Monday, December 31, 2007

DOES PSALM 145:9 TEACH COMMON GRACE?


God’s "tender mercies are over all his works," according to Psalm 145:9. Advocates of "common grace" reckon that "all [God’s] works" here refer to everybody head for head, including the reprobate.


But immediately the next verse declares, "All thy works shall praise thee" (Psalm 10a). The reprobate do not praise God, and so they cannot be the objects of God’s "tender mercies" (Verse 9). According to Hebrew parallelism, "thy saints shall bless thee" (Psalm 145:10b) defines God’s works here as His holy people created by His sovereign grace in Jesus Christ (Isaiah 19:25; 29:23; 45:11; Ephesians 2:10), the citizens of the gracious kingdom of God, the subject of Psalm 145.

Let us have the Hebrew parallelism of Psalm 145:9-10 clearly before us:

[Psalm 145:9a] The Lord is good to all:

[Psalm 145:9b] and his tender mercies are over all his works.

[Psalm 145:10a] All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord;

[Psalm 145:10b] and thy saints shall bless thee.

"All" (Psalm 145:9a) and "all [God’s] works" (Psalm 145:9b, 10a) and God’s "saints" (Psalm 145:10b) refer to the same group, God’s holy people who are new creatures in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10). The eternal, unchangeable and faithful Jehovah is good to "all" of them (Psalm 145:9a) and they are the objects of His covenantal "tender mercies" (Psalm 145:9b). Knowing God’s goodness and tender mercies, all of His holy people "praise" (Psalm 145:10a) and "bless" (Psalm 145:10b) Him, and "speak of the glory of [His] kingdom, and talk of [His] power" (Psalm 145:11).

Notice that Psalm 145 opens by extolling the ever-blessed God as "king" (Verse 1). Four times this psalm uses the word "kingdom" (Psalm 145:11-13) and once it refers to His "dominion" which "endureth through all generations" (Psalm 145:13). God’s "kingdom" is glorious, majestic and everlasting (Psalm 145:11-13). It is the topic of conversation and the subject of divine praise for the "saints" (Psalm 145:10) who "speak of," "talk of" and "make known" (Verses 11-12) the "glory" of God’s kingdom, yea, its "glorious majesty" (Verses 11-12). In this kingdom, God’s "power" and "mighty acts" (Verses 11-12) are known and revered.


Similarly, Jehovah’s "works," "mighty acts," "wondrous works" and "terrible acts" (Psalm 145:4-6) are also in the service of the "king" (Verse 1) and His kingdom (Psalm 145:11-13) and are so many reasons for the church of all ages to worship Him (Psalm 145:4-6): "One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts" (Psalm 145:4).


We gladly remember God’s "great goodness" and "sing" of His "righteousness" (Verse 7). We bless Him for his ethical perfections: "The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger of great mercy" (Psalm 145:8).

This is seen in Jehovah’s government of His "everlasting kingdom" (Verse 13), for He "upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down" (Psalm 145:14) and He "is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth" (Psalm 145:18).

Thus He fulfils the desire of, hears the cry of, and saves those "that fear him" (Verse 19) and provides food for all, to serve the interests of His kingdom (See verses 15-16).

Thus in the whole of Psalm 145, David (preface) and "all God’s works," that is His "saints" (Verses 9-10), praise God the king for the mighty acts and glorious majesty and tender mercies shown in setting up and maintaining His kingdom. This is the same kingdom that Jesus Christ preached in His public ministry and established in the blood of His cross and which He governs and defends from His throne at God’s right hand—the same kingdom more fully revealed in the pages of the New Testament. The context of Psalm 145, as well as the Hebrew parallelism in verses 9-10, ought to have kept some from reading "common grace" into Psalm 145:9.

Moreover, if we would follow the eisegesis of those who believe that "all [God’s] works" in Psalm 145:9 include every human being bar none, we would also be forced to conclude that the same would apply to "every living thing" in verse 16. But if we grant this, this would necessarily require us to believe that God "satisfies the desire" for food (Psalm 145:15-16) of every human being in the history of the world—yet we know that thousands have died, and still die, by hunger. Also, "every living thing" is said to "wait upon" God for food (Psalm 145:15). This may well include animals, birds and fish (Psalm 104:21, 25-28), as well as God’s children who seek from Him alone their daily bread. But the reprobate are unbelievers; they do not truly wait upon or pray to God for food in faith!

The exegetical method of those who hold to "common grace" leads to absurdities in Psalm 145, both as regards verses 9-10 and verses 15-16, as well as missing the meaning of the psalm as whole. Let us not isolate parts of verses to make them say what we think they say, but let us interpret Scripture with Scripture. If we do that with this psalm, we cannot but conclude that the theory of a "common grace" for elect and reprobate is not in view here at all. Instead, Psalm 145 praises God for revealing His might (See verses 4-6, 11-13) and goodness (verses 7-9) and nearness (See verses 14 and 18-19) in His glorious kingdom. Verse 20 summarizes for us God’s attitude and will towards the two antithetical, spiritual peoples: "The Lord preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy."


Why?

The holy and unchangeable God of the kingdom "is righteous in all his ways" (Psalm 145:17).

By Angus Stewart

WAS CAIN A RECIPIENT OF COMMON GRACE?


Reprobate Cain was a child "of the devil" (1 John 3:10), who "slew his brother" because his "works were evil" (1 John 3:12). Thus Cain was an "abomination to the Lord" (Proverbs 3:32; 11:20; 16:5), as was everything about him: his "hands" (Proverbs 6:16-17), his "lying lips" (Proverbs 12:22), his "thoughts" (Proverbs 15:26), his "sacrifice" and his "way" (Proverbs 15:8-9).

God spoke with Cain (Genesis 4:6-7, 9-15) — a rational-moral creature—laying before him the ways of life and of death (see Genesis 4:6-7) and explaining his evil deed of fratricide (see Genesis 4:9-10), thus leaving him "without excuse" (Romans 1:20). So far was God from bestowing "common grace" upon Cain that He did not bless him, but cursed him (Genesis 4:11-12)!

God marked Cain so that no man would kill him (see Genesis 4:15). Cain’s prolonged life meant that he heaped up more wrath to himself (Romans 2:5). God willed Cain’s continuance on earth for some years so that the line of the reprobate would continue and develop in sin (see Genesis 4) over against the line of the elect (Genesis 5).

Nor were Cain’s city building (see Genesis 4:17) or the riches, artistic talent and technological advances of his descendants (see Genesis 4:20-22) signs of God’s love for the reprobate. God’s purpose "when all the workers of iniquity do flourish" (including Cain and his seed with their earthly prosperity) is "that they shall be destroyed forever" (Psalm 92:7). God does not immediately cut off the wicked for He is digging the pit for them (Psalm 94:13) — just as He did with Cain, that child of the devil, who killed the first martyr, Abel, his own brother
(1 John 3:10-12)!


