The Road to Jesus Leads to Royal Light

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    Isaiah pictures the nation of Judah sitting in darkness and despair in 8:22: “Then they will look to the earth, and behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and they will be driven away into darkness.” In chapter 9, Isaiah says that light is coming and that light is coming in the person of a King, the Son of David.

 

THE RESTORATION OF THE NATION – 9:1-5:

    This section concludes a focus on the nation of Judah. Beginning with chapter 13, Isaiah will turn his attention for several chapters to the Gentile nations. Here, Isaiah foresees there will be no more gloom. God had treated Zebulun and Naphtali with contempt, because of their sins but He will make it glorious, even the way by the sea, the Galilee of the Gentiles, beyond the Jordan.

 

    “Galilee of the Gentiles” – Isaiah is the only one to use this designation for this area that was composed largely of Gentiles. Once again, we see the universal nature of Isaiah’s call for repentance unto salvation.

 

    Those who had walked in darkness will see a great light and for those who had lived in a dark land, light will shine. Yes, this promise will be opened to all nations (cf. 2:1-4). We know this picture is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, because Matthew tells us so (4:13ff).

 

    God will multiply the nation of Judah and increase their gladness (vs 3). Why? Because God will break the yoke of their burden and the rod of their oppressor. The immediate application of these words will apply to the nation of Assyria in Isaiah’s day. But, verses 6ff will show us that they have a long-term and spiritual application. We are safe to interpret this text in a spiritual way, with sin being the oppressor. The promise of peace here is the same promise of peace we saw back in 2:4 – it is, ultimately, a spiritual peace for all those who submit to the “Prince of peace.” If we understand the “darkness” and “light” from verses 1-2 as spiritual metaphors, then we surely ought to understand these pictures of war and peace under spiritual metaphors.

 

THE BIRTH AND RULE OF THE MESSIAH – 9:6-7:

    Then, out of nowhere, in the words of Wayne Jackson: “The Christ bursts fully into view” (25). How will we know we have light? How will we know we have gladness and the harvest? How will we know when the yoke and the staff are broken? How will we know when we will have peace? “For” begins verse 6.

 

    When the child is born. Isaiah has talked about two children and their birth – Immanuel and Maher-Shalal-hash-baz. Yet, the latter has already been born. The former is not yet born. Clearly we have pictured here the God of Israel, the God of heaven offering His only unique Son for the world. This is the Son who is “God with us,” yet with the nature of His children – flesh and blood.

 

    This child will have the government of a nation on His shoulders. In verse 7, that nation will also be identified as a kingdom, the throne of David. This child – “Immanuel” – will also have a series of names, which will indicate His nature. The structure of these designations suggest we take every two terms to convey one idea, as modern translations tend to translate them.

 

    His reign, His government, will have no end – neither temporally, nor spatially. It will not end at a physical border and it will not end by the overthrow of another nation. Notice the close association between this government and “peace.”

 

    Again, the throne of David and the rule of His kingdom will belong to this child, this male child. He will establish the kingdom and uphold it with justice and righteousness. Remember that Jerusalem at one time was a city of justice and righteousness (1:21). In 1:26, Isaiah had promised that Jerusalem would be a city of righteousness and so she is, under the reign of King Jesus.

 

    This work is not accomplished by human beings – not Isaiah or Maher-shalal-hash-baz or even Ahaz’s son, King Hezekiah. Isaiah says, “the zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.” Because this kingdom will last “from then on and forevermore” (vs 7), we know there will not be another king after Jesus.

 

    What a wonderful prophecy! But wait! There’s more!

