PB Writings by Elder Harold Hunt

Aaron's Priestly Garments

 AARON’S PRIESTLY GARMENTS

And they shall make an ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple and of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work,” Ex 28:6.

The Law Service was a system of types, and shadows, and figures. The various feasts, and sacrifices, and ceremonies represented, and acted out, divine truth. In the New Testament day we have God’s revelation, explained in clear, under-standable terms. No room is left for misunderstanding—not in the fundamental principles, anyway. If we take God at his word, we can discover all we need to know and do religiously.

Israel did not have such a clear revelation from God. But, even under the Old Testament Law Service, Israel had bene-fits which were not given to the Gentile world. They were able to know things about God which the Gentiles could not even guess at. Paul says, “What advantage, then, hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way; chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God,” Ro 3:1-2. That could not be said about any other people.

In the New Testament day we have Christ revealed as the very image of God himself (2Co 4:4). God in all his glory is revealed in the person of his Son. Every attribute of God is revealed in his Son.

In that day they had types and shadows. A shadow differs from the very image of any object in that the shadow only provides an outline. But even those bare outlines were far more than the Gentiles had.

And even though we have a much more clear revelation in this day, we should never minimize those types and shadows. Those shadows—those outlines if you will—can be very valuable in illustrating the principles that are more clearly revealed in the New Testament day. We do not accomplish much if we study the shadow without examining it in the better light of the New Testament, but, on the other hand, we lose very much if we never consider those God-provided Old Testament illustrations of divine truth. We do ourselves a great disservice when we go to the bookstores to find books of illustrations, when God has provided so much better illustrations in his Word.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon is probably the best known preacher since the days of the apostles. Somebody once asked him, “Brother Spurgeon, is there any particular rule you go by in interpreting an Old Testament text of scripture?” He said, “Yes, there is; when I study any Old Testament text, I position myself on that text, and from the vantage point of that Old Testament text, I look all the way cross country to the New Testament, and I try to see Jesus.” That is a good rule for any Bible student. If the text does not help you to see Jesus, in some aspect of his person, either in his grace, his mercy, his love, or perhaps, in his righteous indignation against sin, you have missed the point.

Whether we are able to sort out the significance of any particular sacrifice or feast of the Law Service or not, every provision of the Law is intended to teach us some great truth. It can be a very satisfying experience to spend time consider-ing those instructions, and, every now and then, seeing some great truth illustrated.

Christ is our prophet, our priest, and our king. The Old Testament priesthood represented the priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The sacrifices those priests offered represented the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Whether it was a lamb, or a bullock; whether it was a dove or a pigeon, it represented the Lord. It illustrated some aspect of his person and work.

The garments they wore represented the various aspects of the ministry of the Lord. The gold, the blue, the purple, and the fine twined linen, all represented him. In all of our studies we should be careful to keep our eyes on him. Heb 12:2, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despis-ing the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

And they shall make an ephod of gold....” Ex 28:6. In Ex 28, God gave the provisions for the priestly garments Aaron and his sons were to wear when they performed their duties about the Tabernacle. One of those garments was an ephod, a kind of many faceted, many colored, jacket made of fine twined linen, with cunning work. The various characteristics of the ephod all represented the Lord, and the work he performed on our behalf. The gold was a symbol of the Lord and his great worth to his people. Isa 13:12, “I will make a man more precious than gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.” That man is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gold has been a store of value from the very morning of time. In Genesis, when we read about the four rivers that flowed out of Eden, we are told, “And the name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold, and the gold of that land is good: there is the bdellium and the onyx stone,” Ge 2:11-12 . That takes us as far back in human history as we can go.

We use fancy little scraps of paper as units of exchange, and we pretend they are money. But, paper is not money; gold and silver are money. Paper money only has value, because people believe it has value. The government tells us paper is money; we pretend it is money; we use it as if it was money; and as long as we can keep up the pretense, it serves the purpose of money.

If paper was real money, it would not be so constantly losing its value. Suppose you were to hide a hundred dollar bill, and a hundred dollar gold nugget, and one hundred years from now, somebody finds both of them. Which of them do you believe would have done the best job of holding its value? Jesus Christ is “the same, yesterday, and today, and for ever,” Heb 13:8. He does not lose his value.

In 1940, you could buy a brand new automobile for about $400, or you could buy that same automobile for about 12 ounces of gold. You cannot buy a new automobile, today, for 12 ounces of gold, but it will buy a much better automobile than you can get for $400.

And they shall make an ephod of gold, of blue....” Blue is the color of the sky. The Lord came from heaven to earth that he might carry us from earth to heaven. Joh 3:13, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven.” This world is not our home, nor for long, anyway. We have something far better waiting for us, after awhile.

And they shall make an ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple....” Purple is symbolic of royalty. In the old days only the aristocracy wore purple. Purple dye was made by crushing the shells of a tiny marine creature; it was very expensive. Our Lord is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords; he owns every thing that exists. God gave the very best heaven had for my redemption and yours; price is no object with him.

I have friends who are waiting for a day, when the Lord will finally claim his kingdom. They cannot imagine that he is a king now, but they are sure he will be some day. They tell us he meant to establish a kingdom when he came the first time; but he could not get any help, and he could not quite get the job done, but they are sure that when he comes back the second time he will be more successful.

But, you cannot help but wonder, if he could not do it the first time, why do they think he will be any more successful the next time?

But, my Lord did not fail; he did all he intended to do the first time. Isaiah said, “He shall not fail, nor be discouraged...” Isa 42:4. Before he went away, the Lord himself said, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do,” Joh 17:4. Others may believe the Lord is a failure, if they wish to, but the Bible teaches that he accomplished everything he intended to accomplish.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the absolute ruler in all things. He taught us to pray, “For thine is (right now, at this very moment) the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever,” Mt 6:13.

The Lord is the head over his creation. The very heavens “declare the glory of God,” Ps 19:1. He is the head over the church. His word is our command. We are bound to do all he says, and to leave all else alone. There are a lot of free thinkers involved in religion. They enjoy dreaming up projects of their own. They are more interested in their imagination than they are in the Lord’s revelation. But, the Lord is King of Kings. He provides us everything we need in his service, and he will tolerate no insubordination; he will not recognize man’s little freelance campaigns. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,” 2Co 10:5.

And they shall make an ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, and scarlet....” Scarlet represents the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ours has been called a bloody religion —a slaughter house religion. People are offended at the sight of blood. They would not be nearly so offended at the thought of blood atonement, if they could see the great need for that shed blood. They would not be nearly so offended at the thought of blood atonement, if they could see themselves as the sinners we all are. Heb 9:22, “And almost all things are by the law purged by blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”

If any less price could have satisfied divine justice, God would not have required the price he did. God would never have sent his Son to suffer the agony, and the indignity he suffered, if that was not the price that was required to satisfy our sin debt. It was the greatness of our sin that required the price he paid; no less price would have satisfied divine justice.

They were to make it of “fine twined linen with cunning work.” The Bible does not leave us any doubt as to what is represented by the fine twined linen. The fine twined linen represented the imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Re 19:8, “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” The only righteousness we have, that will stand before God, is the imputed righteousness of our Lord; our righteousness is far too defective. Isa 64:6, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”

When I was just a boy I heard an old brother telling how he hoped to gain a home in eternal heaven. He said, “I know we are saved by grace, but when I stand before God in judgment, I hope I have enough good works to finish out the score.” I was just a little boy at the time, and I had a lot to learn; I still do, but I knew there was something wrong with that statement.

Can you imagine anybody standing before the court of eternal justice, and dragging out an old dirty handkerchief, he has been carrying around for two weeks—with a cold—and dangling that before the throne of God, and saying, “Here is my claim on eternal heaven.”

My youngest daughter is thirty years old; but when she was about six years old I used that expression in a sermon. After the service she told me, “Now, Daddy, that was gross.” If she thought that was gross, she should have heard the literal translation. The translators seem to have kept our feelings in mind, when they translated that verse.

But, even though we may feel the expression is gross, that is exactly what the Bible teaches: “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Those who would trade the fine linen of the imputed righteousness of God’s Son for the filthy rags of their own righteousness have made a poor trade.

Make it of “fine twined linen, with cunning work.” The cunning work—the skillful work—represents the wisdom of God in our salvation. No mind less than the mind of God could have ever devised a plan that would save the people of God, and satisfy both the grace and the justice of God. Any plan man could have come up with would have sacrificed one or the other. The grace of God will be satisfied in the salva-tion of his people, but the justice of God will also be satisfied in that our sins have been put away by the sacrifice of his Son on our behalf. Ro 3:26, “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

God did not sacrifice justice in order to be gracious. “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied,” Isa 53:12. Every attribute of God will be satisfied in the salvation of his people. God did not hogtie justice in order to be gracious. God did not tell Justice “Now, Justice, you be still; Justice, don’t you say a word; I am going to save this child, and there is nothing you can do about it.” The grace of God will be satisfied; every subject of grace will be with God in heaven. The love of God will be satisfied; everyone God loves will be there. And the justice of God will be satisfied; their every sin will be paid for. No mind less than the mind of God could have found a way to do it. No mind less than the mind of God could have found a way to satisfy both the grace and the justice of God.

Ex 28:9, “And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel.” When Aaron performed the duties of his office he represented everybody whose names were written on those two onyx stones, and that is all he represented. He did not represent the Egyptians. What he did was no benefit to the Egyptians. He did not represent the Moabites, nor the Ammonites, nor the Philis-tines. He represented the twelve tribes of Israel, and he wrote the names of those he represented on those two onyx stones.

The Lord Jesus Christ, our great high priest, represents all the elect of God. In his suffering and death he did not represent the angels; he did not represent Adam’s race; he represented his people, his elect. “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham,” Heb 2:16.

This seed of Abraham, this elect of God, is not a nameless, faceless mass of people. Before God ever created the world, he wrote their names in his book. Re 13:8, “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the founda-tion of the world.” Re 17:8, “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.”

God is in control; he knows what he is doing. He is not stumbling around in the dark, trying first one method and then another. Before he created the first planet, the first star, the first blade of grass, he determined every part of this great plan of redemption and salvation, and he determined who would be the beneficiaries of all he does.

The Lord knew exactly who he represented; he knew who he was dying for. He wrote their names in his book before the foundation of the world. Isaiah said the same thing in different words. “Behold I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me,” Isa 49:16. That is an even stronger statement than the two statements by John in the Revelation. Not only did he write the names of his people in his book, he engraved their very persons in the palms of his hands. There can be no question that the Lord had this verse in mind, when he said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any many pluck them out if my hand,” Joh 10:27-28. If our persons are engraved in the palms of his hands, how can the adversary remove any child of God from his providential care, without destroying some part of the very hand of God.

Symbolically, their names were written in the two onyx stones; actually, they were written in the book of life, and engraved in the palms of Lord’s hands.

And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord upon his two shoulders for a memorial,” vs. 12. Notice that those two stones were to be carried on the priest’s shoulders. One of the uses of our shoulders is to assist us in carrying heavy loads, and that is exactly the symbol involved in these onyx stones being placed on the shoulders of the priest. Our Great High Priest provides for his people and cares for them; he carries us on his shoulder. “......and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old,” Isa 63:9. Again he promises to carry them in his bosom. “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. The wording is different, but the lesson is the same. The Lord instructs his people, and leads them; but more than that, he carries them. “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself,” Ex 19:4.

We are often told that God did not elect individuals, he only chose his family—as a collective group of people. He chose them en masse; no names, no individual characters, were ever under consideration. But God anticipated that objection before it was ever raised, and he provided the answer in this figure.

Listen to the instructions for the breastplate of judgment: “And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it. Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof. And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this shall be the first row. And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings. And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes,” Ex 28:16-21.

The name of Judah was on one stone, the name of Reuben on another stone, the name of Zabulon on another stone, and so on.

Notice that the names were written collectively on the two onyx stones, and then they were written again on the stones of the breastplate of judgment. The first time they were written collectively; the second time they were written individually. The Holy Spirit will not allow the figure to be misunderstood. Each name in the breastplate of judgment was written on a separate stone all by itself. The collective family of God is made up of all the individual members.

Suppose that on the first day of school a teacher decides to give every student in her class a bright shiny apple. She buys a bushel of apples, but she wants to make sure that each child gets an apple, so she asks the merchant, “How many apples do I get in a bushel.” And he replies, “Oh, there are no individual apples in this bushel—these are all collective apples.” To say the least, we would not think the man was giving a straight answer; and, yet, this is the very dodge that is generally used to evade the clear Bible doctrine of God’s choice of his people. It takes every individual member of the family to make up the entire family of God. How could he choose the entire family without choosing every individual in that family.

And thou shalt make ouches of gold; And two chains of pure gold at the ends; of wreathen work shalt thou make them, and fasten the wreathen chains to the ouches,” Ex 28:13-14. Chains have always represented bondage, and that is what they represent here. We are servants of the Lord, bond-slaves of the Lord. We are his property; we belong to him. We are his property, because he is our creator. And we are his property, because he redeemed us and paid for us in his suffering and death.

Perhaps, there are those who object to the thought of being the property of someone else. Somebody may square his shoulders, and insist, “I am my own man, I will do as I please,” but I cannot make that claim. I am not my own man; I never have been. There was a time when I was in bondage to sin, a slave to sin. I was certainly not my own man at that time. And then God sent his Spirit into my heart, and saved me by his grace. I still cannot claim to be my own man; I belong to him.

Bear in mind that we are talking about being the Lord’s property. If we are his property, he will take care of us. There can be no greater sense of security than knowing we belong to him.

It is significant that these are not chains of iron; they are chains of gold. These chains bind us to him, and they are precious to those who love and trust in him. Others may object, if they choose, but I would not trade these chains of gold for all the wealth of this world.

And thou shalt make upon the breastplate two rings of gold, and shalt put the two rings on the two ends of the breastplate,” (Ex 28:23). The ring is symbolic of eternity; it has no beginning nor end. In this instance the rings are symbolic of the eternity of God, and his everlasting love for his people. These rings are like the chains; they are rings of gold.

The eternity of God is one of his attributes, and it is precious to his people. It is one of the delights of the children of God to think on his eternal attributes, to think about him, and what he is like. The love of God is as eternal as he is, and from all eternity that love has reached out to every heir of grace. “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee,” Jer 31:3.

The love of God is not so fickle and changeable as the love of man is; if God ever loved you, he will always love you. The love of a mother for her child is a symbol of God’s love for his children. It illustrates what his love is like. “Can a mother forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee,” Isa 49:15. As precious as the little baby is to its mother, it is not nearly so precious as every heir of grace is to our Lord. As tenderly, and as gently, as she cares for her child, she is never so tender and gentle as the Lord is toward his own.

And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually,” Ex 28:29. He carries you on his shoulder, and he carries you on his heart. There was never anything, or anybody, so near to the heart of God as those he has chosen, and redeemed. There was never a newborn baby so near to the heart of its mother, as every heir of grace is to their Lord.

You are so near to the heart of God that he gave the very best heaven had for your redemption. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” Joh 3:16. Someone has said that the great price God paid for our redemption was an indication of how much we were worth to him, but that is not the case at all. We are, everyone of us, worthless, hell-deserving sinners. God did not pay the great price he paid because of our great worth. He paid that great price, because of his great love.

Whether the saints of that day understood all that was represented by those emblems of not, the various instructions God gave for the observance of the Law of Moses were very graphic illustrations of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it behooves us, in this day, to reflect on those things. Just before the Lord was crucified, there were some Greeks who came where he was with the request, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” Oh, that all of us might approach these Old Testament lessons with the same thought in mind.

Abraham And Isaac On Mount Moriah

ABRAHAM AND ISAAC ON MOUNT MORIAH

And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham, and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of,” Ge 22:1-2.

I enjoy the figurative, or symbolic, lessons of the Bible. Most of us understand word pictures, and illustrations, better than we do abstract explanations, and the Bible provides us with an abundance of types, shadows, and figures, especially in the stories of the Old Testament. Sometimes those lessons can be hard to understand, but when we once recognize what is under consideration, the lesson usually becomes very clear, and very simple.

I hear people complain about how hard the Bible is to understand, but usually the people who talk that way are people who rarely ever pick up the Bible in the first place. They have no idea what it teaches, because they have no idea what it says. God intends for the Bible to be read and understood. Simplicity is the very hallmark of the Bible. Paul said, “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward,” 2Co 1:12.

In the types, shadows, and figures of the Bible, God used people, and events, to act out some of the most profound Bible truths. And they acted out those truths in a way that, once we recognize the lesson, it sticks in our mind much better than bare words and arguments ever could.

The passage before us provides one of the clearest Old Testament figures of the substitutionary death, and sacrificial atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. The various elements of this figure are clear symbols of what Christ accomplished in his death, burial, and resurrection.

We are told that God did tempt Abraham. The word tempt has more than one meaning. It does not always mean to entice to do evil. God never did entice anybody to do evil. James said, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man,” Jas 1:13. God did not entice Abraham to do evil; but he did test him; he proved him.

God did not test Abraham for his own benefit; God already knew exactly what Abraham would do. There is nothing God does not know, and you can be sure he knew what Abraham would do, better than Abraham did. God understands us better than we understand ourselves. But God tested Abraham, tried him, proved him for my benefit and yours.

In this scene between Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah God used those two men to act out a clear and detailed preview of the grandest transaction of all time. Two thousand years later—if not on this very spot, at least in sight of this spot—the grandest transaction of time and eternity was going to take place.

God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”

We know this is a figure, because the Bible says it is. Not every event, and not every character in the Old Testament, is a symbol or a figure of something. Preachers can wear themselves out, trying to find a figurative lesson, when there is no figure, no shadow, no type, involved.

One of the percs that goes with the territory, if you have been preaching for a while, is that sometimes a young preacher will ask you, “What does this passage mean?” I read the passage, and I tell him, “This is what they did, and this is what they said, and these were the consequences; that is all I see in the text.”

But don’t these things represent something?”

No, not that I can tell. This is what they did, and this is what they said, and these were the consequences.”

But, isn’t there another lesson in addition to that.”

No, this is what they did, and this is what they said, and these were the consequences.”

But, sometimes he will just wear himself out, trying to find some deep, dark lesson that is not there in the first place. I believe that one reason so many people are sure they cannot understand the Bible is that they have been taught to look for something that is not there to be found.

I believe that if there is a figurative lesson in any passage, it will be fairly clear there is a figure involved. One way you can know that something is a figure is that the Bible calls it a figure. That should be simple enough.

Baptism is a figure of death, burial, and resurrection. The Bible calls it a figure in so many words. Peter said, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God.” Human ingenuity cannot design a clearer figure—a clearer illustration—of death, burial, and resurrection than baptism by immersion in water.

The sacrifices of the Law Service, the lambs, the turtle doves, the bullocks, were figures of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible makes that plain enough. But lest we might have missed the point, Isaiah explains it for us. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth,” Isa 53:6-7.

When the Lord finally did appear on the scene, God had John the Baptist, standing in the river of Jordan, with a huge crowd standing there, waiting to be baptized. And, with that crowd of people looking on, he pointed to Jesus and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” Joh 1:29. The type was finally giving way to the antitype, and God would not allow us to miss the point.

God intended for his people to see those Old Testament sacrifices as illustrations of the various aspects of the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ. And he intended that, for centuries to come, preachers would use those figures to explain what he accomplished on behalf of his people. He provided this fairly simple, and easy to understand way, for preachers to explain the gospel.

Paul shows that the Tabernacle was itself “a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect,” Heb 9:9. It prefigured, or illustrated, what the Lord would be to his people, and what he would do for them.

Another way to know that a person is a figure is that the Bible calls the figure, and the object of the figure, by the exact same name. Joshua was a figure of the Lord. Joshua, or Jehoshua, in the Old Testament, and Jesus in the New Testament are the same name in two different languages. Joshua in the Hebrew, and Jesus in the Greek, both mean deliverer, or savior. It was as if he went around with a sign on his back, saying “My name is Joshua; I am a figure of the Savior.”

David was one of the clearest Old Testament figures of the Lord. He was such a clear figure of the Lord that, in some Old Testament passages—Ps 89 for instance—it is not always easy to tell if the writer is talking about David the son of Jesse, or the Greater David, the Son of God.

I am convinced that if there is a figurative lesson in any passage, the figure is usually fairly easy to recognize. And if the figure is not fairly clear, I think it is a good idea to just leave it alone. Preachers would get in a lot less trouble if we never did explain anything we do not understand.

In this text Abraham the father of Isaac, is a figure of the God the Father. Isaac, the son of Abraham is a figure of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure that out. God calls Isaac thy son, thine only son in order to let us know he is a figure of God’s only Son.

But the Bible makes it clearer than that. Paul says, “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac, and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten Son,” Heb 11:17. We have heard that expression before, haven’t we? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” Joh 3:16. God saw to it that the translators used the exact same expression in referring both to Isaac and the Lord Jesus Christ. They are both called his only begotten son. He will not let us miss the point.

That expression is the way the words appear in the King James Version of the Bible. I am not going to wax so bold as to say the King James translators were inspired in the same way the apostles and prophets were inspired. That is not true. The apostles and prophets were inspired in a manner that no other group of men ever has been. When they were writing the things they wrote in the Bible, God would not allow them to make a mistake. But, on the other hand, I do not have the slightest doubt that those honorable and godly men who translated the King James Version of the Bible were mightily influenced and assisted by the Lord’s Spirit. Their work was very much like the preaching of a minister who is preaching under the power and demonstration of God’s Spirit.

No minister of today is infallible. No matter how powerfully he may be preaching, he can still make mistakes, even when he feels to be the closest to the Lord. But while that is true, when he is preaching under the influence of the Spirit, he is able to preach with an ability which is not his own. While I would not claim infallibility for the King James translators, I have no doubt that we can see the immediate influence of God’s Spirit evident in their work, and I become very impatient when I hear others, who are much less informed, and probably much less spiritual, challenging their conclusions. I have no doubt that it was the Spirit of God that prompted them to use the exact same words in referring both to Isaac and to the Lord. God will not allow us to miss the point.

By the way, if I might digress for a moment. Joh 3:16 is not an Arminian text. There is not an Arminian text in the Bible.

Those who teach the Arminian system manage to come up with their proof texts by taking those verses, which either identify the children of God, or make conditional promises to the children of God, and applying them to the wicked. On the basis of those texts—which are the property of the children of God—they tell the wicked, “If you will do thus and so you will become a child of God.”

But those promises were never intended for the wicked. Those verses were intended for heaven-born souls. Without exception, those texts are either conditional promises to those who are already born of the Spirit of God, or they are texts which identify the heaven-born soul by describing his conduct. No one has the right to take those texts and pretend they are propositions directed toward the wicked.

But, back to our subject. God’s Spirit went all through the Bible putting little clues all along the way. He provided passages, and expressions, that are intended to shine the light on each other. I love to find those things that connect up. They just snap together. Those verses are made just like they were intended to fit together.

Some of you who are my age might remember a fad that came along about forty years ago. Do you remember snap beads? They were made out of plastic, and they were about as tacky as anything can get, but they illustrate my point. Those little beads were made so you could snap them together to form gaudy little bracelets and necklaces. They were about the tackiest things I ever saw, but they lasted for a little while, and then, like all fads, they disappeared. But the point is that they were made to pop together.

I don’t mean any disrespect to any passage in the Bible, but a lot of these passages are like that. They are intended to just pop together. They connect to each other, and explain each other. I believe that is an indication of the way we are to study the Bible. We are intended to go through the Bible reading it prayerfully, and carefully, and applying it to our lives.

And we are to look for these simple connections. It did not take a rocket scientist to put snap beads together. A little two or three year old could do it. And I tell you, any heaven born soul, with just normal understanding can go through the Bible, and understand all he needs to understand about what he is reading.

Abraham was a symbol of God the Father; Isaac, his only begotten son, was a symbol of God’s only begotten son.

God says to Abraham, “Take now thy son, thine only son whom thou lovest and get thee into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”

It was not enough that Isaac should be offered on just any mountain. God would lead Abraham to the mountain, but, it had to be a particular mountain—one mountain—in the land of Moriah. He would have to walk for three days to get to that mountain. Later on that mountain was called Mount Moriah.

It was on that same mountain, a thousand years later, that David offered a sacrifice, and Jerusalem was spared (2Sa 24:18-25). The destroying angel was going through the land. Seventy thousand people had already died. The angel had his hand stretched out over the city of Jerusalem, which was itself a symbol of the people of God. They were under the sentence of death. David, the son of Jesse was here a clear symbol of the Greater David, the Son of God. He offered a sacrifice, and because those sacrificial animals died, the people of Jerusalem lived. The entire matter was a clear figure of the sacrificial death on behalf of his people. All the elements of the figure fit in place. Because Christ died in our room and stead we were delivered from the sentence of death. David would not accept the offer of Araunah (Ornan) to give him the animals to sacrifice; he insisted on paying for the full price (2Sa 24:24). The purchase price that was paid for our redemption was the most expensive transaction the world has ever known; the Lord Jesus paid that price, by the offering of himself.

The city was delivered by the offering of that sacrifice, but God had already determined to deliver the city before the offering was made (2Sa 24:16). That is a figure of God’s determining before the foundation of the world that he would save his people by the offering of his son. All the different parts of the figure fit; it all took place on the same mountain on which Isaac was offered; and it is all a figure of what God would do on behalf of his people—on this very mountain.

Bear in mind that Solomon’s Temple was built at Jerusalem (on Mount Moriah at the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite, (2Ch 3:1) . The Lord was crucified at Jerusalem, on a little hill called Calvary, just outside the wall of the city of Jerusalem.

The offering of Isaac, and David’s sacrifice at the threshing floor of Ornan, were both figures of the offering of the Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary, and Abraham walked for three days in order to arrive at the very place where, two thousand years later, the Lord would suffer and die. The Bible does not say that Abraham set up his altar on the very spot where the cross was set up, but it is hard for me to imagine that God required Abraham to walk three days to arrive at this place, and only had him to build the altar somewhere on the mountain. I believe he built the altar on the very spot where—two thousand years later —the cross would be set up.

The offering of Isaac was a figure of the greatest transaction of time and eternity, and God caused Abraham to walk for three days in order to act out this figure at the very place where the transaction would take place. The solemnity of all that took place there—over a period of two thousand years—is awesome beyond expression.

And Abraham rose up early in the morning....” (Ge 22:3). The salvation of his people was not an afterthought with God. He began very early—before the foundation of the world. “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in him before the world began,” 2Ti 1:9.

God does not have a Plan B. He has known from the very beginning what he was going to do with regard to the salvation his people, and he has never wavered from it. There are those who believe God has tried any number of ways of saving people, and for the most part, failed in the effort. There is one system of doctrine that teaches he has tried five different ways; the gospel is his sixth effort, and he has one more thousand year effort (his seventh attempt) yet to go. Others believe the Mosaic Law was one effort of saving people, and he abandoned that effort, because he imagined the gospel would be a more efficient way of saving people. But none of that is right; God only has one way of saving people for heaven. There is only one way of saving people that would have been consistent both with his justice and his mercy. He will save his people, but he will save them in a just and righteous manner. He will save them by fully atoning for the sins—fully removing their guilt—and imputing his own righteousness to them.

Known unto God are all his works from the foundation of the world,” Ac 15:18.

But he is in one mind, and who can turn him, and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth,” Job 23:13.

I like the expression somebody used in describing an Old Baptist preacher. The old brother said, “That Old Baptist preacher, he like an old ram.” He said, “When that Old Baptist preacher start to preach, he just back up, and he back up, and he back, until he back up all the way before the foundation of the world, and here he come.” The old brother had a quaint way of telling it, but he was right. We like to go all the way back to the beginning. God has never changed his way of saving sinners, and it is the very way he determined on from the foundation of the world.

For those three days Isaac was under the sentence of death. I believe those three days are a figure of the three years of the public ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. During all that time the Lord Jesus Christ was under the sentence of death.

And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled the ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day, Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad man will go yonder and worship, and come again to you” (Ge 22:3-5).

These young men followed Abraham and Isaac to the foot of the mountain. But that was as far as they could go. There were young men, twelve of them, who followed the Lord as far as they could go. Abraham told these men, Abide ye here.... The Lord told the disciples, Tarry ye here.... (Mt 26:38). The figure is clear enough; these young men were figures of those disciples who followed the Lord, but who could only follow him so far. They could not go the rest of the way with him.

The Lord said, “I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the people, there was none with me,” Isa 63:3. There was a transaction that was going to take place on that mountain, and these young men had no part in that transaction. And there was a transaction that took place on Calvary, and the twelve disciples had no part in that transaction. The one is a figure of the other.

The apostles were witnesses for the Lord. They walked with him and talked with him for three years. They were witnesses of the message he preached. They were witnesses of his suffering and death. They were witnesses of his resurrection. But they had no part in what took place on Calvary. What took place that day on that little mountain called Calvary was the most momentous transaction in all of time and eternity, and no one had any part in that transaction except the Lord Jesus Christ and his Father.

And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass, and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you,” (Ge 22:5).

I do not believe Abraham entirely understood all that would take place on the mountain. He had no idea how far this would go. But he was convinced that no matter how far it went, he and Isaac were going up on the mountain, and he and Isaac were going to come back down again. Paul explained it for us. Let me go back to the text we read a moment ago. “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac, and he that had received the promise offered up his only begotten Son, of whom it was said that in Isaac shall thy seed be called. Accounting that God was able to raise him up even from the dead, from whence also he received him in a figure,” Heb 11:19. Abraham was convinced that if it went that far, God was able to raise Isaac from the ashes, and he was sure he would do just that.

And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son....” (Ge 22:6).

The load Isaac carried up the mountain was a figure of the load the Lord carried to Calvary on our behalf. The wood did not represent the cross itself; a man named Simon helped to carry the cross, (Lu 23:26) The wood represented the load of my sins and yours.

Abraham laid this load of wood on his son. God laid our iniquity on his son. “And the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,” Isa 53:6. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye are healed,” 1Pe 2:24. The Lord carried our sins to Calvary, and there on Calvary he put our sins away.

And he took the fire in his hand and the knife, and they went both of them together,” (Ge 22:6). Abraham carried a fire up on the mountain. The Bible says, “For our God is a consuming fire,” Heb 12:29. This fire, obviously, is a figure of the wrath of God against sin. The religious world has much to say about the love, and mercy, and grace of God. It does not have nearly so much to say about the justice and righteousness of God. It is not nearly so interested in the wrath of God against sin. God is, indeed, loving, and merciful, and gracious; but he is also righteous and just in all he does.

God will save every heir of promise, every subject of his mercy and grace; but he will also be righteous and just in their salvation. He will not sacrifice his own justice in order to satisfy his love. Every attribute of God will be satisfied in the salvation of his people. The fire will completely consume the wood; after the work is done, the wood will no longer exist.

The wrath of God against sin did its work on Calvary. The wrath of God against sin was poured out on the person of his Son. He suffered the full penalty of the law against sin. The law can require no more; it is as though our sins had never been.

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us,” Ps 103:12.

He carried the fire in his hand, and a knife. I do not believe it takes the most brilliant person to recognize that this knife is the sacrificial blade of the Old Testament Law Service. This same knife is found all through the Old Testament.

That blade could kill, but it could not give life. No matter how much you sharpened it, it could never give life. The sharper you made it, the more effective it was at killing, but it could never give life. And that describes the Law Service. The Law was always an instrument of death; it was never intended to give life. That is one thing the denominational world has never figured out. They seem to think the Law of Moses was one of the ways God used in an effort to save people from everlasting ruin.

We said it a moment ago. The various systems of doctrine seem to think God has a variety of ways of saving people. One system of doctrine teaches that God has tried six different methods. The tell us we are presently in the sixth dispensation, and in this dispensation he is trying to save people with the gospel. They are sure he is largely going to be a failure in this effort too, but they tell us he has one more dispensation to go, and that dispensation is going to last a thousand years, and at that time, he will try just one more method of saving people.

God never has tried to do anything. God never has had more than one way of saving people for heaven, and the law is not it—it never was. No matter how sharp you make the sacrificial blade of the law, it can never give life.

There is another aspect to the symbolism of this knife. There is a scarlet ribbon that reaches from the morning of time all the way to the cross of Calvary. All through the Old Testament the priest would take the animal, often a lamb, and he would drive the sacrificial blade home into the heart of that little animal , and that rich, warm, red blood would flow out of the wound, over the blade, and perhaps, over the hand of the priest in charge. Every time that service was performed it would extend that scarlet ribbon that reached all the way to Calvary. There at Calvary the Lord, the great antitype, poured out his own blood on behalf of his people.

And there, at the end of the way, God stationed John the Baptist, pointing to the Lord, and saying, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,” Joh 1:29.

....and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together” (Ge 22:6)

They went both of them together. Abraham and Isaac were in agreement. Abraham could never have done what he did, if Isaac had not been agreeable to it. Abraham was way over a hundred years old at this time. Isaac was a young man in the very prime of life. Do you think Abraham could have bound Isaac on the altar, if Isaac had refused to be bound. God the Father, and God the Son, are in agreement with regard to the matter of our salvation. The Lord Jesus Christ was perfectly willing to do all he did, and to suffer all he did on our behalf.

Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God,” Heb 10:7.

And Isaac spake unto Abraham and said, My father, and he said, Here am I, my son, and he said, Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering. So they went both of them together.” There are three different ways you can read the expression, “God will provide himself a lamb.” And no matter which way you read it, it is still right. I like texts you cannot read wrong.

You can read this word himself to be what our English teachers call an appositive. God will himself provide a lamb. That is right, isn’t it? God will do the work himself. If you read it that way, it is right.

Or you can read the word himself to be a direct object. God will provide himself to be the lamb. The Lord Jesus Christ was and is God. He is as much God as the Father is God. He was God, when he went to Calvary. He always continued to be God. He continued to be what he had always been, and he took upon him what he had not previously had. He continued to be God, and he took on him a human nature. It was in his human nature that he suffered and died. He was “put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit,” 1Pe 3:18. So if you read it to say that God will provide himself as a lamb, it is still right.

Or you can read the word himself to be an indirect object. You can read it to say that God will provide a lamb for himself. In other words, he will provide the lamb to satisfy the demands of his own righteous judgment against sin. You can read it that way, and it is right that way as well.

One thing I think people forget is that the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished something with regard to God himself. It satisfied the righteousness of God in the salvation of his people. “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus,” Ro 3:26. The suffering and death of Jesus was for the purpose of satisfying the righteous demands of God in the salvation of his people.

Without doing any damage to the verse, you can paraphrase it to say, “God himself, will provide himself, as a lamb for himself.” I like verses you cannot read wrong.

And they came to the place which God had told him of, and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order” (vs. 9). Abraham laid the wood in order. Every aspect of our salvation is in order. There are no contradictions, nothing that does not fit.

Some forty seven years ago, I began preaching in denominational churches. That was all I knew, and for several years I did the best I could to preach their doctrine; but I just could not make it all add up. One part of their doctrine would contradict another part of their doctrine. I was convinced there ought to be some kind of order, some kind arrangement. I thought the doctrine should all fit together, and I just could not make it fit.

After awhile the doctrine did all begin to come together, but by the time I began to find some kind of order in the doctrines of the Bible, I found myself preaching principles that were very different to what I had been taught. For about two years, I found myself preaching the doctrine of salvation by God’s sovereign grace in denominational churches. That was an interesting situation.

I finally learned about the Primitive Baptists and found a home among them. I was convinced all along that there was an order to the doctrine of the Bible, that it should all come together in some kind of system. It was the delight of my life to discover a people who knew something about what that order was and appreciated it as much as I did.

Our people don’t have seminaries. We are not interested in having seminaries. But Primitive Baptist preachers are the most systematic preachers on earth with regard to the system of Bible doctrine. There is a system—an order if you will—about the doctrine of the Bible, and if any Bible student will study the Bible, and just let it say what it says, that system, that order, will become abundantly apparent.

Abraham....laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood” (Ge 22:9).

Isaac submitted to be bound. There is no question about that; but he was bound, nonetheless. When the Lord was crucified, there were people milling around at the foot of the cross, challenging him to come down from the cross.

And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross....He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God,” Mt 27:39-40,42-43.

Ever since I was a little boy, I have heard the question asked, “Was it possible; for the Lord to come down from the cross?” I have heard some people argue that he could have come down from the cross, if he chose to. And I have heard others argue, just as vehemently, that he could not come down. Let me tell you. There was no way the Lord could come down from the cross.

But, somebody protests, “Now, hold on just a minute; my Lord can do anything he chooses to do.” That is right; God can do anything he chooses to do; but he could not come down from the cross. Why could he not come down from the cross? He was bound there, and there was no way to break that bond.

Those nails could not hold him on the cross. He created every atom and every molecule in those nails. He could have vaporized those nails into oblivion any time he wanted to. That was not what held him there. What did hold the Lord on the cross? He was bound there by his own word. He had promised that he would do what he was doing, and he was bound by his own word to do it.

There is an expression I used to hear a lot. I don’t hear it much anymore. But I used to hear people say, “Let your word be your bond.” I don’t hear that expression as much as I used to. Sometimes people promise to do something, and they do not have any intention of doing what they say they will do. But I can tell you this. If God says he will do something, you can put it in the bank.

The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand,” Isa 14:24.

God swore to it. God cannot even think a lie, much less tell a lie. But, more than that, God swore he would do all he purposed to do. The Bible does not mention many things God cannot do. He cannot deny himself (2Ti 2:13). He cannot swear by one greater than himself (Heb 6:13). And he cannot lie. (Heb 6:18). In other words, he cannot do anything that is contrary to his own nature and attributes.

If God had failed to do all he purposed to do—all he swore he would do—you would not think very much of him, would you? Sinful man routinely goes back on his promises, but we should never imagine that God would do any such thing.

Could he come down from the cross? No, he could not come down from the cross. He was bound there by his own word. He was bound there by his own nature and attributes. That is the tightest of all bonds.

And Abraham stretched forth his hand and took the knife to slay his son,” (Ge 22:10). At that moment, Isaac was as good as dead. Abraham had gone far enough. And, then an angel speaks from heaven. “And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven and said, Abraham, Abraham, and he said, Here am I.  And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him, for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy Son, thine only son from me.”

At this point the figure changes. Up to this point, Isaac has been a symbol of the Lord Jesus Christ. When Abraham stretches forth his hand and takes the knife to slay Isaac, Isaac is as good as dead. Isaac represents the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ, and, at that point, that part of the figure is complete.

Now the figure shifts to the “ram caught in a thicket by his horns” (Ge 22:12). The ram then becomes a figure of the Christ, and Isaac becomes a symbol of every heir of promise. There is a substitution that takes place.

Substitution is at the very heart of the gospel. “Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son” (Ge 22:13). The very heart of the gospel is that the Lord Jesus Christ took our place.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,” Isa 53:5-6.

First, Isaac was bound on the altar. Then the ram was caught in a thicket by his horns. It is the same figure. Isaac was bound; the ram was caught. They both represent the Lord binding himself to do all he promised to do.

I love the way the Spirit goes through the Bible, providing figures, to illustrate the most profound of all truths, and scattering clear and simple clues all along the way.

Then, lest we might have still missed the point, God sent John the Baptist to identify the Lord—to point him out as the Lamb of God, the great antitype of that sacrificial ram.

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” Joh 1:29.

And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son” (Ge 22:12-13).

That is substitutionary atonement as clear as language can make it. Abraham “offered him up—in the stead of his son.”

And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah Jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord, it shall be seen. And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time and said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing, I will bless thee, and in multiplying, I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore, and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies” (Ge 22:14-17).

Absolutism: What Does It Really Teach?

ABSOLUTISM:  What does it really teach?

The following is a quote from Elder R.H. Pittman’s little book of Questions and Answers.

What is Absolutism? A. It is an erroneous and strained view of the doctrine of predestination. Its advocates teach that God absolutely predestinated all things that come to pass, both good and evil; that what is going on in the world now, that which has transpired in the past, and that which will come to pass in the future was all predestinated before time, and could not be otherwise from what it was, is, or will be, that all the acts of men and devils were predestinated. This doctrine is not Bible doctrine—Elder Sylves-ter Hassell said it was imported from Italy. It was first published among Baptists by the paper known as Signs of the Times in 1832. Since that time the doctrine has been made a hobby by a few Baptists, yet none of our churches were organized upon such a doctrine—it is not found in the articles of faith of any Baptist church. It is a left handed, confusing kind of predestination, and has been the cause of strife and division. Its advocates are not satisfied with predestination as Paul expressed it. They seek to prop up predestination on one side by ‘absolute,’ and on the other side they spread it over ‘all things.’ The doctrine, when run to its logical conclusion, is nothing less than fatalism, for it makes God as being the author of sin, though most of its advocates deny this.”

When Elder Hassell said Absolutism came out of Italy he was, no doubt, referring to an Italian Catholic-turned-Protestant theologian by the name of Jerom Zanchius. Zanchius (or Zanchy, historians spell his name different ways) was born in Italy in 1516 just before the Reformation broke out in Germany. He was contemporary with Calvin, Luther, Knox, and the other great Reformers. He taught at Strasburg and later at the university of Heidelberg. Perse-cution drove him from Italy to Germany, and finally to England.

He wrote the proto-Absolute document entitled The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination. That book is the clearest, the most comprehensive, and the most logically consistent book on the subject. It became the standard statement of that doctrine. If it does not prove the doctrine, it cannot be proven. The book has continued to be published until this day. My old tattered and torn copy was republished by Baker Publishing House in 1978. It only contains 170 pages, but it gives a concise and entirely adequate explanation of what the doctrine of Absolute Predestination is all about.

In order to give as brief an explanation of the doctrine as possible, and yet look at different aspects of the subject, I will limit my remarks, for the most part, to Zanchius’s book and those theologians he quotes.

In order to make his point, Zanchius does what every Absoluter must do. He spends most of his time proving points that were never in question. Then, having proven those points beyond all possible challenge, he adds his Absolute conclusion to the argument, as if the points he has just proven have something to do with his conclusion.

When I say those points were never in question, bear in mind that I am reading the book as a Primitive Baptist, and approaching the subject from the point of view of our people. In order to give Zanchius his credit, we need to keep in mind that he was writing, primarily, for people who believed that salvation from eternal damnation depends on the merit of the sinner. They believed it was up to the sinner to earn a home in heaven. And, considering who he was writing for, the points he spends so much time proving were the very questions that were under attack. So it was proper that he should begin by showing where he was coming from.

But the fact remains that, from our Primitive Baptist point of view, those points were never the question.

Having said all that, we need to point out that, no matter how clearly, and how conclusively, you may have proven your point, you have not accomplished anything, if your premise has no connection with your conclusion.

Zanchius spends most of his time talking about the attributes of God, and it is proper that he should do that. If Bible students spent more time studying what the Bible tells us about God and his attributes, it would clear up most of the questions in religion. There is no room for a sovereign, all-wise, almighty, God of will and purpose in most of what passes for the Christian religion of our day. Let the Bible student accept the description God gives of himself, and the petty, silly notions of the religious establishment would vanish in a moment.

Zanchius deals with the attributes of God, and up until he starts talking about the predestination of sin and wickedness he does a good job of it. Then he gets completely off the track and out of the Bible.

He shows that God is almighty, all-wise, and all-knowing, but that is not the question.

There is nothing God does not know. He knows everything there is to know—past, present, and future (Isa 46:9-10). He knows everything from the mightiest heavenly body to the tiniest insect. “He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names,” (Ps 147:4). He knows every sparrow that falls to the ground; he numbers the very hairs of your head (Mt 10:29-30). He knows what you are going to do before you do it, and even when you are sure that is not what you are going to do (2Ki 8:12-13). He identifies kings and calls them by name long before they are born (1Ki 13:2; Isa 44:28; 45:1). His “eyes are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Pr 15:3). Who would dare deny any of it?

If there is a solitary atom in the farthest reaches of the universe, you can be sure that God knows everything there is to know about it. He knows where that atom is today; he knows where it was a thousand years ago; and (if time should last) he knows what its exact location will be a thousand years from now.

Long before we were born, he knew all about every member of the human family. He knew where and when we would be born, and he knew all the events and circumstances of our lives. There is not a thought that ever entered our minds, or a move that we ever made, but that he knew all about it. And he knew it from all eternity. The God we serve has never learned anything; he has never forgotten anything; he has always known everything.

But it is strange logic that thinks his knowing everything there is to know, somehow, proves that he manipulates circumstances and events in order to cause men to sin—according to a foreordained schedule.

Zanchius shows the sovereignty of God in the salvation of his people, and in his dealings with them, and with the wicked, but again, that is not the question.

Of course, God is sovereign. He states it over and over again. “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?” (Mt 20:15). “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him what doest thou?” (Da 4:35). Nobody has the right to challenge God for anything he does.

There is no need to multiply proof texts. God is sovereign over all creation. It is his property; we are his property; and he has the right to do with us what he will.

But that is a far cry from pretending that God gave man a law, irresistibly causes him to break the law, and then punishes him for doing what he could not keep from doing.

He shows that God exercises his almighty power in creation, and in his government of the world.

That is exactly what the Bible teaches. “The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God,” (Ps 104:21). There is not an animal in the forest, nor an insect in the grass, but that God feeds it, and provides for it.

Men can build accurate timepieces, but, no matter if their timepiece may be accurate to the thousandth of a second, they still correct it by the movement of the stars through the heavens. Who could doubt there is a God in heaven, who keeps every star on course—and on time?

He “upholds all things by the word of his power,” (Heb 1:3). It is by his power that every tiny electron is held in its orbit around the nucleus of its atom. His power holds every planet in its orbit around the sun, and every mighty galaxy in its course through the heavens. That power holds sway from the inner workings of the nucleus of the tiniest atom to the farthest reaches of creation, and holds it all together.

What we call Physical Law is nothing more than God’s usual way of sustaining the created universe, and causing to operate in a consistent manner.

Zanchius talks about the providence of God as it protects and provides for his people, and for every other creature. He proves that the providence of God embraces the mightiest angel and the tiniest insect. He proves that God numbers and names every star in the sky. He shows that God feeds every animal in the forest. He shows that there is no place in the universe beyond the power, the wisdom, and the surveillance of our all-wise, all-powerful God. He makes all those arguments, and he provides indisputable proof texts to prove his point.

But, again, all of that is a far cry from saying that God causes men to sin according to some prearranged program.

It does not make any difference how well you may prove your points; it does not accomplish anything, if those points have nothing to do with the subject in question.

The question is: did God by one eternal decree absolutely and unchangeably predetermine everything that will ever happen in time and eternity? Did God predestinate all the good—and all the evil—in the world? Emphasizing the attributes of God does not prove that point.

No matter how brilliant you may be, when you study about God and his attributes, there comes a point at which you are left in wide-eyed, slack-jawed amazement. At that point our learning must give way to wonder.

God is all-wise; he knows everything there is to know. You and I are not all-wise; we do not know everything, and we never will. God will always be the creator, and we will always be the creature. We will always stand in wonder and in awe of him. There are some things we will never be able to fully explain.

We should be wary of any system that tries to explain the unexplainable—any system that tries to bring God down to our level. We should beware of any system that charges God with conduct that is contrary to his own nature and attributes.

The Bible tells us all we need to know about the nature and attributes of God. We do not need to add our own philo-sophy. We can spend the rest of our lives studying and contemplating what we are told, and it will be the delight of our lives, if we do just that. Consider, if you will, some of what the Bible does tell us, and it will remove much of the difficulty.

First, God is infinite; he is not bound by time nor space, but you and I cannot comprehend infinity. He is eternal, but we cannot comprehend eternity.

The nearest we can come to understanding eternity is to think of it as unending time. He is (at one and the same time) the beginning and the end, the first and the last. That is not the same as saying he is the beginning, and he will be the end. He is both—at the same time. We cannot comprehend that.

Brilliant though he was, when John Newton wrote that beautiful old hymn Amazing Grace, the best he could do was, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years.” We know what he was trying to say, and we rejoice in the thought. But days and years are the opposite of eternity. There is coming a time when days and years will end, and we will be eternally with the Lord.

One of the names of God is I AM. All is one eternal now with him. You and I are creatures of time; we are bound in time, and bound by time, but not so with God.

You and I are locked into time, and traveling through time one moment after another. That does not apply to God. He is the unchangeable one. If God were bound by time the way we are—to say the least—he would become one day older every twenty-four hours. But he does not become any older; he does not change.

Time does not encompass God the way it encompasses us. He is the “high and lofty one that inhabiteth eternity” (Isa 57:15). He is not bound by time; it is the other way around; he encompasses time.

What tiny, tiny little creatures of time we all are. Think about it for a moment. Each of us occupies such a tiny little spot in the universe. We are such little things that if some-body backs off more than a few hundred yards he will have trouble even seeing us. If he could back off somewhat farther, he would have trouble spotting the earth we live on, and if he backed off far enough he would have trouble seeing our sun as anything more than a tiny speck away out yonder in the night sky.

That does not apply to God; he is everywhere at one and the same time. If you could build the largest hydraulic press, you still could not compress God into the tiny little space you and I occupy.

In much the same way that we are locked into one tiny little spot in the vastness of the universe, we are also locked into one tiny instant in time. With us there is a past, a present, and a future; but we can never possess any of it except the present. The future is always on its way; the past is forever gone; and the present lasts for such a brief instant that we can never know it until it is gone.

You may have thought about how brief a moment the present is. If you have not, do think about it for a moment.

If the present lasted for a full minute, you would never have a car wreck. You could avoid most any accident, if you had a full sixty seconds to react. If the present lasted for as much as a second you could never have a prize fight. Given a full second, any third rate boxer could get out of the way of his opponent’s fist. If the present lasted the thousandth part of a second, we could not have computers. If a computer could not split every second into a million parts and beyond, it would be so slow you could never get anything done.

But as brief a moment as the present is, that is all you and I have.

But not so with God; he inhabits eternity. You could as easily compress God into the little spot you and I occupy as you could confine him to the tiny instant we call the present. He is the I AM. All is one eternal now with him. Being the eternal one, past, present, and future are all the same with him.

We can never entirely explain God, and there is nothing with which to compare him. “To whom then will ye liken God? Or what likeness will ye compare unto him,” (Isa 40:18). All we can do is adore, and wonder, and worship.

We need to realize that there are some things the Bible teaches about God and his work—without explaining how he does what he does.

Much of the how of what God does is so far beyond our ability to comprehend, that we could not understand it—no matter how well it was explained.

Suppose some rocket scientist should take the next six months to explain to somebody like myself how they managed to build the space shuttle. Suppose he writes out every complex mathematical formula involved, and explains every intricate step. Suppose he explains all the scientific principles that must be taken into consideration. Do you suppose I could understand all he said, so I could explain it to the next person. No, of course not. He would lose me just after he said, “Now here is the way we did it....” His entire presentation would be beyond my comprehension. But even that is a very lame illustration compared to the thought of understanding some of the things God does.

The Bible tells of any number of things God does without explaining how he does it.

We are told that in the very morning of time—by the word of his power—God created the world out of nothing. He simply spoke the word, and vast worlds sprang into exist-ence. We are convinced it is so, but it is beyond our com-prehension to understand how he did it.

By the same power he speaks the word, and one dead in trespasses and sins is made alive in Christ Jesus. The Spirit of God takes up its abode in the heart of the sinner, and he is born again. Again, we are told what he does, with no explanation of how the Spirit does its mighty work.

We are told that at God’s appointed time the Son of God became man. “The word became flesh and dwelt among us”(Joh 1:14). If the very heaven of heavens cannot contain him, it is beyond our ability to understand how he could become a tiny baby his mother could hold in her arms. Not only does the Bible not explain how he did it, it goes on to say it is a mystery (1Ti 3:16). If it is a mystery, we could not understand it, even if it was explained. It would no longer be a mystery.

The most central message of the gospel is the resurrection of our Lord. He rose from the dead, and one day he will raise us, and fashion our bodies like unto his own glorious body. How will he put our sleeping dust together again, and rejoin it to our departed spirit? Again, we are told it is a mystery (1Co 15:51). Raising the dead is not part of our job description, so we do not need to be concerned that we cannot explain how he will do it.

But that is not good enough for the theologian; he feels a need to explain everything. And if he cannot find his explanation in the Bible, he has a world of philosophy at his disposal.

Paul had some less than flattering things to say about philosophy (Col 2:8). The earnest Bible student is convinced the Bible provides every explanation we need. If the Bible does not provide it, we do not need it; but that does not deter our theologian friend. He finds in pagan philosophy a principle called fate, and it exactly fills the need. By searching the pagan philosophers he finds an explanation the Bible does not provide.

