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You Are Mistaken, Not Knowing the Scriptures

Sunday, November 21, 2021

You Are Mistaken, Not Knowing the Scriptures

David Sproule

The Pharisees and Sadducees were the two major Jewish sects during the lifetime of Jesus.  The Sadducees were more inclined toward the political matters of the day than they were the law of God (to which some Christians ought to take note today), but to their credit (at least in this small point), they followed a strict interpretation of the Pentateuch, as opposed to revering the oral traditions like the Pharisees.  So, if anyone in that day would have had a good working knowledge of the books of Moses, it would have been the Sadducees—right?

In Matthew 22, right after the Pharisees tried to “entangle” Jesus (22:15-22), “The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him” (22:23).  Notice how they begin their attempt to trap our Lord—they quote Scripture: “Teacher, Moses said…” (22:24).  Then they proceeded to summarize the levirate marriage laws regulated by Moses in Deuteronomy 25:5-6, and then presented the Lord with an “impossible case” to solve in the implementation of that law, if there actually is a resurrection of the dead (which they did not believe).  They were convinced that they (1) had indisputably proved their point and thus (2) had trapped Jesus in His own falsehood. 

Look at how Jesus responds to their quotation and misapplication of Scripture: “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures” (22:29).  They had taken a verse and completely misused that verse to teach something that GOD (i.e., the BIBLE) did not teach.

So, how did Jesus answer their error?  He showed what the fullness of Scripture teaches.  One verse of Scripture cannot (and does not) contradict another.  The fullness of God’s Word must be gathered (Psa. 119:160) and handled accurately (2 Tim. 2:153:16-17).  Remember that the Sadducees only believed and followed the Pentateuch portion of the Old Testament.  So, Jesus went to that section of Scripture and said, “But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?” (22:31-32).  Jesus said that God said this “TO YOU.”  It’s in your Bible!  By quoting Exodus 3:6, Jesus allowed Scripture to prove that “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (22:32).  The Bible clearly taught the resurrection!

When you get into a discussion with someone who has quoted a verse to you but the entirety of Scripture does not validate their conclusion from that one verse, Jesus taught us to use the fullness of Scripture.  Let the Bible answer!  It’s not “my verse versus your verse.”  “The sum of God’s Word is truth!”  The best commentary on the Bible is…the Bible!

Blessed is the Man

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Blessed is the Man

Wade Lee Webster

For several weeks we have been considering the attitude that we are to have in worship (John 4:23-24). To analyze and adjust our attitudes we have been examining the beatitudes of the Bible. This week we will consider Psalm 1:1-2: “Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.”

Blessed is the man who DEPARTS. The man being praised in this psalm departs from the ungodly, from sinners, and from the scornful. He doesn’t walk with them, stand with them, or sit with them. Please note the progressive, or better yet, digressive direction of these verbs - walk, stand, sit. First, you walk with the ungodly, then you stand with sinners, and finally, you end up sitting with the scornful. The blessed man of this psalm departs from their counsel, their course (way), and their contempt (scorn). We have to develop this man’s attitude or we can’t adore God acceptably in worship. We can’t fellowship the wicked all week and then worship God acceptably on Sunday. We can’t listen to the scornful all week and then honor God on Sunday.

Blessed is the man who DELIGHTS. The man being praised in this psalm delights in God’s word. The Hebrew word translated as delight refers to pleasure, longing, desire, and joy. The blessed man hungers and thirsts for God’s word (Mt. 5:6; 1 Pet. 2:2). He desires it more than physical food (Job 23:12). God’s word is his joy (Acts 2:41). It is the rejoicing of his heart (Psa. 19:8). He desires God’s word more than gold (Psa. 19:10). He seeks it as one would seek silver or hidden treasure (Prov.2:3-5). We have to develop this man’s attitude to adore God acceptably on Sundays. We can’t delight in worldly things for six days and then flip a switch on Sunday. We must delight in God’s word daily to be ready to worship on Sunday.

