Category Archives: DENOMINATIONS, CULTS, & FALSE TEACHING

Why did God judge Nadab and Abihu so strictly?

WHY DID GOD JUDGE NADAB AND ABIHU SO STRICTLY?

by Shawn Brasseaux

It is easy to believe that whatever God is doing today, He was doing the exact same thing long ago. Whatever is true right now, it is easy to assume that it was true in the past. This is not always the case. People struggle with strange Old Testament passages and concepts because they are trying to reconcile them with what God is doing today. They do not use the Bible “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15), recognizing the various dispensational boundaries that are so critical to keeping the Scriptures straight. Since they do not use God’s Word, God’s way, they are forced to change/re-translate controversial verses, omit or ignore “bothersome” passages, and even throw out whole Bible Books! Nay, dear friends, we study all the Bible, for all of its 66 Books are inspired of God. If there is something mysterious in the Scriptures, we look for parallel verses to shed light on the subject. Nadab and Abihu’s dreadful fate is no different.

Notice the very bizarre account Moses recorded in Leviticus 10:1-3: “[1] And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. [2] And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. [3] Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.” What in the world just occurred here? Fire came down and consumed two Jewish priests who “offered strange fire before the LORD?” Why?

This event was repeated twice more in Moses’ writings, so it was something God wanted Israel to remember. Firstly, Numbers 3:4: “And Nadab and Abihu died before the LORD, when they offered strange fire before the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children: and Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest’s office in the sight of Aaron their father.” Also, Numbers 26:60-61: “[60] And unto Aaron was born Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. [61] And Nadab and Abihu died, when they offered strange fire before the LORD.”

When the Bible says “strange fire,” the idea is foreign fire (like fire that was a “stranger”). It was so unpleasant to God that He literally and instantaneously killed the priests who offered it. The key to this is found in Leviticus chapter 9, the verses just previous to what we read in chapter 10. Leviticus chapter 9: “[23] And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people. [24] And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.”

Once Moses set up the Tabernacle (Exodus chapter 40), here in Leviticus chapter 9, fire came out of heaven because JEHOVAH God accepted (and consumed) their burnt offering. Nadab and Abihu, in the following chapter, rebel against that act of God. Instead of the fire coming from God, them using the fire that God started, they had a fire that they had started. They replaced God’s fire with their own! Not only so, they were priests… poor examples of the congregation watching them. If God did not punish these willful religious leaders, the Jewish people would be encouraged to rebel against Him too. It would have caused a massive uprising against Him, and then He would have had to kill them all!

Read Leviticus 10:1-3 again: “[1] And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. [2] And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. [3] Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.”

They “…offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.” God did not tell Nadab and Abihu to offer that fire, so they were behaving presumptuously. It was a deliberate rebellion, men trying to substitute God’s work with their own efforts. JEHOVAH God was thus disrespected before all the Jewish people. He dealt with the guilty parties by implementing speedy death! Notice verse 3: “Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.” Aaron the High Priest had just lost two of his sons, but he was silent. He knew God was justified in taking their lives. They were following Satan… and almost corrupted Israel!

Friends, we can learn a simple lesson here. While God does not consume rebellious people by causing fire to fall from heaven today (He did in the past and He will in the future), it should be clearly noted that He never takes lightly someone trying to replace His work with their own. There are millions upon millions of precious souls today, laboring under religious tradition, trying to replace Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork with their own religious efforts. Instead of coming to God by simple faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for their sins, they want to offer their own works to merit God’s favor (it will not work!). They are trying to substitute their “goodness” for the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary! My, oh my, something far, far, far, far, far worse than fire from heaven will come upon them one day. The eternal flames of hell will surround them in a fraction of a second. May they come now to Father God by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s shed blood and resurrection… before it is eternally too late!

Also see:
» Was God “unfair” in striking Uzzah dead?
» Why did God reject Cain’s sacrifice?
» Can you explain 2 Kings 2:23-25?

Can you explain the “Corban” tradition?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE “CORBAN” TRADITION?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In order to get the full impact of certain Bible passages, we need to establish the cultural and/or historical context. The “Corban” tradition is one such example. Upon understanding its background, we will accomplish two goals. Firstly, we will better grasp the thrust of the verses. Secondly, we will recognize a modern-day parallel. This issue is a fitting commemoration to today, the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation!

“CORBAN” INTRODUCED

The Lord Jesus Christ issued a very stern rebuke of Israel’s religious leaders in Mark chapter 7: “[9] And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. [10] For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: [11] But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. [12] And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; [13] Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”

“CORBAN” DEFINED

If we look closely, we see that the Holy Spirit actually defined “Corban” for us in the verse. “It is Corban, that is to say, a gift…” (Mark 7:11). “Corban” is unique to Mark’s Gospel Record: it appears this once in Scripture. In Matthew 15:5, the parallel passage, we read simply: “But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;….” But what exactly is this “gift?” To whom or what is it given? And why was the Lord so opposed to this “Corban” practice?

“Strong’s Greek Dictionary of the Bible” provides the first few clues:

“G2878 κορβᾶν korbân, kor-ban’; of Hebrew and Chaldee origin respectively (H7133); a votive offering and the offering; a consecrated present (to the Temple fund); by extension (the latter term) the Treasury itself, i.e. the room where the contribution boxes stood:—Corban, treasury.”

The above Greek word appears twice in the underlying text of the King James Bible—Mark 7:11 (what we just read) and Matthew 27:6. Speaking of Judas Iscariot’s 30 pieces of silver, Matthew 27:6 affirms: “And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury [Korban/Corban], because it is the price of blood.” This was the Jerusalem Temple treasury, the place where offerings or gifts were kept.

“Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words” provides more information about “Corban:”

“(a) ‘an offering,’ and was a Hebrew term for any sacrifice, whether by the shedding of blood or otherwise;
(b) ‘a gift offered to God,’ Mar 7:11. Jews were much addicted to rash vows; a saying of the Rabbis was, ‘It is hard for the parents, but the law is clear, vows must be kept.’ The Sept. translates the word by doron, ‘a gift.’ See korbanas, under TREASURY, Mat 27:6.”

As an interesting side-note, we see an example of a gift being offered at the Jerusalem Temple in Matthew chapter 5: “[23] Therefore if thou bring thy gift [doron] to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; [24] Leave there thy gift [doron] before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift [doron].”

WHY THE “CORBAN” TRADITION WAS MENTIONED AT ALL

Why did the Lord Jesus even bring up this “Corban” issue? What point was He getting across? Why was the offering of this gift so evil and thus so offensive to Him? In order to ferret out the reason, we must go to the beginning of the chapter.

Mark chapter 7 from the beginning: “[1] Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. [2] And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. [3] For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. [4] And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. [5] Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?”

Prior to Jesus mentioning the “Corban” tradition, the Pharisees and scribes had come to Him to criticize. His disciples were eating without first washing their hands. However, let it be clearly understood that they griped, not for hygienic reasons, but on religious grounds! Pay attention to verses 3-5: “[3] For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. [4] And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. [5] Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?”