By stripping fate of some of its most objectionable features, and dressing it up in a Christian garb, he is able to remove the mystery. He can now explain how God can foretell the future.

The pagan doctrine teaches that everything that happens in time was predetermined long ago by a blind fate. Everything, right down to the tiniest gyration and pirouette of a falling snowflake, was determined long ago, and nothing can be changed. Almost a thousand years before Jerom Zanchius was born, a pagan prophet named Mohammed taught that, “Whatever is written is written.” Nothing can be changed; we are swept along by our fate.

The Absoluter strips fate of its blind fate stigma by bundling it with the omniscience of God. Hence fate is no longer blind.

He strips it of its random nature by bundling it with the will and purpose of God. Hence, for the Absoluter, God is able to foretell the future, because he has determined to manip-ulate, and orchestrate everything that happens so that everything takes place just the way he determined to make it happen. It is still a pagan doctrine; but he has made it more acceptable to an inquiring (and bewildered) student of the Bible.

The Absoluter is able to remove the mystery from God’s ability to foretell the future, but what a price he pays in the transaction.

By the time he gets through explaining God, he is left with a deity that does not correspond to the God of the Bible. He is left with a deity that looks, for all the world, like the gods of the pagans.

1. My first objection to Absolutism is that it teaches that God is unable to know about sin in advance, unless he has determined to manipulate and orchestrate circumstances in order to bring about the sin.

You need to be very careful when you talk about what God cannot do. The Bible only lists three things God cannot do: he cannot lie (Heb 6:18); he cannot deny himself (2Ti 2:13); and he cannot swear by one greater than himself (Heb 6:13). In other words, he cannot do anything that is contrary to his own nature and attributes.

But he can foretell what is going to happen in the future without in any way predestinating man’s sin. The fact that he can foretell the future is one of the proofs that he is God.

But listen to what our proto-Absoluter, Jerom Zanchius says about it, and bear in mind that he is their standard bearer.

Therefore, His determinate plan, counsel and purpose (i.e. His own predestination of causes and effects) is the only basis of His foreknowledge, which foreknowledge could neither be certain nor independent, but as founded on his own antecedent decree.” (page 135) That is an exact quote; you can look it up.

Notice that Zanchius is sure God could not be certain about what was going to happen in the future except for “his own antecedent decree.” In other words, the only way he can know about the sin is for him to decree the sin. That sounds like dangerous reasoning to me.

But there is more; he says this “predestination of causes and effects,” this predestination of sin and wickedness, is “the only basis of his foreknowledge.” Can you believe that anybody in his right mind would argue that God has to prop up one of his own attributes by predestinating sin? God’s foreknowledge (his prescience if you want to be precise) is one of his attributes, and his attributes do not need to be propped up. But Zanchius is sure the only basis of God’s foreknowledge is “His predestination of causes and effects.” In other words, according to Zanchius, if God did not predestinate everything that is going to happen, his foreknowledge would come crashing to the ground.

But I did tell you that Zanchius borrowed this doctrine from the pagan philosophers.

But, lest anybody might think we misunderstood him, listen to him again in the same paragraph. “Again, we cannot suppose him to have foreknown anything which He had not previously decreed.” He is sure God could not have fore-known it, if he had not decreed it.

Allow me one more quote. “Now, if God foreknew this, He must have predetermined it, because His own will is the foundation of His decrees, and His decrees are the foundation of His prescience” (page 91). I believe that should remove all doubt about what he was saying. Zanchius was sure that God’s ability to predict sin has no foundation except his own willingness to predestinate sin.

These brilliant Absoluter theologians are so determined to explain everything about God, that they are willing to charge him with predestinating sin, in order to explain how he can foretell the future.

The Absoluter is convinced that he presents the attributes of God in a way that puts all other systems to shame. He magnifies God as no one else does. The fact is that he envisions God as having to prop up his own attributes.

He presents this imagined predestination of sin and wickedness as a crutch for his omniscience to lean on.

According to him, if omniscience did not have this crutch, it would stumble and fall. That is not the way my Bible describes God.

Isa 46:9-10, “Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is none else; I am God and there is none like me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand and I will do all my pleasure.”

I realize the Absoluter claims that text, but before he can prove ownership, he will have to prove his notion that God is pleased with sin and wickedness. The things God has decreed to do are his pleasure.

But the Absoluter insists that God does not predestinate sin; he simply removes his restraining hand, and man sins according to his own sinful nature. He restrains the man, and keeps him from sinning, or he removes his hand, and allows him to work out his own sinful impulses. And so he goes through all of time, either restraining or permitting sin, and he does it to such a degree that all that happens takes place according to his preconceived plan.

At first glance, there seems to be some logic to the answer. Who could deny that when God’s removes his restraint from the sinner, he runs into every sinful excess. And who could deny that God does prevent man from being as wicked as he could be. The Absoluter is convinced that in this way he can explain everything that has happened, or will ever happen.

But when we look a little closer, we discover that the explanation falls far short of the goal. For one thing, most of what happens in time has no moral dimension at all. There is nothing either good or evil about a snowflake falling in one spot or another. There is nothing either good or evil about a bird lighting on one limb rather than another. Even if we would accept the Absoluter’s premise, it would fall far short of providing a foundation for the foreknow-ledge of God. It would fall far short of showing how God knows ahead of time every gyration and pirouette of every falling snowflake.

The foreknowledge of God does not need a prop, and even if it did, the Absoluter has not found a prop sufficient to carry the load.

2. My second objection to Absolutism is that it teaches that the sin of Adam was the result of God’s irresistible will.

Before he transgressed, Adam did not have a sinful nature to motivate and control him. So we come back to the question: if, as our Absoluter friend tell us, every sin happens, because God removes his restraining power, and man simply acts out his own sinful impulses, what about the sin of Adam?

If I might repeat myself, when the Absoluter explains how it is that God can foretell every little detail about every sin that will ever be committed—without being the cause of the sin—he will tell you that God simply leaves the sinner to his own nature, and his own devices, and the nature of the sinner works its way in exactly the way God predestinated that it would.

There can be no doubt that God often gives people over to work their own destruction, but to use that explanation to show that God, somehow, predestinated every sin is simply a dodge.

For one thing, the explanation breaks down, when you apply it to the sin of Adam. There can be no question that God knew beforehand what Adam would do. He provided the Lord Jesus Christ as the remedy for sin, before that first sin was committed. But until he sinned, Adam did not have a sinful, corrupt nature to motivate and control him.

When it comes to the original sin of Adam, the Absoluter has no choice—if he is going to save his pagan philosophy —and that is to trace the sin of Adam to God himself. That is exactly what our friend Zanchius does. Listen to his explanation:

On the whole, if God was not unwilling that Adam should fall, He must have been willing that he should, since between God’s willing and nilling there is no medium. And is it not highly rational as well as scriptural, nay, is it not absolutely necessary to suppose that the fall was not contrary to the will and determination of God? Since, if it was, His will (which the apostle represents as being irresistible, Ro 9:19) was apparently frustrated and His determination rendered of worse than none effect.” (page 89)

Notice two things: first, he points out that the will of God is irresistible. He is right about that; but he goes on to claim that God (irresistibly) willed that Adam should sin.

Hear him again: “Surely, if God had not willed the fall, He could, and no doubt would, have prevented it; but he did not prevent it; ergo, He willed it. And if he willed it, He certainly decreed it, for the decree of God is nothing else but the seal and ratification of His will.” (page 88) Again, notice that he ultimately traces the sin of Adam, not to rebellion on the part of Adam, but to the decree of God himself. According to Zanchius, Adam sinned, because God irresistibly willed for him to sin.

Again, “and Luther observes that ‘God permitted Adam to fall into sin because he willed that he should so fall,’” (page 46). I doubt that needs any explanation.

He goes on, “From what has been laid down, it follows that Augustine, Luther, Bucer, the scholastic divines, and other learned writers are not to be blamed for asserting that ‘God may in some sense be said to will the being and commission of sin,’” (page 54). In this statement he is sure that nobody should be blamed for tracing every sin on the part of every person to the will of God.

Let me say again that Absolutism is the result of bund-dling the pagan philosophy of fatalism with the Bible doctrines of the power, and wisdom, and purpose of God—to the great scandal of those doctrines.

By doing that it removes the stigma of being blind and random from the notion of an irresistible, unchangeable fate. And it explains God’s ability to know the future in a way the carnal mind can comprehend.

In other words, God is able to tell what is going to happen from the first to the last moment of time, because that is the way he is going to orchestrate and manipulate all things and make them happen. In order to do that, he finds it necessary to argue that Adam sinned, because God irresistibly willed for him to sin.

But Bible truth does not need pagan philosophy to prop it up, and any time you call on pagan philosophy to explain God and his work, you will find yourself explaining God in a way that is much more compatible to the pagan way of thinking than it is to the description he gives of himself in the Bible. That will become abundantly apparent as we look further at this Absoluter’s arguments.

3. My third objection to Absolutism is that it teaches God causes men to sin.

The Absoluter bristles at that statement, and he insists that he does not believe God causes anybody to sin. He explains that God uses something he calls second cause, whereby he so manipulates, and orchestrates circumstances that man simply acts out his own sinful nature by reacting to those circumstances. He has a real problem when he tries to apply that notion to the sin of Adam, but we have already talked about that.

Here is what Zanchius says about second cause. “That God often lets the wicked go on to more ungodliness, which He does (a) negatively by withholding that grace which alone can restrain them from evil; (b) remotely, by the provid-ential concourse and mediation of second causes, which second causes, meeting and acting in concert with the corruption of the reprobate’s unregenerate nature, produce sinful effects; (c) judicially, or in a way of judgment,” (page 64). He allows that these second causes, which are themselves providential (provided by God) produce sinful effects. He thinks God provides the second causes that produce sinful effects, and he is sure this, somehow, exonerates God from causing the sin and perversion the wicked do.

But, in spite of this lame dodge, Zanchius makes it abundantly clear that he thinks God is the sole cause of everything that happens—good, bad, and indifferent.

Listen to these direct quotes. Keep in mind that we have provided the italics to point up what he is saying.

Whatever comes to pass, comes to pass by virtue of this absolute omnipotent will of God,” (page50).

The will of God is so the cause of all things, as to be itself without cause, for nothing can be the cause of that which is the cause of everything,” (page 50).

He appeals to Luther for support, “God worketh all things in all men, even wickedness in the wicked,” (page 65).

He produces actions by his power alone, which actions, as neither issuing from faith, nor being wrought with a view to the divine glory, nor done in the manner prescribed by the Divine word, are on these accounts properly denominated evil,” (page 66).

Every work performed, whether good or evil, is done in strength, and by the power derived immediately from God himself,” (page 66).

Again, he appeals to Luther, “God would not be a respect-able Being if He were not almighty, and the doer of all things that are done, or if anything could come to pass in which He had no hand,” (page 68).

If, in those quotes, Zanchius and Luther do not clearly and unambiguously charge God with being the cause of all things, whether good or evil, I confess I do not know any way words could express that doctrine. These Absoluters are so determined to provide an explanation of how God can foretell the future that they are perfectly willing to charge him with causing sin—in order to prop up their lame doctrine.

At first glance, Absolutism, like its sister doctrine, Calvinism, can be very beguiling. It seems to be a system that explains and organizes all things from the beginning to the end of time. It teaches that God is totally in charge, that nothing is beyond his control, that every motion, from the rise and fall of mighty empires to the fluctuation of every falling snowflake is according to one unchangeable master plan.

But when you scratch it just a little, you discover just below the surface, notions that are diametrically opposed to all the Bible teaches us about God and his attributes. It presents us with a god who must prop up his own attributes. It presents us with a god who is very much like us, a god who can only know the future, because he manipulates and orchestrates the future.

We can be sure that God does know everything that will ever come to pass, and he knows it down to the tiniest detail. But he knows that because he inhabits eternity. He is not bound by time the way we mortals are. That is a point the Absoluter readily acknowledges; but he never allows that fact to interfere with his system.

God is in charge; nothing is beyond his control. His power reaches to the mightiest heavenly bodies, and to the tiniest subatomic particle. But that does not mean he manipulates moral creatures and causes them to sin.

Our second article of faith says, “We believe the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the word of God, and the ONLY rule of faith and practice.” Pagan philosophy can be interesting to study, and I have spent my fair share of time studying it. But we should be cautious about supplementing the Bible with men’s philosophy.

We must always keep in mind that is what Absolutism is. It is the pagan doctrine of fate dressed up in a Christian garb and made to look like Christian doctrine.

It has been said that, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread,” and, unwilling to stand in wide-eyed wonder at the majesty of his Maker—the Absoluter rushes in with his book of pagan philosophy in hand.

Rather than simply acknowledge that God is God, and we are not—he traces all the sin and wickedness of the world to the decrees of God, and (either overtly or covertly) charges God with being the cause of every sin. He explains God in a way that is entirely different from the pure and thrice holy God of the Bible.

To end where we began, there comes a time when we must acknowledge that no matter how brilliant you may be, when you study about God and his attributes, there comes a point at which you are left in wide-eyed, slack-jawed amazement. At that point our learning must give way to wonder.

Isa 55:9, For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Adam's Transgression

ADAM’S TRANSGRESSION

Ge 2:16-17, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

Our Articles of Faith say, “We believe in the doctrine of original sin.” By that we mean, “We believe in the doctrine of the origin of sin.” It means the same thing. In other words, this is where sin started; this is the origin, the source of sin. This is why we are the way we are; this is how we came to be sinners. We believe that when Adam partook of the forbidden fruit, he became a sinner, and all his posterity became sinners with him, and in him. Adam sinned and brought the wrath of God on all mankind.

But that raises a question. How is it that one man, eating a handful of fruit, half way round the world, and six thousand years ago, had that kind of impact on all mankind? How did one act by one man bring the wrath of God on all men? I believe the Bible makes it plain enough.

Before we look at the consequences of Adam’s sin, we need to first point out that Adam stood as the federal head of all his offspring. By federal head, we mean that he represented us; whatever he did was as if we had done it.

But you tell me, “I don’t like this representative principle. If that is what the representative principle is all about, I don’t like it.” Well, you live with the representative principle every day of your life, whether you like it or not. A few months ago, we elected people and sent them to Washington to represent us. For better or worse, we elect representatives, and we send them to Nashville, or Raleigh, or Washington, to do whatever it is they do. And whatever they do, they do in our name. They represent us, and whatever they do is just as if we did it.

Several years ago there was a congress that had been in session for some time, and according to the news media, they had not accomplished a thing. They got to calling them the do nothing congress. One evening on the six o’clock news, the news anchor made the comment that congress had been in session for so many weeks, and they had not accomplished anything yet. They only had so many weeks to go, and if they were going to do anything, they had better do it in the next six weeks.

I thought that was the best news I had heard out of Washington yet. If they could just hold out for six more weeks, we might have it made until next year. I am one of those folks who think the less they do in Washington, the better I like it.

But, anyway, Adam did stand as our representative; he stood as our federal head. If you object to his representing us, do you believe you would have done any better? Suppose God should say, “Okay, we are going to wipe out Adam’s record, and from this moment forward, you are going to stand or fall on your own record. I am going to judge you on the final day, based on what you do from today until the day you die.”

Bearing in mind that it is only going to take one transgression to plunge you off into eternal damnation, do you think you would do better than Adam did? Knowing my track record, I believe I had just as soon leave it the way it is.

Having said all of that, let us look see what the Bible says about it. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” Ge 2:16,25.

The Bible does not mention very many things God cannot do. It says he cannot lie (Heb 6:18); he cannot deny himself (2Ti 2:13); and he cannot swear by one greater than himself (Heb 6:13). In other words, he cannot do anything that is contrary to his own nature and attributes. But the point we are getting to is that God cannot lie. If God says it, it is right.

In the little town where I live there is a church related college, and being church related, they require their students to take the required amount of instruction in Bible. I don’t know why they bother. Somebody told me his son-in-law had just graduated from that college. He said the very first thing the professor told him in the first lecture in Bible 101 was that when God told Adam, “In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die,” God lied.

I don’t know why they teach the course. Why do they even pretend to believe the Bible, when they make a comment like that? God said, “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” and since God said it, we can be sure that, the very day Adam sinned, he died. But Adam lived to be 930 years old, so obviously God was not saying he would die a physical death the day he sinned. He did not mean that Adam was going to keel over, and fall stone cold dead on the ground the instant he ate the fruit. He died a different kind of death.

Well, if God did not mean Adam was going to die a physical death the instant he sinned, what did he mean?

I have been told that Adam did not die a physical death; he died a spiritual death. But did Adam die a spiritual death? Are we to believe Adam had spiritual life and lost it? If Adam had spiritual life and lost it, would it not be possible that you and I might do the same thing. We have been born of the Spirit; we have spiritual life. If Adam could have spiritual life and lose it, why could we not lose our spiritual life?

The Bible says that is not going to happen. In Joh 10:27, the Lord says, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me, and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” No person who has spiritual life will ever lose it; he will never perish.

Adam did not die a spiritual death; he did not have spiritual life to lose. He was not a spiritual being. The Bible says that. In 1Co 15:46, “Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural and afterward that which is spiritual.” Look it up; it was talking about Adam. He was first a natural man, and afterward a spiritual man.

As God created him, Adam was an innocent, upright, natural man; he was not a spiritual man. There was no moral dimen-sion to being devoid of the spirit. He was simply what God made him. He was a good, upright, innocent, natural man.

For that matter, he was not yet a proper subject to live in heaven. If he had been, that is where God would have put him. He was a proper subject to live in the Garden of Eden, and that is where God put him.

Then he sinned, and he died; but what kind of death did he die? The Bible tells us plainly enough. Eph 2:1, “And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Adam trespassed and he sinned, and he died in trespasses and sins. I believe a third grader could understand that, don’t you?

There is a principle I think we should go by in preaching. If you cannot make it simple, leave it alone. I believe the best way to preach is to preach in such manner, that the little ones can understand—and hope the old folks can keep up. So what kind of death did Adam die?

He trespassed, and he sinned, and he died in trespasses and in sins.

When did that happen? It happened the very day he sinned. God said, “For in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” It happened in the manner, and at the time, God said it would.

I believe it happened the very instant he sinned. No sooner had Adam sinned, than there was a profound change that took place. His very nature changed. He immediately went from being an innocent, upright, natural man to being a wicked, sinful, depraved, natural man. In a moment we will see that the change in his nature became immediately evident. He did not fall stone cold, dead on the ground, but as soon as he sinned, it became obvious that everything was different to what it had been.

There are no degrees in death. There is no dead, deader, and deadest. As soon as Adam sinned, he was totally, completely dead in trespasses and sins, and everything he did, from that moment on, demonstrated that he was indeed dead in tres-passes and sins. Physical death would come many years later, and that death was also the result of his sin; but the death he died the day he sinned was total, and it was instantaneous. In the next few pages, I hope to show the profound change that took place in Adam as soon as he sinned.

As soon as he sinned, everything was different. Before he sinned he was a good, upright, innocent, natural man. As soon as he sinned he became a wicked, sinful, depraved natural man. He was still devoid of the spirit; but he was devoid of the spirit before. After he sinned he is devoid of the Spirit—and alienated from God.

As soon as he sinned he began to demonstrate by his conduct what he had become. The Bible takes us step by step through what Adam did, and what the consequences were. It records what he did, how he did it, and what he did to us. That is what I want to notice.

In Ge 1:26 we read, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” On the strength of that text any number of theologians have explained that mankind is made in God’s likeness and image, but the text does not say that.

Adam was created in the likeness and image of God, but when Adam began to father children, he “begat a son in his own likeness, after his image.” Adam was created in the likeness and image of God; you and I were born in the likeness and image of Adam.

And that is our problem. We were not born with the nature Adam had before he sinned; we were born with the nature Adam possessed—after he sinned and transgressed the law of God. We are what we are, because of what Adam made us, because of what Adam did to us.

Adam was created an upright, innocent natural man. He was a natural man, but a natural man created in the likeness and image of God. Then he sinned, and he lost what he had. He became a wicked, depraved, sinful natural man. And when he began to father children it was that wicked, sinful nature he passed on to his offspring.

Every living creature begets offspring based on its own nature. Dogs give birth to dogs. Cats give birth to cats. And sinners give birth to sinners. Because Adam sinned every human being from that day to this has been born a sinner. The fountain was poisoned at his source. When Adam sinned, his nature became sinful, and he passed that sinful nature down to his offspring.

Children do not grow up to be sinners. We were born sinners. We came into this world with that sinful nature about us. I know there are a lot of people who have the idea that you turn into a sinner at age twelve, or perhaps, at age seven. But no, we were born sinners.

A man went to the hospital to visit his sister; she had just delivered a new baby. And he did what we all do; he went to the big plate glass window where they show the babies; and he did all the ooh’s and ah’s, and made silly faces. He finally went back to his sister’s room and told her, “I believe that is the prettiest little sinner, I ever saw.”

That offended his sister. She was just plumb upset with him. How dare he come back here and tell me my baby is a pretty little sinner? She got all put out. But a day or so later, her time was up, and they sent her home. And they sent the baby with her. About six weeks later, she called her brother. She was at her wits end, and she said, “You are right, that baby is a sinner.”

We do not turn into sinners. We were born sinners. We came into this world selfish, and self centered, and always thinking about ourselves. As soon as we were able to have any kind of thoughts, we thought about ourselves. Let me ask you, suppose you set a little two year old in the middle of the floor. He is old enough to sit up and play with his toys. Put a half dozen toys around him. He only needs two, one for each hand. But there are a half dozen toys around him. He has not even noticed some of them.

Then you set another two year old among those toys. You know what is going to happen. That second baby is going to pick up one of the toys. Now what is going to happen? That first baby may not have paid any attention to that toy until the other kid picks it up, but he will let him know right now, “That is my toy, and you put it down, and leave it alone.” And if he does not put it down, he may clap the other kid over the head with one of the toys he has in his hand.

Did you ever wonder how babies seem to know that if you take an object and hit it up against the head of another kid, it makes him unhappy? Did you ever wonder where they learn that? You don’t have to send him to kindergarten to teach him. He comes into this world knowing how to hit, and with a strong inclination to do it. We were born sinners. We came into this world with that nature.

I have heard it said that, if you want the truth, ask a child. You have heard that, I am sure. I have heard that all my life. That is another of those things that are just not true. A child will tell you the truth, if he is not afraid of the truth. But if he is afraid of the truth, he can come up with the most bodacious lies. You can walk into the room; there are crayon marks all over the wall, and he has a crayon in his hand, but he did not do it. His little invisible friend did it. The Bible tells us, “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.” A child comes into this world knowing how to lie; you have to teach him to tell the truth; and you have to teach him the consequences of lying.

Bear in mind that when Adam sinned, he wilfully, deliberately, rebelled against God. He sinned, knowing full well what he was doing, and what the consequences would be. I have had people tell me the serpent tricked Adam into doing what he did. But did the serpent trick Adam? God knew somebody would say that; so he provided a text to answer the objection. Paul told the young preacher Timothy, “Adam was not deceived, but the woman, being deceived was in the transgression,” 1Ti 2:14. That makes it clear enough; the serpent did not deceive Adam; he did not trick him into sinning.

Adam was not deceived, but notice the rest of the verse, “But the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” The serpent did trick the woman, but he did not and could not trick Adam. Adam was too bright for the devil to deceive him.

Have you ever read any of those self-improvement, self-help books that talk about how we only use ten percent of our mental capacity? Sometimes they claim we only use about three percent. I think that may still be on the high side. But when they talk about how we only use a small percent of our mental capacity, the thing they forget is that, even though the mental capacity may be there, Adam blew all the circuits.

We still have walking around sense, but we do not have the intellect Adam had before he sinned. Outside of the Lord Jesus Christ, Adam was the most brilliant man who ever lived. Does the Bible say Adam was the brightest man who ever lived? It does not say that in so many words, but it does give a very good demonstration.

Read Ge 2:19. “And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them, and whatso-ever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.”

How many different species of living creature do you think there are in the world? A German scientist by the name of Ernst Mayr claimed there were 17,600 different species. That is the smallest estimate I ever read. I don’t know how he came up with that exact number. It is always a guess when they tell us how many species there are, because they cannot know for sure what constitutes a species.

Nowadays, they are more likely to say there are over three hundred thousand species. Evolutionary types always inflate the number; they want to come up with more species than Noah could get on the ark, but that is a subject for another time. But suppose the smaller number is correct, and there are only 17,600 different species. If that is right, Adam came up with over 17,000 names, and more than that, he remem-bered the names.

Did you study a foreign language in school? Did you study French, or Spanish? Perhaps, some of you may have studied Latin. They hardly ever teach Latin any more. What is the toughest part about mastering any language? Building a vocabulary, right? If you can build a big enough vocabulary, you can get by without a grammar. If you string enough words together, and sprinkle in an assortment of prepositions, and a few adverbs of time, you can get your point across without a grammar. It may be mighty clumsy, but if you have a sufficient vocabulary, you can improvise without a grammar.

Do you know anybody who could go to the local bookstore, and buy a dual language dictionary, perhaps, a French-English, or Spanish-English dictionary, and master it in one reading. Do you know anybody who could read a dual language dictionary like a novel, and just lay it on the shelf. He will never have to look up a word; he read the book; he remembers what it said.

Do you know anybody who could do that? Of course not. Nobody you ever met could do that, but Adam could. I have checked it several times; most of those dual language dictionaries have about 15,000 entries. That is about the number of species there are supposed to be in the world. Adam gave names to every living creature—and he remem-bered what he had named them.

Not only could Adam have read that dual language dictionary, and recited every entry; he could have made up all the entries in the first place. Regardless of how many species there are, Adam came up with names for all of them. You and I could not come up with that many different phonetic combinations. After awhile we would exhaust all of the possibilities, and we would call something a baboon, and something else a bow-boon, and maybe a booboon. We could never remember which was which; but Adam could.

Adam did not have a computer; he did not need one. His brain worked better than any computer. He was the brightest man there ever has been. The point is that the serpent could not deceive Adam. But the very instant Adam sinned, he went from being the brightest man who ever lived to being as dumb as a post. How do I know that?

Anybody who thinks he can run into woods, and stand behind a tree, and hide from God is as dumb as a post.

The Bible takes us step by step through what transpired in the garden, but if you read carefully, you will discover that much of what people think they read is not right. Most people seem to think that when the serpent tempted Eve, she partook of the forbidden fruit, and then she went to Adam and told him what she had done. Then when Adam learned what his wife had done, he also partook of the tree. Many of you have heard it explained that way, and you are sure that is what it says. But the Bible does not say that.

Read Ge 3:6, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her, and he did eat.” Notice those two words: with her. The serpent did tempt Eve, and she did partake of the fruit before Adam did. But she did not go anywhere to tell Adam anything. Adam had been with her the whole time. He was a witness to the entire affair.

I have heard the question asked, considering that Eve partook of the tree first, what would have happened, if after Eve sinned, Adam had refused to eat? The answer I usually get is logical and reasonable enough. I am usually told, that if that had happened, Eve would have died, because of her sin, and God would have provided Adam with another wife. That is logical, and reasonable —and totally wrong. Adam was complicit in everything Eve did.

We are told that Eve “was in the transgression.” It did not say, “The woman being deceived transgressed.” She was in the transgression; there was only one transgression. What happened in the garden that day was all a unit. Adam was involved in all that transpired. Notice, “Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” Adam stood as our federal head; he was responsible for what happened in the Garden that day, and he was involved from the very beginning.

Let us back up and see exactly what happened. Eve was not alone when she partook of the tree. Adam was there, obser-ving what was going on the entire time. We are told he was with her.

But before we look at the details, I would like for us to get the picture of these two in the garden. The Garden of Eden must have been a beautiful place. Considering all the beauty there is even now in nature, I doubt we can begin to imagine how beautiful Eden was.

I believe Adam and Eve were probably the two most physically attractive people who ever lived. God does not create ugly. Ugly is the accumulated result of 6,000 years of sin. Our generation is the genetic leftovers after 6,000 years of depletion of the gene pool. Imagine two of the most physically attractive of all people, in the most beautiful of all surroundings, with a personal relationship totally unmarred by selfishness and sin.

Eve was without doubt the nearest and dearest thing in all world to Adam. “And the Lord God said, It is not good that a man should be alone; I will make him and help meet for him....and the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof. And of the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of man,” Ge 2:18,21-23.

God took one of Adam’s ribs to form a wife for him. It is significant that he did not use a bone from his foot. That might have signified that he had the right to grind her under his heel. The husband is the head of the wife, but he has no right to take advantage of her. I love to preach on the relationship between a devoted husband and wife. When you see that relationship for what God intended it to be, no woman should ever object to the husband being the head of the wife.

He did not take a bone from his head; that might have signified that she had the right to domineer over her husband. But he took a rib, a bone from his side, signifying that she was to be constantly at his side; she was to be his constant companion. He took a bone from under his arm, signifying that she was to be the subject of his constant protection—his constant embrace. He took a bone nearest his heart, signi-fying that she was to be the nearest, and dearest, and most precious thing in all the world to him. The more we under-stand what the Bible teaches about the proper relationship between the husband and wife, the more precious, and the more dear, that relationship becomes.

I love to preach on the relationship between husbands and wives. I have spent much of my adult life running all over the country filling appointments, and sometimes pastoring churches miles away. For over six years I served a church four hundred miles away. I went down there twice every month; I went twice a lot of weeks, three times in a week on two different occasions.

The people used to talk about what a great sacrifice I was making, spending so much time going up and down the highway. I would remind them that I was not making the sacrifice; there was a little woman back in Tennessee, who was making the sacrifice. I would tell them, “I am not the one left at home, feeling to be all alone, and crying myself to sleep at night.” I do not blush to tell you, that I cannot think of her without a special and warm feeling running all over me. One of the great tragedies of our Primitive Baptist people is that we have never realized what a treasure we have in our pastor’s wives.

It is such a beautiful relationship God has provided between husbands and wives. That is one of the reasons he took a bone nearest his heart to signify that she was to be the nearest, and dearest, and most precious thing in all the world to him.

But now we see Adam with his beautiful wife. She is the nearest and dearest thing in all the world to him, and then the serpent comes on the scene. The most wicked, the vilest, the most contemptible being in all the universe invades this paradise. That wicked being comes on the scene, and he begins to deceive, and to corrupt the wife of Adam.

Keep in mind that Adam knew exactly who the serpent was. Do you think God left Adam in the dark about who the serpent was? No, Adam knew exactly who he was, and what he was up to. God did not keep Adam in the dark.

So here comes this vile creature; he approaches the sweet and beautiful wife of Adam, and Adam just stands there and does not say a thing.

He should have told the serpent, “Now, you listen here, if you have anything to say, you talk to me; and I don’t want to hear anything you have to say, so just get away and leave us both alone.” He did not do it. He stood back; and did not say a word. He allowed this vile creature to deceive, and confuse, and confound his wife. Keep in mind that the serpent did not deceive Adam; he knew exactly what was going on. But he did deceive Eve. “The woman being deceived was in the transgression.”

The serpent was deceiving Eve, and confusing her, and Adam knew it. He knew all the while this vile thing was taking advantage of his wife, and he did not say a thing. The serpent confused her, and deceived her, and persuaded her to eat the forbidden fruit. And Adam just stood there, and allowed the serpent to have his way with her.

The serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field, which the Lord God had made, and he said unto the woman, Yea hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden.” This vile, disgusting creature challenges the word of God—the honesty of God—and Adam just stands there and does not say a word to defend his Maker.

And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, but of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” It has been pointed out a million times over that she told it wrong. She added the part about touching the fruit. I am not sure whether she intentionally told it wrong; Paul did say she was deceived. She may have been confused about that too.

But whether she knew she was telling it wrong or not, Adam knew; he was not deceived. He stood there, and listened as she misrepresented God and did not say a word.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.” The serpent made God out to be a liar. God said, “You will die.” The snake said, “You are not going to die.” It is obvious one of them was lying. If God was telling the truth, the serpent was lying. If the serpent was telling the truth, God was lying. The serpent made God out to the lie; Adam was standing there, and he did not say a word.

And the serpent said unto the serpent, Ye shall not surely die, for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” The serpent first challenged the word of God. Then he called God a liar. And third, he said, “God is up to no good.” He said, “God is holding out on you; there are some good things available for you, and God doesn’t want you to have them.”

Can you imagine somebody standing by and allowing this vilest of all creatures to vilify and slander God the way the serpent did, and not saying anything. That is what Adam did. When Adam took a bite of the forbidden fruit, that was the visible and physical climax of what had been going on all along.

We have considered the sin of Adam from the vantage point of his rebellion against God. Before we look at the consequences of Adam’s sins, it would be a good idea to look at his sin from another vantage point. And looking at it from that point of view will cast light on much that is going on in the world today.

Notice exactly what Adam did. First, he abdicated his place as the head of the house. He allowed his wife to speak for him. He allowed her to make the decision for him, and he accommodated his reaction based on her decision. That a simple description of feminism.

It would be wrong to say that feminism and original sin are the same thing; they are not. But it is undeniable that sin and feminism came into the world at the same time, and in the same way.

It is also undeniable that feminism began, because the first man abdicated his place as the head of the house, and his wife stepped up to fill the void. It is said that, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” There will always be feminism in the world, so long as the husband fails to occupy his God-appointed place as the head of the house.

It is the duty of the husband to be kind and compassionate. It is his place to love his wife as his own body (Eph 5:28-30), and to care and protect her as he protects and cares for his own body, and the welfare of his wife is to be his greatest concern; but he is, nonetheless, to occupy his place as the God-appointed head of the house.

When Adam sinned, he went from being a good, upright, innocent natural man to being a wicked, depraved, sinful natural man. His nature changed, and like the dog passing his nature to all his offspring, Adam passed that wicked, depraved nature to all that would be born of him. When he fathered children, he fathered them, begot them, in “his own likeness, after his image” (Ge 5:3). He begot them in the likeness and image of the wicked, depraved sinner he had become. All those born of Adam are simply Adam multiplied—multiplied in his sin and wickedness.

A few years ago I read an article about seedless oranges. According to the article, every seedless orange in the world is traceable to a mutant orange tree that was discovered about a hundred years ago on an orange plantation in Brazil in South America. A plantation owner discovered that he had a tree on his plantation that was producing seedless oranges. And being the business man he was, he knew there would a market for that kind of orange. He knew how to nurture and propa-gate the tree; so now we are able to go to the grocery store and buy seedless oranges. Every seedless orange tree in the world is traceable to that one mutant tree.

Just as every seedless orange is traceable to that one mutant tree, every sin is traceable to Adam’s partaking of that tree in the garden. When Adam sinned he became a mutant, corrupt tree, bearing corrupt fruit, and all his offspring inherit the nature of that corrupt tree, bearing the same corrupt fruit.

Keep in mind that Adam knew exactly what he was about to do, and what the consequences would be. Think about it; there are only two conclusions you can reach. Either Adam knew what he was doing, and what the consequences would be, or else God kept him in the dark.

Could you imagine, even for a moment, that God kept Adam in the dark about the consequences of his sin? Either God provided full disclosure, so that Adam knew all the conse-quences of what he was about to do, or else God blindsided him. Can you imagine that God waited until after Adam sinned, and then said, “Surprise, surprise, look what a kettle of worms you have opened up.” No, of course not.

Every sin that has ever been committed is the result of Adam’s sin; it is the working out of the sinful, depraved nature Adam handed down to all his posterity. Think, for a moment, of all the sins, and all the sinners that have come in the wake of Adam’s sin.

To name just a few, Adolf Hitler had six million Jews killed, simply because he did not like Jews. How did Adolf Hitler come to be the way he was? He was the way he was, because of the way Adam became when he sinned. He was the way he was, because of the sinful nature he inherited from Adam.

We read in the newspapers about people kidnaping little children, or young girls, and mistreating them, and killing them. Where did that kind of conduct come from? It came from Adam’s sin.

We read about parents chaining a retarded child in a closet, and leaving it to live out its days in the dark, almost on starvation. How did that happen? That is the result of what Adam did. That vile, sinful nature has been handed down through the ages. Did Adam know about Adolf Hitler? Did he know about King Herod, or Jack the Ripper? No.

But he knew that if he did what he was about to do, there would be men like Adolf Hitler; there would be men like Saddam Hussein, and Osama ben Ladin. He knew that if he did what he was about to do, there would be untold millions of wicked human beings who would some day burn in the flames of eternal damnation.

But knowing full well what he was about to unleash on the world, he did it anyway.

We have already pointed out that, no sooner than Adam sinned, he went from being the most brilliant man who ever lived to being as dumb as a post. Anybody who thinks he can run into the woods, and stand behind a tree, and hide from God is as dumb as a post.

But, also, no sooner than he sinned, he went from being a good, upright, natural man to being as mean as a snake.

When Adam sinned, he started this entire business of sin, and it has been going on ever since. He stood as our federal head. In the sense that he introduced sin to mankind, he is stands guilty of every sin mankind had ever committed.

Let me illustrate it this way. If you set a fire in one apartment of a huge apartment building, do you think that, maybe, the fire you started in one room might spread to the next room, and the next, and the next. Do you think the fire you started might burn the entire building?

Suppose they brought you to trial and your attorney explained, “Now listen, my client did not burn those other apartments; he only burned one apartment.” Do you think that would cut any ice with a jury? I don’t think they would not pay any attention to that. They would say, “When your client burned that one apartment, he started the fire that burned the whole building.”

Suppose you set that fire in the middle of the night, and you knew there were people sleeping in the other apartments. Do you suppose you might be held accountable for the death of those people, or do you think your lawyer might get you off by explaining that you only burned one apartment?

When Adam partook of the fruit of the tree, he started the fire that burned the whole building. Every sin that has ever been committed started and spread from that one sin. He corrupted the fountain at its source, and that source—that nature—has been handed down to every person descended from him.

Listen to Adam’s explanation. “And I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself, because I was naked. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked; hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I com-manded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (Ge 3:10-12).

Did you ever hear anybody say, “It’s not my fault; it’s that woman.” “It’s not my fault; I would never have been the way I am, if it was not for that woman.” That is nothing new. When there were just one man and one woman in the world, the first man tried to blame his sin on his wife.

First off, Eve was deceived; she was truly confused in the matter. Paul said, “Adam was not deceived; but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” Adam knew that, in some sense, Eve was walking around in a fog; she did not entirely understand what was going on. But Adam knew exactly what was happening, and he allowed it to go on.

More than that, the commandment was given to Adam; it was not given to Eve. “And the Lord God commanded the man saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat....” (Ge 2:16). Eve did not stand as our federal head; she did not represent her offspring; Adam did.

He knew exactly what he was doing, and what the consequences would be. He knew that if he did what he was about to do, those would be the consequences, and he wilfully, deliberately, rebelliously, did it anyway. He will-fully brought all on the world all the wickedness that has resulted from his sin—and when God asked him about it, he tried to blame it all on his wife.

Anybody who would try to blame that on anybody—espec-ially on the one, who up until that time had been the dearest and most precious thing in all the world to him—has to be as mean as a snake. Human language cannot express the wickedness, and the guilt of what Adam did to himself, and to all his posterity. And he tried to blame it all on his wife; that is, he tried to blame her with every wicked act that has ever been committed.

One other thought in closing. And this is the counter-balance to all we have said.

No sooner had Adam sinned than God took the skin of an animal to provide a covering for their nakedness. I like to think the animal was a sheep; but I don’t know that; the Bible does not say. But a sheep is so often used as a symbol of Christ, I like to think God used a sheep in that first symbol.

That animal had to die in order for his skin to be a covering for Adam and Eve. The skin of that animal, whatever it may have been, was symbolic of the suffering, and death, and imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. His imputed righteousness is the only covering we have, or need, for our sin. That skin covering their nakedness symbolized that, in spite of their sin, they were children of God, and the sins were covered by the imputed righteousness of their Savior.

If the grace of God reached such a sinner as Adam was, there is no sinner so vile that the grace of God cannot reach him.

Believing In Christ

BELIEVING IN CHRIST

John tells us, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” Joh 3:36.

This is a favorite text, with our Calvinist friends. They are sure it teaches that if one does not hear and believe the preached gospel he has no hope of eternal heaven. The simple problem is that they cannot tell the difference between believing in Christ, and believing the preacher—when he tells them about Christ.

Believing Christ or Believing the Preacher

It is that distinction—believing Christ and believing the preacher—that makes all the difference. And make no mistake; that is the subject under consideration. John says it in no uncertain language. He talks about he that believeth on the Son, and he talks about he that believeth not the Son. Not one word about believing the preacher. Not one word about believing the soul-winner.

The carnal nature of men—even very spiritual men—is such that they cannot resist slipping man and his work into the formula. Man wants his recognition. But you can push and tug all you want to; it will not work. This text does not provide the slightest crack to squeeze man and his work into the operation. Jesus Christ is the one and only Savior, and he will not share his honor with any other.

Isa 42:8, “I am the Lord; that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.”

The One and Only Savior

God is the one and only Savior; he does not need any help. But the pride of man bristles at the thought that God saves his people without any help from man. He just cannot bear the thought of being left out of the process.

There are some very real differences between Arminianism and Calvinism; but on this point they are identical.

To be sure, they approach the question from different directions. The Arminian is convinced God cannot save the sinner without his help. The Calvinist is sure that he could save the sinner all by himself; but he will not; he always calls on man to do his part. But different though they are, both are convinced that man has his part to play in the salvation of sinners. The one says God cannot, and the other says he will not, save the sinner unless he participates in the matter.

On this most fundamental level they both teach the same thing as regards the preached gospel. The Arminian says that, in order to be saved, the sinner must hear the gospel and believe it, and it is up to him whether he does. The Calvinist says that in order to be saved the sinner must hear the gospel and believe it, and God will see to it that he does.

The one teaches that believing the gospel is the condition to eternal life; the other teaches that it is the means. Both teach that there is an unbreakable bond between salvation and the preached gospel. On that level they are identical.

Both insist on inserting man and his work into the formula, and they bristle at the thought that God saves sinners without their help. It is unthinkable that God would engage in such an important work without involving them. It wounds their pride. But unthinkable though it may be, that is what the Bible teaches.

Isa 63:5, “And I looked, and there was none to help, and I wondered that there was none to uphold; therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me, and my fury, it upheld me.”

The prophet tells us the arm of God brings salvation, and he does it without any help. It is human pride that imagines God needs our help in anything he does. If he cannot do it without our help; he could not do it with our help.

One Way of Saving Sinners

Keep it always in mind that God only has one way of saving sinners. He says, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell from whence it cometh or whither it goeth, so is everyone that is born of the Spirit,” Joh 3:7-8.

Notice four things: First: everybody is born of the Spirit in the same way. God does not have one plan for the adult, another plan for the dying infant, another for the idiot, and another for the man who is never reached by the preacher.

If he saves the dying infant without the help of the preacher, he saves the adult the same way. The text does not allow for the slightest variation—“So is everyone that is born of the Spirit.”

If God’s word is true—and who would dare deny it—we are all born again in exactly the same way. With such clear evidence it is foolish for anybody to imagine different plans for the idiot, for the dying infant, and for the person who never hears the gospel message.

Second: the wind is sovereign; it blows where it listeth, where it chooses. Keep in mind that this wind is the Holy Spirit. It is hard to imagine a more graphic metaphor than the wind representing the Spirit of God. The wind blows in places where the foot of man never treads. It goes where the preacher never goes. God is not limited by man’s puny efforts.

Third: wherever it goes, it makes its presence, and its effects, known. Can you imagine a mighty hurricane passing through unnoticed? We all remember Hurricane Andrew. Can you imagine Andrew passing through—and nobody noticing?

The wind of God’s Spirit is no less powerful than the mightiest hurricane. Hurricane Andrew did not have any greater effect on the landscape, than God’s Spirit has on the heart of the sinner, when it does its mighty work.

That is why God uses the wind to represent his Spirit. When God’s Spirit does its work in the heart of a sinner, it turns his world upside down. He comes to love the things he once had no use for; and he hates things that were once the delight of his life. Once God’s Spirit comes into his heart, he can never again be happy in sin. If he finds contentment, he will find it in Christ Jesus—or else he will never find happiness.

And fourth: you cannot tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth. The preacher does not carry the Spirit with him, and it is not at his beck and call. God sovereignly and irresistibly sends his Spirit into the heart, and he does not call for an audience to watch him do his mighty work.

Isa 45:15, “Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, thy Savior.”

The Saved are the Believers

But our friends have a literal arsenal of proof texts which they think prove that the preacher—the soul winner—is involved in the process. They point to all those texts which identify the saved as those who know God. In other words, the saved are those who know God, and they are sure it is their role to provide the proper introductions, as if God could not introduce himself to his own child.

They point to those texts that identify the saved as those who believe in Christ, and they are sure the sinner could not possibly believe until they talk to him—and tell him what to believe—as if the Spirit of God is unable to witness in the heart of the sinner.

They point to those texts that talk about the personal relationship between the sinner and his Savior. It seems never to have occurred to them that the Lord Jesus Christ—living in the heart of his child—is a deeper, and more personal, relationship than the mind of any man can imagine.

It is hard to imagine that any person could believe he is able—by his preaching—to provide the sinner with a more personal relationship with his Maker, than God himself can provide by dwelling and witnessing in the heart of his child. To imagine such superiority of the work of the preacher over the work of the Spirit of God is arrogance in the extreme.

Christ in the Heart of the Sinner

To cast a little more light on the subject, consider, if you will, what happens when a person is quickened by the Spirit. When he is born again; the Lord Jesus Christ—in the person of his Spirit—comes into his heart. There are not many things the Bible tells us more often than it tell us that. Ro 8:9, “....if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you....” Ro 8:10, “And if Christ be in you....” Col 1:27, “....which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Ga 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me....”

In regeneration Jesus Christ, personally and vitally takes up residence in the heart of his child.

The very heaven of heavens cannot contain him, but he lives in the hearts of his redeemed, born again children. If the universe cannot contain him, how could he possibly live in the heart of one person? He can do anything he wants to do; he is God.

A New Life Within

When a person is born again, a new life enters his life. Jesus Christ himself tells us he is life itself.

Joh 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

He is life itself, and when he comes into our hearts in regeneration, a new life comes into our life.

Col 1:27, “Which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

When we receive this new life within, we may not understand what is going on, but we cannot help but know that everything is different than it once was. Whether he ever hears a gospel sermon or not, once Jesus Christ comes into his heart, he can never again enjoy sin the way he once did. He now has an appetite for better things, and that hunger will never be satisfied until it is satisfied in Christ.

If he has a hunger for righteousness, he is a blessed character; Christ lives in his heart.

Mt 5:6, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

He will never respond to the gospel message unless he has a hunger for the righteousness that is revealed in the gospel. And if he has that hunger, he is already a blessed character; the Spirit of God already lives in his heart.

Coming to Know Christ

But somebody objects, “All you have said is well and good; but you have still not shown me that the Spirit teaches the sinner to believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God as a person; and that is what the Bible teaches; it teaches that those who are saved believe in the person of Jesus Christ.

Well, let us see if the Holy Spirit teaches us to know Jesus Christ, and to believe in him—as a person—or not. First, let us look at what the Bible spells out, and then look at how he demonstrates that very fact in nature.

First off, the Bible teaches in the clearest language that the Holy Spirit teaches us to know Jesus Christ—as a person.

Joh 15:26, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.

That sounds plain enough to me; the Holy Spirit testifies of Jesus Christ as a person. But there is more.

Joh 15:13-15, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”

That ought to make it plain enough. It is the special work of the Spirit—not to glorify himself—but to glorify the Son. This is the province of the Holy Spirit, and there is nary a word about the preacher.

It Wounds Their Pride

This is the reason our Calvinist friends get so hysterical. They are confronted with the Bible doctrine of the Holy Spirit and its mighty work. They are told God can do his work without depending on them to help, and they are offended that they are left out of the process.

They are very much like the men of Ephraim, who became so enraged at Gideon, when he went to war with the Midianites without asking them to help. They wanted the recognition that comes from victory in battle, and they felt cheated.

Because they are left out of the work of quickening sinners from death in sin to life in Christ, they are convinced they are out of a job. But Bible doctrine does not leave the preacher out of a job; it leaves him with more to do than he will ever accomplish. It just shows that he cannot do God’s work—and that upsets him to no end.

A New Life in His Life

God gives us in nature a good illustration of this new life we receive in regeneration, and the evidence that new life brings with it. Bear in mind that this new life is “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Col 1:27). It is Christ himself living in your heart.

For nine months an expectant mother carries her child in her womb. There is a beautiful parallel to that in regeneration. Like the born again child of God, she has a new life within. In being born again, Jesus Christ—who is life itself—comes into the life of his child, and when that happens, that new life will make itself known.

Let me ask you. When that child begins to kick and squirm, do you think its mother needs a gynecologist to convince her of the life and existence of the child? A gynecologist can teach her ever so much about her condition. He can tell her things she needs to know, things she needs to do, but there are some things she will know without any instruction from the gynecologist.

There is much the preacher can teach us about the Lord, and what he has done in our hearts and lives, but you can be sure that if a life so vast the universe cannot contain him has come into your heart, there is some things you are going to learn directly from him without any input from the preacher, or anybody else.

Again, do you think that mother requires the assistance of her friends and neighbors to teach her to have a personal relationship with that child. Do you think she needs them to assist her in learning to love it, and to look forward to the day when she can see its face, when she can hold it in her arms, and hug, and squeeze it.

Or do you think there is going to be a love—a bonding if you will—between the mother and child, whether anybody else has any input or not. Do you think that maybe—just maybe—that relationship between the mother and her child is the sweetest and the most tender of all relationships. And do you not think her relationship with that new life within is a faint reflection of the relationship between the saved sinner and the Lord Jesus Christ living in his heart?

The Fruit of the Spirit

We cannot explain how Christ can live in the heart of the sinner. God takes care of that, and it is not our responsibility to figure out how he does all he does. But you can be sure that if one so vast the universe cannot contain him does come into the heart of the sinner, he will make it manifest that he is there.

How will he do that? The Spirit of God is like a tree; it bears fruit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is not law,” Ga 5:22-23. That is not the work of the preacher; that is the fruit of the Spirit.

Those who would have us believe there is an unbreakable bond between the preached gospel and the salvation of sinners would also have us believe that those who live in remote areas never reached by the gospel—who never hear the preached gospel and so never have the opportunity to believe it—are doomed to eternal damnation.

They assure us that if we would only respond to their pleas for money, and help send the gospel to them, there are many who would live in heaven, who otherwise they would burn in the flames of eternal damnation.

But the Bible teaches no such thing. Read the text again. Ga 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Those are the fruit of the Spirit, and no person ever produced the fruit of the Spirit unless he was in possession of the Spirit. If any person has those character-istics—if he behaves in that way—it is an indication that God’s Spirit lives in his heart. It is evidence that he is heaven-bought, heaven-born, and heaven-bound.

The preacher may not have done his work; the soul-winner may not have reached him. But God’s Spirit has reached him, and done his work. God’s Spirit will do his work, whether the preacher does his work or not.

He is Truth Incarnate

When one is born again, Jesus Christ—who is truth incarnate— comes into his heart. He will spend the rest of his life sorting it all out, but as surely as Jesus Christ lives in his heart, truth lives in his heart.

Joh 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

Keep in mind that the very universe cannot contain him, and truth is one of his attributes. That truth is as vast, and as powerful, and as all pervasive, as he is. If he is the very embodiment of truth, and if he lives in the heart of the sinner, is there any way you can deny that truth lives in the heart of the sinner? How can you deny it without either denying that he is what he says he is, or else denying that he can dwell in the heart of the sinner?

The Benefit of the Gospel

Unless, and until, the gospel comes to him in power, his mind will be in a state of confusion. He may not know much, if anything, about the doctrine of the Bible. He may not understand the doctrine of the incarnation, and depravity, and redemption.

Truth lives in his heart, but he still needs the gospel, and the gospel preacher, to help his mind to understand what his heart already knows.

Much of what the sinner knows in his heart is in “groanings which cannot be uttered” (Ro 8:26). He needs the preacher, and the gospel, to help him find words to express what he has been taught in his heart; but he would not be groaning and agonizing over sin, and his need of a Savior, if the Spirit had not already done its mighty work. There is no way to calculate the benefit of the gospel in helping him to understand what God has done in his heart.

But the preacher takes far too much credit, when he thinks his preaching helps God in bringing the Spirit of God into his heart in the first place.