Blessed is the man who DELIBERATES. The man being praised in this psalm deliberates on God’s word. He isn’t deliberating to decide if God’s word is true or not. He knows that it is (Psa. 119:160; John 17:17). He is meditating on it to glean all that he can from it. He wants to understand God’s will (Psa. 119:27; Eph. 5:17). He is meditating on God’s word because He doesn’t want to miss what God is telling him (Mt. 22:29). We have to develop this man’s attitude to adore God acceptably on Sundays. Shallow study during the week leads to shallow worship on Sunday. To deepen our worship we have to deepen our study of God’s word.

As we get ready to worship this week, let’s follow the blessed man’s example of departing, delighting, and deliberating. If we will develop this man’s attitude, then our worship will be much more likely to be in spirit and in truth.

Using the Word “Tithe” in the Way the Bible Uses It

Saturday, November 06, 2021

Using the Word “Tithe” in the Way the Bible Uses It

David Sproule

Many religious groups today urge (and some require) members to give their “tithe” to the church.  How does the Bible use that word and how does it apply to us?

The word “tithe” literally means “ten, tenth.”  We first read about the “tithe” during the Patriarchal Age of the Old Testament (Gen. 14:2028:22).  Then, in the Mosaic Age, Jews were required to give a “tithe” of the land and livestock (Lev. 27:30-33), plus they made additional offerings (Deut. 14:22-29).  So, the Jews gave much more than a tenth, but that was their starting point (Mal. 3:10).

When we come to the Christian Age (i.e., the dispensation under which we live today), there is not a single command for Christians to “tithe” and there is not any example of early Christians “tithing.”  Every use of the term in the New Testament was a reference to the practice under Judaism, and we are no longer bound by the Old Testament law (Col. 2:14-17Heb. 8:8-1310:1-11).  Some people are surprised to learn that Christians are not told to “tithe,” as they have heard that term used so prevalently in some circles.  Other folks are excited to hear that they are not required to give ten percent and will choose to give less than that.  However, lest we totally misunderstand the teachings of the New Testament, let us examine what it teaches us.

First, consider the contrast that is made in the book of Hebrews between the old covenant (which specified a tithe) and the new covenant (which does not specify a tithe).  The epistle describes the new covenant as a “better covenant” (7:22; 8:6), established on “better promises” (8:6) through “better sacrifices” (9:23) and offering a “better hope” (7:19).  If the covenant under which we live is a superior covenant with superior blessings (than the old covenant), can we willfully give a percentage that is inferior to the ten percent required under the inferior covenant?

Second, consider the manner in which God speaks about the giving we are privileged to do under the new covenant.  We are to give every Sunday (1 Cor. 16:1-2), as we “purpose in our hearts” (2 Cor. 9:7).  That heart should give (1) proportionally to how God has blessed him (1 Cor. 16:28:12), (2) bountifully (2 Cor. 9:6), (3) generously (Rom. 12:8), (4) cheerfully (2 Cor. 9:7) and (5) happily (Acts 20:35).  Paul praised some brethren who, in “their deep poverty,” “abounded in the riches of their liberality” and gave “beyond their ability” (2 Cor. 8:2-3).  Why would they do that?  Because they realized how much the Lord had blessed them (2 Cor. 8:99:15)!

We are not commanded to “tithe” today, so we should not use that word.  But, we have an opportunity to show the Lord “the sincerity of [our] love” by how and how much we give to Him (2 Cor. 8:8).

Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted

Friday, October 29, 2021

Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted (Mt. 5:10-12)

Wade Webster

For several weeks we have been considering the attitude that we are to have in worship (John 4::23-24). To analyze and adjust our attitudes we have been examining the beatitudes of the Bible. This week we will consider Matthew 5:10-12: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

The early Christians faced severe persecution. They were pursued to strange cities and arrested. They were falsely accused and imprisoned. They had their property seized. They were barred from marketplaces and cast out of trade guilds. They were seen as enemies of the empire because they wouldn’t burn incense to Caesar. They were beaten and stoned.. They were compelled to blaspheme their Lord and they were tortured to turn one another in. They were devoured by lions to the cheers of bloodthirsty crowds. They were covered with oil and set on fire to illuminate Nero’s parties. They were beheaded. Yet, in spite of all of these things, they gathered and worshipped; and, they did so in spirit and in truth. You better believe that these Christians knew the price of righteousness and the cost of being connected with Christ. You better believe that the hope of heaven was in their hearts and that the Old Testament martyrs were on their minds.