By Angus Stewart

COMMON GRACE


We reject common grace on the basis of the Word of God. Common grace teaches that God loves the reprobate, but the Scriptures proclaim that “the Lord abhorreth” “the covetous” (Psalm 10:4). The Psalmist declares of God: “thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (Psalm 5:5).

God does not hate the sin but love the sinner!

Moreover, “the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth” (Psalm 11:5). Here is the intensity of God’s aversion to the reprobate: his very soul—all that He is—detests him. Thus Jehovah “shall rain snares, fire and brimstone” upon him (Psalm 11:6).

Common grace teaches that the good things which the reprobate receive in this life are proof of God’s love for them. This was Asaph’s mistake, and it is the mistake of many. In “the sanctuary of God” (Psalm 73:17), Asaph came to understand that “the prosperity of the wicked” (3)—their health (4), food (7), riches (12)—was “surely” God’s setting them “in slippery places” before He casts “them down into destruction” (18). God gave them good things in His providence, but He “despised” them (20) for their wickedness (8).

Solomon, the wisest of men, declared, “The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked” (Proverbs 3:33). All the good things in his house—wife, children, possessions, food etc.—come not with God’s love but with His curse.

Some people say that we reject common grace on the basis of inferences drawn from the eternal predestinating council of God. But God’s revealed truth of predestination is not the only doctrine that militates against common grace. Against God’s unity (Deuteronomy 6:4), common grace teaches that God has two loves, two mercies, two lovingkindnesses, etc. Against God’s immutability (Malachi 3:6), common grace teaches that God loves the reprobate in time and then hates them in eternity. Against the divine righteousness, which is so great that God cannot “look on iniquity” (Habakkuk 1:13), common grace says that God loves those who are completely evil (Romans 3:10-18). In short, common grace postulates a temporary, limited, changeable, unrighteous love of God (outside of Jesus Christ!) for the reprobate. But the Scriptures teach us that God loves Himself, and that He loves His elect church (Ephesians 5:25) with a particular (Romans 9:18), eternal (Jeremiah 31:3), infinite (Ephesians 3:17-19), unchangeable (Psalm 136) love in Jesus Christ.

This initial error of a love of God for the reprobate is being used by many (including professed Calvinists) to erode the antithesis (Genesis 3:15), to soften total depravity, to compromise particular atonement, to preach a desire of God to save the reprobate, to silence and (then) deny unconditional reprobation and election, to refuse to condemn Arminianism and its teachers, and to enable fellowship with Arminians.

By Angus Stewart

Saturday, November 10, 2007

MODEST DRESS OF CHRISTIAN FEMALES


During the course of a sermon, a "pastor" (loosely-termed) came to 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and read it in the KJV: "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works."

Instead of exegeting the passage, this pastor said, "I'm not going to touch this one with a ten-foot pole." This is a true story; I heard him say it on tape.

Why did this "pastor" abrogate his "pastoral duty" when it came to the modesty of women?

To anyone who saw how the women were dressed in his assembly, the answer is obvious: This "pastor" was afraid to get into specifics as to what constituted modest dress, because if he did so, he would face the wrath of the shamelessly immodest women of the assembly and would be called a "fundamentalist" or a "legalist."

Yet passages on the modesty and immodesty of women are found throughout the Bible. If God put them in the Bible, we had better not ignore them.

Why does the Bible focus on women rather than men when it comes to modesty of dress?

As Solomon said, "That which has been, it [is] that which shall be. And that which has been done, it [is] that which will be done. And there is no new [thing] under the sun."
(Ecclesiastes 1:9)

As it is today, so it always has been: the women of the world love the glitter and glamor. They love to behave and to dress in such a way as to be sexy and seductive. The men of the world love it and feed into it. It is a truly disgusting dance of whoredom.

Whorish dress has not stayed outside of the professing church. In most cases, the women in the professing church and the world look no different. Their "everyday" clothes are whorish, their "dress-up" clothes are whorish, and their "recreation" clothes are whorish.

But this is not how true Christian women are to dress or conduct themselves. They are to adorn (arrange) themselves in modest, proper clothing, with shamefacedness and sobriety.

The Greek word for "shamefacedness" is aidos, which gives the sense of looking down or having downcast eyes. The word for "sobriety" is sophrosune, which means self-control, moderateness, temperateness, and discreetness.

How much of today's fashions for women fit into this category?

Braided (plaited) hair, gold, pearls, and costly array are all characteristic of a woman who loves to draw attention to herself, who uses her hairstyle and jewelry as decorations. "Such gaud characterizes the spiritual harlot - Revelation 17:4" (JFB). "And the woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and being gilded with gold and precious stone and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominations and unclean things of her fornication."

Before we go further about modern fashion, let us look at some Old Testament passages. Isaiah 3:16-24 says,

Isaiah 3:16
And Jehovah says, Because the daughters of Zion are proud, and walk with stretched out necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing [as] they go, and make a tinkling with their feet;

Isaiah 3:17
So Jehovah will make the crown of the daughter of Zion scabby; and Jehovah will lay their secret parts bare.

Isaiah 3:18
In that day the Lord will take away the beauty of the ankle bracelets, and the headbands, and the crescents,

Isaiah 3:19
the pendants, and the bracelets, and the veils;

Isaiah 3:20
the turbans, and the leg ornaments, and the sashes, and the houses of the soul, and the amulets;

Isaiah 3:21
the rings and nose jewels;

Isaiah 3:22
the festal apparel and the outer garments; and the mantles, and the purses;

Isaiah 3:23
the mirrors and the fine linen; and the turbans and the veils. And it shall be, instead of a smell of perfume, there shall be an odor of decay.

Isaiah 3:24
And instead of a sash, a rope. And instead of well set hair, baldness. And instead of a rich robe, a girding of sackcloth; burning instead of beauty.

The above is an example of the opposite of shamefaced appearance. "Mincing" means short steps reflecting an air of haughtiness or seduction. "Wanton eyes" means seductive looks, winking seductively, and even falsely setting off the eyes with paint. Face-painting is mentioned in Jeremiah 4:30: "And you, O stripped one, what will you do? Though you clothe yourself with crimson, through your adorn yourself with ornaments of gold, through you make large your eyes with paint, you beautify yourself in vain. Lovers despise you; they will seek your life."

It is common knowledge that the women who painted their faces and ornamented themselves were prostitutes. They did this to attract men.

Proverbs 7:10-11 gives the description of a whore: "And, behold, a woman to meet him, with a harlot's dress, and a guarded heart; she [is] loud and stubborn; her feet do not rest in her own house."

