General vs Specific

The other day, taking advantage of a perceived opportunity to challenge the intellect, my grandmother asked my daughter, “How many oceans are there?”

Without skipping a beat, my daughter answered, “One.”

I told my grandma, “Well, in a general sense, she’s exactly right.”

There are times in religion when people err because we make specific principles act more like general principles, and we make general principles act more like specific principles … then we seek the answer that suits us best.

For example, take Paul’s correction concerning the church’s relationship with people living ungodly lives:

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#balance, #bible-study

What does the Bible say about rightly dividing the Word of God

By: Douglas M. Williams Sr.

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the world of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1-2).

“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

There are two main divisions of the Bible: the Old Testament and the New Testament. Even though all of these 66 divisions are God’s inspired word, we must understand that the Old Testament is not a law binding on us today. Jesus came and fulfilled the old law and gave us the new law of the New Testament (Matthew 5:17; Colossians 2:14).

The unity of the Bible shows that one mind guided the writing of the Bible and that was God as he directed men to write the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:21). These 66 books were written by about 40 different authors. They wrote over a period of about 1500 years; living in widely separated parts of the world; speaking different languages; having various backgrounds; and obviously many of them not knowing each other. Yet, when all of their writings are brought together they are in harmony, showing their message comes from God. That message may be summed up in the purpose of the Bible as the salvation of man through Jesus Christ that brings glory to God.

Rightly dividing God’s word describes an important principle involved in properly understanding the Bible as we obey and apply its teachings to our lives. We must properly divide or distinguish between the commands God gave to people in the Old Testament, and the commands He expects us to keep in our Christian Age.

To be saved from sin and prepare for heaven we must believe in Jesus, repent of sins, confess our faith, be baptized, and live for Jesus.

#bible, #bible-study

What does the Bible say about hope

By: Douglas M. Williams Sr

“For we are saved by hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:24-25). Colossians 1:27 “…Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

The Bible speaks of the “hope of eternal life” (Titus 1:2; 3:7). We can look “for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearance of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

Our hope is “an anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19). And 1 Peter 1:3-4 reads, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.”

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Hope is the moving force behind our activities. Sophocles stated, “It is hope which maintains, most of mankind.” Our world is one of hope! Martin Luther said, “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” The Bible says, “he that ploweth should plow in hope; and he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope” (1 Corinthians 9:10).

Hope of a crop encourages the farmer to drive the plow; hope of victory urges the soldier to fight; hope of winning makes the athlete run; and hope of the incorruptible crown inspires the child of God to run in the race of life (1 Corinthians 9:10).

Our hope is in God, and it is powerful! Our hope is obtained from the scriptures (Romans 15:4), and as long as there is life, there is hope. Our greatest hope is for eternal life in heaven. No matter how many times we lose in this life, we can look forward to an eternal life where we win and never lose.

 

#bible-study, #hope-and-faith

I’m scared

Honestly, I am scared. I am afraid of this virus and the danger I might face if I caught it, as well as the danger I might put Doug in if I caught it. We take precautions as best we can, but I am still afraid. I pray about it, and ask God to please protect us, and I’m thankful that He is protecting us. At the same time I know God expects us to use good sense during this time and follow the rules. 

Some say, and I know the Bible teaches, we are not to be fearful. I remember how Ananias pleaded with God when He came to him in a dream and told him to go to the house of Judas on Straight Street, and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. God said he was praying and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight. 

Whoa!!! Ananias said, “Lord, I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” Ananias was afraid, but he went and did what God wanted him to do.

I remember the replies Moses gave God when God asked him to go to Pharaoh to bring His people (Israelites) out of Egypt. Who would have ever thought of talking back to God, right?  After going back and forth with God several times, Moses finally said, “O Lord, Please send someone else to do it.” God’s anger burned against Moses, and He suggested Aaron go with him to speak, and that is what they did.

Moses and Ananias were desperate. They were fearful.

God knew. He knew about Saul. He had a plan for him…a great plan, and He needed Ananias to help with His plan. God had plans to get the Israelites out of Egypt and from under the rule of Pharaoh, the King. He selected these men to help fulfill His plan.

Who is to say that we haven’t been chosen for such a time as this to execute a plan God has to redeem his people from this sinful world? Lord, help us not be afraid, but trust You as we tread life’s highway.               

