Thursday, November 20, 2014

During the time of the Old Testament, did the Gentiles have to become Jews in order to be saved?

It was possible for a Gentile to become what is called a “Proselyte Jew” (a convert to Judaism). If a Gentile wanted to partake in the actions of the Jewish nation they would need to keep all the requirements of the covenant. In the book of Exodus it reads,
But if a stranger sojourns with you, and celebrates the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near to celebrate it; and he shall be like a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat of it. The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you. (Exodus 12:48-49)
Was Gentile conversion to Judaism necessary for salvation?

No... although a Gentile could convert (in part) to Judaism, it was not a necessity. The Jewish nation was a family that could trace its roots back to Abraham. A Gentile could never do that. God made a special covenant, with a special family, in order to prepare the way for the coming Messiah. 

The Jews were never commanded to convert the nations (ie. the Gentiles). Nothing in the Old Testament speaks of Jewish evangelistic outreach toward the Gentiles. Also, the Gentiles were never commanded to become Jews in order to be saved. Before the formation of the Israelite people there were opportunities for people (non-Jews) to be saved. One would assume that such a policy would remain until the time of Christ.

Jonah was a Hebrew prophet. He was told to go to Nineveh (a Gentile city) and tell them to repent. They repented and were spared. There is nothing said about the citizens of Nineveh becoming Proselyte Jews. 

Also, in the letter to the Romans, Paul makes this statement,
For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:14-16).
The Gentiles had a law written on their conscience that God held them accountable to. It was not the law of Moses, although parts of it were in alignment with it. 

Now, all people (Jew or Gentile) are accountable to the same message (the Gospel). Under the New Covenant, all people must follow Christ in order to be saved. This is what Paul declares in (Romans 1:16).
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

By Cliff Sabroe - Quotes from NASB. Image from Overstock.com 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Is it ok to question my preacher or pastor? Should I just trust they are teaching the Truth?

Christians are to love all people, be kind to all and it is true that “love hopes all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). This does not, however, mean that we should be naive, gullible or immediately believe everything we are taught. The New Testament makes it very clear that we are hold ourselves accountable to the Word and not just take a preacher’s word for it. If we are not careful it would be easy to be misled and end up being “...children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14).

We should question and examine!
Several passages of Scripture teach us to examine what we are being taught.
(Acts 17:10-11) “The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” 
The Christians in Berea were being taught by the Apostle Paul, yet they still examined the Scriptures.
(1 John 4:1-3) “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God...”
Some teach things that are false, John makes it clear that it is up to us to “test” what is being taught. He warns that there are “false prophets”.
(1 Thessalonians 5:20-22) “Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil”.
At the end of his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul by inspiration tells them to not “despise” prophecies, but instead “test” them. If the message is good (ie. true to God’s will), “hold fast” to it. If a teaching is evil, “abstain” from it.

Conclusion
It is VERY biblical to question what you are being taught. This does not mean we assume that everyone is teaching something false, but instead we analyze everything we are being taught in light of Scripture. If what we are being taught by our teachers is biblical, then we should hold fast to it. If it is contrary to Scripture, we should reject it.

By Cliff Sabroe (Quotes from ESV Bible) (Image from Zazzle.com)

What does Philippians 4:13 mean? “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”

A prizefighter is getting ready to step into the ring, a football team is about to take the field and a soldier is about to cross into battle. When asked if they are going to prevail, they all reply “Yes, because Philippians 4:13 states ‘I can do all things through Him who strengthens me!’”.

Philippians 4:13 is one of the most quoted verses of the New Testament. In fact, many would say it is their favorite verse of the Bible. Because of its popularity, it is often misapplied accidentally by those who have never considered the context of the passage where it is contained. 

The Text
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. (Philippians 4:10-13)
The Context of Philippians 4:13
Paul is very thankful for the Philippians’ support of his ministry. He wants to assure them he is grateful and content with his circumstances. He tells them he knows how to live in poverty as well as in prosperity while continuing to find joy. What is the secret to such a positive attitude? Answer: Understanding that Jesus can see you through. Paul gets strength to endure hardship in his ministry through Jesus. 