It is obvious from this passage that there was a certain manner of dress that was characteristic of whores.

What does this all mean for today?

Some would say that we can never know what modesty of dress really means, so we should not even try to define it, much less obey it. But God put this in the Bible for a reason. And true Christians will strive to obey God's commands, not out of any notion that their obedience makes them more recommended to God or more fit for heaven or that their obedience forms any part of attaining or maintaining salvation or favor with God, but out of love for God who saved us and out of assurance that we will cross the finish line not based on anything we do or anything done in us, but solely based on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Immodest dress is anything that is designed or intended to sexually attract or call attention to one's self. So when Christian women are looking at buying or wearing a particular item, they must always ask themselves questions like these:

"Why am I doing this? Why am I wearing this? Why is this particular piece of clothing designed the way it is?"

Let us get even more specific.

Why do women and girls wear makeup?

Why is it expected that females will wear makeup?

Face and eye-painting has its origins in prostitution. It is used by females today for the same reason that it was and is used by prostitutes. Just one look at makeup advertisements confirms this. It is to make the person more attractive.

Why do women and girls wear jewelry?

Why is it expected that females will wear jewelry?

Some jewelry, like wedding rings, are a sign to others that this person is married.

But what about decorative jewelry?

It is just that - it decorates. It calls attention to the face or other part of the body. It is meant to attract, to make someone look at the person.

Why are most women's clothes made the way they are?

What do most fashion designers have in mind when they design clothes for women?

All you have to do is listen to a women's fashion clothing designer talk about why he or she designed clothing a certain way. The fashionable clothing is designed to be purposefully sexual. Almost all the clothes in the women's clothing departments and stores are designed to make the woman sexually attractive.

There is no denying this fact. Look at the difference between men's and women's clothing.

Why is there a much higher prevalence of low-cut blouses, shirts, and dresses among women's clothing than among men's clothing?

Why are so many v-necks or scoop-necks in women's clothing?

Why do many women's fashions try to bare something, whether it be a part of the back or the front or the leg or even the shoulder?

You cannot get around the fact that these things are designed the way they are because the designers have wicked things in mind. Whenever my wife and I go shopping with our children for clothes for the females in our house (one woman and two girls), we get angry. It is disgusting to see that stores (even K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Sears, etc.) expect all girls and women, including my daughters and my wife, to dress like whores. Take something as benign as shirts. In the stores, there are separate sections for girls' shirts, boys' shirts, women's shirts, and men's shirts. One would expect, if there were no other motive than to clothe people, that the girls' shirts would be designed the same as the boys' shirts, and the men's shirts would be designed the same as the women's shirts, maybe with some color differences. But no - they are noticeably different. The first thing one notices is that the hole for the head is noticeably bigger for the female shirts.

Why would this be?

Is it because females' heads are bigger than males' heads?

Of course not. Upon closer inspection, the hole is actually shaped differently as well as being bigger.

What is it for?

It is for the neckline to be lower on the females' tops! When one looks at button-down tops, most of the females' tops do not button as high as the males' tops. In addition, shirts for females are shorter than the shirts for males.

Why are there these differences?

Everyone with a modicum of sense knows why. For the most part, male clothes are not designed to be sexually attractive, but female clothes are designed to be sexually attractive. It is fashionable today for females to wear tops that have their midriffs exposed. Yet if a male were to wear a similar top, this would be seen as "feminine." The world has defined femininity as whorishness! Even in clothing for young girls, the world of female fashion is already trying to get them to expose their chests and their midriffs! And, since most women want to dress like whores (and to have their daughters dress like whores), the wicked world of fashion is very willing to give them what they want. Christian women end up buying men's shirts for themselves and boys' shirts for their daughters and/or make clothes at home for themselves and their daughters.

Little girls of the world learn that femininity means whorishness at a very young age. The dolls they play with have whorish clothing. The animated Disney movies they see always have the main female character dressed in whorish clothing (usually something strapless). It is all around.
It is also very telling to note that high-heeled shoes were designed to make women walk in a certain provocative, "mincing" way.

Finally, there is the swimsuit. It is nothing more than underwear worn in public.

Why is it that women would be ashamed to be seen in a bikini walking down the sidewalk in a city, but it all of a sudden becomes acceptable when there is sand and water?

Do the standards of modesty change when one comes upon sand and water?

These are the same women who would be very upset if someone walked in on them in their bedroom when they were only clothed in their underwear, but when there is sand and water around, the shame is gone. The hypocrisy is evident.

Can a woman wearing a modern swimsuit in public ever say that she is obeying 1 Timothy 2:9?

And how many women in a beauty pageant would qualify for shamefacedness?

It should be obvious that beauty pageants of any sort, whether or not there are swimsuits, are wicked.

Christian women and girls - be modest, be proper, be discreet, be decent, be shamefaced!

By Marc D. Carpenter

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A STRANGER


A few months before I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small Tennessee town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer, and soon invited him to live with our family.

The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later. As I grew up I never questioned his place in our family. In my young mind, each member had a special niche.

My brother, Bill, five years my senior, was my example. Fran, my younger sister, gave me an opportunity to play 'big brother' and develop the art of teasing. My parents were complementary instructors -- Mom taught me to love the Word of God, and Dad taught me to obey it.

But, the stranger was our storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventures, mysteries and comedies were daily conversations. He could hold our whole family spell-bound for hours each evening. If I wanted to know about politics, history, or science, he knew it all. He knew about the past, understood the present, and seemingly could predict the future. The pictures he could draw were so lifelike that I would often laugh or cry.

He was like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, Bill and me to our first major league baseball game. He was always encouraging us to see the movies and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars. My brother and I were deeply impressed by John Wayne in
particular.

The stranger was an incessant talker. Dad didn't seem to mind -- but sometimes Mom would quietly get up -- while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places -- go to her room, read her Bible and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave.

You see, my dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions. But, this stranger never felt obligation to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our house -- not from us, from our friends, or adults. Our longtime visitor, however, used occasional four-letter words that burned my ears and made Dad squirm. To my knowledge the stranger was never confronted.

My dad was a teetotaler who didn't permit alcohol in his home - not even for cooking. But the stranger felt like we needed exposure and enlightened us to other ways of life. He offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages often. He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (probably too much too freely) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I know now that my early concepts of the man-woman relationship were influenced by the stranger.

As I look back, I believe it was the grace of God that the stranger did not influence us more. Time after time he opposed the values of my parents. Yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave.

More than 30 years have passed since the stranger moved in with the young family on Morningside Drive. He is not nearly so intriguing to my Dad as he was in those early years.