–Paul Holland

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The sheep and the goats (Mt. 25)

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  • We may have read about the sheep and the goats many times, but have we overlooked something?
  • Have we ever noticed how this teaching repeatedly stresses the Lord’s AUTHORITY?
    1. We sometimes speak about the “authority” of Jesus Christ.
  • 25:31 – READ
    1. The Lord could have said He would “return in glory,” but this is not what said.
    2. Jesus said He would return in HIS GLORY!
  • In Jn. 17:5 Jesus said He had “glory” with the Father before coming to the earth.
  • When the Lord comes back in HIS GLORY, He will not be alone.
  • Verse 31 also tells us “all the angels” will be with Jesus.
  • Jesus said the angels will COME WITH HIM!
  • There is a difference between Jesus accompanying angels and angels accompanying the Lord.
  • When the Lord returns, angels will not be sitting on a divine throne.
  • Jesus said HE will be sitting on HIS throne, and His throne will be GLORIOUS (verse 31).
  • Jesus’ authority is also evident in verse 32 – READ
    1. BEFORE Jesus Christ will be gathered ALL the nations.
    2. Every person who has ever lived will appear before the Lord at the end of time.
  • Verse 34 – READ
  • He also claimed to have the authority to turn people away – verse 41 – READ
  • Verse 41 implies the Lord’s authority even includes the “devil” and his “angels.”
  • A summary of Jesus’ authority is found in Mt. 25:46 – READ
  • There is no “if we come before Him”; there is only “when.”
  • Because this event will happen, we are well advised to think about “sheep and goats.”

In Mt. 25 we see some “individual thinking” with the “goats” (unsaved).

  1. Jesus said there were times when the goats could have “fed the hungry” (verse 42).
  2. There were occasions when the goats could have given water to the “thirsty.”
  • 16:8 – “sons of this world” are “wiser than the children of light.”
  • Goats see this life as their home, and they may be quite skilled at making this earth the true abode.
  • Goats may excel at squeezing as much out of this life as anyone can.
  • Are we a goat?

 

WE MUST BE A “SHEEP.

  • Sheep are unique for some reasons, one of which is their willingness to follow.
  • Can we find a better leader than someone who has “all authority”?
  • Goats do not want to be led; goats want to live and wander as they choose.
  • 14:14-16 – READ
  • 14:17-20 – READ
  • Sheep or goat – our choice!

***************

Las ovejas y las cabras (Mt. 25)

MONTE. 25.
1) Es posible que hayamos leído sobre las ovejas y las cabras muchas veces, pero hemos pasado algo por alto?
2) ¿Alguna vez hemos dado cuenta de que esta enseñanza hace hincapié en repetidas ocasiones la autoridad del Señor?
i) A veces hablamos de la “autoridad” de Jesucristo.
3) Monte 25:31 – LEER
i) El Señor podría haber dicho que haría “volver en gloria”, pero esto no es lo que dijo.
ii) Jesús dijo que volvería en su gloria!
iii) En Jn. 17: 5 Jesús dijo que había “gloria” con el Padre antes de venir a la tierra.
4) Cuando el Señor vuelva en su gloria, no estará solo.
5) El versículo 31 nos dice también “todos los ángeles” estarán con Jesús.
6) Jesús dijo: saldrán los ángeles con él!
7) Hay una diferencia entre los ángeles que acompañan a Jesús y los ángeles que acompañan al Señor.
8) Cuando el Señor regrese, los ángeles no serán sentados en un trono divino.
9) Jesús dijo que él va a estar sentado en su trono, y su trono será GLORIOSO (verso 31).
10) La autoridad de Jesús es también evidente en el versículo 32 – LEER
i) antes de que Jesucristo se reunieron todas las naciones.
ii) Toda persona que haya vivido alguna vez se presentará ante el Señor al final de los tiempos.
11) El versículo 34 – LEA
12) También afirmó tener la autoridad para rechazar a la gente – verso 41 – LEA
13) El versículo 41 implica la autoridad del Señor incluso incluye el “diablo” y sus “ángeles”.
14) Un resumen de la autoridad de Jesús se encuentra en el monte 25:46 – LEER
1) No hay ningún “si venimos delante de él”; sólo hay “cuándo”.
2) Debido a que este evento va a suceder, que harían bien en pensar en “ovejas y cabras.”