#bible-study, #faith, #fear

What does the Bible say about a new life with Christ

By Douglas M. Williams Sr

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

At Romans 6:3-6, the Bible teaches that our old man dies or is crucified with Christ, that “we also should walk in newness of life,” as Christ was given new life when he was resurrected.

Before the salvation from sin that Jesus provided by his death on the cross, there was a separation between the Jews and Gentiles. At Ephesians 2:11-22, Paul tells us that Christ broke down that “wall of separation” in order to “create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace” (Ephesians 2:15).

We like new things, and Jesus has provided new things for us. We have the New Testament or covenant as Jesus made a “new covenant when He made the Old Testament obsolete (Hebrews 8:6-13). Jesus gave us “a new and living way” (Hebrews 10:20), that is shown in so many ways. Other examples are the new commandment of love in its greater meaning of quality and quantity; in speaking of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20); Jesus is the “mediator of the new covenant: (Hebrews 9:15); Jesus is preparing new mansions for Christians (John 14:1-3), as the Bible speaks of “a new heaven and a new earth” and in this connection says that God will “make all things new” (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1,5).

Paul tells us to put off the old sinful man, and put on the new man (Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:8-10). In these passages Paul tells us to put away sinful things in our lives and replace them with good things as we read Ephesians 4:25-32 and Colossians 3:12-17).

How wonderful it is to think of the new life in Christ as we enjoy all spiritual blessings in Christ.

 

#bible-study, #christian-living

Truth comes from totality

The whole story reveals all of the truth; not standalone snippets. This doesn’t mean standalone snippets are not true. It means until the whole story is available for consideration, the details cannot be compared to each other in totality so that the whole truth can be known (Proverbs 18:13).

It’s kind of like when a parent asks their child if they’re telling the whole truth. A little here without a little there leaves us without the sum total, right?

The scriptures are a source of record even to atheists, but to be fully useful, even to theists, the scriptures must become a source of truth. This only comes by allowing the entirety of the Bible to tell the entirety of God’s will. This is like comparing puzzle pieces sitting in a box to puzzle pieces that have been placed together.

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#bible-study, #devotional

What does the Bible say about a Christian’s conduct

By Douglas M. Williams Sr

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but was in all point tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15; Matthew 4:1-11).

“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:21-22).

“And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5).

“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12).

When we have a question about something, we should think about ‘what would Jesus do?’ We have seen the letter WWJD written on different places.

The above verses show us the perfect example of Jesus; how we are to follow Him; and always practice the golden rule.

Consider the following guidelines when deciding if something is right or wrong:

  1. The Personal Text: Will doing this make me a better or worse Christian?
  2. The Social Test: Will doing this influence others to be a better or worse Christian?
  3. The Practical Test: Will the results of my doing this be desirable?
  4. The Universal Test: If everyone should do this, would it improve or degrade society?
  5. The Scriptural Test: Does the Bible endorse it, or is it expressly forbidden by the word of God?

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

“Prove all things, hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).                                       

 

#bible-study, #christian-living, #conduct

What does the Bible say about being in Christ

By: Douglas M. Williams Sr.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, butaccording to the Spirit” (Romans 8:2).

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27).

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

The word “in” is a little word, but very important and meaningful. The Bible speaks so many times about being “in Christ” as shown in the above verses. So, we can see the importance and necessity of being “in Christ” if we are to be saved and enjoy all spiritual blessings.

Redemption is “in Christ” (Romans 3:24); Paul writes to “those who are sanctified in ‘Christ’,” (1 Corinthians 1:2); and Paul writes to the “saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful ‘in Christ'” (Ephesians 1:1). In addition to Christians being new creatures “in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17), the Bible says that all Christians are “one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

How are Christians in Christ, and how are all spiritual blessings in Christ? At John 15:1-6, Jesus uses the illustration of the vine and branches, Christ is the true vine, and His disciples are the branches. As the branches receive life-sustaining nutrients from the vine, Christians receive life and all spiritual blessings from Christ. If one is not “in Christ” they are not saved and do not enjoy spiritual blessings. But when one is “in Christ” it is like a branch attached to a life supporting vine, and they receive salvation, spiritual life and blessings, peace, fellowship, hope, etc.

