord's Table were indeed one in the Lord.

This was a lovely custom and yet it is clear that it was sadly open to abuse. It is equally clear from the warnings so often given that abuses did creep in.

**Athenagoras insists that the kiss must be given with the greatest care, for "if there be mixed with it the least defilement of thought, it excludes us from eternal life" (Legatio Christianis 32).

**Origen insists that the kiss of peace must be "holy, chaste and sincere," not like the kiss of Judas (Commentaria in Epistolam B. Pauli ad Romanos 10: 33).

**Clement of Alexandria condemns the shameless use of the kiss, which ought to be mystic, for with the kiss "certain persons make the churches resound, and thereby occasion foul suspicions and evil reports" (Paedagogus 3: 11).

**Tertullian speaks of the natural reluctance of the heathen husband to think that his wife should be so greeted in the Christian Church (Ad Uxorem 2: 4).

In the Church of the west these inevitable problems gradually brought the end of this lovely custom. By the time of the Apostolic Constitutions in the fourth century, the kiss is confined to those of the same sex—the clergy are to salute the bishop, the men the men and the women the women. In this form the kiss of peace lasted in the Church of the west until the thirteenth century. Sometimes substitutes were introduced. In some places a little wooden or metal tablet, with a picture of the crucifixion on it, was used. It was kissed first by the priest, and then passed to the congregation, who each kissed it and handed it on, each person to their neighbor, in token of their mutual LOVE for Christ and in Christ. In the oriental Churches the custom still obtains; it is not extinct in the Greek Church; the Armenian Church substituted a courteous bow.

We may note certain other uses of the kiss in the early church. At baptism the person baptized was kissed, first by the baptizer and then by the whole congregation, as a sign of his or her welcome into the household and family of Christ. A newly ordained bishop was given "the kiss in the Lord." The marriage ceremony was ratified by a kiss, a natural action taken over from paganism. Those who were dying first kissed the Cross and were then kissed by all present. The dead were kissed before burial.

To us the kiss of peace may seem very far away. It came from the day when the Church was a real family and fellowship, when Christians really did know and LOVE one another. It is a tragedy that the modern Church, often with vast congregations who do not know each other and do not even wish to know each other, could not use the kiss of peace except as a formality.

It was a lovely custom which was bound to cease when the reality of fellowship was lost within the Church.

"Peace to all of you that are in Christ," says Peter; and so he leaves his people to the peace of God which is greater than all the troubles and distresses the world can bring…….

Next week we will begin: “ The Second Epistle of Peter “……………..

Oh the day when we who belong to Jesus Christ will be freed from all our thoughts and attitudes of impurity!!!!!!!

 That will be a great Day of Rejoicing!!!!!!!

When we all get to heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


January 12, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The First Epistle of Peter: Part Fifteen”

1 Peter 5:6-11 (RSV)
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. 7 Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. 8 Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you. 11 To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.


Now to our study:

Here Peter speaks in essentials, laying down certain laws for the Christian life.

(i) There is the law of humility before God. The Christian must humble himself under His mighty hand. The phrase the mighty hand of God is common in the Old Testament; and it is most often used in connection with the deliverance which God wrought for His people when He brought them out of Egypt. "With a strong hand," said Moses,

Exodus 13:9 (RSV)
9 And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 3:24 (RSV)
24 `O Lord GOD, thou hast only begun to show thy servant thy greatness and thy mighty hand; for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as thine?

God brought His people forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand,

Deuteronomy 9:26 (RSV)
26 And I prayed to the LORD, `O Lord GOD, destroy not thy people and thy heritage, whom thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, whom thou hast brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand.

The idea is that God's mighty hand is on the destiny of His people, if they will humbly and faithfully accept His guidance. After all the varied experiences of life, Joseph could say to the brothers who had once sought to eliminate him:

Genesis 50:20 (RSV)
20 As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

The Christian should never resent the experiences of life and never rebel against them, because we know that the mighty hand of God is on the tiller of our life and that YHWH, our Father, has a destiny for us…

(ii) There is the law of Christian serenity in God. The Christian must cast all our anxiety upon God.

Psalm 55:22 (RSV)
22 Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Matthew 6:25-34 (RSV)
25 "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, `What shall we eat?' or `What shall we drink?' or `What shall we wear?' 32 For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. 34 "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day.

The reason we can do this with confidence is that we can be certain that God cares for us. As Paul had it, we can be certain that He who gave us His only Son will with Him give us all things,

Romans 8:32 (RSV)
32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?

We can be certain that, since God LOVES and cares for us, life is not out to break us but to make us; and, with that assurance, we should accept any experience which comes to us, knowing that in everything God works for good with those who LOVE Him,

Romans 8:28 (RSV)
28 We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.

(iii) There is the law of Christian effort and of Christian vigilance. We must be sober and watchful. The fact that we cast everything upon God does not give us the right to sit back and to do nothing. Cromwell's advice to his troops was:

"Trust in God, and keep your powder dry."

Peter knew how hard this vigilance was, for he remembered how in Gethsemane he and his fellow-disciples slept when they should have been watching with Jesus,

Matthew 26:38-46 (RSV)
38 Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, "So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, thy will be done." 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand."

The Christian is the person who trusts but at the same time puts all their, our effort and all our vigilance into the business of living for Christ, DOING FOR CHRIST!!!

James 1:22 (RSV)
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

(iv) There is the law of Christian resistance. The devil is ever out to see whom he can ruin. Again Peter must have been remembering how the devil had overcome him and he had denied his Lord. A person's faith must be like a solid wall against which the attacks of the devil exhaust themselves in vain. The devil is like any bully and retreats when he is bravely resisted in the strength of Jesus Christ. And ONLY IN THE STRENGTH OF JESUS CHRIST!!!!!!!

James 4:7 (RSV)
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

(v) Finally, Peter speaks of the law of Christian suffering. He says that, after the Christian has gone through suffering, God will restore, establish, strengthen and settle us. Every one of the words which Peter uses has behind it a vivid picture. Each tells us something about what suffering is designed by God to do for a us.

(a) Through suffering God will restore a person. The word for restore is difficult in this case to translate. It is (kartarizein), the word commonly used for setting a fracture, the word used in,

Mark 1:19 (RSV)
19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zeb'edee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets.

( Mending the nets )

 It means to supply that which is missing, to mend that which is broken. So suffering, if accepted in humility and trust and LOVE, can repair the weaknesses of a person's character and add the greatness which so far is not there. It is said that Sir Edward Elgar once listened to a young girl singing a solo from one of his own works. She had a voice of exceptional purity and clarity and range, and an almost perfect technique. When she had finished, Sir Edward said softly,

"She will be really great when something happens to break her heart."

Barrie tells how his mother lost her favorite son, and then says,

"That is where my mother got her soft eyes, and that is why other mothers ran to her when they had lost a child."

***Suffering had done something for her that an easy way could never have done. Suffering is meant by God to add the grace notes to life.

(b) Through suffering God will establish a person. The word is (sterixein), which means to make as solid as granite. Suffering of body and sorrow of heart do one of two things to a person. They either make them collapse or they leave us with a solidity of character which we could never have gained anywhere else. If we meet suffering, trials, problems with continuing faith and trust in Christ, we emerge like toughened steel that has been tempered in the fire.

(c) Through suffering God will strengthen a person. The Greek is (sthenoun), which means to fill with strength. Here is the same sense again. A life with no effort and no discipline almost inevitably becomes a flabby life. No one really knows what their faith means to them until it has been tried in the furnace of affliction. There is something doubly precious about a faith which has come victoriously through pain and sorrow and disappointment. The wind will extinguish a weak flame; but it will fan a strong flame into a still greater blaze. So it is with faith.

(d) Through suffering God will settle a person. The Greek is (themelioun), which means to lay the foundations. When we have to meet sorrow and suffering we are driven down to the very bedrock of faith. It is then that we discover what are the things which cannot be shaken. It is in time of trials that we discover the great truths on which real life is founded.

Suffering is very far from doing these precious things for every person. It may well drive a person to bitterness and despair; and may well take away such faith as they have or thought they had. ***But if it is accepted in faith of a LOVING, CARING, ALL POWERFUL FATHER ( YHWH ), WHO HOLDS US IN HIS SWEET, SWEET, GLORIOUSLY AWESOME HANDS, then certainty we can know, our Heavenly Father will never cause His children, us, who are truly “born again”, a needless tear, a fearful fright, then out of suffering come things which the easy way may never bring…….And things only God is now aware!!!!!!!

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


January 5, 2020

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

“The First Epistle of Peter: Part Fourteen”

1 Peter 5:1-5 (RSV)
1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed. 2 Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, 3 not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise you that are younger be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

O Lamb of God, who, both by Your example and precept, instructed us to be meek and humble, give us grace throughout our whole lives, in every thought, and word, and work, to imitate Your meekness and humility. Mortify in us the whole body of pride; grant us to feel that we are nothing and have nothing, and that we deserve nothing but shame and contempt, but misery and punishment. Grant, O Lord, that we may look for nothing, claim nothing; and that we may go through all the scenes of life, not seeking our own glory, but looking wholly unto You, and acting wholly for You.

Let us never speak any word that may tend to our own praise, unless the good of our neighbor requires it; and even then let us beware, lest, to heal another, we wound our own souls. Let our ears and our hearts be ever shut to the praise that comes from men.

Give us a dread of applause, in whatsoever form, and from whatsoever tongue, it comes. Deliver our souls from this snare of hell; neither let us spread it for the feet of others. Whosoever perishes thereby, let their blood be upon their own head, and let not our hands be upon them.

O giver of every good and perfect gift, if at any time You please to work by our hands, teach us to discern what is our own from what is another’s, and to render unto You the things that are yours. As all the good that is done on earth You do it Yourself, let us ever return to You all the glory. Let us, as a pure crystal, transmit all the light You pour upon us; but never claim as our own what is Your sole property.

Make us that sensitive to Your holiness, O God, that we might indeed be aware of our own vileness and fall before You in humility and confession.

Have Thine own way Lord. Have Thine own way, Thou art the potter we are the clay. Mold us and make us after Thy will, While we are waiting yielded and still. Have Thine own way Lord, Have Thine own way. Search us and try us Master today. Whiter than snow Lord wash us just now, As in Thy presence humbly we bow. Have Thine own way Lord, Have Thine own way. Hold over our life absolute sway !!! Filled with Thy spirit till all can see Christ only always living in us.

In Jesus beautiful name we pray all these things, Amen and eternally Amen and Amen…….

As we draw to a close another Christmas Season and have celebrated the beginning of 2020, our studies turn back to the epistles of Peter.

Let us continue in First Peter…………………………………

Few passages show more clearly the importance of the eldership in the early church. It is to the elders that Peter specially writes and he, who was the chief of the apostles, does not hesitate to call himself a fellow-elder. It will be worth our while to look at something of the background and history of the eldership, the most ancient and the most important office in the Church.

(i) It has a Jewish background. The Jews traced the beginning of the eldership to the days when the children of Israel were journeying through the wilderness to the Promised Land. There came a time when Moses felt the burdens of leadership too heavy for him to bear alone, and to help him seventy elders were set apart and granted a share of the spirit of God,

Numbers 11:16-30 (RSV)
16 And the LORD said to Moses, "Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. 17 And I will come down and talk with you there; and I will take some of the spirit which is upon you and put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone. 18 And say to the people, `Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the LORD, saying, "Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt." Therefore the LORD will give you meat, and you shall eat. 19 You shall not eat one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, 20 but a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have rejected the LORD who is among you, and have wept before him, saying, "Why did we come forth out of Egypt?"'" 21 But Moses said, "The people among whom I am number six hundred thousand on foot; and thou hast said, `I will give them meat, that they may eat a whole month!' 22 Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, to suffice them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them?" 23 And the LORD said to Moses, "Is the LORD's hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not." 24 So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD; and he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people, and placed them round about the tent. 25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was upon him and put it upon the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did so no more. 26 Now two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested upon them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. 27 And a young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp." 28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the minister of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, "My lord Moses, forbid them." 29 But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD's people were prophets, that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!"
30 And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.

Thereafter elders became a permanent feature of Jewish life. We find them as the friends of the prophets,

2 Kings 6:32A (RSV)
32A Eli'sha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him…”

As the advisers of kings,

1 Kings 20:7-8 (RSV)
7 Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, "Mark, now, and see how this man is seeking trouble; for he sent to me for my wives and my children, and for my silver and my gold, and I did not refuse him." 8 And all the elders and all the people said to him, "Do not heed or consent."

1 Kings 21:11 (RSV)
11 And the men of his city, the elders and the nobles who dwelt in his city, did as Jez'ebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters which she had sent to them,

As the colleagues of the princes in the administration of the affairs of the nation,

Ezra 10:8 (RSV)
8 and that if any one did not come within three days, by order of the officials and the elders all his property should be forfeited, and he himself banned from the congregation of the exiles.

Every village and city had its elders; they met at the gate and dispensed justice to the people,

Deuteronomy 25:7 (RSV)
7 And if the man does not wish to take his brother's wife, then his brother's wife shall go up to the gate to the elders, and say, `My husband's brother refuses to perpetuate his brother's name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband's brother to me.'

The elders were the administrators of the synagogue; they did not preach, but they saw to the good government and order of the synagogue, and they exercised discipline over its members. The elders formed a large section of the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of the Jews, and they are regularly mentioned along with the Chief Priests and the rulers and the Scribes and the Pharisees,

Matthew 16:21 (RSV)
21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

Matthew 21:23 (RSV)
23 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?"

Matthew 26:3 (RSV)
3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Ca'iaphas,

Matthew 26:57 (RSV)
57 Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Ca'iaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered.

Matthew 27:1 (RSV)
1 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death;

Matthew 27:3 (RSV)
3 When Judas, his betrayer, saw that he was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders,

Luke 7:3 (RSV)
3 When he heard of Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his slave.

Acts 4:5 (RSV)
5 On the morrow their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem,

Acts 6:12 (RSV)
12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council,


Acts 24:1 (RSV)
1 And after five days the high priest Anani'as came down with some elders and a spokesman, one Tertul'lus. They laid before the governor their case against Paul;

In the vision of the Revelation in the heavenly places there are twenty-four elders around the throne. The elders were woven into the very structure of Judaism, both in its civil and its religious affairs.

(ii) The eldership has a Greek background. Especially in Egyptian communities we find that elders are the leaders of the community and responsible for the conduct of public affairs, much as town councilors are today. We find a woman who had suffered an assault appealing to the elders for justice. When corn is being collected as tribute on the visit of a governor, we find that "the elders of the cultivators" are the officials concerned. We find them connected with the issuing of public edicts, the leasing of land for pasture, the ingathering of taxation. In Asia Minor, also, the members of councils were called elders. Even in the religious communities of the pagan world we find "elder priests" who were responsible for discipline. In the Socnopaeus temple we find the elder priests dealing with the case of a priest who is charged with allowing his hair to grow too long and with wearing woollen garments—an effeminacy and a luxury of which no priest should have been guilty.

We can see that long before Christianity took it over "elder" was a title of honor both in the Jewish and in the Greco-Roman world.

When we turn to the Christian Church we find that the eldership is its basic office.

It was Paul's custom to ordain elders in every community to which he preached and in every church which he founded. On the first missionary journey elders were ordained in every church,

Acts 14:21 (RSV)
21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Ico'nium and to Antioch,

Titus is left in Crete to ordain elders in every city,

Titus 1:5 (RSV)
5 This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you,

The elders had charge of the financial administration of the Church; it is to them that Paul and Barnabas delivered the money sent to relieve the poor of Jerusalem in the time of the famine,

Acts 11:30 (RSV)
30 and they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

The elders were the counselors and the administrators of the Church. We find them taking a leading part in the Council of Jerusalem at which it was decided to fling open the doors of the Church to the Gentiles. At that Council the elders and the apostles are spoken of together as the chief authorities of the Church,

Acts 15:2 (RSV)
2 And when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question.

Acts 16:4 (RSV)
4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions which had been reached by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem.

When Paul came on his last visit to Jerusalem, it was to the elders that he reported and they suggested the course of action he should follow:

Acts 21:18-25 (RSV)
18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James; and all the elders were present. 19 After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed; they are all zealous for the law, 21 and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs. 22 What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; 24 take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you but that you yourself live in observance of the law. 25 But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity."

One of the most moving passages in the New Testament is Paul's farewell to the elders of Ephesus. We find there that the elders, as he sees them, are the overseers of the flock of God and the defenders of the faith:

Acts 20:28-29 (RSV)
28 Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;

We learn from James that the elders had a healing function in the Church through prayers and anointing with oil:

James 5:14 (RSV)
14 Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;

From the Pastoral Epistles we learn that they were rulers and teachers, and by that time paid officials.

1 Timothy 5:17 (RSV)
17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching;

The phrase double honor is better translated double pay).

When a man enters the eldership, no small honor is conferred upon him, for he is entering on the oldest religious office in the world, whose history can be traced through Christianity and Judaism for four thousand years; and no small responsibility falls upon him, for he has been ordained a shepherd of the flock of God and a defender of the faith.

Peter sets down in a series of contrasts the perils and the privileges of the eldership; and everything he says is applicable, not only to the eldership, but also to all Christian service inside and outside the Church.

The elder is to accept office, not under coercion, but willingly. This does not mean that a man is to grasp at office or to enter upon it without self-examining thought. Any Christian will have a certain reluctance to accept high office, because he knows only too well his unworthiness and inadequacy. There is a sense in which it is by compulsion that a man accepts office and enters upon Christian service. "Necessity," said Paul,

1 Corinthians 9:16 (RSV)
16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

"The love of Christ controls us," Paul said,

2 Corinthians 5:14 (RSV)
14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.

But, on the other hand, there is a way of accepting office and of rendering service as if it was a grim and unpleasant duty. It is quite possible for a man to agree to a request in such an ungracious way that his whole action is spoiled. Peter does not say that a man should be conceitedly or irresponsibly eager for office; but that every Christian should be anxious to render such service as he can, although fully aware how unworthy he is to render it.

The elder is to accept office, not to make a shameful profit out of it, but eagerly. The word for making a shameful profit is (aischrokerdes). The noun from this is (aischrokerdeia), and it was a characteristic which the Greek loathed. Theophrastus, the great Greek delineator of character, has a character sketch of this (aischrokerdeia). Meanness—as it might be translated—is the desire for improper gain. The mean man is he who never sets enough food before his guests and who gives himself a double portion when he is carving the meat. He waters the wine; he goes to the theatre only when he can get a free ticket. He never has enough money to pay the fare and always borrows from his fellow-passengers. When he is selling corn, he uses a measure in which the bottom is pushed up, and even then he carefully levels the top. He counts the half radishes left over from dinner in case the servants eat any. Rather than give a wedding present, he will go away from home when a wedding is in the offing.

Meanness is an ugly fault. It is quite clear that there were people in the early church who accused the preachers and missionaries of being in the job for what they could get out of it as we do TO THIS VERY DAY. Paul repeatedly declares that he coveted no man's goods and worked with his hands to meet his own needs so that he was burdensome to no man,

Acts 20:33 (RSV)
33 I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel.

1 Thessalonians 2:9 (RSV)
9 For you remember our labor and toil, brethren; we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you, while we preached to you the gospel of God.

1 Corinthians 9:12 (RSV)
12 If others share this rightful claim upon you, do not we still more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:14 (RSV)
14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.

It is certain that the payment any early office-bearer received was pitifully small and the repeated warnings that the office-bearers must not be greedy for gain shows that there were those who coveted more, as is STILL TRUE TODAY,

1 Timothy 3:3 (RSV)
3 no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money.

Titus 1:7 (RSV)
7 For a bishop, as God's steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,

One of my sins was and unfortunately still can be at times, a bad temper…………………..

Titus 1:11 (RSV)
11 they must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for base gain what they have no right to teach.

The point that Peter is making—and it is ever valid—is that no man or woman  dare accept office or render service for what they can get out of it. ((( That includes myself, or any of us!!! ))) Our desire must ever be to give and not to get.

The elder is to accept office, not to be a petty tyrant, but to be the shepherd and the example of the flock. Human nature is such that for many people prestige and power are even more attractive than money. There are those who love authority, even if it be exercised in a narrow sphere. Milton's Satan thought it better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven. Shakespeare spoke about a proud man, dressed in a little brief authority, playing such fantastic tricks before high heaven as would make the angels weep. The great characteristic of the shepherd is his selfless care and his sacrificial LOVE for the sheep. Any man who enters an office with the desire for preeminence, has got his whole point of view upside down. Jesus said to his ambitious disciples,

Mark 10:42-45 (RSV)
42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, "You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.
45 For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

One thing in this passage which defies translation and is yet one of the most precious and significant things in it is what we have translated "petty tyrants over those allotted to your care." The phrase which we have translated those allotted is curious in Greek; it is (ton), (kleron), the genitive plural of (kleros) which is a word of extraordinary interest.

(i) It begins by meaning a dice or a lot. It is so used in:

Matthew 27:35 (RSV)
35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots;

Which tells how the soldiers beneath the Cross were throwing dice (kleroi),) to see who should possess the seamless robe of Jesus.

(ii) Second, it means an office gained or assigned by lot. It is the word used in:

Acts 1:26 (RSV)
26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthi'as; and he was enrolled with the eleven apostles.

Which tells how the disciples cast lots to see who should inherit the office of Judas the traitor.

(iii) It then comes to mean an inheritance allotted to someone, as used in,

Colossians 1:12 (RSV)
12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

(iv) In classical Greek it very often means a public allotment or estate of land. These allotments were distributed by the civic authorities to the citizens; and very often the distribution was made by drawing lots for the various pieces of land available for distribution. Even if we were to go no further than this, it would mean that the office of the eldership and, indeed, any piece of service offered to us is never earned by any merit of our own but always allotted to us by God. It is never something that we have deserved but always something given to us by the grace of God.  ((((((( Something which our present Church era SEEMS TO HAVE FORGOTTEN!!!!!!! )))))))

But we can go further than this. (Kleros) means something which is allotted to a man.

Deuteronomy 9:29 (RSV)
29 For they are thy people and thy heritage, whom thou didst bring out by thy great power and by thy outstretched arm.'

We read that Israel is the heritage (kleros) of God. That is to say, Israel is the people specially assigned to God by His own choice. Israel is the (kleros) of God; the congregation is the (kleros) of the elder. Just as Israel is allotted to God, an elder's duties in the congregation are allotted to him. This must mean that the whole attitude of the elder to his people must be the same as the attitude of God to His people.

Here we have another great thought.

In 1 Peter 5:2 there is a phrase in the best Greek manuscripts which is not in the King James or the Revised Standard Versions.

1 Peter 5:2 (NIV2011)
2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;

I have translated it: "Shepherd the flock of God, which is in your charge, not because you are coerced into doing so, but of your own free-will as God would have you to do." As God would have you to do is in Greek (kata0 (theon), and that could well mean quite simply like God. Peter says to the elders, "Shepherd your people like God." Just as Israel is God's special allotment, the people we have to serve in the Church or anywhere else are our special allotment; and our attitude to them must be the attitude of God. That includes ALL OF US WHO SERVE GOD, NOT JUST THOSE WHO ARE PAID!!! ***This Christ-like attitude SHOULD BE IN ALL GOD’s PEOPLE, but especially the elders……………………………….

What an ideal! And what a condemnation! It is our task to show to people God's forbearance,

*His forgiveness,

*His seeking LOVE,

*His illimitable service.

God has allotted to us a task and we must do it as He Himself would do it. That is the supreme ideal of service in the Christian Church.

One of the LOVELY things about this passage is Peter's attitude throughout it. He begins by, as it were, taking his place beside those to whom he speaks. "Your fellow-elder" he calls himself. He does not separate himself from them but comes to share the Christian problems and the Christian experience with them. But in one thing he is different; he has memories of Jesus and these memories color this whole passage. Even as he speaks, they are crowding into his mind.

(i) He describes himself as a witness of the sufferings of Christ. At first sight we might be inclined to question that statement, for we are told that, after the arrest in the garden,

Matthew 26:56 (RSV)
56 But all this has taken place, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.

But, when we think a little further, we realize that it was given to Peter to see the suffering of Jesus in a more poignant way than was given to any other human being. He followed Jesus into the courtyard of the High Priest's house and there in a time of weakness he three times denied his Master. The trial came to an end and Jesus was taken away; and there comes what may well be the most tragic sentence in the New Testament:

Luke 22:61-62 (RSV)
61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, "Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times." 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.

 In that look Peter saw the suffering of the heart of a leader whose follower had failed Him in the hour of His bitterest need. Of a truth Peter was a witness of the suffering that comes to Christ when men, women and even children and babes deny Him; and that is why Peter was so eager that his people might be staunch in loyalty and faithful in service.

(ii) Peter describes himself as a sharer in the glory which is going to be revealed. That statement has a backward and a forward look. Peter had already had a glimpse of that glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. There the sleeping three had been awakened, and, as Luke puts it,

Luke 9:32 (RSV)
32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.

Peter had seen the glory. But he also knew that there was glory to come, for Jesus had promised to His disciples a share in the glory when the Son of Man should come to sit on His glorious and eternal throne,

Matthew 19:28 (RSV)
28 Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Peter remembered both the experience and the promise of glory.

(iii) There can surely be no doubt that, when Peter speaks of shepherding the flock of God, he is remembering the task that Jesus had given to him when He had bidden him feed His sheep,

John 21:15-17 (RSV)
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." 16 A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." 17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.

The reward of LOVE was the appointment as a shepherd; and Peter is remembering it.

(iv) When Peter speaks of Jesus as the Chief Shepherd, many a memory must be in his mind. Jesus had likened Himself to the shepherd who sought at the peril of His life for the sheep which was lost,

Matthew 18:12-14 (RSV)
12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Luke 15:4-7 (RSV)
4 "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.' 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Jesus had sent out His disciples to gather in the lost sheep of the house of Israel:

Matthew 10:5-6 (RSV)
5 These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Jesus was moved with pity for the crowds, for they were as sheep without a shepherd:

Matthew 9:36 (RSV)
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Mark 6:34 (RSV)
34 As he went ashore he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

***Above all, Jesus had likened Himself to the Good Shepherd who was ready to lay down His life for the sheep,

John 10:1-18 (RSV)
1 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber;
2 but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." 6 This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. 9 I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, 15 as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father."

The picture of Jesus as the Shepherd was a precious one, and the privilege of being a shepherd of the flock of Christ was for Peter the greatest privilege that a servant of Christ could enjoy. Which I agree whole heartedly with Peter…………………………………………………………..

Peter returns to the thought that the denial of self must be the mark of the Christian. He clinches his argument with a quotation from the Old Testament:

Proverbs 3:34 (RSV)
34 Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he shows favor.

Here again it may well be that the memories of Jesus are in Peter's heart and are coloring all his thought and language. He tells his people that they must clothe themselves with the garment of humility. The word he uses for to clothe oneself is very unusual; it is (egkombousthai) which is derived from (kombos) which describes anything tied on with a knot. Connected with it is (egkomboma), a garment tied on with a knot. It was commonly used for protective clothing; it was used for a pair of sleeves drawn over the sleeves of a robe and tied behind the neck. And it was used for a slave's apron. There was a time when Jesus had put upon Himself just such an apron. At the Last Supper John says of Him that He took a towel and girded Himself, and took water and began to wash His disciples' feet:

John 13:4-5 (RSV)
4 rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel. 5 Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded.

***Jesus girded Himself with the apron of humility; and so must his followers.***

It so happens that (egkombousthai) is used of another kind of garment. It is also used of putting on a long, stole-like garment which was the sign of honor and preeminence.

To complete the picture we must put both images together. Jesus once put on the slave's apron and undertook the humblest of all duties, washing His disciples' feet; so we must in all things put on the apron of humility in the service of Christ and of our fellow-men and women; but that very apron of humility will become the garment of honor for us, for it is he who is the servant of all who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Amen and Amen……………………………Let us in LOVE, humbly serve one another, and seek to restore our lost brothers and sisters to Jesus Christ!!!!!!!

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


December 29, 2019

“a” Church

Evanston, Wyoming

New Year's 2020

"A Time for Every Season"

At the end of each year we look back with retrospect on the ending year. We think of our goals and dreams, our hopes and desires, what we had wanted to happen and what actually did happen. What we had reason to believe could and would happen, and those things which completely took us by surprise… We think of our joys and sorrows, our victories and defeats, our gains and our losses…We think of the world and how it is the same and how it has changed… And then we turn to the New Year with our new hopes, and our new dreams and our new expectations…

Ecclesiastes 3 v 1-8

"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5. A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6. A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

Lord as we make ready to leave the year 2019, let us not forget all the LOVE, mercy, and grace, that you have put upon our lives. Let us ever be grateful to you and praise You most genuinely for being “The” God, The ONLY God, The One True God, and our God!!!!!!! Oh there would be no beauty in life without You!!! Thank You for all the successes we have had this year, we are thankful for what we have learned in our failures and losses. We praise You for the people You have put in our lives, and those You have decided to take from our presence. We are most grateful for our families, friends, and LOVED ones that You have bestowed upon each of us. We thank You for each breath, each experience, each moment of 2019.

We thank you and eternally glorify Your name for Your LOVE, Your most beLOVED Son and our only Savior Jesus Christ, the most wonderful Holy Spirit, and Your eternally inerrant, infallible word the Holy Bible!!!

And finally we thank You for the New Year of 2020, and all that it holds for us! Oh Lord go with us, be with us, and above all help us to LOVE and serve You with every fiber of our being, help us to reach out to all those who are around us in sincere humility and LOVE. In Jesus name we pray, Amen and Eternally Amen!!!!!!!

In the coming year; many of us will experience great plenty and some of us great need. Some of us will discover our purposes in life, some of us will continue to search for our place in the sun. Many new ones will be born into this world.

Couples will become parents, and parents will become grandparents, there will be new godfathers and godmothers. There will be new students, and one’s graduating…

As the new comes into the world, others will be leaving this world. LOVED one’s killed in war, by illness or accident, some destroyed by vicious and thoughtless evil ones. Some will die from natural causes, some that are listening to this message right now, may not be here for next Christmas, for our next New Year, for the next message. Perhaps, I will not be here on this side of ETERNITY???