But, if you were to walk into my parents' den today, you would still see him sitting over in a corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and look at his pictures.

His name?

We always just called him T.V

Saturday, October 20, 2007

SEVEN THINGS GOD CANNOT DO

The hardness of men’s hearts, unbelief, and rebellion are no obstacle for God - “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible,”
Matthew 19:26.

Yet, we must not falsely assume from this that God can or will do anything to save sinners. Yes, He is sovereign, but the Bible teaches us that there are seven things that it is impossible for God to do.

1. God cannot lie or repent - “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent,” Numbers 23:19. He will not save any through a lie or in contradiction to His Word, no matter what men profess nor how hard they strive, John 1:12,13.

2. God cannot clear the guilty - “Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty,” Exodus 34:7. Unless just satisfaction was made by the blood and righteousness of His Son, all others will be found guilty.

3. God cannot justify sinners by any other means than the shedding of blood unto death of His Son - “without shedding of blood is no remission,” Hebrews 9:22. To say that God can or would declare sinners righteous on any other ground than the death of His Son is to make Him a liar and to dwell in a refuge of lies, Isaiah 28:17.

4. God cannot condemn any for whom Christ died - “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again,” Romans 8:34. Our Lord Jesus will have every one for whom He died because the just result of His death before God is the redemption, justification, sanctification, and adoption of His people, 1 Corinthians 1:30. “Justice cannot twice demand, first at my Surety’s hand and then again at mine.”

5. God cannot fail to do all that He has decreed and promised - Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure, Isaiah 46:10. He will have everyone that He chose in Christ, redeemed by Christ, and consequently draws to Christ by His Spirit, through the Gospel, 2 Thessalonians 2:13.

6. God cannot deny Himself - “he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself’ 2 Timothy 2:13. He is faithful to save and keep His own.

7. God cannot give His glory to another - “For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another,” Isaiah 48:11. Any doctrine that would give man any part or credit in his salvation is not of God.

By Ken Wimer

PRESSING ON IN THE RACE


Lord, make me deaf and dumb and blind;

To all ‘those things which are behind’:
Deaf to the voice that memory brings,

Accusing me of many things,
Dumb to the things my tongue could speak,

Reminding me when I was weak;
Blind to the things I still might see,

When they come back to trouble me;
Let me press on to Thy high calling

In Christ, Who keepeth me from falling
Forgetting all that lies behind –

Lord, make me deaf, and dumb, and blind;
Like Paul, I then shall win the race;

I would have lost but for Thy grace!
Forgetting all that I have done –

‘Twas Thee, dear Lord, not I, who won.

(Philippians 3:12-14)

THE ONLY REMEDY FOR PRIDE



“And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8)

Not only is the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ a standing rebuke to every form of pride to which we are liable as sinners, but, it is also the only remedy! It took nothing more or less than the Lord Jesus Christ humbling Himself and becoming obedient unto death, for God to put away every liability and guilt that our pride has justly merited. No other remedy will do.

Someone has categorized the different types of pride as: Pride of face, pride of race, pride of place, pride of pace, and yes, even a pride of grace. Nevertheless, pride is pride, and is the cause of many a fall, particularly among those who think that they have attained a supposed level of personal holiness and sanctification, and therefore have somehow gained victory over sin. The Bible says simply, ‘If a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.’ Galatians 6:3

How does the humility of our Lord stand in contrast to the pride of sinners?


Consider the following ways that someone has outlined:

—Pride of birth and rank - ‘Is not this the carpenter’s son?’ Matthew 13:55

—Pride of respectability - 'Can anything good come out of Nazareth?' John 1:46

—Pride of personal appearance - ‘He hath no form nor comeliness,’ Isaiah 53:2

—Pride of reputation - ‘A friend of publicans and sinners,’ Luke 7:34

—Pride of learning - 'How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?' John 7:15

—Pride of superiority - ‘I am among you as he that serveth,’ Luke 22:27

—Pride of success - ‘He is despised and rejected of men,’ Isaiah 53:3

—Pride of self-will - ‘I seek not mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me,’ John 5:30

—Pride of intellect - ‘As my Father hath taught me, I speak,’ John 8:28

How we need to be humbled at Christ’s feet, and learn of HIM, by God’s grace, Matthew 11:28!


By Ken Wimer

GOD CHASTENS THOSE WHOM HE LOVES


Whenever a child of God strays from the Word of God and becomes involved with actions and activities that dishonor Christ and the Gospel of grace, God will chastise him and bring him to Godly sorrow over sin and repentance.

If he is truly a child of God, he cannot lose his salvation or be brought back under condemnation; for the blood of Christ cleanses him from ALL sin and the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to him for his complete and eternal justification before God --
“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”
(Romans 8:34).

God is his heavenly Father, and the Father will wisely, firmly, and lovingly correct His children and bring them to their spiritual senses. Mark it down – the worst thing that could happen to any of us in such situations is for God NOT to chastise us. If He leaves us to ourselves, we are not His children --
“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.”
(Hebrews 12:6-8).

By Bill Parker

STRIVING TOGETHER FOR THE GOSPEL


Paul exhorted the church at Philippi to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).

The church on earth is made up of sinners saved by the grace of God in Christ. It is the light of truth in a dark world. It is the church of the living God and the pillar and ground of truth.

Our existence, our message, our witness in this world is opposed to all that the world stands for and desires. Therefore, we cannot fulfill our mission as a church without being confrontational both to the world and to the remaining sin and darkness within ourselves.

Our peace and comfort is in Christ and in the fellowship of brethren, but there will be no perfect rest for us in this world. This is our whole life as Christians here on earth.

And if the Lord keeps us here into old age, we will find even then that the church on earth is not a retirement home for weary warriors as much as it is a stronghold and fortress of truth that stands in opposition to and is at war with the world, the flesh, and the devil.

There is rest and peace for the people of God IN CHRIST and in the fellowship of brethren, but this world is neither our home nor our friend. Never forget two things our Lord taught His disciples in John 16:33

(1) “In the world ye shall have tribulation”

and

(2) “but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

By Bill Parker

THE LAW OF SIN AND THE LAW OF THE MIND


When the Holy Spirit regenerates and converts a sinner, He imparts to our minds and hearts a new, holy desire. This desire, however, is much more than merely to “be good.” It is a desire to glorify God and exalt Christ in all we think, say, and do. It is a desire to be and to do good but only in a way that honors God and shows forth the glory of His mercy, grace, love, and power in Christ.

Even though we have this desire from God, while in this life, it is an unfulfilled desire as to its perfection. It is a holy desire because by it we truly desire that which is holy in Christ. We still, however, have other desires within us that continually plague and contaminate our best efforts to glorify God and honor Christ. Paul called this the “law of sin” within him waging war against another law of his mind (Romans 7:20,23). The “law of sin” is a powerful active principle of sin. The “law of my mind” is a powerful active principle of grace. It is the work of the Holy Spirit within causing us to look to Christ, rest in Him and His finished work, and seek to be conformed to Him.

