Archive for January, 2008

If I be lifted up John 12:32

Saturday, January 26th, 2008 at 11:36 pm

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. John 12:32

This verse is frequently taken out of context. In fact, a popular upcoming conference is using the phrase as its main theme – and using it out of context. The theme of the conference is exalting and proclaiming the Lord Jesus Christ. While we are supposed to exalt and proclaim Christ, the context of this passage is not saying that. Let’s look at the context and the meaning will be made clear.

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die. John 12:32-33

Jesus is clearly talking about being lifted up on the cross to die. Jesus was not telling us to exalt him or to proclaim him in this passage.

So what’s the big deal? What does it matter if this passage is being misused to teach something that the Bible does teach in other places? The people holding the conference that misuses this passage also teach against the modern versions because they say the modern versions are changing what God had said. But taking a verse out of context and using it to teach something it doesn’t say is in fact doing the same thing they claim the modern versions are doing. When Jesus said “if I be lifted up” to describe the type of death he would suffer and then you use that verse to say Jesus told us to exalt him or proclaim him, you are changing what God said. You are no different than the crowd you criticize and condemn.

Taking verses out of context is a very serious problem. Changing what God says by taking a verse out of context is just as serious as changing the very words themselves. We’ve been told that we should separate from those who change God’s word – that those people are false teachers. Shouldn’t we then also separate from those who take verses out of context and have become false teachers?

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by gahammerle

Abstain from all appearance of evil 1 Thessalonians 5:22

Thursday, January 24th, 2008 at 10:07 pm

Abstain from all appearance of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22

Many times, I have heard this verse used to warn Christians to avoid doing those things that might cause others to think you are sinning – to avoid those things that might have the semblance of sin. For instance, we have been warned to not go to eat at places that serve alcohol because someone might see you and assume you were getting drunk. If this is what the verse means, a Christian could hardly function in this world. So many of the places we go and the things we do could be mistakenly interpreted as sin. Even the Lord Jesus Christ did things that made others accuse him of sinning. He healed on the sabbath. He hung out with all kinds of sinners: winebibbers, prostitutes, publicans. He went to their homes and ate with them. Who knows what was going on in there?

We need to remember the context to understand what it means to abstain from all appearance of evil. Let’s look at the two preceding verses as well:

Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22

The preceding context is that of prophesying – or the preaching of what “thus saith the Lord.” Then we are told to prove all things and hold fast that which is good. In other words, don’t just blindly accept the words when someone claims to be speaking for God. We are to test (prove) what was said – like the Bereans. Then after we have tested the spoken words by the written word, we are to hold fast or keep that which is good or that which is line with the scriptures. This is where the abstaining from all appearance of evil fits. After we test the spoken word, if we find it does not fit with the scriptures, we are to abstain from it – to keep away from it. God warns us not to add to or take away from his word. When someone claims to be speaking for God and it does not agree with the scriptures, then that is evil and we should stay away from that – to abstain from what that man has said.

We are commanded in many places to beware of false teachers, to earnestly contend for the faith, to keep the word of God. We must not blindly follow any man. We must prove what he says by the truth – by the word of God.

If a man’s preaching does not agree with scripture, then abstain from him.

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by gahammerle

The price of a field

Friday, January 4th, 2008 at 9:46 pm

In the Old Testament, we read the account of Ahab and Naboth.

And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And Ahab spoke unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread. But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread? And he said unto her, Because I spoke unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard. And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth. And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people: And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die. And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them. They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people. And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died. Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead. And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead. And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it. 1 Kings 21:1-16

Ahab desired Naboth’s field. However, Naboth was unwilling to be bought. He wanted to maintain the integrity of his family’s inheritance. In the end, though, Naboth’s field cost him his life. He paid for it with his blood being shed. His death came at the hands of false witnesses who claimed he blasphemed God.

In the New Testament, we see another field that cost a man his life.

Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me. Matthew 27:3-10

The potter’s field cost Jesus his life. He paid for it with his blood being shed. The reason Jesus died was to provide an inheritance incorruptible to those who are the children of his father. His death came at the hands of false witnesses who claimed he blasphemed God.

1 Kings 21 is yet another Old Testament scripture that is a shadow of the Messiah.

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by gahammerle

The cloud of witnesses

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008 at 4:51 pm

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

This passage is oftentimes misunderstood. Many times I have heard people use this verse to say that those who have gone on before us are up in Heaven looking down upon us and witnessing what we are doing. I’ve even heard this passage misused in attempts to influence or control people’s behavior. A guilt trip is placed upon the hearer by saying something along the lines of “what do you think so and so thinks of you when they look down from Heaven and see you doing that?” If those in Heaven are in fact watching what we do, this passage does not describe that.

This verse comes on the heals of Hebrews 11, the Hall of Faith and Works, where many saints from the Old Testament are listed and we are told about their great faith, the works their faith produced, and the good report they obtained. Hebrews 12:1-2 then encourages us to run the race that is set before us. Are we to run this race because all these Old Testament saints are watching us – witnessing what we do – and we should be motivated by our desire to not disappoint them? No. We are to run the race because the testimony of these Old Testaments saints witnesses to us that living by faith will result in a good report – and in fact some better thing for us (Hebrews 11:39-40).

The great cloud of witnesses do not witness what we do, but rather their testimony is a witness to us of the value and benefit of living by faith.

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by gahammerle