In 2020 there will be great opportunities to share the LOVE of Jesus Christ with others, and there will be many who are found not to be part of God’s kingdom…

There will be times when we must go to war, when we must protect ourselves and others from harm. There will be times when some must die for their sins and others who will die because of someone else’s sins.

There will be opportunities in 2020 to heal others by what we say and by what we do…….

There will be a time when the killing must stop, and people must find the peace of God…….

There will be times of uncontrollable weeping and pain and sorrow. There will be times of glorious joy and miraculous victories, times of unbelievable happiness, and times of tremendous loss for some… Times to laugh and times to cry, times to dance, and times we cannot. There will be times when we must give up much, and times we must give much to others.

Times when we must not judge, and times when we must judge…

There will be times when with all God’s LOVE we must embrace others, and times because of God’s LOVE we must not embrace them…

There will be times of loss, and times of gain…Times to give up and times to refuse to give up……. There will be times we must turn our back, and other times we must stand firm with others…

There will be times in 2020 that we must speak up even if it appears we are intolerant or hurtful to others. There will be other times we will feel like we will burst if we do not speak up, and yet for God’s purposes we must be silent…

There will be times we must declare the LOVE of God, and times we must declare His Judgment on sin……. There will be times of great opportunity to reconcile fallen mankind to God and bring peace into their lives, our lives, and there will be times when that must give way to God’s justice on sin….

A time of PEACE and a time of WAR; a time for SALVATION and yes, a time for DAMNATION…….

Only God knows what is in store for each one of us in 2020, but as surely as He is a LOVING, COMPASSIONATE GOD; those who are truly His can have absolute faith and assurance that He will go with us…That He WILL NEVER EVER LEAVE US OR FORSAKE US…….

Matthew 28 v 20B

“…and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

He will NEVER LET US GO!!!

John 6:37 (RSV)
37 All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out.

"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

By the WILL, LOVE, GRACE, and MERCY of GOD!!!!!!!

Blessed New Year 2020 one and all !!!!!!!

Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc..........................................


December 22, 2019

"a" Church

Evanston, Wyoming

[[[ I’M BACK FOR NOW ]]]

"Good Tidings of Great Joy!!!"

Luke 2 v 1-15

"And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. 2. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5. To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us."

Lord, bless those who are in need, save, guide, direct, and provide for them, Spiritually, Physically, Emotionally, and Economically, in EVERY WAY, and help all Your children to do what we can to assist those who are in need in anyway…Thank You for Your Son Jesus Christ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In Jesus name, Amen and Eternally Amen and Amen…….

Merry Christmas 2019

Christmas by the decree of God's holy angels, is not just for the Saint, the believer; but the joy, beauty, and the wonder of Christmas is FOR EVERYONE!!!!!!!

"Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."

Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, is not a Christian holiday alone; it is a universal day of ABSOLUTE GREAT TIDINGS OF JOY!!!!!!!


As much as the self proclaimed Atheists or the ACLU may absolutely deny it, Christmas, is even for them!!!

It is the only day of the year that God reaches down to mankind, not as our judge, not as a holy light exposing sin; but rather God is meant to be seen exclusively as He really is, the very real and potentially, the Savior of the entire creation...

Christmas is not a day of fear, not a day meant to ponder guilt or depravity of oneself or others; It is a day to explore the joyous possibilities of Life Eternal, and the potential that God wants for all mankind.

Christmas is not even a day that one must make a choice, a choice for God, or a choice for something else. Christmas is the day for marvelous possibilities…….

In the Roman Empire periodical censuses were taken with the double object of assessing taxation and of discovering those who were liable for compulsory military service. The Jews were exempt from military service, and, therefore, in Palestine a census would be predominantly for taxation purposes. Regarding these censuses, we have definite information as to what happened in Egypt; and almost certainly what happened in Egypt happened in Syria, too, and Judaea was part of the province of Syria. The information we have comes from actual census documents written on papyrus and then discovered in the dust-heaps of Egyptian towns and villages and in the sands of the desert.

Such censuses were taken every fourteen years. And from A.D. 20 until about A.D. 270 we possess actual documents from every census taken. If the fourteen-year cycle held good in Syria this census must have been in 8 B.C. or perhaps 6 A.D. and either of those years may have been the actual year in which Jesus was born.

Those who would be Critics of the Bible used to question the historicity that every man had to go to his own city to be enrolled; but here is an actual government edict from Egypt:

"Gaius Vibius Maximus, Prefect of Egypt orders: `Seeing that the time has come for the house-to-house census, it is necessary to compel all those who for any cause whatsoever are residing outside their districts to return to their own homes, that they may both carry out the regular order of the census, and may also diligently attend to the cultivation of their allotments.”

If that was the case in Egypt, it may well be that in Judea, where the old tribal ancestries still held good, men had to go to the headquarters of their tribe. Here is an instance where further historical evidence has shown the accuracy of the Bible…

The trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem was 80 miles. The accommodation for travelers was most archaic. The eastern khan was like a series of stalls opening off a common courtyard. Travelers brought their own food; all that the innkeeper provided was fodder for the animals and a fire to cook.

The town was crowded and there was no room for Joseph and Mary. But in truth often a stable would be cleaner than the ancient roadhouse inn.

So it was in the common courtyard that Mary's child was born. Swaddling clothes consisted of a square of cloth with a long bandage-like strip coming diagonally off from one corner. The child was first wrapped in the square of cloth and then the long strip was wound round and round about him. Our word "manger" means a place where animals feed; and therefore it can be either the stable or even simply an animal troth with no covering at all.

That there was no room in the inn was representational of what was to happen to Jesus. The only place where there was room for Him was on an old rugged, splinter filled cross. He sought to find residence in the over-crowded hearts of men; He could not find it; and still His search for willing hearts and His ultimate rejection go on even to this very day.

It is a wonderful thing that the story should tell that the first announcement of God came to some shepherds. Shepherds were despised by the conventional good people of the day. They were quite unable to keep the details of the ceremonial law; they could not observe all the meticulous hand-washings and rules and regulations. Their flocks made far too constant demands on them; and so the orthodox looked down on them. It was to simple men of the fields that God's message first came. God’s message came first to those that the typical religious person would look down upon…

But these shepherds were in all likelihood very special shepherds. Since the animal offerings had to be animals without the slightest blemish; the priests had a special supply of perfect offerings that were always available for the Temple authorities. We know that these flocks were pastured near Bethlehem. It is most likely that these shepherds were in charge of the flocks from which the Temple offerings were chosen. It is a LOVELY thought that the shepherds who looked after the Temple lambs were the first to see the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

It was a Jewish custom when a boy was born, that the local musicians congregated at the house to greet the boy babe with simple music. Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem and therefore that ceremony could not be carried out.

It is a LOVELY thought that the minstrels of heaven took the place of the minstrels of earth, and God’s holy angels sang the songs for Jesus that the earthly singers could not and would not sing.

Though these scriptures may bring thoughts of the rough simplicity of the birth of the Son of God, contrasting with what we would expect for the only begotten Son of God, if he had to be born into this world at all, it should have been, would have been in a palace or a mansion.

There was a European monarch who worried his court by often disappearing and walking incognito amongst his people. When he was asked not to do so for security's sake, he answered,

"I cannot rule my people unless I know how they live."

It is the great thought of the Christian faith that we have a God who knows the life we live because He too lived it and claimed no special advantage over common men.

God indeed understands our human condition, for He too lived through it…

As pastors, as preachers, as watchmen, as Christians, every day of our lives when the occasion is needful we must “warn” people of the consequences of sin. ***It is our duty, our responsibility, our calling as Children of God, IT IS OUR OBLIGATION OF LOVE through our new nature in Jesus Christ…

My sister Shirley once told me how a sermon really scared her daughter Lisa. My sister was furious about it, and so angry she was not sure she would continue to attend church. ***But sermons when they deal with the reality of sin, the consequences of sin and the very grave but just punishment that will “absolutely” one day come to the unrepentant sinner, IT IS TERRIFYING AT BEST, and truly unimaginable at worse…

No LOVING pastor or preacher enjoys preaching that kind of message, but we have NO APOLOGY FOR THEM EITHER! We do it because we must!!!

Ezekiel 3 v 17-18

"Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. 18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand."

***God though He LOVES each and every one of His creation so very, very much, and wants our eternal salvation, still must judge the unrepentant sinner. God is still ALL LOVING, but He is a “JUST” God as well. ***We cannot separate His LOVE from His “justice”, nor can He!!!

There is one “day” a year however, that pain and suffering, guilt and punishment for sin and God’s righteous and just wrath SHOULD BE SILENT from our pulpits, at least in my opinion. Why, because on that one “Day” IT IS SILENT FROM GOD’S OWN MESSAGE.

That one day is: “Christmas Day”!!!

Christmas is indeed a day of not just good tidings, but of GOOD TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY, that is for ALL THE PEOPLE!!!!!!!

And though this day of glorious miracles is meant simply for us to see the Eternal Blessed Potentials of ALL OUR LIVES; still, by it’s very existence; DO NOT OUR HEARTS CRYOUT, THAT A DECISION MUST BE MADE???

A decision for the babe, for the ONLY BEGOTTEN SON of GOD, for the ONLY HOPE OF THE WORLD, for the ONLY SAVIOR OF THE WORLD???

For: Jesus Christ???

Oh, that the world might be saved!!!

And that very potential is because of Christmas Day…….

Yes Christmas Day is the beginning of Jesus' earthly human life and coldly and soberly leads to His DEATH and blood sacrifice upon the cross for all the world's sins. Finalizing on Easter Sunday, when Jesus resurrects Himself from the dead, giving all an opportunity to accept Him as LORD, GOD, and SAVIOR......

But Christmas Day is set aside from all the other days of the year; it is not about fear, it is not about death, it is not about judgment ...It is about LOVE, and HOPE, and GREAT JOY for all the world...

This is the theme, the goal, of Christmas Day:

Luke 2 v 10-11

"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

Blessed Christmas to all, In Jesus precious name, from all of us to all the world.......

Merry Christmas to ALL, and to ALL A BLESSED LIFE.

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


December 15, 2019

“a” Church

Clearfield, Utah

"A Christmas Story"

Luke 14 v 13

"But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:"

Lord, Deliver us from this World of sin, this World of delusion, fear, hate, sorrow, death and despair. Deliver us from our own sins, weaknesses, and foolish behaviors. Oh most gracious Heavenly Father, Deliver us from our own doubts and lack of faith, kindly and most tenderly guide us on a path of true grace and genuine wisdom. Oh Lord, help us be the PEOPLE YOU WANT US TO BE!!! Strip us of all our fake self-righteousness, and help us to be truly humble, LOVING, and ever desiring to honor You, in everything we say and do. Help us to reach out to the Lost and hurting souls of this evil age, and in unpretentious LOVE and gentleness share the Gospel, the only Gospel, with those in need, and not just by word, but in actual deeds of action!!! Bless us as we study your Word, and assist us to live our moment by moment lives for You, in Jesus sweet, sweet name, Amen and eternally Amen…………….

The snow was falling, the air was chilled, the night was upon us. I was sitting in my warm cozy home in Evanston, Wyoming in front of the sparkling fire. The only noise to be heard was the crackling pops from the fiery ambers before me. The room was filled with the subtle fragrance of burning wood, a light smoke gave a slight mist in the air. My wife Maureen was working late that night at the Wyoming State Hospital. Aaron our youngest had long since moved to Los Angeles, California. Adam our oldest was in his room preparing to leave for work, working with the developmentally disabled in and around Evanston. Our dogs had taken refuge upon the couch, lying as if it were their home and not my own. I was sitting in my Lazy-boy chair, my feet raised, and reading God’s holy word the Bible.

When I turned to Luke chapter fourteen and verse thirteen and read: “But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:"

It was if I had read this passage of scripture for the very first time. I felt flushed, and a very somber feeling fell upon me. I read the text over and over again. What was God trying to tell me, what was He wanting me to see, what was He wanting me to do? “Oh God”, I prayed, “Help me see, help me have the faith, the love, the mercy, and the grace to do whatever You call me to do?” As I prayed, as I read, as I pondered my thoughts, I began to sense a presence in the room. A presence that seemed kind and tender hearted, a spirit that seemed like the spirit of the very Son of God…

Jesus Christ…

As the night turned to late evening, my eyes began to feel very heavy, and the sand-man had made me very drowsy. As I sat, my eyes opened and closed as a fluttering of a feather, but I refused to succumb to sleep until my pondering was solved. At the very last, I knew what God would have me do. As my eyes closed for the night of blessed sleep, I could feel a smile coming upon my face. And, I heard a voice ever so tranquil, say: ‘Good night’. And, I fell asleep……………………….

The next morning I arose bursting with energy and with great anticipation upon my spirit. I dressed, and took no time for breakfast; I was off… First stop, the printers on main street. I opened the door, and as if lighter than air, I galloped to the counter, and asked: “Do you do formal invitations?” The clerk very friendly, said: “Of course we do”, and I handed her the engraving I wanted. It read: “By invitation of Jesus, you are cordially invited to my home this Saturday night, for dinner and other holiday wonders. Be ready to be picked up where we spoke, at 5:30 PM on Saturday. I am most honored to have you…” The clerk looked at me, and I could see she wanted to say something, but instead, she simply told me the cost and said they could be picked up the Tuesday morning before the date of the invitation. I leaped with excitement as I left the store. With a gleam on my face, I thought to myself; ‘so much to do, with so little time to do it.’

Boy was I psyched!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I felt so alive, so full of joy, a truck could hit me, and I WOULD NOT FEEL A THING… I spent the day in preparation for Saturday. Later that evening I came home and explained all that God wanted me to do, to my wife and son. They looked at each other, over and over again; then asked the question the clerk had thought of asking, but never did. “Are you ok, do you know what you are doing? Do you understand what you are saying? Have you considered the cost, the time, the commitment, the dedication you will need?” I simply smiled and said: ‘the Lord’s will be done.’ Though they were a bit apprehensive, they did all they could to help me…

Tuesday came, and with it a bounce in my step, and a physical vigor I had not felt in years, I picked up the invitations, and immediately began passing them out.

To the family that lived in Meadow Vista in a trailer half demolished by a summer fire. A loving mother, a Father devoted to his children, yet struck with multiple sclerosis an unable to work. Four beautiful children, yet with clothes stained from smoke from the fire, with faith only children can have…

To the young man who walks up and down front street, always stopping to say ‘hi’ to people he meets. Then discussing the most intimate of details of his mental health issues with those strangers, because our social service systems are over worked and often not truly caring. Nor even the people who really know him are willing to take the time to listen…

To the young couple that live in subsidized housing, that few will visit because they say they smell of cigarette smoke, and the hygiene leaves much to be desired.

To the people who live in the cardboard village south of town, hidden in the Wasatch National Forest. The ones no true Church goers would ever dare to invite to THEIR church… They stink, they smell, they don’t want to work, they live like filthy animals, some say…

To the mother who is hooked on meth, that our culture despises and helps by simply putting her in jail, and making her attend workshops on self-awareness and good parenting skills. But never really takes a loving hand to know and understand her needs, her hurts, her desires. Simple answers for simple people, without regard to the reality of their lives…

To the woman who is too sick to work, yet told she is far too healthy to get Federal assistance, so she must live on $229.00 a month. Who is told by her charity caseworker: ’YOU MUST LEARN TO BUDGET YOUR MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’ She is told this in a community that the average studio rental is $500.00 a month, with a three year waiting period for rental assistance. Quick answers that answer nothing…

To the family of four, a father, a mother, and two precious little girls, who live under the bridge. A father who faithfully worked for his farmer boss for 10 years, who were forced into homelessness because of a debilitating work accident. The farmer gave them three months, but needed the home for his healthy employee…

To the old lady that lives alone, ignored by any family she may have, and denied fellowship with her local church, because the pastor told her: ‘WE DON’T WANT YOUR KIND IN OUR CHURCH’…

To the young man who struggles with his sexuality, laughed at and mocked by our society, called an abomination and pervert by many who should seek his salvation…

Many more invitations I passed out that day, in the name of Jesus. These invitations that seemed quite curious especially to those who received them. As I walked away, I heard such comments as:

‘is he nuts?’, ‘is he for real?’, ‘is he one of those Jesus’ freaks?’, ‘is he one of those do gooders, that really thinks he is better than us?’ ‘Who is this guy?’ Some people were clearly frightened, and most were certainly perplexed.

As I drove home that night, satisfied that I was doing right, I wondered just how many would come to my house that Saturday night? The rest of the week was filled with daily chores of work, and continued preparation for Saturday.

The invitations I had given out were of the finest paper, the engraving of pure gold; all done that those invited would know just how wonderful and special they were and are.

And on Saturday they would be surprised when the stretch limousines I had rented from Salt Lake City, would arrive to pick them up.

As 5:30 PM approached, as Scrooge had expressed in “A Christmas Carol”, I felt as gitty as a school boy, my hands were moist with sweat, my mouth was dry, but I was as high as a kite… “

The Lord’s will be done!”

The first limousine pulled up at my door at 5:38 PM, followed closely behind by another. My house is not a mansion, but for these my invited guests, it was a place of warmth and peace… The children immediately ran and fell on their knees in front of my 6 ½ foot Christmas tree. Loaded with presents, the children exclaimed: “Are these for us, are these for us!” Their parents quickly ran after them, and they too, were breathless with the sight of that tree full of Christmas cheer. “Children, children”, they said, “This is not our home, be polite. Wait and see what happens”.

I had to tell them, because I could not bear to make them wait. “Yes guys”, I said, “After dinner we can open the presents. There’s enough for everybody.” They shouted with a joy they had not experienced in years, and you could see tears of gladness in many of their parents’ eyes, as we all went into the dining room to be seated. Each had a place setting, each with their own name. A formal crystal and china place setting lay before them.

Placed upon their plates, to the children were wrapped in spectacular gift paper, children’s Bibles; and for the adults in equally stunning paper were adult Holy Bibles…

Though I just wanted to sit back and enjoy the wonder on their eyes, I began to speak:

“The food will be served in a minute, I just wanted you to know, you are all honored guests not by me, but of the Lord Jesus Christ! It is His birth we should be celebrating this time of year. I am so extremely happy to have you in my home, the home Jesus has so graciously allowed me to have for now. The Bibles you have opened and received are from Jesus, and are given to you in hope that you might seek to know Him better. *But right now enough talk, lets pray and dig in.”

As we finished the prayer; Turkey, Fried Chicken, Ham and Roast Beef were brought into be placed, along with all the side orders you can imagine. Green beans, corn on the cob, creamed corn, potatoes of every kind, salad of many nations, yams with marshmallows, cranberry sauce, salsas, radishes, carrots, on and on. Cheeses and fresh baked breads of every description and taste. Coffee, tea, milk, pop, almost anything a person could desire.

And for these who had often went to bed without anything to eat, it seemed as if they had died and gone to heaven… At first they just stared at this magnificent feast provided by Jesus, but children being children, did not wait to be told; they held their breaths for a brief moment in awe, and then chowed down. We the adults all laughed, and left formality behind and began to enjoy this Christmas meal…

I listened as we eat and was surprised at what I heard. Many were not so concerned about their needs, their situations, but rather of others who had not been invited, others who had chosen not to come.

“Was Willie with the terrible cough, going to make it to the New Year?” “Was Sarah finally going to get approved for disability?” “Was Johnny going to be able to go to public school without a home address?” “Where would the Smiths get the money to repair their car, so they could move to Nevada, so Tommy Smith could start his new job?”

Their conversations were not about themselves, but rather of the needs and concerns of others. Not like typical parties, that were full of gossip and self-concern.

“We hope to go to Hawaii next spring, I believe it may be our last because it is so built up and commercialized there?” My one year lease on my car is up, and I’m really concerned with what I will replace it with?” “Their problems are an act of God I tell you.” “I better get that raise, I’m totally worth it!”

As I could see we all were about to burst, I suggested we return to the Christmas tree. (The children were all for that)

As the children opened their presents, I shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them and the adults as well. I shared how God loves us so much that He sent His only Son Jesus Christ to die for us. That by His death and resurrection the opportunity for salvation was made accessible to all sinners. I made abundantly clear, all of us were sinners, unless we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord, God and Savior.

We discussed many other questions about the Bible that night.

Suddenly we were interrupted by a child talking to his mother. “Mommy we’ll have to get the lights turned on now, or I will not be able to play with my Wii Nintendo game system.”

The mother began to cry…

I spoke up:

“I hope you all realize that this night doesn’t end tonight. That after you all go home, Jesus, and myself will forget about your all. On the contrary, as we speak, those of you who have unpaid rent, unpaid utilities, are having those bills paid. And all your utilities will be turned on before you get home. Those of you who have no place to stay, know, you now do have a place to stay. You can stay either with me, or I have motels ready for you until we find you more permanent housing. Those of you who can work, will have jobs that you can be proud of, we just need a few weeks to get each of you a job you enjoy and that you are trained to do. If you need training or education, we will also see that you get all that you need. For those of you who cannot work, Jesus has provided for you as well. This will all take some time and I look forward to talking more intimately with each one of you. And Lord willing, perhaps we can become close friends. But in any event, tonight is only the beginning, and if you choose my assistance, by the will and grace of God, I will spend my life serving God, by helping you.”

Dessert was served, and even the adults got to open their presents.

The Mom that cried because her child did not have electricity for her Christmas present, came up to me and in a soft spoken voice said to me: “Your providing the electricity for my child is all the present I need.”

“That may be”, I said, “but this is Christmas, the season of unwarranted and abundant LOVE and GRACE.” As I handed her the keys to the car she needed to take the job she had been offered…

My wife and I stood at the door as we said good night to each of our BELOVED GUESTS. Each giving their own words of appreciation.

One asking us to pray with them, as they gave their very being to Jesus Christ, accepting Him as their Savior for ever more.

Oh and remember the young man with sexual orientation concerns? He confessed to me, that he had had a gun in his pocket that day when I gave him the invitation. He had planned to kill himself that very night, but then waited to see what would happen this night. As he hugged me good night with tears in his eyes, he handed me the gun, and said:

“Jesus has given me hope this night, hope of Love, hope of Mercy, hope of Grace, hope of Forgiveness, and Hope that I CAN OVERCOME MY SIN”… “God bless you he said as he stepped outside.

He was the last to leave that night, and I was so glad. For though I had had misty eyes throughout the evening, my eyes were now swelled with tears of unbelievable praise and joy for God and His Son Jesus Christ…My tears filled the room!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That night as I sat in front of the fire, with my legs up, reclined in my lazy-boy chair; the snow once again falling, my eyes giving way to blessed rest, I heard an ever so still voice say:

“Well done my, good and faithful servant.”

And once again, I felt a smile breaking out upon my face, and in the corner by the fire, I thought I saw: JESUS, and He too had a smile, upon His face……………………………………………..

As consciousness gave way to sleep that Christmas night, As reality gave way to dreams, I heard:

“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

The Christmas story I have just shared of course was only a wonderful narrative.

*But why? Why can’t we read the word of God, this Christmas and every day of the year, take God at His word, and do as the Love of God would HAVE US DO???????

Then and only then will Tiny Tim’s prayer come to pass: “God bless us, bless us everyone!!!!!!!”

A closing thought, have you ever wondered why Christians celebrate Christ’s birth by exchanging presents with each other?

This too can be found in scripture:

Matthew 25 v 40

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

When we take the time and energy to get just that right present(s) for someone, WE ARE REALLY DOING IT FOR THE SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST; our presents of LOVE to each other are beautiful and wondrous symbols of OUR LOVE AND COMMITMENT TO JESUS CHRIST!!!



God bless the staff and residents of Rocky Mountain Care Clearfield, in Jesus’ name, Amen and eternally Amen……………………………..

Dr Harold Chris Smith, sbc


December 8, 2019

“a” Church

Clearfield, Utah

“Yes Virginia, There is a God!!!”

Lord as we begin this season of remembering your most precious gift to us, the birth of Your only begotten Son Jesus Christ, May we look deep into our own hearts and minds and see if there is anything that You would not want to be a part of our lives, then grant us the strength, the wisdom, and the resolve to genuinely repent and turn our backs on those sins and weaknesses that cause harm in our lives and harm in the lives of those around us!!! Help us to truly live to LOVE, to serve, and to share Your LOVING kindnesses with those You put in our path. Let us this year and every year after SO LIVE OUR LIVES that Your LOVE is seen in us EVERY MOMENT OF OUR LIVES. Be most gracious to us today as we ponder Your word, and FOREVER assist us in growing in your LOVE, grace, mercy, and eternal wisdom, in Jesus name, Amen and Eternally Amen…….

Before we begin this morning’s sermon, I’d like to read Ben Stein’s response to those who wish to eliminate Jesus Christ from the joyous celebration of “Christmas”:

Remarks from CBS on a Sunday Morning - Ben Stein 

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday
Morning  Commentary.

My confession: 

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish.  And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees.  I don't feel threatened.  I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are, Christmas trees. 

It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, 'Merry Christmas' to me.  I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto.  In fact, I kind of like it.  It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away. 

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians.  I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country.  I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat. Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him?  I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too.  But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to. 

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different:  This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking. 

Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her 'How could God let something like this happen?' (regarding Hurricane Katrina).  Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response.  She said, 'I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives.  And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out  How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?' 

In light of recent events... terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.  Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself.  And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide).  We said an expert should know what he's talking about.  And we said okay.

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves. Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out.  I think it has a great deal to do with 'WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.' 

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell.  Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.  Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing.  Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace. 

Are you laughing yet? 

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us. 

My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully, 

Ben Stein


As we prepare our hearts and minds for this Christmas season I am reminded of Christmases past. Though I was not yet born, and probably most of us were not. I remember the world famous letter to the editor of the New York Sun Newspaper back in 1897; the headline read: 'Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus!'.

I wonder what would have been said, if the headline had read:

"Yes Virginia, There is a God!!!"

Dear Editor—
I am 8 years old. So many of the little friends I know and most of their parents too say there is no real God. That people only made him up because of their fears of death and the over powering dread of life alone. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a real God?


Virginia, your little friends are wrong and most certainly their doubting parents are as well. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a God. And He can most certainly be seen in His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. He exists as certainly as LOVE and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.
Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no God! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry,  no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in God Almighty! You might as well not believe in Truth, Honesty, Justice, Purity, Loveliness, Grace, Mercy or Peace.

You might get your Papa to start reading the Holy Bible and taking you not only to Church, but Sunday School as well. Seek God out while He may be found, be watchful for Him in the daily experiences and tasks of life. See Him in the eyes of your friends and the people around you, not because they believe, but rather because God believes in them, He believes in you. Because He is the creator of all that we see and all that we cannot see and so often we take HIM for granted.

Know that this is why there is a Christmas Eve to celebrate, with songs of joy, presents of anticipation, and wonderful times with family and friends; the night of our dear, dear Savior’s birth.

But even if we cannot enjoy as so many do, because of our own loneliness or loss, or perhaps we do not seem to see God because of the evil of our age, our enemies and the sorrows that surround us…

What does that mean?

What if nobody believed in God, would that, could that change the truth of His existence?

The most real things in the world and the universe around us are those things which neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see the wind dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but would that prove once and for all that there is no wind?

Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in this world or in the one to come.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart.

Only faith, poetry, LOVE, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No God! Ridiculous!!! Of course there is a God!!! Thank God for His existence! He lives as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He lives, and LOVES us just as the Holy Bible says He does.

He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years and eternally beyond,

He will continue to reach out to you and me and all who are truly willing to accept His Son Jesus Christ in faith that believe with hearts of LOVE for Him.

Yes Virginia, most certainly as I speak, that you or I exist, that the beauties of His majestic creation surrounds us, THERE IS A GOD, and He most indisputably: LOVES us ALL!!!

Virginia, I leave you with this final thought; Today, this very moment of your and my life, of everyone’s life, is a great and awesome gift from God and never forget that is why we call now, this exact moment the PRESENT!!!!!!!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a most blessed life…….

Romans 5 v 8

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


December 1, 2019

“a” Church

Clearfield, Utah

“The First Epistle of Peter: Part Thirteen”

1 Peter 4:9-19 (RSV)
9 Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another. 10 As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice in so far as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a wrongdoer, or a mischief-maker; 16 yet if one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God. 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And "If the righteous man is scarcely saved, where will the impious and sinner appear?" 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator.

Precious heavenly Father, we thank Thee for saving us and making available Your beautiful salvation to all mankind, if only they accept Your only begotten Son Jesus Christ, as their only Lord, their only God, and only Savior. Help us use the gifts You give us to Your glory, for the betterment of Your kingdom, and to assist in absolutely any way we can for the salvation of all Your creation.

Lord there are many who are sick among us, Cheryl, Pat, Michael, G, Carol, Kiiba, Jenessa, and everyone else needing Your healing touch. Father heal them, free them from pain, from sorrow, give them peace and bless them. Comfort them and their family, friends, and LOVED ones.

Help us O Lord to repent of our sins, keep us strong through Your chastisements of us individually, us as a Church, us as a nation, a world, as Your creation. When we are persecuted for Your name sake, help us stay faithful, true, and diligent to Your will. Thank Your Lord for Your great LOVE, mercy, grace, and eternal salvation, for everything in our lives.

We pray all these things and many unspoken requests, and our unknown needs in Jesus’ name, Amen and eternally Amen………………………………………………

Peter's mind is dominated in this section by the conviction that the end of all things is near. It is of the greatest interest and significance to note that he does not use that conviction to urge Christians to withdraw from the world and to enter on a kind of private campaign to save their own souls; he uses it to urge them to go into the world and serve their fellow-men and women.  As Peter sees it, a Christian will be happy if the end finds us, not living as a hermit, but out in the world serving humanity…Especially our brothers and sisters in Christ!!!

(i) First, Peter urges upon his people the duty of hospitality. Without hospitality the early church could not have existed. The travelling missionaries who spread the good news of the gospel had to find somewhere to stay and there was no place for them to stay except in the homes of Christians. Such inns as there were, were impossibly filthy and notoriously immoral. Thus we find Peter lodging with one Simon a tanner:

Acts 10:6 (RSV)
6 he is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside."

