If The Blind Lead The Blind

If The Blind Lead The Blind

Sunday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

Kason Eubanks

In Matthew 15:14, Jesus said, “If the blind lead the blind both will end up falling in a pit.” Moses taught Joshua and Joshua knew what to do, but now Joshua would have to go without Moses. Joshua could still be a successful leader without Moses being with him, as long as he followed the way Moses set for him. I have three points to share with you today.

The first one is that God was with him. In Joshua 1, towards the end of verse 5, God said as he was with Moses he will always be with Joshua. Let’s say you just started a new job and have no idea what you’re doing. Your boss is never there and your coworkers don’t know what to do either. The job wouldn’t be a good job and you would be very unsuccessful. Joshua had to remember that God was with him because he had seen all the things that Moses had done when God was with Moses. Just as Moses had done, Joshua could do the same things with God by his side. In Matthew 28:20, just like with Joshua, God promises to be with us.

The second point is that Joshua had to be strong and courageous. According to Webster’s dictionary, courage means the quality of mind that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., with firmness and without fear. On your job during the week you go through pain but you know what’s coming at the end of it so you go through anything to get that paycheck. Going back to the first point, God was with Joshua. Joshua should have had no fear because God was with him. Joshua 1:6-7 says “Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause these people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.” What we need to do is be like Joshua and learn from our parents or even other people in the congregation so that we can not only learn to do what is commanded but what we need to teach others. Joshua was not the only one who needed to be strong and courageous, we all do. Tom staltman is the world’s strongest man. He’s pretty strong but no one can match the strength of Christian’s if we follow God’s word.

The last point is that Joshua had to read the word of God regularly and stick with it. The reason he had to read and memorize the word was so that he could faithfully lead God’s people in the right direction. Joshua 1:7-8 says, “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” 

If we read the word of God and meditate on it and remember it, we will be very successful in all that we do. I would like to end this point by reading a couple of passages. Psalm 1:1-2 tells us,  “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.“ And the other passage is Matthew 4:4, where Jesus answered, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

In Joshua 1, I would say the theme is obedience to God and his law. It is mentioned in verse 8 of the chapter that if we make our way prosperous we will be successful in all that we do.

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Moral Protection And Identification (1 John: Part 7)

Moral Protection And Identification (1 John: Part 7)

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

I’ll be repeating the book of I John in present-day terminology. It’s not a true translation of the book, as I am not qualified to do so. It will be based on an exegetical study of the book and will lean heavily on the SBL and UBS Greek New Testaments, as well as comparisons with other translations (ESV, NASB, NIV, ERV, NLT). My goal is to reflect the text accurately, and to highlight the intent of the author using concepts and vocabulary in common use today. 

This is not an “essentially literal” translation, and should be read as something of a commentary. 

Moral Protection, Identification

Anyone who continuously, consciously sins is anti-law. Sin itself is anti-law. We’ve known that Jesus was revealed to everyoneso that he could lift away sin, and sin doesn’t exist for you when you’re partners with him. Everyone who sticks with him avoids sin – if you continuously sin, it means you’ve never seen or known him. 

Children, don’t let anyone fool you. If you continually2 practice moral excellence, you’re as pure as he is. If you continuously practice sin, you’re an ally of satan. He’s been a sinner since the very beginning. 

God’s son was sent here1 for a specific reason: to destroy satan’s work. Anyone who joins God’s family for real is able to avoid sin. How? His very essence lives in you, so you’re unable to commit sin because you came from God. 

This is how you can tell the difference between God’s family and satan’s family: if they aren’t practicing moral goodness, they aren’t God’s. If they don’t selflessly love their Christian family, they aren’t God’s. 

 1 ἐφανερώθη means, “to reveal, make visible, … expose publicly … with focus on sensory aspect rather than cognitive” (BDAG φανεροω). The idea seems to be that, unlike his other missions – which were invisible to the human eye (cf II Kgs 6.17ff, 19.35; I Chron 21.14f) – Jesus’s presence was visible to everyone. Since the word is aorist passive, “was sent,” and, “was revealed,” seemed appropriate. 

 2 Use of continuously and continually is not accidental. No one can continuously practice righteousness (cf I Jn 1.8). John posits sin as something we all have, but which is not held against us. Only when we sin so much that it defines our existence do we find ourselves in darkness. While “continuously” is not literally correct, it highlights the intention of the author more effectively. One who sins without ever coming up for air is different from one who struggles with sin (cf I Jn 1.7f; Rom 7.14-25). 

Misguided Anarchists

Misguided Anarchists

Neal Pollard

In her excellent book about the many events leading up to World War I, Barbara Tuchman, in The Proud Tower, spends a chapter talking about the anarchist movements swirling particularly around Europe and the United States. It was the inspiration for several assassinations of important political figures, including one of our presidents—William McKinley. In the wake of the industrial revolution, many immigrant, uneducated, illiterate, and otherwise disadvantaged people, worked an incredibly high number of hours each week for less than living wages. They lived in deplorable conditions and had nearly no prospects of improving their plight or the plight of their children. A growing proposal around the industrialized world was to throw off all government and institute what amounted to a global commune with a total sharing of assets. It was not Communism because it did not want any organization or officials to rule and govern. Those who truly embraced the cause put total faith in man, in every case, to be noble and devoid of base motives like greed, power, and self-interest. It was anti-religious, anti-capitalist, anti-authority of any kind. Other than inspire attacks on famous people, the anarchists never came close to materializing their desired revolution. Rationale people knew there must be order and law.

