A Diet of Distinction (Part 3)

August 25, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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In Part One, we considered God’s dietary laws under the Old Testament and their fulfillment/abolition under the New Testament. In Part Two I tried to expound upon some of the reasons for the Old Covenant prohibition against eating unclean animals, and to apply, not the letter of the Law, but the principles, to God’s people today. God’s people were/are to be:

A. Clean Cut, meaning they were to be separate from their pagan neighbors in their devotion to the One True God, and in how they lived their daily lives, including what they ate. (Leviticus 11:44; II Corinthians 6:14-18). They were/are to be:

1. Distinct in calling and conduct (I Corinthians 10:31)
2. Distinct in conscience (Psalm 139:7-12)
3. Distinct in creeds (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
4. Distinct in communication (Colossians 3:8; Proverbs 14:9)

Now we will see that God’s people were/are to have a:

B. Clean Consistency

When it came to quadrupeds, the clean animals were animals that met two criteria:

Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.

Leviticus 11:3

They had to have both: a cloven hoof and a multi-chambered stomach. Some animals had one or the other, and these would be unclean. For example, the camel:

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.

Leviticus 11:4

This is a picture of some Christians. They “chew the cud.” They enjoy chewing and stewing on the Word of God. They love to learn Scripture and Bible doctrine. But there is a problem with their “hooves” – their feet – the way they walk. It doesn’t match up to what they are learning. They are hearers but not doers.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

James 1:22

They are ever learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.

Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

II Timothy 3:4-7

For in truth doctrine is never divorced from duty. We study Scripture in order to know God, and when we meet God, He tells us to “go.”

There is an opposite example, too, though: the pig.

And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.

Leviticus 11:7

He appears to be okay in his walk, but he’s not really clean. Some church people are like this, too. They appear to be walking with God, but they don’t want to be equipped. They don’t want to invest the time or the patience to hear what is truly pleasing to God. They think they will stay busy and please God their own way. Don’t get too busy – or think you’re too advanced – to humble yourself under the preaching and the teaching of the Word of God.

A true pig has a pig-like nature. He can never stop wallowing on his own filth. He needs to be changed from a pig to a man by the miraculous power of God.

The Top Ten

December 8, 2014 at 2:57 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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On December 2, 2014, The Deep End surpassed an impressive (just to me) number for all-time views. It still baffles me a little after all this time to think that people are reading the posts here on a fairly regular basis. Thank you to those who subscribe and/or follow. Of course, any good that comes of it is due completely to the Lord, and I praise and honor and thank Him for allowing me to continue studying the Bible and writing about it here.

I do understand, too, that clicking on or “viewing” a post is not an automatic indicator that someone has read it, but, in honor of the occasion, I thought I would provide links to the ten blog posts that have received the highest number of views.

1. Teaching the 3rd and 4th Commandments to Children (see commentary here)
2. How Tall Was Jesus?
3. Strange Weapons Lesson 3: The Pitcher (factual summary)
4. What the Bible Says about Neighbors
5. You Can’t Get Blood from a Turnip
6. Parallelism in Psalms
7. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
8. Different Types of Burdens
9. Stand Your Ground
10. Explaining the Meaning of Biblical “Authority” to Children

Catching My Breath in the Deep End

July 23, 2014 at 2:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I’m taking a short break for a week or so from posting on The Deep End, but since (believe it or not) I do have regular readers and subscribers, I didn’t want anyone to think I had gone under for good. By the way, if you are one of those regular readers or subscribers, or even an occasional passer-by, or someone who shares some of the posts here from time to time, let me say a big “thank you.” I really appreciate it.

Feel free to take this opportunity to catch up on some of the categories you might have missed, such as an especially relevant overview of the story of Naboth’s vineyard called Arise, the Quarterback Commandments (with football season just around the corner), some random rants called I’m Just Sayin’, or The S.H.A.R.K. Principle (in honor of “Shark Week”).

Any comments will most likely be held in moderation until next week. Enjoy!

Where Is Jesus in the Bible? (lesson 1)

June 20, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Posted in Biblical Teaching, Luke | 6 Comments
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If I were to ask you to tell me a good place in the Bible to find out about Jesus, what would you say? The first four books of the New Testament are probably what come to mind. “The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John” would probably be a common answer. But let’s see what Jesus Himself had to say:

And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.

Luke 24:13-15

This happened right after Jesus’s Resurrection.