Paul and his company were to lodge with one Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple:

Acts 21:16 (RSV)
16 And some of the disciples from Caesare'a went with us, bringing us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we should lodge.

Many a nameless one in the early church made Christian missionary work possible by opening the doors of his/her house and home.

Not only did the missionaries need hospitality; the local churches also needed it. For two hundred years there was no such thing as a church building. The church was compelled to meet in the houses of those who had bigger rooms and were prepared to lend them for the services of the congregation. Thus we read of the church which was in the house of Aquila and Priscilla,

Romans 16:5 (RSV)
5 greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epae'netus, who was the first convert in Asia for Christ.

1 Corinthians 16:19 (RSV)
19 The churches of Asia send greetings. Aq'uila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord.

The church which was in the house of Philemon,

Philemon 1:1C-2 (RSV)
...To Phile'mon our beloved fellow worker 2 and Ap'phia our sister and Archip'pus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:

Without those who were prepared to open their homes, the early church could not have met for worship at all.

It is little wonder that again and again in the New Testament the duty of hospitality is pressed upon the Christians. The Christian is to be given to hospitality,

Romans 12:13 (RSV)
13 Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.

A bishop is to be given to hospitality ,

1 Timothy 3:2 (RSV)
2 Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher,

The widows of the Church must have lodged strangers,

1 Timothy 5:9-10 (RSV)
9 Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband; 10 and she must be well attested for her good deeds, as one who has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the feet of the saints, relieved the afflicted, and devoted herself to doing good in every way.

The Christian must not forget to entertain strangers and must remember that some who have done so have entertained angels unawares.

Hebrews 13:2 (RSV)
2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

The bishop must practice hospitality,

Titus 1:8 (RSV)
8 but hospitable, a lover of goodness, master of himself, upright, holy, and self-controlled;

And it is ever to be remembered that it was said to those on the right hand:

Matthew 25:35 (RSV)
35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,

In the early days the Church depended on the hospitality of its members; and to this day no greater gift can be offered than the welcome of a Christian home to the stranger in a strange place.

((( Whether a Christian stranger or not!!! )))

(ii) Such gifts as a person has, THEY, WE MUST PLACE UNGRUDGINGLY AT THE SERVICE OF OUR GOD and  THE COMMUNITY… This again is a favorite New Testament idea which is expanded by Paul in,

Romans 12:3-8 (RSV)
3 For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

((((((( This can only be accomplished with a re-born heart, transformed by the precious SHED BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST !!! )))))))

See also 1 Corinthians 12………………………………

The Church needs every gift that a person has. It may be a gift of speaking, of music, of the ability to visit people. It may be a craft or skill which can be used in the practical service of the Church. It may be a house which a person possesses or money which a person has inherited. There is no gift which cannot be placed at the service of Christ.

The Christian has to regard himself or herself as a steward of God. In the ancient world the steward was very important. He might be a slave but his master's goods were in his hands. There were two main kinds of stewards, the dispensator, the dispenser, who was responsible for all the domestic arrangements of the household and laid in and divided out the household supplies; and the vilicus, the bailiff, who was in charge of his master's estates and acted as landlord to his master's tenants. The steward knew well that none of the things over which he had control belonged to him; they all belonged to his master. In everything he did he was answerable to his master and always it was his interests he must serve.

***We as Christians must always be under the conviction that nothing we possess of material goods or personal qualities are our own; it all belongs to God and we must ever use what we have in the interests of God to whom we are always answerable.

Peter is thinking of the two great activities of the Christian Church, preaching and practical service. The word he uses for sayings is (logia). That is a word with a kind of divine background. The heathen used it for the oracles which came to them from their gods; the Christians used it for the words of scripture and the words of Christ. So Peter is saying, "If a man has the duty of preaching, let him preach not as one offering his own opinions or propagating his own prejudices, but as one with a message from God." It was said of one great preacher:

"First he listened to God, and then he spoke to men."

It was said of another that ever and again he paused,

"as if listening for a voice."

There lies the secret of preaching power.

Peter goes on to say that if a Christian is engaged in practical service, we must render that service in the strength which God supplies. It is as if he said, "When you are engaged in Christian service, you must not do it as if you were conferring a personal favor or distributing bounty from your own store, but in the consciousness that what you give you first received from God." ***Such an attitude preserves the giver from pride and the gift from humiliation.

The aim of everything is that God should be glorified. Preaching is not done to display the preacher but to bring men, women, and children face to face with God. Service is rendered not to bring prestige to the giver but to turn people's thoughts to God. E. G. Selwyn reminds us that the motto of the great Benedictine Order of monks is four letters—I-O-G-D—which stand for the Latin words (ut) in omnibus glorificetur Deus (in order that in all things God may be glorified).

*******A new grace and glory would enter the Church, if all church people ceased doing things for themselves and did them for God.*******

((( It begins with me, you, us!!!!!!! )))

In the nature of things persecution must have been a much more daunting experience for Gentiles than it was for Jews. The average Gentile had little experience of it; but the Jews have always been the most persecuted people upon earth. Peter was writing to Christians who were Gentiles and he had to try to help them by showing them persecution in its true terms. It is never easy to be a Christian. The Christian life brings its own loneliness, its own unpopularity, its own problems, its own sacrifices and its own persecutions. It is, therefore, well to have certain great principles in our minds.

(i) It is Peter's view that persecution is inevitable. It is fallen human nature to dislike and to regard with suspicion anyone who is different; the Christian is necessarily different from the person of the world. The particular impact of the Christian difference makes the matter more acute. To the world the Christian brings the standards of Jesus Christ. That is another way of saying that we inevitably are a kind of conscience to any society in which we reside; and many a person would gladly eliminate the troublesome twinges of conscience. The very goodness of Christianity can be an offence to a world in which goodness is regarded as a disability.

(ii) It is Peter's view that persecution is a test. It is a test in a double sense. A person's devotion to a principle can be measured by their willingness to suffer for it; therefore, any kind of persecution is a test of a person's faith.

Philippians 1:29 (RSV)
29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,

((( That really is BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!! )))

But it is equally true that it is only the real Christian, not simply a professing Christian who will be persecuted for their faith. The professing Christian who compromises with the world will not be persecuted for their faith perhaps for another reason, but not for Jesus Christ. In a double sense persecution is the test of the reality of a person's faith.

(iii) Now we come to the uplifting things. Persecution is a sharing in the sufferings of Jesus Christ. When a person has to suffer for their Christianity they are walking the way their, our, Master walked and sharing the Cross our, their, Master carried. This is a favorite New Testament thought. If we suffer with Him, we will be glorified with Him:

Romans 8:17 (RSV)
17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

It is Paul's desire to enter into the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ,

Philippians 3:10 (RSV)
10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

If we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him,

2 Timothy 2:12 (RSV)
12 if we endure, we shall also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;

LET US REMEMBER: anything we suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ IS a PRIVILIGE and not a penalty.

(iv) ***Persecution is the way to glory. ***The Cross is the way to the crown. Jesus Christ is no man's debtor and His joy and crown await the person who, through thick and thin, remains true to Him, our most beLOVED Savior…………………………….

Here Peter says the greatest thing of all. If a person, you or I, or those around us, suffers for Christ, the presence of the glory rests upon them, us. This is a very strange phrase. We think it can mean only one thing. The Jews had the conception of the Shekinah, the luminous glow of the very presence of God. This conception constantly recurs in the Old Testament.

Exodus 16:7 (RSV)
7 and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your murmurings against the LORD. For what are we, that you murmur against us?"

Exodus 24:16 (RSV)
16 The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.

Exodus 29:43 (RSV)
43 There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory;

Exodus 40:34 (RSV)
34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

1 Kings 8:10-11 (RSV)
10 And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.

 (((Repeatedly this idea of the Shekinah, the luminous glory of God, occurs in the Old Testament.)))

It is Peter's conviction that something of that glow of glory rests on the person who suffers for  Jesus Christ. When Stephen was on trial for his life and it was certain that he would be condemned to death, to those who looked on him his face was as the face of an angel,

Acts 6:15 (RSV)
15 And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Peter goes on to point out that it is as a Christian that a person must suffer and not as an evil-doer. The evils which he singles out are all clear enough until we come to the last. A Christian, Peter says, is not to suffer as an (allotriepiskopos). The trouble is that there is no other instance of this word in Greek and Peter may well have invented it. It can have three possible meanings, all of which would be relevant. It comes from two words, (allotrios), belonging to another and (episkopos), looking upon or looking into. Therefore, it literally means looking upon, or into, that which belongs to another.

(i) To look on that which is someone else's might well be to cast covetous eyes upon it. That is how both the Latin Bible and Calvin take this word—to mean that the Christian must not be covetous.

(ii) To look upon that which belongs to another might well mean to be too interested in other people's affairs and to be a meddling busybody. That is by far the most probable meaning. There are Christians who do an infinite deal of harm with misguided interference and criticism. This would mean that the Christian must never be an interfering busybody. That gives good sense and, we believe, the best sense.

(iii) There is a third possibility. (Allotrios) means that which belongs to someone else; that is to say, that which is foreign to oneself. Along that line (allotriepiskopos) will mean looking upon that which is foreign to oneself. That would mean, of a Christian, entering upon undertakings which do not befit the Christian life. This would mean that a Christian must never interest ourselves in things which are alien to the life that a Christian should lead.

While all three meanings are possible, I think that the third is the right one.

It is Peter's injunction that, if a Christian has to suffer for Christ, we must do so in such a way that our suffering brings glory to God and to the name we bear… Our life and conduct must be the best argument that we do not deserve the suffering which has come upon us and our attitude to it must commend the name we bear, THE CHILDREN OF THE LIVING GOD!!!!!!!

As Peter saw it, it was all the more necessary for the Christian to do right because judgment was about to begin.

It was to begin with the household of God. Ezekiel hears the voice of God proclaiming judgment upon his people,

Ezekiel 9:6 (RSV)
6 slay old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one upon whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary." So they began with the elders who were before the house.

Where the privilege has been greatest, there the judgment will be sternest.

If judgment is to fall upon the Church of God, what will be the fate of those who have been utterly disobedient to the invitation and command of God? Peter confirms his appeal with a quotation from,

Proverbs 11:31 (RSV)
31 If the righteous is requited on earth, how much more the wicked and the sinner!

Finally, Peter exhorts his people to continue to do good and, whatever happens to them to entrust their lives to God, the Creator on whom they can rely. The word he uses for to entrust is (paratithesthai), which is the technical word for depositing money with a trusted friend. In the ancient days there were no banks and few really safe places in which to deposit money. So, before a man went on a journey, he often left his money in the safe-keeping of a friend. Such a trust was regarded as one of the most sacred things in life. The friend was absolutely bound by all honor and all religion to return the money intact.

Herodotus (6: 86) has a story about such a trust. A certain Milesian came to Sparta, for he had heard of the strict honor of the Spartans, and entrusted his money to a certain Glaucus. He said that in due time his sons would reclaim the money and would bring tokens which would establish their identity beyond doubt. The time passed and the sons came. Glaucus treacherously said that he had no recollection of any money being entrusted to him and said that he wished four months to think about it. The Milesians departed sad and sorry. Glaucus consulted the gods as to what he ought to do, and they warned him that he must return the money. He did so, but before long he died and all his family followed him, and in the time of Herodotus there was not a single member of his family left alive because the gods were angry that he had even contemplated breaking the trust reposed in him. Even to think of evading such a trust was a mortal sin.

If we entrust ourselves to God, God will not fail us.

2 Timothy 2:13 (RSV)
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful -- for he cannot deny himself.

If such a trust is sacred to humanity, how much more is it sacred to God? This is the very word used by Jesus, when he says:

Luke 23:46 (RSV)
46 Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!" And having said this he breathed his last.

Jesus unhesitatingly entrusted His life to God, certain that He would not fail Him—and so may we. The old advice is still good advice—trust in God and do the right…………((((((( Amen and thoroughly Amen!!!!!!! )))))))

As Dr. Charles Stanley puts it,

“Trust in God, and leave all the consequences to Him.”

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


November 24, 2019

“a” Church

Clearfield, Utah

“The First Epistle of Peter: Part Twelve”

1 Peter 4:1-8 (RSV)
1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same thought, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer by human passions but by the will of God. 3 Let the time that is past suffice for doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you do not now join them in the same wild profligacy, and they abuse you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead, that though judged in the flesh like men, they might live in the spirit like God. 7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore keep sane and sober for your prayers. 8 Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.

Behold us, O Lord God, at Your feet we kneel! We do not deserve Your LOVE, mercy, or grace, but precious Redeemer, Thy BLOOD which You have shed for us encourages, strengthens us and assists us in believing in You and the boundless salvation You offered us. How often we have offended You, repented, and yet have we again fallen into the same sin and other new sins.

O Lord our God, we wish to change and in order to be faithful to You, we will place all our confidence in You. We will, whenever we are tempted, instantly have recourse to You. Often we have trusted in our own promises and resolutions and have neglected to recommend ourselves to You in our hour of temptations. This has been the cause of our repeated failures. From this day forward, be You, O Lord, our strength, and this shall we be able to do all things, for “We can do all things in Him who strengthens us.” In Jesus wonderful name we pray Amen and eternally Amen

The Christian must be committed to abandoning the ways of heathenism, of the ways of this our EVIL world and to live as God would have us to.

Peter says, "He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin." What exactly does he mean? There are three distinct possibilities.

(i) There is a strong line in Jewish thought that suffering is in itself a great purifier. In the Apocalypse of Baruch the writer, speaking of the experiences of the people of Israel, says, "Then, therefore, were they chastened that they might be sanctified" (13: 10). In regard to the purification of the spirits of men Enoch says, "And in proportion as the burning of their body becomes severe, a corresponding change will take place in their spirit for ever and ever; for before the Lord of spirits there will be none to utter a lying word" (67: 9). The terrible sufferings of the time are described in 2 Maccabees, and the writer says, "I beseech those that read this book that they be not discouraged, terrified or shaken for these calamities, but that they judge these punishments not to be for destruction but for chastening of our nation. For it is a token of his great goodness, when evil-doers are not suffered to go on in their ways any long time, but forthwith punished. For not as with other nations, whom the Lord patiently forbeareth to punish, till the day of judgment arrive, and they be come to the fullness of their sins, so dealeth he with us, lest that, being come to the height of sin, afterwards he should take vengeance on us. And though he punish sinners with adversity, yet doth he never forsake his people" (2 Macc 6:12-16). ***The idea is that suffering sanctifies and that not to be punished is the greatest punishment which God can lay upon a person.

Psalm 94:12 (RSV)
12 Blessed is the man whom thou dost chasten, O LORD, and whom thou dost teach out of thy law

Job 5:17 (RSV)
17 "Behold, happy is the man whom God reproves; therefore despise not the chastening of the Almighty.

Hebrews 12:6 (RSV)
6 For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives."

If this is the idea, it means that those who have been disciplined by suffering have been cured of sin. That is a great thought. It enables us, as Browning said,

"to welcome each rebuff that turns earth's smoothness rough."

It enables us to thank God for the experiences which hurt but save the soul. But great as this thought is, it is not strictly relevant here.

(ii) Bigg thinks that Peter is speaking in terms of the experience which his people had of suffering for the Christian faith. He puts it this way:

 "He who has suffered in meekness and in fear, he who has endured all that persecution can do to him rather than join in wicked ways can be trusted to do right; temptation has manifestly no power over him."

The idea is that if a person has come through persecution and not denied the name of Christ, they come out on the other side with a character so tested and a faith so strengthened, that temptation cannot touch them any more.

Again there is a great thought here, the thought that every trial and every temptation are meant to make us stronger and better. Every temptation resisted makes the next easier to resist; and every temptation conquered makes us better able to overcome the next attack. But again it is doubtful if this thought comes in very relevantly here.

(iii) The third explanation is most probably the right one. Peter has just been talking about baptism. Now the great New Testament picture of baptism is in Romans 6. In that chapter Paul says that the experience of baptism is like being buried with Christ in death and raised with him to newness of life. I think that this is what Peter is thinking of here. He has spoken of baptism; and now he says,

Romans 6:14 (RSV)
14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

We, who in baptism have shared the sufferings and the death of Christ, are then risen to such newness of life with Him that sin has no more dominion over us…….

***Again we must remember that this is the baptism of the person who is voluntarily coming over from paganism, sinfulness, into Christianity. In that act of baptism we are identified with Christ; we share His sufferings and even His death; and we share in His risen life and power, and are, therefore, victors over sin.

When that has happened, a person has said good-bye to their former way of life. The rule of pleasure, pride and passion is gone, and the rule of God has begun. This was by no means easy. A person's former associates would laugh at the new puritanism which had entered their life. But the Christian knows very well that the judgment of God will come, when the judgments of earth will be reversed and the pleasures that are eternal will compensate a thousand-fold for the transitory pleasures which had to be abandoned in this life.

This very difficult passage ends with a very difficult verse. Once again we have the idea of the gospel being preached to the dead. At least three different meanings have been attached to dead. (i) It has been taken to mean those who are dead in sin, not those who are physically dead. (ii) It has been taken to mean those who died before the Second Coming of Christ; but who heard the gospel before they died and so will not miss the glory. (iii) It has been taken to mean quite simply all the dead. There can be little doubt that this third meaning is correct; Peter has just been talking about the descent of Christ to the place of the dead, and here he comes back to the idea of Christ preaching to the dead.

No fully satisfactory meaning has ever been found for this verse; but I think that the best explanation is as follows. For mortal man, death is the penalty of sin. As Paul wrote:

Romans 5:12 (RSV)
12 Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned --

This is very important, HAD THERE BEEN NO “SIN”, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN “NO” DEATH; and, therefore, death in itself is a judgment. So Peter says, all men have already been judged when they die; in spite of that Christ descended to the world of the dead and preached the gospel there, giving them another chance to live in the Spirit of God.

In some ways this is one of the most wonderful verses in the Bible, for, if my explanation is anywhere near the truth, it gives a breath-taking glimpse of a gospel of a second chance.

Here is a note which is struck consistently all through the New Testament. It is the summons of Paul that it is time to wake out of sleep, for the night is far spent and the day is at hand:

Romans 13:12 (RSV)
12 the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light;

Paul writes:

Philippians 4:5 (RSV)
5 Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand.

James states:

James 5:8 (RSV)
8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

John declares:

1 John 2:18 (RSV)
18 Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come; therefore we know that it is the last hour.

John goes on to say:

Revelation 1:3 (RSV)
3 Blessed is he who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written therein; for the time is near.

Revelation 22:20 (RSV)
20 He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

There are many for whom all such passages are problems, for, if they are taken literally, the New Testament writers were mistaken; 2000 plus years have passed and the end is not yet come. There are four ways of looking at them.

(i) We may hold that the New Testament writers were in fact mistaken. They looked for the return of Christ and the end of the world in their own day and generation; and these events did not take place. The curious thing is that the Christian Church allowed these words to stand although it would not have been difficult quietly to excise them from the New Testament documents. It was not until late in the second century that the New Testament began to be fixed in the form in which we have it today; and yet statements such as these became unquestioned parts of it. The clear conclusion is that the people of the early church still believed these words to be true.

(ii) There is a strong line of New Testament thought which, in effect, holds that the end has come. The consummation of history was the coming of Jesus Christ:

*In Him time was invaded by eternity.

*In Him God entered into the human situation.

*In Him the prophecies were all fulfilled.

*In him the end has come.

Paul speaks of himself and his people as those on whom the ends of the ages have come:

1 Corinthians 10:11 (RSV)
11 Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come.

Peter in his first sermon speaks of Joel's prophecy of the outpouring of the Spirit and of all that should happen in the last days, and then says that at that very time men were actually living in those last days:

Acts 2:16-21 (RSV)
16 but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 `And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and manifest day. 21 And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'

If we accept that, it means that in Jesus Christ the end of history has come. The battle has been won; there remain only skirmishes with the last remnants of opposition. It means that at this very moment we are living in the "end time," in what someone has called:

"the epilogue to history."

That is a very common point of view; but the trouble is that it flies in the face of facts. Evil is as rampant as ever, if not more so; the world is still far from having accepted Jesus Christ as King. It may be the "end time," but the dawn seems as far distant as ever it was.

(iii) It may be that we have to interpret near in the light of history's being a process of almost unimaginable length. It has been put this way. Suppose all time to be represented by a column the height of Cleopatra's Needle with a single postage stamp on top, then the length of recorded history is represented by the thickness of the postage stamp and the unrecorded history which went before it by the height of the column. When we think of time in terms like that near becomes an entirely relative word. The Psalmist was literally right when he said:

Psalm 90:4 (RSV)
4 For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.

In that case near can cover centuries and still be correctly used. But it is quite certain that the Biblical writers did not take near in that sense, for they had no conception of history in terms like that.

(iv) The simple fact is that behind this there is one inescapable and most personal truth. For everyone of us the time is near. The one thing which can be said of every person is that we will die. For every one of us the Lord is at hand. We cannot tell the day and the hour when we shall go to meet Him; and, therefore, all life is lived in the shadow of eternity.

"The end of all things is near," said Peter. The early thinkers may have been wrong if they thought that the end of the world was round the corner, but they have left us with the warning that for every one of us personally the end is near; and that warning is as valid today as ever it was.

When a person realizes the nearness of Jesus Christ, we are bound to commit ourselves to a certain kind of life. In view of that nearness Peter makes four demands.

(i) He says that we must be steady in mind. We might render it: "Preserve your sanity." The verb Peter uses is (sophronein); connected with that verb is the noun (sophrosune), which the Greeks derived from the verb (sozein), to keep safe, and the noun (phronesis), the mind. (Sophrosune) is the wisdom which characterizes a person who is preeminently sane; and (sophronein) means to preserve one's sanity. The great characteristic of sanity is that it sees things in their proper proportions; it sees what things are important and what are not; it is not swept away by sudden and transitory enthusiasms; it is prone neither to unbalanced fanaticism nor to unrealizing indifference. It is only when we see the affairs of earth in the light of eternity that we see them in their proper proportions; it is when God is given His proper place that everything else takes its proper place.

(ii) He says that we must be sober in mind. We might render it: "Preserve your sobriety." The verb Peter uses is (nephein)  which originally meant to be sober in contradistinction to being drunk and then came to mean to act soberly and sensibly. This does not mean that the Christian is to be lost in a gloomy joylessness; but it does mean that our approach to life must not be frivolous and irresponsible. To take things seriously is to be aware of their real importance and to be ever mindful of their consequences in time and in eternity. It is to approach life, not as a jest, but as a serious matter for which we are answerable.

(iii) Peter says that we must do this in order to pray as we ought. We might render it: "Preserve your prayer life." When a person's mind is unbalanced and our approach to life is frivolous and irresponsible, we cannot pray as we ought. ***We learn to pray only when we take life so wisely and so seriously that we begin to say in all things: "Thy will be done." The first necessity of prayer is the earnest desire to discover the will of God for ourselves.

(iv) Peter says that we must cherish for each other a LOVE that is constant and intense. We might render it: "Preserve your LOVE." The word Peter uses to describe this LOVE is (ektenes) which has two meanings, both of which we have included in the translation. It means outstretching in the sense of consistent; our LOVE must be the LOVE that never fails. It also means stretching out as a runner stretches out. As C. E. B. Cranfield reminds us it describes a horse at full gallop and denotes:

"the taut muscle of strenuous and sustained effort, as of an athlete."

Our LOVE must be energetic. Here is a fundamental Christian truth. Christian LOVE is not an easy, sentimental reaction. It demands everything a person has of mental and spiritual energy. It means LOVING the unLOVELY and the unLOVABLE (( in human terms )); it means LOVING in spite of insult and injury; it means LOVING when LOVE is not returned. Bengel translates (ektenes) by the Latin vehemens, vehement. Christian LOVE is the LOVE which never fails and into which every atom of a person’s strength is directed.

The Christian, in the light of eternity, must

preserve OUR sanity,

preserve OUR sobriety,

preserve OUR prayers and

preserve OUR LOVE…….

"LOVE," says Peter, "hides a multitude of sins." There are three things which this saying may mean; and it is not necessary that we should choose between them, for they are all there.

(i) It may mean that our LOVE can overlook many sins.

Proverbs 10:12B (RSV)
12b …but love covers all offenses.

If we LOVE a person, it is easy to forgive. It is not that LOVE is blind, but that it LOVES a person just as they are. LOVE makes patience easy. It is much easier to be patient with our own children than with the children of strangers. If we really LOVE our fellow-men and women, we can accept their faults, and bear with their foolishness, and even endure their unkindness. LOVE indeed can cover a multitude of sins.

(ii) It may mean that, if we LOVE others, God will overlook a multitude of sins in us. In life we meet two kinds of people. We meet those who have no faults at which the finger may be pointed; they are moral, orthodox, and supremely respectable; but they are hard and grim and unable to understand why others make mistakes and fall into sin. We also meet those who have all kinds of faults; but they are kind and sympathetic and they seldom or never condemn. It is the second kind of person to whom the heart more readily warms; and in all reverence we may say that it is so with God. He will forgive much to the person who LOVES his/her fellow-men and women.

(iii) It may mean that God's LOVE covers the multitude of our sins. That is blessedly and profoundly true. It is the wonder of grace that, sinners as we are, God LOVES us; that is why He sent His Son Jesus Christ…….

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


November 17, 2019

“a” Church

Clearfield, Utah

“The First Epistle of Peter: Part Eleven”

1 Peter 3:13-22 (RSV)
13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is right? 14 But even if you do suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God's will, than for doing wrong. 18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.

Heavenly Father, we come to You with what would be a momentous and unobtainable task for us the children of Eve, but is possible through Your eternal power and grace. We pray You make us holy as You are holy, not that we would ever acquire Your perfect holiness, but that we would genuinely reflect as much LOVE and grace to You and our fellow humanity as You see fit for us.

Oh Lord, we yearn for the future when there is no more weariness or struggle with temptation or sin. When we arise in complete LOVE for You, and for all of Your creation, as You would have us. When the Light never hides itself, but shines brightly for ever !!!

Thank You Father, for hearing our prayers, Thy will be done, in Jesus’ name we pray Amen and eternally Amen and Amen.

And Lord bless Cheryl in Jesus name Amen…

This is not only one of the most difficult passages in Peter's letter, it is one of the most difficult in the whole New Testament; and it is also the basis of one of the most difficult articles in the creed, "He descended into Hell." It is, therefore, better first of all to read it as a whole and then to study it in its various sections.

Although this passage is one of the most difficult in the New Testament, it begins with something which anyone can understand. The point that Peter is making is that, even if the Christian is compelled to suffer unjustly for their faith, they, we, are only walking the way that OUR Lord and Savior has already walked. The suffering Christian must always remember that we have a suffering Lord. In the narrow compass of these two verses Peter has the greatest and the deepest things to say about the work of Jesus Christ.

(i) He lays it down that the work of Christ was unique and never need be repeated. Christ died once and for all for sins. The New Testament says this same thing often. When Christ died, He died once and for all:

Romans 6:10 (RSV)
10 The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.

The priestly sacrifices in the Temple have to be repeated daily but Christ made the perfect sacrifice once and for all when he offered Himself up:

Hebrews 7:27 (RSV)
27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this once for all when he offered up himself.

Christ was once and for all offered to bear the sin of many:

Hebrews 9:28 (RSV)
28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ once and for all:

Hebrews 10:1 (RSV)
1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices which are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near.

The New Testament is ABSOLUTELY VIVIDLY CERTAIN that on the Cross something happened which never needs to happen again and that in that happening SIN IS FINALLY DEFEATED!!! On the Cross God dealt with man's sin in a way which is adequate for all sin, for all humanity, for all time.

(ii) Peter lays it down that that sacrifice was for sin, OUR SIN. Christ died once and for all for sins, OUR SINS. This again is frequently said in the New Testament. Christ died for OUR SINS according to the scriptures:

1 Corinthians 15:3 (RSV)
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures,

Christ gave Himself for OUR SINS:

Galatians 1:4 (RSV)
4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father;

The function of the High Priest, and Jesus Christ is the perfect High Priest, is to offer sacrifice for sins:

Hebrews 5:1 (RSV)
1 For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.

Hebrews 5:3 (RSV)
3 Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people.

He is the expiation (COMPENSATION) for OUR SINS:

1 John 2:2 (RSV)
2 and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

The Greek for sins is either (huper) or (peri) (hamartion). It so happens that in the Greek version of the Old Testament the regular phrase for a sin-offering is (peri) (hamartias). (Hamartias), is the singular of (hamartion), as, for instance, in:

Leviticus 5:7 (RSV)
7 "But if he cannot afford a lamb, then he shall bring, as his guilt offering to the LORD for the sin which he has committed, two turtledoves or two young pigeons, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering.

Leviticus 6:30 (RSV)
30 But no sin offering shall be eaten from which any blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the holy place; it shall be burned with fire.

That is to say, Peter is laying it down that the death of Jesus Christ and Him alone is the only-sacrifice which atones for the sin of mankind.

((((((( Nothing we can ever do can save us or preserve our salvation!!!!!!! )))))))

We may put it this way. Sin is that which interrupts the relationship which should exist between God and humanity. The object of sacrifice is to restore that lost relationship. The bloody-death of Jesus Christ upon the Cross, however we explain it, restores the lost relationship between God and mankind of those who choose to accept and LOVE Jesus Christ. As Charles Wesley put it in verse:

“No condemnation now I dread:

Jesus, and all in him, is mine!

Alive in him, my living Head,

And clothed in righteousness divine,

Bold I approach the eternal throne,

And claim the crown, through Christ my own.”

It may be that we will never agree in our theories of what exactly happened on the Cross, for, indeed, as Charles Wesley said in that same hymn: "'Tis mystery all!" But on one thing we can agree—through what happened there we may enter into a new relationship with God.