En el monte 25 vemos un poco de “pensamiento individual” con las “cabras” (guardar).
i) Jesús dijo que había momentos en los que las cabras podrían haber “alimentado a los hambrientos” (verso 42).
ii) Había ocasiones en que las cabras podrían haber dado agua a la “sed”.
3) Lc. 16: 8 – “hijos de este mundo” son “más sagaces que los hijos de luz.”
4) Las cabras ver esta vida como su hogar, y puede ser bastante dominan la fabricación de esta tierra la verdadera morada.
5) Las cabras pueden sobresalir en exprimir tanto de esta vida como cualquiera puede hacerlo.
6) ¿Somos una cabra?

DEBEMOS SER una “oveja.

1) Las ovejas son únicos por algunas razones, una de ellas es su disposición a seguir.
2) ¿Podemos encontrar un mejor líder que alguien que tiene “toda autoridad”?
3) Las cabras no quieren ser guiados; cabras quieren vivir y vagar como deseen.
4) Rev. 14: 14-16 – LEER
5) 14: 17-20 – LEA
6) Las ovejas o cabras – nuestra elección!

 

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Recognizing Figures of Speech in the Bible – Part 1

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It pays to recognize various figures of speech in the Bible, to understand certain expressions are figures of speech and to enrich your understanding of God’s communication to us. Here are a baker’s dozen figures of speech, their definitions, and examples from the Old Testament and New Testament:

Fable – A fable is a narrative in which irrational beings, and sometimes inanimate, are used for the purpose of moral instruction. Or, they are short tales to teach a moral lesson. In the OT, see Judges 9:8-15; in the NT: 1 Timothy 4:7.

Similitude – A likeness or resemblance; a person or thing that is like or the match or counterpart of another; a semblance, image. In the OT, see Psalm 106:20 and Daniel 10:16; in the NT: Jesus compared to Adam in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15:22.

Allegory – A popular form of literature in which a story points to a hidden or symbolic parallel meaning. Certain elements, such as people, things, and events in the story point to corresponding elements in another realm or level of meaning. In the OT, see 2 Samuel 12:1-4; in the NT: Galatians 4:21-31.

Synecdoche – A figure of speech in which a part is substituted for a whole or a whole for a part, as in 50 head of cattle for 50 cows. In the OT, see Genesis 3:19; in the NT: Ephesians 6:12.

Irony – The use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning. In the OT, see 1 Kings 18:27; in the NT: Mark 15:17-19.

Hyperbole – An obvious and intentional exaggeration, an extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally, as “to wait an eternity.” In the OT, see 2 Chronicles 1:15; in the NT: Mark 1:4-5.

Personification – The attribution of human nature or character to animals, inanimate objects, or abstract notions, especially as a rhetorical figure. The person or thing embodying a quality or the like; an embodiment or incarnation. In the OT, see Genesis 4:10; in the NT: Romans 6:16.

Prolepsis – The representation or assumption of a future act or development as if presently existing or accomplished. In the OT, see Genesis 3:20; in the NT: Matthew 10:2-4.

Antithesis – Opposition; contrast or the direct opposite (usually followed by “of” or “to”). In the OT, see Isaiah 65:13-16; in the NT: Romans 6:1.

Typology – A method of biblical interpretation whereby an element found in the Old Testament is seen to prefigure one found in the New Testament. In the OT, see Exodus 32; in the NT: 1 Corinthians 10:1-6.

Riddles – A question or statement framed to exercise one’s ingenuity in answering it or discovering its meaning; a puzzling question, problem, or matter. In the OT, see Judges 14:14-19; in the NT: 1 Corinthians 13:12.

Litotes – An understatement, especially that in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its contrary, as in “not bad at all.” Another way to see it is speech in which a negative statement is used to affirm a positive sentiment. In the OT, see Jeremiah 30:19; in the NT: 1 Corinthians 15:9-10.