We face little to no persecution today. While I am thankful that we don’t, I wonder if the peace that we enjoy makes us more passive than we ought to be when it comes to worship. We are not persecuted for righteousness sake. We are not reviled or ridiculed for Christ’s sake. As a result, worship may mean less to us. There is no risk or danger associated with our assemblies. There is no real fear that a knock on the door will end services and scatter worshippers. There is no thought that we might die for our faith today and go to heaven. There is no fellowship in the sufferings of Christ. Do you recall how the apostles rejoiced when they suffered for Christ? Luke records, “So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name”:(Acts 5:41). For sure, the apostles didn’t relish persecution, but they did rejoice in the intimate fellowship that this created with their Lord. They daily denied themselves and took up their crosses and followed Jesus (Lk. 9:23). They daily defied orders and preached Jesus in the temple (Acts 5:42). Imagine what these services were like for the apostles and those who assembled with them. They were risking everything to worship; that is, everything but heaven. Paul also spoke of the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. To the saints at Philippi, Paul wrote, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3:7-11; cf. 2 Cor. 1:5-7; Col. 1:24). Did you catch the references to suffering and righteousness and fellowship? Paul wanted to know the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. I believe that you will agree that he got his wish. I am confident that he worshipped with fresh stripes on his back from being beaten, with deep bruises on his body from being stoned, and with blisters on his wrists and ankles from being shackled and placed in stocks.

As we get ready to worship this week, let’s think about the persecution of the early Christians and the sufferings of Christ. Let’s think of how they took it patiently and joyfully. Sadly, we may one day face circumstances similar to the early church. In the meantime, I think that thinking about the persecution of the past will help our attitudes to be what they need to be right now as we worship.

18 Ways to “Build Up” One Another in Worship Assemblies

Saturday, October 23, 2021

18 Ways to “Build Up” One Another in Worship Assemblies

David Sproule

There is no better day of the week than the first day of the week!  There is no greater blessing and privilege on the first day of the week than to worship the God of all creation, our heavenly Father!  And the New Testament emphasizes that this wonderful opportunity takes place when “the church” “comes together” each Lord’s day (1 Cor. 11:171820333414:2326). 

One primary purpose for the church to “come together” to worship on the first day of the week is to “build up” one another.  That is repeated throughout the fourteenth chapter of First Corinthians (14:3, 4, 5, 12, 17), where Paul concludes: “Let all things be done for building up” (14:26).  While we can certainly “build up one another” outside the worship assembly, the “building up” emphasized in this chapter is a “building up” that is particular to the assembly of the church and cannot be given or received outside of it.  So, in a practical way, what are some things that we can do to “build up” one another when we assemble together as a church on the first day of the week?  Let’s consider just a few.

1. Arrive early, well before it’s time to start.
2. Start by talking to folks while in the parking lot.
3. Don’t just go to your seat; walk around greeting people.
4. Smile.
5. Hug.
6. Shake hands, fist bump, high five, whatever.
7. Have a real, genuine, intentional conversation.
8. Look into their eyes and show sincere interest.
9. Seek out folks you don’t know as well or speak to often.
10. Say something like, “It is so good to see you.”
11. Say something like, “How have you been doing this week?” and then listen.
12. Say something like, “I prayed for you this last week,” or “I will definitely pray for you this week.”
13. Participate heartily in the worship.
14. Sing out with joy, rather than sitting silently.
15. Reflect on the cross during the Lord’s Supper, rather than carrying on a conversation or making a grocery list.
16. Engage in the sermon and show real interest, rather than being disengaged, playing on your device or looking bored.
17. Don’t rush off.  Stay late, several minutes after dismissal.
18. Take the initiative, rather than waiting for others.

What would you add?  Let us make assembling on the Lord’s Day the most encouraging time of the week.

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