(iii) Peter lays it down that that sacrifice was vicarious (mediated). Christ died once and for all for sins, the just for the unjust. That the just should suffer for the unjust is an extraordinary thing. At first sight it looks like injustice. As Edwin H. Robertson put it:

"Only forgiveness without reason can match sin without excuse."

The suffering of Christ was for us; and the mystery is that He who deserved no suffering bore that suffering for us who deserved to suffer. Jesus and Jesus only, sacrificed Himself to restore our lost relationship with God.

(iv) Peter lays it down that the work of Christ was to bring us to God. Christ died once and for all for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. The word for "to bring" is (prosagein). It has two vivid backgrounds.

(a) It has a Jewish background. It is used in the Old Testament of bringing to God those who are to be priests. It is God's instruction:

Exodus 29:4 (RSV)
4 You shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the tent of meeting, and wash them with water.

The point is this—as the Jews saw it, only the priests had the right of close access to God. In the Temple the layman might come so far; he could pass through the Court of the Gentiles, the Court of the Women, the Court of the Israelites—but there he must stop. Into the Court of the Priests, into the nearer presence of God, he could not go; and of the priests, only the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies. But Jesus Christ brings us to God; He opens the way for all humanity to His nearer presence, into the Holy of Holies.

(b) It has a Greek background. In the New Testament the corresponding noun (prosagoge) is three times used. (Prosagein) means to bring in; (prosagoge) means the right of access, the result of the bringing in. Through Jesus Christ we have access to grace:

Romans 5:2 (RSV)
2 Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

Through Jesus we have access to God the Father:

Ephesians 2:18 (RSV)
18 for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Through Jesus we have boldness and access and confidence to come to God:

Ephesians 3:12 (RSV)
12 in whom we have boldness and confidence of access through our faith in him.

In Greek this had a specialized meaning. At the court of kings there was an official called the prosagogeus, the introducer, the giver of access, and it was his function to decide who should be admitted to the king's presence and who should be kept out. He, as it were, held the keys of access. It is Jesus Christ, through what He did on that blood-soaked cross, who gives us access to God.

(v) When we go beyond these two verses, further into the passage, we can add two more great truths to Peter's view of the work of Christ.

1 Peter 3:19 (RSV)
19 in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison,

Jesus preached to the spirits in prison; and in:

1 Peter 4:6 (RSV)
6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead, that though judged in the flesh like men, they might live in the spirit like God.

Peter says that the gospel was preached to them that are dead. As we shall go on to see, this most probably means that in the time between Jesus’ death and His resurrection Jesus actually preached the gospel in the abode of the dead; that is to say, to those who in their lifetime had never had the opportunity to hear it.

John 14:6 (RSV)
6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.

Acts 4:12 (RSV)
12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Here is a tremendous thought. It means that the work of Christ is infinite in its range. It means that no human who ever lived is outside the grace of God. ***Everyone will have an opportunity to hear the Gospel, and an opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as their ONLY LORD, their ONLY GOD, and their ONLY SAVIOR!!!!!!!

(vi) Peter sees the work of Christ in terms of complete triumph. Peter says that after His resurrection Jesus went into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him:

1 Peter 3:22 (RSV)
22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.

The meaning is that there is nothing in earth and heaven outside the empire, domain, of Jesus Christ. To all humanity He brought the new relationship between mankind and God; in His death Jesus even brought the good news to the dead; in His resurrection He conquered death; even the angelic and the demonic powers are subject to Jesus; and Jesus has the very power and throne of God.


John 10:30 (RSV)
30 I and the Father are one."

 John 20:28 (RSV)
28 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"

Jesus Christ the sufferer has become Jesus Christ the victor; Jesus Christ the crucified has become Jesus Christ the crowned; Jesus Christ the Savior is forever more: the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the Creator God…….The ONLY GOD ((( Father, Son, and Holy Spirit )))

We have already said that we are here face to face with one of the most difficult passages, not only in Peter's letter, but in the whole New Testament; and, if we are to grasp what it means, we must follow Peter's own advice and gird up the loins of our mind to study it.

This passage has lodged in the creed in the phrase: "He descended into hell." We must first note that this phrase is very misleading. The idea of the New Testament is not that Jesus descended into hell but that He descended into Hades.

Acts 2:27 (RSV)
27 For thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let thy Holy One see corruption.

As all the newer translations correctly show, should be translated not: "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell," but, "Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades." The difference is this. Hell is the place of the punishment of the wicked; Hades was the place where all the dead went before Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The Jews had a very shadowy conception of life beyond the grave. They did not think in terms of heaven and of hell but of a shadowy world, where the spirits of people moved like grey ghosts in an everlasting twilight and where there was neither strength nor joy. Such was Hades, into which the spirits of all people went after death. Isaiah writes:

Isaiah 38:18 (RSV)
18 For Sheol cannot thank thee, death cannot praise thee; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for thy faithfulness.

The Psalmist wrote:

Psalm 6:5 (RSV)
5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee; in Sheol who can give thee praise?

Psalm 30:9 (RSV)
9 "What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise thee? Will it tell of thy faithfulness?

Psalm 88:10-12 (RSV)
10 Dost thou work wonders for the dead? Do the shades rise up to praise thee? [Selah] 11 Is thy steadfast love declared in the grave, or thy faithfulness in Abaddon? 12 Are thy wonders known in the darkness, or thy saving help in the land of forgetfulness?

Psalm 115:17 (RSV)
17 The dead do not praise the LORD, nor do any that go down into silence.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 (RSV)
10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

The Jewish conception of the world after death was of this grey world of shadows and forgetfulness, in which people were separated from life and light and God.

As time went on, there emerged the idea of stages and divisions in this shadowy-land. For some it was to last forever; but for others it was a kind of prison-house in which they were held until the final judgment of God's wrath should blast them:

Isaiah 24:21-22 (RSV)
21 On that day the LORD will punish the host of heaven, in heaven, and the kings of the earth, on the earth. 22 They will be gathered together as prisoners in a pit; they will be shut up in a prison, and after many days they will be punished.

2 Peter 2:4 (RSV)
4 For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment;

Revelation 20:1-7 (RSV)
1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years were ended. After that he must be loosed for a little while. 4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom judgment was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and they shall reign with him a thousand years. 7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be loosed from his prison

So, then, it must first of all be remembered that this whole matter is to be thought of, not in terms of hell, as we understand the word, but in terms of Christ's going to the dead in their shadowy world. Where people wait for their final judgment……………………

Since Christ’s death and resurrection, those who die saved, IMMEDIATELY go to be with Him with the Father…

Luke 23:43 (RSV)
43 And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

2 Corinthians 5:8 (RSV)
8 We are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Philippians 1:23 (RSV)
23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

This doctrine of the descent into Hades, as we must now call it, is based on two phrases in our present passage. It says that Jesus went and preached to the spirits who are in prison”

1 Peter 3:19 (RSV)
19 in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison,

1 Peter 4:6 (RSV)
6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead, that though judged in the flesh like men, they might live in the spirit like God.

***In regard to this doctrine there have always been differing attitudes amongst thinkers.

(i) There are those who wish to eliminate it altogether. There is the attitude of elimination. Some wish to eliminate it altogether and attempt to do so along two lines.

(a) Peter says that in the Spirit Christ preached to the spirits in prison, who were disobedient in the time when the patience of God waited in the days of Noah, when the ark was being built. It is argued that what this means is that it was in the time of Noah himself that Christ did this preaching; that in the Spirit long ages before this he made his appeal to the wicked men of Noah's day. This would completely do away with the idea of the descent into Hades. Many great scholars have accepted that view; but I do not think it is the view which comes naturally from Peter's words.

(b) If we look at Moffatt's translation, we find something quite different. He translates:

"In the flesh he (Christ) was put to death, but he came to life in the Spirit. It was in the Spirit that Enoch also went and preached to the imprisoned spirits who had disobeyed at the time when God's patience held out during the construction of the ark in the days of Noah."

How does Moffatt arrive at this translation?

The name of Enoch does not appear in any Greek manuscript. But in the consideration of the text of any Greek author, scholars sometimes use a process called emendation. They think that there is something wrong with the text as it stands, that some scribe has perhaps copied it wrongly; and they, therefore, suggest that some word should be changed or added.

What reason is there for bringing Enoch  into this passage at all? He has always been a fascinating and mysterious person.

Genesis 5:24 (RSV)
24 Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

In between the Old and New Testaments many legends sprang up about Enoch and famous and important books were written under his name. One of the legends was that Enoch, though a man, acted as "God's envoy" to the angels who sinned by coming to earth and lustfully seducing mortal women:

Genesis 6:2 (RSV)
2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose.

In the Book of Enoch it is said that he was sent down from heaven to announce to these angels their final doom (Enoch 12: 1) and that he proclaimed that for them, because of their sin, there was neither peace nor forgiveness ever (Enoch 12 and 13).

So then, according to Jewish legend, Enoch did go to Hades and preach doom to the fallen angels. Moffatt thus suggested Enoch should be added to our text and did so in his translation. That is an extremely interesting and ingenious suggestion but without doubt it must be rejected. ***There is no evidence for it at all; and it is not natural to bring in Enoch, for the whole picture is of the work of Jesus Christ.

We have seen that the attempt at the elimination of this passage fails.

(ii) The second attitude is limitation. This attitude—and it is that of some very great New Testament interpreters—believes that Peter is indeed saying that Jesus went to Hades and preached, but that He by no means preached to all the inhabitants of Hades. Different interpreters limit that preaching in different ways.

(a) It is argued that Jesus preached in Hades only to the spirits of the men who were disobedient in the days of Noah. Those who hold this view often go on to argue that, since these sinners were desperately disobedient, so much so that God sent the flood and destroyed them:

Genesis 6:12-13 (RSV)
12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them; behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

I KNOW that no person is outside the mercy and grace of God. They were the worst of all sinners and yet they were given another chance of repentance because they had not had the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior; therefore, the worst of mankind, I being the worst as Paul also thought of himself,

1 Timothy 1:15 (RSV)
15 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners;

ALL mankind has an opportunity to be saved by the precious, glorious, awesome, ALL POWERFUL SHED BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST, those never hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and those who are desperately evil that genuinely fall in LOVE with Jesus Christ……..


(b) It is argued that Jesus preached to the fallen angels, and preached, not salvation, but final and awful doom. We have already mentioned these angels. Their story is told in:

Genesis 6:1-8 (RSV)
1 When men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, "My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years." 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown. 5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them." 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

They were tempted by the beauty of mortal women; they came to earth, seduced them and begat children; and because of their action, it is inferred, the wickedness of man was great and his thoughts were always evil.

2 Peter 2:4 (RSV)
4 For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment;

It was to them that Enoch did, in fact, preach; and there are those who think that what this passage means is not that Christ preached mercy and another chance; but that, in token of His complete triumph, he preached terrible doom to those angels who had sinned.

(c) It is argued that Christ preached only to those who had been righteous and that He led them out of Hades into the paradise of God. We have seen how the Jews believed that all the dead went to Hades, the shadowy land of forgetfulness. The argument is that before Christ that was indeed so but he opened the gates of heaven to mankind; and, when He did so, He went to Hades and told the glad news to all the righteous people of all past generations and led them out to God. That is a magnificent picture. Those who hold this view often go on to say that, because of Christ, there is now no time spent in the shadows of Hades and the way to paradise is open as soon as this world closes on us. ((( Which I teach )))

(iii) There is the attitude that what Peter is saying is that Jesus Christ, between His death and resurrection, went to the world of the dead and preached the gospel there. Peter says that Jesus Christ was put to death in the flesh but raised to life in the Spirit, and that it was in the Spirit that He so preached. The meaning is that Jesus lived in a human body and was under all the limitations of time and space in the days of His flesh; and died with that body broken and bleeding upon the Cross. But when He rose again, He rose with a spiritual body, in which He was rid of the necessary weaknesses of humanity and liberated from the necessary limitations of time and space. It was in this spiritual condition of perfect freedom that the preaching to the dead took place.

As it stands this doctrine is stated in categories which are outworn. It speaks of the descent into Hades and the very word descent suggests a three-storey universe in which heaven is localized above the sky and Hades beneath the earth. But, laying aside the physical categories of this doctrine, we can find in it truths which are eternally valid and precious, three in particular.

(a) If Christ descended into Hades, then His death was no sham. It is not to be explained in terms of a swoon on the Cross, or anything like that. He really experienced death, and rose again. At its simplest, the doctrine of the descent into Hades lays down the complete identity of Christ with our human condition, even to the experience of death.

(b) If Christ descended into Hades, it means that His triumph is universal. This, in fact, is a truth which is ingrained into the New Testament. It is Paul's dream that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth:

Philippians 2:10 (RSV)
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

In the Revelation the song of praise comes from every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth and under the earth:

Revelation 5:13 (RSV)
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, "To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!"

He who ascended into Heaven is He who first descended into the lower parts of the earth:

Ephesians 4:9-10 (RSV)
9 (In saying, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)

The total submission of the universe and ALL OF CREATION to Jesus Christ is woven into the thought of the New Testament.

(c) If Christ descended into Hades and preached there, there is no corner of the universe or existence into which the message of grace has not come. There is in this passage the solution of one of the most haunting questions raised by the Christian faith—what is to happen to those who lived before Jesus Christ and to those to whom the gospel never came? There can be no salvation without repentance but how can repentance come to those who have never been confronted with the LOVE and holiness of God? If there is no other name by which any human being may be saved, what is to happen to those who never heard it? This is the point that Justin Martyr fastened on long ago:

"The Lord, the Holy God of Israel, remembered His dead, those sleeping in the earth, and came down to them to tell them the good news of salvation."

The doctrine of the descent into Hades conserves the precious truth that no human being who ever lived is left without a sight of Jesus Christ and without the offer of the salvation of God.

Many in repeating the creed have found the phrase "He descended into hell" either meaningless or bewildering, and have tacitly agreed to set it on one side and forget it. It may well be that we ought to think of this as a picture painted in terms of poetry rather than a doctrine stated in terms of theology. But it contains these three great truths—that Jesus Christ not only tasted death but drained the cup of death, that the triumph of Christ is universal, eternal and that there is no corner of the universe or existence into which the grace of God has not reached.

Peter has been speaking about the wicked people who were disobedient and corrupt in the days of Noah; they were ultimately destroyed. But in the destruction by the flood eight people—Noah and his wife, his sons Shem, Ham and Japheth, and their wives—were brought to safety in the ark. Immediately the idea of being brought to safety through the water turns Peter's thoughts to Christian baptism, which is also a bringing to safety through the water. What Peter literally says is that baptism is an antitype of Noah and his people in the ark.

This word introduces us to a special way of looking at the Old Testament. There are two closely connected words. There is (tupos), type, which means a seal, and there is (antitupos), antitype, which means the impression of the seal. Clearly, between the seal and its impression there is the closest possible correspondence. So there are people and events and customs in the Old Testament which are types, and which find their antitypes in the New Testament. The Old Testament event or person is like the seal; the New Testament event or person is like the impression; the two answer to each other. We might put it that the Old Testament event symbolically represents and foreshadows the New Testament event. The science of finding types and antitypes in the Old and the New Testaments is very highly developed. But to take very simple and obvious examples, the Passover Lamb and the scapegoat, who bore the sins of the people, are types of Jesus; and the work of the High Priest in making sacrifice for the sins of the people is a type of His saving work. Here Peter sees the bringing safely through the waters of Noah and his family as a type of baptism.

In this passage Peter has three great things to say about baptism. It must be remembered that at this stage of the Church's history we are still dealing with adult baptism, the baptism of people who had come straight from heathenism into Christianity and who were taking upon themselves a new way of life.

(i) Baptism is not merely a physical cleansing; it is a spiritual cleansing of the whole heart and soul and life. Its effect must be on a person’s very soul and on OUR whole life.

(ii) Peter calls baptism the pledge of a good conscience to God:

1 Peter 3:21 (RSV)
21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

The word Peter uses for pledge is (eperotema). In every business contract there was a definite question and answer which made the contract binding. The question was: "Do you accept the terms of this contract, and bind yourself to observe them?" And the answer, before witnesses was: "Yes." Without that question and answer the contract was not valid. The technical word for that question and answer clause is (eperotema) in Greek, stipulatio in Latin.

Peter is, in effect, saying that in baptism God said to the person coming direct from heathenism: "Do you accept the terms of my service? Do you accept its privileges and promises, and do you undertake its responsibilities and its demands?" And in the act of being baptized the person answered: "Yes."

To us today baptism is first, a symbol of our acknowledgment of an inward cleansing from ALL OUR SINS, secondly it is an outward obedience to whom we now belong………………………….

((((((( WE BELONG TO JESUS CHRIST!!!!!!! )))))))

Next time we begin chapter 4, of The First Epistle of Peter…

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


November 10, 2019

“a” Church

Clearfield, Utah

“The First Epistle of Peter: Part Ten”

1 Peter 3:8-12 (RSV)
8 Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren, a tender heart and a humble mind. 9 Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For "He that would love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile; 11 let him turn away from evil and do right; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those that do evil."

Lord, bless those who are in need, We pray You will intervene in the lives of the Lost, that they would have an opportunity to be saved! We pray that You would heal the sick and care for their families; provide for those who are in physical need. Protect those who are in danger from any source. Deliver those who are in emotional, psychological, and especially spiritual turmoil, save, guide, and be with them. Protect those who are in financial need; and above ALL, not our wills but THY WILL BE DONE……………In Jesus’ precious name Amen and eternally Amen!!!!!!! “

Peter, as it were, gathers together the great qualities of the Christian life.

(i) Right in the forefront he sets Christian unity. It is worth while to collect together the great New Testament passages about unity, in order to see how great a place it occupies in New Testament thought. The basis of the whole matter is in the words of Jesus who prayed for His people that they might all be one, as He and His Father were one:

John 17:21-23 (RSV)
21 that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.

In the thrilling early days of the Church this prayer was fulfilled, for they were all of one heart and of soul:

Acts 4:32 (RSV)
32 Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common.

Over and over again Paul exhorts people to this unity and prays for it. He reminds the Christians of Rome that, though they are many, they are one body, and he pleads with them to be of one mind:

Romans 12:4 (RSV)
4 For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function,

Romans 12:16 (RSV)
16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited.

This is something that much of the present Church HAS GREAT PROBLEMS WITH…….

In writing to the Christians of Corinth, Paul uses the same picture of the Christians as members of one body in spite of all their differing qualities and gifts:

1 Corinthians 12:12-31 (RSV)
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free -- and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single organ, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, 25 that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Paul pleads with the quarrelling Corinthians that there should be no divisions among them and that they should be perfectly joined together in the same mind:

1 Corinthians 1:10 (RSV)
10 I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

Paul tells them that strife and divisions are fleshly things, marks that they are living on purely human standards, without the mind of Christ:

1 Corinthians 3:3 (RSV)
3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men?

Oh, how God’s Word so vividly sheds light on how we really are……

Because they, we have partaken of the one bread, WE should be, WE must be one body:

1 Corinthians 10:17 (RSV)
17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

Paul tells them that they must be of one mind and must live in peace:

2 Corinthians 13:11 (RSV)
11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Mend your ways, heed my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.

In Christ Jesus the dividing walls are down, and Jew and Greek are united into one:

Ephesians 2:13-14 (RSV)
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility,

If Jew and Greek are one through the power of the Holy Spirit, we who are black or white, green or yellow or red, or whatever race or color this evil world decrees us to be; WE MUST BE ONE…………………….


Christians must maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, remembering that there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all:

Ephesians 4:3-6 (RSV)
3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.

ONE FATHER OF US ALL………………………………………….

We do not simply ignore race or color, but we NO-LONGER SEE OR CONSCIOUSLY OR UNCONSCIOUSLY THINK RACE OR COLOR!!!!!!!

My Mother was married 3 times, I was the only child of my father; so all my sisters legally are half-sisters. I once in my youth told this in innocence to my sister Shirley, WHO EXPLODED!!! “You are not my half-brother”, she emphatically professed, “YOU ARE MY BROTHER”………

***If we are genuine Christians that MUST BE HOW WE SEE, THINK, and inwardly believe of all mankind, they are our brothers and sisters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

((( I am most grateful TO MY SISTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! )))

Paul continues in this theme and states the Philippians must stand fast in one spirit, striving together with one mind for the faith of the gospel; in so doing they will make Paul's happiness complete, if they have the same LOVE and have one accord and one mind; the quarrelling Euodias and Syntyche are urged to be of one mind in the Lord:

Philippians 1:27 (RSV)
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,

Philippians 2:2 (RSV)
2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

Philippians 4:2 (RSV)
2 I entreat Eu-o'dia and I entreat Syn'tyche to agree in the Lord.

All through the New Testament rings this plea for Christian unity. It is more than a plea; it is an announcement that NO PERSON can live the Christian life unless in their personal relationships they are at unity with their fellow-men and women; and that the Church cannot be truly Christian if there are divisions within it.

As in the Church, so should WE LIVE OUR DAILY, MOMENT BY MOMENT LIVES OUTSIDE the CHURCH………………….If we are Christian???

It is tragic to realize how far WE are from realizing this unity in our personal lives and how far the Church is from realizing it within herself. C. E. B. Cranfield writes so finely of this that we cannot do other than quote his whole comment in full, lengthy though it is:

"The New Testament never treats this agreeing in Christ as an unnecessary though highly desirable spiritual luxury, but as something essential to the true being of the Church. Divisions, whether disagreements between individual members or the existence of factions and parties and—how much more!—our present-day denominations, constitute a calling in question of the Gospel itself and a sign that those who are involved are carnal. The more seriously we take the New Testament, the more urgent and painful becomes our sense of the sinfulness of the divisions, and the more earnest our prayers and strivings after the peace and unity of the Church on earth. That does not mean that the like-mindedness we are to strive for is to be a drab uniformity of the sort beloved of bureaucrats. Rather is it to be a unity in which powerful tensions are held together by an over-mastering loyalty, and strong antipathies of race and colour, temperament and taste, social position and economic interest, are overcome in common worship and common obedience. Such unity will only come when Christians are humble and bold enough to lay hold on the unity already given in Christ and to take it more seriously than their own self-importance and sin, and to make of these deep differences of doctrine, which originate in our imperfect understanding of the Gospel and which we dare not belittle, not an excuse for letting go of one another or staying apart, but rather an incentive for a more earnest seeking in fellowship together to hear and obey the voice of Christ."

There speaks the prophetic voice to our modern condition, in and outside the Church.

(ii) Second, Peter sets sympathy. Here again the whole New Testament urges this duty upon us. We are to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep:

Romans 12:15 (RSV)
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

When one member of the body suffers all the other members suffer with them; and when one member is honored, all the members rejoice with for them:

1 Corinthians 12:26 (RSV)
26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

It must be so with Christians, who are the body of Christ. One thing is clear, sympathy and selfishness cannot coexist.*** So long as the self is the most important thing in the world, there can be no such thing as sympathy; sympathy depends on the willingness to forget self and to identify oneself with the pains and sorrows of others. Sympathy comes to the heart when Jesus Christ reigns there.

(iii) Third, Peter sets brotherly LOVE. Again the matter goes back to the words of Jesus.

John 13:34-35 (RSV)
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

Here the New Testament speaks with unmistakable definiteness and with almost frightening directness.

1 John 3:14-15 (RSV)
14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 15 Any one who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

1 John 4:20 (RSV)
20 If any one says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.

The simple fact is that LOVE of God and to LOVE ALL HUMAN BEINGS go hand in hand; the one cannot exist without the other. The simplest test of the reality of the Christianity of a person or a Church is whether or not it makes them LOVE their fellow-men and women, inside and outside the Church.  ((( ALL PEOPLE )))

Matthew 22:37-40 (RSV)
37 And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."

(iv) Fourth, Peter sets compassion. There is a sense in which pity is in danger of becoming a lost virtue. The conditions of our own age tend to blunt the edge of the mind to sensitiveness in pity. As C. E. B. Cranfield puts it:

"We got used to hearing on the radio of a thousand-bomber raid as we ate our breakfast. We have got used to the idea of millions of people becoming refugees."

We can read of the thousands of casualties on the roads with no reaction within our hearts, forgetting that each means a broken body or a broken heart for someone. WE CAN DENY THE MURDER OF 30 MILLION ABORTED BABIES……. It is easy to lose the sense of pity and still easier to be satisfied with a sentimentalism which feels a moment's comfortable sorrow and does nothing. Pity is of the very essence of God and compassion of the very being of Jesus Christ; a pity so great that God sent His only Son to die for man-kind, a compassion so intense that it took Christ to the Cross. There can be no Christianity without compassion.

(v) Fifth, Peter sets humility. Christian humility comes from two things. It comes, first, from the sense of creatureliness. The Christian is humble because we should be ETERNALLY aware of our utter dependence on God and that of ourselves WE CAN DO NOTHING!!! It comes, second, from the fact that the Christian has a new standard of comparison. It may well be that when we compare ourselves with other people, we have nothing to fear from the comparison. But the Christian's standard of comparison is Jesus Christ, and, compared with His sinless perfection, WE ARE EVER IN DEFAULT……. *******NOT EVEN ABLE TO SAVE OR MAINTAIN OUR SALVATION BY ANY WORK OR OBEDIENCE WE MIGHT DO!!!******* When we as Christians remember our ABSOLUTE and COMPLETE dependence on God and keep before us the standard of Jesus Christ, We must remain humble.

(vi) Lastly, and as a culmination, Peter sets forgiveness. It is to receive forgiveness from God and to give forgiveness to others that the Christian is called. The one SHOULD NOT exist without the other; it is only when we forgive others their sins against us that we have a right and glorious relationship with God!!!

Matthew 6:12 (RSV)
12 And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors;

Matthew 6:14-15 (RSV)
14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

***The mark of the Christian is that we forgive others as God has forgiven them………………….

Ephesians 4:32 (RSV)
32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

As was natural for him, Peter sums the matter up by quoting:

Psalm 34:1-22 (RSV)
1 I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and be glad. 3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! 4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. 5 Look to him, and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed. 6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 8 O taste and see that the LORD is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in him! 9 O fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no want! 10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. 11 Come, O sons, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 12 What man is there who desires life, and covets many days, that he may enjoy good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. 14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous, and his ears toward their cry. 16 The face of the LORD is against evildoers, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. 17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the LORD delivers him out of them all. 20 He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. 21 Evil shall slay the wicked; and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. 22 The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

***Psalm 34 with its picture of the person whom God receives and the person whom God rejects.***

Next week we will Lord willing, finish chapter 3 and begin chapter 4.

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


November 3, 2019

“a” Church

Clearfield, Utah

“The First Epistle of Peter: Part Nine”

1 Peter 3:1-7 (RSV)
1 Likewise you wives, be submissive to your husbands, so that some, though they do not obey the word, may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see your reverent and chaste behavior. 3 Let not yours be the outward adorning with braiding of hair, decoration of gold, and wearing of fine clothing, 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 5 So once the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves and were submissive to their husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are now her children if you do right and let nothing terrify you. 7 Likewise you husbands, live considerately with your wives, bestowing honor on the woman as the weaker sex, since you are joint heirs of the grace of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered.

Abba Father,

We as husbands and wives come before You and open our lives, our hearts and our union to Your LOVE. Come and move in our minds, bringing hope and vision for our lives together. Move within our emotions to smooth away the tensions and disappointments we feel.

Lord, please renew our strength, restore our energy with peaceful rest tonight, gentle dreams and with the intimacy of our friendship and LOVE.

Show us how to be better husbands and wives. Sometimes we feel that we have lost the LOVE of each other. We are so often stressed and tired by daily life. We struggle to find the energy to care for each other. Help us to find the excitement and chemistry of our LOVE again. Help us to connect afresh and communicate better. Inspire our hearts to be the first to initiate. Inspire our thoughts to surprise each other with attention. We give You the hurt we often feel inside sometimes. We ask for forgiveness for the times our words or actions hurt our spouses. With You we can always find new beginnings. With You we can remember the good times and renew our LOVE together. You know us as individuals and as couples. You are journeying with us in our marriages. Guide us through the seasons of difficulty into the warmth of summer. Guide our lives to find new adventures to share together. Remind us of our first LOVE for each other. Remind us to be the first to forgive, The first to LOVE and the first to act. That we may again fall in LOVE with our spouses.

Help us to mutually submit one to another, and help us base our relationships with our spouses in our LOVE for You Father, Help us be what You want us to be, for our spouses, our children, our families, for all Your children the Church, and for all the people You put in put our paths. In Jesus name we pray Amen and eternally Amen………………………….

Peter turns to the domestic problems which Christianity inevitably produced. It was inevitable that one marriage partner might be won for Christ, while the other remained untouched by the appeal of the gospel; and such a situation inevitably had difficulties.

It may seem strange that Peter's advice to wives is six times as long as that to husbands. This is because the wife's position was far more difficult than that of the husband. If a husband became a Christian, he would automatically bring his wife with him into the Church and there would be no problem. But if a wife became a Christian while her husband did not, she was taking a step which was unprecedented and which produced the acutest problems.

In every sphere of ancient civilization, women had no rights at all. Under Jewish law a woman was a thing; she was owned by her husband in exactly the same way as he owned his sheep and his goats: on no account could she leave him, although he could dismiss her at any moment. For a wife to change her religion while her husband did not was unthinkable.

In Greek civilization the duty of the woman was "to remain indoors and to be obedient to her husband." It was the sign of a good woman that she must see as little, hear as little and ask as little as possible. She had no kind of independent existence and no kind of mind of her own, and her husband could divorce her almost at a whim, so long as he returned her dowry.

Under Roman law a woman had no rights. In law she remained forever a child. When she was under her father she was under the patria potestas, the father's power, which gave the father the right even of life and death over her; and when she married she passed equally into the power of her husband. She was entirely subject to her husband and completely at his mercy. Cato the Censor, the typical ancient Roman, wrote:

 "If you were to catch your wife in an act of infidelity, you can kill her with impunity without a trial."

Roman matrons were prohibited from drinking wine, and Egnatius beat his wife to death when he found her doing so. Sulpicius Gallus dismissed his wife because she had once appeared in the streets without a veil. Antistius Vetus divorced his wife because he saw her secretly speaking to a freed woman in public. Publius Sempronius Sophus divorced his wife because once she went to the public games. The whole attitude of ancient civilization was that no woman could dare make any decision for herself.