It Wounds Their Pride

It is at this point that the Calvinist—no less than the Arminian—becomes hysterical, when you tell him God can, and does, save sinners without assistance on the part of the preacher. It wounds his pride when you tell him God does not need his help.

The majority of the religious world errs in their disparaging of the Spirit of God, and its ability to do its work without the assistance of man. They err in their notion that the Spirit cannot go, unless they go along and help in the work. They err in their notion that they can do by their preaching what the Spirit cannot do by its power—quickening and teaching the heart of the sinner.

The Calvinist—no less than the Arminian—would have us believe the Spirit will not do its work, unless the preacher pitches in and helps out. They are sure the Spirit never exercises its quickening and teaching power in those regions where the preacher never goes. But the Spirit is not limited by the going and witnessing of the preacher.

The Spirit is no less powerful than the Father and the Son, and he will be no less successful in doing his work. God created worlds without number in places where the foot of man will never tread, and his Spirit is able to quicken sinners in those regions the preacher never reaches.

The Spirit of Truth

Not only are we told the Son is truth itself (Joh 14:6), we are also told the Spirit is “the Spirit of truth.”

Joh 14:17, “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you and shall be in you.”

Joh 15:25, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.”

The Spirit of God is the Spirit of truth, and when that Spirit sovereignly, irresistibly, comes into the heart of the sinner in the work of regeneration, truth comes into his heart. There is no way you can deny that fact without denying the Spirit of God is what God says it is.

All Taught of the Lord

Most of the confusion in religion would be cleared up if we would acknowledge the office and work of God’s Spirit in the salvation of his people. It is placing the gospel and the gospel preacher in the office of the Holy Spirit that has produced most of the confusion. The preacher has his work to do—and it is the most important work any man ever engaged in—but it is not the preacher’s place to do that work that can only be done by the Spirit of God.

After its work in regeneration, the work of the Spirit is one of teaching.

Isa 53:12 “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of they children.”

Notice that God promises he will teach all his children. It does not say anything about every child of God being taught by the preacher. The preacher may be lazy, or incompetent, or rebellious, but God will do his work, whether the preacher does his work or not.

Who Can Imagine Such Folly

We are told it is the responsibility of the preacher to warn people, and to assist them in escaping hell, and making sure they will live in heaven after awhile.

What a terrifying thought it is to think that God would suspend the eternal destiny of millions of poor sinners on the faithfulness of preachers. That would be folly in the highest degree. Who would dare accuse God of such poor judgment. Who could believe that God—who has all the power there is—would place such responsibility in such irresponsible hands.

The notion that the eternal destiny of sinners depends on the faithfulness—and the effectiveness—of other sinners to teach them can lead to some of the strangest conclusions.

Over fifty years ago I attended a seminar on soul-winning. One of the points the instructor impressed on us was the importance of personal grooming. She stressed that we should wear clean clothes; our shoes should be shined; our hair should be well combed; we should brush our teeth, and we should be sure to use a mouth wash. Wouldn’t it be terrible if our bad breath might offend the person we were witnessing to, and he would not listen. This might be the only chance he would ever have to hear and believe the gospel. He might turn away and never again have a chance to be saved.

I was just a boy, and I had a lot to learn, but it seemed a little harsh to think that somebody might burn forever because of bad breath. And it certainly seemed unfair that one person might burn in the flames of eternal hell, because somebody else had bad breath.

There is no end to the strange conclusions you will face, when you insist the eternal destiny of sinners depends on the work and faithfulness of other sinners.

He Guides Into All Truth

Not only does the truth of God come into the heart of the sinner, when Christ comes into his heart, he promises to guide his people into all truth.

Joh 16:13, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.

The Holy Spirit is a far more effective teacher than our friends are willing to admit. Inspiration places no limits on the ability of the Holy Spirit to teach God’s people. Again, we need the preacher, and the gospel to help us sort it all out. Our carnal nature is such that it will twist and distort anything that does not suit its prejudices; and the witness of the Spirit does not suit the prejudice of the flesh. Even after one is born again, he still needs the gospel to deliver him from his own strange ideas.

But the ultimate teacher of every child of God is, and has always been, the Spirit of God himself. It is that Spirit that shines the light on the Bible, and on our own experience.

Joh 14:26, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

There is no need to comment. If anybody will not admit what that verse says without comment, he would probably not admit it with comment. The Spirit is not limited in its ability to teach his people.

Conviction for Sin

Second, it is the work of the Spirit to convict the sinner of his sinful condition, and his need for a Savior.


2Co 7:10, “Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of, but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”

Mt 5:4, “Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.”

If one mourns because of sin, it is evidence the Spirit of God lives in his heart. The sinner, dead in trespasses and sins, does not mourn over sin. He is a sinner and glad of it; he loves to sin. He is convinced that nothing is very much fun, if it is not at least, a little bit naughty, a little bit sinful.

That is the reason places like Las Vegas, and Bourbon Street in New Orleans. and X-Rated movies, and risque pictures, make so much money. The sinner loves to sin, and if you tell him what he is doing is sinful, you only whet his appetite for more of the same. He is as much at home in sin as a fish is at home in the water. It is his natural habitat; he would not consider being any other way.

If you find one who mourns because of sin, you have found one who has already been quickened by the Spirit. The Spirit of God has come into his heart. It has taught him he is a sinner, and he needs a Savior.

The wicked often mourn over the consequences of sin; he may even tremble at the thought of eternal damnation, but if one mourns because of sin—because his ways displease his Maker—he is already born of the spirit of God. The wicked man does not care whether his ways please God or not, and if he does show a preference, he is happy to show his disdain for God and godliness.

If he can no longer enjoy those kinds of conduct that once gave him the greatest satisfaction, and he now hungers for something better, how can he help but believe something has happened in his life. If one so vast and so magnificent that the very universe cannot contain him has just taken up residence in his heart, how can he help but believe that something is very different.

Assurance of Salvation

The question is asked, “How can you know you are a child of God.” Again, the Bible provides an adequate answer.

Ro 8:16, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”

It is the Spirit that gives us assurance of salvation. The Calvinist is sure the Spirit is unable—all by itself—to give us that assurance. The preacher needs to do his part. He needs to explain that we have heard, and believed, and repented of sin; we have met the prescribed conditions; so we should take his word for it—we are now the children of God.

That is another of those differences between the doctrine of the Bible and the doctrine of most of religion. Most of religion assures its people they are the children of God, because they have done what is required, and they should take the preacher’s word for it that they are now children of God.

The Bible teaches that if one is born again, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.” The one says we should take the word of the preacher; the other says we have the witness of the Spirit. If I must say so, that sounds like a big difference.

If I might digress for a moment, that is one of the reasons for the multitude of psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists in our day. We have such a multitude of advisers who try to help people without first pointing them to that one Comforter, who has already taught them in their hearts. Instead of pointing them to a multitude of authorities who can never agree among themselves, if these advisers would rather point their people to that one Comforter, who is never wrong, who is always available, and who has the solution to ever problem, how very much more they could help their people.

But do we not need the preacher to teach us? Yes, we need the preacher. The Holy Spirit is infallible, he is never wrong. But we are not infallible. We make terrible mistakes, and reach ridiculous conclusions. We need the preacher, and access to the Bible, to help us sort it all out. But you can be sure the preacher will never be able to teach our heads, unless the Lord has already taught our hearts. There can be no doubt that, especially in this work, God uses the preacher to confirm, and reinforce, that assurance. But the preacher cannot reinforce the assurance of salvation, unless the Spirit has already done its work.

Bringing Life and Immortality to Light

So what benefit is the preacher? The sinner needs the gospel preached in power to help his mind sort out what his heart already knows. He needs the gospel to bring life and immortality to light—to cast the light on what has happened in his heart.

2Ti 1:10, “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

The gospel does not bring life and immortality; it brings life and immortality to light. It casts the light on what has already taken place. It explains to the sinner what has happened in his heart.

From Faith to Faith

Paul tells us that by the gospel “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith,” Ro 1:17.

That vital (living) faith, that comes with regeneration, responds to the evangelical faith, that comes with the gospel, and he is able to understand with his mind what he has believed in his heart all along. The gospel enables him to sort it all out. He is able to know with his mind the Christ whom he already knows in his heart.

And is there anybody who dares deny that the Christ revealed in the gospel is the same Christ who has lived—and witnessed—in his heart all along?

Not only is Jesus Christ truth, and life; he is love; he is the very essence of love.

1Jo 4:8, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”

When this love—a love bigger and more powerful than the universe itself—comes into the heart of the sinner, you can be sure it will have its effect. God himself, living in the heart of his child, will teach that child to love him, and to love his fellow man. Just as surely as that expectant mother believes in, and enjoys, and loves the child in her womb, the heaven-born soul believes in, and enjoys, and loves the Lord Jesus Christ, living in his heart and soul.

The gospel preacher can teach us to know more about the Lord, and the more we learn about him, the more we learn to love him. But the preacher has far too high an opinion of himself, when he thinks the sinner cannot love the Lord until the preacher teaches him how.

It was jealousy of God that brought sin into the world in the first place. The serpent taught our first parents to be jealous of God, and to aspire to occupy the throne with him. Most of modern religion springs from this same jealousy of God—this unwillingness to admit that God can do his work whether the preacher does his work or not.

Evidence of the Love of God

If you will, consider a couple of illustrations. During the conflict we call Desert Storm, the first war in Iraq, Saddam Hussein closed the Baghdad airport. Hundreds of Westerners were trapped; they could not get out of the country. It had not been long since the Iranians had held more than fifty of our people hostage. It was a time of national grief, and national outrage. It looked like the same thing was about to happen all over again.

A young lady was interviewed one evening on the six o’clock news. She told how she had escaped from Baghdad. An Iraqi citizen had loaded as many people as he could get on a Land Rover, and started across the desert for the Jordanian border. She said he drove ninety miles an hour. I really doubt that; it is hard to imagine going ninety miles an hour over the desert. But, no doubt, it seemed like he was going ninety miles an hour.

She said from time to time he would be stopped by Iraqi soldiers. They would turn him back. He would start back toward Baghdad until he was well out of sight of the soldiers, and then he would make a wide swing, and head out toward Jordan. When he unloaded his passengers, they tried to pay him. He would not take any pay; he did not want their money. He was just trying to save the lives of people who might otherwise die in Iraq.

Since Islam is the established religion of Iraq, and it is dangerous for anyone to embrace any other religion, and since the man probably grew up in Iraq, it is likely he is a Muslim. He may never have heard a Christian sermon in his life. He may never have had the opportunity, as our friends express it, to accept Christ as his Savior. According the most of our friends, since he never made that all important public profession, if he died in that heroic effort, he is today burning in the flames of eternal damnation.

But that man has more evidence that the Spirit of God lives in his heart than most of the church members I know. The wicked do not behave the way that man did. You can be sure he would never have behaved the way he did if God’s Spirit had not been in his heart, motivating and strengthening him.

The Works of the Flesh

The majority of the religious world has far too high an opinion of man in his unregenerate state. They are sure the wicked often produce the same righteous works as the born again child of God, or at least, that they often produce works so similar to those of the righteous that nobody can tell the difference. But the Bible teaches that is not the case at all; it describes the conduct of the wicked in very clear language.

In Galatians, chapter five, Paul tells us the kind of conduct the sinner engages in before the Spirit does its work. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like....,” Ga 5:19-21. The human mind cannot imagine a change so profound as the change that takes place when the Lord Jesus Christ, in the person of his Spirit, comes into the heart of a sinner.

Before he is born again, he is flesh, all flesh, and nothing but flesh, and the works of the flesh are manifest in everything he does.

After he is born again, he still has the flesh, that old nature, to contend with, and so long as he lives, that old nature will manifest itself in a variety of ways. But now he has Christ dwelling in his heart, aiding him and prompting him to do better. And this man proved by his conduct that Christ Jesus lived in his heart, and motivated him, and strengthened him to do what he did.

But our friends tell us that, because he was born in a land where the gospel is never preached, and he would never hear a gospel sermon, he will one day burn in eternal damnation. Such a cruel doctrine shames the name of our Lord.

The Power of God to Save Sinners

God has all the power there is; he can do anything he wants to do. Who could believe he would make hearing and believing the one critical condition to salvation, and not see to it that every individual had ample, and equal, opportunity to hear the gospel and respond to it?

Who could believe that God would so mock his creatures as to withhold the very means that could save them from eternal misery? Or to say it only slightly differently, who could believe he would place the means of salvation in the hands of men, who are so often unconcerned, incompetent, or even rebellious? Who would dare charge his Maker with such folly?

A Cold-blooded Calvinism

Consider another illustration. During the last war in Iraq, the news media told of an Iraqi lawyer who learned of an American soldier (I believe her name was Jessica Lynch) who was being held and tortured by Iraqi soldiers. At great risk to his own life he managed to learn the building, and the very room, in which she was being held. Then he walked some five miles—through the battle—to deliver the information to the Allied forces. The Allies sent a special operations team and brought her out alive. Again, this man was probably a Muslim; he may never have heard a gospel sermon.

The Calvinist differs from the Arminian is some ways. The Arminian teaches that hearing the gospel and believing it is the condition to escaping eternal damnation. The Calvinist says that hearing the gospel and believing it is the means God uses to save sinners from eternal damnation. But both of them agree that unless a person hears and believes the preached gospel he will burn in eternal damnation.

This man probably never heard the gospel preached in power; he never had an opportunity to respond to it and—according to that doctrine—if he had died in that heroic effort he would today be burning in eternal hell. It is a cold-blooded doctrine that consigns to eternal damnation one who has such sincere love for his fellow man—one who has such clear evidence that God’s Spirit lives in his heart.

Those Who Oppose Themselves

We have no interest in disparaging those who believe that doctrine, and we will not question their sincerity. Carnal pride is a powerful thing, and—especially in matters of religion—it will insert itself in the place of the greatest honor, if it can. If there is any way to show that his efforts make the difference, he will do it.

The Spirit of God in his heart teaches him the exact opposite. Paul says, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would,” Ga 5:17.

There is a constant warfare in the heart of the heaven-born soul. The Spirit prompts us to honor and magnify our Lord; our carnal nature would seize the credit and the attention for itself. We are told that in meekness we are to instruct “those who oppose themselves,” (2Ti 2:25), those whose carnal nature denies what the Spirit teaches in their heart.

But, while we have no desire to belittle those who believe in Arminianism or in Calvinism, we are truly thankful to know the grace of God reaches much farther than weak, fallible, and temperamental preachers have ever gone. We are thankful to know that if one has genuine, sincere love for God and for his fellow man, he is heaven-bought, heaven-born, and heaven-bound.

Castaway

CASTAWAY

1Co 9:27, But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

What was Paul afraid of? He was genuinely concerned about something? What was it?

He expresses concern, that after he has preached to others, he might himself be a castaway. What does he mean by being a castaway?

We cannot imagine he is concerned that, having been born of God’s Spirit, he might lose his home in eternal heaven. He has preached far too clearly, that if one is chosen, redeemed, and born of the Spirit, heaven will be his home. Nothing can separate him from the love of God, and nothing can deny him his home in eternal heaven. He is not concerned that he might someday spend eternity with the wicked in eternal damnation. But he is genuinely concerned about something. Again, we ask, what is it?

He is concerned that, in spite of all God has done for him, and all he has experienced in service toward God, he might prove unfaithful to his calling, and lose everything worthwhile in this life. He is concerned that he might be castaway from the fellowship of the saints, and the benefits of a godly life.

The Bible makes it abundantly clear that the saints will be preserved by grace, and never fall finally away. Some of our Articles of Faith use the word persevere, instead of preserved, and again, it is clear the saints will persevere in a state of grace. That is, they will never cease to be the children of God. They will never cease to have the Spirit of God in their hearts, and that Spirit will continue to have its effect. They will never lose what God has prepared for them in heaven.

But are we also to believe the saints will, without fail, persevere in the pursuit of holiness? Are we to believe that until the end of their lives they will be found in the pathway of faith and obedience? They will persevere in a state of grace; but is it possible that one might depart from the pursuit of holiness, and be found at the end of his journey in a state of rebellion?

God has sworn he will have them with him in heaven; but has he made the same promise about rescuing them from their own folly in this life? Has God guaranteed that, in spite of their sometimes rebellion, he will, without fail, bring them back to the fold. Has he provided some kind of assurance that the truly born again person cannot make ultimate shipwreck of his life? Are we to believe that, regardless of how reck-lessly a truly born again person may behave—for a time—he can be sure that God will ultimately rescue him from his rebellion, so that he will finish his journey in full triumph of a living faith.

Or, quite the contrary, does God warn that the truly born again person may so conduct his affairs that he experiences the temporal wrath of God, and destroys his witness, and his own personal welfare in this life.

Granted, we have God’s assurance that if he has ever loved us, he will always love us (Jer 31:3). We have his assurance that all the forces of evil combined will never be able to separate us from his love (Ro 8:35-39). We have it from the same Apostle Paul that those who were chosen in eternity past are the exact same people who will be glorified in eternity to come (Ro 8:28-30). We have God’s promise that his sheep, his people, will never perish (Joh 10:27-30).

There is nothing the Bible teaches more clearly than it teaches the eternal security of the child of God.

Joh 10:27-29, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”

Jer 31:3, The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

God gave his Son as the redemption price to pay the sin debt of his people. That chain of redemption is a golden chain which reaches all the way from eternity past to eternity to come.

Ro 8:28-30, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified, and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

Notice that those who were chosen in eternity past are the exact same people who will be glorified in eternity to come. And notice how Paul traces these same people from their being foreknown to their being glorified. No distinction is made between them; they are the same people.

The list of proof texts goes on and on. If one is chosen, redeemed, and born of the Spirit of God, he is sure of eternal heaven.

But that is not what Paul is concerned about. Granted the truly chosen, redeemed, and born again person is heaven- bought, heaven-born, and heaven-bound. He will never lose what God has provided for him after this life is over. God has determined to have his people with him in eternal heaven, and he will do all he has purposed to do. God makes that point so clear that he confirms it with an oath.

Isa 14:24,27, The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass, and as I have pur-posed, so shall it stand....For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? And his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?

God purposed to bring the redeemed home to glory, and he swears he will do it. It was not necessary for God to swear. God cannot lie; a simple statement would have been enough. But for our benefit, he swore that he would do all his pleasure. He will have every one of the redeemed with him in heaven. If God says it—and swears to it—that ought to settle the question.

But there are those who go beyond the God’s promise that he will bring the redeemed safe home to heaven, and reach the conclusion that he has also promised he will not allow them to make ultimate shipwreck in this life.

In their misdirected zeal, they assure their hearers that, regardless of how vile one’s conduct may be, if he is one of the redeemed, God will not allow him to persist in a state of rebellion forever. They assure their hearers they may “fall into grievous sins, and, for a time, continue therein;” they may, “incur God’s displeasure, and grieve His Holy Spirit, come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded, hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.”

They tell us that if one is truly born again, he may—for a time—stray from the pathway of duty, and for a time he may rebel against his Maker, but, if he is truly one of the redeemed, he will, without fail, return to the pathway of duty. God will see to it that he repents and returns to the fold.

And, without question, that is sometimes the case. Some-times the rebelling child does return to the fold. That was the case with David.

David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and he had her husband Uriah killed to cover up his sin (2Sa 11). He sank about as low as a person can sink, and he suffered for that crime as long as he lived. But he repented; he found forgiveness; and he spent the rest of his days serving the Lord. That was not the case with his son Solomon. Solomon was clearly a child of God; but he finished his life in a shameful condition. We will look more at Solomon in a moment.

That was the case with the prodigal son. He left the protec-tion of his father’s home. His wasted his inheritance in a far county, with harlots and riotous living (Lu 15:11-32). But one day, he came to his senses. He said, “How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger. I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. Make me as one of thy hired servants.” His father did not make him one of the hired servants. He had compassion on him, forgave him, and restored him to his former state. He killed the fatted calf, and called for his friends to make merry and rejoice with him.

There can be no doubt that often the wayward child does return home. That is not the question. The question is, does God provide any kind of guarantee that will always be the case. Does God guarantee that the prodigal will come to his senses.

Our purpose in this little study is to examine what the Bible teaches on the subject. Does God provide a guarantee that—regardless of how you may behave for a time—he will ultimately bring you back to the fold? Do we have God’s guarantee that the truly redeemed and born again person cannot make ultimate shipwreck of his life?

I fear that those who reach that conclusion lay claim to a promise God has never made. You can be sure that God will do all he has promised to do; but God has never promised that he will not allow you to destroy yourself. These good brethren assure their hearers that their rebellion will only be for a time; God will see to it they finally return, and, the outcome will be that they will “certainly persevere to the end.” They insist that if a person is elect, God will not allow him to continue in rebellion. He will, without fail, come to the end of his life in a state of obedience.

But, regardless of how sincere those teachers may be, the Bible provides no such assurance. It does not guarantee the rebel will finally see the error of his way and turn from it.

One unintentional side effect of such reasoning is that it has the potential of encouraging the sinner to continue in his sin until God calls him back.

We do not believe for a moment that those who teach that notion would willingly encourage the sinner in his sin. We have no reason to believe they are anything less than honest, God-fearing people. They are as concerned to encourage a life of service and obedience as those who oppose the doc-trine, and they would rightly recoil from any suggestion to the contrary. But doctrines do have consequences, and the poten-tial is there, nonetheless.

The notion that God has guaranteed he will bring one back from his state of rebellion has the potential of making the sinner complacent in his misconduct.

The Bible teaches that the truly born again person can so behave himself that he loses everything worthwhile this side of the grave; he can so act as to make total shipwreck of his life. The person who assures him that he cannot suffer such loss is providing a guarantee he can never fulfill. Those who are born of the Spirit of God are not in danger of eternal damnation. They are the children of God; they are the objects of his love, and he will not allow the objects of his love to suffer eternally. But, while the child of God is eternally secure in Christ, that does not mean he can sin with impunity. There are dire consequences to the born again child of God, who willfully, persistently, lives after the flesh. Paul refers to those penalties as a fate worse than death.

Heb 10:26, “For if we sin wilfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”

Paul is saying the rebel is left without consciousness of a hope in Christ Jesus. “There remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” What state is he in? Here it is. “But a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” The adversaries are those who are enemies to God and all that is godly. He is a child of God, and he will live in heaven some day, but he feels none of the power of that hope in his heart. Instead there is fear, that fear of fiery indignation, which will one day devour the adversaries.

He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses. Of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden the Son of God under foot, and counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the spirit of grace.”

Paul is telling us about something worse, a “sorer punish-ment,” than death. What is worse than death? It is for a child of God to be cut off and in the condition we have been talking about.

Sometimes we talk about what a harsh thing the law of Moses was. And the Law of Moses was a harsh system. But for a person to be stoned to death was really a less punishment than to be left here in this life, cut off—completely cut off— from the joys and the benefits he might otherwise have had.

Of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing.”

The blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified....” Is that talking about a dead alien sinner? Those who will one day suffer eternally are not sanctified by the blood of the covenant. He “counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace, for we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord, and again, The Lord shall judge his people,” (Heb 10:29-30). This is talking about his people. If there was ever any doubt, that should remove it.

Heb 10:31, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Peter talks about the same thing. 2Pe 1:5, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue, and to virtue, knowledge, and to knowledge, temperance, and to temper-ance, patience, and to patience, godliness, and to godliness, brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness, charity, for if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren, nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, but he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”

It does not mean those sins are still charged against him. The Lord put those sins away at Calvary, and he “hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Heb 10:14). Those who are redeemed and born again are perfected and that forever. The man in this condition has not ceased to be born again; he has not ceased to be a child of God, but he is blind; he cannot see afar off, and he has “forgotten that was purged from his old sins.”

He has not ceased to be purged from his sins; but he has forgotten; that is, he has no credible witness in his heart that he is a child of God. He is a child of God, and heaven will be his home—but he has no reason to think so.

That brings up a serious question. Somebody tells me the thought that he has no credible witness that he is a child of God takes away all the assurance from a humble, prayerful, child of God who stumbles along the way; but that is not the case at all.

The principle we are talking about holds no terror for the humble, prayerful child of God, who sometimes fails. But it also holds no comfort for the person living in a continuing state of rebellion. There is a world of difference between the two.

I am fearful that, on the one hand, I will discourage the occasionally stumbling child of God; but I am just as fearful that I will encourage one living in a continuing state of rebellion.

Every heaven born soul stumbles from time to time—but he can never be at peace in his sin. He sins, but he is miserable in his sin, and he wants to do better.

If a person is comfortable with his sinful condition, and per-sists in it, it can only mean one of two things: either he is not a child of God. He is flesh, all flesh, and nothing but flesh, and we should not be surprised that he is comfortable living after the flesh. One day his judgment will be according to his works (Re 20:12).

Or else, like the person Peter describes, he is a child of God, but he has so continued in sin that God has given him over to judicial blindness. He is blind; he cannot see afar off; and he has forgotten he was once purged from his old sins. He may truly be a child of God, but he has lost every reason to think so.

The Bible teaches that—in some sense—the child of God can perish. And it teaches just as clearly that, so far as this life is concerned, that perishing is sometimes total, permanent, and irreversible. The Bible gives some clear examples.

Mt 21:18-20, “Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered, and when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee from henceforth forever, and presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away.”

Bear in mind that this was a good plant, a good tree; it could have brought forth good fruit. A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit. So this tree was capable of bringing forth good fruit. This tree is symbolic of a child of God, who is not bearing the fruit he ought to bear. The Lord hungered; he looked for food on this tree; he came to it, and found no fruit thereon, but leaves only, and he said to it, “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth, forever.”

This was a good tree. It was capable of bearing good fruit. It did not; The judgment of God fell on it, and let me ask you: How long do you believe it is going to be until this tree bears good fruit?

Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever.” That is long enough, is it not? Never again will this tree bear the fruit it might have borne. This tree might at one time have borne that fruit, but now the judgment of God rests on it, because it did not bear fruit, and now, there is no possibility this tree will ever again be the fruitful tree it might have been.

Mt 24:14, “The kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.”

There were three servants. To one servant he delivered five talents, to another servant, two talents, and to another servant, one talent. The man with five talents went out and worked with them, and doubled what he had. He gained five talents. The man with two talents went out, and considering what he had to work with, he did the same thing. He doubled what he had. He gained two talents.

Not all of us have the same capacity. God does not require me to use your talent. All God requires of me is to do the best I can with what I have. That man with two talents did just as well as the man with five talents. He just did not have as much to work with. But the man with one talent “went and hid his talent in the earth,” and when his Lord came back he challenged him. The Lord commended those other two servants, and gave the same commendation to the man with two talents as he did to the man with five talents.

But in verse twenty-four the man who received one talent came and said, “Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sowed, and gathering where thou hast not strawed, and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth, lo, there thou hast that is thine. His Lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed; thou oughtest, therefore, to have put my money to the exchangers, and then, at my coming, I should have received mine own with usury. Take, therefore, the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents, for unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance, but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And he cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and gnashing of teeth.”

Notice that these were all servants of the same Lord. They all had talents given them from the same Lord. They all had the ability, according to their own capacity, to serve their Lord. The man with one talent could not do as much as the man with five talents, but he could have done just like the man with two talents. He could have used what he had. But he did not use it, and he lost it.

Let me ask you again, what do you believe was the prospect that his Lord would ever give him another talent. What do you think is the prospect that his Lord will say, “Okay, you have had one probation; you missed out that time, but I am going to give you another chance.” It is not going to happen, is it? He was cast out into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

These were all three servants of the same Lord. They all had talents with which they could have served their Lord. The third servant did not, and his loss was total, permanent, and irreversible.

Joh 15:1-5, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the hus-bandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away, and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you, as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine; ye are the branches; he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without me, ye can do nothing.”

Let me ask you: is this talking to children of God, or is it talking to dead alien sinners? It is talking to children of God, is it not? He says, “I am the vine, and ye are the branches.” The dead alien sinner is not a branch in Christ Jesus. This is talking to the Lord’s children. Now notice verse six, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered, and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

Is that talking about eternal damnation? It is not men who cast anyone away into that terrible place. But notice that it is men who cast these people into the fire. Sometimes that happens by a vote in conference in church. “Men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

It does not always happen that the person is turned out of the church. I have known some people who were in the condition described in these verses, who stayed in the church the rest of their lives. They never did anything so outward, so obvious, that they would ever be dealt with by the church, and yet, their joy was gone. Everything they had ever experienced was gone. It had been gone for years. There was no spiritual joy about them, and yet, they stayed in the church, and, sometimes, were the most insistent on making all the decisions. It becomes a problem in the church, when that happens.

If a man abide not in me (that is, one of these branches in Christ) he is cast forth as a branch and is withered, and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

Again, the same question we asked awhile ago: after this branch is cast into the fire and burned, what do you believe are the prospects that branch will ever be put back in the vine, and bear fruit in the vine.

There is nothing that can separate the child of God from the love of God, but the child of God can so persist in sin, and go on, and on, until he loses everything worth having in this life.

We talk about a person losing the joy of his salvation. He can do that. He loses the joy of the church, the joy of the gospel. He wonders why the preacher cannot preach the way he used to preach. He allows, “That preacher used to go to the pulpit every Sunday morning and he would just set this place on fire, but he just can’t preach like that any more.” Perhaps the preacher preaches as well as ever. Maybe the man cannot listen the way he used to. He cannot hear the way he used to hear.

A person stands to lose the joy of the church, his home in the church, his job, his business, his family, his children, his home, his health, and, perhaps, even his sanity. There is no end to the things a person stands to lose—this side of the grave.

I am sure some of you can think of someone you have known very well. There is no doubt in your mind that he is a child of God. You have been with him in church. You have seen him rejoice under the preaching of the gospel, and you cannot doubt that he is born of the Spirit of God. But today, he has made shipwreck of his life.

You can supply the name. Everybody knows somebody who fits the pattern. He has lost the joy of his salvation; he has lost the joy of the church; perhaps, he has lost his home in the church; he lost his wife; his children will not talk to him; he lost his job; he lost his business; he lost his home; he lost his health. He lost everything worth having—this side of the grave.

The text says, “Men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” There is no possibility those branches will ever again be put back together and put back in the vine to bear fruit here in this life.

Heb 6:1-6, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. For it is impos-sible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

I believe it is clear enough that he is talking about a child of God. He says if that person shall fall away, it is impossible to renew him again to repentance, seeing “they crucify to them-selves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” That is still talking about the branch that was cut off and cast into the fire. It is talking about that fig tree to which the Lord said, “Let no fruit grow on thee from henceforth forever.” It is talking about that one talent servant whose talent was taken away and who was cast out into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Paul says it is impossible to renew such a person to repentance.

Somebody may want to know, “But what if he decides to repent?” He cannot do it. It is not possible for him to repent. A person cannot repent just any time he decides to. If God does not give repentance you cannot repent.

2Ti 2:25, “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.”

Ac 11:18, “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.”

Ro 2:4, “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?”

The one text says that God gives repentance, the next text says that he grants repentance, and the last text says that he leads to repentance. If God does not give repentance, if he does not grant it, if he does not lead you to it—you cannot repent.

You cannot just wake up one morning, after you have lived for a long time in a bad way, and say, “Hey, I believe I will repent today. I believe I will change my way. I am going to turn over a new leaf. I am going to start doing better.” It does not work that way. The religious world thinks you can do that. They think that is all there is to it. But they are wrong.

You cannot just wake up one morning and decide, “I am going to do better.” If God does not give repentance, you will never repent. If he does not grant repentance, if he does not lead you to repentance, you cannot repent. The text says it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance. You can talk to the man all you want to, but you will never get him to repent. He cannot repent. It is not within his capacity.

I would like for us to notice some characters the Bible talks about, who were in that condition.

2Pe 2:15-16, “Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam, the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness, but was rebuked for his iniquity, the dumb ass speaking with man's voice, forbad the madness of the prophet.”

That is talking about Balaam, a prophet in the Old Testament. Balaam is one of the most mysterious characters in the Bible. One of the reasons he is so mysterious is that he behaved himself in such manner that, sometimes, it is difficult to tell whether he was a child of God or not. I believe when we look at him closely, the Bible makes it clear enough that he was a born again character.

Balak called for him to come and curse Israel, and he wanted to do it. Balak had promised him all kinds of wealth if he would curse Israel. Balak was afraid of Israel. He said, in Nu 23:7, “Come and curse me Jacob, and come defy Israel.” But Balaam could not do it. In verse eight, he replied, “How shall I curse whom God hath not cursed, or shall I defy, whom the Lord hath not defied, for from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him, lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations. Who can count the dust of Jacob, and number the fourth part of Israel, Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.”

Balaam wanted to die the way Jacob did. Do you remember how Jacob died? He died in his own bed, in his right mind, with his family all around him, with his mind on the Lord, and he was talking about the Lord and his goodness. Balaam said when he came to die, that was how he wanted to die—in his own bed, in his right mind, with his family all around him, and with his mind on the Lord.

Does that sound like a dead alien sinner to you? One who wants to die with his mind on the Lord bears evidence of an experience of grace.

And in verse nineteen of that same chapter (Nu 23:19), he says, “God is not a man that he should lie, neither the Son of man that he should repent, hath he said, and shall he not do it, or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” Balaam had more light on Bible doctrine, and he manifested more light in that one verse of scripture than ninety-nine per cent of the reli-gious leaders in America today.

And in Nu 24:17, “I shall see him but not now, I shall behold him, but not nigh, there shall come a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.” Some two thousand years later there came wise men from the East, who had seen the star that signaled the arrival of the King of Israel—the arrival of the Lord Jesus Christ. They saw that star and they came to Bethlehem, looking for the Messiah.

Mic 5:2, “And thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel.”

They had the prophecy of Balaam about the star, and they had the prophecy of Micah that the new ruler in Israel would come out of Bethlehem. Two thousand years after Balaam prophesied the star would appear, it did appear. The wise men saw it; they knew the time of the Messiah was at hand; and they went to Bethlehem, looking for the Lord.

I believe the Bible gives proof enough that Balaam was a child of God. The wicked do not talk the way Balaam talked; they do not pray the way Balaam prayed. Balaam prayed, wanting to “die the death of the righteous.” He said, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.” But it did not turn out that way. Notice how Balaam died.

Nu 31:8, “Balaam also, the son of Beor, they slew with the sword.”

The very last thing recorded about Balaam is that he died fighting against the Lord’s people. When the Bible gets around to relating his death, it records it almost as a footnote, as if to say, “Oh, by the way, Balaam was killed in the battle too.”

What happened to Balaam? Balak offered him money if he would curse Israel. He tried to curse Israel, and he could not do it. Balak made the offer again, and Balaam tried again to curse Israel, and he still could not do it. Balak made the offer the third time. Balaam tried to curse Israel the third time, and he still wound up promising blessing upon Israel.

Re 2:14,“But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication.”

Balaam tried to curse Israel, and he could not. He said, “I cannot curse those the Lord has blessed.” But he had seen Balak’s money, and if there was any way he could earn that money, he wanted to do it. He had discovered that God would not allow him to curse his people.

Balaam was also a crafty man in a natural way. He finally went to Balak and said, “Balak, I have got it all figured out; God has blessed Israel, and I cannot curse them, but here is what you can do: if you will send bad women down there, you can get Israel in trouble with their God.” He taught Israel to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

He says, “I cannot curse them; God has blessed them, and I cannot undo it, but if you will send enough bad women down there, and get Israel to misbehave, and offer sacrifice to strange gods, you can get them in trouble with their God, and bring the wrath of God on them.” He earned his pay, but he lost everything.

Mt 16:28, “What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

Balaam did not lose his eternal destiny, but he lost every-thing worth having in this life. Have you ever seen it? Have you ever seen a child of God, who sold out, and died, fighting against the very cause that he had, at one time, supported? Sure you have. It happened to Balaam.

Another good example is King Saul. He started out just fine. He was humble, and self-effacing, and he showed good judgment. He gave ample evidence he was a child of God.

1Sa 10:6 , “And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy unto them, and shalt be turned into another man. And it was so, that when he turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart.”

Every word in the Bible is there for a purpose. The expres-sions, turned into another man, and God gave him another heart are significant—they mean something. What happens in regeneration? God takes out the hard and stony heart, and gives a heart of flesh. The person is born again; he is a new man.

Even though Saul was a big man physically, he was small in his own sight. He was very humble, very self-effacing. But he became king, and it went to his head. He was not able to handle it, and he became lifted up in pride. Once, the priest did not arrive on time, and he tried to do the priest’s job for him. That got him in trouble. From there on, it was downhill.

Samuel sent him to destroy the nation of Amalek. Amalek had stood against Israel, when Israel came into the land of Canaan, and God commanded Israel to destroy the entire nation— just wipe them off the face of the earth. Because of their immoral life style, because of the way they lived, they were riddled with disease, and God intended to use Israel, like a surgeon’s scalpel to remove that diseased flesh from the human race.

Saul did not do that. He saved King Agag, and the best of the cattle alive. When Samuel arrived, he asked Saul, “Have you done what you were supposed to do?” “Yes, I have done exactly what I was told to do.” And Samuel wants to know, Well, if you have, what meaneth this lowing of the cattle in mine ears?”

Be sure your sin will find you out.” Samuel says, “I hear cattle lowing on the other side of the hill. What is that commotion, if you have destroyed all of Amalek, and all their livestock?”

1Sa 15:15,22-23, “And Saul said....the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed....And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft....”

The Amalekites were involved in witchcraft, and Saul was telling Samuel, “You are no better than they are. Your rebellion is just like their rebellion.” Witchcraft was a part of their national religion. He says, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry, because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”

1Sa 15:26, “And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee, for the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. And as Samuel turned to go away, he laid hold of the skirt of his mantle, and it rent, and Samuel said unto him, The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbor of thine, that is better than thou. And also the strength of Israel will not lie, nor repent, for he is not a man that he should repent. Hath he said, and shall he not do it, or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good.”

1Sa 15:35, “And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death. Nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul, and the Lord repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.”

1Sa 16:1, “And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel?”

What do you believe was the likelihood Saul would contin-ue to be the king of Israel? None whatsoever. He had lost it. It was gone. His rejection was total, and complete, and irreversible. He lost the kingdom; he lost his life, and even-tually the lives of his family.

Admittedly, there are those who question whether either Balaam or King Saul were children of God; but that just goes to make the point. When a person behaves the way those two men behaved, no matter how charitable we may try to be, we can never know for sure, whether they were children of God.

We can never know, and if they ever knew, they have long since “forgotten they were purged from their old sins.”

They no longer have any heart-felt assurance they are the children of God.

We may reasonably question whether Balaam and Saul were children of God, but we will take a few moments to notice other characters we have no choice but to recognize as children of God, and they demonstrate the same principle.

It is possible for the truly born again person to end his days in a sinful condition. Some of these characters may have repented of their ways, but if they did, the Bible does not record it. The last thing the Bible records about them is their rebellion.

Ge 6:11-12, “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.”

There is no more notable saint in the Bible than Noah. He lived in a wicked and depraved age, when all flesh had corrupted his way. The world was awash in wickedness.

In that wicked age Noah stands out as the one man who “found grace in the eyes of the Lord,” (vs. 8). No other man in history was blessed the way he was. Except for Noah and his family, the entire human race perished in the flood. All mankind since that time is descended from him.

After God singled out Noah from the rest of mankind, Noah finally succumbed to his own fleshly weakness. He stood firm in an age when he was surrounded by wickedness. But later, when he was surrounded by nobody except his own family he fell.

Ge 9:20-22,28-29, “And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard; and he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without....And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years; and he died.”

Surely, nobody would question that Noah was a child of God. After the experience related above, he gave a comprehensive prophecy of the future of the three great divisions of mankind; but so far as his personal conduct is concerned, the very last thing the Bible tells us about Noah finds him stinking, stumbling, falling down, passed out, stark-naked drunk.

After that shameful report, the next thing we read about is his death.

Solomon is another character who demonstrates the same lesson. Regardless of how noted a saint one may be, he is still liable to fall. Who could forget Solomon’s humble request, when God said, “Ask what I shall give thee.” He did not place any restriction; he just told him to say what he wanted. Solomon did not ask for riches, nor long life, nor the life of his enemies. His simple request was, “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this thy people that is so great?”

(2Ch 1:10). He did not ask anything for himself; he just wanted wisdom and knowledge—just enough ability to judge the people aright.

It was Solomon who recorded God’s promise, “If my people which are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked way, then will I hear from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land.” That is instruction for the ages. Every nation on earth needs to hear and heed that message.

Listen to God’s promise to Solomon. 2Ch 7:17-18, “And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe my statutes and my judgments; then will I stablish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have cove-nanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be a ruler in Israel.”

God promised Solomon a perpetual dynasty reigning in Jerusalem—but that promise was conditional. It was only “if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked.” If he transgressed, there would be a far different result.

2Ch 7:19-20, “But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them; then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations.”

But, after God had so blessed Solomon, he went astray. It would be hard to find anybody, who started out so high, and fell so low. He violated every condition God laid on him, and God punished him and his posterity the way he said he would.

We are told that “Solomon loved many strange women”

(2Ch 11:1). He gathered a thousand wives and concubines for his harem. He went from being the most eminent of saints to being the most lascivious of libertines. He was the Hugh Hefner of his day.

It is questionable whether Hugh Hefner could have kept up with him. Hefner has never had the money Solomon had. Solomon gathered up the gold of Ophir (2Ch 9:18), and he “made silver in Jerusalem as stones” (2Ch 9:27). He used that power and wealth to assemble those thousand women, for no other reason than to satisfy his carnal lust— and they turned his heart astray.

Before long, we find him worshiping with those strange wives at their pagan, demon-worshiping altars.

1Ki 11:4-5, “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.”

(Note: Paul described the nature of those Gentile gods. 1Co 10:20, “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God.” The word in the Greek is daimoniois, demons).

He engaged in those evil religions, and his life began to reflect their evil ways.

1Ki 11:6, “And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father.”

In his rebellion against God, he was not satisfied with occasionally worshiping at pagan altars; he built altars for the pagan gods of all his wives.

1Ki 11:7-8, “ Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.”

God made promise of great blessing to Solomon, and to the nation under his rule—but those promises were conditional.

1Ki 11:9-11, “And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice. And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he kept not that which the Lord commanded. Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.”

Solomon was to be the last king of the united kingdom. After his death, God left his son Rehoboam with two tribes, and gave the other tribes to Solomon’s servant, Jeroboam.

The last thing the Bible tells about Solomon finds him plotting to have his rival Jeroboam assassinated.

1Ki 11:39-41, “And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever. Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam....And the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon?”

Those who are sure, that if you are one of the redeemed and born again, God will ultimately bring you back from your life of rebellion—regardless of far you may have strayed— will have a hard time proving their doctrine by the life of Solomon.

Did Solomon ever repent of his plotting to have Jeroboam killed? Did he ever return to his former faithfulness. If he did the Bible says nothing about it. Solomon was clearly a child of God, but he came to the end of his days in a very shameful condition.

Allow me one more example. Uzziah was made king when he was only 16 years old. 2Ch 26:4-5, “He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord....[he] had understanding in the visions of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.”

God made him to prosper,” but it was only “as long as he sought the Lord.” That did not last. He was finally lifted up in pride, and that pride was his downfall.

2Ch 26:16, “But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction; for he transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense....And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper.

Uzziah ended his days as a leper. Leprosy is a terrible dis-ease. The flesh rots; one by one, the fingers and toes die and fall off. A leper was not allowed to come close to healthy people. He was forced to wear a cloth over his face and cry out, “Unclean, unclean,” if anybody approached. Such an eery, frightful, sound that must have been. It is impossible to catch its horror on paper.

Leprosy is a symbol of sin, and in this instance, it is a symbol of that sinful condition in which many a disobedient child of God ends his days.

The gospel is a comforting message. There would be no need for comfort, if we never had doubts and fears. The children of God have every right to be encouraged. From time to time, it is the lot of every heaven born soul to have seasons of doubts and fears. To every trembling child of God who is beset by doubts, and who mourns because of his shortcomings, I would bid you to take courage. That very distress is one of the evidences of grace. The wicked have no such concern. They are comfortable with their sin. They enjoy any activity all the more if they think it is sinful.

Mt 5:4, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Isa 40:1, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.”

Those who constantly call on the family of God to question their salvation are simply abusing the Lord’s children. They take the joy out of the gospel and the church. They teach the children of God to live in fear of eternal damnation, when they should be living in prospect of a better day to come.

In that, I am talking about those humble, prayerful children of God who—in their faltering, often failing, way—are trying to serve the Lord. I am not talking about those individuals who are living in open rebellion against their Maker.

We must acknowledge there are those who use the doc-trine of eternal security as a cloak to hide behind. They once made a profession of faith, and, because of that long-ago profession, they are sure eternal heaven will be their home. Their lives reflect nothing of their profession, but they are sure eternal security will take care of them—regardless of how they behave.

For those in that condition, I have very little encouragement. The Bible offers nothing but, “a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries,” (Heb 10:27), and I have no license to offer anything more. Their lives give no reason to believe they are children of God.

Perhaps, I am writing to one, who truly is a child of God, who is in that condition. True, you made a profession many years ago; but for all we know—for all you know—what you felt at that time may have been nothing more than emotion. If it was truly the Spirit of God, how can you so easily continue in a state of such willful rebellion?

Or perhaps you are one of those like the barren fig tree, or the one talent servant, who was given over to destruction. There is no comfort in that thought. Repentance was no longer available for that one talent servant. He could not repent; God would not grant him repentance. As far as this life is con-cerned, it was all over. He was cast into outer darkness, where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. If you are in that condition, and if God’s Word is true, you are likely facing your share of weeping and gnashing of teeth. That weeping and gnashing of teeth can come from a lot of things, loss of your job, loss of your health, sickness of one you hold the most dear. The rebellious child of God stands to lose everything worth having this side of the grave.

Perhaps, you are thinking, I have been this way for a long time and nothing has happened. That may mean you are like Balaam or King Saul. God may have written you off. Again, I must point out that Paul described your case.

Heb 10:26-27,30-31, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.... Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord, and again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Notice that is talking about his people. If that does not terrify you, there is no need for me to say anything more.

There is one other consideration. There truly is such a thing as a nominal professor–a person who professes, but does not possess, the Spirit of God. Paul described them.

2Co 11:13-15, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

These nominal professors pretended to be children of God and ministers of the truth. We have no reason to believe they were either.

Many of those we sometimes call backsliders belong to this group. They were once interested in religion, but their inter-est faded. They once learned much of the letter of the truth. (You can teach a parrot to say the words.) And they shed a lot of tears; but it was nothing more than emotion. They are not children of God, and they will burn someday.

On the other hand, it is possible for a truly born again person to make shipwreck of his life. He can so persist in sin that God delivers him over to judgment.

He is chosen, and redeemed, and born again. Heaven will be his home—but we have no right to encourage him in his con-dition. He may be one who has been delivered over to judg-ment, or he may never have been a child of God in the first place. Either way he is headed for destruction—either in this world, or in the world to come.

The truly chosen, redeemed, and born again, are sure to be preserved by grace, or persevere in a state of grace, if you would prefer to say it that way. One day, they will every one arrive safe home in glory. But you will search the Bible in vain for any guarantee that God will ultimately rescue them from their own folly. You will search in vain for any guar-antee they will every one finish his journey in the full triumph of a living faith.

I am sure there are those who will insist I am being too harsh, and I must admit that I am fearful of discouraging any little child of God who is beset by doubts and fears. But I am also fearful of encouraging any rebel in his war against his Maker.

Perhaps there is yet hope. The prodigal son was in a far country, wasting his substance in riotous living. Perhaps there is some little child of God reading this, who is in that condition. If that is your case, I would bid you to rise and return to your father’s house.

One day, the prodigal came to his senses. He said, “How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger. I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. Make me as one of thy hired servants.”

His father did not make him one of the hired servants. He had compassion on him, forgave him, and restored him to his former state. He killed the fatted calf, and called for his friends to make merry and rejoice with him. Just four verses before that account, we read, “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance,” (Lu 15:7). There is no more happy scene in the Bible than the scene where the prodigal came home.

Pray that God would give you repentance. You cannot work it up on your own, but plead with your Maker that he would give it to you. Perhaps, there is yet hope. Who can tell?

Jon 3:9, “Who can tell if God will turn and repent and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?”

Dinosaurs: An Eyewitness Account

DINOSAURS: AN EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT

Job 38:1-4, “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare if thou hast understanding.”

The book of Job is one of the most fascinating of all books. It provides information not found anywhere else. The very first expression in this passage reminds me of a comment a denominational preacher made to me several years ago. We had been having a long running conversation about the way God saves his people. He seemed to think he was getting the short end of the conversation, and he said, “Harold, did you ever wish God would just speak from heaven and say, “Okay, everybody, listen up, I am going to tell you the way it is.” I said, “What do you think the Bible is?” That is exactly what God does in the Bible. He says, “Okay, listen up,” and then he tells us everything we need to know.

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?”

Job’s miserable comforters had been giving him all kinds of advice, more advice than he probably wanted. Sometimes they told the truth, and sometimes they didn’t. They did not always know what they were talking about. After awhile, God spoke to Job out of the whirlwind, and said, “Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?” Nowadays, we might say they were blowing smoke. They were just confusing the issue.

God said they were darkening counsel by words without knowledge; they did not know what they were talking about. He said, “Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.” They had been so quick in giving their opinions. God challenged them to talk to him; he would ask the questions. He says, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare if thou hast understanding.” He wants to know, “Were you there; how do you know so much about it?”

The book of Job contains internal evidence it is the oldest book in the Bible. I believe it contains evidence, that it was written during what paleontologists call the ice age.

Also there is also an abundance of evidence the book was written during the time when dinosaurs still roamed the earth. It provides us with Job’s eyewitness report on the nature and behavior of dinosaurs.

When you tell somebody you do not believe in evolution, he almost always brings up the subject of dinosaurs. He wants to know, “Don’t you believe in dinosaurs?” But what do dinosaurs have to do with evolution? Dinosaur fossils have been discovered all over the earth, and there can be no question that those huge creatures once roamed the earth, but what does that have to do with evolution? Somehow people have the idea that, because they have found the fossils of dinosaurs, they have confirmed evolution; but the fact dinosaurs once existed has nothing to do with evolution.

Dinosaur fossils have been found all over the earth. People have been finding them for hundreds of years, but they started digging them up in earnest a little less than two hundred years ago. But the existence, or non-existence, of dinosaurs has nothing to do with the question of evolution.

Evolutionists examine the fossils of dinosaurs, and other extinct creatures, and they draw some of the most elaborate conclusions. Then they try to intimidate Christians with their theories about what (they pretend) those fossils prove. But let me tell you that Christians do not have to take any abuse from those people. They remind me of something Jerry Clowers used to say. He liked to talk about those people who are “educated beyond their intelligence.” It is hard for me to understand how, otherwise intelligent, people can believe some of the yarns evolutionists spin about fossils and how they came about.

My automobile did not evolve; somebody built it. If there had not been somebody to build it, it never would have existed. And you and I did not evolve; we have a Maker, and if we had not had a Maker, we would not have existed.

We do not have to be intimidated by the pretended learning of evolutionists. They dig up a pile of old bones and guess what they mean. Really, they dig up a bunch of old bones and fantasize.

But we do not have to guess. We had one of our men on location. He was there when dinosaurs were still walking around, terrifying people. And he wrote it up. We still have his report. We have his word for word description of two different kinds of dinosaurs. He tells us what those two kinds of dinosaurs were called in his day. He tells us what they looked like, and how they behaved.

We have had his report for over four thousand years, and for all that time the opposition has been hammering away at his testimony, and they cannot disprove it. It is a principle in any trial, that if you cannot dispute the evidence, you impugn the witness; you show that the witness is not credible; he cannot be believed. We have had his testimony for four thousand years; and the opposition cannot do anything with it.

Our children are being taught in school that they are really the result of a grand accident; they just evolved.

It is no coincidence that we are seeing such a moral decline. The morals of Americans are worse every decade than they were the decade before. That is one thing the righteous and the wicked agree on. The righteous and the wicked agree that Americans are steadily becoming more immoral. The difference is that the righteous are grieved over it, and the wicked think it is a good thing. The wicked are glad to see the morals of Americans decline. I have not changed the subject; I will get back to it.

There are any number of causes of the moral decline that is going on in America, but one of the greatest problems is that you cannot tell children all their growing up years they are nothing more than highly evolved animals without expecting that after awhile they are going to start behaving like animals. You can count on it. If you drill it into their heads, that they are simply animals, they will begin to behave like animals.