Paradox – A statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth. In the OT, see Proverbs 11:24; in the NT: 1 Corinthians 3:18.

–James Pulley

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The Fundamental Gap

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In previous posts, I have shared findings from a book titled The Gap: The Science of What Separates Us from Other Animals by German psychologist Thomas Suddendorf, who teaches at the University of Queensland. His ninth chapter is on “Right and Wrong.” He begins with an epigraph from Charles Darwin: “Of all the differences between man and the lower animals, the moral sense or conscience is by far the most important.”

Suddendorf, being a German, knows what moral atrocities a people are capable of committing against their fellow human beings. He writes: “Whatever our specific morals are, it is clear that we take pleasure in acting morally, and it pains us when we think we acted immorally” (187). He divides morality into broad areas encompassing: feelings of empathy, group pressure, and self-reflective reasoning.

From infancy, the author observes, humans have an innate “prosocial urge.” Children naturally share. They naturally want to assist others. They easily give up information (sometimes to the parents’ embarrassment). Suddendorf is absolutely correct that Darwinian evolution would argue that humans ought to be selfish (189). That being the case, Suddendorf, Darwin, and every other evolutionist has the obligation to reasonably and logically explain where selflessness originated.

Not only that, but evolutionists have the obligation to explain where morals as a whole originated and upon what basis ought humans to engage in morality. On what basis is something considered right or wrong? Because every time one tries to explain a basis of morality that is not grounded in the nature of God, he opens the moral door to ISIS, Boko Haram, and cop killers. Further, evolutionists have to explain how morality could originate in amoral beings or substances. That would be a hard thing to explain!

Relative to morality, just as sociologist (and apparently agnostic) Dr. Rodney Stark explains in his book America’s Blessings: How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists, Suddendorf agrees religion is good for our morals! “Religion reduces the need for policing because believers are to some extent policing themselves through their conscience – to avoid divine, rather than secular, punishment. …[T]he religious approach has proven immensely successful in keeping people in line” (193).

In an interesting admission, Suddendorf seems to suggest that morality is inherent in human beings: “some researchers suggest that humans may possess a universal moral grammar that is partly innate” (196-7). That makes the effort to explain the origin of morality even harder for the atheist. It is not, therefore, a “social” construct!

Did morality originate in primates? Based on Suddendorf’s review of the evidence, it is impossible to see how. Chimpanzees, for example, do not even blush. “There is also little evidence to suggest that animals police others’ conformity to norms (if indeed they have them) and punish transgressions” (208). He continues: “there is little reason to believe that they have anything like human moral codes” (209). Animals do not do anything similar to self-reflective moral reasoning.

Among all “animals” (Suddendorf’s view), only humans have created government that creates laws. Only humans have police that enforce those laws. Only humans have created prisons to punish those who violate these laws.

The evidence is clear, from the pen of an atheist. Morality is not created through social relationships; it is innate. It did not, could not have, originated in the animal world. Morality did not originate in either plants, animals, or minerals. It therefore had to have originated beyond this world, that is, in the mind of God. That being the case, whatever God says is moral, is moral. Whatever God says is immoral, is immoral.

–Paul Holland

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The Road to Jesus Leads to God

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The Israelites during Isaiah’s day, just like all humanity in every age, was separated from God by their sins (Isaiah 59:1-2). The Israelites had not respected the law of Moses, which God had given them (Isaiah 42:21, 24).

That is why Isaiah rebukes the “sin” (used 22 times), their “iniquities” (30 times), and “transgressions” (14 times). They were offending, Isaiah says, the “Holy One of Israel.”

In chapters 43-45, Isaiah pictures the Israelites in exile in Babylon, an event that will not happen for another century and a few years. Isaiah also explicitly names a Gentile king, Cyrus of Persia, who will allow the Israelites to return home (44:28; 45:1). Giving Cyrus’s name more than a century in advance, as well as prophesying the return itself, is explicitly given to show Israel that their God knows the future and can control the future.