What, then, must have been the problems of the wife who became a Christian while her husband remained faithful to the ancestral gods? It is almost impossible for us to realize what life must have been for the wife who was brave enough to become a Christian.

What, then, is Peter's advice in such a case? We must first note what he does not advise.

He does not advise the wife to leave her husband. In this he takes exactly the same attitude as Paul takes:

1 Corinthians 7:13-16 (RSV)
13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner desires to separate, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. For God has called us to peace. 16 Wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? Husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?

Both Paul and Peter are quite sure that the Christian wife must remain with the heathen husband so long as he does not send her away. Peter does not tell the wife to preach or to argue. He does not tell her to insist that there is no difference between slave and freeman, Gentile and Jew, male and female, but that all are the same in the presence of the Christ whom she has come to know.

He tells her something very simple—nothing else than to be a good wife. It is by the silent preaching of the LOVEliness of her life that she must break down the barriers of prejudice and hostility, and win her husband for her new Master.

She must be submissive. It is not a spineless submission that is meant but, as someone has finely put it, a "voluntary selflessness."  It is the submission which is based on the death of pride and the desire to serve. It is the submission not of fear but of perfect LOVE.

She must be pure. There must be in her life a beautiful chastity and fidelity founded on LOVE.

She must be reverent. She must live in the conviction that the whole world is the Temple of God and that all life is lived in the presence of Christ.

Bengel speaks of "the labor bestowed on dress which consumes much time." Such labor is no modern thing. We have already seen that in the ancient world women had no part in public life whatsoever; they had nothing to pass their time; for that reason it was sometimes argued that they must be allowed an interest in dress and adornment. Cato the Censor insisted on simplicity; Lucius Valerius answered:

"Why should men grudge women their ornaments and their dress? Women cannot hold public offices, or priesthoods, or gain triumphs; they have no public occupations. What, then, can they do but devote their time to adornment and to dress?"

Undue interest in self-adornment was then, as it still is, a sign that the person who indulged in it had no greater things to occupy her mind.

The ancient moralists condemned undue luxury as much as the Christian teachers did. Quintilian, the Roman master of oratory, wrote:

"A tasteful and magnificent dress, as the Greek poet tells us, lends added dignity to the wearer: but effeminate and luxurious apparel fails to adorn the body, and only reveals the sordidness of the mind."

Epictetus, the philosopher, thinking of the narrow life to which women were condemned in the ancient world, said,

"Immediately after they are fourteen, women are called 'ladies' by men. And so, when they see that they have nothing else than to be bedfellows of men, they begin to beautify themselves and put all their hopes on that. It is, therefore, worthwhile for us to take pains to make them understand that they are honored for nothing else but only for appearing modest and self-respecting."

Epictetus and Peter agree.

There is at least one passage in the Old Testament which lists the various items of female adornment and threatens the day of judgment in which they will be destroyed. The passage is:

Isaiah 3:18-24 (RSV)
18 In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; 19 the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarfs; 20 the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; 21 the signet rings and nose rings; 22 the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; 23 the garments of gauze, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils. 24 Instead of perfume there will be rottenness; and instead of a girdle, a rope; and instead of well-set hair, baldness; and instead of a rich robe, a girding of sackcloth; instead of beauty, shame.

In the world of the Greeks and the Romans it is interesting to collect the references to personal adornments. There were as many ways of dressing the hair as there were bees in Hybca. Hair was waved and dyed, sometimes black, more often auburn. Wigs were worn, especially blonde wigs, which are found even in the Christian catacombs; and hair to manufacture them was imported from Germany, and even from as far away as India. Hairbands, pins and combs were made of ivory, and boxwood, and tortoiseshell; and sometimes of gold, studded with gems.

Purple was the favorite color for clothes. One pound weight of the best Tyrian purple wool, strained twice through, cost 1,000 denarii, approximately $120.00. A tyrian cloak of the best purple cost well over $275.00. In one year silks, pearls, scents and jewelry were imported from India to the value of $2,750,000.00. Similar imports of luxury came from Arabia. Just think what these costs would be now???

Diamonds, emeralds, topazes, opals and the sardonyx were favorite stones. Struma Nonius had a ring valued at $59,221.00.  Pearls were loved most of all. Julius Caesar bought for Servilia a pearl which cost him $171,187.50. Earrings were made of pearls and Seneca spoke of women with two or three fortunes in their ears. Slippers were encrusted with them; Nero even had a room whose walls were covered with them. Pliny saw Lollia Paulina, wife of Caligula, wearing a dress so covered with pearls and emeralds that it had cost $1,271,500.00.

Christianity came into a world of luxury and decadence combined.

In face of all this Peter pleads for the graces which adorn the heart, which are precious in the sight of God. These were the jewels which adorned the holy women of old. Isaiah had called Sara the mother of God's faithful people:

Isaiah 51:2 (RSV)
2 Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for when he was but one I called him, and I blessed him and made him many.

*If Christian wives are adorned with the same graces of modesty, humility and chastity, they too will be her daughters and will be within the family of the faithful people of God.

A Christian wife of those times lived in a society where she would be tempted to senseless extravagance and where she might well go in fear of the impulses of her heathen husband; but she must live in selfless service, in goodness and in serene trust. That would be the best sermon she could preach to win her husband for Christ. There are few passages where the value of a LOVELY Christian life is so vividly stressed as these…………………………..

1 Peter 3:7 (RSV)
7 Likewise you husbands, live considerately with your wives, bestowing honor on the woman as the weaker sex, since you are joint heirs of the grace of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered.

Short as this passage is, it has in it much of the very essence of the Christian ethic. That ethic is what may be called a reciprocal ethic. It never places all the responsibility on one side. If it speaks of the duties of slaves, it speaks also of the obligations of masters. If it speaks of the duty of children, it speaks also of the obligations of parents;  Consider:

Ephesians 6:1-9 (RSV)
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 "that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth." 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. 5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your earthly masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as to Christ; 6 not in the way of eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good any one does, he will receive the same again from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. 9 Masters, do the same to them, and forbear threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

Colossians 3:20-25 (RSV)
20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

Colossians 4:1 (RSV)
1 Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

Peter has just laid down the duty of wives; now he lays down the duty of husbands. A marriage must be based on reciprocal obligation. A marriage in which all the privileges are on one side and all the obligations on the other is bound to be imperfect with every chance of failure. This was a new conception in the ancient world. We have already noted the woman's total lack of rights then and quoted Cato's statement of the rights of the husband. But we did not finish that quotation and we do so now:

"If you were to catch your wife in an act of infidelity, you can kill her with impunity without a trial; but, if she were to catch you, she would not venture to touch you with her finger and, indeed, she has no right."

In the Roman moral code all the obligation was on the wife and all the privilege with the husband. The Christian ethic never grants a privilege without a corresponding obligation.

What are the obligations of the husband?

(i) He must be understanding. He must be considerate and sensitive to the feelings of his wife. Somerset Maugham's mother was a very beautiful woman with the world at her feet but his father was unhandsome. Someone once asked her: "Why do you remain faithful to that ugly little man you married?" Her answer was: "Because he never hurts me." Understanding and considerateness had forged an unbreakable bond. The cruelty which is hardest to bear is often not deliberate but the product of sheer thoughtlessness.

(ii) He must be chivalrous. He must remember that women are the weaker sex and treat them with courtesy. In the ancient world chivalry to women was well-nigh unknown. It was, and still is, no uncommon sight in the East to see the man riding on a donkey while the woman trudged by his side. It was Christianity which introduced chivalry into the relationship between men and women.

(iii) He must remember that the woman has equal spiritual rights. She is a fellow-heir of the grace of life. Women did not share in the worship of the Greeks and the Romans. Even in the Jewish synagogue they had no share in the service, and in the orthodox synagogue still have none. When they were admitted to the synagogue at all, they were segregated from the men and hidden behind a screen. Here in Christianity emerged the revolutionary principle that women had equal spiritual rights and with that the relationship between the sexes was changed.

(iv) Unless a man fulfills these obligations, there is a barrier between his prayers and God. As Bigg puts it:

"The sighs of the injured wife come between the husband's prayers and God's hearing."

Here is a great truth. Our relationships with God can never be right, if our relationships with our fellow-men are wrong. It is when we are at one with each other that we are at one with Him.

How can we LOVE God who we do not see, if we cannot LOVE those who we can see???????????????????????????????

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


October 27, 2019

“a” Church

Clearfield, Utah

“The First Epistle of Peter: Part Eight”

1 Peter 2:16-25 (RSV)
16 Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God. 17 Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to the kind and gentle but also to the overbearing. 19 For one is approved if, mindful of God, he endures pain while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it, if when you do wrong and are beaten for it you take it patiently? But if when you do right and suffer for it you take it patiently, you have God's approval. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

Eternal Father, You created us in Your own image and likeness, but sin has warped the minds of men and throughout the world there is much injustice and much carelessness of the rights of other people and personal responsibility.

Lord when You are excluded from the hearts and consciences of men, the inevitable result is that people suffer and Lord, there is much injustice and corruption taking place in our world today, not only in the lives of individuals but also in the corridors of power and the council rooms of many nations, include our own the USA.
We pray Lord that You will right all the wrongs that are taking place in our world and vindicate those that are being treated unjustly. Keep us Father from trying to take matters into our own hands for vengeance is Your and You will repay – but Lord in Your grace and mercy we pray that you would give justice and peace to all those that have been cruelly and unfairly treated by their fellow man and may the injustice and carelessness that they have had to endure be the means to draw them into Your saving arms of grace

LOVING Lord, thank You for the wonderful example of Your life, which was lived in spirit and truth – a life that demonstrated LOVE as well as justice – a life that cared for all humanity, especially those that are weak or hurting or marginalized - or those that are sinking into a pit of despair or poverty. Be close to all who are feeling the bitter winds of depression and scarcity in their lives and uphold them with the warming breath of Your LOVE and grace. Keep us we pray from making wrong judgements about those that are suffering affliction or who have been overtaken by the challenges of poverty. Give us a wider perspective on life and a heart of compassion and kindness, especially on those that feel alone, unloved or uncared for. May we become Your eyes and ears and may Your heart of LOVE and grace flow through us to those that are in need. Look down in pity on all who are suffering loss, poverty or unjust discrimination at this time - and we pray that in Your best time Your justice will prevail in each of their lives.

Keep us Lord from trying to address the ills of this world from a human perspective, for we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and power - against the spiritual rulers of this dark world – but thanks be to God Who has won the victory over them all through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Lord we know that You are coming back soon to right all wrongs and to wipe away all tears from our eyes - and so we place all the injustice on today’s world before You asking that in Your time and in Your way You would right all the wrongs. In Jesus name we pray, Amen and eternally Amen…….

Any great Christian doctrine can be perverted into an excuse for evil. The doctrine of grace can be perverted into an excuse for sinning to one's heart's content. ( The Way International for one )The doctrine of the LOVE of God can be sentimentalized into an excuse for breaking His law. The doctrine of the life to come can be perverted into an excuse for neglecting life in this world. And there is no doctrine so easy to pervert as that of Christian freedom.

There are hints in the New Testament that it was frequently so perverted. Paul tells the Galatians that they have been called to liberty but they must not use that liberty as an occasion for the flesh to do as it wills:

Galatians 5:13 (RSV)
13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another.

((( Be servants of one another )))

In Second Peter we read of those who promise others liberty and are themselves the slaves of corruption:

2 Peter 2:19 (RSV)
19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved.

Even the great pagan thinkers saw quite clearly that perfect freedom is, in fact, the product of perfect obedience. Seneca said,

"No one is free who is the slave of his body," and, "Liberty consists in obeying God."

Cicero said,

"We are the servants of the laws that we may be able to be free."

Plutarch insisted that every bad man is a slave; and Epictetus declared that no bad man can ever be free.

We may put it this way. Christian freedom is always conditioned by Christian responsibility. Christian responsibility is always conditioned by Christian LOVE. Christian LOVE is the reflection of God's LOVE. And, therefore, Christian liberty can rightly be summed up in

Augustine's memorable phrase:

 "Love God, and do what you like."

The Christian is free because we are the slaves of God. Christian freedom does not mean being free to do WHATEVER WE WANT; it means being free to do as God wants us to…….As we want to in light of OUR LOVE FOR GOD!!!!!!! ***OUR DESIRE TO PLEASE HIM…

In this matter we have to return to the great central truth which we have already seen. Christianity is community. The Christian is not an isolated unit; we are a member of a community and within that community our freedom operates. Christian freedom therefore is the freedom to serve. Only in Christ is a person so freed from self and sin that we can become as good as we ought to be. Freedom comes when a person receives Christ as king of their heart and Lord of their life. When we are genuinely: twice born, “Born Again”…….

1 Peter 2:17 (RSV)
17 Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Here is what we might call a four-point summary of Christian LOVE.

(i) Honor all men. To us this may seem hardly needing to be said; but when Peter wrote this letter it was something quite new. There were 60,000,000 slaves in the Roman Empire, everyone of whom was considered in law to be, not a person, but a thing, with no rights whatever. In effect, Peter is saying, "Remember the rights of human personality and the dignity of every person." It is still possible to treat people as things. An employer may treat his/her employees as so many human machines for producing so much work. Even in a welfare state, where the aim is to do so much for their physical welfare, there is a very real danger that people may be regarded as numbers on a form or as cards in a filing system.

John Lawrence in his book, Hard Facts, A Christian Looks at the World, says that one of the greatest needs in the welfare state is "to see through the files and forms in triplicate to God's creatures who are at the other end of the chain of organization." The danger is that we fail to see men and women or children as persons. This matter comes nearer home. When we regard anyone as existing solely to minister to our comfort or to further our plans, we are in effect regarding them, not as persons, but as things. One of the most tragic dangers of all is that we may come to regard those who are nearest and dearest to us as existing for our convenience—and that is to treat them as things.

(ii) LOVE the brotherhood. Within the Christian community this respect for every person turns to something warmer and closer; it turns to LOVE. ***The dominant atmosphere of the Church must always be LOVE.*** One of the truest definitions of the Church is that it is "the extension of the family." The Church is the larger family of God and its bond must be genuine LOVE. As the Psalmist had it:

Psalm 133:1 (RSV)
1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!

(iii) Fear God. The writer of the proverbs has it:

Proverbs 1:7 (RSV)
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

It may well be that the translation should be, not that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge but that the fear of the Lord is the principal part, the very foundation of knowledge. Fear here does not mean terror; it means awe and reverence. It is the simple fact of life that we will never reverence our fellow man until we reverence God. It is only when God is given His proper place in the center of our hearts and lives that all other things take their proper place.

(iv) Honor the king. Of the four injunctions of this verse this is the most amazing, for, if it was Peter who wrote this letter, the king in question is none other than Nero. It is the teaching of the New Testament that the ruler is sent by God to preserve order among people and that he must be respected, even when he is a Nero.

((( Even when he is Obama or Bush or Trump, Republican or Democrat, etc……………….)))

1 Peter 2:18-25 (RSV)
18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to the kind and gentle but also to the overbearing. 19 For one is approved if, mindful of God, he endures pain while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it, if when you do wrong and are beaten for it you take it patiently? But if when you do right and suffer for it you take it patiently, you have God's approval. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

Here is the passage which would be relevant to by far the greatest number of the readers of this letter, for Peter writes to servants and slaves, and they formed by far the greatest part of the early church. The word Peter uses for servants is not (douloi), which is the commonest word for slaves, but (oiketai), the word for the household and domestic slaves.

To understand the real meaning of what Peter is saying we must understand something of the nature of slavery in the time of the early church. In the Roman Empire there were as many as 60,000,000 slaves, Slavery began with Roman conquests, slaves being originally mainly prisoners taken in war, and in very early times Rome had few slaves but by New Testament times slaves were counted by the millions.

It was by no means only menial tasks which were performed by slaves. Doctors, teachers, musicians, actors, secretaries, stewards were slaves. In fact, all the work of Rome was done by slaves. Roman attitude was that there was no point in being master of the world and doing one's own work. Let the slaves do that and let the citizens live in pampered idleness. The supply of slaves would never run out.

Slaves were not allowed to marry; but they cohabited; and the children born of such a partnership were the property of the master, not of the parents, just as the lambs born to the sheep belonged to the owner of the flock, and not to the sheep.

It would be wrong to think that the life of slaves was always wretched and unhappy, and that they were always treated with cruelty. Many slaves were LOVED and trusted members of the family; but one great inescapable fact dominated the whole situation. In Roman law a slave was not a person but a thing; and they had absolutely no legal rights whatsoever. For that reason there could be no such thing as justice where a slave was concerned. Aristotle writes,

"There can be no friendship nor justice towards inanimate things; indeed, not even towards a horse or an ox, nor yet towards a slave as a slave. For master and slave have nothing in common; a slave is a living tool, just as a tool is an inanimate slave."

Varro divides the instruments of agriculture into three classes—the articulate, the inarticulate and the mute, "the articulate comprising the slaves, the inarticulate comprising the cattle, and the mute comprising the vehicles." The only difference between a slave and a beast or a farmyard cart was that a slave happened to be able to speak. Peter Chrysologus sums the matter up:

"Whatever a master does to a slave, undeservedly, in anger, willingly, unwillingly, in forgetfulness, after careful thought, knowingly, unknowingly, is judgment, justice and law."

In regard to a slave, his master's will, and even his master's whim, was the only law.

The dominant fact in the life of a slave was that, even if they were well treated, they remained a thing. They did not possess even the elementary rights of a person and for them justice did not even exist.

Into this situation came Christianity with its message that every man, woman, and child was precious in the sight of God. The result was that within the Church the social barriers were broken down. Callistus, one of the earliest bishops of Rome, was a slave; and Perpetua, the aristocrat, and Felicitas, the slave-girl, met martyrdom hand in hand. The great majority of the early Christians were humble folk and many of them were slaves. It was quite possible in the early days that the slave should be the president of the congregation and the master a member of it. This was a new and revolutionary situation. It had its glory and it had its dangers. In this passage Peter is urging the slave to be a good slave and a faithful workman; for Peter sees two dangers.

(i) Suppose both master and servant became Christians; there arose the danger that the slave might presume upon the new relationship and make an excuse for shirking their work, assuming that since he/she and their master were both Christians, they could get away with anything. That situation is by no means at an end. There are still people who trade on the goodwill of a Christian master and think that the fact that both they and their employers are Christians gives them a right to dispense with discipline and punishment. But Peter is quite clear. The relationship between Christian and Christian does not abolish the relationship between man and man, between person and person. The Christian must, indeed, be a better workman than anyone else. Our Christianity is not a reason for claiming exemption from discipline; it should bring us under self-discipline and make us even more conscientious than anyone else.

(ii) There was the danger that the new dignity which Christianity brought a person would make the slave rebel and seek to abolish slavery altogether. Some students are puzzled that no New Testament writer ever pleads for the abolition of slavery or even says in so many words that it is wrong. The reason was simple. To have encouraged the slaves to rise against their masters would have been the way to speedy disaster. There had been such revolts before and they had always been quickly and savagely crushed. In any event, such teaching would merely have gained for Christianity the reputation of being a subversionary religion. There are some things which cannot happen quickly; there are some situations in which the leaven has to work and in which haste is the surest way to delay the desired end. The leaven of Christianity had to work in the world for many generations before the abolition of slavery became a practical possibility. Peter was concerned that Christian slaves should demonstrate to the world that their Christianity did not make them disgruntled rebels but rather workmen who had found a new inspiration towards doing an honest day's work. It will still often happen that, when some situation cannot at the time be changed, the Christian duty is to be Christian within that situation and to accept what cannot be changed until the leaven has worked.

But Christianity did not leave the matter in that merely negative form. It introduced three great new principles into a person’s attitude as a servant and a workman.

(i) Christianity introduced a new relationship between master and slave. When Paul sent the runaway slave Onesimus back to Philemon, he did not for a moment suggest that Philemon should set Onesimus free. He did not suggest that Philemon should cease to be the master and that Onesimus should cease to be the slave. What he did say was that Philemon must receive Onesimus not now as a servant, but as a brother beLOVED:

Philemon 1:16 (RSV)
16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

Christianity did not abolish social differences; but it introduced a new relationship of brotherhood in which these other differences were overpassed and transformed. Where there is real brotherhood, it does not matter if you call one man master and the other servant. There is between them a bond which transforms the necessary differences which the circumstances of life make necessary. The solution of the world's problems lies in the new relationship between person and person and that is LOVE, agape LOVE…

(ii) Christianity introduced a new attitude to work. It is the conviction of the New Testament that all work must be done for Jesus Christ. Paul writes:

Colossians 3:17 (RSV)
17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

1 Corinthians 10:31 (RSV)
31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

In the Christian ideal work is not done for an earthly master or for personal prestige or to make so much money; it is done for God. It is, of course, true that we must work in order to earn a wage and we must work to satisfy a master; but beyond that there is for the Christian the conviction that our work, the most meager of tasks, to in human terms the greatest of duties must be done well enough to be able to show it to God without shame.

(iii) But when these great ideals were set against the situation in the early church—and the situation does not entirely change—one great question arose. Suppose a person has the Christian attitude toward others and to work and is treated with injustice, insult and injury—what then? Peter's great answer is that this is exactly what happened to Jesus. He was none other than the Suffering Servant.

1 Peter 2:21-25 (RSV)
21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

Isaiah 53:3-5 (RSV)
3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.

This is the supreme picture of the Suffering Servant of God, the true and ONLY Messiah, the ONLY Son of God, and God in the flesh……………….Jesus Christ!!!!!!!

He was without sin and yet he was insulted and he suffered; but he accepted the insults and the suffering with serene LOVE and bore them for the sins of mankind. FOR YOU and ME, OUR NEIGHBORS and EVEN OUR PERCEIVED ENEMIES………………………………………..

***In so doing he left us an example that we should follow in His steps.

The word Peter uses for example is very vivid. It is (hupogrammos), a word which comes from the way in which children were taught to write in the ancient world. (Hupogrammos) can mean two things—an outline sketch which the learner had to fill in or in handwriting in a writing exercise book which the child had to copy out on the lines below. Jesus gave us the pattern which we have to follow. If we have to suffer insult and injustice and injury, we have only to go through what He has already gone through.

Philippians 1:29 (NIV)
29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,

It may be that at the back of Peter's mind there was a glimpse of a tremendous truth. That the suffering of Jesus was for the sake of humanity’s sins; Jesus suffered in order to bring humanity , you and I, all of us, back to God. And it may be that, when the Christian suffers insult and injury with uncomplaining steadfastness and unfailing LOVE, we show such a life to others as will lead them to God……..

((((((( We can only pray our lives are so… )))))))

(1) The Shepherd of the Souls of Men

In the last verse of this chapter we come upon two of the great names for God—the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls—as the King James Version has it.

(i) God is the Shepherd of the souls of men. The Greek is (poimen) and shepherd is one of the oldest descriptions of God. The Psalmist has it in the best-LOVED of all the Psalms:

Psalm 23:1 (RSV)
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want;

Isaiah has it:

Isaiah 40:11 (RSV)
11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.

The great king whom God was going to send to Israel would be the shepherd of his people. Ezekiel hears the promise of God:

Ezekiel 34:23 (RSV)
23 And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.

Ezekiel 37:24 (RSV)
24 "My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow my ordinances and be careful to observe my statutes.

This was the title which Jesus accepted from God the Father when He called Himself the Good Shepherd and when He said that the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep:

John 10:1-18 (RSV)
1 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber;
2 but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." 6 This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. 9 I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, 15 as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father."

To Jesus the men and women who did not know God and who were waiting for what He could give them were like sheep without a shepherd:

Mark 6:34 (RSV)
34 As he went ashore he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

***The great privilege given to the servant and the minister of Christ is to shepherd the flock of God:

John 21:16 (RSV)
16 A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep."

1 Peter 5:2 (RSV)
2 Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly,

It may be difficult for those of us who live in an industrial civilization to grasp the greatness of this picture; but in the East the picture would be very vivid, particularly in Judaea, where there was a narrow central plateau which held danger on either side. It was on this narrow tableland that the sheep grazed. Grass was sparse; there were no protecting walls; and the sheep wandered. The shepherd, therefore, had to be ceaselessly and sleeplessly on the watch lest harm should come to his flock.

In The Historical Geography of the Holy Land Sir George Adam Smith describes the shepherd of Judaea.

"With us, sheep are often left to themselves; but I do not remember ever to have seen in the East a flock of sheep without a shepherd. In such a landscape as Judaea, where a day's pasture is thinly scattered over an unfenced track of country, covered with delusive paths, still frequented by wild beasts, and rolling off into the desert, the man and his character are indispensable. On some high moor, across which at night the hyenas howl, when you meet him, sleepless, far-sighted, weather-beaten, armed, leaning upon his staff, and looking out over his scattered sheep, everyone of them on his heart, you understand why the shepherd of Judaea sprang to the front in his people's history; why they gave his name to their king, and made him the symbol of providence; why Christ took him as the type of self-sacrifice."

This word shepherd tells us most intensely of the ceaseless vigilance and the self-sacrificing LOVE of God for us who are his flock.

Psalm 100:3 (RSV)
3 Know that the LORD is God! It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

(2) The Guardian of Our Souls

(ii) The King James Version speaks of God as the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls; but nowadays Bishop is an inadequate and misleading translation of the Greek (episkopos).

(Episkopos) is a word with a great history. In Homer's Iliad, Hector, the great champion of the Trojans, is called the (episkopos) who, during his lifetime, guarded the city of Troy and kept safe its noble wives and infants. (Episkopos) is used of the gods who are the guardians of the treaties which men make and of the agreements to which men come, and who are the protectors of house and home. Justice, for instance, is the (episkopos), who sees to it that a man shall pay the price for the wrong that he has done.

In Plato's Laws the Guardians of the state are those whose duty it is to oversee the games, the feeding and the education of the children that "they may be sound of hand and foot, and may in no wise, if possible, get their natures warped by their habits." The people whom Plato calls market-stewards are the (episkopoi) who "supervise personal conduct, keeping an eye on temperate and outrageous behavior, so as to punish him or her who needs punishment."

In Athenian law and administration the (episkopoi) were governors and administrators and inspectors sent out to subject states to see that law and order and loyalty were observed. In Rhodes the main magistrates were five (episkopoi) who presided over the good government and the law and order of the state.

(Episkopos) is, therefore, a many-sided but always a noble word. It means the protector of public safety; the guardian of honor and honesty; the overseer of right education and of public morals; the administrator of public law and order.

So, then, to call God the (episkopos) of our souls is to call Him our Guardian, our Protector, our Guide, and our Director.

*******God is the Shepherd and the Guardian of our souls. In His LOVE He cares for us; in His power He protects us; and in His wisdom He guides us in the perfect way.*******

Next week we will begin chapter three of the First Epistle of Peter…………….

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


October 20, 2019

“a” Church

Clearfield, Utah

“The First Epistle of Peter: Part Seven”

1 Peter 2:11-15 (RSV)
11 Beloved, I beseech you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war against your soul. 12 Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so that in case they speak against you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 13 Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. 15 For it is God's will that by doing right you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.

Lord, we thank Thee for the beauty of Your creation, the sun, the moon, the stars, the heavenly planets, the plethora of universes and galaxies even yet to be discovered. Oh praise You Lord for the splendor of Your earth, the oceans, the seas, the mountains, the very ground that we stand upon, all the living things unseen and seen. Oh thank You Lord for all the precious things You have brought into being, to life.

You astound us with Your great LOVE, compassion, kindness, mercy, grace, and perfect justice. Oh how magnificent is Your holiness, Your glory, Your personal LOVE relationship with each and every one of us.   Oh Lord, hallelujah !!!

Give us this day and every day You give us, to live, LOVE, and care for You and all Your creation, the seen, unseen, and our eternity to come with You. Help us be all You want us to be, help us help each other, help us help the sick, the needy, the lost in their sins, everyone You put in our paths.

God, friend, Savior, Father, We are so blessed that You eternally exist, that YOU ARE !!! We pray all these things in Jesus’ name, Amen and eternally Amen…….

The basic commandment in this passage is that the Christian should abstain from fleshly or carnal  desires. It is of the greatest importance that we should see what Peter means by this. The phrases sins of the flesh and, fleshly, desires have become much narrowed in meaning in modern usage. For us they usually mean sexual sin; but in the New Testament they are much wider than that. Paul's lists the sins of the flesh in:

Galatians 5:19-21 (RSV)
19 Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Which include:  "immorality ( fornication ), impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like." ***There are far more than bodily sins here.

In the New Testament, flesh stands for far more than the physical nature of man. It stands for human nature apart from God; it means unredeemed human nature; it means life lived without the standards, the help, the grace and the influence of Christ. Fleshly desires and sins of the flesh, therefore, include not only the sexual sins but all that is characteristic of fallen human nature. From these sins and desires the Christian must abstain. As Peter sees it, there are two reasons for this abstinence.

(i) The Christian must abstain from these sins because he is a stranger and a pilgrim. The words are (paroikos) and (parepidemos). They are quite common Greek words and they describe someone who is only temporarily resident in a place and whose home is somewhere else. They are used to describe the patriarchs in their wanderings, and especially Abraham who went out not knowing where he was to go and whose search was for the city whose maker and builder is God…

Hebrews 11:9; 13 (RSV)
9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise…13 These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

They are used to describe the children of Israel when they were slaves and strangers in the land of Egypt before they entered into the Promised Land:

Acts 7:6 (RSV)
6 And God spoke to this effect, that his posterity would be aliens in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and ill-treat them four hundred years.

These words give us two great truths about the Christian.

(a) There is a real sense in which we are strangers in this world; and because of that we cannot accept the world's laws and ways and standards. Others may accept them; but the Christian is a citizen of the Kingdom of God and it is by the laws of that Kingdom that we must direct our lives. We must take our full share of responsibility for living upon earth,

Philippians 2:12 (RSV)
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

Ephesians 2:10 (RSV)
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

For our citizenship is in heaven and the laws of heaven are paramount for us.