Notice all those assorted and repeated “washings” Jesus delineated in verse 4. They were “the tradition of the elders.” The Pharisees and scribes were deeply offended that Jesus’ disciples ignored it concerning their hands! To expose their hypocrisy, Jesus brought up the “Corban” issue. Here were these Pharisees and scribes grumbling about people breaking their fallible religious rules, but they themselves were blatantly rejecting and canceling God’s infallible Word. Furthermore, it did not bother these religious leaders one whit. In fact, they permitted others—the children offering the “Corban”— to also break God’s Word! What should not have angered them did. What should have angered them did not!

We continue reading in Mark chapter 7: “[6] He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. [7] Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. [8] For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.” Of course, some 700 years before Christ, JEHOVAH God had said the same concerning Israel’s worthless religious system.

The Holy Spirit wrote in Isaiah 29:13: “Wherefore the LORD said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:….” Jesus Christ appealed to this to validate His condemnation of Israel’s vain religion during His earthly ministry. Israel’s spiritual blindness in Isaiah’s day still lingered in the nation when her Messiah showed up. All the while despising and violating and replacing God’s Word in their hearts with their manmade rules and regulations, these religious Jews were singing and speaking beautiful words to God. Alas, whether in Isaiah’s day or Jesus’ day, it was all just mindless ritual, rote duty, habitual phoniness, and empty religion!

Please notice the parallel passage of Mark chapter 7, which contains extra information. Matthew chapter 15: “[1] Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, [2] Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. [3] But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? [4] For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. [5] But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; [6] And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. [7] Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. [9] But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

WHY THE “CORBAN” TRADITION OFFENDED THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

Now that we have a basic understanding of the “Corban” issue, we want to see just why the Lord Jesus singled it out to prove His point about Israel’s empty religious practices. Returning to Mark chapter 7: “[9] And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. [10] For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: [11] But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. [12] And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;….”

The Fifth Commandment is in view here, as God commanded Israel through Moses in Exodus 20:12: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” It was reaffirmed many years later in Deuteronomy 5:16: “Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”

As Jesus stressed, God gave Israel another instruction through Moses concerning one’s parents. “Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death…” (Mark 7:10). The Law of Moses commanded in Exodus 21:17: “And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death (cf. Leviticus 20:9; Deuteronomy 21:18-21). Respecting parents was such a serious matter that a child who “curseth” (reviles, speaks evil of) his parents was to “die the death” (or, “surely die”)!

In spite of the gravity of God’s instructions about Jews respecting and taking care of their parents, they overlooked, rejected, and substituted God’s Word. Notice Matthew chapter 15 again: “[4] For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. [5] But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; [6] And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition” (cf. Mark 7:10-13).

At the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, there was a man-made religious tradition in Israel. If a man simply said that he would dedicate his possessions to God (as in giving an offering at the Jerusalem Temple), he was thereby freed from any financial obligation to his parents. Israel’s religious leaders said that he did not have to honor his parents—namely, support them financially—because his wealth was reserved as “Corban” (a gift, that is, presented to the Temple). Instead of instructing the Jews in the ways of JEHOVAH God through Moses, these religious leaders gave precedence to a “commandment of men”… and that “tradition of men” outright contradicted God’s Word! Now we see why Jesus Christ was so critical of the practice.

We will take a brief moment to review. According to the Pharisees and other Jewish religious leaders, a child did not have to honor his parents—to wit, support them financially—if he declared his wealth “Corban” (a gift to the Temple). After all, that gift was supposedly an “act of worshipping God” (when it fact it contradicted true worship of God because it violated His Fifth Commandment!). The religious leaders enjoyed gifts to the Temple because they could take the wealth for themselves… forget the needy parents of the person offering the Corban! This “escape clause” from the Fifth Commandment of God explains why the Lord Jesus Christ said what He did in the surrounding verses.

One more time, Mark chapter 7: “[6] He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. [7] Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. [8] For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. [9] And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. [10] For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: [11] But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. [12] And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; [13] Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”

Matthew chapter 15: “[3] But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? [4] For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. [5] But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; [6] And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. [7] Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. [9] But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

CONCLUSION

Dear friends, religion has not changed one bit in the 2,000 years since Christ’s earthly ministry to Israel. Man has not changed one whit since the books of Matthew and Mark. We hear so much about “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture” in religion today—especially in Roman Catholicism—and yet it really is not “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture” at all. To many, it is, “We found these Bible verses to prove our ‘pet’ ideas, but we do not care about Scriptural context or even if we violate other Scriptures! We will quote Scripture, so long as it furthers our agenda. Scripture takes a back-seat if it contradicts our church or takes away from our authority!”

Friends, while religious people claim to “follow the Bible” and be “Bible believers,” this is often not the case when they are closely investigated. After all, the same religious leaders who habitually and deliberately violated the Mosaic Law professed to be “followers of Moses” (John 9:28)! This is the type of (antithetical) nonsense you get involved with when you start trying to reconcile two authorities. We cannot serve two masters—we must follow either the Bible alone, or tradition alone. If we at all attempt to hold to both, they will compete and (because of our [human] sinful flesh) the manmade tradition will invariably become the final authority. It happened to Israel in Isaiah, Matthew, and Mark. It will surely occur today—yea, it has occurred today. The Protestant Reformation—or better, Protestant Revolution—recovered the truth God’s authority is in the Bible alone and not in church tradition. May we not revert!

This author will never forget the time long ago when he asked a “Bible-believing” Roman Catholic priest why so much emphasis was placed on one particular religious tradition when the Bible taught something else entirely. The priest, acknowledging this discrepancy existed (!), sharply blurted out words that this author has never forgotten: “I do not follow the Bible! I follow tradition!

And so, dear friends, the words of the Lord Jesus Christ continue to echo all these centuries later….

“Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition…. Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

Also see:
» Did not Jesus speak words not recorded in Scripture?
» What is the real “Immaculate Conception?”
» Should Christians observe Lent?

Can you explain Matthew 11:11?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN MATTHEW 11:11?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Some find Matthew 11:11 very tricky: “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” What does it mean, “he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than [John the Baptist]?” Will John the Baptist not be in the kingdom of heaven?

The Russellites (so-called “Jehovah’s Witnesses”) have taken Matthew 11:11 and twisted it to bolster their “terrestrial/celestial kingdom” tenet. They unapologetically teach that “only 144,000 will go to heaven” (“celestial kingdom”). According to them, the rest of the believers in Christ will dwell on earth (“terrestrial kingdom”). They say that all unbelievers will be “destroyed, annihilated” (instead of enduring a literal place of unending torment, “Hell,” they cease to exist). While the theological positions of the Russellites are extremely shaky and downright heretical at times, time and space limit us to commenting on their interpretation of Matthew 11:11. In the back of their “New World Translation” (the official “WatchTower Society” “bible”), there is an appendix of brief notes and references concerning various topics. Under the topic of “Life,” they have: “Not even John the Baptizer to be in heavenly kingdom…. Mt 11:11.” There, they also mention, “Only 144,000 taken from earth.”