For that reason, Isaiah encourages Israel to “not fear” what will happen to them: 43:1, 5; 44:2, 8. In this text, Isaiah 43-45, Isaiah constantly reminds Israel that God is the one who had formed them, created them, and made them: 43:1, 7; 44:2, 24; 45:18.

Not only that, but it is also God, their Maker, who is their Redeemer and their Savior. Isaiah identifies God as Israel’s Savior in 43:3, 11, 15, and 21. He is identified as the “Redeemer” in 43:1, 14; 44:6, 23, 24.

Back in 40:3 we have observed that John the baptizer (who fulfills this promise) was to pave the way for the coming of the “Lord” (Jehovah) and “God.” That passage demands that we understand Jesus to be “Jehovah incarnate” and “God in the flesh” (thus 7:14).

But in 44:6, Isaiah also says these words: “Thus says the Lord (Jehovah), the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord (Jehovah) of hosts.” Please observe we have two individuals portrayed here, both identified as Lord (Jehovah). This Person is Jehovah, God, Redeemer, King, and Savior.

When each of those designations are applied to Jesus Christ in the New Testament, the writers are demanding that we view Jesus as the embodiment of the eternal God. Yes, He is “God with us” (Matthew 1:21) and embodies the “fullness of the Godhead” (Colossians 2:9).

At the end of our chosen text, Isaiah 45:23, God says, “I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.” You probably recognize this verse as being quoted by Paul in Romans 14:11 and Philippians 2:10 showing that God will have all men confess the name of Christ.

Isaiah also saw this promise as being universal for back in verse 14, he sees people from Egypt, Cush, and the Sabeans coming to worship God with the Jews. All that worship will ultimately be acceptable to God, as sins are forgiven by the Redeemer, when the Son of God comes and gives His life a sacrifice for all of mankind.

Indeed, we smell the beautiful scent of Jesus Christ on every page of the Gospel of Isaiah!

–Paul Holland

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Life is Too Short To Live in Prose

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Where rhymes are scarce and no one knows

What beauty lies within your soul

What hungry thoughts have had control

Or where at night your dreaming goes

Poetry tells of living’s throes

And in light of this, I must propose

That writing poems will make one whole

For common life takes quite a toll:

Life is too short to live in prose

  • Jewell Holland*God chose to write the Bible, about 1/3, in poetry. It would do us well to consider figures of speech in our Bible study.
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Neither Slumbers Nor Sleeps

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    When I was in kindergarten, I entered a coloring contest. I won the contest, one of the very few contests I have ever won. I won $15 and Mom and Dad let me spend $5 of it. I bought some crayons and maybe a coloring book; I remember the crayons – a package of 8, those really thick crayons. The page I colored was of Smokey the Bear and the contest was sponsored by some conservation organization.

 

    Smokey the Bear is the best known real bear. We are also familiar with that chubby, little cubby all stuffed with fluff – Winnie the Pooh. Then there’s the Paddington Bear, Yogi Bear, Baloo, Fozzie Bear.

 

    Technically speaking, bears do not hibernate. Bears in zoos, who have food available to them all the time do not go into, what scientists call, dormancy. Even if it gets really cold, they do not have to go dormant. There is little change in a bear’s body temperature, breathing, or metabolic rate. A sleeping bear can be awakened quite easily.

 

    Hibernation is, scientifically speaking, different. When animals, like bats, hedgehogs, and some squirrels hibernate, their body temperature drops to 32 degrees. Their breathing slows down considerably; their heart rate slows almost to the point it can’t be registered. If you try to awaken a hibernating animal, it would take some time, even a few hours.

 

    Bears go dormant during the winter time because food is scarce. Without a steady supply of food, a bear would have a hard time maintaining its body temperature. Bears store body fat while food is available and then live off that fat while they are dormant. In fact, bears do not defecate while dormant; their body turns the waste into protein.

 

    There is one passage that deals with God in the context of sleep – Psalm 121. Consider the first few verses: “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep.”