(b) The Christian is not a permanent resident upon earth; we are on our way to the country which is beyond, to eternity. We must therefore, do nothing which would hinder us from reaching God’s ultimate goal for us, to be like His precious Son: Jesus Christ. We must never become so entangled in this world that we cannot escape from its grip; we must never so soil ourselves as to be unfit to enter the presence of THE holy God to whom we eternally belong...

Why, because WE LOVE HIM SO…………………………………………….

***Let us not forget:

1 John 4:19 (RSV)
19 We love, because he first loved us.

 (ii) But there was for Peter another reason that Christians must abstain from fleshly desires. The early church, as is true for us now, was under fire. Slanderous charges were continually being made against the Christians; and the only effective way to refute them was to live lives so LOVELY that they would be seen to be obviously untrue. We must as best as possible maintain good conduct, otherwise our witness may be in danger of being valueless…………………..Thus perhaps laboring in vain…

In Greek there are two words for good there is (agathos), which simply means good in quality; and there is (kalos), which means not only good but also LOVELY, fine, attractive, beautiful. ***So, what Peter is saying is that we as genuine Christians must make our whole way of life so LOVELY and so good to look upon that the slanders of the Lost may be demonstrated to be false.

Here is a timeless truth. Whether we like it or not, every Christian is an advertisement for Christianity for Jesus Christ Himself; by our life we either encourage faith in Jesus Christ to others or make the Lost think less of our beLOVED Savior... The strongest missionary force in the world is the faithful Christian life.

In the early church this demonstration of the LOVLINESS of the Christian life was supremely necessary, because of the slanders the heathen deliberately cast on the Christian Church. Let us see what some of these slanders were.

(i) In the beginning Christianity was closely connected with the Jews. By race Jesus was a Jew; Paul was a Jew; Christianity was cradled in Judaism; and inevitably many of its early converts were Jews. For a time Christianity was regarded merely as a sect of Judaism. Antisemitism is no new thing. Friedlander gives a selection of the slanders which were repeated against the Jews in his Roman Life and Manners under the Early Empire:

"According to Tacitus they (the Jews) taught their proselytes above all to despise the gods, to renounce their fatherland, to disregard parents, children, brothers and sisters. According to Juvenal, Moses taught the Jews not to show anyone the way, nor to guide the thirsty traveller to the spring, except he were a Jew. Apion declares that, in the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, the Jews every year fattened a Greek, and having solemnly offered him up as a sacrifice on a fixed day in a certain forest, ate his entrails and swore eternal hostility to the Greeks."

These were the things which the heathen had persuaded themselves were true about the Jews, and inevitably the Christians shared in this revulsion.

(ii) Apart from these slanders attached to the Jews, there were slanders directed particularly against the Christians themselves. They were accused of cannibalism. This accusation took its rise from a perversion of the words of the Last Supper, "This is my body. This cup is the new covenant in my blood." The Christians were accused of killing and eating a child at their feasts.

They were also accused of immorality and even of incest. This accusation took its rise from the fact that they called their meeting the (Agape), the LOVE Feast. The heathen perverted that name to mean that the Christian feasts were sensual orgies at which shameless deeds were done.

The Christians were accused of damaging trade. Such was the charge of the silversmiths of Ephesus:

Acts 19:21-41 (RSV)
21 Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedo'nia and Acha'ia and go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome." 22 And having sent into Macedo'nia two of his helpers, Timothy and Eras'tus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while. 23 About that time there arose no little stir concerning the Way. 24 For a man named Deme'trius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Ar'temis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. 25 These he gathered together, with the workmen of like occupation, and said, "Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. 26 And you see and hear that not only at Ephesus but almost throughout all Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable company of people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. 27 And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Ar'temis may count for nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship." 28 When they heard this they were enraged, and cried out, "Great is Ar'temis of the Ephesians!" 29 So the city was filled with the confusion; and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Ga'ius and Aristar'chus, Macedo'nians who were Paul's companions in travel. 30 Paul wished to go in among the crowd, but the disciples would not let him; 31 some of the A'si-archs also, who were friends of his, sent to him and begged him not to venture into the theater. 32 Now some cried one thing, some another; for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. 33 Some of the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jews had put forward. And Alexander motioned with his hand, wishing to make a defense to the people. 34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours they all with one voice cried out, "Great is Ar'temis of the Ephesians!" 35 And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, "Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Ar'temis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky? 36 Seeing then that these things cannot be contradicted, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. 37 For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess. 38 If therefore Deme'trius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against any one, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls; let them bring charges against one another. 39 But if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular assembly. 40 For we are in danger of being charged with rioting today, there being no cause that we can give to justify this commotion." 41 And when he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.

*They were accused of "tampering with family relationships" because often homes were, in fact, broken up when some members of the family became Christians and others did not.

*They were accused of turning slaves against their masters, and Christianity indeed did give to every man, woman or child a new sense of worth and dignity.

*They were accused of "hatred of mankind" and indeed the Christian did speak as if the world and the Church were entirely opposed to each other.

*Above all they were accused of disloyalty to Caesar, for no Christian would worship the Emperor's godhead and burn their pinch of incense and declare that Caesar was Lord, for to them Jesus Christ and no other was Lord.

Such were the charges which were directed against the Christians. To Peter there was only one way to refute them and that was so to live that their Christian life demonstrated that they were unfounded. When Plato was told that a certain man had been making certain slanderous charges against him, his answer was: "I will live in such a way that no one will believe what he says." That was Peter's solution.

Jesus Himself had said—and doubtless the saying was in Peter's mind:

Matthew 5:16 (RSV)
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

This was a line of thought which the Jews knew well. In one of the books written between the Old and the New Testaments it says:

"If ye work that which is good, my children, both men and angels shall bless you; and God shall be glorified among the Gentiles through you, and the devil shall flee from you" (The Testament of Naphtali 8: 4).

The striking fact of history is that by their lives the Christians actually did defeat the slanders of the heathen. In the early part of the third century Celsus made the most famous and the most systematic attack of all upon the Christians in which he accused them of ignorance and foolishness and superstition and all kinds of things—but never of immorality. In the first half of the fourth century, Eusebius, the great Church historian, could write:

"But the splendour of the catholic and only true Church, which is always the same, grew in magnitude and power, and reflected its piety and simplicity and freedom, and the modesty and purity of its inspired life and philosophy to every nation both of Greeks and barbarians. At the same time the slanderous accusations which had been brought against the whole Church also vanished, and there remained our teaching alone, which has prevailed over all, and which is acknowledged to be superior to all in dignity and temperance, and in divine and philosophical doctrines. So that none of them now ventures to affix a base calumny upon our faith, or any such slander as our ancient enemies formerly delighted to utter" (Eusebius: The Ecclesiastical History, 4.7.15).

((((((( Is that true today of our modern Churches??? )))))))

It is true that the terrors of persecution were not even then ended, for the Christians would never admit that Caesar was Lord; but the excellence of their lives had silenced the calumnies (misrepresentations) against the Church.

Here is our challenge and our inspiration. It is by the LOVELINESS of our daily life and conduct that we must share Jesus Christ to those who do not believe…

1 Peter 2:13-15 (RSV)
13 Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. 15 For it is God's will that by doing right you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.

Peter looks at the duty of the Christian within the different spheres of our lives; and Peter begins with our duty as a citizen of the country in which we happen to live.

Nothing is further from the thought of the New Testament than any kind of anarchy. Jesus had said,

Matthew 22:21 (RSV)
21 They said, "Caesar's." Then he said to them, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."

Paul was certain that those who governed the nation were sent by God and held their responsibility from Him, and were, therefore, no terror to the person who lived an honorable life:

Romans 13:1-3 (RSV)
1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,

In the Pastoral Epistles the Christian is instructed to pray for kings and all in authority:

1 Timothy 2:1-2 (RSV)
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.

The instruction of the New Testament is that the Christian must be a good and useful citizen of the country in which we live our lives...

It has been said that fear built the cities and that men huddled behind a wall in order to be safe. Men join themselves together and agree to live under certain laws, so that the good man may have peace to do his work and go about his business and the evil man may be restrained and kept from his evil-doing. According to the New Testament life is meant by God to be an ordered business and the state is divinely appointed to provide and to maintain that order.

The New Testament view is perfectly logical and just. It holds that a person cannot accept the privileges which the state provides without also accepting the responsibilities and the duties which it demands. We cannot in honor and graciousness  take everything and give nothing.

How are we to translate this into modern terms? C. E. B. Cranfield has well pointed out that there is a fundamental difference between the state in New Testament times and the state as we in the U.S. know it. In New Testament times the state was authoritarian. The ruler was an absolute ruler; and the sole duty of the citizen was to render absolute obedience and to pay taxes:

Romans 13:6-7 (RSV)
6 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

Under these conditions the keynote was bound to be subjection to the state. But we live in a democracy; and in a democracy something far more than unquestioning subjection becomes necessary. Government is not only government of the people; it is also for the people and by the people. The demand of the New Testament is that the Christian should fulfill OUR responsibility to the state. In the authoritarian state that consisted solely in submission.

***But what is that obligation in the very different circumstances of a democracy?

In any state there must be a certain subjection. As C. E. B. Cranfield puts it, there must be:

 "a voluntary subordination of oneself to others, putting the interest and welfare of others above one's own, preferring to give rather than to get, to serve rather than to be served."

John F. Kennedy put it this way:

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what YOU can do for your country.”

In a democratic state the keynote must be not subjection but cooperation, for the duty of the citizen is not only to submit to be ruled but to take a necessary share in ruling. Hence, if the Christian is to fulfill his/her duty to the state we must take OUR part in its government. We must also take OUR part in local government and in the life of the trade union or association connected with OUR trade, craft, or profession , attending our children's school meetings, etc. It is tragic that so few Christians really fulfill their obligation to the state and the society in which they live.

That being said, It remains to say that the Christian has a higher obligation of LOVE than even our obligation to the state. While we must render to Caesar the things which are Caesar's, we must also render to God the things which are God's. We must on occasion make it quite clear that we must listen to God rather than to men:

Acts 4:19 (RSV)
19 But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge;

Acts 5:29 (RSV)
29 But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men.

*******There may be times, therefore, when the Christian will fulfill OUR highest duty to the state by refusing to obey it and by insisting on obeying God.*******

By so doing, at the very least we will witness to the absolute truth, and at best we may lead the state to take the Christian way and the individual to be saved by the shed BLOOD of Jesus Christ, the EVER-ONLY SAVIOR AND REDEEMER……..

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


October 13, 2019

“a” Church

Clearfield, Utah

“The First Epistle of Peter: Part 6”

1 Peter 2:4-10 (NIV2011)
4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Heavenly Father, thank You that You know all about us and that You even knew that one day when each of us would accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. Father we do not comprehend this but we do believe it because Your holy inerrant infallible Word says that it is true – and that before the world began, You knew all about us and Your foreknowledge knew we one day would be Your child in Christ.

Father the incredible privileges and tremendous blessings that are ours, simply because we have trusted in Christ Jesus are amazing, and we praise and thank You for all Your goodness and LOVING-kindness to us.

We pray with humble hearts that we will live godly lives that are pleasing to You and that all we say and do will honor Your name, for it is such a privilege to be Your children and we want to serve You with our whole being. We ask that You would use us to tell forth the glorious gospel of grace to all whom You put into our individual and collective paths.

Father so many are lost and weary, sad and sorrowing, discouraged and depressed, but we pray that many will come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and be adopted into Your family, and we will sing of Your praises throughout eternity for the amazing grace that You have shown to so many.

We praise You, we glorify You, and we very humbly thank You, yet, we boldly pray all these things in Jesus outstanding name Amen and eternally Amen…….

Today we continue in the book of First Peter, and I pray that ALL our hearts, and minds are open to the teaching of the Holy Spirit through God’s ONLY inerrant, infallible word the “Bible”………………………

Peter sets before us the nature and the function of the Church. There is so much in the passage that we will divide it into four sections.

(1) The Stone Which the Builders Rejected

Much is made of the idea of the stone. Three Old Testament passages are symbolically used; let us look at them one by one.

(i) The beginning of the whole matter goes back to the words of Jesus Himself. One of the most illuminating parables He ever told was the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen. In it He told how the wicked husbandmen killed servant after servant and in the end even murdered the son. He was showing how the nation of Israel had again and again refused to listen to the prophets and had persecuted them, and how this refusal was to reach its climax with His own death. But beyond the death He saw the triumph and He told of that triumph in words taken from the Psalms:

Matthew 21:42 (NIV2011)
42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “ ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

Mark 12:10 (NIV2011)
10 Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture: “ ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;

Luke 20:17 (NIV2011)
17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: “ ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’?

That is a quotation from:

Psalm 118:22 (NIV2011)
22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;

In the original it is a reference to the nation of Israel. A. K. Kirkpatrick writes of it:

Jesus Christ is 'that head corner-stone.' The powers of the world and it’s so called wisdom and reason have flung Him aside as useless, but God destined Jesus Christ for the most honorable and important place in the building of His kingdom in the world. The words express the Messiah’s consciousness of His mission and destiny in the purpose of God."

***Jesus spoke these words and declared them to be about Himself. It looked as if He was utterly rejected by men; but in the purpose of God He was the corner-stone of the structure of the Kingdom, honored above all.

(ii) In the Old Testament there are other references to this symbolic stone, and the early Christian writers applied them to Jesus Christ by the leading of the Holy Spirit. The first is in:

Isaiah 28:16 (NIV2011)
16 So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.

Again the reference is to the Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The sure and precious stone is God's unfailing relationship to His people, a relationship which was to culminate in the coming of the Messiah. Once again the early Christian writers by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit saw this passage and applied it to Jesus Christ the ONLY begotten Son of God who is the precious and immovable foundation stone of God…

(iii) The second of these other passages is also from Isaiah:

Isaiah 8:13-14 (NIV2011)
13 The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread. 14 He will be a holy place; for both Israel and Judah he will be a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.

Its meaning is that God is offering His lordship to the people of Israel; that to those who accept Him, He will become a sanctuary and eternal salvation, but to those who reject Him, He (Jesus Christ) will become a terror and a destruction. Again the early Christian writers by the teaching of the Holy Spirit understood this passage and applied it to Jesus who is the Messiah of the ONE TRUE GOD: YHWH...To those who accept Him, Jesus is the Eternal Savior and Friend; to those who reject Him, He is judgment and condemnation.

(iv) For the understanding of this passage, we have to take in a New Testament reference to these Old Testament ones. It is hardly possible that Peter could speak of Jesus as the corner-stone and of Christians as being built into a spiritual house, united in Him, without thinking of Jesus' own words to himself. When Peter made his great confession of faith at Caesarea Philippi, Jesus said to him:

Matthew 16:18 (NIV2011)
18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

***It is on the faith of God’s Children that Jesus Christ is this foundation, and that the true Church is built and rests.***

These are the origins of the pictures in this passage.

(2) The Nature of the Church

From this passage we learn three things about the very nature of the Church.

(i) The Christian is likened to a living stone and the Church to a living structure into which we are built,

1 Peter 2:5 (NIV2011)
5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Clearly that means that Christianity is community; the individual Christian finds his/her true place only when we are built into that structure. "Unsociable religion" is ruled out as an impossibility. C. E. B. Cranfield writes:

"The free-lance Christian, who would be a Christian but is too superior to belong to the visible Church upon earth in one of its forms, is simply a contradiction in terms."

There is a famous story from Sparta. A Spartan king boasted to a visiting monarch about the walls of Sparta. The visiting monarch looked around and could see no walls. He said to the Spartan king, "Where are these walls about which you boast so much?" His host pointed at his bodyguard of magnificent troops. "These," he said, "are the walls of Sparta, every man a brick."

The point is clear. So long as a brick lies by itself it is useless; it becomes of use only when it is incorporated into a building. So it is with the individual Christian. To realize our destiny we must not remain alone, but must be built into the fabric of the Church.

Hebrews 10:25 (NIV2011)
25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Suppose that in time of war a man says, "I wish to serve my country and to defend her from her enemies." If he tries to carry out that resolution alone, he can accomplish nothing. He can be effective in that purpose only by standing shoulder to shoulder with others of like mind. It is so with the Church. Individualistic Christianity is an absurdity; Christianity is community within the fellowship of the Church. That does not mean simply coming to Church, it means to participate in the life and work of the Church as God has given you talents, according to His will………………..

1 Peter 4:10 (KJV)
10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

(ii) Christians are a holy priesthood,

There are two great characteristics of the priest.

(a) He is the man who himself has access to God and whose task it is to bring others to Him. In the ancient world this access to God was the privilege of the professional priests, and in particular of the High Priest who alone could enter into the Holy of Holies. Through Jesus Christ, the new and living way, access to God becomes the privilege of every Christian, however simple we may be. Further, the Latin word for priest is pontifex, which means bridge-builder; the priest is the person who builds a bridge for others to come to God; and the Christian has the duty and the privilege of bringing others to that Savior whom we ourselves have found and LOVE……………………………..*The key is YOU LOVE Him, if not, how can YOU share His LOVE and salvation with others???

(b) The priest is the man who brings an offering to God. The Christian also must continuously bring his offerings to God. Under the old dispensation the offerings brought were animal sacrifices; but the sacrifices of the Christian are spiritual sacrifices. We make our work and our moment by moment lives as an offering to God. Everything is done for God; and so even the humblest of tasks is clad with glory. As  Christians our very worship is an offering to God; and so the worship of God's house becomes, not a burden, something we are forced to do by guilt or by others’ attitudes but a delightful joy. *If not, do we really LOVE Him??? The Christian makes himself/herself an offering to God.

Romans 12:1 (NIV2011)
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

What God desires most of all is the LOVE of our hearts and the service of our lives. That is the perfect sacrifice which every genuine Christian has the pleasure to make.

(iii) The function of the Church is to tell forth the excellences the qualities of God. That is to say, it is to witness to ALL people concerning the mighty acts of God. By OUR daily lives, even more than by our simple words, the Christian is to be a witness of what God through Jesus Christ has done for us…………………………

(3) The Glory of the Church


1 Peter 2:9 (NIV2011)
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

We read of the things to which the Christian is a witness.

(i) God has called the Christian out of darkness into His glorious light. The Christian is called out of darkness into light.

*When a person comes to know Jesus Christ, we come to know God. No longer do we need to guess and to flounder.

John 14:9 (NIV2011)
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

In Jesus is the light of the knowledge of God.

*When a person comes to know Jesus, we come to know goodness. In Jesus Christ we have a standard by which all actions and motives may be tested.

*When a person comes to know Jesus Christ, we come to know the way. Life is no longer an endless barren trackless road without a star to guide. In Christ the way becomes clear.

*When a person comes to know Jesus Christ, we come to know power. It would be little use to know God without the power to serve Him. It would be little use to know goodness and yet be helpless to attain to it. It would be little use to see the right way and be quite unable to take it. In Jesus Christ there is both the vision and the power to be God’s Children.

1 Peter 2:10 (NIV2011)
10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

(ii) God has made those who were not a people into the people of God. Here Peter is quoting from:

Hosea 1:6 (NIV2011)
6 Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the LORD said to Hosea, “Call her Lo-Ruhamah (which means “not loved”), for I will no longer show love to Israel, that I should at all forgive them.

Hosea 1:9-10 (NIV2011)
9 Then the LORD said, “Call him Lo-Ammi (which means “not my people”), for you are not my people, and I am not your God. 10 “Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’

Hosea 2:1 (NIV2011)
1 “Say of your brothers, ‘My people,’ and of your sisters, ‘My loved one.’

Hosea 2:23 (NIV2011)
23 I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’ ”

This means that the Christian is called out of insignificance into significance. It continually happens in this world that a person’s greatness lies not in ourselves and what we want to do but in what God gives us to do. The Christian's greatness lies in the fact that God has chosen us to be His Children and to do His work in the world. No Christian can be ordinary, for we are the PEOPLE OF THE ONE TRUE AND ONLY AND EVER-LIVING GOD!!!!!!!

(iii) The Christian is called out of no mercy, into mercy. The great characteristic of non-Christian religion is the fear of God. The Christian has discovered the LOVE of God and knows that we need no longer fear Him if we belong to Him through eternal salvation in Jesus Christ, because it is well with our souls……………………………..

(4) The Function of the Church

1 Peter 2:9 (NIV2011)
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Peter uses a whole series of phrases which are a summary of the functions of the Church. He calls the Christians "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a people dedicated to God, a nation for Him specially to possess." Peter is steeped in the Old Testament and these phrases are all great description of the people of Israel. They come from two main sources. In:

Isaiah 43:21 (NIV2011)
21 the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.

But even more in:

Exodus 19:5-6 (NIV2011)
5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

The great promises which God made to His people Israel are being fulfilled to the Church, the new Israel. Every one of these titles is full of meaning.

(i) Christians are a chosen people. Here we are back to the covenant idea. In this passage in Exodus God has entered into His covenant with Israel. In the covenant He offered a special relationship with Himself to Israel; but it depended on the people of Israel accepting the conditions of the covenant and keeping the law. That relationship would hold only "if you will obey my voice, and keep my covenant".

From this we learn that the Christian is chosen for three things.

(a) We are chosen for privilege. In Jesus Christ there is offered to us a new and intimate fellowship with God. God has become our friend and we have become God's friend.

((((((( Amen and Amen )))))))

(b) We are chosen for obedience ( an obligation of LOVE ). Privilege brings with it responsibility. The Christian is chosen in order that we may become the obedient Children of God. We are chosen not to do as we like but to do as God likes.

2 Timothy 1:9 (NIV2011)
9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

(c) We are chosen for service. Our honor is that we are the beLOVED servants of God. Our privilege is that we will be used for the purposes of God. *But we can be so used only when we bring to God the obedience, the LOVE He desires. Chosen for privilege, chosen for obedience, chosen for service—these three great facts go hand in hand.

(ii) Christians are a royal priesthood. We have already seen that this means that every Christian ( MEANING YOU TOO ) has the right of access to God; and that we ( YOU TOO ) must offer OUR work, OUR worship and OURSELVES to God without reservation or condition.

(iii) Christians are what the Revised Standard Version calls a holy nation. We have already seen that the basic meaning of (hagios)___ (holy) is different. The Christian has been chosen that we may be different from other people. That difference lies in the fact that we are dedicated to God's will and to God's service. Other people may follow the standards of the world but for US the only standard is God's. A person need not even start on the Christian way unless we realize that it will compel US to be different from other people.

(iv) Christians are a people for God specially to possess. It frequently happens that the value of a thing lies in the fact that someone has possessed it. A very ordinary thing acquires a new value, if it has been possessed by some famous person. In any museum we find quite ordinary things—clothes, a walking-stick, a pen, books, pieces of furniture—which are of value only because they were once possessed by some great person. It is so with the Christian. The Christian may be a very ordinary person but we acquire a new value because we belong to the ever living God.

Next week we will continue in First Peter, till then:

Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV) 
24 "' "The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."'

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


October 6, 2019

“a” Church

Clearfield, Utah

“The First Epistle of Peter: Part: Five”

1 Peter 2:1-3 (KJV)
1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

Father of all that is, we glorify Your holy name, we thank You for Your LOVE, mercy, grace, and immense compassion. Thank You for putting up with so much of our foolish garbage that we do, that I do. Wow, how much You LOVE us.

Help us O Lord, to give up our old ways, our old life styles, our old and sinful bad habits. Give us not only the desire to overcome, the power to overcome, but the actual victory in overcoming, in-spite of ourselves.

Give us the blessed milk from above, the cool nutritious milk from Your holy word the Bible found on every page and in every jot and tittle of Your holy writ. Open our bodies, minds, and souls to that which You want to teach us, and that which You want us to share and teach those around us.

Help us live for You, Lord save our family, friends, all those we LOVE, including as many of the Lost in Your creation as possible. Thy will be done in absolutely everything. In Jesus sweet name we pray, Amen and eternally Amen…….

No Christian can stay the way they are; and Peter urges his people to be done with evil things and to set their hearts on that which alone can nourish life.

There are things which must be stripped off. (Apothesthai ) is the verb for stripping off one's clothes. There are things of which the Christian must dissociate  ourselves of,  as we would strip off a soiled garment.

We must strip off all the evil (malice) of this terribly developing heathen world. The word for evil (malice) is (kakia); it is the most general word for wickedness and includes all the wicked ways of the Christ-less world. The other words are illustrations and manifestations of this (kakia); and it is to be noted that they are all faults of character which hurt the great Christian virtue of brotherly LOVE. There can be no brotherly LOVE so long as these evil things exist.

There is deceitfulness (guile) (dolos). Dolos is the trickery of the person who is out to deceive others to attain his or her own ends, the vice of the person whose motives are never pure.

There is hypocrisy (hupokrisis). Hupokrites) (hypocrite) is a word with a curious history. It is the noun from the verb (hupokrinesthai ) which means to answer; a (hupokrites) begins by being an answerer. Then it comes to mean an actor, the man who takes part in the question and answer of the stage. Next it comes to mean a hypocrite, a person who all the time is acting a part and concealing their real motives. The hypocrite is the person whose alleged Christian profession is for their own profit and prestige and not for the service and glory of Christ. *Sounds like a lot of politicians, others as well, even unfortunately some preachers…

There is envy (phthonos). It may well be said that envy is the last sin to die. It reared its ugly head even in the apostolic band. The other ten were envious of James and John, when they seemed to steal a march upon them in the matter of preference in the coming Kingdom.

Mark 10:41 (NIV2011)
41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John.

Even at the last supper the disciples were disputing about who should occupy the seats of greatest honor.

Luke 22:24 (NIV2011)
24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.

So long as self remains active within a person’s heart there will be envy in their life. E. G. Selwyn calls envy:

 "the constant plague of all voluntary organizations, not least religious organizations."

C. E. B. Cranfield says that:

"we do not have to be engaged in what is called 'church work' very long to discover what a perennial source of trouble envy is."

There is gossiping ridicule (katalalia). Katalalia is a word with a definite flavor. It means evil-speaking; it is almost always the fruit of envy in the heart; and it usually takes place when its victim is not there to defend themselves. Few things are so attractive as hearing or repeating spicy gossip. Reproachful gossip is something which everyone admits to be wrong and which at the same time almost everyone enjoys; and yet there is nothing more prolific of heartbreak and nothing is so destructive of brotherly LOVE and Christian unity.

These, then, are the things which the “born again”, twice born person must strip off, for if we continue to allow them to have a grip upon us individually or collectively in our lives, the unity of the brethren WILL BE INJURED, and our WITNESS TO THE LOST WILL BE DESTROYED!!!

But there is something on which the Christian must set our heart. *We must yearn for the unmodified, pure milk of the word of God the Bible.

Matthew 4:4 (NIV2011)
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

This is a phrase about whose meaning there is some difficulty. The difficulty is with the word (logikos) which with the King James Version we have translated of the word. The English Revised Version translates it spiritual, and in the margin gives the alternative translation reasonable. Moffatt has spiritual, as has the Revised Standard Version.

(Logikos) is the adjective from the noun (logos) and the difficulty is that it has three perfectly possible translations.

(a) Logos is the great Stoic word for the reason which guides the universe; (logikos) is a favorite Stoic word which describes what has to do with this divine reason which is the governor of all things. If this is the word's connection, clearly spiritual is the meaning.

(b) Logos  is the normal Greek word for mind or reason; therefore, (logikos) often means reasonable or intelligent. It is in that way that the King James Version translates it in:

Romans 12:1 (KJV)
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Where the text speaks of our reasonable service.

(c) Logos ) is the Greek for word, and (logikos) means belonging to the Lord. This is the sense in which the King James Version takes it. Peter has just been talking about the word of God which abides forever:

1 Peter 1:23-25 (KJV)
23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

It is the word of God which should be in our minds as genuine Christians; and what Peter means here is that the true Christian must desire with our WHOLE HEART, OUR WHOLE BEING the nourishment which comes from the word of God the Bible and the living Word Jesus Christ who indwells us through the presence of the Holy Spirit, for by that nourishment we can grow until we reach entire sanctification in salvation itself. In face of all the evil of this sinful, sinful, heathen world, as Christians we must strengthen our souls with the pure food of the word of God, the only testament, the Bible.

This food of the word is unadulterated (adolos). That is to say, there is not the slightest speck of anything evil in it. (Adolos) is an almost technical word to describe corn that is entirely free from chaff or dust or useless or harmful matter. In all human wisdom there is some  speck of what is either useless or harmful; the word of God alone is altogether good.

The Christian is to yearn for this milk of the word; yearn is (epipothein) which is a strong word. It is the word which is used for the hart longing for the waterbrooks:

Psalm 42:1 (KJV)
1 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

And for the Psalmist longing for the salvation of the Lord:

Psalm 119:174 (KJV)
174 I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight.

The metaphor of the Christian as a baby and the word of God as the milk whereby we are nourished is common in the New Testament. Paul thinks of himself as the nurse who cares for the infant Christians of Thessalonica:

1 Thessalonians 2:7 (KJV)
7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:

Paul thinks of himself as feeding the Corinthians with milk for they are not yet at the stage of meat:

1 Corinthians 3:2 (KJV)
2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

And the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews blames his people for being still at the stage of milk when they should have gone on to maturity:

Hebrews 5:12 (KJV)
12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

Hebrews 6: 2 (KJV)
2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

To symbolize the rebirth of baptism in the early church, the newly baptized Christians were clothed in white robes, and sometimes they were fed with milk as if they were little children. It is this nourishment with the milk of the word which makes a Christian grow up and grow on until we reach salvation, our perfection in eternity.

Peter finishes this introduction with an allusion to:

Psalm 34:8 (KJV)
8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

"You are bound to do this," he writes, "if you have tasted the kindness of God."

***Here is something of the greatest significance:  The fact that God is gracious is not an excuse for us to do as we like, depending on Him to overlook it, complete us:

Philippians 1:6 (KJV)
6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

It blesses us with an obligation of LOVE to toil towards being the Children of God, that God, wants us to be…….