We should not be shocked that Russellites confuse Matthew 11:11. After all, the New World Translation says there: “Truly I say to YOU people, Among those born of women there has not been raised up a greater than John the Baptist; but a person that is a lesser one in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he is.” This is somewhat awkward English, making the verse obscure. Notice the “hard-to-read” King James Bible is actually easier: “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

It is somewhat comical that someone would read Matthew 11:11 and conclude John the Baptist would not be in the kingdom of heaven at all. The verse said nothing of the kind—not even in the New World Translation! We do not read in their own “bible:” “Truly I say to YOU people, Among those born of women there has not been raised up a greater than John the Baptist; but he will be forbidden from the kingdom of the heavens and others better than he will go in.” If I were a Russellite, I would have translated my “bible” this way in this verse. Left alone, that verse is the last I would appeal to in order to preclude John the Baptist from the kingdom of heaven!

The emphasis in the verse is not John the Baptist the man. What is being stressed here is his office, his function. What was his role? Why, dear friend, rather than endlessly wondering or idly speculating, read the verse before it! Matthew 11:10-11 says: “[10] For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. [11] Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Rather than grabbing verse 11 and yanking it from its context (as Russellites and others do), we use verse 10 to interpret it. The Lord Jesus Himself said John the Baptist was a fulfillment of the prophecy in Malachi 3:1: “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts” (cf. Mark 1:1-4).

What was John the Baptist’s purpose? Malachi 3:1 said that he was to “prepare the way before [Jesus Christ, JEHOVAH God in the flesh].” John’s role was to announce to the nation Israel that her Messiah had arrived. Luke 1:16-17 says of John before his birth: “[16] And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. [17] And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

As document in Matthew 3:1-17, Mark 1:1-8, Luke 3:1-18, and John 1:6-34, John the Baptist conducted a ministry and preached, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jews awaiting Messiah’s coming went out to John and “were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins” (Matthew 3:6). Acts 13:24 summarizes: “When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.” These believers formed “the Little Flock” (Luke 12:32), the believing remnant in Israel that would become God’s “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9). They saw Jesus as their Messiah/Christ. Unlike the unbelievers in Israel, these saints would inherit God’s earthly kingdom (Luke 12:32).

John’s baptism made the conversion of the Little Flock possible because it made the introduction and acceptance of Jesus possible. After all, Father God sent John the Baptist to prepare Israel for His Son’s arrival. The Bible says, “There was a man sent from God, who name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe…. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:6-7,34). What the Old Testament prophets only spoke of and saw with eyes of faith centuries prior, John had the privilege of personally seeing and introducing Israel to her Messiah! The office John held was valuable only because of the Person it exalted. John was just an ordinary man, but he was preaching Jesus Christ, the universe’s greatest Person!

Still, Acts 13:24 reminds us: “When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.” John the Baptist did not have a ministry to the whole world. Unlike today’s missionaries, he did not go to all nations preaching Jesus Christ and water baptizing all nations. The Bible is clear that John the Baptist’s ministry was confined to the nation Israel. As spectacular as John’s role was, it only involved Israel’s conversion. All members of the Little Flock (true Israel) will have a much more magnificent ministry than John. When Jesus Christ returns at His Second Coming, the Little Flock (Jewish believers in Israel’s prophetic program—including John the Baptist) will enter God’s earthly kingdom. The God of heaven will set up a kingdom on Earth, and thus it is called “the kingdom of heaven.” When the kingdom of heaven is established, when the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ begins, there will be worldwide revival. Every member of the Little Flock will personally introduce Jesus Christ to the believing Gentiles (nations). This is a more extensive ministry than John the Baptist’s. Matthew 11:11 again: “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

The Prophet Jeremiah said in chapter 31: “[31] Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: [32] Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: [33] But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. [34] And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

The whole purpose of the New Covenant is to make the nation Israel God’s people. It applies Jesus Christ’s shed blood to them, resulting in the cleansing of their national sins (cf. Hebrews 10:1-22, note especially verses 10-17). Every Jew, “least and greatest,” will “know the LORD.” They will all have a personal relationship with JEHOVAH God and they will all know His laws. Why will they have this special association with the one true God? They will be thus qualified to be heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant. God wants to bless Israel and make her a blessing to all nations.

Genesis 12:1-3 says: “[1] Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: [2] And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: [3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” With the nation converted and entering the Millennium, those redeemed Jews become a kingdom of priests who go and evangelize the nations. This was God’s intention in the Abrahamic Covenant. Once the New Covenant is ratified at Christ’s Second Coming, and the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ begins on Earth, read the following verses and watch Israel function in her God-given capacity.

Zechariah 8:20-23: “[20] Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: [21] And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also. [22] Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD. [23] Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

Matthew 28:18-20 says to Israel’s believing remnant: “[18] And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. [19] Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: [20] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Numbers 23:9 says Israel “shall not be reckoned among the nations.” This means, when paired with Matthew 28:19, that Israel is not to be taught the things of God in the Millennium. Why? They already know God’s laws because they have been given the New Covenant! They are now to teach God’s Word to the Gentiles (non-Jews, the nations).

Revelation 5:10 says of believing Israel: “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” First Peter 2:8-10 amplifies: “[8] And [Jesus Christ, verse 5, is] a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. [9] But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; [10] Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” Isaiah 61:6 prophesies of believing Israel in her Millennial Kingdom: “But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.”

Isaiah 60:1-3 says to Israel because Messiah is now in her midst, the Millennium beginning: “[1] Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. [2] For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. [3] And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

Finally, Isaiah 2:1-4 is a beautiful summary of the Millennial Kingdom: “[1] The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. [2] And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. [3] And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. [4] And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

CONCLUSION

Matthew 11:11 is not difficult to understand, provided we use verse 10 and other Scriptures to interpret it. Every believing Jew in the kingdom of heaven will minister to numerous Gentiles of various nations and languages. In the Millennium, the 1000-Year Reign of Christ on Earth, each member of the Little Flock will have privilege of sharing Jesus Christ with the nations of the world. This is far grander than anything Father God ever sent John the Baptist to do. John’s ministry was restricted to the nation Israel but Israel in the Kingdom will have a worldwide ministry. Nothing is difficult here. The only reason why this becomes hard to grasp is when we start inserting the idle speculations of denominational proponents. Leave religious tradition out of it and all will be clear!

SUPPLEMENTAL: MALACHI 3:1 IN THE “RUSSELLITE BIBLE”

Our King James Bible says in Malachi 3:1: “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”

Who is talking in the above verse? The end of the verse says that the speaker is “The LORD of hosts” (JEHOVAH God). Who is the “me” in “he [John] shall prepare the way before me?” Obviously, the “me” is the speaker (JEHOVAH). John is coming to prepare the way before JEHOVAH. Yet, according to the New Testament, John came to prepare the way before Jesus Christ (cf. Mark 1:1-4). This leads to one inevitable conclusion: Jesus Christ and JEHOVAH are one and the same Person.