 

    In contrast with bears, humans, and nearly every other living being – even plants go into a dormant state during the winter – God never goes dormant. He never has to sleep. He never has to rest. He never has to wind down.

 

    God is always present, always ready to hear, listen, and bless.

–Paul Holland

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“HUMAN RIGHTS”

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HUMAN RIGHTS” – THERE IS AN ANNUAL DAY FOR THEM.

  • Most like the idea of people having “rights,” but asking about the source of rights is often overlooked.
  • Before the Declaration of Independence was drafted, preachers were talking about “rights.”
  • In the not too distant past, men contended that rights come from God.
  • Do we have “unalienable” rights from God and what they are?

 

IN THE FIRST CHAPTER OF THE BIBLE – GENESIS 1 – WE FIND A BASIS FOR NOT ONLY “RIGHTS,” BUT “RIGHTS WHICH COME FROM GOD.

 

  1. God is all powerful and over all, and He certainly has the “rights” to all things.
  2. 1:27 says man has been “made in the image of God.”

 

  • If God has “all rights” and man is in the image of God, we may infer man has some God-given rights.
  • Adam and Eve had some rights without civil government.
  • 1:26 – READ
  • Man has been given “dominion” over the earth.
  • “Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Josh. 24:15).
  • Choices come with consequences.
  • In Rev 22:17 we are told:
  • In Rom. 6:17 Paul said, “You became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching whereunto you were delivered.”

 

  • All have the right to learn the truth and come and access salvation (eternal life from God).
  • God put men and women on equal footing at the creation; Eve was made from the “side” of man.
  • Adam and Eve were partners; both had “equal rights,” but both did not fulfill the same functions.
    1. 3:28 says “in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek” (one race is not better than another).
    2. In Christ, there is neither “bond nor free” (there are not slaves and non-saves).
  • Equality means sameness of importance, but it does not mean all are entitled to do all the same jobs.
    2 Tim. 4:2-4 – READ
  • As a Christian and especially as a preacher, Timothy had the right to “preach the word.”
  • God’s people have the right to speak, regardless of who is listening.
  • We have the right to “publish abroad the kingdom of God” (Lk. 9:60).
  • We have the right to tell people: “repent or perish” (Lk. 13:3).
  • We have the right to affirm heaven exists and hell is real, eternal, and hot.
  • We have the right to “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
  • We have the right to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Mt. 6:33).
  • The saved have the right to “come to the throne of God with boldness” (Heb. 4:16).
  • We have the right to assemble on Sunday because it is the “Lord’s Day” and we are the Lord’s people.
  • We have the right to be the people of God and to stand up and boldly proclaim the truth to a lost world.
  • The world is confused about rights.
  • Without an absolute standard and a higher power, “rights” are really “rights in name only.”

    “DERECHOS HUMANOS” – hay un día anual para ellos.

    1) La mayoría, como la idea de la gente que tiene “derechos”, sino preguntar sobre el origen de los derechos a menudo se pasa por alto.
    2) Antes de que se redactó la Declaración de Independencia, predicadores hablaban de “derechos”.
    3) En un pasado no muy lejano, los hombres afirmaron que los derechos provienen de Dios.
    4) ¿Tenemos derechos “inalienables” de Dios y lo que somos?

    En el primer capítulo de la Biblia – Génesis 1 – WE encontrar una base para no sólo “derechos”, pero “DERECHOS QUE vienen de Dios.

    i) Dios es todo poderoso y sobre todo, y ciertamente tiene el “derecho” a todas las cosas.
    ii) Génesis 1:27 dice que el hombre se ha “hecho a la imagen de Dios.”

