A Diet of Distinction (Part One)

July 13, 2016 at 2:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.

Leviticus 11:1-8

Although the Old Testament law is in the Bible, and although it was given by God, not all of the Old Testament law is binding upon Christians today. A misunderstanding of the relevance, context, and application of Old Testament law breeds common claims of inconsistency among Bible skeptics, but we understand that there were different categories of law under the Mosaic Covenant.

Some of the laws were moral laws, such as the Ten Commandments. These laws are written upon the conscience of every human being, and they have applied at all times in all places for all people.

Some of the laws were ceremonial laws. These dealt with the Aaronic or Levitical priesthood and Tabernacle (later Temple) worship.

Some of the laws were civil laws. These were casuistic, or case law principles and precepts for governing relationships between people. They were “if, then” type laws.

Some of the laws were dietary laws. They promoted cleanliness and practical holiness, but they are no longer binding under the New Covenant.

On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

Acts 10:9-16

The ceremonial and sacrificial and dietary laws of the Old Covenant pointed to Christ and were fulfilled in Him.

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?

Colossians 2:16-22

Only the moral laws are considered binding under the New Covenant. The law of Christ is the law of love. True love never encourages, condones, or tolerates immorality, much less celebrates it.

However, the dietary laws, and the reasons for them, have much to teach us even to this day. These laws protected God’s people from uncleanness. They commanded purity. To some extent they were laws promoting good health and hygiene, but, more importantly, with so many laws stressing what not to eat, what not to touch, where not to go, what not to wear, God’s people would have a constant awareness of the ubiquity of sin.

If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

Genesis 4:7

In a fallen world, we need to be reminded of sin’s constant presence. In fact, as New Testament Christians, it would be good if we were even more conscious of, and afraid of, sin than the Old Testament Israelites were.

Furthermore, regardless of the “science” or the “common sense” behind the Old Testament dietary and hygiene laws, they were to be obeyed because “God said so,” and, for the Jewish people before the time when Christ fulfilled and did away with the ceremonial and dietary laws, it was sin for the people to break them.

In Part Two we will look at the role that the Israelites’ special diet played in God’s requirement for them to be “holy.”

Catechism Question 20

April 1, 2015 at 2:39 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism, II Corinthians | 2 Comments
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Question 14: What has God done for you so you can have eternal life?
Answer: He sent his Son.
Prove it.
John 3:16

Question 15: What did Jesus do while He was here on earth?
Answer: He lived a perfect, sinless life.
Prove it.
John 8:29

Question 16: How was Jesus treated here on earth?
Answer: He was hated, rejected, and falsely accused.
Prove it.
Isaiah 53:3

Question 17: How did Jesus die?
Answer: He was crucified.
Prove it.
John 19:18

Question 18: What happened to Jesus after He died?
Answer: He was buried and then rose again on the third day.
Prove it.
Acts 10:40

Question 19: Where is Jesus now?
Answer: He is in Heaven with God the Father.
Prove it.
Hebrews 10:12

Question 20: Why did Jesus do these things?
Answer: So God can forgive me for my sins.
Prove it.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:21

The motivation for Christ’s willingness to pay the price of forgiveness for the sins of His people has been touched on previously in John 3:16, which was the proof of the answer to Question 14. A child is more likely to identify with the simple, albeit amazing, truth that God loved us enough to send His Son to die in our place, and that the Son loved us enough to do so.

However, depending upon the age and comprehension of your child, you may also want to discuss the facets of the doctrine of justification which deal with the sinless sacrifice of the second person of the Deity Himself as the only means by which God could satisfy His justice, while still showing off His miraculous love, amazing grace, unending mercy, and glorious holiness.

In another, more limited, sense, God accomplished the salvation of His people in the Cross of Christ in order to fulfill His prophecies and to show His faithfulness and sovereignty and power by keeping His Word.

Other verses to consider:

To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

Acts 10:43

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Isaiah 1:18

Catechism Question 18

February 26, 2015 at 1:05 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism, Resurrection | 9 Comments
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Question 17: How did Jesus die?
Answer: He was crucified.
Prove it.

John 19:18

Question 18: What happened to Jesus after He died?
Answer: He was buried and then rose again on the third day.
Prove it.

Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;

Acts 10:40

A child who is familiar with CPR or some kind of medical resuscitation, or who perhaps has heard of someone in a coma making a recovery, may question the validity of Jesus’s death. In other words, “Did He really die?”

This is easily resolved from the Scriptures. Chapters 5-8 of the Book of Romans, as well as Chapter 14, stress the reality of Christ’s death emphatically.

Furthermore, the Gospel accounts tell us plainly that Jesus willingly laid down his life and truly died.