Horror of horrors, friends! The “Jehovah’s Witness” is shocked to see that we can disprove their theology by appealing to their own “bible.” Malachi 3:1 says in the New World Translation: “ ‘Look! I am sending my messenger, and he must clear up a way before me. And suddenly there will come to His temple the [true] Lord, whom YOU people are seeking, and the messenger of the covenant in whom YOU are delighting. Look! He will certainly come, Jehovah of armies has said.” (The “me” and “Jehovah of armies” are one and the same, Jesus Christ and JEHOVAH are synonymous!)

Also see:
» Can you explain Matthew 11:12?
» Was John the Baptist really Elijah?
» What is the difference between the “kingdom of heaven” and the “kingdom of God?”

Are there modern-day apostles and prophets?

ARE THERE MODERN-DAY APOSTLES AND PROPHETS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Certain “Christian” groups boast of their modern-day “apostles” and “prophets”—Mormons and Charismatics are two major factions. They argue that unless all five offices are filled and active today—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Ephesians 4:11)—the Church the Body of Christ cannot function properly. Thus, we will hear men (and even women!) today calling themselves “apostles” and “prophets.” Is this proper? Is it Scriptural? We will look at Bible verses and let them speak.

Ephesians 4:11-13 says: “[11] And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; [12] For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: [13] Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:….”

Notice verse 11—“he [Jesus Christ of verse 7] gave.” Paul wrote Ephesians at the end of the Acts period, when was under house arrest (see Acts 28:30-31). At the time of Ephesians, God was not “giving” (present tense) those gifts but rather He “gave” (past tense) those gifts. Those spiritual gifts were no longer being given to new people. The men who had those gifts were growing fewer and fewer because the gifts were no longer being given. There was something taking the place of these gifted men. Once the written Word of God was completed shortly after the Acts period, there was no more need for the limited-knowledge spiritual gifts program.

First Corinthians 13:8-13 says the following: “[8] Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. [9] For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. [10] But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. [11] When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. [12] For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. [13] And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

The spiritual gifts were temporary, only necessary until the full revelation from God had been given to man. Knowing “in part” would result in “full knowledge.” Prophesying “in part” would be replaced by “full prophesying.” The partial would pass away, and the complete would come. All too often, there is the idea that spiritual gifts are to operate indefinitely, or until the Lord Jesus Christ returns. This is a theological speculation, and certainly not supported by Scripture. People stumble over the “that which is perfect is come” in verse 10. They contend that that “perfect” is Jesus “the perfect One” coming back to Earth. (An alternative view is that it is Christians dying and going to Heaven.) Both views are lacking because they do violence to the Scripture, reading things into the verses that the verses simply do not say.

There is nothing in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 about the Lord coming back. There is nothing in that chapter about going to Heaven either. The last reference to Christ’s “coming” in 1 Corinthians is chapter 11, verse 23. There is no mention of dying and going to Heaven in 1 Corinthians chapter 11 at all. God wants us to grow up now; we should not wait for Heaven until we act and think like spiritually mature people!

Ephesians 4:14 says to this point: “That we henceforth [from now onward—not in Heaven!] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;….” How could God expect us not to be children now if we must wait until Heaven to grow up? See, as the verse indicates, that time of maturity has arrived—the “perfect” has already come. We have a completed revelation from God in the written 66 Books of the Holy Bible! Will we read it and think like mature adult children of God, or will we not read it and then plead ignorance of the very Book we claim to have?

It is important to notice what Ephesians 2:20-22 says about “apostles and prophets:” “[20] And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; [21] In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: [22] In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” These “apostles and prophets” are associated with Paul’s ministry (they are also referred to in 1 Corinthians 12:28-29; Romans 16:26; 1 Corinthians 14:37; Ephesians 3:5). We know that these Apostles and Prophets are not the 12 Apostles and not the Old Testament Prophets because Ephesians 4:7-11 says Jesus Christ ordained these Apostles and Prophets after His ascension.

Ephesians 2:20 says that the Apostles and Prophets in the Body of Christ laid a foundation. This foundation does not need to be laid indefinitely any more than a physical foundation is to be installed indeterminately. A foundation is laid once, and then a structure is built on top of it. While the offices of the Apostles and Prophets were necessary to lay the foundation, the foundation has already been laid. The Apostles and Prophets in the Dispensation of Grace—headed by the chief “Apostle” and primary “Prophet” Paul/Saul (Acts 13:1-2; Romans 11:13)—preached and taught the special doctrine committed first to the Apostle Paul. The Lord Jesus Christ revealed the Dispensation of Grace directly to Paul, and then the Holy Spirit used Paul’s ministry (teaching, preaching, and writing) to educate those Apostles and Prophets. They then communicated it to the other saints of God.

Notice Ephesians 3:1-6: “[1] For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, [2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: [3] How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, [4] Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) [5] Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; [6] That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:….”

The “prophets” in the Body of Christ identified and copied Scripture. They wrote Scripture (Romans 16:26—“the scriptures of the prophets”). First Corinthians 14:37 says: “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” The foundation for the Dispensation of Grace was preached and taught first and foremost by the Apostle Paul, just as he claimed by the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians chapter 3: “[10] According to the grace [ministry] of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. [11] For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (More specifically, the “foundation” was “Jesus Christ… according to the revelation of the mystery,” or secret revealed by Christ first to Paul—Romans 16:25-26.)

The secondary Apostles and Prophets associated with the Body of Christ bolstered and spread what God began with Paul’s ministry. Their ministries continue even today—but not with new (modern-day) Apostles and Prophets. Rather, their ministries are perpetuated in the sense that we already discussed. Their ministries continue via the written, preserved Word of God, the words they once preached audibly and wrote down. Those ministries sustained the Body of Christ during the Acts period when there was no written and completed “New Testament” canon, but they have since given way to the written Word. They were influential in giving us the written Bible. Now that we have the written and preserved Bible, there is no more revelation needed from God. Modern-day apostles and prophets serve no purpose whatsoever because the ministries of the Apostles and Prophets of the A.D. first century are perpetuated through the written, preserved Word of God.

Notice in Colossians 1:24-28 what Paul’s apostleship and ministry were designed to accomplish: “[24] Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: [25] Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; [26] Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: [27] To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: [28] Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:”

Verse 25 says Paul was “made a minister” in order to “fulfil the word of God.” Notice the word “fulfil,” as in “complete.” The doctrine, “dispensation,” or body of truth; that the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ gave to Paul was to bring God’s revelation to a completion. That is the same idea presented in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 (which we looked at earlier in this study). The “mystery” (secret) dispensation—the “Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2) exposes God’s secret will. What God kept hidden in Himself since eternity past, is now divulged in the Apostle Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

The Bible says in Ephesians 1:8-10: “[8] Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; [9] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:” With the doctrine God committed to the Apostle Paul, we now know the secret of God’s eternal purpose. We have no need for modern-day apostles and prophets, people supposedly giving us “new” words from God, “new” insight from God. The foundation has already been laid, and there is nothing else for God to reveal to us. Friends, either we believe the Bible to be the final authority, or we disbelieve it. Either we believe Paul’s ministry and revelation bring God’s Word to a completion, or we do not.