Paul is expressing his thanksgiving for their continued gifts and is informing them of his strength of character in the midst of hardship. He let’s them know that he is very content in whatever situation he is in, because the Lord provides him strength.

Conclusion
Philippians 4:13 is not designed to give a football player hope that his team will win, but instead, it shows that a good minister like Paul can be content with lowly means as long as he understands that Jesus will see him through. Whether you have a lot or a little, the secret to happiness is to get your strength from the Lord!

By Cliff Sabroe (Quotes from NASB Bible)

Friday, November 7, 2014

What is Gossip? Is it a Sin?

This post is brought to you by Wesley Walker at studyyourbibleonline.com (Please check out his site and read the many great articles he posts on a regular basis). Wesley is the preacher for the Woodson Chapel Church of Christ in Nashville TN.

Gossip

We all know gossip is bad.  In Romans 1, Paul lists a variety of sins that condemn people. In this list with sexual sins, murder, and others, he also includes gossip. But what exactly is gossip?

Not everything you say negative about someone else is gossip. There are times when it is okay to warn someone of another person’s character, or to go to others for advice on how to help someone.  We recognize that Jesus warned his disciples of certain people.  For instance, he told them to avoid the influence of the Scribes and Pharisees (Mark 8:15).  Paul names Alexander the coppersmith as someone who did him much harm (2 Timothy 4:14). So how do we define gossip? The truth is it is not easy to define.

Therefore, rather than giving a definition of gossip, I want share with you three categories. These categories are the ones I find in Scripture that help us better understand what is meant by gossip. I hope you will use these categories as an intellectual grid.

3 Categories of Gossip

The first category is gossip includes slandering someone.  To slander means to attack or harm someone’s character with something that is either untrue, or you do not know if it is true. In 2 Corinthians 12:20 the word translated gossip (or some have whisperings) means to slander someone in secret, or slandering with whisper. If what you are saying about someone is untrue, or you do not know whether it is true or not, then when you share it with others you could be gossiping.

The second category is to betray a confidence. There are things that friends or family tell you with the hopes that it will stay between you and them. They do not want others to know, but they have decided to share it with you.   Two different Proverbs come to mind. First, we have Proverbs 11:13 that says a “Gossip betrays a confidence, while a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” Also Proverbs 20:19 says a “gossip betrays a confidence, so avoid someone who talks too much.”  If someone tells you something, believing it will be kept between you and them, then to betray that confidence is gossip.

The final category is connected with the person who is a busybody. The person who simply wants to know everyone’s business and then desires to share it with anyone they can. In 1 Timothy 5:13 Paul uses the phrase “house-to-house.” The imagery is someone finds out something “juicy” about a person, and then decides to make the rounds letting everyone know about it.  The person has idle time on his/her hands and instead of using that time to serve the Lord, uses it to share the latest “important” news.

Effects of Gossip
So why is this bad? Two reasons come to mind.  We are told in Proverbs 16:28 that gossip divides close friends. If someone tells you something that you share, or if you slander a friend behind their back, then eventually you will no longer have that friendship. Proverbs 26:20 states that just like wood adds fuel to a fire, gossip intensifies a fight. Gossip is a relationship destroyer.

Gossip is also a reputation destroyer. Gossip can make others feel differently about a person. It can forever hurt someone.  Once it is out, it can have a life of its own.

A Word of Warning
Let me end with a warning. Gossip is not easy to overcome. We are warned three times in Proverbs that gossip is like a tasty morsel.  When you eat delicious food, your immediate response is to want more. Gossip elicits that same desire within us.  Social scientists state we want more because when we gossip we feel powerful. We have information no one else has and therefore people have to listen to us. We want more because we feel included. It makes us feel like we are part of a group if we are sharing and hearing gossip. And it makes us feel better about ourselves. If we can talk about how bad someone else is, we don’t have to examine our own weaknesses.

Since we know the temptation to gossip is so strong we need to be aware of it and battle against it.  Before you share information about someone else with another person, check your heart, make sure you are not slandering, make sure you are not sharing something you were supposed to keep private, and avoid always being in others private affairs. If we did this we would go a long way in avoiding gossip.

By Wesley Walker

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