You cannot, year after year, drill it into people’s heads that God is not their creator without their eventually getting the idea it is none of God’s business how they behave.

When I was in school, evolution was taught as a theory. Today it is taught as a proven fact. Evolution has not been proven; it cannot be proven. But the establishment is determined to have it taught as a proven fact.

The ACLU has been one of the leaders in this campaign. They call themselves the American Civil Liberties Union, but they are not interested in anybody’s liberties except their own. Just a few weeks ago the ACLU sued the school district in Amite, Louisiana. The school district put a disclaimer in their science books. It said something like this: “We present this material as the scientific theory of evolution. We do not endorse or deny any theory of the origin of matter and energy. We are aware there is more than one theory of the origin of matter. There is the theory of evolution, and the theory of creation, etc. We encourage the student to consider the various theories and make up his own mind.”

The ACLU sued the school district to stop them from telling those students they had the right to consider various theories and make up their own minds. As of this time, that suit is still pending.

But somebody is forever asking, “What about all the evidence the evolutionists have produced.” The fact is there are three kinds of evidence of evolution. There is the evidence that has nothing to do with the question. For instance, the fact there were once great dinosaurs has nothing to do with evolution. That just proves that some creatures have become extinct. We already knew that. There is evidence that has been misunderstood; and there is evidence that has simply been falsified.

I want to notice just a few examples of the evidence that has been deliberately falsified. When you believe God is not your creator, it is easy to conclude it is none of his business what you do, or what you tell. It is easy to get the idea it is alright to falsify the facts to prove your argument. If you are not answerable to God for anything you do, there is nobody to call you to account for your conduct. There is nothing to stop you from forging your evidence.

In 1859, an apostate ministerial student by the name of Charles Darwin wrote a book entitled, The Origin of the Species. It was that book that gave the greatest impetus to the modern version of evolution. There is nothing new about the idea of evolution. The notion of evolution has been around from before the dawn of recorded history. Most pagan religions have had evolution as a basic doctrine. But Darwin gave the greatest emphasis to the modern form of evolutionism in The Origin of the Species. He insisted that all of life evolved from lower life forms, and they had in turn evolved from non-living matter.

But people began to ask him for his evidence. He said the evidence would be found in the fossils. Then they wanted to know, “Where are the fossils?” He did not know.

Then in 1912, an English school teacher by the name of Charles Dawson found an old skull in a gravel pit in Piltdown, England. It was the skull of a man, and the jawbone of an ape. They were sure they had found the missing link between humans and animals, the missing link between man and ape. It was part human and part ape, or so they insisted. They put it in their textbooks. It came to be called Piltdown Man, because it was found near Piltdown, England. The story stayed in the textbooks for forty years.

I very well remember the week they discovered it was a fraud. I was a junior in high school in 1953. I read it in one of the news magazines, Time or Newsweek. When it was first discovered, it made front page news all over the world. When it was discovered to be a fraud, it was buried in the back pages of newspapers, and news magazines.

Forty one years later, they finally went back and re-examined the skull. They discovered the skull was not really three hundred thousand years old after all. It was closer to a thousand years old. And the jawbone actually was the jawbone of an ape, but instead of being three hundred thousand years old, it was probably brand new when they discovered it. They also discovered it had been treated with iron pyrites to make it look old, and it had been sanded down with very fine sandpaper to make it fit the skull.

It took the world’s most brilliant scientists forty years to discover it was an out and out forgery. It was a deliberate hoax to prop up a theory that cannot be supported any other way.

Several weeks ago, I waded through a book by an evolutionary scientist by the name of James Trefil. I like to get both sides of the story. He talked about the Piltdown Hoax. He said he had been to England, and the skull is still on display in a glass case in the British Museum in London. (I wonder why they keep it on display almost fifty years after it has been proven to be a hoax.) He admitted, “The fact the teeth had been filed was pretty clear.” It took the world’s most brilliant scientists forty years to notice those sandpaper marks, which today, after almost fifty years, are still pretty clear.

Even though Mr. Trefil admits the whole thing was a farce, he still tries to defend the perpetrators. He thinks Arthur Conan Doyle (the author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries) probably played a trick on the researchers of that day. It is a fact that Arthur Conan Doyle did live at Piltdown, England, but if he fooled those evolutionists, you can be sure they wanted to be fooled. They had already reached their conclusion; they were looking for evidence to support it, and they would accept any help they could get.

It is strange they waited about introducing that notion until Mister Doyle was long since dead, and could not defend himself.

Until the late ‘60's we had a law in Tennessee that made it a crime to teach evolution in the public schools. In 1922, the ACLU was getting ready to challenge that law. They put an advertisement in Tennessee newspapers searching for anybody who was willing to teach evolution in Tennessee schools, and submit to be put on trial. There was a young man by the name of John Scopes, who wrote back and volunteered for the task. They met with him in a drug store in Dayton, Tennessee, and laid their plans. He was brought to trial in 1925, in Dayton Tennessee, in what has become known as the Monkey Trial.

About the time they were preparing for the trial at Dayton, Tennessee, there was a man by the name of Harold Cook, who discovered a fossil tooth in Nebraska. He thought the tooth belonged to an ape man, a kind of in-between creature, not quite human, but not quite an ape either. With nothing more than that tooth to go by, they were able to reconstruct the entire man. They learned that his lips stuck out, kind of like a chimpanzee. He had heavy brow ridges. He walked all bent over, and his knuckles dragged the ground when he walked. They called him Herpero-pithecus haroldcookii. They seem to love those scientific sounding names. Most people called him the Nebraska man.

I like the comment Mark Twain made about that time. He said, “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjectures out of such a paltry investment of facts.”

For some reason they did not use Mr. Cook’s tooth in the trial in 1925, but in 1927 they went back to Snake Creek, Nebraska and dug up the rest of the skeleton. It was a pig. Those brilliant scientists couldn’t tell the difference between a tooth of an extinct pig, and the tooth of an ape man. But the story doesn’t stop there. In 1972, a man by the name of Ralph Wenzel discovered the pig wasn’t even extinct. He discovered an entire herd of those same pigs in a rain forest in Paraguay in South America. So much for Hesperopithecus.

One more illustration, there was a Dutch medical doctor by the name of Eugene Dubois, who was a disciple of the German evolutionist Ernst Haekel. He was determined to prove that man evolved from some kind of ape man. He expected he would probably find the fossils in the South Pacific. So in 1891, he joined the Dutch army, as an army surgeon, and had himself assigned to Java, where he could dig and hunt for the fossils of this ape man. He hadn’t been there long until he found what he was looking for. He found the skull and thigh bone of what he said was an ape man. He called it Pithecanthropus erectus. It got in all the textbooks, and stayed there for thirty years.

Thirty years later, when his hoax was about to be exposed, he called people in and admitted he had known all along it was really a gibbon, an ordinary ape. I am sure he did not want to tell it; it proved that his entire career as an evolutionist scientist had been a fraud. But I am told that he was about to die, and he didn’t want to go out into eternity with that lie on his record. He went on to tell that he had also found two human skulls in the same location as the ape skull. It is obvious that man could not have evolved from those apes, if humans lived at the same time, and in the same place, as the apes. He admitted he had kept those skulls hid for thirty years.

You could make a career of studying the out and out forgeries that lie at the very heart of the notion of evolution, but perhaps, those three instances will give some idea of the kind of evidence the theory is based on.

There are only three kinds of evidence for evolution: the kind that has nothing to do with evolution, the kind that has been misunderstood, and the kind that has been forged. Christians do not have to take any abuse from the evolutionists. I cannot understand how, otherwise intelligent, people can believe any such notion.

Evolutionists fantasize about long ago ages, when (they tell us) lower life forms were evolving upward. They talk about a long ago time when dinosaurs and other strange creatures roamed the earth. But God has assisted his people by providing us with an eyewitness account, written during that very time. Bear in mind that the dinosaurs did not live some sixty-five million years ago, as the evolutionists would have us to believe, but rather a few thousand years ago. It was during that time this book was written, and it gives us a God-inspired, and God-preserved, record of what it was like.

It seems that Job lived during what paleontologists refer to as the ice age. That is another of the things evolutionists throw at us, when we tell them we do not believe in evolution. They want to know if we do not believe there was an ice age. They tell us there is geological evidence of an ice age, and they assume that if we do not believe in evolution, we must also deny there was ever an ice age. Of course, was an ice age. There is no evidence there was more than one ice age; but there is an abundance of evidence for one. There is evidence in the huge boulders deposited by the glaciers of that age, and the scars they made in rocks. There clearly was an ice age, and that is probably when Job lived.

Did you ever notice Job has more references to ice, and snow, and frost, and cold, than any other book in the Bible? People talk about whatever is on their mind. These people talked a lot about cold weather. I believe these people were cold. Is that proof it was written during the ice age? No, that is not enough proof.

But, in Job 38:29, listen to what Job says. “Out of whose womb came the ice?” There is only one conceivable ice formation that could be described by that expression, and that is the slow moving ice of a glacier.

Is that sufficient to prove that Job lived during the ice age? No, but there is more. Listen to the next verse (Job 38:30), “The waters are hid as with a stone.” When are the waters hid as with a stone? When they are frozen solid.

That still is not enough, but listen to the next expression, “And the face of the deep is frozen.” The deep is a poetic expression referring to the ocean. We still sometimes refer to the ocean as the deep. Job said, the surface of the deep (the ocean) is frozen. In Job’s day the surface of the ocean was frozen.

Also, Job lived during a time when some people lived in caves, and we might properly call them cave men. There never has been any such thing as an ape man, half ape and half man, but from time there have been cave men, people, who, for whatever the reason, lived in caves. Some of them were Job’s neighbors.

They were just as human as you and I are. But they behaved like animals, and the people treated them like animals. Job had such a low opinion of them, that he said, he wouldn’t even let their fathers take care of his dogs (Job 30:1). They were too sorry to put out a crop, they dug up roots and chewed on them rather than raise anything. You could hear them off out in the bushes braying like animals. If they came around civilized people, they treated them like animals and ran them off. If they don’t like what you said, and if they were close enough, they might spit in your face. They were a very uncouth sort of people.

In Job 30, Job says, “But now they that are younger than I have me in derision, whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock.” He said he wouldn’t even let their fathers take care of his dogs.” Job 30:4, “Who cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper roots for their meat.” They would not put out a crop; they had rather dig up roots, and chew on them. Job 30:5, “They were driven forth from among men, (they cried after them as after a thief).” When they came around civilized people, they ran them off like a thief. He goes on, “to dwell in the cliffs of the valleys, in caves of the earth.” People have found their drawings in caves. Job 30:7, “Among the bushes they brayed.” You could hear them off in the bushes, making all sorts of strange noises. “Under the nettles they were gathered together. They were children of fools, yea, children of base men, they were viler than the earth. And now am I their song, yea, I am their byword. Their abhor me, they flee far from me, and spare not to spit in my face.” They were just a human as anybody else, but they acted like animals until people treated them like animals.

In the book of Job, God provides a written record of a long running conversation between Job and his friends. These were fairly well informed people. They had a lot of things wrong, but it is obvious they were thinking people. And the book of Job allows us to know what people believed, what they thought, and what they knew, four thousand years ago.

The book of Job was probably written somewhere between the time of Abraham and the time of Moses. The reason I am convinced it was written prior to Moses’ day is that, first off, these were widely read men. They spent most of their time discussing moral, ethical, and religious questions, and they never once quoted Moses. As well informed as these men were, if the law of Moses had been around, these men would have quoted it; they didn’t. They lived and died before Moses’ day.

I believe it was written after Abraham’s day. Notice that Job lived in the land of Uz. In the years after the flood the descendants of Noah spread out into the vast empty places of the earth. They and their descendants repopulated their respective areas. The various regions came to be called by the name of the man who was the ancestor of most of the people who lived in that area. We are told, “They call their lands after their own name, Ps 49:11

Job lived in the land of Uz; it was the area settled by Uz. If you want to look it up, you will discover that Uz was Abraham’s nephew (Ge 22:20-21). There is another character in the book of Job named Elihu. “Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite,” Job 32:2. Notice that Elihu was a Buzite. He was descended from Buz. Buz and Uz (or Huz) were brothers. So Elihu and Job were descended from Uz and Buz, Abraham’s nephews. That seems to indicate the book was written sometime after Abraham’s day.

Also, you will remember that after the flood, the life spans dropped almost steadily every generation. Before the flood, it was common for people to live to be almost a thousand years old. Most of the people listed in Genesis chapter eleven died somewhat younger than their fathers did. Noah lived 950 years, but his son Shem only lived to be 600 (Ge 11:10-11) Moses lived to be 120; his father Amram, lived to be 137; his grandfather Kohath lived to be 133; Levi lived to be 137; Jacob lived to be 147. Their life expectancy declined steadily. Job lived to be 140, about as long as Jacob did. If that is an indicator, and I believe it is, then Job lived along about the time of Jacob.

But to get back to our original premise, Job lived when dinosaurs still roamed the earth. In spite of all the protests to the contrary, dinosaurs were still around four thousand years ago. Job talked about them.

Somebody might say, “Now, Harold Hunt, I have read my Bible through five times, or, maybe, ten times, and the word dinosaur is not in the Bible.” That is right; it is not. I will tell you why it is not. First off, our King James Version of the Bible was translated in 1611. The word dinosaur did not come into existence until the year 1841.

There was an English scientist by the name of Richard Owen, who was the world’s foremost expert on comparative anatomy. In 1841, in a scientific paper Owen was delivering before the Royal Academy of Science in London, England, he talked about dinosaur fossils, and he was the first to call them dinosaurs. He coined the word. He got the word from the Greek word deinos (terrible) and sauros (lizard)---terrible lizard. They have been called dinosaurs ever since.

What were they called before that day? They were sometimes called dragons. In the Bible they are sometimes called leviathan or behemoth.

Evolutionists claim dragons are a myth; they never existed. But they dig up their fossils, put them together, and call them dinosaurs. Have you ever looked at pictures of dragons. Don’t they look like skinny dinosaurs? Sure they do.

If there never were any such thing as dragons, why is it that, all over the earth, there have been ancient cultures who have believed there were? People have been digging up dinosaur fossils for hundreds of years, but, until Richard Owen renamed them, they were usually called dragons.

In Job 40, Job talks about one kind of dinosaur; he calls it behemoth. “Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. He moveth his tail like a cedar.” (Job 40:15-17).

The Bible is inspired of God. There are no mistakes in the Bible; you can depend on every word. But God did not inspire the center column references. Publishers included them for our convenience. Sometimes they are right, and sometimes they are wrong; but they are never inspired. The center column reference in my Bible says behemoth was an elephant. But the text says behemoth “moveth his tail like a cedar.” An elephant does not have a tail like a cedar tree; an elephant’s tail is more like a rope.

I never saw a dinosaur, but I have seen their fossils. You may have been to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. and walked around that huge dinosaur skeleton. It does have a tail like a cedar tree. Behemoth was one kind of dinosaur that lived in Job’s neighborhood.

Job goes on to say, “His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron,” Job 40:18. And in Job 40:23, “Behold he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not; he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth.” So much for behemoth.

In the next chapter (Job 41) he talks about leviathan. “Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? Or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?” The center column in my Bible says that is a whale. But Job throws out the challenge; “Can you draw out leviathan (a whale?) with a hook? “Canst thou put a hook into his nose? Or bore his jaw through with a thorn?” (Job 41:2). Job 41:7, “Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? Or his head with fish spears?”

Why, sure you can do that to a whale. That is the way they were harvested, before the environmentalists put a stop to it. They would go after them with harpoons with a barb (a hook) on the end.

He says, “Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more. Behold the hope of him is in vain; shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him? None is so fierce that dare stir him up,” Job 41:8-10. People are not so afraid as that of whales. But if I came up on a Tyrannosaurus Rex, I would do exactly what Job said, wouldn’t you. I would give him plenty of room. When Job came across leviathan that is exactly what he did. He did not dare to stir him up.

In Job 41:14, “Who can open the doors of his face? His teeth are terrible round about.” Whales don’t have that kind of teeth. But paleontologists have been digging up dinosaur teeth, and that does describe their teeth. Job said, “His scales are his pride.” Does a whale have scales? No, but this creature did. “His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal. One is so near to another, that no air can come between them. They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered. By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out. Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron. His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth.” Job 41:15-21.

If you mention that to an evolutionist, he will just smile and tell you that dinosaurs couldn’t breathe fire. But we know very little about what dinosaurs could do. About the only thing we really know is the shape of their bones.

We do know that during the 15th and 16th centuries, when the European explorers began their great voyages of discovery, no matter where they went, they found ancient cultures, who had legends of fire breathing dragons. If there never was any such thing, how is it those primitive cultures---who had no contact with each other---all believed there was a time when there used to be fire breathing dragons? Where did the idea come from?

In San Diego, California, there is an organization of scientists called the Institute for Creation Research. They have published several articles about a beetle called the bombardier beetle. This little insect has two tiny chambers in his abdomen. One of them is filled with hydrogen peroxide, and the other is filled with enzymes, and something called quinones. Those tiny little chambers have plumbing that runs down to a mixing chamber. When a predator gets after the bombardier beetle, he swings his little behind around in the direction of the predator; he empties those two chambers into the mixing chamber, and in an instant the quinones and hydrogen peroxide turn into hydroquinones at 212 degrees Fahrenheit . He sprays it in the face of whatever is after him, and that takes care of his adversary.

We don’t know all the dinosaurs could do, but we do know there have been dinosaurs discovered with exactly the same plumbing in their heads the bombardier beetle has in his abdomen. We don’t know for sure what those chambers were for, but it looks mighty suspicious to me. We also know there are some substances that burn if they are simply brought together. There are other substances that burst into flames if they are exposed to air. There is no reason to doubt there were some dinosaurs that could breathe fire.

Bear in mind that we are not looking at bones and guessing, and we are not falsifying an unprovable theory. We had our man on the scene. We have his eyewitness report. The opposition has been hammering away at it for four thousand years and they cannot disprove it. “Yea, let God be true.”

Even Christ Our Passover

EVEN CHRIST OUR PASSOVER

Ex 12:1 “And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,

Ex 12:2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.

Ex 12:3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:

Ex 12:4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.

Ex 12:5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:

Ex 12:6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

Ex 12:7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.

Ex 12:8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

Ex 12:9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.

Ex 12:10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.

Ex 12:11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD'S passover.

Ex 12:12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.

Ex 12:13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.”

The Old Testament Passover was a figure of the Lord Jesus Christ. We know that, because Paul refers to the Lord as Christ our Passover.

1Co 5:7, “...for even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.”

The Law Service provides us with an entire system of types, and shadows, and figures, of Bible truth. Those figures served as a kind of prophecy for the children of Israel during the time of the Old Testament, and they still serve as illustrations of Bible truth in our day.

Those figures are found, in the feasts, and sacrifices, and ceremonies of the Law Service, and in many of the experiences of the saints of that day. They literally acted out divine truth, and it is amazing how clear, and how graphic, those figures can be. But, while those figures are found throughout the ceremonies of the Law Service, and the lives of the saints, we should never get the idea that every story recorded in that part of the Bible is a figure or a symbol of something.

Most of the stories recorded in the Bible are not symbolic of anything at all. They simply tell us what they did, what they said, and what the consequence was. The passage may, very well, serve to make a point, but it is not necessarily a symbol of anything. Many a minister has worn himself out trying to explain the symbolic connection of some passage, when there is no symbol to be found.

One of the experiences that seems to go with having preached for a long time is that sometimes people get the idea you are well supplied with answers. I feel flattered when somebody comes to me with a question, but I have always been much better supplied with questions than I have with answers.

Some young preacher is forever coming to me for an explanation of some passage. The text seems to be plain enough, and I tell him, “This is what they did, and this is what they said, and these are the consequences.”

But, what does it symbolize?’

I can’t tell that it symbolizes anything. This is what they did, and this is what they said, and these are the consequences.”

But is there not some deeper meaning than that?”

Not that I can tell. This is what they did, and this is what they said, and these are the consequences.

In some sense, most people understand the Bible better than they think they do. One of the reasons so many people are convinced they cannot understand the Bible is that they have been taught to look for something that is not there. If it is not there, you are not going to find it, and you should not beat up on yourself, because you cannot see it. I believe most people would be better off, if they would just accept the simple lessons of the Bible for what they say, and not be forever looking for some great mystery.

Granted that there are mysteries in the Bible we are never going to figure out. We could not understand some of those mysteries, even if they were explained to us. They are beyond our capacity to entirely understand. We will never entirely understand the doctrine of the Trinity. The Bible teaches it, and we believe it, but it is beyond our capacity to entirely explain it. We will never entirely understand the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If the very heaven of heavens cannot contain him, how could he become a little baby his mother could hold in her arms? How could he become incarnate in human flesh and walk around among us? The Bible calls it a mystery (1Ti 3:16), and if it is a mystery, you and I cannot entirely explain it. If we could, it would not be a mystery.

We cannot explain how God is going to raise the dead on that final day. Paul calls the resurrection a mystery (1Co 15:51), and, if it is a mystery, you and I cannot entirely explain it.

Suppose a sailor dies and is buried in the sea. His remains are eaten by fish, and those fish are later caught and eaten by other people, and the flesh of those fish becomes the nutrition that makes up the flesh of these other people. Then they finally die, and are buried. How will God ever sort it all out? You can be sure that the God, who created the universe and everything in it, will not have any trouble on that day, but you and I cannot explain it.

Why does God save one person and pass another by? The only answer God gives—and, I believe, the only answer we will ever have—is, “Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight” Mt 11:26 . It pleased God, and if it pleased God, that is as far as I am going to pursue the question. I do not dare challenge him.

I doubt that we will entirely understand some of these mysteries, even in the world to come. We sing a song that says, “We will understand it better by and by.” We will, indeed, understand it better, but, that does not mean we will know everything there is to be known. In order to know all about it, we would need a mind as great as the mind of God— and we will never have that.

God will always be the Creator, and we will always be the creature. When we arrive in that world, we will just as surely stand in awe of God, and his attributes, and his work, as we do in this life.

We would not deny that there are some subjects that by their very nature—and our own finite nature—we cannot understand, but the fact remains that God intended for the Bible to be read and understood. Any humble, prayerful, and obedient child of God can read the Bible and understand those things which will satisfy his present need.

But, back to the subject of figures: how can you tell if something is a figure? Well, it helps, if the Bible tells us—in so many words—that it is a figure.

Baptism is a figure; the Bible says so. 1Pe 3:21, “The like figure whereunto baptism doth also now save us (not the putting way of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” It is a figure of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord, and it is a figure of the child of God, dying to sin, and rising to walk in newness of life.

The sacrifices of the Law Service were a figure. Again, the Bible says so.

Heb 9:9, “Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience.”

The deliverance of Isaac on the mountain was a figure.

Heb 11:18-19, “Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence he received him in a figure.”

And, it helps if the type looks so much like the antitype that you cannot always tell which is under consideration. King David was one of the clearest Old Testament types of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was such a clear and convincing type of the Lord that, in some passages such as Ps 89, you cannot always tell whether you are reading about David, the son of Jesse, or the Greater David, the Son of God.

It also helps if you have someone, obviously sent from God, to point to the antitype and call him by his typical name.

Joh 1:29, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

Every lamb, for that matter, every animal, sacrificed under the Law Service, was a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, and here we have John the Baptist calling our attention to that fact. There is a scarlet thread that reaches all the way from the Garden of Eden to Calvary. When Adam sinned, God made coats of skins for him and his wife. In order for them to have coats of skins, an animal had to die.

Heb 9:22, “And almost all things are by the Law purged with blood, and without shedding of blood is no remission.”

The Bible does not tell us what kind of animal it was. It is purely an opinion of mine, but I think it was a lamb. Every time the priest, or in the case of the Passover, the head of the house, took the sacrificial blade, and drove it home into the body of the sacrificial animal, the rich, warm, red blood of that sacrifice, flowed out of the wound, over the blade, and perhaps over the hand of the priest, and that shed blood extended that scarlet thread—the scarlet thread that reaches all the way to Calvary. It appears to me that God has made the Bible as clear as it needs to be.

Sometimes I have trouble finding my way around in some of these big city hospitals. The way they have changed, and remodeled, and added on, I can get lost. But, some of the hospitals have come up with a simple way of helping out. “Do you see that red circle over there on the floor, and do you see the long red line leading from it? Well, you follow that red line all the way to the end, and you will be right where you need to be.” I can follow that kind of directions.

But in the Bible God does even better than that. God has John the Baptist stationed right at the end of that long scarlet ribbon, to announce that we have arrived at the end of our journey. There at the end of that long scarlet ribbon was the Lord Jesus Christ, ready to be baptized by John and to start his own public ministry.

Joh 1:29, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him and saith, Behold The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

There was John pointing to the Lord, and announcing that this is the one you have been waiting for. This is the one who was symbolized and prefigured by all those other sacrificial lambs. He was pointing people to the Lamb of God, pointing them to the Savior. That is what I am trying to do, I am trying to point you to the Lamb of God. Far too much of religion points people away from the Lord, and back to themselves— away from the Lord and his righteousness, and back to themselves, and their own accomplishments. It is the place of the gospel preacher to point people to the Lord, and away from themselves.

Ex 12:5, “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year, ye shall take it out from the sheep or from the goats.”

The Passover lamb had to be without blemish. If the Lord Jesus Christ had not been a perfect sacrifice—a sinless sacrifice—he could not have paid our sin debt. He would have died for his own sins. Except for the Lord Jesus Christ, every person, who ever died, died because he was a sinner.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the only perfectly righteous, perfectly sinless, person who ever lived.

1Pe 2:22, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.”

1Pe 1:18-19, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

It had to be a male of the first year. It could not be a newborn lamb, that might survive, and might not. And it could not be an old ram, broken down with age, that was going to die before long, anyway. It had to be in the full vigor of its strength.

In his divine nature, the Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal one. He always has been, and he always will be. But according to his human nature, when the Lord died on the cross, he was thirty three years old. He was in the full strength of his manhood.

Notice that in verse three it is a lamb. Then it is the lamb, and finally it is your lamb. It has been said that the sweetness of the gospel is in its personal pronouns, my Lord, my Savior, my Redeemer. I like to preach about the Lord, the Savior, the Redeemer, but he is most precious to my soul, when it is my Lord, my Savior, my Redeemer.

I like to preach about election, and predestination, and redemption, and regeneration, and resurrection, but more than that I like to preach about the one who did the electing, and the predestinating....I like to preach from Joh 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

That is not an Arminian text; there is not an Arminian text in the Bible. But more than that, I love to preach on Ga 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

I love to preach about God’s love for the world, the vast world of his elect family; but, more than that, I love to preach about how he loved me, and chose me, and redeemed me. I discover that the longer I live, and the more I preach, the more personal my preaching becomes, the more I am amazed at the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

True religion is more than a system of doctrines and religious principles.

True religion is rooted in a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me,” Ga 2:20.

That is what makes religion vital and real. It is that close and personal, day to day relationship with my Lord. It is being able to feel that he lives in my heart, and that I am able to enjoy fellowship with him.

I believe it is possible to preach the truth, to be right on target, so far as the letter of the doctrine is concerned, and still be, for the most part, somewhat academic in our preaching. I read an article a few days ago that I really thought was doctrinally sound, but for all the fire there was in it, for all the passion you could discover, he could just as well have been writing about Napoleon Bonaparte. When somebody talks about my Lord, I want him to give me the idea that the Lord means all the world to him.

And the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.” God speaks as if there was only one lamb. And, indeed, they were considered as a unit.

Every Passover lamb pointed to that one Lamb of God. All of the Old Testament types and shadows, and feasts, and sacrifices, and all the Old Testament prophecies pointed to the one man, Christ Jesus.

Ex 12:6, “And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month, and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.”

I have read articles where preachers just wore themselves out trying to explain why they kept up the Passover lamb for four days, but they did not keep it up four days. They kept it up for three days and a part of a day. I know it says they put the lamb up on the tenth day, and they kept it up until the fourteenth day at evening, and it does sound like first grade arithmetic to say that they kept the lamb up for four days, but that is not right.

Bear in mind that the evening preceded the morning of the Jewish day. You don't have to read Josephus or Edersheim to find that out. Just go to Ge 1. That is one of the first lessons in the book.

Ge 1:5, “And the evening and the morning were the first day.”

Their day did not begin at midnight the way we count time; their day began at sundown of the previous day. They put the lamb up on the tenth day. They kept it up the remainder of that day, and the eleventh day, the twelfth day, and the thirteenth day. That makes three days and a part of a day.

The lamb was not kept up during any part of the fourteenth day. The evening of the fourteenth day began at sundown of the thirteenth day. That was when the Passover Lamb was killed. The Passover Lamb was a figure of the Lord Jesus Christ, and those three days, and a part of a day, correspond with his public ministry. His ministry lasted three years, and a part of a year.

That also corresponds with Daniel's prophecy. Daniel says the Messiah was to be cut off in the midst of that seventieth week (Da 9:24,27). He did not say that he was to be cut off in the precise middle of the week. That would have put us at exactly three years and six months into his public ministry. The lamb was kept up for somewhat more than three days, and the ministry of the Lord lasted for somewhat more than three years. That is as precise was we are able to be, and as precise as we need to be.

The Jewish priests began their public ministry at 30 years of age. But when the Lord Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest, began his public ministry, we are only told that he “began to be, as was supposed about 30 years of age.”

It appears to me that God has installed a double blind to prevent anyone from discovering the precise age of the Lord at the time of his crucifixion. If we could determine his precise age(according to his human nature) we could, then, better determine the precise day of his birth. But, far too much has already been made of the day of his birth, and the idea of any celebration of that day.

The Bible instructs us to celebrate, not the day of his birth, but the fact of his death and resurrection. If God had wanted us to know precisely when the Lord was born, he would have told us—or at least given us more to go on.

Ex 12:7, “And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts, and on the upper door posts of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.”

That house with the blood applied symbolized the Lord Jesus Christ. Every symbol pointed to him; he is our all in all. They were safe, provided they were in that house. We are safe, because we are in him.

2Co 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.”

Ro 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”

Ex 12:8, “And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and with unleavened bread, and with bitter herbs shall they eat it.”

They were to eat the flesh of the Passover Lamb. The Lord Jesus Christ is our meat and drink. His sacrificial death is the ground of our life.

Joh 6:53, “Except ye eat my flesh, and drink my blood, ye have no life in you.”

The lamb was to be roast with fire. When he suffered and died on the cross, he stood as our substitute. On our behalf, he came through the raging fire of the wrath of God against sin. They were to eat the flesh with unleavened bread, and with bitter herbs. Leaven is a symbol of human pride and conceit. So long as we are proud of ourselves, and satisfied with our own accomplishments, we will never be able to eat the flesh of this Passover Lamb.

We will never be able to see the Lord as high and lifted up, until we see ourselves as entirely lost and undone, we will never be able to see him as our one and only Savior. Leaven puffs up the bread. We are to abstain from everything that feeds and puffs up the old carnal nature.

Pride is the mother of every sin. It was pride that tripped up Adam in the Garden of Eden, and pride has been man’s downfall ever since. More than that, leaven is a symbol of evil. Paul tells us to “Abstain from the very appearance of evil,” 1Th 5:22.

A little boy was getting ready for school. He called downstairs, “Momma, is this shirt too dirty, do I need to get another one?” Now, his mother could not see that shirt; she could not know if was dirty or not, but she told him, “Yes, it is too dirty, get a clean one.” When the little boy came downstairs, he said, “Momma, how did you know that shirt was dirty; you could not see it?” It makes you wonder why he asked, if he knew she could not see it, but that is not the point. She said, “Son, if you have to ask, it is.” That is a very good rule for all of us. “If you have to ask, it is.”

We are all faced with questions in our lives. “Is this course of action all right, or not?” If you have to ask whether a particular course of action is morally wrong, it is. Paul gave the rule, “And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith, for whatsoever is not of faith is sin,” Ro 14:23.

Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall,” 1Co 10:12 .

It has been my observation that those who seem to do the most repenting are those who seem to have the least need to repent. And those who seem to do the least repenting are those who seem to have the greatest need for it. It is one of the peculiarities of our carnal nature, that we can convince ourselves that most anything is alright, if we will just argue with ourselves long enough. We will convince ourselves that, at any other time, and under any other circumstances, this would probably be the wrong thing to do, but just this once, and under these circumstances, it will probably be alright.

And it is also one of our characteristics, that our conscience will often let us down at the very time we need it the most. Sometimes, at that very time, our conscience will be quiet until we have carried through on that wrong decision, and then our conscience wakes up with a vengeance. It is then, when it is too late, that our conscience finally wakes up and begins to challenge us. Rather than depend on our faulty and undependable conscience, how much better it is to listen more closely to the Lord, and “abstain from all appearance of evil.”

Ex 12:9, “Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire, his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.”

The Passover Lamb could not be eaten raw, nor in any way sodden with water. It could not be boiled; it had to come into direct contact with the fire. When the Lord suffered on the cross, there could be nothing to diminish his suffering. He must suffer the full penalty of the wrath of God against sin. There could be nothing to diminish his mental anguish; in his agony he was forsaken by the Father. That was when he cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Mt 27:46. And there could be nothing to diminish his physical suffering.

The vinegar mingled with gall (Mt 27:34) would have had a slightly narcotic effect, but he would have no part of it. He would pay the full price for our redemption. They were to use “his head with his legs, and the purtenance thereof." There was a use for every part of the Passover lamb. Our religion is to involve everything we say, and everything we do. It is to dominate our entire life.

I have heard it said that our religion is not a religion of the head; ours is a religion of the heart. Well, if ours is a religion of the head, as opposed to a religion of the heart, there is nothing to it. There is very much of religion that is purely lip service. It is words only.

True religion affects the heart. If Christ lives in the heart of a person, and if that person is trying to walk in a manner that pleases his Lord, he can experience the very presence of God in his heart.

Ac 17:27, “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.”

We feel after the Lord with our hearts, not with our hands. Our religion is, indeed, a religion of the heart. But, while our religion is clearly a religion of the heart, it is also just as clearly a religion of the head. The two are not mutually exclusive.

The doctrine of the Bible involves the most logical, the most reasonable, the most intelligent principles, man has ever known. The principles of the Bible not only stir the heart; those same principles are sufficient to challenge and satisfy both the simplest of minds, and the most brilliant minds that have ever lived. It is one of the beauties of the Bible that the little child and the adult can read the same texts, and both can be edified and instructed by what they read.

His head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.”

Our profession involves all we say, and all we do, and all that goes with it. If the way we walk does not reflect the way we talk, then all we say is a waste of time.

Long ago, someone challenged a half-hearted Christian, “Don't tell me what you are, because what you do speaks so loud I cannot hear what you say.” If our life does not reflect our profession, our religion is a waste of time. There is no room in the life of the obedient child of God for any little cubby hole reserved for his favorite sin.

Ex 12:10, “And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning, ye shall burn with fire.”

The rising sun was to see no trace of the slain lamb. That has to do with the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord himself announced, “It is finished,” Joh 19:30 . the work is complete. Again he said, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do,” Joh 17:4. Anytime God repeats himself, he does it for our benefit. He repeats himself, because it is important that we not miss the point. Religious types have been arguing with the Lord ever since that time. They are sure the Lord’s work will be complete, when they add the finishing touch. But, we have God’s word for it, that his work is finished.

Ex 12:11, “And thus shall ye eat it, with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand, and ye shall eat it in haste, it is the Lord's Passover.”

The Bible provides a better commentary on these expressions than any preacher can produce.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace,” Eph 6:14-15.

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The loins girded have to do with the restraint, the self-control, that is necessary in our service toward God. If we would serve God acceptably, it is necessary that we restrain the wanderings, the imaginings, of our mind, and center our thoughts and our affections on Christ, and on him alone.

I love the way the Bible explains the Bible. I love the way these verses fit in with each other, and connect up with each other. They fit together and connect up with each other like the couplings on two train cars. No matter how sincere and how diligent you may be in your efforts, you will never be successful, unless your loins are girt about with truth.

He went on to tell them to have “your shoes on your feet.” Shoes have to do with walking. Israel wore the same shoes for forty years in the wilderness. There is a particular walk God requires of his children, and he will be satisfied with no other. It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps,” Jer 10:23.

The walk God requires of his children today is the walk he has always required. If any act was morally unacceptable to God one hundred years ago, that kind of conduct is still unacceptable. If any kind of practice was unscriptural in the church one hundred years ago, that practice is unacceptable today. Moreover, they were to have their shoes on their feet in the sense that they were to be ready to travel. The call to leave Egypt was to come during the night, and they must be ready to answer the call. “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season,” 2Ti 4:2.

And your staff in your hand.” David prayed, “Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” The Scriptures seem to be plain enough that the rod, the strait edge, or plumb line, is the Bible. It seems logical, then, to conclude that the staff must be the Spirit of God. That is what we lean on, and trust to support us, every moment of our lives.

That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie....” Heb 6:18. Those two immutable (unchangeable) things in which it was, and is, impossible for God to lie are the same rod and staff. They are still the two unchangeable, two always dependable supports for the faithful child of God.

And ye shall eat it in haste, it is the Lord's Passover.” Brethren, if we are going to do anything in the Lord's service, we had best get busy, we are not going to be here long.

Sometimes some of our denominational friends want to know, “Why do you Old Baptists not believe in missions? Do you not believe you ought to go into all the world and preach the gospel?” And then we explain that we do believe in going, we just don't believe God gave us the authority to send somebody else.

A large number of our ministers spend their time in little else except going. Some of them have been accused of keeping the road hot in their constantly going all over the country, preaching the gospel. Then somebody wants to know, “What is your hurry?”

Well, I confess that I am in a hurry. I don't expect to be here long, and if I intend to do any preaching, I will have to hurry.

Ex 12:11, “And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s Passover.”

From Judaism To Calvinism

FROM JUDAISM TO CALVINISM

Preface

And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (Heb 11:36-38). Before the Lord went away, he told the disciples, “They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service” (Joh 16:2).

In that one sentence the Lord recorded in advance much of the history of the church. The experience of his people has been one long trail of blood. At every turn the adversary has used fair means and foul to hinder the gospel. In this little booklet we will look at some of the experiences of the saints. But while we will be as faithful as possible to record that long trail of persecution, we want to be as careful as we can be of the tender feelings of those who read these lines. We have no desire to injure the feelings of any person.

For centuries Christians have chastised the Jews for crucifying the Lord. But when we read the Bible record we discover that “the common people heard him gladly” (Mr 12:37). It was the religious leaders, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and scribes, who saw him as a threat to their wealth and power, and they dogged his every step. “The chief priests and elders [the religious hierarchy] persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas and destroy Jesus” (Mt 27:20). It was at their urging that the multitude cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him.”

By the same token, for centuries Protestants have chastised Roman Catholics for persecuting their ancestors, and there can be no question that during what we call the Dark Ages, and especially during the Protestant Reformation, the Roman Catholic Inquisition did sentence untold numbers of Protestants, Anabaptists and other dissenters to be tortured and killed. While that record is clear, it does not give anyone the right to act as if our own Catholic neighbors were involved in those atrocities. Most of us know Roman Catholics who are as decent, as honest, as God-fearing as any of us. We need to be careful about the way we present the historical record. The Lord pronounces a great woe on those who offend one of his little ones.

One thing we hope to demonstrate in this booklet is that while Protestant writers have been faithful to record the transgressions of the Catholic Inquisition, they have been just as careful to conceal the fact that when the shoe was on the other foot, the Protestants were just as brutal in persecuting those who differed with them. Again, we tremble at the thought of putting the facts on paper. We cannot hold the Protestants of our day responsible for the transgressions of their predecessors. But our people have the right to know the facts.

For over 400 years, Protestant writers have been rewriting their history, and very few Protestants of today have any idea of their own history. In 1554, John Fox published the Latin edition of his Book of Martyrs. He detailed the suffering of his brethren, especially under the reign of Queen Mary. No one can read his material, especially some of his other letters, without being convinced that John Fox was a truly godly man. But, godly man though he was, when he published his English edition in 1563, his loyalty to his friends would not allow him to record their own atrocities against the Baptists, Quakers and others.

In the Peasants’ War, the German peasants had requested such rights as choosing their own pastors, gathering firewood to heat their homes, supplying their tables with fish and game, and being paid for any work they did above what was customary. The German princes refused, and Martin Luther urged them to “stab, kill, and strangle” them. 50,000 peasants (many of them Anabaptists) were butchered at Luther’s urging. Fox recorded Luther’s struggle with the Pope, and especially his objection to the sale of indulgences, but for what he called causes reasonable, he did not tell about Luther’s involvement in the slaughter of the peasants. In his early days, Luther advocated liberty of conscience, but Fox did not record that he later urged that Anabaptists should be pursued to the death, and that he made good on that threat. The Catholics burned Baptists; the Lutherans more often drowned them.

To his credit, Fox does mention John Calvin’s involvement in the burning of Michael Servetus, but he pretends Calvin was swept along with the spirit of the time. He does not mention that Calvin had previously threatened that if Servetus ever came to Geneva, he would see to it he would never leave alive. He mentions that Calvin tried to prevent the burning. He does not mention that Calvin wanted him beheaded instead. He does not mention that the Consistory, of which Calvin was President, ordered a child’s head to be chopped off for striking his parents. He mentions that Calvin “made all the people declare, upon oath, their assent to the confession of faith” he and William Farel had written. He does not mention that those who objected were driven out of their homes, and banished from the town.

Fox died long before the Presbyterians took over Parliament in England in the 1640's. So he was too early to record their drive to assume the power that once belonged to Rome. By 1611, the Protestants learned that burning Baptists at the stake only fueled the fire. But that did not stop them from arresting Baptist preachers, and leaving them to starve and freeze in filthy jails until they finally died there. Among many other things, if a person happened to die not long after being baptized, they pretended the chill of being immersed was the cause. They then charged the preacher with murder, and did all within their power to have him hanged. Samuel Oates was one preacher so charged.

When the Puritans came to America in 1629, they set up their own theocracy, and forbade any other kind of worship. Until the First Amendment put a stop to it, they arrested, publicly whipped, and banished Baptists and Quakers. They drove Roger Williams from his home in the dead of winter. They publicly whipped Obadiah Holmes until he had to sleep for weeks on his knees and elbows. Because she refused to pay a tithe to support the Puritan minister, they arrested Isaac Backus’s mother on a cold winter night, even though she was burning with a fever, and carried her off to jail.

Again, we have no desire to injure the tender feelings of those who identify themselves as Calvinists. Many of them are the victims, not the villains, in this matter. They have just not done their homework. They have no use for Arminianism, and they have no taste for much of what, today, passes for the Christian religion. Some of those they see on television look more like religious charlatans than gospel preachers. Then they read brilliant and articulate Calvinistic writers, and it seems like a breath of fresh air. They devour their books, without realizing there is a much better, and more scriptural alternative.

It seems very few of today’s Calvinists have actually studied Calvin as an original source. They usually know him from very carefully—and cautiously—selected quotes by Calvinist writers. I have no doubt that many of those good brethren would recoil with horror at much of what John Calvin actually did and taught.

Our American people have been so free for so long we have forgotten what religious persecution is all about. The First Amendment has been so effective in quelling persecution, we have forgotten how brutal both Catholics and Calvinists were so long as they were able use the law to force conversions.

We hope to show that a person does not have to be an Arminian, nor a Calvinist. There is another system, which for want of a better term, we call Bible doctrine.

Harold Hunt

From Judaism to Calvinism

The single greatest mistake in church history is the notion there was a fundamental difference between the way the Roman Catholics persecuted Protestants and Baptists, and the way early Protestants (most of whom were Calvinists) persecuted Baptists, Quakers and others. A careful reading of church history clearly shows the Protestants were just as bloodthirsty as the Catholics ever were.

There were three differences between persecution by Catholics and Protestants.

1. First the Protestants never gained such absolute power, for so long, and over so large an area, as the Catholics did. That limited the scope of their power to persecute. It did not limit its severity; but it did limit its scope.

2. Protestants gained just as much satisfaction in burning and hanging Baptists as the Catholics ever did, and they did more than their share of it. But experience taught them they would not suffer as much backlash, if they instead left Baptist preachers to starve for years in cold, filthy jails until they finally died. All the while their families were freezing and starving on the outside. Sometimes, their wives and children joined them in jail, and they all starved together. If anything, the Protestants were more cruel than the Catholics.

3. Protestants have done a much better job of rewriting their history, and most people are unaware of their atrocities. For instance, when John Fox wrote his Book of Martyrs. He was very faithful to record the persecution of Protestants by Catholics, but he was just as careful to conceal the fact the Protestants were just as vicious with Baptists. For instance, he faithfully recorded the steadfastness of the Protestants, Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley, as they were led to the stake to be burned. He did not record that not long before that he had personally pleaded with Cranmer not to burn a Baptist, Joan Boucher, (Joan of Kent) at the stake. It would have taken away from the story, if his readers had known he was probably reaping what he sowed.

Thomas Crosby (1738) tells us, “These sad instances of persecution practiced by the Protestants in this king’s reign against the Anabaptists are in Fox’s Latin book of martyrs [1554], but left out in his English edition [1563], out of a tender regard, as is supposed, to the reputation of the martyrs in Queen Mary’s day” (vol. 1, pg. 59). Fox published both editions of his book while John Calvin was still living, and, regardless of his tender regard for the reputation of his friends, with that book he began a whitewash, that has continued now for over 400 years.

But how did this conflict with Catholicism come about? How did Baptists come to be so in conflict with Protestantism? The Bible provides clear answers.

You might spend a lifetime studying every piece of religious and philosophical literature available, and regardless of however ancient, or however modern, your material may be, you will discover in all of it the same notions, and the same arguments. New features, new ideas, new eccentricities, are added; but the fundamental principles are always the same. Suffice it to say, the adversary constantly changes his face, but he never changes his ways. No really new religion, no new philosophy, no fundamentally new doctrine, ever comes on the scene. It is always a different version, a modification, a new combination of old doctrines.

The Bible provides all the material you need to answer any false doctrine you will ever face. It will always be some variation of a doctrine that was faced by Christ and the Apostles.

During his public ministry the Lord was constantly harassed by the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the scribes—by unbelieving Jews. “The common people heard him gladly” (Mr 12:37), but the Pharisees and other religious leaders laid wait for him, “seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him” (Lu 11:54). They mocked him, ridiculed him, and plotted to kill him. They were not concerned whether what he told was the truth or not; they had no interest in the miracles he performed; they just wanted him dead. Finally they took him through a mock trial, and crucified him.

After his crucifixion, it was still the Jews, and Judaism, that most persecuted the early church. The Gentile authorities did not pay them much attention, but the Jews dogged their every step. No persecution was too harsh, no measure too underhanded. They were determined to wipe the church off the face of the earth, and to sweep the name of Christ from the pages of history.

Then in the year 70 A.D. the Roman authorities besieged the city of Jerusalem for five months; they starved the inhabitants into submission, overran the city, and burned it to the ground. Flavius Josephus records that a million people died during the siege, and one hundred thousand were sold into slavery.

Fifteen hundred years before, when God gave them the Law, he promised them great blessing, if they kept the Law. But he warned them they would suffer if they disobeyed. They had long since ceased to observe the Law, but in spite of the fact they despised the Law, and cast it behind their back, that Law was still in full effect. The Law would exact its penalty. In the twenty-eighth chapter of Deuteronomy, God described in detail what they suffered in 70 A.D. They fell victim to the Law in all its fury. God did exactly what he had promised.

The back of Judaism was broken. The Jews who survived were sold into slavery, and scattered to the four winds. The Jews would themselves become the hunted, the persecuted. God had promised, “And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from one end of the earth even unto the other ....And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life” (De 28:64,66). In that condition they could no longer harass and bedevil the Christians.

But that brings on a curious question. Virtually every conflict of Christ and the Apostles was in a Jewish context. That is the constant theme, especially, in the book of Acts. Very nearly every attack was from the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes—the Jews. We are well informed of how they suffered at their hands.

Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D.; the Jews were scattered among the nations, and from that time until now, Christians have had little direct contact with Jews or with Judaism. Pharisee is a name we no longer fear. Most of us have never been inside a synagogue. Unless we have a Jewish doctor or lawyer, some of us from small towns may not even be acquainted with a Jew. We have conflict enough with Gentile detractors, but it is not often that a Jew dissects and attacks one of our sermons.

Since that is the case, why are the historical parts of the New Testament almost entirely given over to conflict between the early Christians and Judaism? Why are we told so much about the Pharisees and Sadducees? Why prepare us for battles we will never fight?

If we miss that question, there is not much of church history that will make sense. If we get that question right, it is amazing how simple church history becomes.

The book of Acts is not out of date. We need every piece of information it contains. We need that information, because virtually every battle the Church has ever been called on to fight has been with those basic principles that go to make up Judaism. Our battles are not with Judaism itself; we have very little contact with Judaism. But most every conflict has to do with practices that have been borrowed from Judaism. That is the reason the New Testament provides so much material about Judaism. That is the place the major battles have always been fought.

The fiercest battles in the early church were with those who wanted to merge Judaism with the Lord’s church. That is the theme of the book of Galatians, but the material we need is spread throughout the entire New Testament. If the Pharisees could not destroy the church from without, they would subvert it from within. They would make the church like themselves.

In Ac 15 we read, “And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved” (Ac 15:1). They wanted to make the church into a Jewish sect. They almost divided the church at Antioch, but Paul fought that battle and won it.

Later in the same chapter we read, “But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses” (Ac 15:5). Paul challenged them, “Why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear” (Ac 15:10). Those Pharisees believed, but they did not believe as much as they should. They did not believe the grace of God was sufficient without their keeping the law—without their carrying their traditions over into the church.

This Pharisaism/Judaism sometimes crept in, and swept away whole churches. Hassell tells us, “The first fifteen Bishops (or pastors) of the church of Jerusalem were all circumcised Jews, and this church united the law of Moses with the doctrine of Christ” (pg. 367).

More often than not, it was a mixture of Judaism and heathen philosophy that was brought in. Paul warned us, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col 2:8).

Their greatest success came in the year 180 A.D. In that year Pantaenus, a “converted heathen philosopher,” founded the Academy at Alexandria. Clement, another “converted heathen philosopher,” followed him in 189 A.D. The most famous of the Alexandrian teachers was Origen. He and Clement are two of the most often quoted of what the Roman Catholics call the Ante-Nicene Fathers. Origen headed the school from 202 until 232. The school operated for 215 years and closed in 395 A.D.

Hassell tells us, “The last teacher was Didymus, in A.D. 395. The two objects of this Alexandrian school were to prepare people, especially the young, for the church, and to prepare talented young men to preach. The number of students was very great, and it is said that many eloquent preachers were sent out from this school” (pg. 365). He goes on, “Religion was gradually blended with and superceded by philosophy. Judaism and paganism were kindly brought in; and a broad, liberal, eclectic system, adapted to accommodate and reconcile all parties was devised.”

In those seven words we have the key to the perversion of the Christian religion: “Judaism and paganism were kindly brought in.”

The Academy at Alexandria finally accomplished what the Judaizers had been trying to do for generations. They combined this eclectic combination of Judaism and paganism with their idea of the Christian religion. Eclectic just means you take a little from here and a little from there, depending on what suits your fancy.

With that combination of Judaism, paganism, and some Bible doctrine they put together the framework of what, over the centuries, developed into the Roman Catholic Church. That is exactly what Catholicism is, a combination of those three systems.

In order to understand what the Academy accomplished we need to first know what Pharisaism/Judaism taught. Keep in mind that when we refer to Judaism we are not talking about the Law of Moses. Sometimes even the best of writers talk about those who added the Law of Moses to the gospel, when it was not the Law they added at all; it was Judaism. The two are not the same.

The Law of Moses had long since ceased to be practiced by the Jews when John the Baptist appeared on the scene. When Paul refers to his own life prior to his Damascus Road experience, he does not refer to his service under the Law. He says, “For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jew’s religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jew’s religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers,” (Ga 1:13-14). Notice that he says nothing about the Law of Moses; he was not serving under the Law. He calls it the Jews’ religion. In the original language the word is judaismo—Judaism. He repeats it twice in two verses, so we will not miss it. The Jews had forsaken the Law and replaced it with Judaism—the Jews’ religion.

Judaism is a parody—almost a mockery—of the Law of Moses. It does teach much that was contained in the Law, but its primary purpose has always been to explain away the Law and set it aside. It is their way of justifying themselves in violating the Law. They replaced the doctrine of God with “the commandments of men.” That is the way the Lord explained it.

Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mt 15:8-9).

To understand something of what happened we need to look at five basic doctrines of Judaism. Those five doctrines are not all that is involved in Judaism, not by any means; but they are five of the most distinctive features of the system. They are the doctrines it is most necessary to understand, if we would understand what Judaism is all about.

But before we get to those five doctrines, we need to look at another of the doctrines of the Pharisees. One of the most fundamental doctrines of the Pharisees, and the doctrine most basic to their entire system, was fatalism. Granted, what one writer affirms, another denies. Every false doctrine is like that; no false doctrine is ever consistent with itself. But most Pharisees were convinced that God predestinated everything that would ever be done by men or devils.

If a person would learn about Judaism, there are any number of books available. Perhaps the best known authors are Flavius Josephus and Alfred Edersheim. There are any number of others, most of them written by devout Jews in defense of Judaism.

The Pharisees’ brand of fatalism was like the Absolutism of our day. Alfred Edersheim records, “But the Pharisees carried their accentuation of the Divine to the verge of fatalism. Even the idea that God had created man with two impulses, the one to good, the other to evil; and that the latter was absolutely necessary for the continuance of this world, would in some measure trace the causation of moral evil to the Divine Being. The absolute and unalterable pre-ordination of every event, to its minutest details, is frequently insisted upon. Adam had been shown all the generations that were to spring from him. Every incident in the history of Israel had been foreordained, and the actors in it—for good or for evil—were only instruments for carrying out the Divine Will” The Life and Times of the Messiah, pg 317.

He goes on, “But there is another aspect of this question also. While the Pharisees thus held the doctrine of absolute preordination, side by side with it they were anxious to insist on man’s freedom of choice, his personal responsibility, and moral obligation....It was, indeed, true that God had created the evil impulse in us; but he had also given the remedy in the Law” ppg 318,319.

This absolutism, this notion that God gave man a law, forced him to break it, and held him responsible for doing what he was forced to do, is only one of the doctrines held in common by the Pharisees, by Augustine, and by John Calvin.

But it is not necessary to go to the bookstores to learn about the nature of Judaism. Much of the New Testament is given over to recording the persecution, and crucifixion, of Christ by the Jews—by the devotees of Judaism. They were the most bitter enemies of the Lord and of his church.

1. First, they had a kind of reverence for the scriptures bordering on superstition. They were sure that was where they got eternal life. The Lord corrected that notion. He told them it was the role of the scriptures to talk about him. “Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me” (Joh 6:39).

Their scribes were, like Apollos, mighty in the scriptures (Ac 18:24). They numbered every word and every letter. They bathed themselves before they would sit down to transcribe any part of the text. They would not correct more than the tiniest number of typos in their work. If they made more than the smallest number of mistakes, they did not correct them; they destroyed the work and started over. Of all the charges the Lord made against them, he never once charged them with corrupting the manuscripts.

But with such a superstitious regard for the scriptures, they were still convinced the scriptures by themselves were not enough. They had a huge body of oral traditions which they taught alongside of, and sometimes in opposition to, the Law.

2. Notice that, not only did they raise their traditions to a level with the Bible, they changed whatever they did not like in the scriptures, and taught “for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mt 15:9).

One of the commandments is “honor thy father and thy mother.” It is our place to respect and provide for our parents. Their tradition set that commandment aside, and pretended that anything they did for their parents was simply a gift; it was not necessary for them to do it. But the Lord said, “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honor thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition” (Mt 15:3-6).

3. Judaism provided a form of church/state union with the High Priest as the supreme leader. But somebody objects, was that not exactly what God provided under the Law of Moses? No, it was not. Under the Law they did have church/state union—but it was with God at the head. The High Priest was not God. They had long since rejected God as their king. God told Samuel, “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them” (1Sa 8:7).

The church/state union of Judaism was of purely human origin. It began in the period between the Old and New Testaments. Hassell records (pg. 166) that Judas or Aristobulus, the son of John Hyrcanus, was the first to reign as priest-king about 106 B.C. His grandfather was Mattathias, the founder of the Maccabean dynasty. About that time there was much struggle and infighting both between the Jews themselves, and against the Syrians, under Antiochus Epiphanes, and later against the Romans. There were enormous changes going on among the Jews, and it is uncertain whether Aristobulus can be credited with establishing the arrangement.

What is certain is that, under the occupation of the Romans, the High Priest was allowed to exercise a kind of lordship over the people, based on their own laws and traditions, so long as they did not try to overthrow their Roman conquerors, and so long as they did not impose capital punishment. If they wanted anybody executed, they had to deliver them to the Romans (Joh 18:31). Up to that point, church and state were one.

4. God provided circumcision as a covenant with Israel, but they perverted the practice, as they did so many things. Many years before, God had given circumcision as a sign to Abraham that he was righteous. “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had, yet being uncircumcised” (Ro 4:11). Circumcision did not make him righteous; it was a sign that he was righteous.

Circumcision was a seal of righteousness to Abraham only; it was not a seal of righteousness to anybody else. Many of those who were circumcised were not righteous. Some of them were unspeakably wicked. To them it was a sign they were the natural male offspring of Abraham, and as such, they had a right to the natural benefits that belonged to the offspring of Abraham—so long as they obeyed the Law given. It did not guarantee heaven to anybody.

But they began to look to circumcision for salvation. It was circumcision that separated them from all other nations, and they thought that made them superior. They were sure salvation reached as far as circumcision reached. Circumcision gave them a monopoly on God; if you were circumcised, you were safe; otherwise you were doomed.

Paul put an end to that notion. “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgression the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” Ro 2:-25-29.

5. The fifth point is that they were so sure of their superiority, they thought they had the right to persecute, torture, and kill those whose preaching they counted to be a threat. The Lord said, “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service” (Joh 16:2).

They were alarmed at the preaching of Stephen, and they arrested him, and brought him before the council. While he preached to the council, “All that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel” (Ac 6:15).

They saw his face; the evidence of God’s presence was clear, but it made no difference with them. The high priest questioned him, and he delivered a sermon that should have brought them to repentance, but when he finished his speech, we read, “When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And said, Behold, I see heaven opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord. And cast him out of the city, and stoned him” (Ac 7:54-58).

Both the attitude of Paul before his Damascus Road experience, and the attitude of the Jews toward Paul after he began to preach, illustrate the mindset of Judaism. They were sure they had the right to persecute, torture, and kill those whose doctrines they counted to be a threat.

And the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul....And Saul was consenting to his death....As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison,” Ac 7:58; 8:1,3). At that time Paul was still called Saul. He got his first taste of Christian blood that day, and he would never lose his appetite for Christian blood until his experience on Damascus Road.

When he could find no more Christians in Jerusalem he went to the high priest for authority to pursue them wherever they might be found. “And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem” (Ac 9:1-2).

And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders; from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished” (Ac 22:4-5).

I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem; and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities” (Ac 26:9-12).

Before the Lord appeared to him, Paul was the hero of the Jews. He was the rising hope of Judaism. He was so exceedingly mad against the Christians, he had them arrested, beaten, imprisoned, and whenever possible— executed. After he began to preach the gospel they treated him in the same way. Three times they beat him with rods; five times they laid thirty nine stripes on his back (2Co 11:24-25). When he went back to Jerusalem, they tried to kill him, and they would have done it, if the Roman soldiers had not rescued him. He got away that time, but they still pursued him, hoping to do away with him.

Judaism is a very broad and complex religion, and these five doctrines are not all they teach, not by any means. We have singled out these five doctrines, because, more than any others, these are the five principles that were involved, when, as Hassell tells us, “Judaism and paganism were kindly brought in” at the Academy of Alexandria. If you keep those seven words, and those five doctrines in mind, it will simplify your study of church history.

After the Academy at Alexandria, the next great force to appear on the scene was Augustine of Hippo. The Academy closed in 395 A.D. Augustine was ordained in 391, four years before the Academy closed. He was appointed bishop at Hippo in 396, and published his Confessions in 398. So his rise exactly coincides with the demise of the Academy.

The Academy worked out the merger between pagan philosophy, Judaism, and their idea of the Christian religion. They educated young ministers and sent them out to propagate their new doctrines. But while Clement, Origen, and the other teachers at the Academy worked out the system, it was left to Augustine to use the political and military power of the Empire in support of the new system, and force it on the people.

Augustine was a born genius. His writings fill several large volumes, and they continue to be republished after 1600 years. There are very few writers who are still being studied after that long a time.

Augustine was as much a philosopher as he was a preacher. Among many other things, he laid the foundation for modern psychology, and his works are still being studied from the point of view of the psychologist. Unlike most psychologists, he started his inquiry with the doctrine of original sin, and human depravity. Not many modern psychologists will acknowledge either one, and that cripples their entire system. With those two principles as a starting point, he was able to produce a profound and wide ranging system of psychology. Much of his Confessions is given over to the subject. He did that 1500 years before Sigmund Freud, but even til this day, very few, if any, psychologists can equal his insight into the human psyche.

He had a vast knowledge of the scriptures. Regardless of the subject under consideration, he always had an array of proof texts he could call into service. Whether the text proved his point or not, he could convince his followers they were on solid Bible ground.

But as well known as his life and legacy are, he remains a mystery. When I was searching for the Lord’s church, I spent considerable time studying his books. I was still a teenager fifty years ago, when I first struggled, line by line, through his Confessions. The book is tattered and yellow with age. It has my little ex libris on the fly leaf. I used to do that when I finished a book. At last count, I had nine of his huge volumes in my library.

His experience and struggles of mind are such reading as will move any God-fearing person to tears. It is not easy to read of his heart-searching struggles of mind without coming to the conclusion this is a heaven born soul.

But he had a darker, much darker, side. He had political skills that would have made Machiavelli proud. He could manipulate and persuade the emperors of Rome and Constantinople. He got those proud and arrogant men to issue the decrees he used to arrest, torture, and banish those preachers, who would not submit to his authority. When all else failed, he had them killed.

Sylvester Hassell says, “Augustine’s theory of the right of a State to persecute its citizens to make them conform to a national religion involved the germs of absolute spiritual despotism, and of even the horrors of the Inquisition; but in practice he is said to have urged clemency and humanity upon the magistrates. Sacramentalism and religious persecution are as diverse from predestinarianism as night is from day; and as Augustine held all these three principles, we learn that even God’s regenerated people may be in great darkness on some important points, while they have light on other points still more important—in other words, that we are utterly dependent on the Holy Spirit to open our understandings and hearts, and to enlighten us on all spiritual subjects” (History ppg 406,407).

G.H. Orchard, was not so gentle with Augustine as Elder Hassell. He writes, “In 412 Cyril was ordained bishop of Alexandria. One of his first acts was to shut up all the churches of the Novationists, and strip them of everything of value. Augustine, supported by a kindred spirit in Cyril, exercised all his influence, and consequently the edicts procured against the Donatists, were now of a more sanguinary character.”

The Catholics found by experience, that the means hitherto used had been ineffectual against the Donatists; they now prevailed on Honorius and Theodosius, emperors of the east and west to issue an edict, decreeing, that the person re-baptizing, and the person re-baptized, should be punished by death. In consequence of this cruel measure martyrdoms ensued.”

Gibbon remarks on these edicts, that ‘three hundred bishops, with many thousands of the inferior clergy, were torn from their churches, stripped of their ecclesiastical possessions, banished to the islands, proscribed by law, if they presumed to conceal themselves in the provinces of Africa. Their numerous congregations, both in cities and the country, were deprived of the rights of citizens, and the exercise of religious worship. A regular scale of fines, from ten to two hundred pounds of silver, was curiously ascertained according to the distinctions of rank and fortune, to punish the crime of assisting at a schismatic conventicle; and if the fine had been levied five times, without subduing the obstinacy of the offender, his future punishment was referred to the discretion of the imperial court. By these severities, which obtained the warmest approbation of Augustine, great numbers were reconciled to the Catholic Church; but the fanatics (or faithful) who still persevered in their opposition, were provoked to madness and despair.’”

Augustine owned, the city of Hippo had been full of conventicles, till he procured penal laws for their suppression. When the Donatists reproached him with making martyrs of their bishops and elders, and told him God would require an account of their blood at the day of judgment; he replied, ‘I know nothing of your martyrs, martyrs! martyrs to the devil. There are no martyrs out of the church, besides, it was their obstinacy, they killed themselves,’” (Orchard’s History, ppg 94,95).

I cannot deny that I have been moved by reading Augustine’s account of his experience, and his spiritual struggles. But then I read of his using his enormous influence to bring about the death of so many innocent people, whose only offense was in worshiping their Maker in ways he did not approve. And I cannot conceive of how any heaven born soul could engage in what was nothing more than calculated, cold-blooded murder. It was judicial murder, but it was murder, nonetheless.

It is far too much that he drove them from their families, from their homes, and from their churches, but for him to have them killed is simply unexplainable. And, keep in mind that, more than any other person, Augustine was the instigator and enforcer of what he calls these penal laws.

After 1600 years, the name of Saint Augustine is still one of the most revered of names, and I really would like to give him the benefit of the doubt. But I hear John asking, “For he that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen” (1Jo 4:20). And I confess that I have a hard time understanding how a humble, loving child of God could treat people the way he did. How could he go to such lengths to get laws passed demanding their death.

Somebody tells us that Augustine was simply the product of his times; that it was the practice in that day to torture and kill those who refused to be converted. But that does not explain anything. More than anybody else, he was the man who started the practice.

Had Augustine later expressed remorse over the people who died because of his campaigns, we might reach other conclusions. Even a secular court of law takes remorse into consideration. But the fact that Augustine seems never to have regretted the many innocent people whose death he brought about, and the fact that, from all we can learn of him, he died, totally unrepentant over their deaths, we must forever withhold judgment.

It is, or should be, a source of great relief that it is not our responsibility to determine the eternal destiny of others. And yet, it leaves us bewildered how any heaven born soul could behave the way this Saint Augustine did and escape the chastening rod of his maker.

For whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son, whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons,” Heb 12:6-8.

All of that brings on the question, what could cause a person like Augustine to behave the way he did? If he did have an experience of grace, what could make him spend his life persecuting the saints? What could prompt him to have them tortured, banished, and killed? It is impossible to imagine anything more contrary to the doctrine of grace.

The answer is found in the doctrine he preached. It does make a difference what you believe, and you can be sure that any time such a brilliant, strong willed, and self important person advocates the doctrine Augustine preached—to the limit the law allows—he will behave the way Augustine did.

Whether you are talking about the Christian religion in America, or Nazism in Europe, or Communism in Russia and China, or the doctrine of Augustine and his followers, every doctrine produces its own peculiar kind of conduct. There is nothing history teaches more clearly than it teaches that lesson.

What, then, did Augustine teach? First, he taught much that is clearly true. He taught what would later be called the Five Points of Calvinism. He taught them as John Calvin taught then—not as the Bible taught them—but he taught them nonetheless. He is recognized by Calvinists as the founder of Calvinism. He made the same serious mistakes John Calvin did, and we will get to that later, but he did teach those doctrines.

He was clear on other major doctrines. He taught the creation, and the inspiration of the scriptures. He taught the resurrection of the dead, final judgment, and heaven and hell. On many points he was as clear and as accurate as we could expect anybody to be.

Those doctrines were not what made him the tyrant he became. We already pointed out the Academy merged pagan philosophy, and Judaism with their idea of the Christian religion, and Augustine continued that tradition. That was what made him a tyrant.

1. Judaism claimed the power of the sword to force conformity. Augustine claimed that power, and he applied to Honorius and Theodosius, the emperors of the Eastern and Western Roman Empire for authorization to use force, lethal force if necessary, against the Donatists.

From all we can learn of the Donatists, they taught essentially the same doctrines the Primitive Baptists teach today. They would not recognize infant baptism; they believed baptism should be limited to believers. They refused to recognize the baptism of the Catholic party. (At that time the Catholic party had not entirely coalesced into the Roman Catholic Church as we know it.) If someone came to them from the Catholics, they required them to be baptized. The Catholics said they rebaptized them. The Donatists said they only baptized them; their first baptism was not valid.

One of the reasons they would not recognize Catholic baptism was that many of the Catholic preachers were openly immoral. They insisted wicked preachers could not perform valid baptism. Augustine claimed the wickedness of the preacher did not affect his ability to baptize.

They insisted they were the true church and the Catholic party was not. For these doctrines and others, Augustine pursued them, closed their churches, and claimed their meeting houses for his own party. He had their preachers banished from the land, and if they persisted in returning, he had them executed. It was because of that the Donatists charged him with making martyrs of their preachers.

One thousand years later, John Calvin and the other Reformers would follow precisely in the footsteps of Augustine. They copied more than his doctrine. They copied his bloodthirst for preachers who would not submit to their authority.

When Calvin wrote about Anabaptists, he called them heretics and blasphemers, dogs and filthy dogs, swine and filthy swine. He made no effort to conceal his bitter hatred for them, and to the limit of his ability he dealt with them the same way Augustine had dealt with the Donatists.

Those who think we criticize Calvin and the Reformers unnecessarily should put themselves in the place of the wife of some Anabaptist preacher, who stood by, watching helplessly as her husband was burned alive. She watched in horror as his skin blistered and burned, and his hair caught on fire. Imagine the feelings that must have gone through her as she wondered what would become of her and her little family. Imagine how bewildered she must have been, as she wondered how those Protestant preachers could get such satisfaction in delivering other preachers to be killed.

In order to justify their treatment of Anabaptists, the Reformers made the most outrageous charges against them. They accused them of baptizing people naked, devil worship, conniving at human sacrifice, plurality of wives, plotting to overthrow the government, etc. They used every means available to inflame the masses against them.

Baptists have never seen the need for supplements to the Bible. For that reason they have never adopted confessions of faith in the manner the Reformers have. But in the 1600's and 1700's they put out a spate of confessions.

Those confessions of faith were totally different from the Protestant confessions. They were never intended to be supplements to the Bible, and they were not intended to be standards of doctrine. They were purely a defensive measure. They hoped that by issuing a clear statement of what they believed, and how they worshiped God, they could get the Reformers to stop torturing and killing them. They enjoyed very little success; the Reformers already knew what they believed. It was their existence they resented.

There are those in our day who pretend those Baptists put out their confessions voluntarily, but we have their word for it, they would never have put out a confession if they had not been forced to do so.

In the preface to the second volume of his four volume history, Thomas Crosby tells us, “And the rather, because they declare, ‘they are forced against their whole minds to publish it, for the clearing of their innocency in such things.’” Notice that he quotes them as saying they were “forced against their whole minds to publish it.”

Crosby lived during the time those confessions were being issued. His father in law, Benjamin Keach, was one of the three leading Baptists in England. The other two were Hansard Knollys and William Kiffin. All three of them signed the Second London Confession. It seems reasonable to think the signatories of the confession were better aware of their own motives than those who try to second guess them in this day.

They issued the confession, because their very lives, and the safety of their families, depended on it. They did it in an effort to get the Protestants to stop tormenting them.

Our Calvinist friends will continue to rewrite their own history. They will continue to cover up the cruelty of their founders. But history is too plain to be concealed. Anyone with the will to look at the record can learn the facts. The only difference between persecution by Catholics and persecution by Protestants was in the duration and the scope.

2. Judaism perverted circumcision. They looked to it for salvation, and insisted that salvation only reached so far as circumcision reached. If one was not circumcised he was doomed. Augustine preached that baptism took the place of circumcision. The Law called for babies to be circumcised; therefore babies ought to be baptized. Like Judaism before him, he taught that salvation only reached so far as baptism reached, and he pursued to the death those who refused to submit their babies for baptism.

3. Judaism had church/state union with the High Priest at its head. Both Augustine and Calvin insisted the church should be allied with the state, and the government should have the power to enforce religious decisions. The Westminster Confession (Chap. 23, sec. 3) still claims the right of the civil magistrate to suppress heresy, and to see to it that church ordinances are “duly settled, administered, and observed,” in other words to prosecute those who will not submit to their authority. It is only the First Amendment to the Constitution that prevents them.

4. Judaism called on the scriptures for their authority, but they had their huge body of tradition as supplements to the scriptures. Augustine claimed the authority of Confessions of Faith, and decisions of Councils as supplements to the scriptures. Especially with his notion of the union of church and state, he called on the decrees of the magistrate as authority. One thousand years later, Calvinists would prepare such documents as the Westminster, Savoy and Belgic Confessions, and the Canons of Dort as their secondary authorities to supplement the Bible.

5. Judaism changed what they did not like about the Law. Augustine claimed the same right. He substituted the baptism of babies for the baptism of believers. Calvin would later claim the right to change sprinkling for immersion where immersion was not convenient, because of weather, etc.

Augustine and the Catholic party finally prevailed, but it was only after they had closed literally thousands of Donatist churches, killed many of their preachers, and confiscated their meeting houses.

We already quoted Sylvester Hassell to the effect that, “Augustine’s theory of the right of a State to persecute its citizens to make them conform to a national religion involved the germs of absolute spiritual despotism, and of even the horrors of the Inquisition.”

The pattern laid down by Augustine in his campaign against the Donatists set the pattern for the Roman Catholic Church for more than a thousand years. Literally rivers of blood were shed by those who thought they had the right to persecute and kill those who would not submit to their authority. Augustine was long since dead when the Roman Catholic Inquisition was doing its torture and killing, but he was the man who laid the groundwork.

The Inquisition was a court system set up by the Catholic authorities to try those whom they deemed to be heretics. Those who refused to deny their faith were tortured and killed in the most diabolical ways. They were burned at the stake. They were put on the rack, and their bones were pulled out of joint. They were tied up in sacks with scorpions. They were scalded with boiling oil. Human ingenuity exhausted itself in devising new ways of torture.

That persecution reached its height in what has come to be called the Spanish Inquisition. Thomas Torquemada was at its head. Under his leadership there was a constant parade of innocent victims led to the stake and burned alive. Their only offence was in worshiping God in a manner not approved by the Roman Catholic authorities. He did his job so well that today, over four hundred years later, Spain is still virtually clear of spiritual religion.

Our Calvinist historians have been faithful to relate the huge numbers of their own people who were killed during the Roman Catholic Inquisition. But they have been as silent as the tomb about literally thousands of innocent, God-fearing preachers who were torn from their homes, from their families, from their churches, and finally banished from the land—by this first and most illustrious Calvinist preacher.

For almost 400 years now, the Protestants have been grinding out their books, rewriting their history. They have kept us well informed about the suffering they experienced at the hands of the Roman Catholic authorities during what has come to be known as the Inquisition. What they have been very careful not to mention is that when the Calvinists were in authority, they were just as bloodthirsty as the Inquisitors ever were.

The main difference was that the Roman Catholics persecuted Protestants and Baptists, while the Protestants and Catholics both persecuted the Baptists. That was the one thing they could agree on. They were both determined the Baptists must not survive.

We have already pointed out that Calvinism did not begin with John Calvin. Calvin simply resurrected the ideas put forth over a thousand years before by Augustine. That fact becomes obvious to anyone reading Calvin’s huge work, The Institutes of the Christian Religion. If you will go through the two volumes underscoring his various quotes (underscore the name of the source only), you will notice, first, that except for a few quotes from pagan philosophers, his quotes are always from Roman Catholic authorities. You will also notice that he quotes Augustine twice as often as he quotes all the other Catholic authorities put together.

The Reformers never intended to forsake the Catholic religion; they intended to live and die as good Catholics. They just did not intend to be Roman Catholics. They would not be subject to the Pope of Rome. Calvin and the other Reformers hoped to bring about a reformation, to produce a new form, of the Catholic religion. That is why it is called the Protestant Reformation (literally the re-form-ation). Calvin wanted to restore the Catholic religion to what it had been in the time of Augustine. In that he was totally successful. The Presbyterian Church of Calvin’s day was precisely what the Catholic Church had been in Augustine’s day.

In this little booklet we have only taken the briefest look at those doctrines both Catholicism and Calvinism borrowed from Judaism. There are several doctrines on which Calvinists and Catholics disagreed. The Reformers dropped auricular confession, selling indulgences, and penance. They did not carry over the doctrine of purgatory, or limbo, or transubstantiation, or papal infallibility. But even though they did not claim infallibility, anybody who refused to subscribe to Calvin’s confession was forbidden to live in Geneva. Claiming to believe all that is in the Bible was not enough; they had to subscribe to Calvin’s confession. That seems close to claiming infallibility for Calvin.

There were several points on which the Reformers disagreed with Rome, but on those principles they borrowed from Judaism, Catholicism and Calvinism were and are identical.

There is much more that needs to be said about Calvinism, and I am preparing a book of about 200 to 250 pages in which we will take a longer look at the system. The book is almost complete, and we expect to send it to the printer by January 31st.

In that book, among other things, we will notice that John Calvin did not himself fully believe the Five Points. He believed in Unconditional Election, but, inconsistent though it was, we will show that he preached Universal Atonement.

The Synod of Dort and the Westminster Confession taught that man’s depravity is the source of his sin, and man only sins when God permits him to sin. In the book we will show by direct quotes from Calvin that he laughed at the notion of God only permitting sin. He taught that when men sin, it is because God holds the helm, and directs their efforts. He insisted they sin because God bends them to execute his judgments. He went so far as to say that God “forces the reprobate to do him service.” None of the great Protestant Confessions would go with Calvin so far as to say God forces sinners to sin.

We will show that even though the Five Points, as they were preached by John Calvin, resemble five points of the doctrine of salvation by grace, it is only a resemblance. John Calvin was seriously at odds with Bible doctrine on every single one of those doctrines.

We will show that the Baptists in England in the 1600's were some of the bravest, and most self-sacrificing people that ever lived. They showed enormous steadfastness as they suffered every indignity we can imagine at the hand of their Calvinist tormenters. We will show that the Protestants put the Catholics to shame in their ability to torment Baptists.

We must be very cautious and very reverent when we talk about those brave warriors. For that matter, we should be very careful about criticizing those brave men who put out the London Confession and other confessions of that time.

We are walking on sacred ground. None of us have spent years starving and freezing in a filthy jail for the things we preach. None of us have worried about how our wives and little ones were suffering while we were languishing in jail. None of us have seen our husbands beaten and hanged.

But while we bow our heads with tears in our eyes when we consider the faithfulness of those brave warriors, we still need to be aware that for all their faithfulness, they made just as serious mistakes as the Baptists in any age have.

For one thing, at the same time they were planting Baptist churches, many of the Baptists of that day, especially around London, had not yet broken with the Establishment Church. Henry Jessey was still ministering to the Establishment church at St. George’s in the morning, while he served a Baptist congregation in the afternoon. John Tombes was the minister of the Establishment church at Bewdly, when according to Crosby’s History, he “there gathered a separate church of those of his own persuasion, continuing at the same time minister of the parish.” The list goes on and on of those who served Baptist and Protestant churches at the same time.

The point is that, regardless of how brave, and how self sacrificing those men were, the very last place you should go to look for Baptist infallibility is among preachers who serve as Baptist pastors at the same time the serve as pastors of Protestant churches. And, that being the case, we should not be surprised that they incorporate some Protestant doctrine in any confession they put forth. There were a lot of subjects they had not made up their minds about. The purpose of the gospel was one of them.

We will show that when the Puritans (Calvinists all) came to America, they set up a tyrannical theocracy, especially in New England, in which they tortured, banished and, sometimes, killed, those who would not submit to their authority. They arrested Obadiah Holmes and beat him publicly for no other offense than preaching without their permission. They took a whip with three prongs and laid thirty lashes on his back. For weeks he had to sleep on his knees and elbows; he could not suffer his back to touch the bed.

They persecuted Baptists in that manner until the First Amendment took away their power to do so. We will show that, while the First Amendment denied the federal government the power to regulate religion, it did not take that power from the states, and it was another fifty years before, in 1841, the Puritans (Congregationalists) in New England were finally forced to relinquish that power.

During that intervening 50 years, they still taxed the general population to pay their own preachers. They continued to seize the property of Baptists and claim it for their own. Isaac Backus was a well known Baptist preacher. His aged mother refused to pay her tax to support the establishment preacher. She was sick and burning with a fever, when the authorities arrested her on a cold, rainy, winter night, and carted her off to jail.

We will show that, even when Baptists began to gain some relief from paying to support Establishment preachers, they still had to prove they were supporting their own denomination and their own preachers. One statute required them to produce endorsement from five churches, and they had to prove the orthodoxy of those churches. It was against that backdrop they were virtually forced to adopt the New Hampshire and Philadelphia Confessions. That was the only way they could retain their church property, blunt the malicious charges the establishment preachers made against them, and gain some relief from their oppressive taxes.

We will show that when the Separate and Regular Baptists came together in 1787, they did it on the basis of the London Confession. But they adopted the confession with the understanding that nobody was required to believe all of it. That was the result of a compromise with Arminians in their own ranks. Again, any collection of Arminians and predestinarians is not a good place to look for Baptist infallibility.

We will show that John Leland compared those who placed too much confidence in any confession with those Catholics who place too much confidence in the virgin Mary.

The First Amendment makes the former kind of persecution more difficult, but it does not entirely prevent it. Even now there is a strong movement in America to curtail religious freedom.

We will look at the effect the recent Supreme Court decision with regard to Eminent Domain will have on religion. City governments can now seize private property and award it to private developers. If they choose to do so, there is nothing to prevent those developers from then selling a portion of that property to any church with sufficient funds to meet building codes and zoning restrictions.

For a long time Disney Corporation has been no friend to the Christian religion. They aggressively support gay rights; and they lace their children’s films with pagan themes, and sexual innuendo. For the last 9 years they have been boycotted by American Family Association.

But according to World magazine (Dec. 15, 2005), “Al Weiss, a top-ranking Disney executive, is planting churches— doctrinally sound ones, and lots of them. As chairman of the board for newly formed Vision USA, Mr. Weiss aims to raise $300 million over the next ten years for aggressive church planting in 50 of the country’s most influential cities.”

Thanks to the Supreme Court, they can again take your church building and transfer ownership to another church. Only today it takes three or four steps to do what once only required one or two steps.

Lest we might be too reassured by the promise that those new churches will be doctrinally sound, we should read the rest of the article. We are told the organization has teamed up with “a former youth pastor at John Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist church” and “Though affiliated with the Baptist General Conference (BGC), Vision USA has partnered with a range of denominations willing to affirm the Lausanne Covenant, male eldership and Reformed theology—most recently aligning with Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.”

It sounds for all the world like we are being led right back to the very practices the First Amendment put a stop to.

The government would never try to tax people to pay the salaries of denominational preachers. But there are those who are even now trying to find a way for the government to fund what they call faith based initiatives. That will free up those churches’ other funds to pay their preachers. The bottom line is still the same.

Our liberties are under attack. For over 200 years Americans have been properly proud of our freedom of speech, but Congress has a bill in conference that would make it a hate crime to criticize homosexuality. If that bill becomes law, any minister can be arrested and prosecuted for saying homosexuality is sinful. It is already happening in Canada and Sweden. If the law passes, it will happen here.

And if the courts decide the pastor was speaking as an agent of the church, it is a short step to arguing that any homosexual can sue the members of that church for civil damages. There is more than one way to take away our meeting houses, our homes, our property.

Someone has said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” I believe that is right. Someone else has said, “Forewarned is forearmed.” We hope to have the book ready to distribute by April. I believe the need is urgent, and it is our goal to provide a free copy for every preacher who will return a request card.

We request your prayers and any assistance you may feel impressed to provide for what I believe is a necessary effort.

Husbands Love Your Wives

 HUSBANDS LOVE YOUR WIVES

Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it,” Eph 5:25.

Sometimes, it seems that people get the idea the Bible is a Sunday book; but, the Bible is not just a Sunday book. The Bible is to be the man of your counsel every day in the week. And for that matter, if the Bible is not your guidebook from Monday through Saturday, you are wasting your time to consult it on Sunday.

There is a little wall motto I have seen, and no doubt, most of you have seen it. It says, “When all else fails, read the instructions.”

Just about anything you buy, nowadays, comes with an instruction booklet. If you can buy a $3.95 pocket calculator, it will generally come with a little paper leaflet, or if you buy a washing machine, or an automobile, you will get a more comprehensive owner’s manual; but most everything comes with instructions.

Well, the Bible is the owner’s manual for my life and yours. These are God’s instructions for constructing our lives.

There is no situation in which you will ever find yourself, but that the Bible gives full and complete instructions as to how we ought to behave ourselves. It will teach us how to be better citizens, better neighbors, better parents, better hus-bands, better wives, better children. It will teach us how to be better employers, better employees, better business men.

No matter what situation in which we may ever find our-selves, the Bible gives us all the instruction we need as to how we should conduct ourselves in that situation. It does not describe every conceivable detail of every problem we might ever face. If it did, it would be a volume so large nobody would ever read it.

It is not necessary for the Bible to describe every detail of every conceivable problem. But, it does provide broad, basic instructions, and those instructions go to the very heart of every conceivable problem. They give us all the tools we need to work with. If we will apply those principles to our lives, we will get along much better, and we will get along much better with other people.

It is hard to imagine a more important relationship, than the relationship between husbands and wives.

The family and the home are the very foundation of civil-ization itself. God established the family and the home, before he provided mankind with any form of human govern-ment. He established the family and the home, before he gave the Law of Moses to Israel, before he established the New Testament church.

In the very morning of time, when there were only two people in the world, God provided marriage, provided the family, provided the home, as the very foundation of all human society; and you can count on it, that any time the family and the home begin to fall apart, the way those institutions are falling apart in America today, our very society itself is in danger.

Our society seems to be coming apart at the seams. It is not necessary to recite all the problems we are facing. The people on the six o’clock news keep us well informed. And every time some new outrage takes place, news commentators want to know what is happening? What is causing it? Where is the root cause?

They tell us the solution is that we have to pass more laws against guns; but, we already have more laws against guns than anybody is trying to enforce. Somebody says we need to spend more money on schools; but, we are spending more money per student, even after inflation, than we have ever spent. They tell us we need more school counselors; but, again, we have more counselors than we have ever had, and the situation gets worse. Little feel-good projects will never solve the problem.

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Ps 11:3.

The foundation of civilization itself is in the loving relationship between husbands and wives, and parents and children. And when that foundation begins to fall apart, no band-aid you can put on the problem will ever provide the solution. Our problems began in the home, and if they are ever solved, they will be solved in the home.

A person could make a career out of writing on this subject, and a little booklet like this cannot do more than glance at the subject, and only one aspect of the subject, at that. But while we can never tell everything that needs to be said, I believe we do well to say as much as we can.

Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”

Notice that this is not a statement of fact, and it is not a promise. It is a commandment. It simply tells us what we are to do. “Husbands, love your wives.”

I am sure that very few people are aware of how society, and the attitudes of society, affect our own way of thinking. We talk the way we think. We listen to others talk, and we learn to think and talk the way others around us think and talk.

In many ways, we are the product of our culture, our environment. Different people, in different countries, and different cultures, think differently. To name just one exam-ple, people talk about how Americans cannot understand the Chinese. We come from a different background than the Chinese. We think differently than the Chinese. We look at things differently than they do.

People in India have an entirely different culture to ours. And because they have a different culture, they think differently. If you do not know where they are coming from, there is no way you can entirely understand the way they think. The only way you can entirely understand it is to have grown up there, and to be acquainted with that way of thinking.

People who have grown up in a Bible-based environment, who have gone to church Sunday after Sunday, and heard evangelical Christian ministers expounding the moral prin-ciples of the Bible, come from an entirely different environ-ment, a different culture, than those who have never been inside a church. Every person born of Adam has the same carnal, sinful nature, but your environment, and the ideas you are hit with day after day, have an effect on the way you think.

In many ways we have allowed the thinking of society to shape our thinking about the marriage relationship. We should rather listen to the Bible to learn what that relationship should be. And because our society is not so well acquainted with the Bible as it should be, much of our thinking about marriage is not nearly as scriptural as we might think it is. Our attitudes often come more from the influence of our friends, than they do from the Bible.

One common expression has to do with what we call falling in love. That is a good and valid expression, and it represents a very real and precious experience with most every married couple. In a moment, I want to make some comments about the time when you first meet that special person, and the bells ring, and the lights flash, and from that day on, nothing is ever the same.

But, notice that is not actually the way this text says it. Notice what the text says, and this is the rule for every child of God. It says, “Husbands, love your wives.” How is the husband to love his wife? “....as Christ also loved the church.” Husbands are to love their wives “as (in the same manner that) Christ loved the church.”

Do you remember reading in the Bible about the Lord falling in love with the church? It does not say it that way, does it? He does not love us because of us; he loves us in spite of us. It was not that we caught his eye, and he was so attracted to us, that he could not help falling in love with us. No. No. No. Ezekiel tells us, “None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field to the loathing of thy person, in the day that thou was born,” Eze 16:5. That does not sound like we were so attractive, we just caught his eye. There was nothing about us to commend his love for us.

But before I say too much on that thought, let me make a few comments about the other side of the question.

We are taught to wait for the time, when we meet that special person, and we are instantly attracted to her, and the lights flash, and the bells ring, and the skyrockets burst in the air. Well, that is very often the way it does happen.

I well remember the first time I ever met my wife. She caught my eye the first time I ever saw her.

When I got out of high school, there were no jobs to be had. Those of you, who are my age, will remember, that in the mid-1950's, jobs were hard to find. Alcoa Aluminum is the major employer in our area, and they had people laid off with twenty years seniority. You could not find a job.

If there had been any jobs, I would have had trouble finding one. I was so thin, when I got out of high school, that my wife will not let me tell in her presence how thin I was. And since she will not allow me to tell it in her presence, I will just keep it to myself. But anyway, I was not a prospect for a job that required any kind of physical exertion.

But, I finally got a job in direct sales. You spell that door-to-door. They do not do that any more. Nowadays, direct selling is done over the telephone—usually while you are eating supper. But back in those days direct selling meant going door-to-door, and the reason you did not have any trouble getting a job in direct selling is that they did not have to pay you, if you did not make a sale. Every dollar you made was a percentage of a dollar you took in.

Those people on the telephone are paid, at least, minimum wage. Federal law requires it. But with those door-to-door sales jobs, they did not even have to pay you that. So it was no problem to get that kind of job. I got a job selling small household furnishings door-to-door. We sold most any small item you could throw on your automobile. We sold on credit, a-dollar-down-and-a-dollar-a-week. That is not a figure of speech; that is the way we did it. A dollar down and a dollar a week. We went back each week to pick up the dollar. I would go door-to-door selling my goods, and collecting those dollars.

Anyway, when I started to work, my wife’s mother had an account with the company. One Tuesday, I went by to pick up the payment. Nobody was home; so I went back that evening. You were required to make back-calls. When I went back that evening, they were all there. It seemed like the whole clan was there. That little house was full of people.

But over in the corner sat one of the prettiest girls I think I ever saw. She was not paying any attention to me, but she sure caught my eye. She was sitting in an easy chair on the other side of the room. I did not say anything; the room was full of people. But the ideas began to form, and the wheels began to turn, and I began to think about the situation.

The next week, I went by at the regular time, on Tuesday morning, to pick up the payment, and she was the only one there; her mother was gone. She came to the door, and brought the receipt card, and the dollar, and paid me. I asked if it would be alright if I came calling that evening, and it would, and I did, and as the expression is, the rest is history.

I did not find out, until years later, that it was by design, that her mother had gone visiting that particular day. And it was by design, that she was at home on Tuesday morning, on a school day. She laid out of school—I had been set up. I got the idea later the whole clan was in on it. I was the only one involved who did not know what was going on.

I am not complaining. Sometimes, God intervenes to do for us what we do not have the judgment, or the foresight, to do for ourselves. I have no doubt the hand of God was involved in bringing us together. I shudder at the thought of how my life might have turned out differently, if it had not been for that series of events. I do not even want to imagine what might have become of me, if I had not had her by my side for all of these years.

There are some people who believe God is the effective and moving cause of everything that ever happens. I do not believe that. God is not the cause of everything that happens in this world. But while that is true, God is still in charge; he still reigns on the throne. He does cause things to happen, and he does stop things from happening.

That is one of the most reassuring of all thoughts. Every evangelical Christian finds comfort in believing it. He believes it, whether he thinks he does or not. The fact that we pray is evidence that we believe God intervenes in the affairs of men. Why would anybody pray, if he did not believe God intervenes in the affairs of men?

Even those who claim to be atheists pray. When they really get in trouble, they pray. I am not entirely sure whether there are any real atheists, in the first place. He may be an atheist five minutes later, but when he gets in a really tight spot, even an atheist prays. And even an atheist believes that God intervenes in the affairs of men, and causes things to happen, or stops things from happening. That is why he prays.

When I look back over my own life, at some of the times when God has clearly intervened in my life, and changed the course of events, I cannot help but marvel at the way he has cared for me, and protected me. Sometimes, he has protected me, most of all, from my own folly.

I do not want to take anything away from the expression falling in love. How we enjoy recalling that special time in our lives.

But the point I am getting to is this: no matter how special a relationship any husband and wife may have, in every mar-riage there come times, when the lights do not flash, and the bells do not ring, and there are no skyrockets. Nothing. Those special feelings are just not what they were at one time.

Imagine a young couple who have just met. All the right things happen. One thing leads to another. They marry. There are children. Then one day, she is at home with the children. They are all sick, or at least, they are all crying. The phone is ringing. The bill collectors are calling; they want to know where is their money? The landlord wants to know where is the rent? The washing machine is out of balance, and it is bouncing around like it is going to turn over, but she cannot see about it now; she has to change a muddy diaper. She is all stressed out.

There was a time, when I would preach on this, that I would talk about how she was sitting on the edge of the bathtub, leaning over the commode flushing out dirty diapers, til my wife explained to me, “They don’t do that any more; nowa-days, they just load them and throw them away.” But, when ours were in diapers, they did flush them out. It is probably good they did sell the old birdseye diapers, when ours were little. If the disposables had been available, I don’t think we could have paid for them. I have no idea, how many thou-sands of times my wife has there flushing out dirty diapers.

But she is at home; the kids are sick; they are all crying; the washing machine is shaking the house down. She is seeing after one of children, and she thinks she is coming down with the same thing they have, and if that happens, she does not know who is going to change those diapers.

She is wondering, “How in the world did I ever get myself in this kind of mess?” She is wondering, “Where are all those bells now? Where are all those lights, and all those skyroc-kets now? What happened? How did I ever get in this kind of predicament?”

He is in about the same frame of mind. He is broke. The old car is making a racket. He is sure it is liable to quit any time. There was a time when he had the shiniest car on the block. He kept it all waxed and shined, and he was proud of it. Now he would just be glad, if it would start in the morning.

And she does not look the way she used to. The first time he saw her, she was the prettiest little thing he ever saw. He could not keep his eyes off her.

Now, when she gets up in the morning, her hair is in curlers, and the part that is not in curlers is going off in every direc-tion, and she comes paddling through the house in that ratty old housecoat she has been wearing ever since before they got married. And make-up? She has forgotten what that is for.

Then, one day, they go trailing off to a marriage counselor. Now, I don’t want to disparage that profession. A lot of those people give some good advice—and some of them give some mighty bad advice. It would not do to make a blanket con-demnation of the profession, but some of their advice is not as good as it could be.

I used to work with a young fellow. He was still in his twen-ties. He had been married three times, and divorced twice, and he was in process of being divorced the third time. When I worked with him, he was going to night school at the univer-sity—studying to be a marriage counselor. I thought, “Fel-low, with your track record, you really do need to take some classes on that subject.” I don’t know if he ever became a marriage counselor, but if he did, I am not entirely sure I would recommend his services.

I don’t want to be disrespectful of the profession, and I don’t want to imply that that young man is typical of those who are engaged in that work. I just want to point out that there is a better way.

They explain to the marriage counselor that—along with all the other problems—they just don’t feel the same way they used to feel toward each other. They are not sure they even love each other any more. What do you expect? They fell in love; why should they be so surprised if, after awhile, they fell right back out again.

All this talk about falling in love makes it all sound too much like an accident. You can be sure that, no matter how exciting and all-consuming a love two people may have for each other, building and maintaining that relationship over a lifetime is no accident. If two people want the warmth and the satis-faction of that relationship to survive and to grow, it is up to them to make it happen.

In every marriage there come times, when the bells do not ring, and the lights don’t flash, and the skyrockets don’t burst in air. But, God knew that would happen before he provided us with the benefits of marriage and the home, and, before we had the need, he provided the solution. The Bible gives us all the instructions we need to keep the fire and the excitement in a marriage.

In the text before us he says, “Husbands love your wives.” Those few words are a much more profound statement than most people have ever realized. God can say more in one sentence that the rest of us can say in an hour.

If you go to any large book store, you will find an entire section on self-improvement, motivation, marriage enrich-ment, and the like. Among other things they will tell you how to generate a better, happier, more congenial marriage.

But the Bible provides all that and more. In the very morning of time, it was God, who performed the first marriage cere-mony, and it was God who wrote the first marriage manual. Those instructions are scattered all through the Bible, but there is one book in the Bible, that is almost entirely given over to that one subject.

I am talking about the Song of Solomon. There are two main themes in the Song of Solomon. On one level, the entire book is an allegorical lesson with regard to the relationship between Christ and his bride, the church. No human production could paint a more beautiful picture of the relationship between Christ and the church than Solomon paints in the Song of Solomon.

But notice. Solomon uses the relationship between a devoted husband and wife as an allegory—an illustration—of the relationship between Christ and his bride, the church. The two subjects go together. We cannot study the one without learning something about the other.

I enjoy preaching from the Song of Solomon from an allegor-ical point of view. I enjoy preaching about the sweet and tender relationship between Christ and the church. I like to explain how Christ loves the church, and the church loves her Lord. I like to preach about the way they talk to each other and about each other.

But more often than not, I preach on the book from a practical point of view. I like to show that the relationship between Christ and the church is the pattern for the relationship be-tween husbands and wives.

Once, years ago, I was reading the Song of Solomon. I have no idea how many times I have read it. For many years now, I have made a point of reading the book, at least, once every month. Somebody may wonder, “Do you need to read it that often?” You do, if you want to keep it in your mind. It is a good idea to keep reading it over and over and over.

While I was reading it, I could not help but notice how many times this man told his wife how much he loved her, and how many times she told him how much she loved him. And I wondered, if I talked to my wife the way that man talked to his wife, is it possible that, maybe, just maybe, my wife might talk to me the way that woman talked to her husband. As I recall, about that time, that was not exactly the way she was talking to me.

Did anybody ever tell you, “My wife and I never have short words?” If anybody ever tells you that, do you know what that proves? It proves he will also lie about other things.

Now, I do recall a few times when my wife and I have gone for some period of time without so much as one short word. Well, actually, we were not having any long words either. It would not do to say anything.

But, I wondered, if I talked to my wife the way this man talked to his wife, is it possible that my wife might talk to me the way this woman talked to her husband. I tried it; it works.

One thing I have noticed about wives. They just will not be outdone. If you are mean, and smart-in-the-mouth, and always saying more than you need to say, she can get just as mean, and smart-in-the-mouth as you can. And there is a thing called escalation. Every response raises the discussion to higher level. Each person winds up trying to outdo the other; things get out of hand, and you wind up saying things to each other that leave scars that will never heal. Nobody ever wins that battle.

I have heard that for husbands and wives to fuss and fight is not so bad; that just makes it so much sweeter when you make up. Don’t kid yourself. The only reason it is so sweet to make up is because you were so miserable in the meantime.

On the other hand, if you try to see how considerate and understanding you can be, generally, after awhile, she will outdo you in that way too. She will be more kind, and consid-erate, and understanding than you are. If I am going to be outdone, I had rather be outdone be outdone that way than to be outdone in the other way, wouldn’t you?

Now, it may take her awhile to figure out what is going on. If you are not used to talking to her that way, it may leave her very bewildered to start with. She may wonder what you are up to. But, if she finally figures out that it is genuine, she will not likely be outdone. But bear in mind that it may take awhile. A huge ship does not turn on a dime; it takes awhile to change course.

The God-ordained relationship between a husband and wife reflects the genius, and the love of God. When God created Eve, he took a rib from Adam’s side. There is a beautiful symbolic lesson in that. He did not take a bone from his foot. That might have signified that the man had the right to grind her under his feet. He did not take a bone from Adam’s head. That might have signified that she had the right to domineer over him. But he took a rib, a bone from his side, to signify that she should be his constant companion. He took a bone, the very nearest to his heart, signifying that she was to be the nearest thing to his heart. He took a bone from just under his arm, signifying that she should be the subject of his constant embrace, the subject of his constant protection.

From that bone he fashioned the woman, and brought her to the man. God performed that first marriage ceremony, and in that ceremony he said, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.”

Over the years, as two people live together, work together, struggle together, and sometimes suffer together, in a very real sense, they become one. When one is happy, the other is happy. When one is sad, the other is sad. When she hurts, he hurts.

My wife has been sick for the last several days. I cannot say for sure, that I would be glad to trade places with her. But I think I would be glad to trade places, at least, for awhile. It hurts me for her to hurt.

I am almost never sick. I am not sure whether I have ever had the flu. I have allergies every now and then. I have just a trace of an allergy right now. It is no real ailment, just a little drainage. I don’t think I have had a cold more than twice, and that was years ago. So it does not seem like such an unfair thought for me to trade places with her for a little while. In some sense, two people really do become one. Anyway, I think I would be glad to trade places, but you cannot do that.

Mothers often feel that way about their children. There have been any number of times a mother has sat by the side of a child, who was burning up with fever. The mother would have given anything if she could just swap places, if she could just crawl in the bed, take the ailment herself, and let the child get up and run and play. She would be glad to do it.

A devoted husband and wife have that kind of feeling for each other. When the Lord said, “They twain shall be one flesh,” he meant it. There is a sense in which two people really do become one.

But, on the other hand, when he said, “They two shall become one flesh,” notice that he did not say, “They shall become one mind.”

I learned a long time ago, that my wife still has a mind of her own. I have been trying for over forty years to teach her to think the way I think—and she just cannot get the hang of it. I get the idea, that she does not want to think the way I think. Somehow or other, she has it in her head that I am not always right.

But, as much as I would like for her to agree with me, she is not supposed to think the way I think. If you ever find a husband and wife who always think exactly alike, that just proves one thing. One them is not thinking.

Husbands and wives do not think alike. God did not intend for us to think alike. That is one of the profound differences between men and women. We do not think alike. For one thing, men have a tendency to be risk-takers. We have a ten-dency to take chances. We like to think, “It’s alright; I can do it; I can pull it off; I won’t have a bit of trouble.” It does not matter that we have failed the last ten times. We tell our-selves, “I can do it; I know how to handle it.”

Women, generally, have a tendency to be more interested in security. They want to be assured they will have tomorrow what they have today. That is not a universal rule. Of course not. But it does tend to be that way. Men are more apt to be risk-takers; women are more concerned with security.

God intended that, every now and then, she would rain on your parade. He intended for her to help you keep your feet on the ground. Very often, you need that anchor to bring you back to reality.

My wife does not always think the way I do. Sometimes, I look back in retrospect and realize that she was right. I am more idealistic; sometimes I get my head in the clouds. I have a tendency to see things the way I wish they were. She has more of a tendency to see things the way they actually are.

She has not always gone along with every idea I have came up with, and it has been a great benefit to me that she has not. A few years ago, I was called as pastor of a church in Missis-sippi, almost four hundred miles away. I went down there twice every month—twice a lot of weeks.

Why did I not move to Mississippi? Well, at that same time I was serving another church here in Tennessee, and preaching here six times a month. It makes more sense to live in Tennessee and drive to Mississippi twice a month, than it does to live in Mississippi and drive to Tennessee six times a month.

Now, the thought of moving to Mississippi did go through my mind, and my wife was agreeable enough. She said, “That is alright with me; I do hope you will come back and visit me every now and then.” That settled that discussion.

I served the church in Mississippi for several years, but after awhile I felt like my work there was done, and I was no longer needed. Serving the church there was one of the most beneficial experiences of my life. I believe my work was some benefit to them, but I cannot imagine that I helped them nearly so much as they helped me. I shall always thank the Lord, and look back with fond memories at the time I spent with them.

But, after a few years, my work there came to an end—and I did not even have to move back to Tennessee. I was still living right where I had been for over thirty years. Her concern for security balanced my idealism, and it saved me the trouble—and the expense—of relocating twice in seven years. God used her to keep my feet on the ground, and I learned to thank him for it.