By the way, I find it interesting that those who claim to be “prophets,” people supposedly “speaking for God” today, actually disregard a verse that exposes false prophets. First Corinthians 14:37 says: “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” How many of today’s “prophets” pay any attention to the special commandments of the Lord written by the Apostle Paul in Romans through Philemon? None! Even if they were “prophets,” they would be, by the verse’s standards, false prophets! The test for knowing who is speaking on behalf of God today is to see if he or she recognizes Pauline revelation (not mixing Law and Grace, not mixing Israel with the Body of Christ, not mixing prophecy and mystery, not mixing time past with but now or the ages to come, not mixing Heaven and Earth, et cetera.)

When someone claims to be an “apostle” or a “prophet” today, he or she is claiming to be adding to the Scriptures. They deny the sufficiency of the 66 Books of the Bible. They claim that their words (sermons, books, et cetera) are equal in authority to the Holy Bible. Heresy! They are no different from the Roman Catholic Church that claims to determine what the Bible “is,” what the Bible “says,” and what the Bible “means.” Yes, they are no different from those who argue that the Apocrypha belong in the Bible canon. The Holy Scriptures are already written, they have been preserved for us as the King James Bible (in the English-speaking world), and they are enough to tell us everything that God wants us to know and equip us to do everything God wants us to do.

2 Timothy 3:16-17: “[16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

Do we believe those verses?

Also see:
» Who are the “prophets” in Romans 16:26?
» What is the difference between a “disciple” and an “apostle?”
» Was Paul a false prophet?

What does the Bible say about blood transfusions?

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT BLOOD TRANSFUSIONS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Russellites—the cult/denomination more commonly known as “The Jehovah’s Witnesses”—are the world-famous champions of the idea that blood transfusions should be rejected under all circumstances. They contend that the Bible is against such a medical treatment. In fact, they do cite some key Bible verses (we will examine those shortly). Firstly, from a medical standpoint, what exactly is a “blood transfusion?” Secondly, what specific arguments do the Jehovah’s Witnesses raise against it? Thirdly, what does the Bible say about it? Finally, what should we as Bible believers conclude about the whole matter? To the Scriptures, friends, to the Scriptures!

MEDICAL BACKGROUND ON THE SUBJECT

According to the Mayo Clinic (MayoClinic.org), blood consists of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, and carry carbon dioxide away from tissues to the lungs to be exhaled. White blood cells, part of our immune system, fight off infection. Platelets form clots in the holes of blood vessels.

The Mayo Clinic’s website tells us what blood transfusions entail:

“A blood transfusion is a routine medical procedure that can be lifesaving. During a blood transfusion, donated blood is added to your own blood. A blood transfusion may also be done to supplement various components of your blood with donated blood products. In some cases, a blood transfusion is done with blood that you’ve donated ahead of time before you undergo elective surgery. During a typical blood transfusion, certain parts of blood are delivered through an intravenous (IV) line that’s placed in one of the veins in your arm. A blood transfusion usually takes one to four hours, though in an emergency it can be done much faster. A blood transfusion boosts blood levels that are low, either because your body isn’t making enough or you’ve lost blood owing to surgery, injury or disease.”

WebMD medical doctor, Matthew Hoffman, M.D., writes the following on WebMD.com about blood (just some interesting information I thought I would share here while we are on the topic):

“Blood is a constantly circulating fluid providing the body with nutrition, oxygen, and waste removal. Blood is mostly liquid, with numerous cells and proteins suspended in it, making blood ‘thicker’ than pure water. The average person has about 5 liters (more than a gallon) of blood.

“A liquid called plasma makes up about half of the content of blood. Plasma contains proteins that help blood to clot, transport substances through the blood, and perform other functions. Blood plasma also contains glucose and other dissolved nutrients.

“About half of blood volume is composed of blood cells:

  • Red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues
  • White blood cells, which fight infections
  • Platelets, smaller cells that help blood to clot

“Blood is conducted through blood vessels (arteries and veins). Blood is prevented from clotting in the blood vessels by their smoothness, and the finely tuned balance of clotting factors.”

With the medical aspect covered, we move on to the religious side of the issue.

“JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES” BACKGROUND ON THE SUBJECT

Just so we know the official “Jehovah’s Witness” position on blood transfusions, we refer to approved Watchtower literature. In their 2005/2014 book titled, “What Does the Bible Really Teach?,” they claim on pages 128-131:

“Showing respect for blood. 10 After Cain killed his brother Abel, Jehovah told Cain: ‘Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground.’ (Genesis 4:10) When God spoke of Abel’s blood, he was speaking of Abel’s life. Cain had taken Abel’s life, and now Cain would have to be punished. It was as if Abel’s blood, or life, were crying out to Jehovah for justice. The connection between life and blood was again shown after the Flood of Noah’s day. Before the Flood, humans ate only fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts. After the Flood, Jehovah told Noah and his sons: ‘Every moving animal that is alive may serve as food for you.’ However, God set this restriction: ‘Only flesh with its life—its blood—you must not eat.’ (Genesis 1:29; 9:3, 4) Clearly, Jehovah links very closely the life and the blood of a creature.

“11 We show respect for blood by not eating it. In the Law that Jehovah gave the Israelites, he commanded: ‘If one of the Israelites… is hunting and catches a wild animal or a bird that may be eaten, he must pour its blood out and cover it with dust…. I said to the Israelites: ‘You must not eat the blood of any sort of flesh.’’ (Leviticus 17:13, 14) God’s command not to eat animal blood, first given to Noah some 800 years earlier, was still in force. Jehovah’s view was clear: His servants could eat animal meat but not the blood. They were to pour the blood on the ground—in effect, returning the creature’s life to God.

“12 A similar command rests upon Christians. The apostles and other men taking the lead among Jesus’ followers in the first century met to decide what commands had to be obeyed by all in the Christian congregation. They came to this conclusion: ‘The holy spirit [sic—J.W. don’t believe the Holy Spirit is a Person, or that He is God, which explains their usage of lowercase letters “holy spirit”—S.B.] and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you except these necessary things: to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from what is strangled [‘what is killed without draining its blood,’ footnote], and from sexual immorality.’ (Acts 15:28, 29; 21:25) So we must ‘keep abstaining from blood.’ In God’s eyes, our doing that is as important as our avoiding idolatry and sexually immorality.

“13 Does the command to abstain from blood include blood transfusions? Yes. To illustrate: Suppose a doctor were to tell you to abstain from alcoholic beverages. Would that simply mean that you should not drink alcohol but that you could have it injected into your veins? Of course not! Likewise, abstaining from blood means not taking it into our bodies at all. So the command to abstain from blood means that we should not allow anyone to transfuse blood into our veins. [That illustration of the doctor and the injected alcohol is such a flimsy, comical, and downright absurd appeal!! What do J.W. do when they accidently bite their lip or tongue and swallow their own blood?!—S.B.]