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:27

One of the first things Jesus wanted to do after His Resurrection was have a Bible study. He showed these two disciples on the road to Emmaus all the places in the Bible where He could be found, going all the way from Genesis through the end of the Old Testament.

Then Jesus went to show His closest disciples that He had come back from the grave.

And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

Luke 24:44-45

This is very important because the Bible is very important. As a Christian you are responsible for not just reading the Bible, but for understanding the Bible.

The Pharisees were the religious leaders of Jesus’s day, and they did not like Jesus – in part because He told the truth, and the Truth was that He was the Son of God, and that, because He was the Son of God, they would have to submit to Him. So they were always trying to get Him to do something to prove He really was from God, thinking that, when He failed, they could disprove Him. Here’s what Jesus said to them:

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

John 5:39

It was as if He said to them, “You are supposed to be the Bible teachers! And you don’t even know what (Who) the Bible is about?!”

I said earlier that you are responsible for understanding the Bible, and that should concern you, because it’s not always easy to understand. In some places it’s almost like a code. Here’s a simple code to illustrate the point:

I w2nt 2ll the 2l2rms in 2tl2nt2.

You can probably figure it out, but if you were stumped, you would need the “key” to understand the code, so I would give you the key: 2=A. And that makes it simple!

So where is Jesus in the Bible? Remember, at the time that Jesus said these things that we have read in Luke and John, there was no Luke and John, or anything else in the Bible after Malachi. But to the question, “Where is Jesus in the Bible?” the answer is, “Everywhere!”

We will look at some specific examples in lesson 2.

How to Read the Bible (and Get Something out of It): Part 3

May 7, 2014 at 9:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Previously I discussed some of the exciting things about reading the Bible. Be patient with the Bible. Some sections are like a torrid novel (there are even some scandalous passages!), but some parts are more like the terse outline in a study guide for a history exam. Other sections are beautiful poetry. Take some time to figure out what genre you are reading. The Bible has an unlimited depth. The more you learn, the more you will want to know. And the more you want to know, the more fascinated you will be. Here are some practical tips for getting more out of your Bible-reading:

1. Remember the truthfulness of it.

Thy word [is] true [from] the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments [endureth] for ever.

Psalm 119:160

The Bible is unique in this respect. It is absolutely true in every circumstance and situation. It is the Word of God, and God cannot lie, and He cannot change. Therefore, His Word cannot be wrong, and it does not become outdated. Everything else you hear is susceptible to being (and often is) a lie. The Bible is the “verily verily” of God – the “true truth.” You can depend on it and rely on it, even when everything around you and “common sense” seem to indicate otherwise.

… yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

Romans 3:4

2. Reacquaint yourself with God in it.

Some people only have a second-hand knowledge of God. You know Him through your parents. You know Him through sermons. Your main experience of Him is through praise and worship. It’s time you get to know Him better – in the Bible.

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

II Peter 1:3

We know that God is loving, just, merciful, gracious, wise, and powerful, because He tells us these things about Himself, and He has recorded Himself demonstrating these things in the Bible. Can you imagine your spouse, child, or favorite person in the world giving you a letter telling you their most important thoughts, and telling you what they are truly like, and you don’t bother to read it? God has demonstrated His love and His care for us in the highest way conceivable. How can we not want to find out as much as we can about Him?

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Acts 17:11

3. Recognize yourself in it.

The seeker-sensitive cliche’ “it’s not about you” is true, in a sense. But in another sense, it is about you. The Bible is where we learn how we got here and what our reason for existing is. A good hermeneutic principle to follow is to picture yourself as the sinner in every Bible story you read.

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:11-15 (emphasis added)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16 (emphasis added)

You are in the Bible in one of those two verses. If you are truly a Christian, then you are a “whosoever” in John 3:16. If you have never trusted Christ as your Savior, then you remain one of the “whosoevers” in Revelation 20:15, and I plead with you to ask the Lord to change your status today.

Why I Don’t Go to Adult Sunday School

January 30, 2014 at 5:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments
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1. Even though I can make it to work on time, get my kids up and dressed in time for school during the week, and be early enough to have time to buy popcorn and snacks when I go to the movies, there is no way I can get up, get the whole family dressed, and be on time for Sunday School on Sunday mornings.

2. The teacher keeps inviting me to class, which makes me feel embarrassed, so I’m not going.

3. The teacher doesn’t invite me often enough, which makes me feel unwanted, so I’m not going.

4. Even though the systematic study of the Bible with other believers in a local New Testament church is necessary for spiritual growth, that doesn’t apply to me. Because I’m special like that.