Women are not intended to think exactly like men. We need their point of view to balance and complete our own. It is kind of like a car battery. When you go to an auto supply store to buy a battery, suppose the man told you, “This is a brand new kind of battery. It does not have a negative pole; it has two positive poles. We do not like anything negative; so we have started manufacturing batteries with two positive poles.” Would you buy it? Of course not. You would not have a battery with two positive poles. It would not start anything. The two poles of a battery are supposed to be different.

Men and women do not think alike; they were not intended to think alike, and that is to our benefit.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church.”

That is a commandment. It is not a promise. And it is not a statement of fact. If you want those lights to flash, and those bells to ring, it is your responsibility to make it happen.

But anyway, back to a point I started to make a moment ago. I wondered if I talked to my wife the way that man talked to his wife, might my wife talk to me the way that wife talked to her husband. If I was as careful to tell my wife how much I loved her, and how special she was to me, might she respond in the same way. I tried it; it works.

Several years ago, after I had preached on this subject, somebody asked me, “Brother Hunt, how often do you think I ought to tell her that?” Well, I believe the first thing in the morning, and the last time at night, and just a lot of times in between, is a very good measure.

Now, bear in mind, there are times when that is not the best thing to say. In fact, there are times when nothing you say is right. There are times that the only thing you can do is to take a walk—a long walk—and you would probably do well to be right quiet, when you get back. It might even be a good idea to wait till the next day before you say very much.

But, generally, the first thing in the morning, and the last thing at night, and a lot of times in between is a good enough rule.

But, will she not get tired of hearing you say it? It goes without saying that there will be times when she does not want to hear anything you have to say. Right in the middle of a heated argument is not the best time to say it. At the wrong time, it might sound a little like mockery. But still, that little book, the Song of Solomon, is our instruction manual, and it serves as a mighty good pattern.

Somebody is probably saying, “All of that sounds good, but saying it does not make it so.” You have heard that comment made about a lot of things. And in most instances that is true, but this is one instance, that—over a period of time—if saying it does not make it so, it does make it more so.

God has blessed you to have her, and she is the most precious thing in all the world to you. Why should you feel intimi-dated to tell her early and often how much she means to you. And the most important thing is this: the more you explain to her how much she means to you—the more you realize that fact for yourself. Perhaps, that is the most important point of all. We are all so prone to forget. The better job you do of convincing her, the better job you do of convincing yourself.

What a great benefit God has provided for us in the marriage union. What a beautiful thing it is when two people come together, and love each other, when they live together as husband and wife, and raise children, and grow old together.

For years, I have heard people talk about something called the empty nest syndrome. My wife and I are learning all about that. And I will tell you it is great. We raised four children, and we love every one of them. We are sure those four children are the most special people in the world.

Somebody will surely say, “Now, Harold Hunt, don’t you think you are just a little prejudiced.” Of course, I am prejudiced. They are my children, and I am supposed to be prejudiced.

One of them lives next door. Another lives across town. One lives just across the highway. And the other lives in Birmingham. We don’t get to see her and the grandchildren as often as we do the others.

About two years ago, our youngest daughter, and her hus-band, moved right next door. She was born after we moved here, and she tells us she had wanted to own that house all her life. The man who lived there became very old, and finally died. She called his son the morning after the funeral, before he could get to the real estate broker, to ask if he would sell the house to her. After he agreed to sell her the house, she started jockeying for the price. She wanted the house, but she wanted it at a rock bottom price. But, anyway, they got a good buy, and they moved next door.

She and her husband explained that since my wife and I were getting on in years, they wanted to be next door, so that if one or the other of us got down, and could not get up, they would be close by to help. I don’t think we are quite that feeble yet, But, I suppose it is good to have somebody looking out ahead.

Anyway, most of them live fairly close, and they all call or come by on a very frequent basis. We love for them to come by and visit. But, they have their own homes, and after they finish their visit, it is alright for them to go on home. The empty nest syndrome? Well, yes, we are experiencing it, and it is great. We are enjoying the company of each other. Granted, we have learned to stay out of each other’s way. She spends most of her time, puttering around downstairs, and I spend my days upstairs, buried in a pile of books.

There is something very comforting, something very beau-tiful, for two people to enjoy growing old together. The children are grown. Generally, the house is paid for. There are not as many responsibilities as there have been in the past. There are not as many debts. Often, the only debt is a car payment. Most of the really big problems, outside of death and dying, are behind them. And those two people can just enjoy the company of each other.

Recently, I had somebody to tell me that it was just a natural consequence, as two people grew older, for them to begin to drift apart. But that is not right. That is not the way it is supposed to be, and it is not the way it has to be. There is no reason two people cannot become closer and closer as every year passes.

My wife is not nearly as young as she was that first time I saw her forty-three years ago. But her smile does as much for me as it did that first day, when all the bells rang, and all the light flashed.

In the Song of Solomon the husband, not only kept telling his wife how much he loved her, he kept telling her how pretty she was. “Thou art beautiful, O my love as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem....” (Song 6:4).

Do you get the idea, that no sight in all of nature had the effect on him the sight of his wife did? “Thou art beautiful, O my love as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem....” I don’t know how pretty those two cities may have been. But this man, obviously, thought these were two enormously beautiful cities. But, as beautiful as they were, they could not compare with the sight of his wife.

In spite of the sin all around us, we live in a beautiful world. In Knoxville, every April, the garden clubs put on a program called the Dogwood Arts Festival. They line out nature trails through the most exclusive parts of the city. Some of the streets are lined with huge mansions, and beautiful gardens. You can drive through those sections, and see the azaleas, and the dogwoods, and the lilacs, and the little pink bushes, and the little white bushes, and you can just, Ooh and Ah, to your hearts delight.

I enjoy living here in the mountains. I like to travel. I was out in flat country yesterday. I drove almost four hundred miles each way, there and back, yesterday. I like to go, but I like to come back home. When I get out in flat country, it kind of feels like sitting on a stool with no back on it. I know I don’t lean back against the Smoky Mountains, but when I get where I cannot see the mountains, it feels like I am sitting on a stool.

I like to drive through the mountains. I don’t often get up in the mountains. I get too busy to take the time. I suppose I am like just about everybody else. Most everybody seems to think he is the busiest person around. That is one of the reasons I enjoy having a visiting preacher. If he stays more than one night, I generally take him to the mountains between the two services. I am not likely to do much except visit with him during the day, anyway, and that lets us experience some of the natural beauty of the land, and at the same time we can visit, and talk about the good things of the Lord. I have lived here all my life, but I have never ceased to wonder at the beauty, and the majesty of these mountains.

I was driving along the interstate, yesterday morning, way before daylight. It was dark as could be, and even driving along in an automobile, the stars were especially bright. Stars are always brighter, the farther you are from the city lights. Yesterday morning, Venus, the morning star, was just blazing. On a cold, clear, moonless night, especially out in the country, the stars are a beauty to behold.

I like to go to the ocean, when the wind is up, and the waves are high. It is an awesome sight when those huge breakers come rushing in to shore. In spite of all the sin there is in the world, this is still a beautiful world.

But having said all of that, there is nothing in all of God’s creation that compares to the feeling that rushes over me, when my wife smiles at me. Awesome as the rest of creation is, it does not have anything to compare. When she smiles at me, all the rest of God’s creation just has to stand aside.

Somebody may say, “Now, Harold Hunt, aren’t you just a little prejudiced?” No, no, I am not a little prejudiced. I am eaten up with it. That is my point, don’t you see? We don’t have to wait for the lights to flash. We don’t have to wait for the bells to ring. It is our job to make to make it happen.

All of that brings me to this: the human mind is a peculiar thing. Thoughts do not usually travel alone; more often they travel in pairs. We associate things in our minds. One thought causes you to think of another. Some things, and some people, just naturally trigger good thoughts, and warm feelings. Others trigger unpleasant thoughts.

If some person has been especially unfair with us, we have trouble thinking about that person without having unpleasant feelings. Sometimes those feelings can be very strong, and sometimes they stay with us for years to come. There may be some person, about whom you have such unpleasant memo-ries that you have a very negative reaction any time you hear his name, or see his face. His very presence makes you uneasy.

That same principle works between husbands and wives. If you become petty, and spiteful with each other, there is a good chance that, when she thinks of you—consciously or subconsciously—the thought that comes to mind will be some unresolved hurt. Those hurt feelings have a way of feeding on each other. Negative thoughts generate negative feelings, and those feelings generate more negative thoughts. We begin a downward spiral that goes on and on, and poisons what could have been a sweet and tender relationship.

Positive thoughts work the same way. Positive thoughts generate warm and positive feelings. And those feelings generate more of the same kind of thoughts.

This is why it becomes such a powerful force for husbands and wives to be constantly reminding each other, and themselves, how much they mean to each other. The mind is rarely ever idle. It is either generating and feeding on good thoughts, or it is generating and feeding on bad thoughts. It is a good idea for husbands and wives to be ever so careful, and so determined to remind each other of their special love, and their special relationship, that anytime the one thinks of the other that is the thought that instinctively comes to mind.

It is when you have so often reminded yourself of that fact, that you cannot think of her without thinking of that special love you have for her, without thinking of all she means to you. You remember all the little kindnesses, all the sacrifices, all the unquestioned devotion. The very thought of her, or the sight of her face, brings that special feeling you have learned to associate with her. Then is when the lights, and the bells, and the skyrockets become a constantly more real part of your experience.

It is then that your marriage begins to most resemble the union between Christ and his bride the church.

I Have Set Before You Life And Death

I HAVE SET BEFORE YOU LIFE AND DEATH

See, I have set before thee this day, life and good, and death and evil, in that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply, and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away and worship other gods, and serve them, I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land whither thou passest over Jordan to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live,” De 30:15-19.

The majority opinion in religious circles is that every person comes into this world with a responsibility, either to choose eternal life, and live in heaven, or to reject God, to reject eternal life and to suffer in all eternity. And those who advocate that notion are convinced they have Bible proof for their doctrine.

I have heard people say that every denomination can prove their doctrine, if you will just allow them to select their own proof texts. That is not true. The only thing you can prove by the Bible is the truth. The Bible is one harmonious fabric throughout. If there is one verse in the Bible that teaches eternal heaven is conditioned on our choice, you will not find one verse that denies it. On the other hand, if you find one verse in the Bible that teaches our home in eternal heaven is based on the sovereign grace of God, you will not find one verse in the Bible to deny that.

The Bible is in agreement with itself. We cannot go through the Bible and pick out what we want, and reject all the other. I want it all. Solomon said, “Buy the truth and sell it not,” Pr 23:23. I am not willing to surrender so much as one verse to those who advocate error.

But the objector says, “Now, wait a minute, Harold Hunt; you have contradicted yourself. You started out with a text that teaches our doctrine; listen to what it says. ‘See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil.” He says, “If that is not plain enough, verse nineteen says ‘I call heaven and earth to record against you this day that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”

At first glance, those verses do seem to teach the doctrine of salvation by man’s free will. Our carnal minds are much more conditioned to accept error than they are to accept truth. And if we are not careful, we will read into a passage something it does not say.

The best way to understand the Bible is, first off, don’t argue with the Book. Let it say what it says.

The Bible does not require nearly as much interpreting as most people imagine it does. Every now and then I hear somebody make a statement that sounds very good. Error can sometimes sound very much like the truth. Somebody says, “I always interpret the Bible literally.” That sounds good, doesn’t it? “I always interpret the Bible literally.”

The fact is that you cannot interpret any document literally. Somebody says, “Now, wait a minute, Harold Hunt. What kind of statement is that?” But do you see? You either interpret something, or else you take it literally; you cannot do both. If you interpret anything, you are not taking it literally.

There are some passages that must be interpreted. The types, shadows, figures, symbols, parables, and some of the prophecies, must be interpreted in order to understand what is being said.

For instance, the metaphors of the Bible must be interpreted. The Bible refers to Christ as ‘that Rock. “For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ,” 1Co 10:4. The word rock is a metaphor; it needs to be interpreted. The Lord is not a stone; he is represented by a stone. He is like a stone; he is solid and enduring.

There is some of the Bible that must be interpreted; but there is not much. With most of it, you should just let it say what it says.

And in this text that is all you have to do. It does not take a lot of interpreting to see what he is saying. Just keep reading. It will explain itself.

Verse fifteen, “And the Lord, thy God, shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.” He is not talking about gaining a home in heaven; he is talking about life or death in the land---the land of Canaan.

But lest we might have missed it, in De 30:18 he says, “I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish , and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land.” He wants to make sure we get the point. He is talking about life in the land of Canaan. He is not talking about life in eternal heaven.

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore, choose life that both thou and thy seed may live. That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him for he is thy life and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” De 30:19-20.

He says the same thing three times in rapid succession, and if somebody does get it by the third time, there is not much need to say it the fourth time.

Very often, we preachers repeat ourselves. If I repeat myself, it is an indication that I probably forgot my place. I repeat myself trying to remember where I was, and where I was headed. But God never loses his place. If he repeats himself, he repeats himself for our benefit.

He repeats himself, because we might have missed it the first time. He repeats himself, generally, in slightly different words, because he knows the tendency of the sinful heart of man to gainsay and twist the Scriptures. He knows there are those who will look at a verse and say, “Well, that does not mean exactly what it says; here is what it really means,” and they twist it to fit their own point of view.

But there is often another verse that says the same thing in slightly different words. I call that the gotcha text. A person figures out a way to dodge one text, but when he has dodged it, all of a sudden, here comes another verse, from another direction, and it catches him. By twisting the first text, he places himself squarely in the cross-hairs of the gotcha text.

This text has absolutely nothing to do with eternal heaven. It has everything to do with the land of Canaan. It has to do with the inheritance of Israel, in the land of promise.

I think I have said enough to demonstrate that this text does not belong to those people who teach that eternal heaven is conditioned on your works. They can twist it all they want to, but it will never fit their system.

But, on the other hand, very often we deal with this text, and others like it. We prove that it does not belong to those who teach error. And when we are satisfied we have proved our point, we leave it alone.

This text does not teach what the majority of religious people think it does, but it does teach something. And I would like for us to spend the rest this little booklet looking at what it does teach.

What it does teach is very unsettling. Isaiah said, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God, speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all he sins,” Isa 40:1.

The gospel message is a comforting message, but there are some parts of Bible truth that scare the living daylights out of me. I fear that sometimes we preachers only preach about the comforting parts, because when we preach on the warnings of the Bible, people get upset at us. But the Lord’s preaching often upset people. God did not call us to rock people to sleep.

In Israel of old the people told the prophets, “Speak unto us smooth things; prophesy deceits,” Isa 30:10. They would much rather hear the promises than the warnings. Even today, we preachers spend too much time speaking smooth things.

What this text does teach can be very unsettling. I believe God’s people need to be stirred up---stirred up about those things we do wrong. We need to caution God’s children about how we suffer, when we experience the chastening rod of God.

Paul said, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” Heb 10:31. “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom,” Ps 111:10, and if the warnings of God do not scare you, they ought to.

To get the background of our text we need to go back to De 27 “And Moses with the elders of the children of Israel commanded the people, saying, Keep all the commandments which I command you this day,” vs 1. God was going to lead them into the land of Canaan. They would receive the land as a free gift, but if they expected to continue to enjoy the benefits of the land, there were some commandments they would have to obey.

Therefore it shall be that when ye be gone over Jordan, that ye shall set these stones which I command you this day in Mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaster them with plaster....And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly,” De 30:4,8.

And Moses charged the people the same day saying, “These shall stand upon Mount Gerizim to bless the people when ye come over Jordan; Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin. And these shall stand upon Mount Ebal to curse, Reuben, and Gad, and Asher, and Zabulun, and Dan, and Naphtali,” De 30:11-13. If Israel obeyed God, while they were in the land of Canaan, they would enjoy great blessing, blessing such as no nation had ever enjoyed. But if they refused and rebelled, there was a curse waiting for them. They would suffer as no nation ever suffered.

In De 28, we read the blessings that were promised. When Israel obeyed the commandments of God, they were the most blessed of all people. But when they transgressed, they were some of the most miserable of all people. Listen to the list of blessings. These are the ways God said Israel would be blessed, if they did what he commanded them to do.

Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field,” De 28:3. That pretty well covers the territory, doesn’t it? In the city, in the field, wherever they happened to be, God would shower blessings on them.

Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, and the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep; blessed shall be thy basket and thy store; blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest; the Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face; they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.” De 28:4-7.

That fairly well covers the ground. You are going to be blessed in the city; and you are going to be blessed in the field. Your crops are going to prosper. Your herds and your flocks will increase. You enemies will flee from you. Every way you go, and every where to turn, you are going to experience the blessing of the Lord.

They were a blessed people. Do you remember when they first sent the spies to spy out the land? When the spies returned, among other things, they brought back a cluster of grapes carried by two men on a pole (Nu 13:23). Canaan was a fruitful land. Oh, the blessing God showers on his people, when we do those things he has commanded us to do.

And it shall come to pass that if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God to do all his commandments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day, that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee. Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land. And the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out, De 28:15-19.

The word cursed is a strong word, isn’t it? It is an even stronger word when God uses it. Men curse each other all the time, and all it does is reveal the mood somebody is in, and it reveals his manner of expressing himself. But when God pronounces a curse, that is something else again. In this text God pronounces a curse on those who despise and neglect his law.

There are some things in the Bible that scare the life out of me. One of the scariest passages in the Bible is Mt 18:6. The Lord says, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Let me ask you; did you ever hear anybody say, “That man would be better off dead.” Sure you have. Imagine that God might say that about you.

That is what he said. “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were drowned (stone cold dead) in the depth of the sea.”

I have never lost so much sleep over anything, as I have lost over that verse. I have lain awake, staring at the ceiling, fearful that I might have said something, or done something, that injured one of the Lord’s little ones. The penalty is frightening.

Any time you have an inclination to strike out at somebody, it would be a good idea to quote that verse before you say anything. The Lord said you would be better off with a millstone around your neck, lying on the bottom of the sea, than to injure one of his little ones.

Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out,” De 28:19.

Salvation is by grace, but that does not change the fact that God has given us some guidelines as to how we ought to live, how we ought to conduct ourselves, here in this life.

The heart of the Law of Moses is expressed in the Ten Com-mandments. Did you ever notice that he did not say a thing about the Ten Suggestions? Those are not suggestions.

Even in our gospel day we can get confused about that. Did you ever notice the way we conduct our services? We sing; we pray; we preach; and then we give the invitation. I don’t recall the Lord ever inviting anybody to be baptized. If it is an invitation, you have the option to decline. There is no option to decline. If you have a hope in Christ Jesus, God has commanded you to be repent and be baptized, and it is not an invitation; it is a commandment.

And all the people that heard him, and the publicans justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John,” Lu 7:29. That does not mean they caused God to be just; rather they declared him to be just. They declared that God is just in all he says and does. He is just in all he requires of us. He is just in requiring us to be baptized.

The publicans justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John, but the Pharisees rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized by him.”

The Lord drew a clear, and distinct, boundary line between gospel obedience and disobedience. And he showed that water baptism is that line. Those who obey God, those who justify God, are those who are baptized in water, and those who refuse to follow the Lord in baptism reject the counsel of God against themselves.

What does it mean when is it says they “rejected the counsel of God against themselves?”

Let me illustrate it this way. Some time or other you might have started to say something to somebody, and he knew what you were about to say. He had heard it before. And he tells you, “Don’t say it; I don’t want to hear it.” Let me ask you. What did he just do? He rejected your counsel, didn’t he? He told you, “Don’t say it; I don’t want to hear it.”

It is amazing how simple this book gets, if you just let it say what it says. Don’t argue with it; just let it say what it says.

The publicans justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John, but the Pharisees rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.”

They rejected God’s counsel. In effect, they told God, “Don’t say it; I don’t want to hear it.”

When God tells us to repent and be baptized, he is not giving an invitation. That is a commandment. God gave the very best heaven had for my redemption and yours. There is nothing you can do to earn it. But God requires that we express our gratitude, not to gain heaven, not in order to become his child, but in order to enjoy that life of obedience, and blessing, that is available to us in this life.

Back to Deuteronomy. In chapter twenty-eight, verse twenty, he begins to specify exactly what he is talking about. He gives us the details. These would be the consequences if Israel failed to obey God’s commands.

He has already told them, “Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.” Your flocks, your crops, and your herds, will all be under the curse.

The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me,” De 28:20.

What does that word perish mean? Does it mean they would go around, perhaps, with a headache all the time? They would have a backache, an upset stomach, and just walk around in a fog? That is not what he is talking about. That is not what he means when he says they would perish.

Perish? That means stone cold dead, six feet under. Stone cold dead in the grave.

I know there are a lot of people, who have the idea you are not going to die until your time comes. You are not going to die a moment before, and you are not going to live a moment longer. The Bible does not teach that, and I don’t believe it.

Every now and then, you may run into somebody, who has some idea of what our people believe, and he may tell you, “I agree with you Primitive Baptists on one thing; you are not going to die until your time comes; and when your time comes, you are out of here.”

It is strange that the one thing they pick to agree with Primitive Baptists about is something we do not believe.

Some time ago, I had the funeral of a man who was killed in a car wreck. He was not a religious man. In fact, he had no interest at all in religion. But I was the pastor of the church in the commun-ity, and they called on me to preach his funeral. He had been out on Saturday night, visiting the local drinking establishments. That was his custom. But anyway, he had drunk more alcohol than he could handle. It impaired his judgment, and he went blazing off down the road; he missed a curve, and hit a tree, and was killed instantly.

Let me ask you. Do you believe it just came his time to die, or do you believe if he had been at home with his family, behaving himself, he might have woke up the next morning in his own bed, alive and well? I don’t believe God predestinated that he would die that night, any more than I believe he predestinated that he would visit all those drinking establishments.

No, the scriptures tell us, “Bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days,” Ps 55:23. Again, he says, “Why shouldest thou die before thy time?” Ec 7:17. A person can shorten his days by the way he behaves himself. God told Israel that some of them would die because of their rebellion.

In De 28:21, “The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee until he have consumed thee off the land,” De 28:21. Disease means that somebody is sick; pestilence means a lot people, or maybe, most everybody is sick. That happened to Israel from time to time.

The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with a sword, and with blasting, and with mildew, and they shall pursue thee until thou perish. And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron,” De 28:22-23.

This word brass is one of those words that need interpreting. It does not mean the heavens will one day be made out of metal. It means there will not be any rain. You do not get rain out of brazen heavens.

He goes on to say, “The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder, and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee until thou be destroyed,”De 28:24.

We are very well blessed in America in a material way. When our nation was established in the late 1700's, one of the very first things the Founding Fathers did was to prohibit interstate tariffs. That provided free trade between the various states. That has been a great benefit to America. If there is drought in one area, free trade between the states has helped to take care of us. The plenty in one area offsets the shortage in another.

But we still see what can happen from time to time, and in some areas. There is a terrible drought at this time in Texas. I feel sorry for those people with all the hot weather, and no rain. Their crops are failing, and some of their wells are going dry. The ground is so dry, the experts tell us that if it started raining today, and rained for months, it would still be years before the ground itself can be healed.

In a limited way, God gives us demonstrations of what he can do over a much broader area, when he chooses to. Our nation has such great capacity. Our technology can accomplish things that stagger the imagination, but it has its limits. The western states have been on fire for weeks, and they cannot put out the fires. If we can build rocket ships, and computers, and microwaves, you would think we could put out fires. We have been putting out fires, since the dawn of time. But simple jobs become impossible, when they become as big as those fires are.

America is much more vulnerable than we have ever imagined we are. The Y2K crisis came and passed, and it did not amount to anything. But it certainly could have. The arguments people made about what was going to happen did not happen, but the possibility was there. How vulnerable we are here in America. Our heavens could become brass, and our rain could become powder and dust.

It did happen to Israel on a frequent basis. They suffered God’s wrath when they rebelled.

The Lord shall smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed,” De 28:27. Egypt is in Africa. The botch of Egypt was a disease of Africa.

About nineteen years ago there was another ailment that came out of Africa---Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Nobody ever says the whole name anymore. We just call it A.I.D.S. So far, there is no cure.

In some states, you can be prosecuted for stating publicly that A.I.D.S. is God’s judgment on that immoral segment of society. It is called a hate crime. Well, we don’t have that law in Tennessee, and I am going to tell you that A.I.D.S. is God’s judgment on that immoral segment of society. He said he would do it, and he has done exactly what he said he would do.

I feel sorry for the way those people are suffering. I feel sorry for anybody, when they suffer the wrath of God, but it does not change the fact that God did say he was going to do exactly what he has done.

Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; Therefore thou shalt serve thine enemies, which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst and in nakedness, and in want of all things, and he shall put the yoke of iron upon thy neck until he have destroyed thee,” De 28:47-48.

He told Israel they were going to serve somebody. Either they would serve God in the land, or they would serve the adversary outside the land.

God gave the land of Canaan to Israel as a free gift. He can do that. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof,” Ps 24:1. It belongs to him, and he can give it to whoever he wants to have it. They did not pay anything for it. He divided the pland to them by lot. Every family got his own plot of ground.

He commanded them to work six days, and set aside the seventh day as a Sabbath of rest. He commanded them, more than that, that they should work six years, and rest the seventh year. That seventh year was to be a sabbatic year. That is where we got the word sabbatical, an extended leave from your employment. God told them to allow the land to lie fallow the seventh year. They should not put out any crops.

The next question was: “What are we going to live on the seventh year?” God promised that he would cause the land to bring forth double the sixth year. They would not need to work the seventh year. How could he do that? He is God; he can do anything he wants to do.

He promised, “Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years,” Le 25:21.

He promised that, every time seven times seven years passed (that is forty-nine years), they could take off the fiftieth year as well. The land would bring forth three times as much the forty-eighth year. They would not have to work the forty-ninth yeara nor the fiftieth.

And thou shalt number seven Sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven Sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years,” Le 25:8. Every time seven sabbatic years passed, they were to celebrate the Jubilee.

Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, on the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land, And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family,” Le 25:9-10.

Jubilee is the Hebrew word for a ram’s horn. On the day of atonement, the tenth day of the seventh month, of the fiftieth year they were to blow on the ram’s horn, and “proclaim liberty throughout all the land.” Every bondman was to be set free, and all property was to be returned to its original owners.

If anybody had been sold into slavery, he was to be set free on that day. If anybody had sold his ancestral home, or if, maybe, his grandfather had sold it, he was to get it back. They were to have total land reform every fifty years.

The law also provided that the closer they got to the year of Jubilee, the less they could charge for the land, because they would have to give it back before long.

The Lord said if the land did not enjoy its Sabbaths while they were in the land, it would enjoy its Sabbaths while they were gone. Well, what happened? At the end of the first sixth years, they figured they were a year ahead; the land had produced double that year. They intended to stay ahead; so they went ahead and worked the land the seventh year.

They thought they could outsmart the Lord. There is no record that Israel ever observed the sabbatic year. That was the reason they were carried away into bondage. The land did enjoy its Sabbaths while they were in Babylon (2Ch 36:21).

At the end of fifty years, they figured that if they had bought the property, it was theirs to keep. You have heard the expression: “Possession is nine tenths of the law.” They figured that if they had paid for the land, and they were in possession of it, they might as well keep it. And they did keep it, until God sent Nebuchadnezzar to carry them all away into Babylon. Then they lost it all. You cannot outsmart the Lord.

Every fifty years they were to have total land reform. What an economic benefit that would have been for the entire nation. The rich could have never oppressed the poor. Every Israelite, no matter how poor, would have his own farm on which he could earn a livelihood for himself and his family.

The rich could accumulate all the property they wanted, and keep it forever, so long as they accumulated the property inside a walled city. The Law of the Jubilee did not apply to property inside walled cities (Le 25:30). They did not have to give that property back. But, outside the cities, all the farm land was to be redistributed every fifty years. So far as their economy was concerned, every fifty years, the entire nation would get a fresh start.

No nation has ever had a system so calculated to protect both the rich and the poor. There was no limit to how rich any person could become, so long as he accumulated his property inside the city. But no class of people could ever become rich in such manner that they could prevent their hard working neighbors from earning their livelihood by the own labors.

What happened? They ignored God’s law. God said that if they would not serve him in the land, they would serve somebody else outside the land. If the land did not enjoy its Sabbaths while they were in the land, it would enjoy its Sabbaths when they were gone.” If they did not set the captive free, and return the land in the year of Jubilee, they would themselves become captives, and others would live on their lands.

God sent an entire train of eastern conquerors. Pul the king of Assyria came, and then Tiglath-Pilezer, and Shalmaneser, and Sennacherib, and finally, Nebuchadnezzar.

Nebuchadnezzar was the last. He carried the last of Israel away to Babylon. Babylon was what we call Iraq today. They stayed there seventy years. God told them how long they would stay before they left (Jer 25:11; 29:10). At the end of seventy years God sent Zerrubabel to lead them home again.

But the point is simply this: Because they would not allow the land to enjoy its Sabbaths the way God commanded, the land enjoyed its Sabbaths while they were gone. Because they would not serve God, they found themselves in bondage, serving their enemies. You cannot rob God. You cannot hold out on God.

But there is more. “Thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the Lord thy God hath given thee in the siege and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee,” De 28:53.

At first sight, that sounds like cannibalism.” Let’s back up and read it again. “And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons, and of thy daughters, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.” De 28:56 goes on, “The tender and delicate woman among you which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness; her eye shall be evil against the husband of her bosom, and for her son, and for her daughter, and toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children, which she shall bear, for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.”

What is he talking about? This is one of those verses that do not need any interpreting. It means exactly what it sounds like it means. He was talking about a time when Israel would be reduced to such distress they would resort to cannibalism.

Bear in mind that he is not talking about natives on some remote island in the South Pacific. He is not talking about some tribe in the heart of Africa. He is talking about a highly educated people, who had enjoyed the benefit of the Law of Moses for fifteen hundred years. He is talking about Jewish people in the city of Jerusalem, practicing cannibalism.

In the year 70 A.D. the Roman general Vespacian invaded the land of Palestine. He was called back to Rome, and became the next emperor of the Roman Empire. He left his son Titus in charge. Titus besieged the city of Jerusalem from April til September of the year 70 A.D. The people in the city were starving. Finally, some of them began to eat their own children.

Even then, it was not a general practice. There were only a few instances of it; but it did happen.

The cannibals of the South Pacific, and the cannibals of Africa, and the Aztecs of Central America killed their enemies in battle, and ate them. Cannibalism in Jerusalem in the year 70 A.D. was worse. In the siege of Jerusalem, the Jews ate their own children.

After five months, the city of Jerusalem fell; the Jewish people who survived were sold into slavery.

In these last several verses of De 28, we have the history of the Jewish people for the last two thousand years. God can do that. All is one eternal now with him; he can write history in advance as well as he can after the fact. It is a very concise history of what has happened to them; but concise as it is, it is very clear and to the point.

And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people from the one end of the earth even unto the other,” De 28:64. Jewish historians call that scattering, the diapsora. For two thousand years now, the Jewish people have been scattered to the four winds.

And there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. And among all these nations, thou shalt find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest. And the Lord shall give thee a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind,” De 28:64-65.

That is so true to their history for the last two thousand years that comment is hardly necessary. For two thousand they have been scattered among the gentiles. They have found no ease; their foot has found no rest. What they have found has been “a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind.”

There can be no question that the Jewish people are, even today, suffering the consequence of their own rejection of God. But that does not give anybody else the right to pitch in and try to help the Lord to punish them.

In the year 1348, when the Black Death spread all over Europe, one third of the population of Europe died. The plague destroyed the entire economy of the Western World. That was used as an excuse to kill Jews and run them out of the land. They were run out of England about the same time. The Spanish ran them out of Spain in 1492, the same year Columbus came to America. We all know the way they suffered in Germany and Poland in the thirties and forties. That has been the pattern for two thousand years. No people have ever suffered they way the Jewish people have suffered.

Let me make one point. It is one thing to make the objective statement that the Jews have suffered the chastening rod of God. When the Lord was crucified, they cried out, “His blood be on us, and on our children,” Mt 27:25. There can be no doubt that God granted that request. It is one thing to talk about that as an objective fact. It is something entirely different to talk as if we would like to pitch in and help the Lord to chastise them.

God told them the consequences, and it did happen. I read about the way they have suffered, and I learn from it, but I gain no joy in seeing the way they have suffered. We should be very careful lest we glory in the suffering of others.

And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life,” De 28:66. There has never been a people to whom this passage applies the way it has applied to the Jewish people for the last two thousand years.

In the morning thou shalt say, ‘Would God it were evening; and at evening thou shalt say, Would God it were morning, for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear and the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see. And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships by the way whereof I spake unto thee. Thou shalt see it no more again, and there thou shalt be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you,” De 28:67-68.

Those Jews who survived the siege of Jerusalem were sold into slavery, and scattered all over the Roman Empire. That is how the diaspora, the scattering, began.

First it says, “Ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen.” That indicates that some of them were successfully sold as slaves. But then it goes on to say, “No man shall buy you.” That is no contradiction. Some of them were sold, and others could not be sold. After the fall of Jerusalem, the slave market was so glutted with Jewish slaves, that sometimes there was nobody willing to bid.

That was in the year 70 A.D. I do not know what the price of a Jewish slave was in that year, but I do know what the price was 60 years later. Jerusalem fell the second time in 130 A.D. In that year the price of a Jewish slave was a little less than the price of a plow horse. Think about that; if somebody bought a plow horse, and a Jewish slave to work the horse, he would pay more for the horse than he did for the slave. But, sometimes, they did not bring even that much. They could always sell the horse, but sometimes the slave could not be sold for any price. It is hard to imagine anything more humiliating than for a man to be valued less than an animal. Truly, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” Heb 10:31.

I have said all of that to get to this. How do you think all of this applies to believers in this day?

Do you believe that in this gospel day it is easier for gentiles to get away with sin than it was for the Jews in that day? Do you believe God is more tolerant of sin today? Do you believe he has mellowed in these last days?

Sometimes, grandparents will let the grandchildren get away with things that would have gotten their children’s backsides dusted. Very often a parent says, “If I send those kids to Momma’s house, she lets them get away with things she would have set me on fire for. She can keep those kids for one day, and it takes me a week to bring them back under control.”

Do you think God is that way? Do you think God has mellowed in these last days?

Don’t you believe it. Paul dealt with this very question. Listen to what he said in Heb 10, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ Law died without mercy under two or three witnesses. Of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the spirit of grace,” Heb 10:26-29.

To paraphrase it, Paul is saying, “Don’t think you are going to get off as light as those Jews did.”

It may sound strange to talk about not getting off as light as the Jews did after we have been talking about all the horrific suffering they have experienced; but is exactly what the Bible teaches. Listen to what it says.

Of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace. For we know him that hath said, “Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord, and again, The Lord shall judge his people,” Heb 10:29-30.

This is not talking about eternal judgment; this is talking about judging his people right here and now. “It is a fearful to fall into the hands of the living God,” Heb 10:31.

Who is that talking about? Is he talking about the wicked who are going to suffer eternally? No. He has already explained it. He says, “The Lord shall judge his people.” This is talking about God dealing with his people here in this life.

In the Sermon on the Mount the Lord said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat, because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it, Mt 7:13-14

This is not talking about eternal damnation, but it is talking about some kind of destruction. And when God calls something destruction, and tells us, this destruction is in store for somebody---this side of the grave---we do well to take notice.

On the cross the Lord took care of everything on the other side of the grave. But on this side of the grave, he says, “This destruction is waiting for you, if you continue to walk the road to destruction.”

Enter ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat,” Mt 7:13. There are a lot of people who will tell you the child of God cannot make shipwreck of his life. Don’t you believe it. Every one of us knows children of God who have done just that.

At this point I am inclined to give specific examples of friends of mine who have made shipwreck of their lives. They have followed that broad road, and they have brought destruction on themselves. But I fear that if I become too explicit in describing their experiences, it will be too easy for others to recognize the individuals I am talking about, and I certainly do not want to embarrass anybody. They have suffered enough; I do not want to add further embarrassment.

Most of you could furnish examples of your own. Most of us have friends, who, we are convinced, are children of God. We have worshiped with them in church. We have seen evidence of the Spirit of God in their lives. We have seen them rejoice under the power of the Spirit. Nobody could convince us they are not children of God. And yet they have made shipwreck of their lives.

How very often a child of God becomes careless and unconcerned about spiritual things. Perhaps, he is not doing anything that would get him in trouble, or even embarrass him. He is just not as spiritual as he once was. He becomes more concerned with material things than he is about his own spiritual well being. Then he begins to allow little transgressions to creep into his life.

Solomon said, “Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil our vines, for our vines have tender grapes,” Song 2:15. At the outset he has no trouble with the most grievous offences. He would never consider doing anything that would jeopardize his reputation. But those little foxes grow up. Little offences give way to worse transgressions. Before long he begins to cover things up, until he begins to do things he would never have considered before.

Any of you can finish the story. We all know somebody who has lost his home in the church. Perhaps, his wife finds out about his conduct, and she puts him in the street. She takes his home, his business, his bank account.

He loses his home, his income, his security. One thing leads to another. Before long he is destitute. Sometimes, when a person begins to trifle with sin, it does not take long to go from comparative affluence to being a virtual derelict. How often we have seen somebody lose a profitable business, a beautiful home, a loving family, all because of his own misconduct.

He gets in distress, emotionally, physically, and financially. His health fails. His judgment failed when he began to experiment with sin; but it gets worse. His friends begin to wonder if he is losing his mind. I could give examples, with which some of you are well acquainted. They have lost everything worth having. But, again, I do not want to embarrass anybody.

In the text we quoted before, “Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leadeth unto destruction, and many there be that go in thereat,” Mt 7:13. How very many of the children of God we have watched go through that broad gate of destruction.

Of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace. For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord, and again, The Lord shall judge his people,” Heb 10:29-30.

When the Lord said, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing” (De 30:19), he was not talking about eternal life and eternal death, he was not warning against eternal damnation, but he was warning against the dreadful suffering the Jewish people have suffered for almost two thousand years now. And he was talking about the living death many of his people are experiencing in this day.

Indeed, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:27).

In The Beginning God

IN THE BEGINNING GOD

In Ge 1, we read, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

An old philosopher made the observation that that verse, the very first verse in the Bible, approaches the sublime. The philosopher got it almost right. That verse does not approach the sublime; it is sublime.

I sit and read this book, and I tremble at the majesty of it. I stand amazed at the majesty of the language of this book, the majesty of its expressions, its symbols, its metaphors.

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord hath spoken,” Isa 1:2. What other book would dare use such language? It would be ludicrous in any other book, than that one book written by God himself.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” I suppose I preach on that text as often as I do any text in the Bible. And I expect I will preach on it more often in the future, than I ever have in the past.

It doesn’t bother me near as much as it used to, that I preach on some texts over and over. For one thing, I learned long ago that I am not bright enough to come up with a new text, and a new subject, every time I go into the pulpit.

For another, I believe there are some subjects, and some passages, that need to be preached on over and over . This verse is one of them.

For a long time now, we have been told that we are all an accident. We just somehow evolved. Millions of years ago, our ancestors started out as a little, tiny something on the order of an amoeba. Then, they evolved into something more like a salamander. Before long, they crawled out on dry land and turned into monkeys. Finally, our distant ancestors became what we are now. Just look how far we have come, and can you imagine what we are going to be in ages to come?

It seems that I remember somebody else preaching that same doctrine long before Charles Darwin ever saw the light of day. That ancient evolutionist promised his students, “Ye shall be as gods,” Ge 3:5. When Charles Darwin published his ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES in 1859, he just gave a little more information on how we were supposed to go about it.

By the way, you might be interested to know that the original title of that book was THE ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES and the Preservation of the Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. Darwin, Nietzsche, and those other early evolutionists believed the lighter races were so much more highly evolved than the darker races, and the darker races so poorly evolved that the darker races were still closer to animals than they were to humans. Darwin and his friends went on to teach that the darker races were so different to full humans, that the darker races ought not be allowed to reproduce. Later, they taught that the darker races ought not be allowed to survive. They ought to be exterminated to make room for the superior races.

Adolph Hitler was an ardent admirer of Friedrich Nietzsche and Charles Darwin. That aspect of the evolution doctrine became virtually the state religion of Germany during the 1930's and early ‘40's. Ideas do have consequences. Nazism is simply what evolution becomes when it is made into state policy.

Life did not evolve from any lower form of life, but you can be sure the doctrine of evolution has evolved. That aspect of the doctrine has had to be laid aside. Darwin is virtually worshiped as the Messiah of evolution, but nobody would dare teach Darwin’s form of evolution in the schools of today. That doctrine has evolved, but it has not disappeared, by any means. It has simply adapted itself to the times.

We are told we are part of a grand accident. We evolved. We might have evolved into horses, or birds, or roach bugs. As it happened, we evolved into human beings.

In school, our little ones are taught that doctrine over and over, and it is drilled into our own minds on such a daily basis, that it, sometimes, becomes a part of our thinking, without our realizing it. It creeps into our language almost undetected. If we are not mighty careful we find ourselves using expressions such as, “Man is the only animal that.......” That is pure evolution, and yet it is a rare person who has never used the expression---usually without realizing what he has said. That doctrine is like water dripping on a rock; it has its effect even on those who are the most sound in the faith.

In its very first verse, the Bible comes directly to the point. It sweeps that doctrine aside. Where did this universe come from? God created it. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

In the first chapter, God refutes the doctrine, and in the third chapter, he tells us where the doctrine came from, and who its first advocate was.

Sometimes I like to preach on just the first four words of that verse. In the beginning God. I am not really fond of the word theology. That sounds too much like biology, and zoology, and paleontology. It makes it sound like Bible truth is simply another of man’s ...ologies. I prefer the simple expression Bible truth. No doubt, that is just another of my prejudices. We all have our prejudices, and that is one of mine.

But if you don’t mind the word, I will tell you there is an entire system of theology in those four words---In the beginning God.

When you come to think about it, that sums up our entire system of doctrine doesn’t it? God gave the entire system in just four words. I wrestle with a subject for an hour, and, sometimes, never get much of anything said.

God says it all in four words. The rest of the Bible is commentary. The rest of the Bible explains those four words---in the beginning God.

In the beginning of what? In the beginning of everything that had a beginning. Not everything had a beginning. God did not have a beginning. Rather, he is the beginning. He always has been. He always will be. He is the eternal one. Everything is one eternal now with him. In the beginning of the natural creation there was God.

In the beginning of the spiritual creation, there is God. All the time I was growing up, I was told, “God wants to save you; he is trying to save you; he is doing the best he can to save everybody he can. He would save a lot more if he could just get better financed, if he could get better organized, if he could get more assistance. If we would just pitch in and help him, he would save more people than he ever has.”

And then there was always that old challenge, “God wants to save you, but you will have to take the first step.” I am sure you have heard that one. God knew somebody would come along with that notion long before anybody ever thought of it, and he nipped that doctrine in the bud before it got started.

Does man have to take the first step? No, no, no, a thousand times, no. The very first verse in the Bible tells us it is, “In the beginning God.” That was the first false doctrine God dealt with.

So far as our home in eternal heaven is concerned, he takes the first step, the last step, and all the steps in between.

In the prophecy of Isaiah, he tells us, “I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the people there was none with me,” Isa 63:3. I have no idea how many steps it takes to tread a winepress, but no matter how many steps that is, he took them all---there was nobody with him.

He is the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. I don’t know what somebody else may think, but to me that sounds like he is all of it.

I like an expression I borrowed from a godly, old black preacher out in Texas. The good brother tells it right most of the time. Some of you have heard his tapes; we have passed them around often enough. He said, “God stood on nothing, because there was nothing to stand on. He reached out into nowhere, because there was nowhere to reach. And he laid his hand on nothing, because there was nothing to lay his hand on. And he took nothing, and out of that nothing he made everything there is.” I get very nearly on shouting ground every time I hear that old brother come over that.

If evolutionists can look at the majesty of this universe, and believe it’s just an accident, I am not going to say they are a bunch of idiots, but they must think we are, if they think God’s prayerful, obedient children are going to swallow that doctrine.

There are probably more people, nowadays, claiming to be atheists than there ever have been in the history of the world. I am not sure whether there are any real atheists. There is an old saying, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” Even an atheist prays, when he is in immediate danger. He may insist he is an atheist five minutes before, and five minutes after; but when he is facing immediate danger, it is very likely he will pray.

Somebody wrote a book recently entitled THE ATHEIST’S SYNDROME. At least, to the best of my memory, that was the title. I did not read the entire book, but I did read enough to get the gist of it. The contention of the book was that there is a clear connection between atheism and insanity. He argued that no truly sane person can be an atheist---other than on a superficial level. He argued that any truly sane person who thinks he is an atheist believes that way, only because he has never taken the time to think it through.

I think he was probably right. I appreciate anybody who confirms my prejudices. I don’t see how any sane person could ever look at this universe and imagine it is all an accident.

If by atheist, you mean somebody who believes there is no god of any kind anywhere in the world, by definition, there are not, and cannot be, any true atheists.

There are simply people who believe in a different kind of god than you and I do. The universe itself prevents any sane person from being an atheist. This universe is very nearly infinite, very nearly boundless. It is not infinite; only God is infinite, but the universe is very nearly so. It reflects infinite wisdom in the design and construction of it. It reflects infinite power in the construction and preservation of it.

You can be sure that whatever has infinite wisdom, whatever has infinite power, whatever is eternal, is God. If the universe created itself, and that is what the evolutionists want us to believe, then the universe must have infinite wisdom and power. And if that is true, the universe must be God. That doctrine is called pantheism. That is the generic name for the old pagan religion called Gaia. That was the doctrine Paul was talking about, when he referred to those who “worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator,” Ro 1:25. They could not tell the difference between the Creator and his creation. But that doctrine is not true; God is the one and only Creator.

The universe came about somehow. Either God created it, or somebody else created it, or it is eternal---it created itself. Those are the only three options available.

The evolutionist believes the universe was produced by the properties, and energies, and forces, inherent in the universe.

That is, they believe the universe produced itself. Bear in mind that whoever, or whatever, produced the universe, of necessity, had to have infinite power and wisdom. If the universe was produced by the properties, energies, and forces inherent in the universe, those properties, energies, and forces must, of necessity, have infinite power and wisdom.

So the evolutionist attributes the universe, the very earth under our feet, with having virtually infinite power, and wisdom. Bear in mind that the earth is made up of a little water, but mostly rock and dirt. And it is this earth the evolutionist would have us believe evolved itself into all we see around us today. They believe the earth, and all the rest of the universe, for that matter, created itself.

Now we are getting to the real difference between the Bible-believing child of God and the evolutionist. The Bible-believing child of God believes in the almighty, creative power of God. The evolutionist believes in the almighty creative power of rocks and dirt. And they have the audacity to call us fanatics.

We hear a lot about the ecology, nowadays. Environmentalists have ever so much to say about how the ecology is so perfectly in balance, how every aspect of the ecology has its own particular place, its own little niche to fill. They tell us if we get the ecology out of balance---if something is removed from its place--- it just messes up the entire scheme of things.

I wonder who they think put the ecology in such balance in the first place? Who put our own bodies in such balance, that if some little part of it gets out of balance we are in so much trouble?

I had a friend several years ago, who died because the copper in his system got out of balance. I never hear much about copper in our system. I hear a lot about iron deficiency, and other kinds of deficiencies, but I rarely hear about copper deficiency. But somehow or other, the very tiny amount of copper in his system got out of balance, and it killed him.

God put these bodies of ours in balance when he created Adam. But the evolutionist would have us believe it is just an accident that every trace element in our system happens to be perfectly balanced with every other trace element.

God has given us all kinds of evidence of what he has done. The very complexity of the universe is its own evidence.

One of the grandest proofs of the depravity and blindness of the human heart is the fact that scientific men are no more religious than most of them are. They ought to be. Scientists ought to be the most religious people walking this planet.

Studying the wonders of the universe as they do, why do more of them not believe in the power and the majesty of God? Why is that? It is because of the blindness of the human heart.

I remember, when I was in school, we studied the various kinds of rock. Among all the others, we studied sedimentary rock. By definition, sedimentary rock is rock settled out of water. They talked about a time, millions and millions of years ago, when the earth was covered with water. They love to use those big figures. They know if they use those big figures, there are not going to be any eyewitnesses still around to contradict what they say. So they can make up just about anything they want to.

But, anyway, they told us there was a time when, for millions of years, this entire continent was under water. They explained that during those millions of years ever so much sediment settled out of water. That is what sediment is; it is stuff that has settled out of a liquid. They told us the result was the sedimentary rock we see all around us. Somehow, they didn’t seem to realize they had just described the Genesis Flood. Anyway, they were sure those waters could not have been the Genesis Flood, because they were sure the Genesis Flood is only a myth. Besides, their waters covered the earth millions of years ago, and nobody claims it has been that long since the flood of Noah’s day.

There are none so blind as those who will not see.”

I know next to nothing about hydraulics, or geology, but anybody with enough sense to come in out of the rain knows that if you stir up a mess of dirt and rocks in water, it is going to settle out in fairly short order. It does not take millions of years. But these evolutionists are sure it really did take millions of years for all that mess to settle out and make sedimentary rock.

Also, bear in mind that those layers of sedimentary rock are sometimes hundreds, or even thousands, of feet thick. In order for there to be that much material gathered up in the water, the water had to be moving with a lot of force, and it had to continue to move with that same force for millions of years. They cannot tell us what kept the water moving with that kind of force for so long a time. After all, they tell us it took millions of years for all those layers of rock to form; so the water must have been in motion all during that time.

But, that thought seems never to have occurred to them, and if you ask one of them about it, all of a sudden he goes blind and dumb.

Then one day, as a little boy, I realized the Bible told us exactly how and when all the sedimentary rock came about. That is some (just some) of the evidence God has left us of the Genesis flood. The waters were not disturbed for millions of years; they were disturbed for forty days, and forty nights (Ge 7:12). And it did not take millions of years for the sediment to settle; it took part of one year, from the six hundredth to the six hundred and first year of Noah’s life (Ge 7:11; 8:13).

The evolutionist tells us there never could have been such a flood as the Bible describes. They tell us that if you could wring out every drop of moisture in the atmosphere, you could only cause a world-wide flood somewhat less than knee deep.

There can be no question. Meteorologists have equipment capable of measuring the water content of the atmosphere accurately enough to make that statement, and we can be sure they are telling it right. All the water vapor on earth is insufficient to cause a knee deep world-wide flood.

Then the evolutionist wants to know, “Does that fact not bother you?” No, of course not, why should it? That is just one more of those instances where they think they know what we believe better than we do. They forget that the Bible talks about the waters coming down; it does not say a word about the waters going back up again. Those waters that came down were “the waters which were above the firmament (the atmosphere)” we read about in Genesis chapter one. Before the flood they were up there, now they are down here.

If you would like to see the waters of the Genesis Flood, it is a very simple matter. From any point in the United States, you can get in your automobile, and drive east, west, or south, and eventually you will come to the waters of the Genesis Flood. We call them the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the Gulf of Mexico. Those, along with the other oceans of the world, are where the waters of the flood came to rest.

In Ps 104, beginning at Ps 104:5, we read, “Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever. Thou coveredst it (the earth) with a deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.” That’s talking about the Genesis Flood.

The waters stood above the mountains. At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. They go up by the mountains they go down by the valleys,” Ps 104:6-8. Where did they go? He goes on to tell us, “....unto the place where thou hast founded for them.”

Where did the waters of the flood go? The Bible does not say one word about the waters of the flood evaporating. That is simply a ruse others have used to discredit the Bible. The Bible says clearly enough that the waters came down. It says nothing at all about their going back up.

The text reads, “They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.” The language could not be clearer; God founded (prepared) a place for the waters of the flood. Then at his rebuke, at the voice of his thunder they hasted (hurried) to the place he prepared for them.

He goes on to say that after the waters of the flood came to rest in the place he founded for them, “Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth,” Ps 104:9. He founded a place them; he rebuked them; they hasted to that place; then he ordered them to stay put. With all that information provided by God himself, it does not take a rocket scientist to discover where the waters of the flood went.

If you want to know where the waters went, just find out where all the water is. It is a simple matter to see that the oceans of the world are the very waters that covered the earth in Noah’s day.

But, how did they go from covering the earth to filling the oceans of the world? Again, the text tells us. “At the voice of thy thunder they hasted away....unto the place thou hast founded for them,” Ps 104:7-8. God founded a place (prepared a place) for the waters; he simply increased the capacity of the oceans to receive those waters, and at his rebuke they hasted to that place.