A child might also ask, “How did He come back to life?” The simplest answer to this is that God the Father raised up Christ (God the Son) by His power, but this is probably a good place to explain that Jesus died only as touching His humanity. He did not die as touching His Deity, for this would be an impossibility, because God has the immutable power of self-existence, and is eternal.

Other verses to consider:

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

I Corinthians 15:4

Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

Romans 6:9

Changing Names and Calling Names

July 17, 2009 at 9:56 am | Posted in Acts | 19 Comments
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In Acts Chapter 9 Saul of Tarsus meets Jesus Christ. When this happened Saul was charging down the road to Damascus like an angry bull. Why was he angry? His conscience was being pricked. He was under conviction. He had seen the witness of Stephen. Saul was very intelligent. He was very well-educated. He was very zealous for the Jewish faith, and very angry about anything that threatened it. He was very focused on his job, as a hunter of heretics. He was very self-righteous.

Saul had “wasted” many churches.

But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?

Acts 9:21

For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:

Galatians 1:13

But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.

Galatians 1:23

The Jewish council trusted him to go as far as Damascus. The Gospel had spread to Damascus – possibly because converts had fled there to escape persecution in Jerusalem. Saul had no doubt in his mind that Jesus of Nazareth was dead. In his heart? We don’t know.

Saul is commonly portrayed in Bible story books and church art as riding a horse just prior to his Damascus road experience. The fact is, the Bible does not tell us that Saul was riding a horse to Damascus, but if he was, the Lord knocked him off his “high horse,” so to speak.

And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

Acts 9:3-4

This light was so bright that it was bright at midday (Acts 26:13). All the men with him heard the sound of speaking, but only Saul understood the words. Now he knew that Jesus of Nazareth was alive. He had to re-think everything he believed in – everything for which he stood. In an instant, Saul became a new creation.

And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

Acts 9:8-9

He went from being an angry bull to being a docile lamb. For three days he fasted and prayed – and probably tried to sort out what this meant.

The Lord sent Ananias to him. (This is a different Ananias than the one who was killed for lying to the Holy Ghost.) All the Christians knew who Saul was, and feared him. He received his sight back, and he received the Holy Spirit.

Acts 9:15 sort of summarizes Saul’s/Paul’s life and ministry: “But the Lord said unto him [Ananais], Go thy way: for he [Saul] is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:”

Now the hunter became the hunted. And the hunter of men became the master soul-hunter.

Saul was at first rejected by the Jewish Christians because of his reputation and because of their experience with him. Also, by the time he was presented to them as a Christian, it had been three years since his conversion. He had probably been in Arabia during this time, being taught of God, witnessing, and suffering persecution.

Barnabas was the one who convinced the Jewish Christians that Paul really was an Apostle. Paul began to witness to the same Jews who had killed Stephen – so they plotted to kill Paul.

In Acts Chapter 10 we meet Cornelius, a Roman centurion and a “God-fearer.” Cornelius wanted to please God, so God sent him an angel. The angel told him to go and see Simon Peter.

We might ask ourselves why the angel didn’t just give him the Gospel message himself. The angels can carry God’s messages, but they have not experienced God’s grace in the same way that Christians have. The Gospel is not the same good news for them that it is for us. They have not been redeemed, and it is God’s plan that men share and preach the Gospel, not angels.

Peter was living in the home of a tanner, a person who worked with dead animal skins. This was remarkable for a Jew like Peter.

It is humorous to see that Peter was hungry, and he had a vision about food.

And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

Acts 10:10-15

Peter preached the Gospel to Cornelius, and he believed, and immediately the Holy Ghost fell on all them who believed. This was a special event. Now the Holy Ghost had been given to the Jews (Pentecost), the Samaritans (when Peter went after Philip preached), and the Gentiles. Peter the Apostle went to all three ethnic groups, and was the instrument through which God gave the Holy Ghost. Peter is the one to whom Jesus had given the “keys to the Kingdom.”

Note that these Gentiles received the Holy Ghost before they were baptized in water.

The other Apostles and Christians were a little upset with Peter when he got back, but he told them the whole story.

When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

Acts 11:18

And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

Acts 11:20-21

Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire, after Rome itself and Alexandria. The movers and shakers of Rome came for business and pleasure. This was the only city where the streets were lit at night (which would turn out to be kind of ominous for the Christians.) Antioch had a main street paved with marble. In such a cosmopolitan locale, you might expect the preaching of the Gospel to fall flat. Yet the witness of the Holy Spirit, through Godly believers preaching the Word, was very effective.

The church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas (whose name meant “the son of encouragement”) to encourage these gentile believers.