“14 What if a Christian is badly injured or is in need of major surgery? Suppose doctors say that he must have a blood transfusion or he will die. Of course, the Christian would not want to die. In an effort to preserve God’s precious gift of life, he would accept other kinds of treatment that do not involve the misuse of blood. Hence, he would seek such medical attention if that is available and would accept a variety of alternatives to blood.

“15 Would a Christian break God’s law just to stay alive a little longer in this system of things? Jesus said, ‘Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’ (Matthew 16:25) We do not want to die. But if we tried to save our present life by breaking God’s law, we would be in danger of losing everlasting life. We are wise, then, to put our trust in the rightness of God’s law, with full confidence that if we die for any cause, our Life-Giver will remember us in the resurrection and restore to us the precious gift of life.—John 5:28, 29; Hebrews 11:6.

“16 Today, faithful servants of God firmly resolve to follow his direction regarding blood. They will not eat it in any form. Nor will they accept blood for medical reasons. They are sure that the Creator of blood knows what is best for them. Do you believe that he does?”

With the religious aspect covered, now we move on the Holy Scriptures.

BIBLE BACKGROUND ON THE SUBJECT

Doubtless, the Bible is very clear that life is in the blood. Blood is important in God’s eyes because it represents life. The Russellites are in perfect agreement with the Bible on these points, and we do not fault them here. We read in Leviticus chapter 17, the Mosaic Law: “[10] And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. [11] For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. [12] Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood. [13] And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust. [14] For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.”

The consumption of blood was clearly forbidden in the Law of Moses. Jews were in no way to eat the blood of animals. They were to drain the meat of all blood before partaking of that flesh. Please notice the supplemental passages included below for your consideration.

Leviticus 3:17: “It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood.” Leviticus 7:26-27: “Moreover ye shall eat no manner of blood, whether it be of fowl or of beast, in any of your dwellings. Whatsoever soul it be that eateth any manner of blood, even that soul shall be cut off from his people.” Leviticus 19:26: “Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.” Deuteronomy 12:16,23-24: “Only ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water…. Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh. Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water.” Deuteronomy 15:23: “Only thou shalt not eat the blood thereof; thou shalt pour it upon the ground as water.” First Samuel 14:34: “…and sin not against the LORD in eating with the blood….”

What God was really telling Israel was that their life was not in animals’ blood. He was their life, and they were to rely on Him for life. In the Israeli Mosaic economy, as the Book of Leviticus delineates, various animal sacrifices were to be offered for sins. God’s focus was to ultimately point to Messiah’s shed blood, which would not be offered on Calvary until many centuries later. That animals’ blood was important in that it represented—or was typical of—the blood of God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. In effect, the only blood Israel was to “partake of” was the shed blood of Jesus Christ (the only source of true life)!

Let us take some time to address the Acts chapter 15 verses that the “Jehovah’s Witness” appeals to concerning this topic. Like all religious groups, they do not understand how to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), approaching the Bible dispensationally, without getting hung up on Israeli practices and promises. During the Acts period, Paul’s Gentile converts (the Church the Body of Christ) were to conduct their lives in such a way so as to not offend three groups of Jewish people: (1) the Law-keeping members of the Little Flock (Israel’s believing remnant), (2) the unsaved Jews meeting in the various synagogues around the then-known world, and (3) the Jewish members of the Body of Christ who were having trouble leaving behind the old system of worship they had grown up with. You can see these people mentioned in 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, Acts chapter 15, Romans 14:1-23, and 1 Corinthians 10:23-33. (For more information, please see our “yoga” and “1 Corinthians chapter 8” studies linked at the end of this article.)

That Acts transitional period—from prophecy to mystery—gave rise to the various disagreements that ultimately led to the Acts chapter 15 apostolic council at Jerusalem. (Which, you will remember, contains some of the pet verses of the Russellites). Were Paul’s Gentile converts obligated to follow the Law of Moses as a means for salvation? That was the basic question to be settled in Acts chapter 15.

Notice verses 1-5 of Acts chapter 15: “[1] And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren [Paul’s Gentile converts], and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. [2] When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. [3] And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. [4] And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. [5] 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.”

Now, read verses 19-21: “[19] Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: [20] But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. [21] For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.”

And verses 22-31: “[22] Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas, chief men among the brethren: [23] And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia. [24] Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: [25] It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, [26] Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. [27] We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. [28] For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; [29] That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. [30] So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: [31] Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.”

The context of abstaining from blood is with reference to the religious system the pagans are involved with. Notice again: “that they should abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood” (verse 20; cf. verse 29). The context is not a medical procedure—that is, a blood transfusion—but rather a religious practice. For a Russellite to grab these verses and read something into them is so dishonest. In fact, he or she (as with many issues) is forcing his or her own religious dogma into the Bible text rather than letting the Bible text speak for itself. Think about this.

If following these verses really were so important to the Watchtower Society, why did they not comment (in their “official” explanation quoted above) on the fact that the passage has to do with abstaining from false religion? See, a Russellite is not interested in teaching a Bible passage for what it says; the goal is simply to select and emphasize what the denomination stresses in the verse. It is that “pet” interpretation of the verse that makes the religious sect unique: to ignore the slant is to diminish the system’s distinctiveness, and this they refuse to do. That is the plain and simple truth. But, we will be bolder in exposing their dishonesty.

We ignore the part about foods offered to idols, we ignore the part about fornication (illicit and sexual perversion in pagan religious services), we ignore the part about things strangled (dietary laws), and we single out the part about the blood! That is typical religious tradition—the stressing of parts of verses instead of whole verses taught IN CONTEXT. Many a times I have caught Russellites in-person, visiting me at my home, being dishonest with Bible passages. They will freely admit they do not know everything about the verses they are quoting, but they are sure of certain “pet” phrases in the verses! Above all, they prove themselves to be servants of someone OTHER than Jesus Christ (JEHOVAH God the Son). They are unable to articulate a clear Gospel message. They do not make the message of cross of Calvary clear but rather rattle on and on about “God’s kingdom.” If they cannot get straight the most important part of the Bible (the Gospel), we need not wonder why they stumble over something so trivial as blood transfusions!

Before we leave this subject, it would do us well to read again paragraph 15 of the blood section of the Watchtower Society’s book, “What Does the Bible Really Teach?” “15 Would a Christian break God’s law just to stay alive a little longer in this system of things? Jesus said, ‘Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’ (Matthew 16:25) We do not want to die. But if we tried to save our present life by breaking God’s law, we would be in danger of losing everlasting life.” (Bold emphasis mine.)

Did we not notice that the Jehovah’s Witness has no real security in his religion? (I just confirmed this with an ex-J.W. friend of mine.) Having wrested (twisted) Matthew 16:25, they wonder if they may “lose” everlasting life by trying to save their physical life with a blood transfusion! No wonder they fear blood transfusions—such a medical treatment means Hell for them! In other words, the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall is just another typical works-religion group. You have to strive to make God accept you—and, if you break His laws, “[you] would be in danger of losing everlasting life!” (Their words, not mine, please note!)