Ephesians 4:1 (ASV)
1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called,

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 (KJV)
11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: 12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

((( The kindness, the grace, and the LOVE of God toward us is not a justification for laziness in the Christian’s life; it is the greatest of all incentives to strive to make our beLOVED Savior and God pleased by our efforts of LOVE. )))

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


September 29, 2019

“a” Church

Clearfield, Utah

“First Epistle of Peter: Part Four”

1 Peter 1:13 (ASV)
13 Wherefore girding up the loins of your mind, be sober and set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

Almighty Father, Creator of the universe, we approach Your Heavenly Gates with grateful hearts. We bless Your Holy Name and submit the honor and praise that is due unto You.

Beautiful Lord, we were created in Your image, fearfully and wonderfully made to be the lights in this dark world.

Father please guide us in a plain path of righteousness according to Your will and glory. You are the Omnipotent Potter and we are the clay. Shape us, mold us, use us and fill us each and everyday to become more like Jesus, Your beLOVED Son and our beLOVED Lord and Savior.

Help us with Your grace to live LOVING, compassionate lives, reflecting Your LOVE and Your mercy and grace to all those around us. Help us live holy lives, caring and sharing lives as we know and see in You through Your holy, inerrant, infallible word the Bible.

Direct us in all LOVE to share Your good news of salvation to the lost and needy of this world or of any world. Give us wisdom, courage, and strength to live our calling in this life and the life to come in eternity.

Praise Your holy name, in Jesus magnificent name we pray all these things Amen and eternally Amen…….

Let us consider verse 13………………….

 Peter has been talking about the greatness and the glory to which the Christian may look forward; but the Christian can never be lost in dreams of the future; we must always have our main focus on the battle of the present. So Peter sends out three challenges to his people.

(i) He tells them to gird up the loins of their mind, this is a deliberately vivid phrase. In the east men wore long flowing robes which hindered fast progress or strenuous action. Round the waist they wore a broad belt or girdle; and when strenuous action was necessary they shortened the long robe by pulling it up within the belt in order to give them freedom of movement. The English equivalent of the phrase would be to roll up one's sleeves or to take off one's jacket. Peter is telling his people that they must be ready for the most strenuous mental endeavor, as MUST we, the Christians of the present. They must never be content with a flabby and unexamined faith; they, we, must set to and think things out and think them through. It may be that they will have to discard some things. It may be that they will make mistakes. But what they, we, are left with will be such that nothing and nobody can ever take it away from us…….

(ii) Peter tells them to be sober. The Greek word, like the English, can have two meanings. It can mean that they must refrain from drunkenness in the literal sense of the term; and it can also mean that they, we, must be steady in our minds. They, we, must become intoxicated neither with intoxicating liquor nor with intoxicating thoughts; we must preserve a balanced judgment. It is easy for the Christian to be carried away with this, that, or the next sudden enthusiasm and to become readily intoxicated with the latest fashion and the newest craze. Peter is appealing to us to maintain the essential steadiness of the man or woman who knows what we believe.

(iii) Peter tells us to set our hope on the grace which is going to be given to us when Jesus Christ comes. It is the great characteristic of the Christian that we live in hope; and because we live in hope we can endure the trials of the present, the daily grind of this life. Any man, woman, and even children can endure struggle and effort and toil, if we are certain that it is all leading somewhere, that it has some genuine purpose. That is why the athlete accepts his/her training and the student their study. For the Christian the best is always still to come. We can live with gratitude for all the mercies of the past, with resolution to meet the challenge of the present and with the certain hope that in Jesus Christ the best is yet to be...

1 Peter 1:14-25 (ASV)
14 as children of obedience, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in the time of your ignorance: 15 but like as he who called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living; 16 because it is written, Ye shall be holy; for I am holy. 17 And if ye call on him as Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to each man's work, pass the time of your sojourning in fear: 18 knowing that ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers; 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb without spot, even the blood of Christ: 20 who was foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but was manifested at the end of times for your sake, 21 who through him are believers in God, that raised him from the dead, and gave him glory; so that your faith and hope might be in God. 22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another from the heart fervently: 23 having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which liveth and abideth.
24 For, All flesh is as grass, And all the glory thereof as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower falleth: 25 But the word of the Lord abideth for ever. And this is the word of good tidings which was preached unto you.

Dr. Adrian Rogers wrote:

“We need to stop treating the Bible like a math book and start reading it like a LOVE story.”

Again he wrote:

“The Bible is God’s LOVE letter to His people.”

There are three great lines of approach in this passage and we look at them one by one.

(1) Jesus Christ Redeemer and Lord

It has great things to say about Jesus Christ as Redeemer and Lord.

(i) Jesus Christ is the emancipator, through whom humanity is delivered from the bondage of sin and death; He is the lamb without blemish and without spot,

1 Peter 1:19 (ASV)
19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb without spot, even the blood of Christ:

When Peter spoke like that of Jesus, his mind was going back to two Old Testament pictures—to

Isaiah 53:1-12 (ASV)
1 Who hath believed our message? and to whom hath the arm of Jehovah been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised, and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and as one from whom men hide their face he was despised; and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who among them considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by the knowledge of himself shall my righteous servant justify many; and he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors: yet he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

With its picture of the Suffering Servant, through whose suffering the people were saved and healed and above all to the picture of the Passover Lamb:

Exodus 12:5 (ASV)
5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old: ye shall take it from the sheep, or from the goats:

On that memorable night when they left the slavery of Egypt, the children of Israel were bidden to take a lamb and slay it and mark their doorposts with its blood; and, when the angel of death went through the land slaying the first-born sons of the Egyptians, he passed over every house so marked. In that picture of the Passover Lamb there are the twin thoughts of emancipation from slavery and deliverance from death. No matter how we interpret it, it cost the life and death of Jesus Christ to liberate us from our bondage to sin and to death.

(ii) Jesus Christ is the eternal purpose of God. It was before the creation of the world that He was predestined for the work which was given Him to do:

1 Peter 1:20 (ASV)
20 who was foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but was manifested at the end of times for your sake,

Here is a great thought. Sometimes we tend to think of God as first Creator and then Redeemer, as having created the world and then, when things went wrong, finding a way to rescue it through Jesus Christ. ***But here we have the vision of God who was Redeemer before He was Creator. His redeeming purpose was not an emergency measure to which He was compelled when things went wrong. It goes back before creation.

(iii) Peter has a connection of thought which is universal in the New Testament. Jesus Christ is not only the lamb who was slain; He is the resurrected and triumphant One to whom God gave glory. The New Testament thinkers seldom separate the Cross and the Resurrection; they seldom think of the sacrifice of Christ without thinking of His triumph. Edward Rogers, in “That they might have Life”, tells us that on one occasion he went carefully through the whole story of the Passion and the Resurrection in order to find a way to represent it dramatically, and goes on,

"I began to feel that there was something subtly and tragically wrong in any emphasis on the agony of the Cross which dimmed the brightness of the Resurrection, any suggestion that it was endured pain rather than overcoming LOVE which secured man's salvation."

He asks where the eyes of the Christian turn at the beginning of Lent. What do we dominantly see?

"Is it the darkness that covered the earth at noon, swirling round the pain and anguish of the Cross? Or is it the dazzling, mysterious early-morning brightness that shone from an empty tomb?"

He continues,

"There are forms of most earnest and devoted evangelical preaching and theological writing which convey the impression that somehow the Crucifixion has overshadowed the Resurrection and that the whole purpose of God in Christ was completed on Calvary. The truth, which is obscured only at grave spiritual peril, is that the Crucifixion cannot be interpreted and understood save in the light of the Resurrection."

Through His death Jesus emancipated man-kind from our bondage to slavery and death; but through His Resurrection He gives us a life which is as glorious and indestructible as His own. Through this triumphant Resurrection we have faith and hope in God:

1 Peter 1:21 (ASV)
21 who through him are believers in God, that raised him from the dead, and gave him glory; so that your faith and hope might be in God.

In this passage we see Jesus the great emancipator at the cost of Calvary;  We see Jesus the eternal redeeming purpose of God; We see Jesus the triumphant victor over death and the glorious Lord of life, the giver of life which death cannot touch and the bringer of hope which nothing can take away.

(2) The Christless Life

Peter picks out three characteristics of the Christ-less life.

(i) It is the life of ignorance:

1 Peter 1:14 (ASV)
14 as children of obedience, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in the time of your ignorance:

The pagan world was always haunted by the unknowability of God; at best men could but grope after His mystery. "It is hard," said Plato, "to investigate and to find the framer and the father of the universe; and, if one did find Him, it would be impossible to express Him in terms which all could understand." Even for the philosopher, to find God is difficult; and for the ordinary man, to understand Him is impossible. Aristotle spoke of God as the supreme cause, by all men dreamed of and by no man known. The ancient world did not doubt that there was a God or gods but it believed that such gods as there were were quite unknowable and totally uninterested in humanity and the universe. In a world without the person and reality of Jesus Christ God was mystery and power but never LOVE; there was no one to whom humanity could raise their hands for help or their eyes for hope.

(ii) It is the life dominated by desire.

As we read the records of that world into which Christianity came we cannot but be appalled at the sheer fleshliness of life within it. There was desperate poverty at the lower end of the social scale; but at the top we read of banquets which cost thousands of dollars, where peacocks' brains and nightingales' tongues were served and where the Emperor Vitellius set on the table at one banquet two thousand fish and seven thousand birds. Chastity was forgotten. Martial speaks of a woman who had reached her tenth husband; Juvenal of a woman who had eight husbands in five years; and Jerome tells us that in Rome there was one woman who was married to her twenty-third husband, she herself being his twenty-first wife. Both in Greece and in Rome homosexual practices were so common that they had come to be looked on as natural. It was a world mastered by desire, whose aim was to find newer and wilder ways of gratifying its lusts.

((( Sound familiar??? )))

(iii) It was a life characterized by futility.

Its basic trouble was that it was not going anywhere. Catullus writes to his Lesbia pleading for the delights of love. He pleads with her to seize the moment with its fleeting joys. "Suns can rise and set again; but once our brief light is dead, there is nothing left but one long night from which we never shall awake." If a man was to die like a dog, why should he not live like a dog? Life was a futile business with a few brief years in the light of the sun and then an eternal nothingness. There was nothing for which to live and nothing for which to die. ***Life will always be futile when there is nothing on the other side of death.

(3) The Christ-Filled Life

Peter finds three characteristics of the Christ-filled life and for each he finds compelling reasons.

(i) The Christ-filled life is the life of obedience and of holiness:

1 Peter 1:14-16 (ASV)
14 as children of obedience, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in the time of your ignorance: 15 but like as he who called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living;
16 because it is written, Ye shall be holy; for I am holy.

To be chosen by God is to enter, not only into great privilege, but also into great responsibility.  

That is why Jesus made it very clear, we MUST count the cost of being His disciples:

Luke 14:25-33 (ASV)
25 Now there went with him great multitudes: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whosoever doth not bear his own cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doth not first sit down and count the cost, whether he have wherewith to complete it?
29 Lest haply, when he hath laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all that behold begin to mock him, 30 saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, as he goeth to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and asketh conditions of peace. 33 So therefore whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

((( Salvation is a great privilege, but indeed it carries a great obligation of LOVE……. )))

Peter remembers the ancient command at the very heart of all Hebrew religion. It was God's insistence to His people that they must be holy because He was holy:

Leviticus 11:44 (ASV)
44 For I am Jehovah your God: sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that moveth upon the earth.

Leviticus 19:2 (ASV)
2 Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy; for I Jehovah your God am holy.

Leviticus 20:7 (ASV)
7 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy; for I am Jehovah your God.

Leviticus 20:26 (ASV)
26 And ye shall be holy unto me: for I, Jehovah, am holy, and have set you apart from the peoples, that ye should be mine.

1 Thessalonians 4:7-8 (NIV2011)
7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

The word for holy is (hagios) whose root meaning is different. The Temple is (hagios) because it is different from other buildings; the Sabbath is (hagios) because it is different from other days; the Christian is (hagios) because he is different from other people. The Christian is God's person by God's choice. We are chosen for a task in the world and for a destiny in eternity. We are chosen to live for God in time and with Him in eternity. In the world We must obey His law of LOVE and reproduce His life. There is laid on the Christian the task of being different. As Jesus was hated for being different in His age, if we are genuinely living for Him, we too, will be hated and mis-understood by the majority of society and even by the majority of professing christians… Who are christian in name only!!!

(ii) The Christ-filled life is the life of reverence:

1 Peter 1:17-21 (NIV2011)
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.
18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.
21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

Reverence is the attitude of mind of the person who is always aware that they are in the presence of God. In these five verses Peter picks out three reasons for this Christian reverence.

(a) The Christian is a sojourner in this world. Life for us is lived in the shadow of eternity; we think all the time, not only of where we are but also of where we are going.

(b) We are going to God; true, We can call God Father, but that very God whom we call Father is also He who judges every person with strict impartiality. The Christian is a person for whom there is a day of reckoning, a day of determining our rewards. We are people with a destiny to win or to lose those rewards. Life in this world becomes of tremendous importance because it is leading to the life beyond.

(c) The Christian must live life in reverence, because it cost so much, nothing less than the life and death of Jesus Christ. Since, then, life is of such surpassing value, it cannot be wasted or thrown away. No  genuine Christian squanders what is of infinite human worth.

(iii) The Christ-filled life is the life of brotherly LOVE. It must issue in a LOVE for the brethren which is sincere and hearty and steadfast. The Christian is a person who is reborn, not of mortal, but of immortal seed. That may mean either of two things. It may mean that the remaking of the Christian is due to no human agency but to the agency of God, another way of saying what John said when he spoke of those "who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God"

John 1:13 (NIV2011)
13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

More probably it means that the Christian is remade by the entry into us of the seed of the word; and the picture is that of the Parable of the Sower:

Matthew 13:1-9 (NIV2011)
1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.
2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed.4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

The quotation which Peter makes is from:

Isaiah 40:6-8 (NIV2011)
6 A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”

The second interpretation fits that better. However we take it, the meaning is that the Christian is remade. Because we are “born again”, the life of God is in us. The great characteristic of the life of God is LOVE, and so the Christian must show that divine LOVE to ALL of God’s creation, especially ALL of humanity, even those we perceive as our enemies…

Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV2011)
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

There was a pastor I had once, who denied this ABSOLUTE TRUTH, that as true Christians, as Christ did, we too, MUST LOVE ALL MANKIND!!!!!!!

We are to LOVE our fellow humans,  yet hate the sin. ***Only through God’s help can we even hope to do this!!!

The Christian is the person who lives the Christ-filled life, the life that is different, never forgets the infinity of its obligations of LOVE, and is made beautiful by the LOVE of the God who gave it birth. ***SO SHARE YOUR FAITH, AND LIVE FOR JESUS CHRIST…….

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


September 22, 2019

“a” Church

Clearfield, Utah

“The First Epistle of Peter: Part Three”

1 Peter 1:6-12 (KJV)
6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. 10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

Most precious Heavenly Father, To You always, the praise, the honor, and the glory, now and for all eternity. Not because You demand this of us, but because You deserve it, and our genuine and sincere LOVE for You inwardly compels us to. Hollowed be Thy name !!!!!!!

Gracious Father, our mental, physical, and spiritual bodies are so fragile and weak, so susceptible to sin, decay, and ultimate death. Lord we pray that You would heal those of us who are physically ill, release and deliver those who are in mental anguish, and above all save those who are spiritually blind, provide spiritual LOVE, grace, and mercy and bring them to a saving knowledge and LOVE relationship with Your one and ONLY SON JESUS THE CHRIST…

Help us do our part in reflecting Your great, great, great LOVE to all Your holy saints, and to all those You have created, and help us be good stewards towards all You have created out of nothingness. Help us be the Men, women, and children of God You desire us to be, not only in Heaven, but here and now on this side of eternity as well.

Help us proclaim Your glorious gospel to others, as You have lead people to share it to us. Give us the LOVE, grace, mercy, wisdom, and strength to declare Your good news to others. Help us be Your good children…

In all things not our wills be done but Thy will be done. We pray all these things in Yeshua, Jesus, the Messiah our Savior’s name Amen and eternally Amen……………………………………………. 

Peter comes to the actual situation in life in which his readers found themselves. Their Christianity had always made them unpopular, but now they were facing almost certain persecution. Soon the storm was going to break and life was going to be an agonizing thing. In face of that threatening situation Peter in effect reminds them of three reasons why they can stand anything that may come upon them.

(i) They can stand anything because of what they are able to look forward to. At the end there is for them the magnificent inheritance, life with God. In fact this is how Westcott understands the phrase, "in the last time" (en) (kairo) (eschato). We have taken it to mean in the time when the world as we know it will come to an end; but the Greek can mean when the worst comes to the worst. It is then, says Westcott, when things have reached their limit, that the saving power of Christ will be displayed.

In any event, the ultimate meaning is the same. For the Christian persecution and trouble are not the end; beyond lies the glory; and in the hope of that glory he, we can endure anything that life brings to us. It sometimes happens that a person has to undergo a painful operation or course of treatment; but they gladly accept the pain and the discomfort because of the renewed health and strength which lie beyond. It is one of the basic facts of life that a person can endure almost anything so long as they have something to look forward to—and the Christian can look forward to the ultimate joy.

(ii) We can stand anything that comes if we remember that every trial is, in fact, a test. Before gold is pure it has to be tested in the fire. The trials which come to a person test their faith and out of them that faith can emerge stronger than ever it was before. The rigors which the athlete has to undergo are not meant to make him collapse but to make him able to develop more strength and staying-power. In this world trials are not meant to take the strength out of us, but to put the strength into us.

In this connection there is something most suggestive in the language Peter uses. He says that the Christian for the moment may well have to undergo various trials. The Greek is (poikilos), which literally means many-colored. Peter uses that word only one other time and it is to describe the grace of God:

1 Peter 4:10 (KJV)
10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Our troubles may be many-colored, but so is the grace of God; there is no color in the human situation which that grace cannot match and exceed!!! There is a grace to match every trial and there is no trial without its grace.

(iii) We can stand anything, because at the end of it, when Jesus Christ appears, We will receive from Him praise and glory and honor.

Matthew 25:21 (NIV)
21 "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

((( Oh to hear those words from God: “'Well done, good and faithful servant!” )))

Again and again in this life we make our biggest efforts and do our best work, not for pay or profit, but in order to see the light in someone's eyes and to hear His word of praise. These things mean more than anything else in the world. The Christian knows that, if we endure, we will in the end hear the Master's "Well done!"

Here is the recipe for endurance when life is hard and faith is difficult. We can stand up to things because of the greatness to which we can look forward, because every trial is another test to strengthen and to purify our faith, and because at the end of it Jesus Christ is waiting to say, "Well done!" to all his faithful servants.

1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Peter is drawing an implicit contrast between himself and his readers. It was his great privilege to have known Jesus in the days of His flesh. His readers had not had that joy; but, although they never knew Jesus in the flesh, they LOVE Him; and although they do not see Him with the bodily eye, they believe. And that belief brings to them, to us, a joy beyond speech and clad with glory, for even here and now it makes us certain of the ultimate welfare of our eternal souls.

E. G. Selwyn in his commentary distinguishes four stages in man's apprehension of Christ.

(i) The first is the stage of hope and desire, the stage of those who throughout the ages dreamed of the coming of the King. As Jesus himself said to his disciples,

Luke 10:23-24 (KJV)
23 And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: 24 For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

There were the days of longings and expectations which were never fully realized.

(ii) The second stage came to those who knew Christ in the flesh. That is what Peter is thinking about here. That is what he was thinking about when he said to Cornelius,

Acts 10:39 (KJV)
39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:

There were those who walked with Jesus and on whose witness our knowledge of His life and the words depends.

(iii) There are those in every nation and time who see Jesus with the eye of faith. Jesus said to Thomas,

John 20:29 (KJV)
29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

**This way of seeing Jesus is possible only because He is not someone who merely lived and died and exists now only as a figure in a book but someone who lived and died and is alive for evermore. It has been said that "no apostle ever remembered Jesus." That is to say, Jesus is not only a memory; He is a person whom we can meet.

(iv) There is the radiant vision. It was John's confidence that we shall see Him as He is,

1 John 3:2 (KJV)
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

"Now," said Paul,

1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV)
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

If the eye of faith endures, the day will come when it will be the eye of sight, and we shall see face to face and know even as we are known.

Jesus, these eyes have never seen

That radiant form of thine;

The veil of sense hangs dark between

Thy blessed face and mine.

I see thee not, I hear thee not,

Yet art thou oft with me;

And earth hath ne'er so dear a spot

As where I meet with thee.

Yet, though I have not seen, and still

Must rest in faith alone,

I love thee, dearest Lord, and will,

Unseen but not unknown.

When death these mortal eyes shall seal,

And still this throbbing heart,

The rending veil shall thee reveal

All glorious as thou art.

1 Peter 1:10-12 (KJV)
10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

Here again we have a rich passage. The wonder of the salvation which was to come to men in Christ was such that the prophets searched and enquired about it; and even the angels were eager to catch a glimpse of it. Few passages have more to tell us about how the prophets wrote and about how they were inspired.

(i) We are told two things about the prophets. First, they searched and enquired about the salvation which was to come. Second, the Spirit of Christ told them about Christ. Here we have the great truth that inspiration depends on two things—the searching mind of man and the revealing Spirit of God. It used sometimes to be said that the men who wrote Scripture were pens in the hands of God or flutes into which His Spirit breathed or lyres across which His Spirit moved. That is to say, they were held to be nothing more than almost unconscious instruments in God's hands. But this passage tells us that God's truth comes only to the man or woman who searches for it. In inspiration there is an element which is human and an element which is divine; it is the product at one and the same time of the search of a person's mind and the revelation of God's Spirit. (Both are by God’s grace)

Further, this passage tells us that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, was always operative in this world. Wherever people have glimpsed beauty, wherever they have laid hold on truth, wherever they have had longings for God, the Spirit of Christ was there. Never has there been any time in any nation when the Spirit of Christ was not moving people to seek God and guiding them to find Him. Sometimes we have been blind and deaf, sometimes we have misinterpreted that guidance, sometimes we have grasped but fragments of it, but always that revealing Spirit has been there to guide the searching mind.

(ii) This passage tells us that the prophets spoke of the sufferings and the glory of Christ. Such passages as,

Isaiah 52:13-15 (KJV)
13 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. 14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: 15 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.

Or Psalms 22, again in Isaiah 53 verses 1-12; found their consummation and fulfillment in the sufferings of Christ. Such passages as Psalms 2, Psalms 110,

Psalm 16:8-11 (KJV)
8 I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. 10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Found their fulfillment in the glory and the triumph of Jesus Christ.

(iii) This passage tells us for whom the prophets spoke. It was the message of the glorious deliverance of God that they brought to men. That was a deliverance which they themselves never experienced. Sometimes God gives a man a vision, but says to the man himself, "Not yet!" He took Moses to Pisgah and showed him the Promised Land and said to him,

Deuteronomy 34:4 (KJV)
4 And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.

Someone tells of watching one night at dusk a blind lamplighter lighting the lamps. He tapped his way from lamp-post to lamp-post bringing to others a light which he himself would never see. As the prophets knew, it is a great gift to receive the vision, even if the consummation of the vision is for others still to come.

This passage tells us not only of the visions of the prophets but also of the message of the preacher. It was the preachers who brought the message of salvation to the readers of Peter's letter.

(i) It tells us that preaching is the announcement of salvation. Preaching may at different times have many notes and many aspects, but fundamentally it is the proclamation of the gospel, the good news. The preacher may at times have to warn, threaten and condemn; he may have to remind men of the judgment and the wrath of God; but basically, beyond all else, his message is the announcement of salvation.

(ii) It tells us that preaching is through the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven. The preacher's message is not his own; it is given to him. He brings, not his own opinions and even prejudices; he brings the truth as given him by the Holy Spirit. Like the prophet he will have to search and enquire; he will have to study and to learn; but he must then wait for the guidance of the Spirit to come to him.

(iii) It tells us that the preacher's message is of things of which the angels long to catch a glimpse. There is no excuse for triviality in preaching. There is no excuse for an earthbound and unlovely message without interest or thrill. The salvation of God is a tremendous thing.

***It is with the message of salvation and the inspiration of the Spirit of Christ that the preacher must ever appear before men.***

And we as Christians MUST SHARE OUR FAITH IN LOVE!!!!!!!

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


September 15, 2019

“a” Church

Clearfield, Utah

“An Incorruptible Inheritance”

1 Peter 1:3-5 (KJV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Lord, we are no longer our own, but thine.

Put us to what thou wilt, rank us with whom thou wilt.

Put us to doing, put us to suffering.

Let us be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

Let us be full, let us be empty.

Let us have all things, let us have nothing.

We freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thou art ours, and we are thine.

So be it.

And the covenant which we have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. In Jesus name we pray Amen and eternally Amen.

As we see the stage of world-wide political corruption occur before our very eyes, it is very comforting to know, God, His grace, His word, and His promises WILL NEVER BE CORRUPTED!!!!!!!

It will take us a long time to appropriate the riches of this passage, for there are few passages in the New Testament where more of the great fundamental Christian ideas come together.

It begins with a doxology to God—but a doxology with a difference. For a Jew the commonest of all beginnings to prayer was, "Blessed art thou, O God." The Christian takes over that prayer—but with a difference. His prayer begins, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." He is not praying to a distant, unknown God; he, we are praying to the God who is like Jesus and to whom, through Jesus Christ, we may come with childlike confidence.

This passage begins with the idea of rebirth; the Christian is a person who has been reborn; begotten again by God to a new kind of life. Whatever else this means, it means that, when a person becomes a Christian, there comes into his/her life a change so radical that the only thing that can be said is that life has begun all over again for them, us. This idea of rebirth runs all through the New Testament. Let us try to collect what it says about it.

(i) The Christian rebirth happens by the will and by the act of God:

John 1:13 (NIV)
13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

It is not something which any person can achieve on their own any more than we can achieve our own physical birth.

(ii) Another way to put that is to say that this rebirth is the work of the Holy Spirit:

John 3:1-15 (KJV)
1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

It happens to a person, not by his/her own effort, but when they yield themselves to be indwelt and re-created, born again, transformed by the Holy Spirit...

(iii) It happens by the Word of Truth:

James 1:18 (KJV)
18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

1 Peter 1:23 (KJV)
23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

In the beginning it was the word of God which created heaven and earth and all that is in them. God spoke and the chaos became a world, and the world was equipped with and for life. It is the creative word of God in Jesus Christ which brings about this rebirth in a person’s life.

(iv) The result of this rebirth is that the man who is reborn becomes the first fruits of a new creation:

James 1:18 (KJV)
18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

It lifts us out of this world of space and time, of change and decay, of sin and defeat, and brings us here and now in touch with eternity and eternal life.

(v) When a man is reborn, it is to a living hope:

1 Peter 1:3 (KJV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Paul describes the heathen world as being without hope:

Ephesians 2:12 (KJV)
12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

Sophocles wrote:

"Not to be born at all—that is by far the best fortune; the second best is as soon as one is born with all speed to return thither whence one has come."

To the heathen the world was a place where all things faded and decayed; it might be pleasant enough in itself but it was leading out into nothing but an endless dark. To the ancient world the Christian characteristic was hope. That hope came from two things. (a) The Christian felt that he had been born, not of corruptible, but of incorruptible seed:

1 Peter 1:23 (KJV)
23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

As Christians we have something of the very seed of God in ourselves and, therefore, have within our lives that which neither time nor eternity can ever destroy. (b) It came from the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

1 Peter 1:3 (KJV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

We as Christians have forever, eternity, beside us—even more, we are one with—this Jesus Christ who has conquered even death and, therefore, there is nothing of which we need be afraid.

(vi) The rebirth of the Christian is a rebirth to righteousness:

1 John 2:29 (KJV)
29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

1 John 3:9 (KJV)
9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

1 John 5:18 (KJV)
18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

In this rebirth WE ARE CLEASNSED FROM OURSELVES, the sins which shackle us and the habits which bind us; and we are given a power which enables us to walk in righteousness. That is not to say that the we who are reborn will never sin; but it is to say that every time we fall we will be given the power and the grace to rise again. Amen!!!

(vii) The rebirth of the Christian is a rebirth to LOVE:

1 John 4:7 (KJV)
7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

Because the life of God is in us, we are cleansed from the essential unforgiving bitterness of the self-centred life and there is in us who are genuinely twice-born, born again, reborn, something of the forgiving and sacrificial LOVE of God.

(viii) Finally, the rebirth of the Christian is rebirth to victory:

1 John 5:4 (KJV)
4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Life ceases to be defeat and begins to be victory, over self and sin and circumstances. Because the life of God is in us, the Christian has learned the secret of victorious living…(( But do we submit to the Holy Spirit, that is a daily question we must ask ourselves??? ))

Further, the Christian has entered into a great inheritance (kleronomia). Here is a word with a great history; for it is the word which is regularly used in the Greek Old Testament for the inheritance of Canaan, the Promised Land. Again and again the Old Testament speaks of the land which God had given his people for an inheritance to possess:

Deuteronomy 15:4 (KJV)
4 Save when there shall be no poor among you; for the LORD shall greatly bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it:

Deuteronomy 19:10 (KJV)
10 That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.

To us inheritance tends to mean something which in the future we shall possess; as the Bible uses the word, it rather means a secure possession. To the Jew the great settled possession was the Promised Land.

But the Christian inheritance is even greater. Peter uses three words with three great pictures behind them to describe it. It is imperishable (aphthartos,). The word does mean imperishable but it can also mean unravaged by any invading army. Many and many a time Palestine had been ravaged by the armies of the aliens; it had been fought over and blasted and destroyed. But the Christian possesses a peace and a joy, which no invading army can ravage and destroy.

It is undefilable. The word is (amianto), and the verb (miainein), from which this adjective comes, means to pollute with impious impurity. Many and many a time Palestine had been rendered impure by false worship of false gods:

Jeremiah 2:7 (KJV)
7 And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination.

Jeremiah 2:23 (KJV)
23 How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing her ways;

Jeremiah 3:2 (KJV)
2 Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness.