Notice he says, “At the voice of thy thunder they hasted away” Ps 104:7. We cannot begin to imagine what it must have been like when God thundered in the heavens, dropped the bottoms of the oceans, and the waters of the flood rushed to the place he had founded for them.

More than that, can you imagine how those waters must have sloshed back and forth until God finally “set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth,” Ps 104:8.

To give just one more proof text about that day when God comman-ded those mighty waves to stay put, in Job we read, “Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb.....And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, and said, hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall they proud waves be stayed,” Job 38:8,10-11.

Can you imagine what great gashes (canyons, if you will) those waters cut in the earth, when they were sloshing back and forth, before God finally commanded them to stay put.

To give just one illustration, the Colorado River, as wild and rugged as it is, does not carry enough water to cut a canyon a mile deep, five miles wide, and two hundred miles long---but the Pacific Ocean does, and it did. I don’t want to offend anybody, but anybody who can believe the Colorado River cut the Grand Canyon is not the brightest person to come down the road.

But they tell us, “It took millions of years.” That might explain how the Grand Canyon got so deep, but it can never explain how it got so wide. Did it, perhaps, work like some sort of giant lathe, moving back and forth, from right to left, then left to right, so it could make such a wide cut? It is amazing what bizarre explanations evolutionists can come up with, trying to prop up their ridiculous theories.

When God dropped the bottoms of the oceans, all that displaced material had to go somewhere. Where did it go? God has provided us with an entire world full of evidence as to where all that displaced material went, and that expression, an entire world full, is not a figure of speech. The world is literally full of the evidence.

Bear in mind that sedimentary rock is rock settled out of water. Wherever you go, in the mountainous areas of this country, you can see those layers upon layers of sedimentary rock. Each layer is different from the layer above, and the layer below it. That is because, when those sedimentary rock layers were forming, the waters of the flood were still sloshing back and forth. They would slosh in one direction, and they would deposit the material they gathered in that direction. They would slosh in the other direction, and deposit a different kind of material they had gathered in that direction, until finally, according to Job, God said, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed,” Job 38:11. After those waters had done their work, God commanded them to stay put in the place he had founded for them (Ps 104:8).

Also bear in mind that sediment goes down; it settles on the floor; it does not settle on the wall. Depending on the surface on which it is accumulating, it settles in a fairly even pattern. It does not settle at steep angles, and it does not settle in long, wavy, undulating patterns, like corrugated roofing. But, when we look at those layers of sedimentary rock in the mountains, that is exactly what we do see. The layers of sedimentary rock are in every pattern imaginable. Some of it is in smooth, level layers, but more often than not, it is at some kind of an angle. Sometimes the layers are almost vertical; some-times they are in long, wavy patterns; and sometimes they are all out of joint.

Sometimes they look, for all the world, like a giant quilt somebody has pushed from one side until it is all crumpled and folded. And there is the answer to our question. After all that rock had formed, while it was still somewhat soft, God thundered in the heavens, his mighty hand dropped the bottoms of the oceans to found a place for the waters to haste away to, and that same mighty hand that dropped the bottoms of the oceans, pushed aside all that soft, pliable rock, like a gigantic quilt, to found a place for the waters of the flood.

Then, all over this planet, he laid bare his mighty arm in exposing that sedimentary rock, so that no matter where we may go, before long, we come face to face with undeniable evidence of what he did.

In some places so much material was pushed aside to make room for the waters, the displaced material was pushed up into lofty mountains. It is in the mountains those layers of sedimentary rock take on such strange patterns. And it is in those mountains that we see the clearest evidence they have been pushed from somewhere---pushed aside to make room for the waters of the Genesis Flood.

That in all things he might have the preeminence,” Col 1:18.

Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last,” Re 1:11.

Jacob The Supplanter

 JACOB THE SUPPLANTER

Jacob is a figure of every heaven born soul. He is a figure of what we are by nature, and he is figure of what God has made us by his grace. He is a reflection of every one of us in all our joys and sorrows, in all our strengths and weaknesses. He represents what is commendable about us, and he represents all that is shameful and repugnant.

We cannot help but appreciate the simplicity of the Bible. One of the ways by which the Bible teaches us is by figures--by characters or events that illustrate the lesson. That is one of the simplest of all methods of teaching. The character simply acts out the lesson.

In the first moments of his life Jacob demonstrated that he was a sinner—a sinner by birth and a sinner by practice. The first thing the Bible tells us about Jacob is that as soon as he was born, to the limit of his ability, he attacked his brother Esau. Ge 25:24-26, “And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob.” A newborn baby is limited in his ability to attack anybody, but to the limit of his ability, Jacob attacked his brother—he grabbed him by the heel. That assault, such as it was, was a preview of the way Jacob would spend most of his life, tricking and cheating his brother.

Jacob’s grabbing Esau by the heel as soon as he was born was an indication of the carnal nature we were all born with. It is not that we were not born innocent and only later turned into sinners. We were born with that sinful nature, and as soon as we had the opportunity we proved that we were sinners.

It was the first day of school and the first grade teacher was letting each child tell something about himself, so they could get better acquainted. One little girl said, “We have a new baby at our house—but it is turning into a boy.” Well, babies do not turn into little boys, and kittens do not turn into cats, and pups do not turn into dogs, and little babies do not turn into sinners. We were born sinners. Our sin was bred in the bone. It is part of our nature. Sin is as surely the natural condition of the sinner as water is the natural environment for a fish. The sinner feels to be entirely at home in his sin.

We should not get the idea that every character, and every event, in the Bible has a symbolic significance. Very often a well meaning Bible student will just wear himself out trying to find the symbolic lesson in some character who does not teach any symbolic lesson at all. If there is a symbolic lesson involved, it seems to me that the Bible usually makes it fairly clear that we are to look for that lesson. Sometimes the passage simply tells us what the person said or what he did, and what the consequence was. That is the full lesson, and we wear ourselves out if we look for something more.

That applies to any passage we might read. There is an old saying, “When the obvious sense makes common sense, seek no other sense.” To me that makes good sense. Very often a young preacher will come to me with a question about some text. I read the verse, and it seems to be about as plain as it needs to be. It is a simple, straightforward statement of fact. The verse simply says what it means, and means what it says. He wants to know, “Is there not more than that?” But it seems to me that the verse teaches a simple lesson in simple language. We do not need to interpret it, nor explain it; just read it and believe it. In fact, we can get in all kinds of trouble trying to make a verse say more than it says.

I am convinced that the Bible is usually about as simple as we let it be. There are mysteries in the Bible that have humbled the most brilliant minds that have ever lived. If we go through the Bible looking for deep dark mysteries, we will discover mysteries we will never unravel. But if we go through the Bible looking for simple lessons, we will discover an abundance of simple lessons to feed and instruct us.

It has been said that the Bible is a stream in which a lamb may wade, or an elephant may swim—in different places. That is true, but it is also true that when we go through the Bible looking for simple lessons, some of the most profound lessons become much more simple. And when we go through the Bible looking for some profound lesson, even the simple lessons become harder to understand.

It is fairly clear that Jacob is a symbolic character. The lessons are spread all across the page. When we read his life and his struggles, we constantly come face to face with ourselves. He looks far too much like all of us not to be a figure of us, a symbol of all we are, both by nature and by the grace of God.

In his very first experience, Jacob demonstrated that he is a sinner. As soon as he was born, to the best of his ability, he attacked his brother; he grabbed him by the heel. And he spent the rest of his life mistreating his brother, and taking advantage of him. Jacob came into this world a sinner, and at the first opportunity, he demonstrated his sinful nature.

There is a popular notion that we came into the world as innocent little babies, and then after twelve years or so, we finally learn to be sinners. We are told that about age twelve children “learn to know right from wrong.” Others say that happens about age seven. I do not know where anybody ever got that idea; it does not make any kind of sense. If tiny children do not already know something about the difference between right and wrong, you are wasting your time to correct them when they do wrong. You can be sure that if you do not correct a child until he is twelve years old, or even seven years old, you are wasting your time to start then. The battle is already over; you have lost him.

I have heard it said that if you want to know the truth, you should ask a child, but that is not entirely true. A child will tell you the truth, if he is not afraid of the truth. But is he is afraid of the truth, there is a good chance that he will tell the most bodacious lies to get away from the truth. You may come into the room, and your three year old is standing there with a crayon in his hand. There are crayon marks all over the wall. You ask him who made the marks, and there is a good chance he has no idea who did it. It may be that somebody from down the street came in and marked all over the wall and left.

Ps 58:3, “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they are born speaking lies.” That is about as clear as it can be. Children come into this world knowing how to lie; they have to be taught to tell the truth. If I say that children know how to lie before they learn how to talk, I am sure that somebody will think I am exaggerating, but that is exactly what the verse says. They “go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.”

Let me prove that. One of the great benefits God provided for babies is the ability to cry in order to get attention when they are in need. It is hard to imagine the problems that might result if babies could not cry when they need to. On the other hand, every one of us knows what we mean by the expression, “That baby is just spoiled.” We mean that the baby has learned how to get attention by crying—pretending to be in need—when there is not a thing wrong. He does not know how to talk; but he does know how to lie in order to get his way. “They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.” He does not know how to talk, but he does know how to lie.

Selfishness is one of those characteristics we inherited from Adam. It was one of the characteristics of his rebellion against his Maker. Adam wanted for himself the honor and majesty that belonged only to God. The serpent promised him, “Ye shall be as gods” (Ge 3:5). Adam took the bait; he wanted what did not belong to him; he sinned, and he passed to all of his offspring that selfish nature that characterized his sin.

Every person descended from Adam possesses the nature of Adam. By his own willful act Adam became selfish; he acted selfishly; that selfishness became a part of his nature, and he passed that nature to all mankind. No sooner does the brand new baby manifest any kind of disposition, than he demontrates that he inherited a selfish nature. He proves how selfish he is of his mother’s time and attention. No matter how busy she may be, and no matter what else she may need to do, he wants her to see about him, and he wants her to see about him now.

That disposition does not change as he gets older. You can set a little two year old baby in the middle of the floor among all his toys. He is just old enough to sit up and handle his toys. He really only needs two toys, one for each hand, but he has toys all around him. He has not even noticed some of them. Now you set another two year old next to him, and watch what happens. The new baby picks up one of the first baby’s toys, and the fireworks start. The first baby was not playing with that toy, but he does not intend for anybody else to pick it up. We did not learn to be selfish. We were born that way. That selfish nature was bred in the bone. It is as much a part of our nature as our fingers and toes.

If those two babies are within reach of each other, as little as they are, there is some chance the first baby will hit the other baby on the head with anything he may have in his hand. Not only did we come into this world with a selfish nature; we were born knowing how to hit. Children have to be taught how to get along; they already know how to fight. As they get older, they learn better and more effective ways of fighting, but from the very outset, they are willing to hit anybody who does not please them.

Again, Jacob is a figure of every heaven born soul. He is a figure of what we are by nature, and he is a figure of what God has made us by his grace. In his grabbing his brother by the heel as soon as he was born, he represents that sinful and corrupt nature we all inherited from Adam, and which we began to manifest just as early in life as Jacob did.

Ge 25:27-34, “And the boys grew: and Esau was a mighty hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob. And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage and lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his; birthright.”

This is the next thing we read about Jacob; he cheated his brother out of his birthright. Jacob was a wheeler dealer. He was a con-man, a trickster. The name Jacob means supplanter. According to Webster supplant means “to supercede or replace (another) especially by force, cunning, etc.” He was not the sort of person you wanted to do business with, and if you did do business with him, you should always count your change. There is a covetous nature in every person born of Adam. Adam coveted that honor which belonged only to God; that covetousness became a part of his nature, and he passed that nature on to every one of his posterity.

Esau was a man of the field; he enjoyed hunting. On this occasion he stayed with the hunt too long. By the time he got home, he was so exhausted and hungry, he thought he was dying. He knew his brother Jacob was a good cook, so he asked him to feed him. Ge 25:29 tells us that “Jacob sod pottage, and Esau came from the field.” That seems to indicate that the food was already prepared, but Jacob was in no mood to share it with his brother. He had, no doubt, been waiting for this opportunity. He intended to take his brother’s birthright, if he could; now he had the opportunity.

Jacob and Esau were twins. We have always heard how close and affectionate twins are, and, no doubt, that is true, but bear in mind that Jacob was a sinner, and he was acting out that carnal nature every sinner has. This was his twin brother, but he could starve to death for all Jacob cared--unless he agreed to sell his birthright. In order that we might learn from him, God suffered Jacob to demonstrate what we all are by nature. Esau thought he was dying, but Jacob would not feed him— not until he got what he wanted. Esau was not innocent in the matter. Ge 25:34 tells us that he despised his birthright; but I am not on Esau’s case; right now, I am looking at Jacob.

It is easy for us to look at this despicable act and be disgusted with Jacob. It is easy for us to square our shoulders, throw out our chest and allow, “I will never do any such thing as that.” But you do not know that. I don’t know that. None of us knows what we might do if the situation presented itself. Sometimes somebody uses the expression, “If I know my own heart.....” Let me tell you: you don’t. The prophet said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Jer 17:9.

We are all sinners by nature and sinners by practice. We inherited a sinful, corrupt nature from Adam, and that nature affects all we say and do. None of us is nearly so righteous as we would like to think we are.

The next thing the Bible tells us about Jacob is that he stole his brother’s blessing. There were both a birthright and a blessing that belonged to the firstborn child in the family. Jacob swindled Esau out of his birthright. I doubt anybody would claim that Jacob made a fair trade with Esau in the matter of the birthright.. They did make a deal, but Jacob took advantage of Esau’s distress, to say the least. But when their father Isaac thought he was dying, Jacob saw the opportunity to take the blessing that belonged to Esau. He did not bother to make a deal; he simply stole the blessing.

And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said, Behold here I am. And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death, Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison; and make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die.,” Ge 27:1-4. Isaac thought he was close to death. As it happened, he lived, at least, another twenty years. But anyway, he thought he was close to death, and it was time for him to pronounce his blessing on his first born son Esau.

And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying, Bring me venison, and make me savoury meat, that I may bless thee before the Lord before my death. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee. Go now to the flock, and fetch me thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savoury meat for thy father, such as he loveth: And thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death,” Ge 27:5-10. Not only was Jacob a sinner; his mother was a sinner as well. Every person born of Adam is a sinner. Rebekah was a sinner as surely as all the rest of us are. Just as Jacob had waited for the opportunity to defraud his brother out of the birthright; Rebekah had patiently waited for the opportunity to assist Jacob in stealing the blessing.

Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” Ro 5:12.

And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man: My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing. And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them. And he went, and fetched, and brought them to his mother: and his mother made savoury meat, such as his father loved. And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son: And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck: And she gave the savoury meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob,” Ge 27:11-17. At the first Jacob did not seem interested in the plot; but we should not get the wrong idea. He was perfectly willing to steal the blessing; he just did not want to get caught. As soon as he saw how they could pull it off, he was more than willing.

Now, bear in mind that it is very unlikely Rebekah could have prepared those skins for Jacob to wear on his hands and neck in the very little time it took to kill and prepare that meal. In order for those skins to fit well enough to convince Isaac, Rebekah must have spent weeks, or even months getting them ready. And notice that the “goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau” was already “with her in the house.” I would not be surprised if Esau had been wondering for days what happened to that garment. Rebekah was truly a sinner as surely as Jacob was—and a conniving sinner at that.

And he came unto his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I; who art thou, my son? And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me. And Isaac said unto his son, How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? And he said, Because the Lord thy God brought it to me. And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau or not. And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau. And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau’s hands: so he blessed him. And he said, Art thou my very son Esau? And he said, I am,” Ge 27:18-24.

I have always heard that you can spot a liar—a liar can never look you in the eye. But that is not entirely right. That only applies to amateur liars. I have met a few liars in my time who could look you squarely in the eye, put on their most honest face, and lie through their teeth. Jacob was that kind of liar. He had this lying business down to an art. He could lie to his old blind daddy, get caught, lie again, get caught again, and just keep on lying until his father believed him. Jacob truly was a sinner—a sinner saved by grace, but a sinner after all.

Years later, in Padan-aram, Jacob bargained with Laban for the hand of of Rachel, his younger daughter. He worked seven years for Rachel, but on the wedding night, it was her sister Leah whom Laban delivered to Jacob. Jacob deceived his blind father, and pretended to be his brother Esau. In the dark of that wedding night, Leah pretended to be her sister Rachel. You do reap what you sow. Jacob deceived Isaac, and Leah deceived Jacob. If you mistreat other people; other people will mistreat you. The people who mistreat you will not likely be the same people you mistreated, but the principle holds; you do reap what you sow.

As you might imagine, when Esau learned what had happened, he was upset, and he decided that the best thing he could do was to do away with Jacob. “And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? For he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright: and, behold now he hath taken away my blessing......And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob,” Ge 27:36,41.

Rebekah should not have been surprised at Esau’s reaction. He had every right to be upset. She called Jacob and advised him that it would be a good idea for him to leave the country for awhile. “And these words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: and she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said unto him, Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; and arise, flee thou to Laban my brother to Haran; and tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away,”  Ge 27:42-44.

Jacob was a fraud; he was a liar and a thief. He had cheated his brother and stolen from him, and he lied to his father, but before he left for Padan-aram, his father Isaac called him to his bedside and pronounced his blessing on him. “And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padan-aram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother’s brother. And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; and give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham,” Ge 28:1-4.

Let me ask you: do you believe Isaac blessed Jacob, because he had been such an obedient son? No, of course not. He blessed Jacob in spite of all he was and all he had done. Any blessing he pronounced on Jacob was entirely unmerited on his part. Not only was Jacob a figure of all we are by nature he is a figure of all God has done for us by his grace.

For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast,” Eph 2:8-9.

And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which have spoken to thee of,” Ge 28:10-15

We cannot imagine a more awesome experience. Here was this rebellious sinner lying down to sleep in the middle of the wilderness, with nothing more than a rock for his pillow. He was, no doubt, miles from any other human being, and there, all alone in the world, the very God of heaven appears to him and makes him this long list of great promises. He shows him a vision of a ladder reaching all the way to heaven itself; he identifies himself as the God of Abraham and Isaac; he promises to give him that entire country for an everlasting inheritance; at a time when he did not have a wife, he promised him that his offspring would be as the very dust of the earth and that they would spread out to the four winds; he promises him that he will be with him and keep him anywhere he goes, and that he will not leave him until he has done everything he promised. And all of that was not from another man such as himself, but from the Almighty himself. It would not hurt to go back and read the text again, and try to imagine a more mind boggling experience.

This was the pinnacle of Jacob’s experience. This was the high point in his life. This was the moment he remembered, thought on, and savored as long as he lived. Just before he died in Egypt many years later, he called Joseph to his bedside and told him, “God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me. And he said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give thee this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession,” Ge 48:3-4. Jacob had his ups and downs; he lived a long and chequered life. But at that moment, in the very shadow of death, he remembered the day long before when God came to him.

Jacob was a symbol of the child of God in this experience as he was in all the others. Compare his experience with the most common notion in the religious world today. Religious types run the length and breadth of the land telling people, “God wants to save you, but you will have to take the first step;” “God wants to save you, but you will have to meet him half way.” I would like for one of them to show how Jacob fits that formula. Here was Jacob, a rebellious sinner. He had defrauded his brother of his birthright; he had stolen his blessing; he had deceived his poor old blind daddy, and now he was running away from the scene of the crime. The only thought on his mind was running as fast as he could, and as far as he could, to escape the consequence of his sins. He was as repugnant as the rest of Adam’s sinful race. He did not deserve saving, and yet God came to him and saved him by his grace.

God only has one way of saving sinners. The way he saved Jacob is the way he saves every sinner. If you think you deserved saving more than Jacob did, it is because you have never been able to see yourself as the sinner we all are. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first,” Ge 28:16-19.

Then realizing who it was that had appeared to him, Jacob made, perhaps, the most heart felt promise he had ever made. Listen to his language: “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God: and this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee,” Ge 28:20-22.

It has been almost fifty years since I first read those words, and ever so many times during those years I have marveled at the sweet and precious promise Jacob made to his Lord on that day. What a commitment that old sinner made to his Lord.

But, wait—things are not always what they seem. Finally, after all those years, I read those words one more time, and I realized that Jacob was not saying what I thought he was saying at all. It was, no doubt, the most heartfelt promise he had ever made, and he was, no doubt, as sincere as he had ever been. But the promise was not nearly so commendable I thought it was.

Read it again. “IF the Lord will be with me, and [IF] he will keep me in this way that I go, and [IF] he will give me bread to eat, and [IF he will give me] raiment to put on, and [IF he will] bring me again to my father’s house in peace; THEN shall the Lord be my God.”

Jacob was trying to strike a deal with the Lord.

Jacob, the supplanter, Jacob the con-artist, Jacob the wheeler dealer, was trying to bargain with the Lord. He was saying, “You can be my Lord--but first you will have to come to terms. First we have to agree on what I am going to get out of this arrangement.”

This was the highest point in Jacob’s life. He would never be closer to the Lord than this, and yet, at that very time he still had that same old carnal nature, that same weakness of the flesh he had always had.

At this point in his life Jacob was a very clear illustration of David’s statement, “Verily, every man at his best state is altogether vanity,” Ps 39:5. Notice that he is not talking about some men; it is every man. It is not at his worst state, but at his best state. And he is not somewhat vain; he is rather altogether vanity. There is no way human language can make this statement any more strongly than these words say it; and because language cannot say it any more forcefully, he simply underscores the entire statement with a verily.

We are all of us like Jacob of old; either we are saved by the sovereign, unmerited grace of God, or we are not saved at all. Not one of us could stand justified before God on our own merit.

Love Your Enemies

LOVE YOUR ENEMIES

Mt 22:35-40, “Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

The Lord says everything hangs on these two commandments. Now, if these two commandments support everything else, it certainly behooves us that we learn what these two commandments are all about. And, for that matter, if everything hangs on this, it will not do much good to learn anything else, if we miss this.

But he did not stop there. In the Sermon on the Mount he said, “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you,” Mt 5:44. And in his letter to the Romans Paul says, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him, if he thirst, give him drink, for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head,” Ro 14:20.

It is easy enough to love those who love you. It is easy enough to love your wife and children. It is easy to love your friends, and those who do good things for you, but loving your enemies is something else again. How do you love those who do you harm? How do you love those who cast out your name as evil? How do you love those who want to see you suffer?

There can be no mistake; that is what he said. Not only did he instruct us to love God, and to love our neighbor; he instructed us to love our enemies. He went on to instruct us to feed him if he is hungry, and to give him drink if he is thirsty. Those are the Lord's instructions, but how do we do it?

If you ask any professing Christian if he loves his enemies, there is a good chance that he will say he does, or that he does the best he can to love them. Sometimes he will say that he loves his enemies, but some of them are mighty hard to love. And, sometimes, if you find somebody who is more honest than most, he will tell you that there are a few people, he has tried to love, but he just has not been able to do it.

You will probably get more hedging, and dodging the issue, on this question than you will on any other question you will ever ask. You will get more exceptions, more explanations, more qualified answers, on this question than on just about any other question.

The fact is that it is a very rare person, who really does love his enemies, no matter how hard he may try to convince you otherwise.

In this little booklet I want to show you that, not only is the commandment to love our enemies a reasonable commandment (the Lord has never given us any unreasonable requirements), but it is also much easier than most of us have ever imagined. When we better understand the matter, it becomes not only a duty to be performed, and a worthy goal to pursue; it becomes our delight to love our enemies (if we have been blessed to have any), and we can learn to appreciate them, even when they try to do us harm. When we better understand the matter, we realize that there are benefits we often receive at the hands of our most bitter enemies, that we could never have received from our friends.

In this command to love our enemies the Lord provides us with the most powerful, and the most effective, weapon we will ever have. It absolutely revolutionizes warfare, so far as the personal conflicts of this life are concerned. It simply blows the enemy away, and at the same time, it lays the only sure ground for a lasting peace.

In August of 1945, the United States introduced a weapon that revolutionized warfare. We were at war with Japan. The world had never seen such a war as the Second World War was. Virtually the entire world was at war. The United States and the Allies were winning the war, but they still had a long way to go. Japan was losing, but it would not be an easy matter to invade Japan, and clear out the opposition. With strong pockets of resistance here and there, the war could have gone on for a long time, and thousands more lives would be lost.

Then on August 6, the United States dropped a bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, that just blew the enemy away. A few days later they dropped another bomb on Nagasaki, and the war rapidly came to a close.

Albert Einstein worked out the basic formula: E=MC2; energy equals mass times the square of the speed of light. He convinced President Roosevelt the bomb would work. Enrico Fermi, Edward Teller, Ernest Orlando Lawrence, Robert Oppenheimer, and the other Oak Ridge scientists worked out the practical application, and the United States produced a bomb such as the world had never seen. There was nothing that could stand before it. It just blew the enemy away.

Einstein and those other scientists did not come up with any new form of energy. That formula, and that energy, were locked in the nucleus of the Uranium 235 atom from the first day of creation. Those scientists just learned how to turn it loose. The power had been there all along.

When the Lord answered that Jewish lawyer in the twenty-second chapter of Matthew, he did not introduce some new principle. That principle was at the very heart of the old Law Service. We find essentially the same language in Deuteronomy, chapter six. But it is much older than that; it is bound up in the very nature of God himself. 1Jo 4:7-8, “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.”

God is love, and it is his sovereign good pleasure to love even his enemies. Ro 5:8-10, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”

God loved us when we were his enemies, and he commands us to love those who are our enemies. It is his delight to love his enemies, and when we understand the truth aright, it becomes—not our duty—but our delight to love our enemies.

In many ways, love for your enemies (if it is genuine love) is very much like the atomic bomb. There had never been a weapon such at that. It literally blew the enemy away. Nobody could stand before it. Love for your enemies does that. In the conflicts of life, it is a weapon like no other. It blows the enemy away. Nobody can stand before the power of genuine love. It is our failure to understand this one simple principle that has crippled most of us in our dealings with conflict in our lives.

Love for your enemies is the ultimate weapon. As irresistible as it is, it is very different than any other weapon. It is irresistible in its force, and it strips the adversary of his defenses, but it does not do him any lasting harm, and it provides the only sure basis for peace.

I know that some, perhaps most, of those reading these lines are thinking this idea might work in theory, but in actual practice, it is a different matter; loving your enemies is not nearly so easy a matter as you say it is. Some of you are thinking, “Harold Hunt, if you knew what that rascal did to me, you would not be so glib to talk about loving your enemies,” or, “Harold Hunt, you don’t know how my life has been; you don't know how I have been mistreated. If you had been mistreated the way I have, you would hold a grudge too.” But I want to show you that it does work. God would never have given the commandment, if it did not work. And, not only does it work; but properly understood, it becomes one of the most valuable lessons of your life.

Some of you are, no doubt, saying, the way the disciples did in Joh 6, “This is a hard saying; who can hear it.” But it is not a hard saying; it is a lesson fully in line with the influence of the Spirit of God that lives in your hearts.

There is an insurance company, which for several years now has been running a commercial on television advising people to “Simplify your life.” They think it will simplify your life, if you will just buy your life insurance from them. I am not sure they are right, but they think they are. At least, they want you to think they are right. But whether it will simplify your life to buy your life insurance from that company or not, it certainly will simplify your life if you can learn to follow the Lord more closely, and keep his commandments more faithfully.

Loving your enemies is not hard. If you want to know something that is really hard, just try to get even with your enemy—and stay on good terms with the Lord at the same time. If you want to tackle a hard job, that is a hard job. James tells us that “a double minded man is unstable in all his way,” Jas 1:8. He is unstable because he is trying to do two things at once. And if ever anybody was double minded, it is the man who is trying to get even with his enemy, and still get along with the Lord. You just cannot do it.

When I was growing up, my father was the pastor of a church in a little mountain community in Western North Carolina. I used to go with him to fill his appointments. One Sunday we went home with an old couple for lunch. The old brother told us about some experiences he had back during hard times. Now he was not talking about the Great Depression. This was in the fifties, and the brother was old at that time. He was talking about the way things were in those mountains in the early part of this century, before industrialization came to that area.

At that time people in the mountains depended on wild game to supply their table. He told about one day when he went hunting for wild turkeys. He only had one bullet, but he was a crack shot, and he was sure that if he saw a turkey, one bullet would be enough. As luck would have it, he spotted two turkeys. In those days, bringing home two turkeys was a real treat. But he just had one bullet. The old man insisted that he really was a crack shot, and he was sure that if he could get those two turkeys lined up just right, he could bring both of them down with one bullet. He told how he kept edging around, trying to find just the right spot, where he would have those turkeys lined up just right. He told how very quiet he was, and how very carefully he placed his feet so he would not make a sound. He did not want to scare the turkeys. He finally found a spot where he had those two turkeys lined up just right—and he shot off the heads of both those turkeys with one bullet.

That old man had a reputation for telling the truth, and I had been taught to respect my elders, but to be honest about it—I really did not believe him. It has been almost fifty years now since the old brother told that story, but try as I may, I still cannot believe he shot off both those turkeys’ heads with one bullet.

But to get back to the subject, if you think it is unlikely that somebody could shoot off the heads of two wild turkeys with the same bullet, that is not nearly as hard as trying to get even with your enemy, and get along with the Lord at the same time. You can be sure that you could kill turkeys two at a time all day long much more easily than you could stay on good terms with the Lord at the same time you are figuring a way to do harm to your enemy.

It is really no problem to love your enemy. The hard part is getting your own heart right. If you can straighten out your own thinking, your enemy will not be a problem. If we will spend our time and energy in working on our own prejudices, and our own hangups, by the time we get that problem fairly well solved, we will discover that we do not really have a problem with the person who might have been trying to do us harm.

David said, “Great peace have they which love thy law, and nothing shall offend them,” Ps 119:165. It is hard to offend somebody whose mind is firmly anchored in Christ. In fact, this verse says you cannot do it. We only have time for one battle at a time, and if we will fight the battle of getting our own thinking straight, we will not need to fight the other battle. It will simplify your life.

It is no accident that the word mad is a synonym for angry, and it is also a synonym for insane. The providence of God was involved in the formation of languages. For the most part, there is a very solid foundation under the form and structure of the various languages.

When we refer to a madman, we are not generally talking about an angry person. We are talking about somebody who is insane. When a person gets angry, he goes more than a little insane. Anger blinds our judgment, and makes us think things we would not have thought if were in a calmer frame of mind. When we become angry with somebody, it is easy to think much more harshly of them than we should. It is easy to think their motives are much worse than they really are.

For several years, when I was working in the insurance business, I had a district manager who was an expert at handling people. His ability to handle people (and to manipulate them some of the time) allowed him to retire a quite wealthy person. One of his working slogans said, “We are all crazy some of the time; the trick is not to be crazy at the same time as the other person.” He was probably right. I am convinced that the only two entirely sane men who ever lived were the first Adam and the Lord Jesus Christ. I am convinced that a touch of insanity has infected all of mankind ever since the sin of Adam. It just affects some people more strongly than it does others. And it affects us more at some times than it does at other times. Sin has put our hearts and minds out of balance, and it is seen to one degree or another in everything we do.

Most of our conflict with other people is the result of the fact that we are not thinking straight. Most of our trouble is in our own minds. We are in trouble, because we think we are in trouble. We are injured by the other person, because we think we have been injured. Most of the time, if our own thinking was right, we would not be offended in the first place. This is what David meant in the one hundred and nineteenth Psalm. “Great peace have they which love thy law, and nothing shall offend them,” Ps 119:165.

Mark Twain said a lot that will not do to repeat. But he was a brilliant man, and when he told it right, he could hit the nail on the head. Mark Twain used to say, “My life has been one long series of great tragedies, most of which never happened.” Very few of us have ever had as much trouble as we think we have. We just have a tendency to walk around under a cloud, expecting the sky to fall—and it never does. Things are usually not nearly as bad as we think they are. As a general rule, things are bad, because we think they are.

Somebody has said there are three ages of man. At age twenty, he does not care what anybody thinks about him. At age forty he does care what people think about him. And at age sixty he discovers that nobody is thinking about him. As a general rule, there are not nearly as many people on our case as we think there are. Other people have problems of their own. It is unlikely they are thinking about you in the first place. And if they are, it is unlikely that you have been injured nearly as much as you think you have.

Most of the time, when we suffer, our misery is the result of our thinking. We suffer because we think we are suffering. We are injured because we think we have been injured. If we could get our thinking straight, our misery would disappear, and our attitude toward our enemy would entirely change.

I believe that just a few illustrations will demonstrate that fact. One of the worst problems any person could experience is to starve for lack of food. Starvation is synonymous with great distress. We read about pitiful situations in places like Ethiopia, and Somalia, and Bosnia, where people are literally starving to death, and our feelings are deeply stirred. But it is also a fact that millions of people here in America are starving. Untold numbers of people right here in my home town go to bed hungry every night, and get up hungry every morning. They go through the day hungry, and much of their thought is about food they cannot have. But as hungry as they are, they is no government agency that is making any effort to do anything about it.

There is no agency that can help, because these people have money sufficient to buy all the food they need. There is food in the refrigerator, but they do not eat it. Their problem is not in any inability to acquire the necessary food. Their problem is that they are concerned about their weight. They have decided that they have to lose weight, and they deny themselves food in order to do it. I am not trying to be funny; the point is simply this: their hunger pains are just as real as the hunger pains of the person who is not able to acquire the necessary food.

But while their hunger pains are just as real, it would be a mistake to think they suffer in the same way those people do, who are not able to get the food they need. Their suffering is diminished, because they know they could have the food any time they make up their minds they want it. They do not suffer the mental anguish those people do, who know that they cannot have the food, no matter how much they may want it. I do not, in any way, want to minimize the suffering those people experience who are going without food. Those of us who have never been in that condition cannot begin to imagine the way those poor people must suffer, knowing that they are not able to acquire the food they need.

But the point is still the same. There are people in our own country, who are depriving themselves of food, without any appreciable anguish, because in their own minds they know they can have the food any time they want it. The primary difference is in their minds, and how they think about it.

But consider another example. Suppose your worst enemy were to sneak up behind you, and just blindside you. He hauls off and knocks the living daylights out of you, and while he has you off balance, he continues you whip up on you. He leaves you all dirty and bloody, and perhaps, he even inflicts an injury that bothers you as long as you live. Very few of us have ever had any such experience, but if we did, we would think that, of all people, we had been sorely mistreated. We would probably have mean thoughts toward that person as long as we live, and it is unlikely that he could ever do anything to regain our confidence.

But again, the problem is more in our perception of the problem than it is in the reality of what happened. Every Saturday at this time of year eighty to one hundred thousand people gather here in Knoxville for the express purpose of watching twenty-two men spend the afternoon whipping up on each other. Those twenty-two men maul each other mercilessly, because they cannot agree about who is going to have possession of a little football, and they cannot agree on which way they are going to run with it. All afternoon they push, and shove, and grab each other. And all the while, that entire crowd jumps up and down and hollers like a bunch of heathens.

And you can be sure that half the men in the stands would give a month's wages, if they could be down there on the field taking part in the affair. It is unlikely that your worst enemy will ever manhandle you the way those men manhandle each other. Some of them will receive injuries that will plague them as long as they live. If our worst enemy treated us like that, we would feel that we had been sorely mistreated, but those men feel to be highly honored to be part of the game.

Again, the suffering we experience is largely in our own minds. It depends, for the most part, on the way we look at it. The pain those football players experience is no less real than it would be if it was some enemy who sneaked up behind one of them and began to beat up on him, but the one is cause for offence, while the other is counted to be routine and expected.

In this connection we cannot fail to remember the day when Peter and some others were arrested and beaten, because they had been preaching in the Lord's name, “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name,” Ac 5:41.

Consider just one more example. When we hear that somebody has been casting out our name as evil, it causes us great distress. Nobody enjoys having his good name slandered. And when somebody says something bad about us, we have a tendency to say something just as bad about him. But, no matter how harshly you may have been judged by somebody else, he has probably not said anything about you that is worse than you have (in the privacy of your own mind) said about yourself. I cannot imagine that anybody has ever been so disgusted with me as I have often been with myself. I cannot imagine that anybody has ever judged me more severely than I have judged myself. Why should I feel so mistreated, when others judge me in the same manner that I have judged myself?

We should take some comfort when others criticize. The Lord placed a great woe on the man every man speaks well of. The fact that others criticize you when you do well is nothing more than the faithful child of God should expect. And if they criticize you because you have done wrong, you have nobody to blame but yourself. 1Pe 2:20, “For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.”

I enjoy reading the book of Job. Job is the oldest book in the Bible, and for that matter, the oldest book in the world. There is sufficient internal evidence in the book of Job to indicate that it was probably written about three or four generations after Abraham's day. And it was probably written some time before Moses’ day. At least, it was written before the Law of Moses became commonly known. Job and his friends never once quoted the Law of Moses. It is obvious those men were well informed people, and as widely read as they were, if the Law of Moses had yet been given, or if it had been around for any time, those men would have quoted from it.

For the most part, the book of Job is a transcript of a long running conversation between Job and his friends. And in listening to them talk, we discover that they talked about exactly the same things we talk about today. They talked about sin and salvation. They talked about redemption, and regeneration, and resurrection. And more than that, they talked about their troubles.

In chapter fourteen, we read, “Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble,” Job 14:1. That theme runs all through the book. They spent much of their time talking about their troubles. Things have not changed much. Four thousand years have passed since that day, and people still like to talk about their troubles.

But talking about your troubles is about the most unprofitable activity you can engage in. You can count on it that if you tell somebody your troubles, you will discover that he is sure he has a worse problem than you have. And if he does not have a worse problem than you have, there was a time when used to have a worse problem. And if there never was a time when he had a worse problem than you have, he knows somebody who did. He will top you, even if he has to borrow something from somebody else to do it. It is kind of like the old saying, “The first liar does not stand a chance.”

Somebody has said, “If you must talk about your troubles, don't burden your friends, tell your worst enemy; he would love to hear it.” He may not even want to talk to you, but if you will send word that you want to tell him how badly things are going with you, he will probably find time for you. He might even cancel something else to listen to you.

There are lessons you will learn in adversity that you will never learn in any other way. There are lessons to be learned in the furnace of affliction, that you cannot learn when things are going well, and the sun is shining on your way. There is a little rhyme I learned a long time ago. It went something like this:

I walked a mile with Pleasure,
She chattered all the way,
But not a thing I learned from her,
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And not a word said she,
But, Oh, the things I learned from her,
When Sorrow walked with me.

Most of us have experienced times when it seemed that our entire world was falling apart, times when it seemed that everything we had ever worked for was coming to nothing. No doubt, you have experienced times, that every night, when you went to bed, you lay awake for two hours or more. Your problems were pressing down on you so heavily that all you could do was lie there and stare at the ceiling in a cold sweat. You were terrified at the prospect of what appeared to be coming your way. Sometime in the night you would finally fall asleep, only to wake up long before time to get up, just as tired as you were when you lay down, and just as terrified at your situation. Perhaps, this went on for weeks, or even months.

It would be foolish for anybody to try to convince you that was a good time in your life. It was not. You have never been so miserable. It was an absolute nightmare. No doubt, there were some times of great blessing even then. There were times in the midst of your troubles, when the Lord seemed to be so very near, and you would not take anything for those moments. But, on the whole, it was a miserable time.

But miserable as you were, deliverance did finally come. In one way or another, the Lord brought you through. Perhaps, he delivered you in a way you would never have imagined, but he did deliver you. The Lord has promised that he will never forsake us, and over and again, he has proven that he is faithful to his promise. 1Co 1:10, “Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us.”

There is nothing that can convince us that God will deliver us the way we are convinced by the fact that he has always delivered us in the past. We can preach that he will deliver us, because we have read his promises, but until we have experienced that deliverance, we can never believe it in the way that we believe it after deliverance does come. And the more distressing the problem we face, and the longer we languish under that problem, and the more desperate our situation, the more keenly we appreciate deliverance when it does come. The sweeter the deliverance is to us, and the more precious the memory of how God has delivered us.

When I was a boy, everybody in our community went barefoot from the time it got warm enough in the spring until it turned cold in the fall. Except for Sundays, we just did not wear shoes in the summer. When you go barefoot all summer, there are plenty of times when you stub your toe, and sometimes you stub it really hard. And you could be sure that if you stubbed your toe really hard, one of your little buddies was going to assure you, “That will feel good, when it quits hurting.” When anybody told me that, I always wanted to hit him, but I was always the smallest kid on the block, and when you are the smallest kid around, you learn to be selective about who you hit.

But I can tell you that in this matter of God's delivering us from the problems of this life, it really does “feel good when it quits hurting.” It feels good when deliverance finally does come.

There is nothing—absolutely nothing—that strengthens our faith, the way it is strengthened by deliverance from great adversity. That person who comes through the darkest valley receives a benefit he could not have received in any other way, and he receives blessing that others, who have never been there, can never know.

One of the most encouraging stories in the Bible is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. We usually refer to them as the Three Hebrew Children. The King of Babylon had erected a huge, vulgar, idol in the plain of Dura (Da 3:1). The idol was three-score cubits tall and six cubits wide. That is about ninety feet tall and nine feet wide. The text calls it an image of gold, gold plated, no doubt. That idol, covered with highly polished gold, must have glistened in the sun. It was a sight to inspire the heart of any superstitious pagan. Judging from the nature of the religion of Babylon, it would have inspired him with some of the most vulgar, degrading thoughts, but it inspired him, nonetheless.

The king made a decree that at the sound of all kinds of music, everybody should bow down and “worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up,” (Da 3:5). And that “whosoever falleth not down and worshipeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.” But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused to bow, and somebody told the king. The king commanded that the men be brought to him. He wanted to know why they had not bowed down and worshiped his image, and he told them they were about to be thrown into the furnace.

He wanted to know if their God was able to deliver them from the fire. They told him, “We are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up,” (Da 3:16-18). They were not sure whether God would deliver them from the fire, but they had no intention of bowing to the king's image.

The king commanded them to “heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated” (Da 3:19), and the three men were thrown in the fire. The fire was so hot that it killed the men who threw them in. But when the king looked in the furnace, the text says that he was astonied, and he said, “Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?......Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God,” (Da 3:24-25).

The inside of that furnace had to be fairly small. In order to gold plate the image they had just erected, they needed a furnace to melt the gold, and the inside of the furnace had to be small enough to concentrate the heat. In order to concentrate the heat that much, it is surprising that the inside of the furnace was large enough to contain the men, much less to give them enough room to walk around, but the text does say that they were “walking in the midst of the fire.”

The point is this: these men were walking in the midst of the fire—and more than that—they were walking with their Lord. They had never in all their lives walked so closely with their Lord as they were walking with him at that very moment. They were in the fire, but they were in the fire with the Lord.

If a closer walk with the Lord is the greatest treasure in all the world to you—if walking more closely with the Lord means more to you than life itself—then being in the fire is a small price to pay. Why should we object to being in the fire, if it is in the fire that we find the one treasure we have searched for all our lives. If it is in the fire that we find our greatest fulfillment, why should we feel any kind of resentment toward those who put us there. After all, though the people who threw us in the fire may, in every other respect, be our most bitter enemies, why should we feel any kind of animosity toward them. They have helped us find what we had never been able to find without their help. Why should we not, in a very real way, feel a sense of gratitude toward them that we do not have toward other people.

Why should loving our enemies not be a very easy and natural thing, when we realize what they have done for us?

Those men were walking with the Lord–and they were free. They “fell down bound into the midst of the fire,” but when the king looked in, they were loose and walking around. There is no way you can bind those whom the Lord has set free. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed,” Joh 8:36. They had never been more free in their lives than they were at that time.

On that dark night, when Paul and Silas were singing and praying at midnight in a Philippian jail, the jailer had “made their feet fast in the stocks” (Ac 16:24), but they were free. It was only their feet that were bound, and God took care of that. But even when their feet were still bound, they were free. Those fetters did not in the least hinder them from worshiping God. You cannot bind those whom God has set free.

For that matter, the magistrate who put them in jail actually helped them. The jailer needed to hear what Paul and Silas had to say, and the brand new church at Philippi needed the jailer and his family as members. The magistrate just put Paul and Silas in a situation where everything came together. What gospel preacher would not be willing to be suffer somewhat, and to spend the night in jail, if the church could receive such a boost?

But back to the three men in the furnace, they received the greatest of all benefits, but it was mighty hard on those men who threw them in.

It is a dangerous thing to mistreat the Lord's little ones. It was mighty hard on those men who threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in the furnace. In fact, it was downright fatal. How very often we have seen people destroy themselves by trying to destroy others.

How very careful we ought to be in our dealings with others, and we need to realize that principle works both ways. It is a dangerous matter to injure others, but it is also dangerous to injure those who injure us. It is only natural to strike out at those who strike out at us. If they hurt us, we want to hurt them.

It is very natural—and very foolish. God has never given us permission to hurt people, just because they hurt us. It does not make any difference that they might have been in the wrong. God still does not give us permission to injure others, just because we are convinced that they are in the wrong.

There can be no doubt that King Saul was in the wrong, when he and his army went all over the country looking for David and his little band. He intended to find him and kill him, if he could. David had not done him any wrong, and even if he had, that would not have given Saul the right to hunt him and try to destroy him.

David had opportunities of his own to destroy Saul. At Engedi David and his men were hiding in a cave. Saul’s army passed by, and Saul went in the cave “to cover his feet,”

1Sa 24:3). David’s men wanted to kill Saul. It was the perfect opportunity, but David refused. He had another opportunity in the Wilderness of Ziph. Abishai begged for permission to kill Saul. If David would not do it, Abishai would be glad to do it for him. But, again, David refused. He said, “The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord's anointed,” 1Sa 26:11. He was perfectly willing to leave the matter in the Lord’s hand. He said, “As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle and perish,” (1Sa 26:10).

Saul was in the wrong. He wanted to kill David. He had hunted him all over the country, but he was God’s anointed. God had appointed him as king over his people Israel, and David would not lay his hand on him.

Saul was clearly a child of God. When God chose him to be king, he was a very humble man. We are told that he was little in his own sight (1Sa 15:17). We are told that God gave him a another heart (1Sa 10:9), and that he was turned into another man (1Sa 10:6), and that he prophesied (1Sa 10:10). Those are not the sort of things the Bible says about the wicked. He made shipwreck of his life, but it is clear enough that he was a child of God. No matter how bitterly we may be opposed by our enemy, it is very possible that he may a child of God. He may be our brother in Christ, and it behooves us to be very careful in our dealings with him.

Not only may that person who has done you harm be your brother in Christ, he may be entirely sincere in his opposition to you. The fact that he is in the wrong does not mean that he is being malicious, or that his motives are necessarily wrong. He may be just as sincere as you are. He may believe that in his opposition to you he is being a strong and stalwart defender of the right.

Ac 13:50, “But the Jews stirred up the devout and honorable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.” Who would deny that Paul and Barnabas were faithful servants of the Lord, and they were doing their best to serve him? Who would deny that they had suffered unjustly? But among those who persecuted Paul and Barnabas were a number of devout and honorable women, along with the chief men of the city. These were honest and good people, and yet they were convinced that it was their duty to oppose these men of God, and to drive them out of their country.

The Jews who opposed Paul and Barnabas persuaded these people that Paul and Barnabas were up to no good, and they needed to be stopped. These people were wrong, but they were sincerely wrong. How very often that is the case. Good and honorable people become confused, and wind up opposing the right. And how very careful we ought to be in our reacting to those who oppose us. They may very well be just as sincere as we are. In reacting to those who oppose us we may find ourselves fighting against good and humble children of God, who believe from the depths of their hearts that they are doing right. And if we are not very careful, we may find ourselves injuring one of the Lord’s little ones.

The Lord pronounced a terrible woe on any person who would offend one of his little ones. Mt 18:6, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” A few times in my life I have heard somebody make the comment that some person “would be better off dead.” That is a harsh comment, to say the least. But in this passage that is what the Lord says. If a person has a millstone hanged about his neck, and he is drowned in the depth of the sea, he is dead. The Lord says a person would be better off dead than to offend one of his little ones.

It is hard to imagine anything more terrifying than for the Lord to say you would be better off dead. I would certainly hate for the Lord to say that about me. How very careful we ought to be in the conflicts we experience from time to time. We might be in the right—at the outset—and yet in the course of events we oppose those who oppose us. We strike out at those who strike out at us, and we offend some little child of God, who simply thought that by opposing us he was taking a stand for the right.

The Lord commands us to love our enemies, and that is just what he means. It is more than our duty to love our enemies; it is our privilege and our delight to do so. In spite of all of the almost unbearable grief our enemies sometimes lay on us, it is a fact that, by their very meanness and bitterness toward us, they sometimes put us in a situation that we are able to experience a closeness with our Lord that we have never experienced at any other time, and in any other way. As strange as it may seem, our enemies sometimes do us the greatest of all favors at the very time they were trying to do us the greatest harm. And for that we can and should appreciate them.

But while God has called us and instructed us to be kind, and forgiving, and loving, he has not called us to be foolish. We are commanded to love our enemies; we are not commanded to trust them. The fact that we may love our enemy does not mean that we would walk in front of him on a dark night. We do live in the real world, and the instructions God has given us are for the real world. Not everybody we deal with is interested in our welfare. We are commanded to watch as well as pray. Love your enemy, forgive him, and pray for him—but keep your eye on him. There are those who would very willingly do us harm, and we are not under any obligation to put ourselves at their mercy.

We said at the outset that in this commandment to love our enemies the Lord has given us a weapon that revolutionizes warfare, so far as our day to day conflicts are concerned. A willingness, and even an eagerness, to love your enemies is a weapon that just blows the enemy away. He does not know how to respond. I see a little wall motto from time to time, which says, “Love your enemy; it will drive him crazy.” He tries to do you harm, and he expects you to respond in just as malicious a way as he has dealt with you. But you sincerely love him in return—and he does not know what to do.

This principle only works if you are sincere. If your love for your adversary is only a show, it will backfire on you, and it ought to. To pretend to love somebody, when you secretly want to see him suffer, is hypocrisy, and it will bear its own fruit. In the end it will be shown for what it really is.

I never cease to be amazed at the Bible, and the instructions it gives us about how to go about living our lives. Those instructions are valid for every day and age. They are valid for every situation we will ever encounter. They are the only guide for us to follow, and in this command to love our enemies, it is the most effective course to follow. It leaves the enemy bewildered. He cannot figure out how to respond, and if he ever does get his own heart right, it lays out the only sure ground for peace.

Melchizedek King Of Salem

 Melchizedek King of Salem

There is probably no other Old Testament character, whose identity has left more people guessing than Melchizedek. Who was he? Where did he come from? What is his place in the grand scheme of things?

Melchizedek is a mysterious character, who appears once on the pages of history, and then disappears. The one single historical reference to Melchizedek is in the fourteenth chapter of Genesis. Ge 14:18-20, “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thine hand, and he gave him tithes of all.”

In Ps 110, David points back to Melchizedek, and prophesies that Christ will be a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Ps 110:4, “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” What does he mean by the order of Melchizedek? David does not say.

Paul mentions him several times in the Hebrew letter.

Heb 5:6, “As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” Heb 5:10, “Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.”

Heb 6:20, “Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” Heb 7:1-7, “For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him. To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace. Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham. But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.” Heb 7:10-11, “For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchizedek met him. If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be called after the order of Aaron?” Heb 7:15, “And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchizedek there ariseth another priest.” Heb 7:17, For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” Heb 7:21, “(For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek:)”

The name appears eleven times in the Bible. In seven out of those eleven times, the name appears in the expression the order of Melchizedek. Who was Melchizedek? Where did he come from? What is his significance? What is meant by the expression the order of Melchizedek?

So far as the identity of Melchizedek is concerned, the classical theologians totally fail us. Most of them think he was some obscure Canaanite (Hamitic) prince, who lived in the region of Judea. That was John Gill’s opinion. The commentaries of Matthew Poole and Jamieson-Fausset-Brown take the same position. Matthew Henry and John Calvin talk about the subject, and mention several different theories, but neither of them ventures to present any opinion of his own. They had no idea who he was.

The one thing that seems to convince those theologians that Melchizedek was a Canaanite prince is that he lived in an area which is most commonly associated with the descendants of Canaan. He was surrounded by Canaanites, so he must be a Canaanite, or so the argument goes. But the argument does not hold. There can be no question that much of that land was associated with the Canaanites, but that does not apply to the entire region. Much of that region was also occupied by the descendants of Eber, the grandson of Shem. Eber was not a Canaanite, nor any other kind of Hamite. He was Semitic, a descendent of Shem. In Genesis chapter forty, when Joseph in an Egyptian prison was stating his plight to the butler and the baker, he told them, “For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the HebrewsGe 40:15.