5. I’m really tired from having fun on Saturday, and having fun on Saturday is way more important than Sunday School – just like Jesus never said.

6. I’ve already been saved and baptized, so obedience to God is no longer necessary – just like Jesus never said.

7. It’s okay if I stay home and watch a church program on television – just like Jesus never said.

8. Even though the Bible clearly tells me that I need to attend, I’m waiting on some mystical, non-specific, open-to-my-personal-interpretation sign from God that He wants me to go. In other words, God hasn’t “laid it on my heart” to go to Sunday School.

9. If I went to Sunday School I just know I would feel “judged.” And, boy, do I hate feeling judged.

10. There would be some hypocrites in the class I’m supposed to join, and I prefer to go to places where there are no hypocrites present – like Wal-Mart – and the mall – and sporting events – and family reunions – and my workplace.

If you have read this far, you will note that I did not include the following excuses:

1. I had to work.
2. Personal illness or illness in my family.
3. Traveling out of town this week.
4. Car wouldn’t start.
5. Home or family emergency.

These are actually reasons, not excuses, and, therefore, if you have a valid reason for not attending adult Sunday School, this post was not really directed at you.

The Bible on Trial

April 8, 2013 at 10:07 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 8 Comments
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In the previous lesson on Psalm 119 I stated that the purpose of Bible study is to know God better. Martin Luther had a helpful teaching on the use of Scripture in this area. He started off with oratio: speaking to God (prayer).

Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.

Psalm 119:36 (emphasis added)

Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

Psalm 119:18 (emphasis added)

Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.

Psalm 119:27 (emphasis added)

When preparing to read the Bible, ask God to incline your heart toward Him. Apart from His grace and power our hearts are not naturally inclined to the things of God. Our fallen and sinful flesh has a bent or perverted inclination. It is at worst bent toward rebellion and defiance, and at best toward idolatry of self and the feeding of our lusts.

Luther would then move from oratio to meditatio: meditation (deep-thinking) upon the Scripture.

And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.

Psalm 119:47-48 (emphasis added)

Meditation must not be based on drudgery. It is tied to delight. Approach Bible study with a sense of wonder and fascination, expecting the Holy Spirit to show you something thrilling, practical, useful, and transcendent.

Luther then moved from oratio (prayer) and meditatio (meditation), and, when I studied this, I was surprised at what came next. After praying over the Word and mediating upon the Word, I expected Luther to advocate doing the Word. But that’s not what came next. What came next was tentatio: trials and/or temptation.

Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.

Psalm 119:67-68 (emphasis added)

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.

Psalm 119:71 (emphasis added)

God’s Word becomes sweet and valuable and magnificent when it is all you have to stand on. This is supernatural. In our finite human thinking we might imagine that it would be depressing to have nothing more than a book to guide us through our suffering and trials, but God has infused power into this Book. My old Sunday School teacher used to have this advice for anyone who told him they were having trouble understanding their Bible: “Keep reading.” That may have been the best piece of Bible-study advice I ever received.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

This is the “right thing” (God’s Word) in the “right place” (my heart) for the “right reason” (that I might not sin against God).

These words were written by a Christian who was going through severe tentatio for his faithfulness to the Lord:

I never had in all my life so great an inlet into the Word of God as now in prison. Those scriptures that I saw nothing in before were made in this place and state to shine upon me. Jesus Christ also was never more real and apparent than now. Here I have seen Him and felt Him indeed. . . I have had sweet sights of the forgiveness of my sins in this place, and of my being with Jesus in another world. . . I have seen that here that I am persuaded I shall never, while in this world, be able to express.

John Bunyan

The Word for Sinners

March 13, 2013 at 8:41 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 7 Comments
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A good practical method for studying the Bible is to put yourself in the place of the “sinner” in every Bible story. Of course, every person in the Bible was a sinner except for Jesus, but what I mean is, avoid the temptation to compare yourself to Abel, for example. Rather, think about Cain as you study Genesis Chapter 4 and ask yourself, Do I struggle at times with unrighteous anger? Do I have a tendency to worship God the way I like to worship, rather than the way He likes to be worshiped? If two characters in a Bible story are contrasted for obedience and rebellion, see yourself as the rebel and ask God for forgiveness and deliverance. If there are two sinners in a Bible story, picture yourself as both of them (Adam and Eve). If there are a bunch of sinners in a Bible story, picture yourself as all of them (the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness). The Bible helps us to have a teachable spirit.

Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.

Psalm 119:12

I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

Psalm 119:15-16 (emphasis added)

Delight leads to love, which leads to meditation, which leads to delight, which leads back to love, which leads to back to meditation. Study a verse with this attitude, and pretty soon you’ll have it memorized!

Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

Psalm 119:18

All Christians must be students of the Word.

Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.

Psalm 119:21

Wandering from the Word takes you into the enemy’s camp.

Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.

Psalm 119:29-30 (emphasis added)

If we don’t walk in God’s Truth, we are walking in the enemy’s deception.

HE. Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.

Psalm 119:33-34

The purpose of Bible study is to know God better. The Word of God shows us the God of the Word. God speaks to us through His Word. Do you love God? He’s written 66 love letters combined into one big book. If you love Him, you will read it. If you are not listening to God’s Word, you are by default listening to the devil.

For What Are You Hungry?

December 9, 2011 at 10:49 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Jeremiah | 10 Comments
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Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

Jeremiah 15:16

I enjoy eating. I like the taste of delicious food in my mouth. I like the act of tasting and chewing and swallowing. I like the feeling of satisfaction that comes with hunger being satiated. But the real benefit of eating is what happens to the food after I consume it. It goes down to the innermost parts of me. It gives me strength and energy and helps to keep me healthy. When I was younger it even helped me to grow.

How is the Bible like food? Like eating, Bible reading is something that can be observed externally, but the real benefits of it happen on the inside – when what we read goes down into our innermost parts. The nutrients in the food we eat actually become a part of who we are. In the same way, earnest and diligent Bible study causes God’s Word to become a part of who you are.

Whether you enjoy the food you eat usually depends on two factors:

1. How hungry are you? People that think they already have all the answers typically do not enjoy reading the Bible all that much. Those who realize they need help from someone wiser than themselves have a hunger for God’s Word.

2. How does it taste? Some food tastes good, so obviously it is enjoyable to eat. Some food tastes bad, but it’s still good for you. There are passages of Scripture containing comforting promises from the Lord that can be downright delicious. We savor them and read them over and over again. There are some passages that taste like your most-hated vegetable casserole or a bottle of liquid antibiotics because they speak directly to your sin and they tell you the unpleasant truth about yourself. The “enjoyment” in these types of verses derives from their ultimate benefits, not their current “taste.”

Just as food can satisfy physical hunger, Bible-reading can bring great joy. Just as food gives you energy, the Holy Scriptures motivate us to service. Proper nutrition keeps us physically healthy; Bible study helps keep us spiritually healthy. Food makes children grow. The Bible helps God’s children (along with the “spiritual exercise” of ministry) to grow into spiritual maturity. It is good for a Christian to “fast” once in a while by abstaining from physical food in order to concentrate on prayer and devotion to God, but we need to make sure that we are sitting down each and every day to a balanced meal of Biblical promises, encouragements, exhortations, rebukes, instructions, admonitions, and commands.

And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

Luke 4:4

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

Psalm 34:8

Things New and Old

October 12, 2011 at 11:49 am | Posted in Biblical Teaching, Matthew | 6 Comments
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Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

Matthew 13:51-52

I have read this passage of Scripture so many times, but it still surprises me that the disciples could say “yes” when Jesus asked them if they had understood everything He said. Over 2000 years later we are still studying, but that’s the job of a Bible teacher – to be instructed in the Kingdom of Heaven – to learn from the Bible and to bring out of it treasures both new and old.

We are supposed to be reinforcing the great truths that have been taught since the beginning, but every time they are taught, these “old” truths are new to someone.

Furthermore, we are teaching new and old truths to new and old students. Some Christians are “new” as to their age, and some are “old” in years. Some are “new” to the Christian faith, and some have been Christians for many years. We learn more and more about God every week, and He never gets “old.” Is it possible that your spiritual life has become routine? You attend church. Maybe you pray at home and have devotions at home. Maybe you tithe and live a somewhat holy life. You don’t get drunk or swear or abuse your spouse. You are living on “old” things that you got settled early in your walk with Christ. Old things are good, but they become familiar. Familiarity costs us our sense of “awe.” You are going to lose your sense of awe and excitement about the Bible unless you are willing to take a dare. Take a chance by committing more of your time, talents, resources, effort, and gifts to the Lord. Ask Him to excite you as you as you study His Word. Neither the God of the Word, nor the Word of our God are ever boring or dry. They contain treasures – and few things are more exciting than discovering treasure!

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