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I received the following comments from a reader of this blog:

Brittany: Nathan, I am concerned that you are online writing in depth about scripture, yet you are not a part of a bible teaching church? where are your elders, your men around you to sharpen and rebuke you? It is easy to find people to agree with you on the internet, it is entirely different to “do life” with other families that are a part of the church to help keep ourselves in check. It is one thing to do a scholarly study of the word, yet you do not serve in Christs church? The church is the bride of Christ, and we all have a place in it.

Precepts: Brittany,

My comments, both given above and in the “About” section of my website, have to do with the affiliation of my website and of the studies posted on the website. I did not intend my comments to say anything about whether or not I attend a church or fellowship with other believers. My point was only that this website is not affiliated with any group or organization, even one that I myself might be affiliated with. The articles posted on this website are my own, and are the results of my own, personal studies in the Word of God. They are, indeed, not passed by anyone else for approval but myself before they are posted. Thus, they are my own responsibility and, as I said, the result of my own studies and my own conclusions entirely. Read the rest of this entry »

meat02When we examine things that seem to contradict in Scripture, few are so difficult to consider as those that are connected to issues about which many will have deep theological convictions. When contradictions are noticed between the Bible’s statements regarding these things, contradictory passages will be quickly explained away, and passages supporting the beliefs of those setting them forth will be the ones that are emphasized. However, when it comes to the most important of issues, passages that offer a different view should not be swept under the rug. If an issue is important, then understanding all the Bible passages related to it must be equally important. Therefore, all passages involved should be examined and have their proper place. Nothing should be shoved under the rug. An issue like this may be the issue of “Clean and Unclean Meats.”

In the book of Acts chapter 15, an argument arose between Paul and Barnabas and certain men who came from Judea. They were disputing as to whether the new believers had to be circumcised after the manner of Moses and keep the law in order to be saved. Paul and Barnabas, along with certain of the other party, went up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders to determine the answer to this question. The decision of the resulting Jerusalem council is summarized in Acts 15:29. Read the rest of this entry »

definesin02I received the following question:

I have a question for you.  We have recently been studying/discussing the meaning and definition of “sin.”  Does the definition change between the Old Testament, the Gospel Period, the Acts period, and now in the Dispensation of Grace?

The definition I’ve been given is “missing the mark.”  Appropriate, but kind of vague.

My main question has to do with Christ Jesus.  It focuses on sin, particularly referring to II Corinthians 5:20 & 21  –  (20. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.  21. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.)

Since Jesus “knew no sin”, it has been suggested that his only sin was the fact that he died.  Can the unavoidable reality of death be a sin?  I have a hard time accepting this concept.  I lean towards the belief that death is the consequence of the original sin, not a sin itself.

Good to hear from you! Very good question. I will answer as best I can. Read the rest of this entry »

Another question that often arises when it comes to Biblical matters is the matter of so-called “white lies.” There are a good many of these in the Scriptures, and we will not attempt to consider all of them here. Instead, we will make note of a few pertinent examples. First of all, there are times when things that seem to be “white lies” are commanded to be spoken by the LORD. For example, the LORD commanded Moses to say to Pharaoh:

Exodus 3:18. Then they will heed your voice; and you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt; and you shall say to him, “The LORD God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now, please, let us go three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.”

We know that this was communicated to Pharaoh, as we are clearly told this in Exodus 8:27.

27. We will go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD our God as He will command us.”

So the LORD seems to make out that all He wants is the freedom for His people to go three days’ journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to Him. He does not act like what He actually wants is for them to be able to go free and leave the land of Egypt altogether. Yet when the Egyptians actually let the Israelites go, we read in Exodus 14:5:

5. Now it was told the king of Egypt that the people had fled, and the heart of Pharaoh and his servants was turned against the people; and they said, “Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?”

So when the time came, the people fled from Egypt altogether, and didn’t just go three days journey into the wilderness. Did the LORD, therefore, command Moses to lie to Pharaoh in making this claim? Read the rest of this entry »

Introduction

In our first message, we introduced the difficulty found in Scripture when God seems to command people to do things that are sinful. We examined specific cases of “sin by command” and considered the reasons for them. First, we discussed the command for Hosea to marry a prostitute; and not just a former one, but one who was still practicing. Yet we found that there was no specific command against anyone who was not a priest marrying a prostitute, though a woman who was a prostitute should have been punished herself. Second, we viewed the command to Ezekiel to eat meat defiled by being cooked on human dung. Yet we pointed out that the only reason food was unclean is because God proclaimed it unclean. Since it was not something inherent in the food itself and God made the clean and unclean laws, He certainly had the right to tell someone not to keep them, if He so wished. The same applies to the command to Peter to kill and eat unclean things in Acts 10.