Paul summarized the whole matter in the following verses – “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 7:24—8:1)

By Bill Parker

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A LESSON FROM A CANDLE


Look at a candle and how it burns. The more the light shines, the more the candle diminishes. What a beautiful illustration of the believer in Christ! The more he learns the Gospel of Christ, the more precious Christ becomes, and the less he thinks of himself. One who is truly the Lord's shines forth the light of HIS righteousness, grace, goodness, mercy, forgiveness and truth. In so shining, self does not get bigger and more noticeable, Christ does! The glory is not to self but to HIM! John the Baptist said, "He must increase, I must decrease." (John 3:30)

FIVE GOOD QUESTIONS


Here are five questions we can use to test any interpretation of the Scriptures:

(1). Does it glorify God in all that He reveals of Himself? Does it bow to the truth of God in the way He saves sinners by His grace in Christ?

(2). Does it humble the sinner in showing his absolute depravity and impotence to save himself by his best works and efforts?

(3). Does it exalt Christ and Him crucified as the one and only way of salvation,
righteousness, and eternal life?

(4). Does it promote the salvation of sinners in looking to Christ rather than leaving sinners in the despair of sin or in the false refuge of self-righteousness?

(5). Does it edify the brethren by seeking to build them up in the faith by promoting love, unity, obedience, and assurance in Christ?


By Bill Parker

SERVE THE LORD WITH GLADNESS


"Serve the LORD with gladness" (Psalm 100:2)

The only right motive for acceptable obedience and service to God is the assurance of His grace and love in Christ and the gratitude that springs from the regenerate heart of a sinner saved, blessed, preserved, and filled with the glory of God in Christ -- “I have set the LORD always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope” (Psalm 16:8-9).

By Bill Parker

A DAY SET ASIDE FOR FOOLS


In Florida, an atheist became incensed over the fact that there were no special days set aside for atheists to celebrate. He decided to contact his lawyer about the discrimination inflicted on atheists by the constant celebrations afforded other religions. The case was brought before a judge. After listening to the long passionate presentation by the lawyer, the judge banged his gavel and declared "Case dismissed!"

The lawyer immediately stood and objected to the ruling and said, "Your honor, how can you possibly dismiss this case? There are holidays set aside and recognized for religions in this country, yet my client and all other atheists have no such holiday!" The judge replied, "Obviously your client is too confused to even know about, much less celebrate his own atheists' holiday!" The lawyer answered, "Your Honor, we are unaware of any such day for atheists. Just when might that day be, your Honor?" The judge said, "Well it comes every year on exactly the same date -- April 1st! Since our calendar sets April 1st as 'April Fools Day,' consider that Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1 states, 'The fool says in his heart, there is no God.' Thus, in my opinion, if your client says there is no God, then by scripture he is a fool, thus April 1st is his special day of recognition!"

"WE SHALL ALL BE CHANGED"


"We shall all be changed" (1 Corinthians 15:41)

It is truly a comfort for believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to know that death is not the end. After death comes the Judgment (Hebrews 9:27), but we have nothing to fear at Judgment. We have already been judged in Christ and found not guilty. Christ justified us on the cross by His blood and righteousness. We know that death is just the sowing of a seed, our corruptible physical bodies which will be raised as incorruptible spiritual bodies. We know this is so for three reasons:

(1). Christ our Savior is risen from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20-22). His resurrection from the dead insures our resurrection to be made like Him.

(2). The Word of God tells us so (1 Corinthians 15:50-53). This is no pipe-dream or wishful thought. It is the hope and certainty for all who know and love Christ.

(3). We have already experienced a foretaste of the glory of this great change in our new birth – our spiritual resurrection from the dead (Ephesians 1:16-20). The same power of God that raised Christ from the dead has raised us from the dead already in our new birth and will raise us from the dead in glory.

All this comforts our hearts and assures us that “we shall all be changed,” and thank God for His grace and power to change us in glory to be perfectly conformed to the image of Christ.


By Bill Parker

THE GIFT OF GOD’S WORD


The Bible is God’s holy word to His people. This book may not be the most expensive book you will receive, but it is without doubt the most valuable. You cannot drive it, and you won’t have to put fuel into it, but our prayer is that it drives you and motivates you in life, and that it gives you the spiritual fuel with which to go where you need to go in this life and the next. You won’t be able to surf the world wide web with it, but with this book you can, if you desire, search and find the mind of God and the way of eternal life by God’s grace in Christ Jesus.

This book will not give you directions to the big city, the bright lights, and all the excitements the world has to offer for a brief moment, but it will give you directions to an eternal heavenly city, the light of the world, and the excitement of peace which passes all understanding.

There is an irony about this book. For it is the most popular book in the world, a true best seller, but the Gospel message which is its theme is the most unpopular and hated message in the world.

As you go out into the world, we hope and pray that you are successful, happy, prosperous, and healthy in the things of this life, but our greatest prayer for you is that you realize that this life is but for a moment, that it has an end, and that you will come to value the message of this book and find eternal life and happiness in Christ Jesus our Lord and Redeemer.

THE LORD’S SUPPER


“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come” (1 Corinthians 9:23-26).

The Lord’s Supper was instituted by our Lord and to be observed in His church unto the end of the world, for the continual remembrance of the sacrifice of Himself in His death for us as the sealing of benefits thereof unto all His redeemed, justified, and regenerate people, all who believe in Him. It commemorates our spiritual nourishment and growth in Him, our bond and pledge of communion with Him and with each other as members of His body.


BELIEVER'S BAPTISM


Our Lord commanded, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).

Baptism (immersion in water) is a believer’s outward confession of union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. It is a public identification with Christ and His people, and obedience to the Savior’s command, not to obtain or apply salvation, but to confess that our redemption and justification before God has been already accomplished at Calvary by our Savior. It is the outward confession of the sinner who has already been regenerated (born again) by the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

WHAT IS PRECIOUS TO US?


Precious means “of great price, costly, valuable, very dear, highly esteemed, expensive.” People and things are said to be precious to us; yet, how much more precious to us should things of a spiritual nature be. Note the precious treasures mentioned in God’s Word –

1. Precious Trials – “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth” (1 Peter 1:7).

2. Precious Blood – “Redeemed…with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18,19).

3. Precious Corner Stone – “To whom coming, as unto a living stone…chosen of God, and precious…a chief corner stone, elect, precious” (1 Peter 2:4, 6).