How does one get “in Christ”? The Bible says that only baptism puts one “in Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27; Romans 6:3-4). But baptism must be preceded by faith, repentance, and confession (Mark 16:16; Luke 13:3;Matthew 10:32-33). The last thing one must do to be “in Christ” is to be baptized.

Are you in Christ?                                                  

#bible-study, #in-christ

What does the Bible say about preparation

By Douglas M. Williams Sr

“Prepare to meet your God” (Amos 4:12).

Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I got and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3).

Remember the rich farmer that the Lord said was a fool, because he was selfish and left God out of his plans. He was indeed unprepared to meet God!

God’s word exhorts us to prepare to meet God, and that heaven is a prepared place for Christians that live for God.

The Bible has much to say about preparation. David prepared for building the temple before his death. Noah prepared the ark for salvation. Ezra prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord. John prepared the way for the coming of Jesus. The Jews made preparations for the Sabbath day. Jesus taught the need for preparations in His parables as in the Ten Virgins. The Bible speaks about the things God has prepared for those who love Him, but that hell is everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

As noted above our greatest concern should be to prepare to meet God and receive an eternal mansion in heaven. This preparation is made by faith in Jesus that leads to repentance, confession, and baptism for the remission of sins. Then living faithfully for Jesus until the end of life (Matthew 10:22; Revelation 2:10).

The song, “Prepare to Meet Thy God” encourages our preparation by stating, “Careless soul, O heed the warning, for your life will soon be gone; O how sad to face the judgment, unprepared to meet thy God.”

Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people!

 

#bible-study, #spiritual-preparation

What does the Bible say about the sinner’s prayer

By: Douglas M. Williams Sr

The Bible does not say anything about “The Sinner’s Prayer” as is taught by so many today, which they teach will save a person who is outside of Christ.

The Bible teaches that a believer (Mark 16:16; Hebrews 11:6) must repent of sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38); confess faith in Christ (Matthew 10:32-33; Romans 10:10; Acts 8:37); and be baptized to be forgiven as sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Revelation 1:5).

As we hear people talk of “the sinner’s prayer” or read it, the wording is different but the message is about the same as copied here:

“Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. I know you died on the cross for me. I now turn from my sins and ask you to forgive me. I now invite you into my heart and life. I now trust you as Savior and follow You as Lord. Thank you for saving me. Amen.”

As noted above this idea cannot be found in the Bible to save a person outside of Christ. But the Bible says one must obey Jesus as also noted above. The Bible teaches that salvation is in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Timothy 2:10), and the only way to get in Christ is to obey the gospel that is completed by baptism (Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:26-27).

The Bible shows us that when believers asked what to do to be saved, they were told to “repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16). Thus, the disciples were carrying out the Lord’s instructions (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16).

The Bible does teach that a Christian, who is in Christ, is to confess sins, repent, and pray to God for forgiveness (Acts 8:13-24; James 5:16).

It would seem that there is misunderstanding about what one outside of Christ and one who is in Christ, as a child of God, must do to be forgiven. This is a good example to “Study…rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

God bless you in your study of God’s word and obedience to it. If I can help you, please let me know.

 

#bible-study, #prayer

What does the Bible say about what happens when we die

By Douglas M. Williams Sr.

Death is a subject about which we do not like to think, and especially our own. We know, as the Bible teaches, that “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Thus, we need to consider death seriously to make preparation for it. Amos 4:12 tells us to “prepare to meet thy God.”

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#afterlife, #bible-study, #death, #judgement, #soul

They named him Ezra

I don’t know why it even bothered me. It certainly was none of my business, but somehow I couldn’t get past the fact that this young couple named their little baby boy Ezra. It sounded so antiquated to me, so out-of-date. I thought of how he would hate his name when he grew up. It reminded me of when as a young girl I told Raymond Elliott, our preacher, of how when I married and had a baby boy I wanted to name him Ishmael. Raymond immediately came back reminding me I should check out the name before labeling a child with that name for life. I never forgot his suggestion and never named our son Ishmael. Well, some would say, “There’s nothing in a name. It doesn’t matter.” Doesn’t it?