From there we examined more examples. First was the case of the prophet in I Kings 20 who commanded a man to strike him. When the man refused, he was punished with death. Yet we established the principle that the ultimate good is always to obey the voice of the LORD, and the worst of sin is to disobey Him from I Samuel 15:22-23a. Read the rest of this entry »

beggar02I received the following question:

In conversations with friends about biblical generosity, a question was brought up.  While the bible clearly instructs us to give to the needy, people often caution to not give such that the needy person becomes dependent on your gifts.  Where is the idea of Not-Giving-To-Prevent-Dependency found in the bible?

I don’t think such a concept is found in the Bible.

We have to understand that Biblical giving in the Old Testament is always in the context of community. Those giving knew the ones being given to, and were aware of their real situation. In this case, what a person’s real needs were would be fairly well known and understood. In the New Testament, though oftentimes we see long distance giving, like Paul’s converts among the nations giving to the poor believers in Judea, the money was being distributed by apostles, who not only were inspired in their actions so that their giving would be distributed as best possible, but also again were local and aware of the real situation of those being given to. Read the rest of this entry »

I received the following question:

Are fearing God and working righteousness required of us today? And if so, if someone who does not believe that Jesus died for their sins, but fears God and works righteousness (i.e. religious), what is their standing in the kingdom?  Thanks.

Well, this would be entirely dependent upon what they did know of God. Anyone who hears the true message about Christ, understands it (is generated by God to understand it,) and rejects it cannot be said to be fearing God. Anyone who refuses to believe is not a God-fearer. Of course, there could be many extenuating circumstances. If some (like many Israelites) have been persecuted in the name of Jesus Christ by those who take His name emptily, if they then hear the truth about Christ, we can well understand why they might not believe it and reject it. But assuming there really was a God-given understanding of the truth, no unbeliever can be described like Acts 10:34-35.

If we assume that the one in question has not heard the true message about Jesus Christ or received any further revelation of Him, however, then yes, if he fears God and works righteousness, he will be accepted by God. I do not know that I would describe this as “being religious.” Religion tends to be man’s attempt to approach God on his own terms. The only true religion ever was the one God gave Israel. One who fears God may attempt to approach him in wrong ways, it is true. But those misguided attempts will not be what helps him, but simply that he fears God, and works the things that he knows to be right. Read the rest of this entry »

I received the following question:

You mentioned the responsibilities we have when we know about and understand the kingdom of God. Could you elaborate on these responsibilities please? I’m still trying to figure out where I go from here, now that the “ministry” and “soul-winning” have been left behind.

I believe that the kingdom is our future hope of God someday taking control of the earth’s governments and ruling over the whole world. Our responsibilities towards it, then, are to believe what the Bible says about it, make that our true hope (rather than the substitute hope of heaven,) and live our lives in anticipation of it.

I sympathize with the difficulty of knowing what to do with the truth now that you have it. The church lays out a nice program for eager believers to follow, but without the church to guide you the path seems less clear. I would suggest several things: Read the rest of this entry »

I received the following question:

2 Chronicles 19:2 “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Therefore the wrath of the LORD is upon you.
 
Is this kind of the same concept as for today and not what was the truth for love those who hate you or love your enemy that Jesus said in Matthew 5?

King Jehoshaphat seemed to have some grand scheme in mind whereby he was going to reunite the long-estranged nations of Israel in the north and Judah in the south. It seems this scheme was something he entered into on his own, however, and not by consulting the LORD about the matter. He was ignoring two facts, however. The first was that the northern kingdom was wicked, and had been since Jeroboam led them astray. If they were ever to reunite with Judah in the south, the LORD would need to do a work to change their hearts. Until then, all human efforts to reunite the two kingdoms were doomed to failure. The second fact was that the king of Israel at that time, Ahab, was very wicked, probably the wickedest king the northern kingdom ever had. This was not a good man for any Godly person to enter into an alliance with. Read the rest of this entry »

I received the following question:

Numbers 31:16. “Look, these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.

What was Balaam’s advice to the women that turned the Israelites away from the Lord?  Do we know?

The advice of Balaam seems to have been to send the women of Moab out to the Israelites. They then offered the men sexual favors if only they would worship their god with them. The god was Baal Peor or “the Lord of Opening,” whom when the men would worship, the women would “open” to them.

Balaam was a prophet, and no doubt knew both the LORD’s standards of morality, as well as His jealousy against worshiping any other gods. He used this knowledge to attempt to turn God against the Israelites by getting them to perform this wickedness. Sad that anyone would use knowledge of the LORD this way! The LORD did become angry with Israel because of this, and those men who became involved with Baal Peor were slain. However, the LORD’s anger also arose both against the Moabites and against Balaam because of this, and they were executed by the Israelites for their treacherous actions against Israel.