4. Precious Lord – “Unto you therefore which believe He is precious” (1 Peter 2:7).

5. Precious Faith – “To them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1).

6. Precious Promises – “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4).

7. Precious Death – “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15). This last verse is not from Peter, but should be included in the list of God’s precious things, serving, as it does, as the final evaluation of the things of this life. It is a precious, comforting thought to know that “to be absent from the body (is) to be present with the Lord”
(2 Corinthians 5:8).

THE SUCCESS OF THE CHURCH


We all desire to see more sinners saved by the grace of God. We read in the Book of Acts of the Lord adding to His church daily (Acts 2:47; 16:5), and we think how great it would be to see this in our day.

Let us never forget, however, that in that time of the early church, there was also great persecution toward our brethren in Christ.

Let us all pray that the Lord bring many, many to hear and believe the Gospel of His grace in Christ. But let us also realize that the success of the church is not in the number of people, the size of the building, or the provision of facilities and activities.

The success of the church is in the success of the Redeemer and Savior of the church-Jesus Christ who is our foundation, our heart, and our head. It is by Him, through Him, and because of Him that the gates of hell will not prevail over the church.

Where thousands gather to worship and where the truth of Christ and Him crucified is not preached, there is failure and defeat. Where few gather to worship where the truth of Christ and Him crucified is preached, there is success and victory.

A SIGHT OF THE SINS OF OTHERS


The word of God is clear what our attitude and action ought to be when we view the sins of others – “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself” (Galatians 6:1-3).

For the true child of God, a sinner saved by the grace of God in Christ, the sight of the sins of others does not lift us up in pride as if to say, “I am better than he,” or “I would never do such things.” It makes us aware of the sinfulness of our own hearts and our own shortcomings and weaknesses. It makes us say, “He fell today. Tomorrow, I may fall, and if I don’t, it is only the grace of God in Christ that keeps me from it.”

It reminds us that “it is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22), and that it is “by the grace of God that I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

It causes us to “rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3).

It motivates us to show love, compassion, patience, and forgiveness towards others, knowing that we have been forgiven for Christ’s sake alone.

By Bill Parker

STICK TO THE WORD OF GOD


"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Let us never forget that our only rule of faith, doctrine, and practice is the Word of God, the Scriptures that reveal Christ and the way of salvation by God's grace in Him alone, and all things consistent with the precious Word of Truth .


Whenever men promote doctrines, ideas, and practices that are not founded upon Biblical truth, it is nothing more than undue speculation or human rationalization which falls into the category of false and deadly doctrine.

We must stick to the Word of God, because as one man wrote, "I will give you this as a most certain observation, that there never was anything of false doctrine brought into the church, or anything of false worship imposed upon the church, but either it was by neglecting the Scripture , or by introducing something above the Scripture."

Let us cherish the Word of God above all things, and let us pray that we never be moved from seeking to have our lives ruled by it, no matter what men say. Whenever we hear men preach or teach in the name of the Lord, let us first be like the noble Bereans who when they heard Paul and Silas preach, "received the word with all readiness of mind, and search the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." (Acts 17:11)

Let us remember that it is the holy Scriptures which "are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 3:15)

Sometimes men will lead us in all different directions and into confusion, but the Scriptures lead us unto Christ and Him crucified. (John 5:39)

By Bill Parker

Monday, October 15, 2007

QUALIFICATIONS FOR CHURCH LEADERS


Are They Optional?

God sets forth His qualifications for church leadership positions in the following passages:


1 Timothy 3:1-7 (KJV)
"This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop [episkope], he desireth a good work.



{2} A bishop [episkopos] then must [dei] be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;


{3} Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;


{4} One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;


{5} (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)


{6} Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.


{7}Moreover he must [dei] have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

1 Timothy 3:8-15 (KJV)
Likewise must [hosautos] the deacons [diakonos] be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;


{9} Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.


{10} And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon [diakoneo], being found blameless.


{11} Even so must [hosautos] their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.


{12} Let the deacons [diakonos] be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.


{13} For they that have used the office of a deacon [diakoneo] well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.



{14} These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:


{15} But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest [dei] to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."

Titus 1:4-9 (KJV)
"To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.


{5} For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders [presbuteros] in every city, as I had appointed thee:


{6} If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.


{7} For a bishop [episkopos] must [dei] be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;



{8} But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;


{9} Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."

Leadership Qualifications “Bishop” is from the Greek word episkopos, which means “superintendent or overseer”.

“Elder” is from the word presbuteros meaning “one who presides over”.

The terms “bishop” and “elder” are used somewhat interchangeably in the New Testament.

“Deacon” is from diakonos that has the general meaning of “servant” or “minister”. Since the qualifications for church leaders (bishops, elders, and deacons) as set forth in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 above are very similar, I have prepared a combined summary of qualifications as follows:

The leadership candidate must be a man (1 Timothy 3:1-2; Titus 1:6; see also 1 Corinthians 14:34-35; 1 Timothy 2:11-13). [Please see the word study of “must” below.]

· He must be a born-again believer in Jesus Christ – i.e., “blameless” (1 Timothy 3:2,10; Titus 1:6). [Please see the word study of “blameless” below.]

· He must have “great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 3:13).

· He must be “the husband of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2,12; Titus 1:6) – i.e., he must be currently married to his first wife (or another only if the first has died); he cannot be divorced and remarried (see also Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18; 1 Corinthians 7:10,39; Romans 7:2-3); he cannot be an unmarried widower.

· His wife must be “grave” (i.e., reverent, honorable) and “faithful in all things” (1 Timothy 3:11; see also 2 Corinthians 6:14).

· He must “rule well his own house” (1 Timothy 3:4,5,12; Titus 1:6) -- i.e., he must exercise his authority over his wife and children in a godly manner. and he cannot be divorced at all (see also Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9).

· He must have children and raise them “in subjection with all gravity” (1 Timothy 3:4,5,12) and his children shall be faithful and not be unruly (Titus 1:6).

· He must be motivated by a God-given desire, or calling, for the position (1 Timothy 3:1; Titus 1:7,9).

· He must be a mature Christian whose light shines in the world (1 Timothy 3: 6-7; Titus 1:9).

· He must have high moral character and good interpersonal skills (1 Timothy 3:2-3,7-8; Titus 1:7-9).

· He must be hospitable (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8) · He must “hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience” (1 Timothy 3:9) and hold “fast the faithful word as he hath been taught” (Titus 1:9).

· He must be firmly grounded in the Bible and have the ability to teach it (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9).