    2) Si Dios tiene “todos los derechos” y el hombre es a imagen de Dios, podemos inferir hombre tiene algunos derechos dados por Dios.
    3) Adán y Eva tenían algunos derechos sin gobierno civil.
    4) 1:26 – LEA
    5) El hombre ha sido dado “dominio” sobre la tierra.
    6) “Escogeos hoy a quién sirváis” (. Josué 24:15).
    7) Las opciones vienen con consecuencias.
    8) En 22:17 se nos dice:
    9) En Rom. 06:17 Pablo dijo: “Usted obedecido de corazón a aquella forma de doctrina a la cual fuisteis entregados”.

    10) Todos tienen el derecho a conocer la verdad y ven a la salvación de acceso (la vida eterna de Dios).
    11) Dios puso a los hombres y mujeres en pie de igualdad en la creación; Eva fue hecha desde el “lado” del hombre.
    12) Adán y Eva eran socios; ambos tenían “igualdad de derechos”, pero ambos no cumplen las mismas funciones.
    i) Gal. 03:28 dice “en Cristo, no hay ni Judio ni griego” (una raza no es mejor que la otra).
    ii) En Cristo, no hay ni “esclavo ni libre” (no hay esclavos y no guarda).
    13) La igualdad significa igualdad de importancia, pero esto no significa que todos tienen derecho a hacer todos los mismos puestos de trabajo.
    2 Tim. 4: 2-4 – LEER
    14) Como cristiano y sobre todo como un predicador, Timothy tenía derecho a “predicar la palabra.”
    15) pueblo de Dios tiene el derecho de hablar, independientemente de quién está escuchando.
    16) Tenemos el derecho a “publicar el exterior del reino de Dios.” (Lc 9:60).
    17) Tenemos el derecho de decirle a la gente:. “Arrepentirse o perecer” (Lc 13: 3).
    18) Tenemos el derecho de afirmar que existe el cielo y el infierno es real, eterno, y caliente.
    19) Tenemos el derecho a “contender ardientemente por la fe una vez dada a los santos” (Judas 3).
    20) Tenemos el derecho a “buscar primero el reino de Dios y su justicia” (Mt. 6:33).
    21) El salvado tiene derecho a “venir al trono de Dios con confianza.” (Hebreos 4:16).
    22) Tenemos el derecho a reunirse el domingo porque es el “Día del Señor”, y que son el pueblo del Señor.
    23) Tenemos el derecho de ser el pueblo de Dios y para ponerse de pie y audazmente proclamar la verdad a un mundo perdido.
    24) El mundo está confundido acerca de los derechos.
    25) Sin una norma absoluta y un poder superior, “derechos” son realmente “derechos en único nombre.”

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How the Bible Authorizes – A Case Study Assisting Orphans and Widows

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We know what Jesus expects out of Christians today by studying what He expected out of Christians in the first century, through His own commands and those of His inspired apostles and prophets. What He commanded is what He expected. We learn what He commanded through inference and approved examples of faithful behavior.

    We’ll just use the idea of helping orphans and widows as a case study to illustrate the point because we have had some brethren who claimed that the church was not authorized to help non-Christian orphans and widows. Their argument is that the commands are for individual Christians, not for the church as a whole.

    Let’s read James 1:27: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” The approach some take is to show that this command is addressed to individual Christians and not to congregations.

    One rebuttal is that this verb (“to visit”) is governed by a singular personal pronoun. But that is not accurate. Please observe that the verb that is governed by a singular pronoun (“oneself”) is the verb “to keep unstained,” not “to visit.” There is no pronoun that governs “to visit.”

    A second rebuttal is to cite verses that use singular nouns or pronouns (1:2, 16, 19, 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 22-27). But, in doing so, they ignore the verses that use plural nouns or pronouns (vss 2, 5, 16, 19, 22). All this proves, however, is that James uses the singular and plural nouns/pronouns  interchangeably. 

    A third rebuttal is to argue from the “context” of verses 26-27 in such a way so as to leave out the clear address to the churches (1:1) and 2:1ff. It is not proper to limit the context by one’s own reasoning. By that same “reasoning,” I can take verse 27a, and interpret it in its own “narrow” context. That is, I could argue that it is a general command relative to “pure religion” and is still not limited only to individual Christians.