So, in closing, “What does the Bible say about blood transfusions?” NOTHING!

Also see:
» Should Christians participate in yoga?
» Can you explain 1 Corinthians chapter 8?
» Is the Holy Spirit a Person or merely a “force?”

Is it truly a good deed if done for selfish reasons?

IS IT TRULY A GOOD DEED IF DONE FOR SELFISH REASONS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Someone posted this question on social media not long ago. That person received a variety of mixed responses: overall, though, some basically said yes and others said no. Can it be a good deed even though it has underlying selfish motives? Upon initial glance, it seems like a tough question. Nevertheless, if we let the Bible, not works-religion, be our authority, this question will be a breeze to answer!

Religion has trained many of us so well. It is like inebriation—drunkenness. In fact, Revelation 18:3 speaks of the (future) Antichrist’s religion as having, “the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Revelation 17:2 says of that false religion: “the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” Rather than being faithful to one, true God, these followers of the Antichrist (including unbelieving Jews) will be “sleeping around” with idols! Religion, while bearing similarities to prostitution, is also likened unto drug abuse because it causes you to lose all sense of reason. You can accept the most ridiculous ideas as true… and yet, you will never discern the difference between right and wrong because your spiritual senses have been numbed!

It is assumed that a deed must be good if it appears good. This is a common idea carried over from works-religion. Still, the Lord Jesus had an interesting comment about this issue in Matthew 7:11: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Notice how Jesus talked about “evil” parents giving “good gifts” to their children. The gifts were good, but where the parents good? No! “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children….” No matter what they did on the outside, on the inside they were still “evil!” Jesus singled out their sin nature—they “be evil.” Their deed never changed the underlying character, and it was the character most offensive to God. Men look on the outside; God looks on the inside. God is concerned with the heart attitude.

“Is it truly a good deed if done for selfish reasons?” Actually, the answer is built into the question. Sin, at its very root, is doing what you want instead of what God wants. As a wise preacher once said, “Isaiah 53:6 is the best definition of sin in all the Bible!” “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way….” Paul the Apostle in Romans 1:25 picks up on Isaiah’s comments: “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” Sinners by nature are selfish. They want to be their own authority. Quoting the unbelieving Jews and the unbelieving Romans rejecting Father God and His Son Jesus Christ at Calvary, Psalm 2:3 says: “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” They oppose God’s rule over them. They have their own agenda, and seek to carry it out. They could not care less about the Creator’s purpose and plan for them!

The three Members of the Godhead are selfless. They live for each other’s benefit rather than their own individual benefit. Father God seeks to glorify His Son, Jesus Christ, rather than Himself. Jesus Christ seeks to glorify His Father rather than Himself. The Holy Spirit seeks to glorify Jesus Christ rather than Himself. The Father seeks to glorify the Holy Spirit instead of Himself. These attributes are so far beyond (sinful) human experience. Just look at these words of Scripture, a sample of the Bible texts on the subject:

  • John 8:54: “Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:….”
  • John 16:13-14 (Jesus speaking): “[13] 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 shew you things to come. [14] He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”
  • Philippians 2:3-5: “[3] Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. [4] Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. [5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:….”

If we have the life of Christ in us, and we do if we have the indwelling Holy Spirit (cf. Galatians 2:20; Romans 8:9), then the only works He can produce in us is good works. Those good works would not involve selfishness, since His good works done on the Earth (His earthly ministry) did not involve selfish motives either. Go back to Philippians 2:3-5 above. As God sees it, a deed is not good unless it is something done to glorify Him. If you are doing something seeking to gain something for yourself, that is self-centeredness. A selfish deed, no matter if it appears good, is actually a bad deed. That is what sin is (Isaiah 53:6). That is what “evil” is (Matthew 7:11). Saying a selfish deed can be good is like arguing that water is dry—it is an oxymoron and makes no sense in light of Bible verses!

Whenever we who have believed on the Lord Jesus as personal Saviour, feel and behave selfish, that is the old sin nature. We are walking in the flesh when we should be walking in the Spirit, the power that God has given us in Christ to overcome sin on a daily basis. Glorifying Father God should be the reason for everything that we do. We have not been left on Earth to serve ourselves. Christian living is not self-living; it is self-giving. Jesus Christ did not conduct His earthly ministry in order to draw attention to Himself. He did it to bring honor to His Heavenly Father. If ever we are living for self, that is not Christian living, and it is not a good deed. If we want to serve ourselves, we should not have become Christians. We should have stayed lost in sin. It makes sense for sinners to be selfish. It does not make sense for saints to be selfish!

SUPPLEMENTAL: MATTHEW 7:21-23

The Lord Jesus issued some startling words in Matthew 7:21-23, concerning “good” works: “[21] Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. [22] Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? [23] And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” These works were no doubt good in appearance—preaching in Jesus’ name, casting out devils in Jesus’ name, and doing many “wonderful” works in Jesus’ name. Surely, they “praised” Jesus! Oh, but Jesus said in verse 23 that it was “iniquity.” It did not matter what they did or how nice it appeared! They did not follow Father God’s will; they were doing what they wanted (selfishness). There was no faith in Father’s words. It was just religious busyness. The Lord Jesus thus aptly called it “wickedness.” And, guess what? He said they are not entering the Kingdom of Heaven! He said they are not entering the Kingdom of Heaven! He said they are not entering the Kingdom of Heaven!

Please see our studies linked below about how to address selfishness in the lives of Christians.

Also see:
» Should Christians participate in yoga?
» Can you explain 1 Corinthians chapter 8?
» Why do some Christians persistently behave like lost people?

What is “the foolishness of God” in 1 Corinthians 1:25?

WHAT IS “THE FOOLISHNESS OF GOD” IN 1 CORINTHIANS 1:25?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Can God be foolish? First Corinthians 1:25 says, “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” Why does the Bible say “the foolishness of God?” In this Bible study, we hope to compare verses and shed light on this expression.

To get the thought-flow, we begin at verse 17: “[17] For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. [18] For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. [19] For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. [20] Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? [21] For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. [22] For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: [23] But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; [24] But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. [25] Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

Jesus Christ, from heaven, post-resurrection, commissioned the Apostle Paul to preach the Gospel, a new set of Good News never known to man until now. This Gospel is called “the Gospel of the Grace of God” in Acts 20:24. Water baptism was not a part of this Gospel message as it had been with the Gospel of the Kingdom in Matthew 28:19 and Mark 16:16 (cf. Acts 2:38). While the 12 Apostles were indeed sent by Jesus Christ to water baptize converts, Paul was not sent to water baptize. True, Paul water baptized during the Acts period, but that was only temporary, necessary to communicate to Israel the fact that Paul was replacing Peter and the 11. Paul eventually quit water baptizing. The emphasis of Paul’s Gospel was not religious ceremonies (namely, water baptism). Neither was it delivered by smooth, eloquent Greek oratory (rhetoric). Romans 16:17-18 talks about such false teachers who use “good [kind, appealing] words and fair [beautiful] speeches.” Employing elaborate vocabulary, they sound attractive enough to reel in supporters by the masses. Think of the rich chanting and singing in the Roman Catholic Mass, the multi-syllable vocabularies of many theologians and clergy members, and so on.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:2,4: “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God…. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” Such “wisdom of words” would make the cross of Christ “of none effect,” or nullify it, for eloquence would make Paul the speaker the issue instead of Jesus Christ, the Saviour, the issue. The Apostle, although educated, thus refrained from using flattering, extravagant words to attract people. Remember, the wisdom to be declared in the Gospel was not Paul’s wisdom, but God’s wisdom. Man’s wisdom was not important concerning the Gospel; God’s wisdom was to have the preeminence, and it did in Paul’s ministry (this should also be of our ministry).