And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Acts 11:26

“Christian” has become such a common word today that it has lost some of its valuable impact. The people in Antioch used it the way we might call someone a “Little Christ.” It was a combination of the Hebrew Word for “Christ” with the Greek suffix “ian,” meaning “belonging to the party of.” It was an insult back then, but it was not a “vulgar” (common) term like it is today. When non-believers called them “Christians,” they knew that they had repented of their sins, believed the Gospel, and believed in the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God, and as the One True and Living God. Today, “Christian” is a vulgar term: It just means somebody who goes to church, at best – or somebody who is not a pagan, agnostic, or professing atheist, at worst.

Barnabus got Paul to help, knowing that he had been called to preach to the Gentiles. With a famine affecting Jerusalem, the gentile Christians in Antioch sent a special love offering back to the church in Jerusalem, from which had come the message that saved their souls. We need to remember to always try to provide for the physical needs of those who reached out to us when we were lost, and those who helped us grow in the faith.

Exposing the Enemy and Going Forth with the Truth

June 30, 2009 at 10:57 am | Posted in Acts | 20 Comments
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Acts Chapter 8 introduces us to Saul of Tarsus, who would become the Apostle Paul.

And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Acts 8:1

Saul saw Stephen stoned, and he approved of it. But you have to wonder if it affected him – if God used it to begin to prick his conscience.

And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Acts 9:5

Something was bothering Saul, stabbing at his conscience as he charged down the road to Damascus like an angry bull.

As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

Acts 8:2

He “wreaked havoc” on the early Church – tore it to pieces like a wild beast – the way Samson once did to a lion (which normally tears the lamb.) But the early Church was empowered by the Lamb of God; persecution only caused it to grow.

Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

Acts 8:4-5

Philip went to Samaria. The Samaritans were half-Jewish and half-Gentile. When the Assyrians had conquered the northern tribes of Israel, they brought in people to intermarry. The Samaritans were the second ethnic group in Acts upon which God poured His Spirit.

Philip’s revelations were confirmed by special miracles for a special ethnic group.

But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:

Acts 8:9

Simon was doing satanic miracles; Philip was doing God-empowered miracles.

To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.

Acts 8:10-11

Simon’s miracles bewitched the people; Philip’s preaching set them free.

Satan got Simon to infiltrate Philip’s ministry.

And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

Acts 8:18-20

The laying-on of hands is there in Chapter 8, but not in Chapter 10 when the Gentiles receive the Holy Ghost. Laying-on of hands is not necessary for Spirit baptism – and notice that only the Apostles could do it. There is only one prerequisite for Spirit-baptism: Salvation.

Simon the sorcerer has a word named for him: simony. Simony is the buying and selling of church offices. Simon was willing to pay for the ability to lay hands on people and impart the Holy Spirit to them. There is much division and confusion and strife about this among the professing Christian church today, and, obviously, if you read this, you can do what you want, but I would be very careful about paying money – whether you call it a “love offering” or “sowing a seed” or whatever – for some “anointed” object.

Peter was very good at ferreting out Satan, and he spoke harshly to Satan’s secret agents when they were exposed. When he exposed Ananias, Peter asked him, “Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?” (Acts 5:3) He told Simon:

Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

Acts 8:22-23

It is possible that Ananias and Sapphira would have destroyed the church in Jerusalem, and likewise Simon could have destroyed the church in Samaria. It may be that Peter was so good at spotting Satan’s infiltration tactics because of his past experience with Satan trying to infiltrate the disciples through Peter himself.

But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Matthew 16:23

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

Luke 22:31-32

Acts Chapter 8 also contains the important account of the Ethiopian eunuch. This Ethiopian servant would have been wealthy – he was riding in a fancy chariot. And it may be that he was not a real “eunuch” in the modern sense of the term, but rather a high-ranking servant who had retained the name. In any event, he had a scroll of Isaiah – which would have been very rare to have in those days. He apparently had an interest in being a Jewish proselyte. However, if he was in fact a real “eunuch,” he would have been barred from temple worship due to his physical mutilation. He could have still been what was known as a “God-fearer” (this is what Cornelius was). God-fearers were Gentiles who tried to observe the Jewish laws and rites, even though they could not be true Jews. Joseph pretended to be an Old Testament example of this. He gave his brothers a hint when he sent them home, saying, “This do and live; for I fear God.” (Genesis 42:18)

And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

Acts 8:30

The Ethiopian was reading from Isaiah 53:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

Isaiah 53:7-8

This passage of Scripture deals with the Messiah as a substitutionary sacrifice.

Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Acts 8:35-39

Please note that the Ethiopian had to be saved before he could be baptized.

Philip was “caught away” – this implies a supernatural phenomenon. He ended up at Azotus, and then preached his way back to Caesarea – about 60 miles. There are few spiritual events that will energize your Christian life like leading someone to the Lord and seeing him saved.


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