Must The word “must” in the KJV means “must” in modern English. That is, these qualifications are mandated by God and are required for leadership. God uses the Greek word dei ,meaning “it is necessary”, four times in the passages under consideration (i.e., 1 Tim 3:2,7,15 and Tit 1:7) to emphasize the fact that the criteria listed for church leaders are compulsory and obligatory – not optional. Three times dei is translated as “must” and once as “oughtest” (1 Tim3:15) in the KJV. Another Greek word implying the absolute “must” of God’s mandate is hosautos , which is translated as “likewise must ” in 1 Timothy 3:8 and “even so must ” in 1 Timothy3:11, where must (shown in italics) was added by the translators. God uses the word dei 106 times in the NT to indicate His purpose for whatever is in view. Here is a sampling of 16 verses to show the essential nature of that which God says “must” be accomplished: Luke 9:22 "Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day." Luke 24:7 "Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again." John 3:7 "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." John 3:14 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:" John 4:24 "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." John 10:16 "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." 3 Acts 4:12 "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 9:16 "For I will show him [Paul] how great things he must suffer for my name's sake." Acts 27:24 "Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee." 1 Corinthians 15:53 "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." Titus 1:11 "Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake." Hebrews 9:26 "For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Revelation 1:1 "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:" Revelation 20:3 "And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season." Revelation 22:6 "And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants the things which must shortly bedone." We can plainly see by God’s use of the word dei that there is nothing optional about the activities in the foregoing sample verses. They are all essential elements of God’s salvation plan – as is the spiritual health of His church. I encourage the reader to conduct his own analysis and draw his own conclusions about God’s use of that little, but very significant, Greek word. (Please see Appendix A for a complete list of the verses containing the word dei.) We can also conclude from the compulsory nature of the word dei that the church leadership qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are obligatory – that is, they are “musts” that are commanded by God. Since they do not comprise a “wish list” of qualifications as in a “Positions Available” want-ad for secular employment, it is not sufficient that a candidate score well on most of them. God clearly states that all of the criteria must apply to all men who are ordained as official office bearers in a church. It is true that some of the qualifications are subjective and require godly wisdom and discernment during the evaluation process. However, there are other qualifications, such as being married with children, that cannot be disputed. Based on the foregoing list of qualifications, we can see that church leadership is not for everyone. Just as women are excluded from consideration, each item on the list eliminates an additional category of men from consideration. In fact, very few men can satisfy all of God’s qualifications for leadership in His church. Congregations that hold faithfully to the requirements of 1 Timothy 3 and 4 Titus 1 – that is, those that do not succumb to what is expedient – demonstrate their obedience to the Word of God and their concern for the spiritual health of the body of Christ. Blameless Now, what does God mean when He says that church leaders must be blameless? The KJV uses the word “blameless” four times in the following passages related to the qualifications of bishops, elders, and deacons: 1 Timothy 3:2 "A bishop then must be blameless [anepileptos:G423], the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;" 1 Timothy 3:10 "And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless [anegkletos:G410]." Titus 1:5-7 "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: {6} If any be blameless [anegkletos:G410], the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. {7} For a bishop must be blameless [anegkletos:G410] as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;" We see from these verses that both bishops and elders must be “blameless” as defined by two synonymous words: anepileptos in 1 Tim 3:2 and anegkletos in Tit 1:7. Only the latter is applied to deacons in 1 Tim 3:10. · anepileptos that cannot be reprehended, not open to censure, irreproachable, blameless; (means irreprehensible, designating one who affords nothing upon which an adversary might seize, in order to make a charge against him). reproach – to rebuke; to censure rebuke – to criticize or reprove sharply; to reprimand reprehend – to reprove; to censure Other occurrences of anepileptos are as follows: 1 Timothy 5:5-7 "Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. {6} But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. {7} And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless ." 1 Timothy 6:12-14 "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. {13} I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; {14} That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable , until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:" · anegkletos that cannot be called into account, unreproveable, unaccused, blameless; (designates one against whom there is no accusation, implying not acquittal of a charge, but that no charge has been made). reprove – to rebuke for a fault or misdeed; to scold Other occurrences of anegkletos are as follows: 5 1 Corinthians 1:6-8 "Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: {7} So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: {8} Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." Colossians 1:21-23 "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled {22} In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: {23} If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;" We can conclude from this analysis that only those who are irreprehensible, irreproachable, unrebukeable, and unreproveable are “blameless” and, as such, meet one of the qualifications for church leadership. Obviously, no one can fulfill this requirement in his natural state. Apparently, being “blameless” fits into the same category as being “perfect” (i.e., complete) and “righteous” (i.e., just) in God’s eyes – that is, saved and justified. Therefore, a “blameless” man is one who is a born-from-above child of God and is clothed with the robe of Christ’s righteousness (Isa 61:10): Matthew 5:48 "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." John 17:23-24 "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. {24} Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." Matthew 13:43 "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." Matthew 25:46 "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." Luke 1:5-6 "There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. {6}And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." The qualification of “blamelessness” is the most important one on the list – and the most difficult to assess. Since only God knows the spiritual condition of a person’s soul, the determination of whether a candidate is a true believer (i.e., saved) must be made very carefully and prayerfully. It cannot be based on a person’s ”testimony”, or his “profession of faith”, or his “desire” for the office. Jesus said the following about this: Matthew 7:15-23 "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. {16} Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? {17} Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. {18} A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. {19} Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. {20} Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. {21} Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. {22} Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? {23} And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." The fruit of the Holy Spirit must be evident in the candidate’s life, as we read below: 6 Galatians 5:19-25 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, {20} Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, {21} Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. {22} But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, {23} Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. {24} And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. {25} If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." Those making the determination of a candidate’s salvation have a great responsibility, and they must exercise it with much God-given wisdom and discernment to avoid selecting an unsaved man for a leadership office. Obedience This whole issue of compliance with God’s leadership qualifications boils down to one of obedience to the will of God as given in His Word, the Bible. Our greatest desire as believers should be that of obedience to the will of God – to the best of our ability – in everything we do. Jesus said: John 14:15 "If ye love me, keep my commandments." God repeats that admonition in the following passage: 1 John 2:3-5 "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. {4} He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. {5}But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him." We all know what happened to Adam and Eve when Satan cast doubt on God’s Word in the garden of Eden: Genesis 3:4-5 "And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: {5} For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." We also know what happened to King Saul when he decided to disregard God’s Word and take matters into his own hands in 1 Samuel 15: 1 Samuel 15:22-23 "And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. {23} For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king." Since our Lord Jesus Christ had to “learn obedience” during His life on earth, it seems only reasonable and proper that we must strive to do the same:

Hebrews 5:8-9
"Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;{9} And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;"

Conclusion 7 We have examined God’s qualifications for church leaders in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 and have learned that they are obligatory – not optional – by studying God’s use of the Greek word dei that is usually translated as “must” and “ought” in the KJV Consequently, the task of ordaining church leaders is a very important and serious matter if a congregation is to be in compliance with God’s Word and to have His blessing on their efforts. Believers must ask God for much discernment and guidance when evaluating the qualifications of each candidate for church leadership.In closing, let us consider the following passages:

2 Timothy 4:1-4
"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

{2} Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

{3} For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

{4} And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."