Ezekiel 20:43 (KJV)
43 And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed.

The defiling things had often left their touch even on the Promised Land; but the Christian has a purity which the sin of the world cannot infect. It is unfading (amarantos). In the Promised Land, as in any land, even the loveliest flower fades and the loveliest blossom dies. But the Christian is lifted into a world where there is no change and decay and where OUR peace and joy are untouched by the chances and the changes of life, we are blessed!!!

What, then, is this wonderful inheritance which the reborn, born again Christian possesses?

There may be many secondary answers to that question but there is only one primary answer—the inheritance of the Christian is God himself. The Psalmist said,

Psalm 16:5 (KJV)
5 The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.

God is his portion forever:

Psalm 73:23-26 (KJV)
23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. 24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. 26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

"The Lord," said the prophet,

Lamentations 3:24 (KJV)
24 The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

It is because the Christian possesses God and is possessed, indwelt, by God that we have the inheritance which is imperishable, undefilable and which can never fade away.

The inheritance of the Christian, the full joy of God, is waiting for us in heaven; and of that Peter has two great things to say.

(i) On our journey through this world to eternity we are protected by the power of God through faith. The word which Peter uses for protect (phrourein) is a military word. It means that our life is garrisoned by God and that He stands sentinel over us all our days. The person who has faith never needs to doubt, even when we cannot see Him, God is standing within the shadows keeping watch upon His own.

Matthew 28:20B (KJV)
20 B… lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

It is not that God saves us from the troubles and the sorrows and the problems of life; but he enables us to conquer them and march on.

(ii) The final salvation (what our eternal lives will be like) will be revealed at the last time. Here we have two conceptions which are at the very basis of New Testament thought.

The New Testament frequently speaks of the last day or days, or the last time. At the back of this is the way the Jews divided all time into two ages—the present age, which is wholly under the domination of evil and the age to come, which will be the golden age of God. In between came the day of the Lord during which the world would be destroyed and remade and judgment would come. It is this in between time which is the last days or the last time, that time when the world as we know it will come to an end.

It is not given to us to know when that time will come nor what will happen then. But we can gather together what the New Testament says about these last days.

(i) The Christians believed that they were already living in the last days.

1 John 2:18 (KJV)
18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

 "It is the last hour," says John to his people. The writer to the Hebrews speaks of the fullness of the revelation which has come to men in Christ in these last days:

Hebrews 1:2 (KJV)
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

As the first Christians saw it, God had already invaded time and the end was hastening on.

(ii) The last times were to be times of the pouring out of God's Spirit upon men:

Acts 2:17 (KJV)
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

The early Christians saw that being fulfilled in Pentecost and in the Spirit-filled Church.

(iii) It was the regular conviction of the early Christians that before the end the powers of evil would make a final assault and that all kinds of false teachers would arise:

2 Timothy 3:1 (KJV)
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

1 John 2:18 (KJV)
18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

Jude 1:18 (KJV)
18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

2 Peter 2:1 (KJV)
1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

(iv) The dead would be resurrected. It is Jesus' promise that at the last time he will raise up his own:

John 6:39-40 (KJV)
39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:44 (KJV)
44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 11:24 (KJV)
24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

(v) Inevitably it would be a time of judgment when God's justice would be exercised and his enemies find their just condemnation and punishment:

John 12:48 (KJV)
48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

James 5:3 (KJV)
3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

Such are the ideas which are in the minds of the New Testament writers when they use this phrase the last times or the last days.

Clearly for many a man such a time will be a time of terror; but for the Christian there is, not terror, but deliverance. The word (sozein) means to save in far more than a theological sense. It is the regular word for to rescue from danger and to heal in sickness. Charles Bigg in his commentary points out that in the New Testament (sozein), to save, and (soteria), salvation, have four different, but closely related, spheres of meaning.

(a) They describe deliverance from danger:

Matthew 8:25 (KJV)
25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.

(b) They describe deliverance from disease:

Matthew 9:21 (KJV)
21 For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.

(c) They describe deliverance from the condemnation of God:

Matthew 10:22 (KJV)
22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Matthew 24:13 (KJV)
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

(d) They describe deliverance from the disease and power of sin:

Matthew 1:21 (KJV)
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

***Salvation is a many-sided thing. In it there is deliverance from danger, deliverance from disease, deliverance from condemnation and deliverance from sin. And it is that, and nothing less than that, to which the Christian can look forward at the end.***

Truly the inheritance that we receive from God as genuine “reborn”, “born again”, “twice born”, saved people, is unquestionably INCORUPTIBLE!!!!!!!

Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc


September 8, 2019

“a” Church

Clearfieid, Utah

 “Our Great Inheritance”

1 Peter 1:1-2 (NIV)
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Over the next several months we will be studying the first epistle of Peter…I have been a preacher for over 41 years and this is only my second attempt in teaching the letters of Peter from cover to cover. Today we will discuss the opening verses.

First let us pray:

Gracious Lord, our heavenly Father, sometimes we reach out for You, wishing we could touch You, see You, or in some other way find some physical evidence that You are near and that you are concerned.

Forgive us our doubting and lift us, please, to higher levels of faith and understanding.

We do not ask that You change in any way whatsoever. We humbly pray that You will change us until our spirits shall be more like Thine. We are unworthy of the least of Thy favors. We freely acknowledge our need for understanding. We pray for Thy favor to rest upon our lives, bless us with Thy Presence.

Help us, O God; guide us; strengthen us; open our understanding of Thy mind, will, and way. We promise to make every effort to serve Thee more faithfully and effectively.

Father, thank You for sending the Lord Jesus to be our Saviour and for dying for us on that BLOOD soaked, BLOOD stained cross and paying the ultimate price for our sins. Thank You for giving us the Word of God, hallelujah, praise You Lord for Your holy, inerrant, infallible Writ that so beautifully opens up Your plan of redemption for mankind and thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to live in all genuine believers and to lead and guide us into all truth and righteousness.

We pray Lord that You would give us a deeper understanding of Your Word - Your plan for Israel, Your church, and the redemption of the lost and the reclaimation of the rest of Your creation. We pray that as we read and study the scriptures that our hearts would be flooded with light so that we may understand all that You would teach us, that we would live in a way that is honoring to You and that we would draw closer to You with every passing breath.

Father we pray that You would open the eyes of our hearts as we read, study and meditate on Your Word – so that we may see You more clearly and LOVE You more dearly. In Jesus name we pray all these things, Amen and eternally Amen…….

It happens again and again in the New Testament that the true greatness of a passage lies not only on the surface and in what is actually said, but in the ideas and the convictions which lie behind it. That is particularly so here.

It is clear that this letter was written to people who were Gentiles. They have been released from the futile way of life which they had learned from their fathers.

1 Peter 1:18 (NIV)
18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers,

Those who were once not a people had become nothing less than the people of God.

1 Peter 2:10 (NIV)
10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

 In previous times they had walked after the will and the lusts of the Gentiles.

1 Peter 4:3 (NIV)
3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do--living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.

But the outstanding thing about this passage is that it takes words and conceptions which had originally applied only to the Jews, the Chosen Nation, and applies them to the Gentiles, who had once been believed to be outside the mercy of God. *Once it had been said that "God created the Gentiles to be fuel for the fires of Hell." *Once it had been said that, just as the best of the snakes must be crushed, so even the best of the Gentiles must be destroyed. *Once it had been said that God LOVED only Israel of all nations upon the earth. But now the mercy, the privileges, and the grace of God have gone out to all the earth and to all humanity, even to those who could never have expected them.

Peter calls the people to whom he writes the elect, God's Chosen People, once that had been a title which belonged exclusively to Israel:

Deuteronomy 7:6 (NIV)
6 For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

Deuteronomy 14:2 (NIV)
2 for you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession.

The prophet speaks of "Israel, my chosen":

Isaiah 45:4 (NIV)
4 For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me.

The Psalmist speaks of "the sons of Jacob, his chosen ones":

Psalm 105:6 (NIV)
6 O descendants of Abraham his servant, O sons of Jacob, his chosen ones.

Psalm 105:43 (NIV)
43 He brought out his people with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy;

But the nation of Israel failed in the purposes of God, for, when He sent His Son into the world, they rejected and crucified Him. When Jesus spoke the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, He said that the inheritance of Israel was to be taken from them and given to others:

Matthew 21:41 (NIV)
41 "He will bring those wretches to a wretched end," they replied, "and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time."

Mark 12:9 (NIV)
9 "What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.

Luke 20:16 (NIV)
16 He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others." When the people heard this, they said, "May this never be!"

***That is the basis of the great New Testament conception of the Christian Church as the true Israel, the new Israel, the Israel of God:

Galatians 6:15-16 (NIV)
15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.

So salvation is now offered to both Jew and Gentile alike; anyone who genuinely LOVES Jesus Christ!!!

All the privileges which had once belonged to Israel now belong to the Christian Church, the Christian faithul. The mercy of God has gone out to the ends of the earth, and all nations have seen the glory and experienced the grace of God.

There is another word here which once belonged exclusively to Israel. The address literally reads: "To the elect strangers of the Diaspora throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia." Diaspora, literally the dispersion, was the technical name for the Jews scattered in exile in all the countries outside the bounds of Palestine. Sometimes in their troubled history the Jews had been forcibly deported from their native land; sometimes they had gone of their own free will to work, and often to prosper, in other lands. Those exiled Jews were called the Diaspora. But now the real Diaspora is not the Jewish nation; it is the Christian Church, the Christian faithful scattered abroad throughout the provinces of the Roman Empire and the nations of the world. ***Once the people who had been different from others were the Jews; now the people who are different are the Christians. They are the people whose King is God, whose home is eternity, and who are exiles in the world. To be different literally means to be ‘Holy’…

What Peter is saying means that the two great titles of which we have been thinking belong to us who are genuine Christians. Not because of whom we are, but because of who we belong to, Jesus the true Christ, Messiah and only Savior for those who were lost; but have found eternal redemption through the shed blood of Jesus and Him alone!!!!!!!

1 Corinthians 3:11 (NIV)
11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

 We are the Chosen People of God. There is awesome encouragement here. Surely there can be no greater compliment and privilege in all the world than to be chosen by God. The word eklektos can describe anything that is specially chosen; it can describe specially chosen fruit, articles specially chosen because they are so outstandingly well made, picked troops specially chosen for some great exploit. We have the honor of being specially chosen by God.

But there is also challenge and responsibility here. God always chooses for service. The honor which God gives a person is that of being used for His purposes. It was precisely there that the Jews failed, and we have to see to it that the tragedy of a like failure does not mark our lives.

We are called, chosen to serve; to reach out to our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ and to share the only way to eternal salvation for all who are lost…….

Matthew 28:18-19 (NIV)
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Jesus said:

John 14:6 (NIV)
6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

If we are silent we are not living up to our great calling, the calling that all true Christians have, TO SHARE THE HUMILTY OF JESUS CHRIST, THE TRUTH OF JESUS CHRIST ( The Bible ), AND THE GLORIOUSLY AWESOME LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST WITH THOSE HE PUTS IN OUR PATH…….

We are the exiles of eternity. This is never to say that we must withdraw from the world, but that in the realest sense we must be at the same time both in the world and not of it. It has been wisely said that the Christian must be apart from the world but never aloof from it. Wherever the exiled Jew settled, his eyes were towards Jerusalem. In foreign countries his synagogues were so built that, when the worshipper entered, he was facing towards Jerusalem. However useful a citizen of his adopted country the Jew was, his greatest loyalty was to Jerusalem.

The Greek word for such a sojourner in a strange land is paroikos. A paroikos was a person who was in a strange land and whose thoughts ever turned home. Such a sojourning was called a paroikia; and paroikia is the direct derivation of the English word parish. The Christians in any place are a group of people whose eyes are turned to God and whose loyalty is beyond. "Here," said the writer to the Hebrews,

Hebrews 13:14 (NIV)
14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

We must repeat that this does not mean withdrawal from the world; but it does mean that the Christian sees all things in the light of eternity and life as a journey towards God. It is this which decides the importance which we attach to anything; it is this which dictates our conduct and morality. ***It is the touchstone and the dynamic of the Christians life.***

There is a famous unwritten saying of Jesus: "The world is a bridge. The wise man will pass over it, but he will not build his house upon it." This is the thought which is behind the famous passage in The Epistle to Diognetus, one of the best-known works of the post-apostolic age: "Christians are not marked out from the rest of mankind by their country or their speech or their customs.... They dwell in cities both Greek and barbarian, each as his lot is cast, following the customs of the region in clothing and in food and in the outward things of life generally; yet they manifest the wonderful and openly paradoxical character of their own state. They inhabit the lands of their birth, but as temporary residents thereof; they take their share of all responsibilities as citizens, and endure all disabilities as aliens. Every foreign land is their native land, and every native land a foreign land.... They pass their days upon earth, but their citizenship is in heaven."

It would be wrong to think that this makes the Christian a bad citizen of the land in which he lives. It is because we see all things in the light of eternity that we should be the best of all citizens, for it is only in the light of eternity that the true values of things can be seen.

***We, as Christians, are the Chosen People of God; we are the exiles of eternity. Therein lie both our priceless privilege and our inescapable responsibility to LOVE and serve God and ALL of His precious creation.***

As we turn to 1 Peter 1 v 2 we are confronted with the three great facts of the Christian life.

One, The Christian is chosen according to the foreknowledge of God. C. E. B. Cranfield has a fine comment on this phrase:

 "If all our attention is concentrated on the hostility or indifference of the world or the exiguousness of our own progress in the Christian life, we may well be discouraged. At such times we need to be reminded that our election is according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. The Church is not just a human organization—though, of course, it is that. ***Its origin lies, not in the will of the flesh, in the idealism of men, in human aspirations and plans, but in the eternal purpose of God."***

When we are discouraged we may well remind ourselves that the Christian Church came into being according to the purpose and plan of God and, if it is true to Him, it can never ultimately fail.

Second, The Christian is chosen to be consecrated by the Spirit. Martin Luther said:

"I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to him."

For the Christian the Holy Spirit is essential to every part of the Christian life and every step in it. It is the Holy Spirit who awakens within us the first faint longings for God and goodness. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts us of our sin and leads us to the Cross where that sin is forgiven forever. It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to be freed from the sins which have us in their grip and to gain the virtues which are the fruit of the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the assurance that our sins are forgiven and that Jesus Christ is Lord. ***The beginning, the middle and the end of the Christian’s life is the work of the Holy Spirit.***

Three, The Christian is chosen for obedience and for sprinkling by the blood of Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament there are three occasions when sprinkling with blood is mentioned. It may well be that all three were present in Peter's mind and that all three have something to contribute to the thought behind these words.

When a leper had been healed, he was sprinkled with the blood of a bird. Leviticus 14:1-7 (NIV)
1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 "These are the regulations for the diseased person at the time of his ceremonial cleansing, when he is brought to the priest: 3 The priest is to go outside the camp and examine him. If the person has been healed of his infectious skin disease, 4 the priest shall order that two live clean birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop be brought for the one to be cleansed. 5 Then the priest shall order that one of the birds be killed over fresh water in a clay pot. 6 He is then to take the live bird and dip it, together with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, into the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. 7 Seven times he shall sprinkle the one to be cleansed of the infectious disease and pronounce him clean. Then he is to release the live bird in the open fields.

*Sprinkling with blood is, therefore, the symbol of cleansing. By the sacrifice of Christ, the Christian is cleansed from sin.

(b) Sprinkling with blood was part of the ritual of the setting apart of Aaron and the priests,

Exodus 29:20-21 (NIV)
20 Slaughter it, take some of its blood and put it on the lobes of the right ears of Aaron and his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. Then sprinkle blood against the altar on all sides. 21 And take some of the blood on the altar and some of the anointing oil and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. Then he and his sons and their garments will be consecrated.

Leviticus 8:30 (NIV)
30 Then Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood from the altar and sprinkled them on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. So he consecrated Aaron and his garments and his sons and their garments.

*It was the sign of setting apart for the service of God. The Christian is specially set apart for the service of God, not only within the Temple, but also within the world and all of creation.

(c) The great picture of the sprinkling comes from the covenant relationship between Israel and God. In the covenant, God, of His own gracious will, approached Israel that they might be His people and that He might be their God. But that relationship depended on the Israelites accepting the conditions of the covenant and obeying the law. Obedience was a necessary condition of the covenant, and failure in obedience meant failure of the covenant relationship between God and Israel. So the book of the covenant was read to Israel and the people pledged themselves:

Exodus 24:1-8 (NIV)
1 Then he said to Moses, "Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You are to worship at a distance, 2 but Moses alone is to approach the LORD; the others must not come near. And the people may not come up with him." 3 When Moses went and told the people all the LORD's words and laws, they responded with one voice, "Everything the LORD has said we will do." 4 Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said. He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LORD. 6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, "We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey." 8 Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, "This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words."

*Sprinkling was for obedience.

Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ the Christian is called into a new relationship with God, in which ALL our sins are forgiven and we are pledged to the obedience of LOVE now and in the time to come. That obedience is to:

Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)
37 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

It is in the purpose of God that the Christian is called. It is by the work of the Holy Spirit that his life is hallowed towards God. It is by the sprinkling of the blood of Christ that we are cleansed from ALL sin and dedicated to future obedience to God. The obedience of LOVE…….

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (NIV)
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Submitted by: Dr. H. Chris Smith, sbc


September 1, 2019

"a" Church

Evanston, Wyoming

"It Is Time!!!"

Hosea 10 v 12

"Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you."

O Lord, according to Your Word, we enter Your courts with Thanksgiving and Praise.

Most High God, Master and Creator of the Universe, we humbly bow before You and worship You with all of our heart, soul and mind. Like Jesus instructed us, we start this prayer out with Thanksgiving—deeply grateful and thankful that You DO, indeed, hear the prayers of Your children.

We acknowledge the incredible right and privilege You have given us to walk directly into the Presence of the most Powerful and Effective force in the Universe and BOLDLY ask for assistance.

The devils tremble at this privilege that You have afforded us through the Blood of Jesus Christ. Help us to fully take hold of the extent of this opportunity. Forgive us for the times when we have not utilized this right effectively through lack of Faith.

Lord Most High, we are in dire need of Your assistance. There are forces afoot that would attempt to destroy Your Creation–Forces that seek to steal, kill and destroy Your Church. You said that we would have Life and have it more abundantly. You said the gates of Hell would not prevail against Your Church. For Your sake, O God, and based on the unfailing promises of Your Holy Word, do not let the forces of Evil and Darkness prevail. We ask that Righteousness, Peace and Joy would abound so Your name would be honored and glorified. We believe that both Israel and other “bridal nations” were founded expressly on Your Power in their Law and Constitutions. These types of countries were formed for Your Glory—

Providentially placed under Your Covenantal Contract to be shining cities upon a hill whose Beacon Light was to guide freedom-LOVING people and other nations globally.

We acknowledge our failure in the Body of Christ to live up to our side of the Covenant. We have NOT lived as we should. We have NOT obeyed all of Your commands. We have NOT placed You first in our lives. We confess that our nations are currently on a dangerous pathway towards the idolatry of Human Secularism which seeks to remove You from every aspect of our daily public lives. In doing so, we have not only failed to follow in Christ’s footsteps to help “set the captives free”, but have become captives ourselves to a un-Godly philosophy that will ultimately destroy the very foundations of our nations.

O God, we sincerely repent of our personal and national sins. We repent of the sins of omission as well as commission. These sins include idolatry, murder, anger, stubbornness, dishonesty, corruption, greed, sloth, lust, envy, compromise, fear, gossip, hypocrisy, impurity, ingratitude, profanity, stealing, unforgiveness, untruthfulness, wordliness, worry and the ultimate sin of Pride. We take no solace in the fact that some of us may not have personally embraced sins such as abortion or marriage redefinition BUT by apathy or indifference have allowed evil to flourish. We have not followed Your Biblical mandate to submit to You, obey Your Holy Commandments and resist the Devil. Nor have we had a zeal to repent which invites You to commune with us, enabling us to become overcomers who will sit with You on Your throne.

Instead of embracing righteousness we–individually, in our families and in our nations–have performed evil acts. We have fallen short of Your Glory, for which You have cursed our nations with drought and pestilence and have opened our borders to the plunder of foreign armies. Even with obvious signs in the stars, moon, sky and weather, we have not repented and returned our nations to You Lord in corporate repentance. Instead, our leaders have vowed to rebuild out of their own strength thus raising a fist is defiance to Your judgments.

Master, please have mercy on us. We beg for Your grace and mercy. We are undeserving of your mercy but Your Holy Word says you are patient, kind, LOVING, merciful and longsuffering. Please, because of who YOU are and not because of what WE are—hear our prayer and grant our petition this day. We know You will hear from Heaven and will forgive our sins and heal our lands if we humble ourselves, pray, seek Your Face and turn from our wicked ways.

Then may all the kingdoms of the world truly know that YOU are our God and that we have no other gods but You.

May You get all the glory, honor and praise. May Your Kingdom come quickly and may Your will be done here on Earth as it is in Heaven.

We pray this prayer with great expectancy, looking upwards for our ultimate Salvation when You will return to set things right forever and ever.


Things are not going well in our country!!! The secular world’s and unfortunately much of the religious world’s focus is on the tremendous financial upheaval not only in our nation but in the nations around the worldwide. ***But this rollercoaster ride of financial demise and the military actions of the mid-East are only rouses to divert humanity’s focus and attention away from WHAT WE SHOULD REALLY BE FOCUSED ON!

The book of Hosea that our main text is from was written and completed sometime around 686 B.C.; considering that the Prophet Hosea’s ministry was roughly between 767 B.C. and 686 B.C. gleaned from the prophet’s own words in chapter one.

Hosea 1 v 1

“The word of the Lord that came to Hosea the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.“

Hosea was called to proclaim to his people (Israel) the word of the Lord to bear witness against their apostasy (leaving their faith) and their corruption as a nation, and in preaching the judgment of God. The ungodliness and wickedness had become so great in God’s chosen people that the destruction of the kingdom was inevitable; and the degenerate (sinful) nation was obliged to be given up into the power of the Assyrians, the existing representatives of the heathen power of the world at that time.

But God the Lord has no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but that we should turn and live, He would not exterminate the rebellious tribes of the people of His possession from the earth,

Ezekiel 18 v 32

"For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,'' says the Lord God. Therefore turn and live!'' NKJ

So God in His mercy put them away from His face and would humble them deeply by severe and long continual chastisement, in order that He might bring them to a self-awareness of their great guilt and lead them to repentance, so that He might at length show grace and mercy upon them once more, and save them from everlasting destruction.

Consequently, the promises of YHWH go side by side with His ominous pronouncements of chastisement. God does not merely declare His LOVE but calls His nation to repentance and to acknowledge their sinfulness; so that He may forgive even faithlessness, for He seeks out those which have gone astray.

Hosea begins with the reality that YHWH must chastise His children, His nation, His people; but when Israel is corrected by chastisement, and returns in sorrow and repentance to the Lord its God Hosea reveals that Israel WILL HONOR GOD ONCE AGAIN WITH REVERETIAL FEAR and WILL ETERNALLY EXPERIENCE GOD’S GOODNESS IN THE LATTER DAYS!!!

Hosea 3 v 5

“Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.”

This prophetic pronouncement  is founded upon the unchallengeable character of the divine covenant of grace, and rising up to the thought that the Lord will also redeem ALL HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE from hell and save us all who LOVE Jesus Christ from death, and will destroy both death and sins power over His saintsl one day for-ever-more!!!!!!!

Hosea 13 v 14

“I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.”

That is a brief synopsis of the book of Hosea, but what do God’s words through Hosea have to do with us today, to our nation and to our citizens?

Hosea 10 v 1

“Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images.”

The Hebrew word we translate empty does not mean empty but rather worthless. Israel was bringing forth much fruit, but it was worthless because it WAS NOT THE RIGHT KIND OF FRUIT. As God prospered Israel, as Israel multiplied, and grew economically and in world power Israel became self-reliant and so it forgot its God (YHWH), and fell more and more into idolatry.

Hosea 2 v 10A

“And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers…”

Hosea 8 v 4, 11

“They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off.,…11.  Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin, altars shall be unto him to sin.”

According to the abundance of its fruit, Israel made many altars; and in proportion to its prosperity, it made pillars to Baal.

1 Kings 14 v 22-23

“And Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done. 23. For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree.”

Israel claimed to be obedient to their God, but the truth was THEY CHOSE TO WORSHIP IDOLS and WEALTH and POWER!!!

2 Kings 17 v 9-12

“And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.  10. And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree: 11. And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger: 12. For they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.”

Israel claimed to serve God, to serve righteousness, to be a moral people, but all their acts of religious ceremony and morality ONLY SERVED THEMSELVES and THEIR OWN SELF-DESIRES and LUSTS…

They had abandoned the “true” God, the “ONLY” God, and served graven images and wealth and greed, power and all manner of materialism.

Hosea 10 v 4-7

“They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant: thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field. 5.  The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Bethaven: for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the priests thereof that rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof, because it is departed from it. 6. It shall be also carried unto Assyria for a present to king Jareb: Ephraim shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel. 7. As for Samaria, her king is cut off as the foam upon the water.”

The people of Israel individually and collectively betrayed YHWH, by turning their focus on themselves and the lusts and desires of their own flesh. Most who were religious ONLY GAVE LIP SERVICE TO GOD, and really were not devoted to YHWH or living as HE HAD CALLED THEM TO LIVE.

They made covenants and peace agreements with nations that denied the “truth” and “reality” of YHWH only to have them broken by the ungodly nations or by themselves if it seemed to serve their purposes…

They rejected the LOVE of YHWH to follow false idols and to commit idolatrous adultery with others instead of LOVING YHWH!!!

Thus God was to chastise His people, to CALL THEM BACK TO TRUE REPENTANCE.

The sin of idolatry spread throughout the nation and kingdom of Israel like weeds through the furrows or channels of a field designed for great agricultural increase. Therefore the judgment will not be delayed, and is already approaching in so threatening a manner, that the inhabitants of Samaria tremble for the golden calves.

The people mourn not in humble repentance for their sins, but rather for the loss of their self-centered desires and adulterous and idolatrous lusts…


The people of Israel will be ashamed for their evil counsels and their kings will die…

Hosea 10 v 8-11

“The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed: the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars; and they shall say to the mountains, Cover us; and to the hills, Fall on us.  9. O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah: there they stood: the battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them. 10. It is in my desire that I should chastise them; and the people shall be gathered against them, when they shall bind themselves in their two furrows. 11. And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn; but I passed over upon her fair neck: I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods.”

God WILL CHASTISE THEM, He will destroy their idols and the temples of those worthless gods. The people will cry-out in utter agony pleading with their golden gods of materialism and humanism to end the chastisement even if they must die! ***But their idols can do nothing for there is but ONE GOD and YHWH IS HIS NAME!!!

Deuteronomy 4 v 35

“Unto thee it was showed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else beside him.”

Deuteronomy 4 v 39

“Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.”

Here in Deuteronomy the word Lord is literally YHWH…….

Daniel 3 v 29

"Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.”

Isaiah 44 v 6

“Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.”

Nothing absolutely nothing can save Israel but the ONE and ONLY GOD, and YHWH IS HIS NAME!!! ***YHWH in three persons, God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit; three yet one being…

Jesus said:

Revelation 1 v 8

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”

If that’s not clear enough for you, Jesus said:

John 10 v 30-31

“I and my Father are one. 31. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.”

The Jews went to stone Jesus because they unmistakably understood Jesus TO SAY HE WAS GOD!!!!!!!

*******THE ONLY GOD!!!*******

Finally as we are approaching our main text, God says as Ephraim (symbolic for the Northern Kingdom) will thoroughly be chastised so too will Judah (standing for the Southern Kingdom) be chastised for their idolatrous adultery; for Israel, the Jews as a whole have turned away from YHWH……To serve other things……

Hosea 10 v 12

“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.”

God through Hosea calls the individual and the nation of Israel as a whole to repentance. Though faithless, immoral, and consumed in the lusts of their own adultery, God cries out to them in His LOVE, GRACE and MERCY pleading with them to repent of their evil ways and to turn to righteousness in mind, body, and spirit. God says seek me, your hearts are like fallow (uncultivated) ground smothered in overgrown weeds, repent, till the soil of your hardened hearts with my word the Bible, seek me in prayer, fellowship with genuine believers, SEEK ME OUT, and YOU WILL RECEIVE MERCY, and I WILL CARE FOR YOU UNTIL I RAIN THE PRECIOUS CLEANSING WATERS ON YOU!!!

***When my Son Jesus Christ returns in the latter days of human history…

If all this sounds familiar it is because our nation HAS FALLEN INTO DEEP, DEEP SIN; WE AS A PEOPLE AS A NATION ARE ADULTERERS. We have turned our back on the God of our forefathers and have turned almost every one of us to idols of gold and sex and pantheism and humanistic theology and natural evolutionism!!! We have worshipped human wisdom and human science and the various philosophies’ of man and intellectualism; and have laughed in the face of God. We have said in our hearts THERE IS NO GOD, or GOD IS DEAD FOR-EVER-MORE……

Amen and Amen, WE ARE FREE TO DO AS WE IMAGINE IN OUR OWN HEARTS (as lustful and sinful as they are)!!!!!!

God is not in us, WE ARE GODS……

Sound familiar???

Isaiah 14 v 12-15

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13.  For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”

God tells us now, NOW IS THE TIME TO SEEK HIM!!!

Not tomorrow, not in just a few minutes, not next week or next month or next year, not after we’ve sown our wild oats; BUT RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!

Even the vast majority of professing Christians, just like the nation of Israel in the time of Hosea, even Israel now, HAS FALLEN INTO IDOLATRY; TRUSTING OTHER THINGS RATHER THAN YHWH, JESUS CHRIST!!!

“How dare you”, you say, the nation of Israel said the same to Hosea and to ALL the prophets of YHWH of old.

But it is not me speaking, it is God, it is Jesus Christ Himself proclaiming:

Luke 6 v 46

“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”

Matthew 4 v 4