    The fact of the matter is some put far too much theological weight on these plural/singular pronouns. By this “reasoning,” if James had wanted to teach that churches could help non-Christian widows and orphans, he should have written in plural pronouns. But by this same “reasoning,” then they would have argued that individual Christians can’t help non-Christians because all the pronouns are plural! Who can believe that!?

    These brethren are simply wrong that James is writing “specifically” to the individual in chapter 1. James did not write with verse and chapter divisions anyway. What James is doing is simply encouraging Christians, even in their aggregate body as a church, to follow the example of Jesus who served and fed non-Christians.

–Paul Holland

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What the Road to Hell is Paved With – Matthew 21:28-31

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    A woman called the police station to report a skunk in her cellar. She was told to make a trail of bread crumbs from the basement to the yard then wait for the skunk to follow it out of the basement. A while later, the woman called again and reported that she had done as she was told, but now she had two skunks in her basement. As they say, the Road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

    Following the interchange where the Jews ask Jesus for His authority, He gives a short parable that hits at the very heart of the Jewish religious leaders’ attitude toward God.

What do you think? – vs 28:

    Jesus wants them to listen, to meditate, to contemplate, and to act on what He says. Eighteen times in the Gospels, Jesus has told His audience, either big or small – “Do not think about this” or “They think that”, “Why do you think” or – as here – “What do you think?”

A MAN HAD TWO SONS – vss 29-30:

    These two sons represent the Jews on one hand and the Gentiles on the other. But in God’s eyes, today there are only two classes of people. Both these classes of people are morally deficient in one way or another. The difference here is that one recognizes the wickedness in himself and the other does not. The one seeks forgiveness from God; the other does not.

    One Son resolutely refuses and then changes his mind – Verses 28-29. The Son refused. Refuse a direct request from the father? There are those who reject, not just any father, but the holy and righteous Father in Heaven!

    But afterward, after reflection, after introspection and self-examination, the son “regrets” his response and goes and serves. Who is this “son”? We’ll see in a moment.

    One Son intends to go but does not – He’s the one who makes the pretense to be obedient. His façade is one of holiness and righteousness and obedience. But, the same truth is that his intentions were not strong enough to follow through. He did not go.

THE QUESTION – vs 31:

    That’s not a hard question to answer. Indeed, few of Jesus’ questions were hard to answer.

THE APPLICATION – vss 31-32:

    Tax collectors and prostitutes. People who cheat others and people who abuse themselves. That pretty much encapsulates all the different types of sins that a man can commit. The people whom Jesus had been criticized for eating with all the way back in chapter 9: the tax collectors and prostitutes.

    Jesus reminds them of the preaching of John who had been put to death about three years before. John preached that the Jews should repent and believe the fulfillment of the prophets’ message: they should believe the Gospel. Some Jews confessed their sins and were baptized into water for the forgiveness of their sins and to prepare them for the coming kingdom of the Messiah.

    Most of the Pharisees did not believe John. They believed that John’s message was his own; it was not sent from heaven. They intended to obey God, but their intention was on their own terms. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    The road to heaven is paved with godly intentions, intentions that follow through with faithful obedience. In our parable, Jesus says, “the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe John.” Good intentions will only get you so far. For them to lead you to heaven, they’ve got to be followed up with faithful obedience. The tax collectors and prostitutes responded to John’s call for repentance and amended their whole way of living and their approach to God.

    But the Pharisees, seeing the response of the tax collectors and prostitutes, were not even motivated by their example or by the feeling of exclusion – they still did not feel remorse for their own sins and refused still to believe in John.

    The Pharisees intended to be righteous. They intended to appear to men to be great spiritual leaders. They intended to be the first ones into heaven. But their intentions fell dreadfully short when their self-righteousness got in the way.

    It is not enough to talk about doing what is right. We have to follow through with faithful obedience.

–Paul Holland

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