Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Killing the Unborn

The book of Amos primarily contains prophecies and judgments pertaining to Israel. But the book begins by listing various sins of the surrounding cities and nations, finally ending with Israel.

The words condemning each place begin with this phrase: "For three transgressions...and for four I will not revoke its punishment" (Amos 1:3,6,9,11,13; 2:1,4,6). Most of the time, this phrase was followed by just one sin. The phrase is a figure of speech meaning that this sin that is mentioned, after everything else they had done, is what caused the Lord's patience to end and His wrath to begin. Each city or nation reached this point in different ways.

Notice in particular the words regarding Ammon:

"For three transgressions of the sons of Ammon and for four I will not revoke its punishment, because they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to enlarge their borders" (Amos 1:13).

What did the people of Ammon do that caused the Lord decide it was time to punish them? They killed the unborn children.

We see the attitude of the Lord towards those who would have no regard for an unborn child and choose to abort a baby. Those who practice this, and those who defend the practice (cf. Romans 1:32), must repent if they want to avoid God's punishment. And the punishment that is coming is far worse than what Ammon was threatened with (Matthew 13:50; Mark 9:48; Revelation 21:8).

Every soul is precious to God. That is why He sent Jesus to die for all (John 3:16). God is also "not one to show partiality" (Acts 10:34), which means that the soul of the unborn is just as precious to Him as the soul of the born.

The word of God uses the same Greek term (brefos) to describe a child inside the womb (Luke 1:41) and outside the womb (Luke 2:12). This is different than people today who call an unborn child an embryo, or a fetus, but not a baby.

We must see the unborn as God sees them -- human beings, living beings, that are precious in His eyes. They must not be disregarded. They must not be downgraded to something less than human, and therefore, can be eliminated. God will deal harshly, and justly, with those who practice or defend this type of infanticide.

Friday, August 15, 2008

"Hail, Rabbi!"

Judas is one of the most infamous characters in the Bible. Most people with at least a limited knowledge of the Bible know who Judas was. He was the one who betrayed Jesus.

How could Judas betray Jesus? After all, he was one of the 12 disciples. He had been with Jesus throughout His public ministry. Why betray Him?

We may have a clue given in the betrayal account for one of the reasons Judas could have betrayed Jesus. Notice Matthew's account:

"While He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a large crowd with swords and clubs, who came from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, 'Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him.' Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, 'Hail, Rabbi!' and kissed Him" (Matthew 26:47-49).

Did you notice what Judas called Jesus? He called Him, "Rabbi."

Rabbi meant teacher. While it may have been a title of honor, it was also used to refer to many religious leaders and teachers (Matthew 23:6-7). Jesus, of course, was different than all these other men. He was more than a teacher. He was the Son of God, Savior, and Lord.

Did Judas view Jesus as just another teacher? Possibly. It is interesting that earlier, when Jesus tells His disciples that one of them would betray Him, Judas' response was different than the others. The eleven asked, "Surely not I, Lord?" (Matthew 26:22). Judas asked, "Surely it is not I, Rabbi?" (Matthew 26:25).

The other disciples certainly recognized Jesus as a teacher (John 9:2; 11:8), but they also knew He was the Lord. We don't see Judas calling Jesus "Lord." All we know from the gospels is that Judas saw Him as a teacher. We don't know any more than that.

There are many today who see Jesus as a great teacher who had some good things to say, but not as the Son of God and Lord. Failure to recognize the Lordship, and therefore, the authority of Jesus, leaves us with no strong motivation to obey Him. If Jesus was merely a good teacher among many, we can take some of His words and reject others, just as we do with other men's words.

We cannot treat Jesus as if He were just another man. He was (and is) special. He was God in the flesh (Matthew 1:23; Colossians 2:9). If we wish to be saved, we must obey Him (Hebrews 5:9). This means obeying all of His commands, not just the ones that sound good to us (Matthew 28:20).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fearing the Party of the Circumcision

Paul told the Galatians about the occasion when he had to confront his fellow apostle Peter about his sin (Galatians 2:11-14). This public rebuke occurred in Antioch. Paul explained why Peter "stood condemned" (v. 11):

"For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision" (v. 12). Paul goes on the explain that the rest of the Jews, even Barnabas, followed him in his hypocrisy (v. 13). Paul condemned Peter for not being "straightforward about the truth of the gospel" (v. 14).

Everything began with Peter "fearing the party of the circumcision." He thought too highly of these men. He wanted to be accepted among their sect. He was loyal to the party line. As a result, "he stood condemned" (v. 11).

Christians today sometimes make the same mistake as Peter. They fear the party of _____. This could be a college, magazine, or publishing company. It might be those who hold a certain doctrine. Whatever the party, some Christians, like Peter, want to be accepted by these brethren because they think too highly of them, and so they speak and act by the party's standards.

The results are the same as they were with Peter. They refuse to associate with ones that wouldn't be accepted by the party. They act hypocritically, preaching the gospel of Christ and following Jesus as Lord, yet following the message of these men and elevating them above others. They are not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, because that would lead them to condemn the sects they so look up to.

Let us learn from Peter's example. Do not think so highly of men, even brethren, that you will compromise the truth in order to be accepted by them. Our allegiance must be to Christ, and Christ alone.

Friday, August 1, 2008

PBT - August 2008

The August issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:

  • Hold Fast the Pattern by Andy Sochor
  • In the Days of Those Kings by Andy Sochor
  • The Greater Need by Robert A. Sochor
  • No One is Good Except God Alone by Andy Sochor
You can read the new articles by clicking on the link below. I hope you may find the new material helpful to you.

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