1 Peter 5:1-7
"The elders [presbuteros:G4245] which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder [sumpresbuteros:G4850], and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

{2} Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight [episkopeo:G1983] thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre,
but of a ready mind;

{3} Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

{4} And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

{5} Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

{6} Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

{7} Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."

1 Corinthians 4:1-2
"Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
{2} Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."

Acts 5:29
"Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought [dei:G1163] to obey God rather than men."

May God give us all much wisdom with this important matter of selecting church leaders.



APPENDIX A – ALL VERSES CONTAINING THE GREEK WORD dei

Matthew 16:21

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must <1163> go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Matthew 17:10

And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must <1163> first come?

Matthew 18:33

Shouldest <1163> not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?

Matthew 23:23

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye <1163> to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Matthew 24:6

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must <1163> come to pass, but the end is not yet.

Matthew 25:27

Thou oughtest <1163> therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

Matthew 26:35

Peter said unto him, Though I should <1163> die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

Matthew 26:54

But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must <1163> be?

Mark 8:31

And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must <1163> suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Mark 9:11

And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must <1163> first come?

Mark 13:7

And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must <1163> needs be; but the end shall not be yet.

Mark 13:10

And the gospel must <1163> first be published among all nations.

Mark 13:14

But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought <1163> not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:

Mark 14:31

But he spake the more vehemently, If I should <1163> die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.

Luke 2:49

And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must <1163> be about my Father's business?

Luke 4:43

And he said unto them, I must <1163> preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.

Luke 9:22

Saying, The Son of man must <1163> suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.

Luke 11:42

But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye <1163> to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Luke 12:12

For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought <1163> to say.

Luke 13:14

And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought <1163> to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.

Luke 13:16

And ought <1163> not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?

Luke 13:33

Nevertheless I must <1163> walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.

Luke 15:32

It was meet <1163> that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Luke 17:25

But first must <1163> he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.

Luke 18:1

And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought <1163> always to pray, and not to faint;

Luke 19:5

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must <1163> abide at thy house.

Luke 21:9

But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must <1163> first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.

Luke 22:7

Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must <1163> be killed.

Luke 22:37

For I say unto you, that this that is written must <1163> yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.

Luke 24:7

Saying, The Son of man must <1163> be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

Luke 24:26

Ought <1163> not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

Luke 24:44

And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must <1163> be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

Luke 24:46

And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved <1163> Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:

John 3:7

Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must <1163> be born again.

John 3:14

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must <1163> the Son of man be lifted up:

John 3:30

He must <1163> increase, but I must decrease.

John 4:4

And he must needs <1163> go through Samaria.

John 4:20

Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought <1163> to worship.

John 4:24

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must <1163> worship him in spirit and in truth.

John 9:4

I must <1163> work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

John 10:16

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must <1163> bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

John 12:34

The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must <1163> be lifted up? who is this Son of man?

John 20:9

For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must <1163> rise again from the dead.

Acts 1:16

Men and brethren, this scripture must <1163> needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.

Acts 1:22

Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must <1163> one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

Acts 3:21

Whom the heaven must <1163> receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

Acts 4:12

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must <1163> be saved.

Acts 5:29

Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought <1163> to obey God rather than men.

Acts 9:6

And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must <1163> do.

Acts 9:16

For I will shew him how great things he must <1163> suffer for my name's sake.

Acts 10:6

He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest <1163> to do.

Acts 14:22

Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must <1163> through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

Acts 15:5

But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful <1163> to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

Acts 16:30

And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must <1163> I do to be saved?

Acts 17:3

Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs <1163> have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.

Acts 18:21

But bade them farewell, saying, I must <1163> by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.

Acts 19:21

After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must <1163> also see Rome.

Acts 19:36

Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought <1163> to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.

Acts 20:35

I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought <1163> to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Acts 21:22

What is it therefore? the multitude must <1163> needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.

Acts 23:11

And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must <1163> thou bear witness also at Rome.

Acts 24:19

Who ought <1163> to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me.

Acts 25:10

Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought <1163> to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.

Acts 25:24

And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought <1163> not to live any longer.

Acts 26:9

I verily thought with myself, that I ought <1163> to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

Acts 27:21

But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should <1163> have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.

Acts 27:24

Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must <1163> be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.

Acts 27:26

Howbeit we must <1163> be cast upon a certain island.

Romans 1:27

And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet <1163>.

Romans 8:26

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought <1163>: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Romans 12:3

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought <1163> to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

1 Corinthians 8:2

And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought <1163> to know.

1 Corinthians 11:19

For there must <1163> be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

1 Corinthians 15:25

For he must <1163> reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.

1 Corinthians 15:53

For this corruptible must <1163> put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

2 Corinthians 2:3

And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought <1163> to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.

2 Corinthians 5:10

For we must <1163> all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

2 Corinthians 11:30

If I must needs <1163> glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.

Ephesians 6:20

For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought <1163> to speak.

Colossians 4:4

That I may make it manifest, as I ought <1163> to speak.

Colossians 4:6

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought <1163> to answer every man.

1 Thessalonians 4:1

Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought <1163> to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.

2 Thessalonians 3:7

For yourselves know how ye ought <1163> to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;

1 Timothy 3:2

A bishop then must <1163> be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

1 Timothy 3:7

Moreover he must <1163> have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

1 Timothy 3:15

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest <1163> to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

1 Timothy 5:13

And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought <1163> not.

2 Timothy 2:6

The husbandman that laboureth must be <1163> first partaker of the fruits.

2 Timothy 2:24

And the servant of the Lord must <1163> not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

Titus 1:7

For a bishop must <1163> be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

Titus 1:11

Whose mouths must <1163> be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought <1163> not, for filthy lucre's sake.

Hebrews 2:1

Therefore we ought <1163> to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

Hebrews 9:26 For then must <1163> he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Hebrews 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must <1163> believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

1 Peter 1:6

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need <1163> be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

2 Peter 3:11

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought <1163> ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

Revelation 1:1

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must <1163> shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

Revelation 4:1

After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must <1163> be hereafter.

Revelation 10:11

And he said unto me, Thou must <1163> prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

Revelation 11:5

And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must <1163> in this manner be killed.

Revelation 13:10

He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must <1163> be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

Revelation 17:10

And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must <1163> continue a short space.

Revelation 20:3

And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must <1163> be loosed a little season.

Revelation 22:6

And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must <1163> shortly be done.