Periodically, a similar movement rears its head even within the body of Christ. Christianity, in their view, is reduced to a single, undefined maxim: “Love Jesus.” While it can seem appealing, when it is viewed uncritically, it is unsustainable and self-defeating. When Jesus was asked the greatest commandment in the Law, He replied by saying it was a total love of God. He added that the second greatest command was loving others. Yet, throughout the gospels, Jesus expressed so many other specific commands for His followers that build upon that vital foundation. The men to whom He delegated authority to reveal His will and commands (John 14:26; 16:13) revealed His expectations of His followers. Pulpits and leaderships that deemphasize, avoid, or attempt to nullify these commands may be acting from high motives and noble desires, but they are more harmful than those anarchists of over 100 years ago. They encourage more than civil disobedience. They encourage disobeying the God who will one day judge mankind. Human governments may rule from corruption, self-service, and oppressive intentions, but God’s Word never does. What God commands for us is only for our good. How should we respond? We should humbly, reverently, lovingly, and totally submit to His reign and rule in our lives. May that be our highest aim!

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A NEW WAY TO HANDLE PRODIGAL SONS

A NEW WAY TO HANDLE PRODIGAL SONS

Neal Pollard

Deuteronomy was apparently a favored Old Testament book for our Lord.  It was this last book of the Pentateuch Jesus quotes each time He is tempted by the Devil in the wilderness (Mt. 4:4,7,10).  His writing on discipline (Mt. 18:16) and divorce (Mt. 5:31; 19:7) draw on Moses’ writings in that book, too.  It is interesting, considering Christ’s propensity to reflect upon the book of Deuteronomy, to see the instructions given under the old law in dealing with prodigal sons:

If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father
or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them,
then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders
of his city at the gateway of his hometown.  “They shall say to the elders of
his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he
is a glutton and a drunkard.’ “Then all the men of his city shall stone him to
death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear
of it and fear (Deut. 21:18-21).

Interestingly, these statements are found in the context of meting out inheritances to sons.  Notice, however, the way God chose to deal with profligate (i.e., wasteful and immoral) sons under the first covenant.  There seems to have been a perceived tie between rebellion toward parents and rebellion against God.  The worst case scenario for such a child was the death penalty, the men of the city hurling the rocks.

How shocking Jesus’ story might have been, seen in the context and in contrast to the law under which the Jews still served at the time!  As He so often did, Jesus points to a new way of divine dealing with mankind.  The Prodigal (i.e., wasteful) Son in Luke 15:11ff was certainly stubborn and rebellious, wanting free from the rule of his father.  Yet, the father allowed the son to depart.  The son lived in total dissipation and then longed to come home.  The homecoming he received from his father was totally unexpected.  He was joyfully, lovingly welcomed.  In fact, the hard-hearted, begrudging brother is depicted as having greater spiritual problems since he refused to follow the father’s lead.

We are all sinners (Rom. 3:23).  We all are in need of the Father’s grace and forgiveness.  We also are instructed, by the Father’s perfect example and the older brother’s wrongheaded response, about how to receive our prodigal brothers and sisters who want to come home!  Thank God that because of Christ, we have a new way to handle prodigals and to be handled as prodigals who come back to the Father!

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THE PATTERN FOR MARRIAGE

THE PATTERN FOR MARRIAGE

Neal Pollard

Matthew 19:1-12 records an incident where, because the Pharisees are trying to test Jesus (vs. 3), He has occasion to reveal His will about marriage.  As we analyze this text, we find several notable facts about marriage. These verses show us the mind and will of God on an institution that is increasingly under assault. Consider four facts about this great passage of Scripture.

This is from the Christ. One of the more common arguments made even by supposed biblical scholars is that Jesus never condemns homosexuality. But what does He do? He defines marriage (4-5). The law of exclusion says that what God doesn’t authorize in His Word is forbidden in doctrine and practice. The Lord has authorized marriage as an institution between man and woman. He did not have to say, “…but not between a man and two or more women” and “not between a man and an animal” and “not between two people of the same gender.” He makes clear what He sees marriage as being.

This is from the creation. Other passages tell us Christ is actually the Creator (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2). So not only does He, as Deity, designate what marriage is—He designed it in the first place. Jesus reaches behind changes made to God’s marriage law under the Law of Moses and cites how God designed it “from the beginning” (4). Anything that does not conform to His pattern in this text runs counter to God’s original intent. You may not that this excludes more than same-sex marriage. It excludes adulterous marriage (vs. 9) as well as sex outside of marriage (this is implied here: “joined to his wife,” not “girlfriend”; of course, “fornication” or “sexual immorality” is dealt with explicitly in many other New Testament passages). Jesus goes back to the creation to state the pattern for marriage as being one man and one woman for life.

This is a command. It is not a command that you have to be married, but if you do get married you must conform to Christ’s will concerning it. We see this in the force of Jesus’ “but I say unto you.” He is exerting His right of authority, even showing His law trumps the Law of Moses. A person who is looking to be married must make sure their relationship conforms to His command.

This is controversial.  It is not just the homosexual community who balk at Jesus’ words here. I have close family members (and so do you, probably) whose marriages are at odds with what Jesus commands in this context. Jesus Himself forewarns that this is a difficult and narrow teaching (10), a rejected teaching (11), and a teaching that calls for extreme sacrifice (12). I dare say there is as much blowback from the heterosexual community as the homosexual community where this passage is clearly taught. In either case, it comes down to whether we will follow the command of the Christ, the Creator. Our submission or rebellion cannot change the immutable (i.e., unchangeable) nature of Divine truth.

Marriage is a beautiful gift given by a loving God. Though society may corrupt it and seek to redefine it, but the will of God stands forever. May we have the courage, humility, and strength to take Him at His word and conform our lives to it—on this and every subject.