Since Paul did not resort to eloquent speeches and ostentatious phrases, his preaching was at variance with religious norms. He did not sound like “just another religious leader.” When compared to religious standards, he appeared and sounded silly. He was not sent to water baptize?! (Nearly every religion reveres some water ceremony!) He was traveling throughout the Roman Empire, preaching that the cross of Calvary—when a Jew had died—was “the power of God.” Calvary’s cross, even today, is ridiculed. “How can a dead Jew save me from hell?,” it is still asked. “What kind of God would see value in sending His Son to die in such a cruel, painful manner?,” it is still inquired. “How is victory accomplished when Jesus let the Romans kill Him?,” it is still asked. First Corinthians 1:18 could not be any plainer: “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” The lost people of the world do not have spiritual eyes. All they have is human wisdom, and that is not enough to understand the things of God. Therefore, they scoff at and dismiss that which they do not know.

God in His wisdom actually fixed it to where mankind will never be able to figure out Him or His plan. It is for this reason that intellectuals laugh at Christians, invent anti-God arguments, and attack His Bible. Yes, they appear to sound smart, “untouchable,” clothed in their beautiful robes of scholarship and rationalism. “Me? Need God? Ha! I have degrees from prestigious institutions! My education causes me to live in reality! I do not believe in some ‘old man in the sky!’ I think for myself! Get away from me with that ‘book of superstition!’” All the while, they are totally oblivious to true wisdom. They have pompously ignored the fact that all the knowledge humanity has gained as a whole—which is much, much more than what they know individually—is just a fraction of the information in existence. In that realm of unknown wisdom, we find God’s wisdom, that which they will never grasp. Without this discernment to make sense of it, they simply dismiss it as quickly as possible using whatever convenient means.

As it is written in Isaiah 55:8-9: “[8] For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. [9] For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” First Corinthians chapter 1 continues: “[19] For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. [20] Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” This is a quote from Isaiah 29:14, which is God’s response to the Israelites exalting the opinions of men above His Word. He will let them have their way—spiritual ignorance!

In fact, let us turn to Isaiah chapter 29 to notice the parallel: “[9] Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. [10] For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. [11] And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: [12] And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. [13] Wherefore the LORD said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: [14] Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” By using His wisdom to outsmart man in his “wisdom,” God proved man’s wisdom was really foolishness! First Corinthians 1:20 again: “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?”

With respect to 1 Corinthians chapter 1, we continue: “[21] For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. [22] For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: [23] But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; [24] But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. [25] Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

Again, verse 21 says that God, in His wisdom, planned it to where man could use his wisdom and still be unable to reach the level of divine wisdom. Man would remain at the spiritual I.Q. of “0” and God would be ranked as “infinity.” In God’s wisdom, He did not choose to save from hell people who went to seminary for a decade. He did not choose to save from hell those who joined a church, gave a donation to a ministry, kept a list of rules and regulations, got water baptized, held on, held out, recited a book of prayers, helped the poor and homeless, promised to live their lives for Him, and so on. These are classic responses in religion, but Paul never preached them. Again, that is why Paul was such an “oddball,” and that is why we grace-preaching Christians are equally foolish to the world. We do not sound religious and we claim not to be “religious,” yet we believe in God and the Bible. They see us as the most mysterious paradox of all!

The Bible says what pleased God was to “save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21). While the Gospel of Grace sounded foolish, what was on display was God’s wisdom and man’s natural inability to grasp it. Apart from the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, we Christians could not understand it either (see chapter 2, which we cannot discuss here for brevity’s sake). As we read, “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom” (verse 22). The Jews were interested in miracles, the Greeks pursued wisdom, but the thrust of Paul’s Gospel was not miraculous demonstrations or human philosophy. “[23] But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; [24] But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. [25] Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

Paul went and “preached Christ crucified” (verse 23). The Jews to which he preached during Acts saw no victory or power in a dead Jew on a cross. The Greeks to which he preached during Acts heard no flattering oratory or polished expressions. Thus, “unto the Jews a stumblingblock”—the unbelieving Jews who heard Paul preach saw Jesus crucified as nothing more than a scandal of weakness most unpleasant and worthy of being shunned. (See them reject it in Acts 13:45!) Furthermore, “unto the Greeks foolishness”—the unbelieving Gentiles who heard Paul preach saw Jesus crucified as nothing more than absurdity. (See them laugh at it in Acts 17:32!) However, the believing Jews and Greeks/Gentiles who saw value in the words of God that Paul was preaching, these saints saw with spiritual eyes Jesus Christ “the power of God” (Jews) and “the wisdom of God” (Greeks). They were willing to let the Holy Spirit teach them!

Now, we (finally!) get to verse 25: “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” On one hand, the “foolishness of God” is how the Greeks viewed the Gospel of Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins. On the other hand, the “weakness of God” is how the Jews saw that Gospel of Grace. That God would do for man what he could never do for himself? Outlandish! That God would become a Man and die for man’s sin by letting man put Him to death? Strange! That there could be life in such a death? Folly! That a dead Man, totally deceased, could return to life and never die again? No! That such information could be conveyed without fancy phraseology and scholarly wisdom? Ridiculous! That God would do away with religious works as means to approach Him? Heresy! (No wonder Paul’s audience was so rattled! Beloved, no wonder they give us such bizarre reactions today! Hahaha)

First Corinthians 1:25 does not mean God does foolish things or thinks foolish thoughts. Remember, “the thought of foolishness is sin” (Proverbs 24:9). God cannot sin; therefore, He cannot think foolishly or act foolishly. It is talking about what appears to be, or what seems to be, foolish. Again, man, because of his limitations, cannot fairly evaluate what God does or thinks. Man in and of himself does not have enough strength or knowledge to gauge spiritual matters. Therefore, God’s thoughts and actions are so foreign to him. Lest he appear foolish and/or weak, his only hope is to explain away God’s thoughts and actions as “foolish.” You can go on into chapter 2 of 1 Corinthians to see this, particularly verse 14: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

We end this by saying, “What a wise God we Christians serve!”

Also see:
» Why can I get nothing out of the Bible when I read it?
» What does the Bible mean, “rude in speech?”
» Why do people get angry when we share right division with them?