Ezra has a book in our Bibles named after him. I’ve read it more than one time…lately because this is still on my mind. But you know what I’ve found? Ezra was a fine man. Read what the Today’s English Version records in Ezra 7:6-10:

“Ezra was a scholar with a thorough knowledge of the Law which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given to Moses. Because Ezra had the blessing of the Lord his God, the emperor gave him everything he asked for. In the seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes, Ezra set out from Babylonia for Jerusalem with a group of Israelites which included priests, Levites, Temple musicians, Temple guards, and workmen. They left Babylonia on the first day of the first month, and with God’s help they arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month. Ezra had devoted his life to studying the Law of the Lord, to practicing it, and to teaching all its laws and regulations to the people of Israel.”

Notice:

  1. Ezra had devoted his life to studying the Law of the Lord.
  2. Ezra had devoted his life to practicing the Law of the Lord.
  3. Ezra had devoted his life to teaching all the Law of the Lord’s laws and regulations to the people of Israel.

I imagine with the fine Bible training this little fellow is getting, one day he will want to read the book of Ezra for himself. And when he does without doubt he’s going to be mighty pleased with his name. I know I am. There’s something important in a name.

#bible-study

What does the Bible say about hope

By: Douglas M. Williams Sr

“That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments” (Psalm 78:7).

“Happy is he that has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Psalm 146:5).

“For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:24-25).

“And now abides faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

“Lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:18-19).

Hope is defined as “Desire with expectation of obtaining that which is desired,” and is so important in our lives on this earth and ‘to the hope of eternal life’” (Titus 1:2; 3:7).

Hope is one of the three greatest things that Paul mentions in the last verse of his great chapter on love. In that familiar verse Paul mentions faith, hope, and love, and it is interesting that Paul mentions these three things again in Colossians 1:4-5, where he says, “we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all saints, because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven.” These are certainly three graces that should always be conspicuous in the life of every Christian.

We should be rich in faith; full of love; and abound in hope as we prepare ourselves for our inheritance in heaven. Let not these three kindred spirits be strangers to your souls, but let faith, hope, and love always abide in your heart.

Of the things we know about hope, have we given proper consideration to the fact that hope is one of the things whereby we are saved (Romans 8:24)? Since the Bible points out that all are guilty of sin (Romans 3:23), our great need is salvation. God in his love and grace has done His part, and Jesus died for us that we might be forgiven.

Our part is to obey by believing, repenting of sins, confessing our faith in Christ as God’s son, and being baptized for the remission of our sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). Then with the Lord’s help we are to live faithfully for Jesus (Revelation 2:10), and He will save us eternally in heaven.

 

#bible-study, #christian-hope

What does the Bible say about afflictions

By Douglas M. Williams Sr

“Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1).

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

Affliction is trouble, hardship, difficulty, adversity, tribulation, and grievous distress. It causes pain, grief, sorrow and suffering.

Afflictions come in different ways, and everyone has them from time to time. How grateful we should be to know that we have a loving heavenly Father who knows and understands our afflictions and that the Bible offers comfort, help, and salvation as we trust the Lord in faith and obedience. In our afflictions it might be of help to think about the woman in her troubles that said she liked to think of her favorite verse. When asked what it was, she replied, “And it came to pass,” and explained she was glad the Bible didn’t say, “that it came to stay.”

The Bible says, “Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). “O Lord, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction” (Jeremiah 16:19).

In Acts 7:10 we read that God was with Joseph and delivered him out of afflictions. In Hebrews 11:24-25 we read, “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.”

God has not promised us a life free of affliction, but he has promised He “will never leave nor forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5). God bless you, and may He always help us look to Him in faith and obedience that we may enjoy all of God’s blessings, and especially His spiritual blessings in Christ and salvation in heaven.

 

#afflictions, #bible-study

What does the Bible say about the religion of Christ

By Douglas M. Williams, Sr

“If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:26-27).

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

Jesus said, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:24).

The above scriptures and others indicate the urgency and seriousness of the religion of Christ. At Acts 15:25-27, the Bible speaks of those “who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Yet, today, many times people do not feel that religion is anything about which to get excited. Like some modern clothing, religion has become casual and, in some cases, slovenly. But God doesn’t accept such easy religion that costs nothing. “Again,” Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

God has blessed us with a time of affluence, and a good life in so many ways. Compared to former generations, for example, we have air-conditioned homes and automobiles, and even farmers have air-conditioned tractors. Let us never take these blessings for granted, but always be thankful and use our blessings in service to others as we glorify God.

Remember, Jesus, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). Also, the following passage is so much needed by our materialistic society: “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (of heaven) (Revelation 22:14).

 

#bible-study, #religion