Notice that he did not say I was stolen out of the land of the Canaanites. Now bear in mind that at this time the descendants of Abraham had not yet come into possession of the land. At that time the entire family of Jacob consisted of only seventy people (Ge 46:27). There were far too few of them to possess that entire land, or to give it their name.

Canaan was one of the sons of Ham; he was Hamitic. The word Hebrew indicates a descendant of Eber, the great-grandson of Shem; he was Semitic, not Hamitic.

That raises the question; who was Eber? For eight generations Eber was the only descendant of Shem who outlived him. His name became the name most commonly attached to the descendants of Shem. There were obviously enough of Shem’s Hebrew descendants living in that region for it to be commonly called the land of the Hebrews.

More than that, the one central theme with regard to Melchizedek is that Christ was made “a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” How can we imagine that the Lord of Glory was made a priest after the order of some obscure Hamitic prince, who appeared once on the pages of history, and then vanished, never to be heard from again? How could some unknown Canaanite be such a clear figure of Christ that Paul spends so much time expounding on that connection, and yet we know nothing about him? If Christ was made a priest forever after the order of some Canaanite prince, what was that order? What was there about him that made him such a clear type of the Messiah? Gill and the others cannot produce their evidence.

Also, the descendants of Canaan were under a special curse. Ge 9:25, “And he said, cursed be Canaan: a servant of servants shall he be to his brethren.” That curse fell, not on Canaan alone, but on all his descendants. Would God choose a member of that race, which was cursed above their brethren, as a figure of Christ? No, rather, the Lord, whose very name is Blessed (Mr 14:61), came to redeem us from under the curse. He did not fashion his priesthood after the ministry of one who was himself under a curse.

Listen to the language of Paul, and see if it sounds like he was talking about some obscure person. “Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils,” Heb 7:4. Paul marvels at the greatness of this man, and tells us that even the Patriarch Abraham deferred to him and gave him tithes. That kind of homage is not usually given to some unknown, insignificant individual. Melchizedek was obviously a very prominent person, whose greatness, and whose claim to preeminence was readily recognized by Abraham.

Else, why would Abraham give him tithes? Why should it not have been the other way around? Why should Melchizedek not have rather given tithes to Abraham? Melchizedek did not give tithes to Abraham because Melchizedek was the greater of the two. Paul makes that plain enough.

Heb 7:6-7, “But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises, and without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.” Abraham is the father of the nation of Israel. He is one of the most illustrious characters in all of the Old Testament, and by far one of the most notable characters in all of human history. There is no way we can imagine that Abraham received blessing from some obscure Canaanite prince, and that in so doing “the less was blessed of the better.” We cannot imagine that some obscure Canaanite prince was superior to Abraham.

I hope to show that, not only was Melchizedek a very prominent figure, whose importance was readily recognized by Abraham, but that Melchizedek was, at that time, probably the most widely known, and the most influential person in the world. There was no reason anybody should challenge his authority, nor that Abraham should question his right to receive tithes.

I do not like to keep people guessing; so before we go any farther, let me say that I am firmly convinced Melchizedek was another name for Noah’s middle son Shem. I hope to present those reasons which convince me that Shem and Melchizedek were the same person. If those arguments do not convince you, I hope you will not feel hard at me for being as firmly convinced as I am in the matter.

Shem was one of Noah’s three sons. It was by those three men, and their sons, that the world was repopulated after the flood. Every human being in the world is a descendant of one or the other of those three men. So Shem stands alone as the ancestor of one of the three grand divisions of the human race. I hope to show that he was one of the most prominent characters in the history of the world, and one of the most prominent figures in the lineage of the Messiah.

Shem was Abraham's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather. Notice that he was his seven times (count them) great-grandfather. If we add those seven times to the forty two generations from Abraham to Christ (Mt 1:17), we have forty nine generations. If seven is a significant number, forty nine—seven times seven—must be somewhat more significant.

I hope to show that Shem and Melchizedek were the same person, that Shem was a figure of Christ, and that his ministry resembled, or prefigured, the ministry of Christ as clearly as the type can ever resemble the antitype. And I hope to show that he was a figure of Christ in ways that no other person ever was or could be.

But, if Melchizedek and Shem were the same person, why does it call him Melchizedek? Why does it not just call him Shem? For whatever the reason, many of the characters in the Bible were called by more than one name. Jacob was often called Israel. Several times he was called Jeshurun (De 32:15; 33:5,26; Isa 15:9). Gideon was sometimes called Jerubbaal (Jud. 6:32); sometimes he was Jerubbesheth (2Sa 11:21). It would be hard to count all the characters in the Bible who had more than one name.

Melchizedek was the king of Salem. That was probably his kingly name. The suffix -zedek is also found in the name of Adonizedek (Jos 10:1), the king of Jerusalem. We will notice later that Jerusalem and Salem were the same city. When we find two kings of the same city having the same suffix in their name, it indicates that the suffix might very well have been part of their royal title.

When we read the description Paul gives of Melchizedek, it is easy to get the idea that he could not be talking about any human who ever lived, neither Shem nor anybody else. Paul says that he was “without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually,” Heb 7:3. How could any man fit all of those characteristics?

Quite a few Bible students have decided that Paul could not be talking about any mere mortal, and that Melchizedek was simply another name for the Lord himself. But that idea only looks like it solves the problem. First, the text says that Melchizedek was “made like unto the Son of God.” It does not make a lot of sense to say that somebody was like himself. That expression shows that Melchizedek was not the Lord— he was only like the Lord. Second, the Lord did have a mother. Mary was the mother of his human nature, and the Bible often refers to her as his mother (Joh 2:1,5; 19:25, etc), and in both his divine nature and his human nature God is his Father (Joh 20:17).

Also, if Melchizedek was simply another name for the Lord, and the Lord is “a priest after the order of Melchizedek,” then the priesthood of the Lord is the pattern after which the priesthood of the Lord is fashioned. It does not any kind of sense to say that a person is patterned after himself. No, Melchizedek was not the Lord, but he was like the Lord.

If you will bear with me, I hope to show that Shem is unique in all of history, and that those seven expressions do describe him. He is the only man in human history who fits the description given, and it is uncanny how very well he does fit.

The key to the question is in Heb 7:15, “And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchizedek there ariseth another priest.” The key word is similitude. Similitude indicates appearance or likeness. Christ is a priest after the similitude—after the likeness—of Melchizedek. The priesthood of the Lord is not the priesthood of Melchizedek; but it is like it. There is a clear similitude or resemblance.

We are dealing with a type, and it is the purpose of a type to resemble the antitype. When the text says that Melchizedek was “without father, without mother,” and so on, it is not saying that he absolutely did not have a father or mother. No one who ever lived was absolutely without parents, but within the limits of the type, Melchizedek clearly resembled one who did not have a father or a mother. He resembled one without beginning of days, or end of life, and so on. When we accept the key provided by the text itself, and apply that key to the person of Shem, the problem resolves itself.

Shem appeared to be without father, and without mother. He appeared to be without descent, without beginning of days, or end of life. He appeared to have a perpetual, unchangeable priesthood. And he had those appearances as no other person ever did. I believe that all of this will become clear as we go along, and I believe that it will become clear that the type does fit the antitype.

Those of you who have read our little booklet on The Sixteen Ancestors of All Mankind are already acquainted with the argument I am about to present, but a lot of you have either not read it, or perhaps you have forgotten most of it, so I hope you will pardon me if I simply quote verbatim from that material.

Before the flood men lived to be very old. If you will look at Ge 5, you will discover that it was not at all uncommon for somebody to live to be almost a thousand years old. Adam lived to be nine hundred and thirty years old (Ge 5:5). Methuselah lived to be nine hundred and sixty nine (Ge 5:27), and Noah lived to be nine hundred and fifty (Ge 9:29). But all of that changed after the flood. For the next several generations they still lived to be very old by our standards, but the life expectancy of each generation dropped rapidly. Genesis chapter eleven gives the ages of the first several generations after the flood. If those life spans, which are listed, are typical of those which are not listed, and we have no reason to believe they were any different, then, one strange fact becomes evident: for the next eight generations after the flood, the life expectancy of each generation was falling so rapidly, that it was the rule, rather than the exception, for the parents to outlive their children. And not only that, it was the rule for the grandparents to outlive their grandchildren, and for the great-grandparents to outlive their great-grandchildren, and so on. That went on for eight generations or more.”

Let us take just a moment to see how that worked out. Ge 11 records that “Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood” (Ge 11:10). He lived “after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years” (Ge 11:11). So Arphaxad died 502 years (2 years plus 500 years) after the flood. “Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah” (Ge 11:12) 37 years (2 years plus 35 years) after the flood. Salah lived another 403 years (Ge 11:15). So he died 440 years after the flood (2 years plus 35 years plus 403 years). Notice that he died 62 years before his father. The eleventh chapter of Genesis has all the numbers. You can work out the arithmetic for yourselves, but here is a listing of the date of death of each of the patriarchs up until the time of Abraham.”

Shem died 502 years after the flood.

Arphaxad died 440 years after the flood.

Salah died 470 years after the flood.

Eber died 531 years after the flood.

Peleg died 340 years after the flood.

Serug died 393 years after the flood.

Nahor died 241 years after the flood.

Terah died 426 years after the flood.

Abraham died 527 years after the flood.”

Except for Eber, Shem outlived all his descendants for the next eight generations. Abraham was the first to outlive Shem, and he only outlived him by 25 years.”

Now consider, if you will, the significance of all that. Shem outlived his children, his grandchildren, his great-grand-children, his great-great-grandchildren, and so on down to his great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren. The text only lists one exception. That was his great-grandson Eber. Except for Eber, so far as the record shows, Shem outlived all his descendants until we get all the way down to his seven times great-grandson Abraham.

One of the characteristics of Melchizedek was that he had no end of life. Shem was not immortal. He did finally die. The type and the antitype never agree in every detail; else the type would be the antitype. They only look alike. But even though Shem was not immortal, he must have appeared to his descendants to be immortal. When an aged man stands all alone at the head of all his descendants, at the head of his extended family, with eight generations entirely missing between himself and his descendants, he certainly has an appearance of immortality. It looks for all the world like he is never going to die. Bearing in mind that we are dealing with similitude—dealing with appearances—Shem exactly fits the description of one who had no end of life.

Another characteristic of Melchizedek was that he had no beginning of days. Here again, Shem fits the description. Shem had no beginning of days---not in this world, anyway. Shem had his beginning in another world. He was born in the world before the flood. The Bible consistently refers to the world before the flood as another world (spared not the old world 2Pe 2:5, the world that then was 2Pe 3:6). So Shem had no beginning of days—in this world. He had his beginning in another world, and he came (through the flood) from that world to this world. Again, Shem fits the description of Melchizedek, and he stands as a type of the Lord, who truly had no beginning of days, and who came to this world from another world. Joh 3:13, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man, which is in heaven.”

At the time Melchizedek met Abraham (and it is especially at that juncture that he stands as a type of Christ) he was without father and without mother. All of Shem's ancestors died, either in the flood, or prior to it. His grandparents were dead: his great-grandparents were dead; all his aunts and uncles were dead. He outlived his father by one hundred and fifty years (Ge 9:6,29; 11:10-11). So at the time he met Abraham, his father, and no doubt his mother, were dead.

Get the picture. Here is the man who stood at the head of a mighty family, which constituted the third part of the human race. And yet he stood all alone in the world. At the time he met Abraham, all his ancestors, including his father and mother were long since dead. His descendants for the next eight generations were dead. More than any other person in recorded history, he had the appearance of one with neither ancestors nor descendants.

Paul goes on to say that he was “made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually” (Heb 7:3). He was like the Son of God in any number of ways, but the one thing Paul has most in mind is his perpetual priesthood. In Shem’s day the only established priesthood was the priesthood of the head of the house. The Mosaic Law and the Levitical Priesthood did not come along for another four hundred years. The Old Testament prophets did not appear on the scene for still another four hundred years. The gospel ministry would not arrive for two thousand years. The responsibility for religious instruction rested on the father as the head of the family.

Shem was the head of his immediate family, and he stood as the head over their families. Bear in mind that the extended family of Shem (they were all his descendants) constituted the third part of the human race. Considering the long lives and the large families of that day, Shem was possibly the spiritual leader of millions of descendants.

Shem was the spiritual leader of his descendants, and in some sense, he was the spiritual leader, even of those other two families, the Japhethites, and the Hamites as well. He was their leader to the extent they had a spiritual leader. Neither Japheth nor Ham were able to give the dependable lead Shem provided. The Bible makes it clear enough that the respon-sibility of leadership rested on Shem, so far as the true worship of God was concerned. Ge 9:25-27, “And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, blessed be the Lord God of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”

It is obvious that in spiritual matters, Shem was the best known and the most influential man in the world. In that, he was clearly a type of the Lord.

God has never left himself without a witness. When there were only three people in the world, God sent a witness, a prophet. Read Mt 23:29-35. In that passage the Lord complains about those who shed the blood of the prophets “from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias.” The text clearly implies that Abel was a prophet. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied (Jude 14). Notice that number seven again. Ps 105:9-10,15 shows that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were all prophets. God has always had a witness. He has always provided for some kind of religious instruction. In Shem’s day that responsibility rested on the head of the house.

Living so long as he did, he stood as the head of the family for eight full generations. His children were born; they lived, and died, and all the while, he was the only priest they knew. His grandchildren were born; they lived and died, and they knew no other priest. That went on for eight generations, and for all that time, for all they could tell, there was never going to be another priest. It appeared that the priesthood of Shem would go on forever.

We are repeatedly told that Christ was “a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” According to Webster order has to do with arrangement or succession. To all appearance, Shem was never going to have a successor. It appeared that he was going to go on forever. Again the type fits the antitype. The Lord Jesus Christ is our one and only high priest. He has no successors. His priesthood will never end.

Shem was the type; Christ is the antitype. For eight gener-ations Shem appeared to his family to have a perpetual priesthood. He prefigured Christ who truly does have the one and only perpetual priesthood. The Levitical priests were very different to Melchizedek. Theirs was a different order; they had successors. They lived out their normal lifespans; they died, and they were replaced. But the priesthood of Shem appeared to go on forever. He had the appearance of which Christ has the reality. Heb 7:23-26, “And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death. But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

The last thing we need to notice is that Melchizedek was king of Salem. Again, in this he is a clear type of the Lord Jesus Christ. Salem is the old name for Jerusalem. David refers to Jerusalem and calls it Salem in Ps 76:2, “In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion.” Sometimes Zion referred to the entire old city of Jerusalem; sometimes it referred to a hill in Jerusalem. Either way, it has reference to Jerusalem. So Jerusalem, or Salem, was the capital of the kingdom of Melchizedek, and it was the capital of the kingdom of David, and it is also one of the names of the New Testament church.

Melchizedek, with his apparently perpetual priesthood, reigning in that very ancient Jerusalem prefigured the Lord Jesus Christ with his truly perpetual priesthood reigning in that New Jerusalem which is above, which is the mother of us all (Ga 4:26). When David claimed Jerusalem as his capital, he was simply reclaiming that old capital which had been the center of the government of Melchizedek many centuries before. And when the New Testament writers refer to the church as the new Jerusalem, the holy Jerusalem, or the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb 12:22; Re 3:12; 21:2,10), they connect the New Testament Church with both of those two Old Testament types, Melchizedek and David.

Ps 110:4, “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”

Not By Works Of Righteousness

 NOT BY WORKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

What is the ultimate cause of our salvation? Are we saved wholly and solely by the grace of God, or is there some cause in us that merits salvation? Does God save those who deserve to be saved, or does he save those who really ought to burn in the flames of eternal damnation.

Most of us know too much about ourselves, and our own track record, to think we could expect to be saved for heaven, based solely on our own merit. We have failed too often; our record is too faulty. If one transgression was sufficient to condemn Adam and all his posterity to eternal damnation, then surely none of us could hope to look to our own record as the basis of any claim on God and his goodness. The carnal pride of man is such that we would like to find something in ourselves that merits salvation, and at some moment, we might actually think we have some claim on God, but after we have thought about the matter, and after we have considered even a few of our transgressions, we have to admit that it is not so.

The main point of contention between those who truly believe the Bible and others has to with that one question: Are we saved wholly and solely by the grace of God, or is there some cause in us that merits salvation? Most any Christian will admit that salvation is by grace. The Bible states that fact too clearly for anybody to deny it, but what does the Bible mean when it talks about salvation by grace?

Actually, the question revolves around the nature and attributes of God. Much of the confusion about the Bible would be resolved if we could only acknowledge what the righteousness of God requires. Most people have an entirely inadequate idea of what God is like, and what his righteousness requires. Somehow, the majority of religious people seem to have gotten the idea that all God requires of them is a good average. They seem to have the idea that what God requires is that we do good more often than we do bad—if our good outweighs our bad, then we will be alright.

One of the earliest recollections I have is of one day when I was very small. My grandmother took me on her knee, and began to explain to me what God expected of me. My grandmother was one of the finest people who ever lived. I suppose most folks believe that about their grandmother, but my grandmother was—she was one of the finest of all people. And she was a very religious person. She was confused about religion, but she was sure that what she had been taught was right, and she was very devoted to it.

She explained to me that there was a day coming, when I would stand before God in judgment, and I would be confronted by everything I had ever done. She explained that there would be a mighty pair of scales, and all of my good works would be placed on one side of the scales, and all of my bad works would be placed on the other side of the scales. Whichever outweighed the other would determine where I would spend eternity. If I had more good works than I had bad works, I would spend eternity with God in heaven, and if I had more bad works than I had good works, I would suffer eternal woe and misery.

Well, to a little three or four old boy that sounded reasonable enough, and I am sure that my grandmother was sure she was arguing God’s case for him. She was trying to encourage me to build up a dependable record of good works.

What my grandmother did not realize was that she was pleading for a very low standard, and she was allowing that standard was sufficient to gain a home in eternal heaven. It is amazing how people can fail to realize what they are saying in matters of religion. Do you see? Without having the slightest idea of what she was saying, my grandmother was arguing that all God requires of us is a good average--all he requires is that our good outweighs our bad.

That was not what she meant to say at all. She did not believe any such thing. She was a highly moral person, and she had no idea of what she was saying. She had been taught that in order to gain eternal heaven, we must produce more good works than bad works, and if our good outweighs our bad, we will be good candidates for heaven. She did not realize that if that was right, all God requires is a good average.

Why, the law of the land is not that lenient. Suppose a person is arrested for some crime, and his attorney tries to argue for a good average, do you suppose the jury is going to be impressed? It does not matter that there are more banks he did not rob than there are banks which he did rob. They are only interested in the one bank he did rob. They are not interested in all the people he did not kill, they are only interested in the one person he did kill.

In its own way, the law of the land demands absolute perfection, and it will not accept anything less. You may not think the law of the land demands absolute perfection, but it does. The law does not deal with every moral infraction of which you may be guilty. For instance, it is wrong for you to think mean and spiteful thoughts about your neighbor, but the law of the land does not deal with mean and spiteful thoughts. It is wrong for you to entertain base and lustful thoughts about your neighbor's wife, but the law does not deal with base and lustful thoughts.

But while the law does not deal with every sinful deed of which you may be guilty, with regard to those offenses with which it does deal, the law demands absolute perfection. The law does not forbid you to think mean and spiteful thoughts about your neighbor, but it does forbid you to take a club and hit him over the head. It forbids you to take a club and hit so much as one person. In that regard, the law of the land demands absolute perfection, and it will accept nothing less. It does not forbid you to think base and lustful thoughts about your neighbor's wife, but it does forbid you to give free reign to those thoughts and assault your neighbor’s wife. Again, in that regard, the law demands absolute perfection. It does not really matter that you may have repressed your impulses more often than not, one offense is sufficient to bring you into conflict with the law.

The law of God is different from the law of the land in that it forbids every transgression of every kind. The law of the land demands perfection with regard to those offenses with which it deals. The law of God demands perfection with regard to every transgression. It will not tolerate so much as one sin, and just as surely as one act of murder will bring on you the full force of the law of the land, were it not for the grace of God, one hateful thought would bring on you the full force of the law of God, and that one offense would be sufficient to doom you to eternal damnation.

As plausible as it may sound at first, the argument that our home in heaven depends on whether our good deeds outweigh our bad deeds would not even satisfy a court of law in our day, and it certainly will not satisfy the justice of God. The only thing that will satisfy divine justice is the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. If the absolute righteousness, the absolute perfection, of the Lord Jesus Christ has not been imputed to our account, we will never see eternal heaven.

If you stand before God in eternal judgment with so much as one sin charged to your account, you can never stand justified before him, and you cannot expect to spend eternity in heaven with him. The one sin of Adam was sufficient to condemn the entire race of mankind, and one sin on your part is enough to separate you from God for all eternity. A good average will not do. If your sins—all of your sins—have not been charged against the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and if the pure and spotless righteousness of the Lord Jesus has not been credited to your account, eternal damnation will be your doom.

The main reason people sometimes get the idea they can be justified before God by their own works is that they do not have the slightest idea of what the righteousness of God requires. They have no idea of how righteous God is, and they have no idea of what the righteousness of God requires of them. The Bible is filled with statements about what the righteousness of God requires, but it seems that most people have failed to notice.

Job 25:4-5 is just one example. “How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not: Yea, the stars are not pure in his sight.”

The stars are the purest things in all of creation, and yet, this text says that even the stars are not pure in his sight. Consider for a moment how pure the stars are. Heat is the universal purifying agent. The stars are the hottest things in the universe, and they must, of necessity, be the purest things in the universe.

About two years ago, several people on the West Coast became sick from eating contaminated meat. One little boy died. The meat was contaminated with something called E Coli bacteria. The authorities advised people that if they would start cooking all meats at a higher temperature, the bacteria would be killed. To that extent the meat would be purified; the bacteria would be killed.

A few weeks later, the water system of Milwaukee, Wisconsin became contaminated. Again, people began to get sick. The authorities advised people to boil their drinking water. The heat would kill the bacteria. Sufficient heat does have a purifying effect.

In refining silver, the ore is heated to a high enough temperature to melt the silver. The impurities rise to the surface and they are skimmed off. That process is repeated over and over until no more impurities can be removed. The Bible talked about that. Ps 12:6, “The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.”

Heat has always been relied on as the universal purifier, but none of those examples even remotely compares to the purity of the stars. The stars are the hottest things in all of creation. As hot as they are, the stars are so pure that our minds cannot even imagine how pure they are. They are pure beyond our comprehension.

Astronomers estimate the temperature of the stars in the tens of thousands, or even the millions, of degrees. They tell us the stars are so hot that even the metals in the stars, the iron and so on, are in a gaseous state. Iron melts at 2785 degrees, and it boils at 4755 degrees. It literally vaporizes (it becomes a gas) at 4755 degrees. Those of us who never deal with such high temperatures have difficulty thinking of iron in a gaseous state, but it does vaporize if you get it hot enough. Astronomers tell us that every particle of iron in the stars is in a gaseous state.

As any substance is heated, the tiny little electrons that spin around the nucleus of the atoms of that substance begin to spin faster and faster and faster. The hotter the material becomes, the faster the electrons spin. And the faster they go, the more they spin off and break away from any other atom that may have attached itself to that atom. When the material becomes so hot, every atom breaks away from every other atom. Finally, every atom stands alone. Every atom is free from every contaminating atom. The substance is as pure as anything in nature can be.

That is how hot the stars are, and that is how pure they are, but listen to what the text says, “How, then, can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; Yea, the stars are not pure in his sight.” There is no way anything in nature can be made any more pure than the stars, and yet not even the stars are pure in God’s sight.

Those of you, who think you can get to heaven on your good average, have never realized how righteous God is, and what righteousness he requires of us. If the stars are not pure in his sight, do you suppose that with all your impure thoughts and impure deeds, you could ever stand justified before God based on your own merit?

The only thing that will satisfy God is absolute perfection, and the only source of absolute perfection is the imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. The only way you will ever stand justified before God is for God to look at you and see, not your track record, but to look at you and see the righteousness of his Son credited to your account.

If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that our record is too faulty, and our sins are too many, for us to ever expect to be justified before God by our works. If our judgment is based on our works, we will be lost world without end.

It is obvious that none of us in this day could be justified by our own works, but what about the saints we read about in the Bible? Were they not such men that they could have been justified by works? They were so faithful, and they performed such notable deeds, you would think that, perhaps, some of them might have earned some kind of merit with God. During the remainder of this booklet we will look at some of those men. We will look at Adam and Noah, and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Moses and David, and the apostle Peter. I believe we can demonstrate that if salvation is not wholly and solely by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, that not even those men could ever live in eternal heaven. If salvation is not by grace, not even the most eminent saints could be saved.

You can be sure that if none of those men of God could be saved, based on their own merit, there is none of us, sinners that we are, who would stand a chance. If not even the stars are pure in his sight, you can be sure that you and I could never qualify.

The justice of God requires absolute perfection. Unless we have always, at all times, and in every instance, refrained from every transgression, no mater how insignificant we may think that transgression may have been, we can never expect to be justified before God by our own works.

There is nobody, outside of the Lord Jesus Christ, who fits that description. There is nobody who has always done exactly what was right, and in our hearts we know that to be a fact. That is why those people, who claim they expect to be justified before God by their works, invariably fear death so much more than those who are trusting only in the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. No matter how they may protest to the contrary, in their hearts they know they could never stand before God justified on the basis of their own merit, and because of that, they usually come to the hour of death terrified.

Both by precept and by example the Bible teaches that our salvation for eternal heaven is based solely on the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. It is a simple matter to produce a long list of proof texts proving that salvation is by grace.

Eph 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of ourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Tit 3:4-5, “But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

2Ti 1:9, “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”

The first text says that our salvation is not of works; the next text says that it is not by works; and the third text says that it is not according to our works. God knew there would be those who would try to evade the clear teaching of the Bible, especially on the subject of salvation by grace. So he moved the apostle to say the same thing three different ways. He cut off every avenue of escape for those who would deny the simple fact that salvation is by grace and grace alone. It is not based on any merit of our own.

We will not multiply proof texts to show that the Bible teaches salvation by grace. It is clear enough that salvation by grace is the doctrine of the Bible. It is safe to say that every person, who claims to believe the Bible, acknowledges that the Bible teaches salvation by grace. They disagree vigorously about what is actually meant by that expression, but all will agree that salvation by grace is the doctrine of the Bible. In this little booklet we are interested in showing what that expression means, and in showing that the Bible teaches that doctrine by example as well as by precept.

The Bible records the lives of the most eminent saints, and the Bible record of their lives shows that not even those men could be justified before God by their own works. The Bible is very faithful to provide a clear and accurate account of its characters. It records their faults as faithfully as it records their virtues, and the Bible account leaves us without a doubt: unless salvation is by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, there will nobody be saved. Consider with us, if you will, some of those characters and see if you can find one that could have been saved by his own good works.

If there was ever anybody who had an opportunity to be justified by works, Adam did. There was nothing wrong with Adam as God created him. God created him able to stand, but liable to fall. He did not have to do what he did. His sin was willful and deliberate. In his original creation Adam did not have the sinful nature, that inborn appetite for sin, that you and I have. He sinned against light and knowledge. He could have kept God’s commandments. He did not have the positive bias toward sin that has dominated the heart and mind of every person who has been born since his day. And still he sinned. Consider his case.

Except for the Lord Jesus Christ, Adam was the brightest man who ever lived. One hundred rocket scientists all rolled into one could not have equaled the genius of Adam. Does the Bible say that? Well, no, it does not say that in so many words, but it does demonstrate it. God gave a simple demonstration of how smart Adam was.

Ge 2:19, “And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call then; and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.” Think about that. Adam gave names to every living creature on earth. Nobody knows for sure how many different species of living creature there are, because scientists cannot agree on what actually constitutes a species. A lot of scientists claim there are over 300,000 different species. The smallest estimate I have ever seen says there are over 17,000. Suppose the smaller number is correct. Suppose there are only 17,000 different species. That still means that Adam came up with over 17,000 names for the different living creatures.

That is a monumental task, just to come up with that many different names. Just think of the difficulty of even coming up with that many different combinations of sounds. If you and I were trying to do that, it would not be long until we would have exhausted all our ideas, and we would have a baboon, a bowboon, and a booboon. All our names would begin to sound alike; we could never keep them separated.

Not only did he come up with all the necessary names, he came up with appropriate names. The names stuck. The text says, “Whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.” Whatever name Adam came up with actually became the name of that living creature. “That was the name thereof;” that was what people called it. We have trouble naming churches and making the names stick. There are churches all over the land that have one official name, and another name by which most people know it, and in some cases not many people even know the proper name of that church; it is so commonly called by another name. If the name Adam provided had not been suitable to the creature to which he attached it, eventually people would have begun to call it by a different name, but the names stuck.

Not only did Adam come up with thousands of appropriate names for all the different living creatures, he remembered what he had called them. He remembered the names—all those thousands of names—and he remembered which animal each name identified. Most of us have trouble meeting three or four people at a time and keeping the names straight. Adam could keep thousands of names straight the first time.

Let me ask you: did you ever study a foreign language in school? No doubt, many of you have. What was the hardest part of learning the language? Building a vocabulary, right? That is the most difficult part, and the most important. For that matter, if you can build a sufficient vocabulary, you can manage to get by with very little of grammar. If you know enough words in any language, you can string words together, in some fashion, and the other person can usually puzzle out what you are trying to say.

Suppose somebody is learning a foreign language, and he goes to the local Waldenbooks, or Barnes and Nobles, or some other bookstore, and buys a dual language dictionary, perhaps a Spanish-English, or a French-English dictionary. The larger dual language dictionaries usually have about 15,000 entries from each language. That is about the same number as the smallest estimate of the number of different kinds of living creatures in the world. Suppose he sits down, reads the dictionary, and lays it on the shelf. He will never need to consult it again, because he has already read it; he knows the foreign language equivalent of all the words listed.

Do you know anybody who could do that? No, of course not. To learn that many different foreign language words you have to drill, drill, and drill for years. There is nobody on earth who could sit down, read the dictionary, and remember all the words he had read. But Adam could. Adam remembered what he had named every creature. If he had not remembered, who could have told him?

Not only could Adam have remembered every entry in the dictionary, he could have first written the book, and then he could have remembered what he had written. That is essentially what he did in giving names to every living creature. There is nobody today who could even come close to that.

We hear a lot nowadays about the great power of our subconscious mind. We are told that we only use about 3 per cent, or maybe 10 per cent, of our total brain power. I have no doubt that is right. Our brains do not function at full capacity. But the thing those people do not tell you—because they probably do not know—is that when Adam sinned, he blew most of the circuits. Our brains do not function the way Adam’s brain did. Our brains have been crippled by Adam’s sin, and all the cultivation, and all the education, and all the self-help courses in the world will never put it back.

There are those who will tell you that the serpent tricked Adam into doing what he did. But you can be sure the serpent did not trick Adam. The devil is smarter than you and I are, but Adam was too bright for the devil to outsmart him. God knew somebody would come along with that notion. That is why he moved Paul to say, “Adam was not deceived (he was not tricked), but the woman being deceived was in the transgression,” 1Ti 2:14. Adam knew exactly what he was doing. Adam knew God was telling the truth, and the serpent was lying, but he acted as if it was the other way around. He acted as God was lying, and the serpent was telling the truth.

The serpent began by saying, “Yea, hath God said....” He challenged the honesty of God. Satan has been a liar from the beginning; he is the Father of Lies. Joh 8:44, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

When Adam partook of the forbidden fruit, he acted as if the serpent, the father of lies, was telling the truth, and God, the very embodiment of truth, was lying. Let me ask you: do you believe that anybody who makes God out to be a liar, and more than that, who acts as if God is a worse liar than the devil himself, can expect to get to heaven by his own righteousness?

Let me tell you: if salvation for heaven is by works, Adam will never make it.

Bible makes it clear enough that Adam was a child of God. The skins God provided as a covering for the nakedness of Adam and Eve were symbolic of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, the lamb slain for the sins of his people. The symbolic lesson is that Adam’s sins were atoned for by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and that he is clothed with his imputed righteousness. Adam was a child of God, and we shall see him in heaven one day, but it will not be by his own righteousness. Based on his righteousness he would never make it.

What about Noah? Was Noah such a character that he deserved to be saved? Was his life so attuned to the will of God, that he had some claim on God. Did God owe it to Noah to save him?

Noah lived in what was probably the most wicked age of the world. No matter how wicked men may be, as they grow older, they generally begin to calm down somewhat. The thought of dying seems to have a sobering effect. In Noah's day people lived to be close to a thousand years old. Considering that fact, and considering that Noah was born when the earth was just a little over a thousand years old, it is a mathematical fact, that during Noah's day most everybody who had ever lived was still living.

Very few people had ever died. In an age when death seemed to be only a remote possibility, we cannot imagine how wicked people must have been. The Bible tells us, “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” Ge 6:5. Think about that. He says their thoughts were only evil. They did not think about anything else, and more than that, they thought about it continually. They thought about nothing but evil, and they thought about it continually.

In verse eleven he tells us, “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” There was nowhere to hide. The earth was filled with violence. The entire earth was a Lebanon, or a Bosnia, or a Somalia. As wicked as the world is today, it is not that bad yet. We are getting there, but we are not there yet.

But in the midst of that wicked generation, there was, at least, one righteous man. Verses 9, and 10, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generation, and Noah walked with God.” In that wicked age this one righteous man walked with God.

God determined to destroy the entire world, and all the wickedness in it, but he chose Noah to be the one man through whose family he would preserve the human race. All of mankind would perish except Noah and his family, and it would be that family who would repopulate the new world. No other person on the planet was so honored as Noah was. After God had swept the world clean by the waters of the flood, Noah would stand at the head of the entire family of man. Except for his daughters-in-law, every person on earth, from that day forward, would be a descendent of Noah. No other person on earth was so honored and so blessed as he was.

After the flood we are told that “Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard. And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him,” Ge 9:20-23.

Notice that Noah woke from his wine and “saw what his younger son had done unto him.” Ham did more than look. Those people have been around for a long time, and their conduct had always been repulsive to decent, moral people.

Noah was blessed as no other man on earth was blessed. He was honored as no other man on earth was honored. When the world was literally filled with violence and wickedness, Noah walked with God. Later, when the earth had been swept clean of all the sin and violence, you would think it would have been easier for him to live a godly life. Instead, Noah sinned. He planted a vineyard, and made wine, and got stinking, stumbling, falling down, passed out, stark naked, drunk.

If salvation is by works, Noah will never make it. A good average will not do. The law of God demands perfection, and Noah was certainly not perfect. Noah was a child of God. There can be no doubt; “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Noah will be in heaven, but he will not be there because of his own righteousness; he will be there because he was a subject of grace. He will be there because of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.

What about Abraham? If there is anybody in the Bible that we might expect to have earned a home in heaven, it is Abraham. He is the father of the people of Israel, and one of the most notable characters in all of human history. We call him the Father of the Faithful. We are amazed at his great faith. Who could forget Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah? In Genesis, chapter twenty-two, we read that God told Abraham, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” Abraham did not hesitate. He rose early the next morning and started on his way.

I have to confess that there is a lot I do not understand about what transpired on the mountain that day, but God knew exactly what he was doing. He knew exactly the way this matter was going to work out, and he knew what Abraham’s response would be. He declares “the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure,”

Isa 46:10. God is never surprised. He knows exactly what lies ahead.

Abraham did not. He did not know how far this matter would go, but he was convinced that he and the boy would go up on the mountain, and he was convinced that he and the boy would come back down again. When he got to the mountain, he told the servant to stay at the foot of the mountain, and he said, “I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” He did not say, “The lad and I will go yonder and worship, and I will come again to you.” He fully expected that Isaac would come back down off the mountain with him. Paul says that he accounted that “God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from whence also he received him in a figure,” Heb 11:19. Abraham was convinced that God would raise him up, even from the ashes, if the matter went that far.

Sometimes I hear somebody use the expression, “If I know my own heart.” Let me tell you; you don't. None of us entirely understands his own heart. Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it,” Jer 17:9. I gave up long ago trying to figure out other people; I don’t entirely understand myself. There is ever so much I do not understand about myself. I do not always understand why I am the way I am, nor why I do the way I do. But as little as I understand myself, I am sure that I know myself well enough to know that I could never do what Abraham did. My wife and I have four children, and I cannot tell you how much I love those children; they mean more than life to me. I have one son, and he is a very special person to me. There is no way I could take my son up on that mountain the way Abraham did with Isaac. I am sure there is no way I could ever be so submissive as Abraham was. His faithfulness is more than I can understand.

If that was all the Bible told us about Abraham, we might get the idea that Abraham could have been saved by works. Such faith is more than we could expect from any father. But there is more. The Bible is the most accurate of all books. It is more faithful to the facts than any other book that has ever been written. The Bible does not hide the faults of its characters. It tells about their strengths, and it tells about their weaknesses. And they did have weaknesses, even the best of them.

God promised to give the land of Canaan to Abraham, but he had no sooner arrived in the land than he passed right on through. There was a famine in the land, and Abraham went to Egypt. In Genesis chapter twelve, we read, “And it came to pas, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai, his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon; therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife, and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister; that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee. And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh, and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house.” The providence of God took care of Sarai. He did not allow the matter to go as far as it might have.

Abraham did not entirely lie in the matter. In Ge 20 he explained that Sarai was “the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife.” What he told was half true, but I had rather anybody would tell me a whole lie, than a half truth any day. It is easier to spot a whole lie.

Pharaoh was a much more honorable man than Abraham gave him credit for being. When he discovered what Abraham had done, he told him, “Now, therefore, behold thy wife, take her and go thy way.” Think about that. Abraham, the Father of the Faithful, was run out of Egypt for lying.

And, more than that, after he left Egypt and arrived in the land of the Philistines, he did the same thing all over again. You would think he would have learned. He placed his wife at risk in Egypt, and then he repeated the same thing with Abimilech, the Philistine king (Ge 20). And again, the king, who had every right to be offended with Abraham, instead, very graciously restored him his wife.

Later, we learn that Isaac did the same thing with regard to his wife, Rebecca (Ge 26:6-11). He obviously learned it from his father.

I am sure I could not do what Abraham did at Mount Moriah with regard to Isaac, but I am also sure that I could not do what he did in Egypt with regard to his wife. Before I would place my wife at risk the way Abraham did Sarai, I am sure I would insist that we just sit down in the desert and starve. I cannot imagine that we could ever get in such distress that I would place my wife in such peril as Abraham did Sarai. It is hard to think of anything more despicable than what Abraham asked of Sarai, and to consider that he might actually go through with it is more than we can imagine.

The simple point is that if salvation is by works, Abraham will never make it. We are running out of people to be saved by works. If Adam and Noah and Abraham and Isaac could not be saved by works, is there anybody who could? We cannot escape the conclusion that if salvation is not by the sovereign, unmerited grace of God, nobody will be saved.

What about Jacob? He was Abraham's grandson. When we speak about the origin of the people of Israel, we generally speak of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. His name means supplanter, but God honored him by changing his name to Israel, which means a prince with God. We still refer to the people of God as Spiritual Israel, and we refer to National Israel. His name has been emblazoned across the pages of history as few names ever have. Could Jacob have been saved by works? I don't think so.

The very first thing the Bible records about Jacob is that he attacked his brother. A newborn baby is very limited in his ability to attack anybody, but to the best of his ability, as soon as he was born, Jacob attacked his twin brother Esau. “His hand took hold on Esau's heel,” Ge 25:26. If you think I am misinterpreting that action, read the remainder of the Genesis account of the relationship between Jacob and Esau, and see if that entire relationship is not marked by Jacob’s mistreatment of his brother.

The name Jacob means supplanter; it signifies a con-man, a con-artist, a trickster. The name fit. Jacob could not be trusted. He was the sort of man you did not do business with if you could get around it, and if you did trade with him, you made sure to count your change.

Jacob was a homebody; a plain man dwelling in tents; he was his mother's favorite. He stayed at home and learned to cook, while his brother Esau was an outdoorsman, a hunter (Ge 25:27-30). Esau was the favorite of his father Isaac. One day, Esau had been out hunting, and he obviously stayed too long. He enjoyed hunting and he stayed out until he was so hungry he thought he was going to die. When he finally made it back home, he asked Jacob to “Feed me, I pray thee with that same red pottage, for I am faint,” (Ge 25:30).

We are always hearing about the close relationship between twins, and no doubt, what we have heard is generally true, but Jacob was not at all interested in helping his twin brother. Instead, he asked Esau to sell him his birthright. Esau was the oldest son of Isaac, and the birthright properly belonged to him. In that day there was a great emphasis placed on being the oldest son in the family. There was no greater possession than that birthright, and the oldest son would not readily give it up. How could he relinquish his place as the firstborn in the family, the head of the family? But Jacob would not feed him, unless he agreed to sell his birthright. It did not matter that Esau appeared to be at the point of dying, and that he actually thought he was dying. Esau was his twin brother, but Jacob would not raise his hand to help him; he wanted the birthright. He was a supplanter, a con-man, a trickster. He wanted that birthright, and he would use fair means or foul to get it.

In effect, he told his brother, “You can starve for all I care, I will not feed you, unless you sell me your birthright.” This was his twin brother who thought he was dying, but Jacob would not raise his hand to help him. Esau was vulnerable, and Jacob intended to take advantage of the situation. Esau agreed to sell the birthright. He said, “Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?” (Ge 25:32).

Esau was not innocent in the matter; Ge 25:34 says that Esau despised his birthright. But I am not on Esau's case; right now we are looking at Jacob.

The name Jacob means supplanter. The name fit; Jacob defrauded his brother out of his birthright. It does not matter that Esau failed to place the value he should have placed on the birthright. That did not diminish the guilt of Jacob. Jacob was clearly unfair in his dealings with his twin brother.

Jacob’s chicanery did not stop there. Years later, when their father thought he was dying, Isaac sent Esau into the field to “make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die,” Ge 27:4. It was the custom for the father, the patriarch of the family, to pronounce a blessing on the firstborn son just before his death. The blessing belonged to Esau, and Isaac thought the time had come to bestow that blessing.

Their mother Rebekah heard what Isaac said to Esau. She called Jacob and suggested that he pretend to be Esau, and take the blessing that belonged to his brother (Ge 27:6-10). At first Jacob was not anxious to make the effort. He said, “Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man: My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing,” (Ge 27:11-12). But Rebekah would not be outdone. She provided Jacob with “skins of the kids of goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck,” (Ge 27:16). In his dying state, Isaac could feel of Jacob and not detect the difference.

It is not reasonable to think that Rebekah had time to prepare those skins during the short time that she also prepared a meal for Isaac, and still help Jacob to go in to his father before Esau could return. She had obviously been waiting, and preparing for that opportunity for some time. As soon as Jacob saw how the trick could work, he was more than willing to make the effort. He wanted his brother’s blessing all along; he just did not want to get caught.

He took “the savoury meat and the bread which she had prepared,” and went in to his father, and told him, “I am Esau thy firstborn; I have done according as thou badest me,” (Ge 27:17,19). His father was skeptical; he wanted to know, “How is it that thou has found it so quickly, my son?” (Ge 27:20). Jacob just kept on lying. He said, “Because the Lord thy God hath brought it to me.” Jacob was a con-artist; it did not bother him to lie to his old blind daddy.

Isaac said, “Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau or not,” (Ge 27:21). Jacob allowed his father to feel of him to see if he was really Esau. Isaac said, “The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau,” and he asked him again, “Art thou my very son Esau?” Jacob assured him that he was.

I have heard it said that you can always spot a liar; a liar cannot look you in the face. But that is not right; that only applies to amateur liars. I have known some liars, who could put on their most honest face, look you squarely in the eye, and lie through their teeth. Jacob was that kind of liar. He had this matter of lying down to an art. He could lie to his old blind daddy, get caught, and lie again, and get caught again, and just keep on lying until his daddy finally believed him.

He could do all of that in order to steal his brother’s blessing. He defrauded his brother out of his birthright; then he stole his blessing. I am sure nobody would argue that his deal with Esau with regard to the birthright was fair. If anybody ever took advantage of the vulnerable situation of somebody else, Jacob took advantage of Esau. But, at least, they did make a deal. Esau contributed to his own downfall in the matter of the birthright. But, when it came to the blessing, Jacob did not bother to make any kind of deal; he just deceived his daddy, and stole the birthright.

The point is that, if salvation is by works, Jacob will never make it. Nobody who lies, and cheats, and steals, the way Jacob did could ever expect to be justified by works. He was one of the most blessed of all characters. He was clearly a child of God. God changed his name to Israel, which means prince with God. His name is firmly fixed on the pages of history as few names have ever been. To this day the Jewish people call themselves by his name. We refer to the people of God as spiritual Israel. But the record is clear enough: if salvation is by works, Jacob will be lost world without end.

So much for Jacob, what about Moses? It was by the hand of Moses that God gave Israel the best system of law any nation ever possessed. We like to talk about the insufficiency of the Law of Moses, and the Law certainly was insufficient to get anybody home to eternal heaven. But, the Law was never intended to save anybody for heaven, in the first place. There have been those who tried to use the Law as an instrument of salvation, but God never intended it for that purpose.

The Law was totally insufficient as a means of saving souls from Hell, but it was entirely sufficient for the purpose for which God intended it. The Law was intended as a system of government for a particular people at a particular time, and it was perfectly suited to that purpose. It was also intended as a system of worship for a particular people at a particular time, and it was perfectly suited for that purpose.

For the purpose for which it was intended, the Law of Moses was the best system of law ever possessed by any nation. How can I wax so bold as to make such a statement? For this reason: God was its author, and you can be sure that whatever God does is the best.

But while Moses was blessed to deliver the system of law that has ever since born his name, not even Moses could be saved by works. Moses was a murderer. He killed a man. Ex 2:11-12, “And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.”

I know somebody may try to justify Moses by claiming that this was a case of justifiable homicide. He saw an Egyptian mistreating one of his Hebrew kinsmen, and he flew into a rage and killed him. If it was not justifiable homicide, it must, at least, have been something less than cold-blooded, first-degree murder. There must have been some justification for what he did.

But was there any justification? Did Moses fly into a rage, and act on the spur of the moment? No, he did not. Go back and read the text again. Notice that in verse eleven there were three people present. There were Moses, and the Hebrew slave, and the Egyptian, who was smiting the Hebrew. But notice that in Ex 2:12 Moses looked this was and that way, and only when he had made certain (or at least he thought he had made certain) there was nobody looking, then he slew the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

An interval of time had passed. There were only two people present in Ex 2:12 when Moses committed the crime. Moses had plenty of time to consider the matter. He had time to plan what he was going to do, and wait for the best opportunity, and then put his plan into action. Given those facts, any third string lawyer could prove premeditation.

Not only could Moses not gain heaven by works. If his case had been brought to trial, he would have been hard pressed to stay out of the penitentiary.

Let us look at just two more examples. The Bible is very careful to record its characters just as they were. And just as they were, they demonstrated very clearly that not even the most eminent saints could have been saved by works.

David is the foremost Old Testament figure of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is such a clear type of the Lord that it is not always clear whether we are reading about David, the son of Jesse, or the Greater David, the Son of God. He is such a clear figure of Christ that, on at least one occasion, he is referred to as the Messiah. 2Sa 23:1 refers to him as the anointed of the God of Israel. In the original language, the word that is translated anointed is mashiyach (Messiah), and it is one of the titles of the Lord. It is the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek word christos (Christ), and of the English word anointed. The Holy Spirit was making it entirely clear that he was a type of the Lord.

But David was far from being innocent. David arranged to have Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba killed in order, hopefully, to conceal his own transgression.

Joab, and the armies of Israel were besieging Rabbah, the capital of the Ammonite nation. David remained at home in Jerusalem (2Sa 11:1). He was walking on the roof of his house; (in that arid land houses had flat roofs) and he saw Bathsheba washing herself. That does not speak very well for her; she should have been more careful. David sent for her; they sinned, and Bathsheba sent word that she was with child (2Sa 11:5). David had Joab to place Uriah in the place where he knew he would be killed in battle.

David was one of the most highly blessed of all characters. The Bible describes him as a man after God’s own heart. He was a man who loved God, and feared God. Most of the time he tried very hard to do the right thing, but no man who commits adultery, and arranges for the murder of the husband of his lover could ever expect to gain heaven based on his own goodness. If salvation is not wholly and solely by the sovereign grace of God, David will never make it.

The facts are no different with the apostles. The apostles were honest and good men. They were such men as God was willing to entrust with the gospel. They were such men as God was willing to use in the first planting of the church. But they were just as surely sinners, and just as surely in need of a Savior as anybody else. Without the grace of God not one of them would ever see heaven.

We will look at just one of them. Peter was as close to the Lord as anyone ever was. John thought of himself as the Lord’s favorite, and he often referred to himself as the apostle whom the Lord loved. But even though he was, no doubt, entirely sincere in that conviction, he was no closer to the Lord than Peter was. But as close as Peter was to the Lord, and in spite of the great personal affection the Lord had for him, not even Peter could have been saved by works. Peter is like the rest of us; his faults are not hard to find.

For one thing, Peter always had something to say, whether he knew what he was talking about or not. He did not always know what was going on, but that did not usually stop him from talking. In Mt 17, we read, “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.”

That was not what he needed to say. Jesus Christ is Lord. He is due all our devotion. We do not need separate tabernacles for any of the saints, not for Moses, nor Elijah, nor anybody else. Peter would have done well to listen, and that is exactly what God told him. Listen to Mt 17:5. “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”

Think of that. God interrupted him before he could finish what he was saying, and told him he needed to listen: “Hear ye him.” In other words, “Peter, this is not a time to talk; this is a time to listen.” Consider anybody so determined to put in his two cents worth, that God speaks from heaven to let him know that he needs to shut up and listen. And more than that, he lets him know that we do not need three tabernacles. It is Jesus, and Jesus alone, who is God’s beloved son, and all the honor belongs to him. No doubt, Peter was entirely sincere in the matter, but he was far too quick to speak.

Peter was very much like a child. A child wants to do whatever he sees anybody else do. In Mt 14, the disciples were in a ship “in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves for the wind was contrary.” We are told that “in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.” They thought he was a ghost. No doubt, there had been sailors who had drowned in that lake, and they thought the lake was haunted. They believed in ghosts back then too.

But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” Peter had absolutely no need to walk on the water; he just saw the Lord walking on the water, and, like a child, he wanted to try it. His impetuousness got him in trouble on that occasion too, but you already know the rest of the story.

Peter had a terrible temper. He had such a temper that when he got all riled up, you did not want to be within his reach. You probably remember the night when they came to arrest the Lord. “Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.......Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear,” Joh 18:3,10. I never have believed that was exactly what Peter intended to do. The man dodged. Peter meant to take off his head. He did have a violent temper.

In all fairness to Peter, we need to remember that he had promised the Lord that very night that he was willing to die with him, and that is exactly what he thought he was about to do. Mt 26:34-35, “Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.” When Peter said that, he meant it. He was ready to die with the Lord.

When Peter saw that crowd, he thought the time had come. Peter had no idea he was a match for that entire crowd. When he waded in with his sword swinging, he thought he would very soon fall; he would very soon be dead. How could one man stand against that entire mob. But, before he fell, he intended to take as many of them with him as he could. He would die with his Lord, but he would not die quietly.

But no matter how we may explain his actions, the fact remains; he was impetuous; and it was very common for him to speak, or act, without thinking. Sometimes his quick temper was a danger to those around him.

More than that, it appears that before the Lord called him, he had a foul mouth. The Lord had told him, “This night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice,” Mt 26:34. Peter did not think that was right, but it was. Later that night he was challenged three times, and after the third time we read, “Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man,” (Mt 26:74). Let me ask you, do you believe cursing and swearing was a brand new experience to Peter that night, or do you believe it was probably an old habit that just came back on him. I am personally convinced that it was an old habit, a habit he had learned to control after he came in contact with the Lord.

I never read that account without calling to mind a story I heard several years ago. I am told that it is a true story. There was a man who had a terrible problem with profanity. It seemed that he could not talk without cursing. It was just a part of his vocabulary. After awhile, somebody invited him to attend church, and he did. He began to attend on a regular basis. Attending church, and hearing the gospel preached in power can have an effect on our lives. He cleaned up his conduct; he cleaned up his language, and finally he asked for a home in the church. He was