Inescapable Conclusions

Choices are a part of life. Whether they deal with what to do for a living, who to marry, etc., choices must be made. Most of the time these choices are not restricted to one option but offer several different avenues to a conclusion. However, there are some situations in life where the conclusions are inescapable. God has always had the best interest of His people in mind when giving instruction. That is why Solomon wrote, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). But this Old Testament Commandment is also applicable to those of us blessed to live in New Testament times. Of course, all of God’s Directives to man must be “accurately handled” so they can be properly understood and followed.

The apostle Paul wrote much the same thing to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15. But here, He also told how we are to “know” what God wants us to do as we strive to be pleasing and acceptable to Him. One cannot know if they will not study! If Timothy needed this admonition, it certainly applies to us as well.

“Why is keeping the Commandments of God” the whole duty of man?”

When Jesus came to earth, He did not come to judge man (John 12:47). His purpose was to bring Salvation (the means for Salvation) to man. But we must also understand the Hebrew writer says judgment will come. He says, “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Paul also writes “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

The judgment is an inescapable conclusion if one reads and studies the Bible. We do not know when this will occur, except to the degree the Bible tells us. We know the “end” is coming. 1 Corinthians 15:24-26 tells us this. So, we see that Christ will “rule” or “reign” until the end. The end of what? Peter answers that for us. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).

Inescapable conclusions

From these Bible facts, we can also conclude that while we are alive and have full access of our faculties is the time to make the needed changes in our lives. One way to make the changes needed within us is to prioritize. Jesus knew this and told those hearing Him preach the Sermon on the Mount that the “kingdom” (the church) which would soon come, and the righteousness of God would have to be first in their lives (Matthew 6:33). The “things” of which the Lord spoke were the other necessities of life such as food, raiment, and shelter.

How do we prioritize the many things within our lives to ensure that we seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first? Well, it must be through that which will judge us after life for all humanity is over. It is a choice all must make. We can receive His Word, or we can reject it. In John 12:48, Jesus said: “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.” It is an inescapable conclusion that only the Word of God, properly understood and lived leads to the eternal life we desire. If we walk the wrong path or walk the path of this life without the light of the gospel, we will reach a destination we do not wish to reach.

Is Drinking Alcoholic Beverages Biblically Wrong?

In the Bible, we find it first mentioned in the 9th chapter of Genesis

The drinking of beverages which contain alcohol, and therefore make one drunk, is an old, old practice. In the Bible, we find it first mentioned in the 9th chapter of Genesis, where Noah, a righteous man, became drunk and lay naked in his tent. This good man had his sense of right and wrong dulled by the evil effects of drinking. In the 19th chapter of Genesis, we read of another righteous man, Lot, who was overcome by the evil effects of alcohol. While drunk, he had sexual relations with his own daughters! Again, a good man lost his sense of right and wrong when under the influence of alcohol. The writer of Proverbs warned: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, And whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1).

Some will try to support their sinful habit of drinking by going to the Bible. They will point to passages in the Bible speak of drinking wine as a good thing (Genesis 14:18; Amos 9:14; Zechariah 10:7, etc.). However, we find many other passages which condemn the drinking of wine (Genesis 9:20,21; 19:30-35; Leviticus 10:8-10; Proverbs 20:1; 23:29-35; 31:4,5; Daniel 1:8; Isaiah 5:22; 28:7; Habakkuk 2:15). How can the drinking of wine be both commended and condemned? Does the Bible contradict itself? If it does, then it cannot be the Word of God!

Right here, let me say emphatically, the Bible is the Word of God and does not contradict itself. Thus, a correct understanding of the word “wine” in the Bible depends upon the meaning of the words which are translated “wine” in our English Bible. The Old Testament was originally written in the Hebrew language. And we find there are eleven different Hebrew words which are all translated “wine.” Being first written in Greek, the New Testament, contains two different Greek words which are translated “wine” in our English New Testament.

In his book, Bible Wines, William Patton quotes the Bible scholar, Moses Stuart, who correctly says: “…whenever the Scriptures speak of wine as a comfort, a blessing, or a libation to God, and rank it with such articles as corn and oil, they mean, they can only mean, such wine as contained no alcohol that could have a mischievous tendency; that whenever they denounce it, and connect it with drunkenness and reveling, they can only mean alcoholic or intoxicating wine.”

The word “wine” simply refers to that from which it is made: the juice of the grape. Whether it means fermented wine, which could make one drunk, or unfermented wine, which would not make one drunk, depends upon the context. For example, Isaiah 65:8 says: “As the new wine is found in the cluster, And one says, ‘Do not destroy it, for there is benefit in it,’ So I will act on behalf of My servants In order not to destroy all of them.” The context makes it clear unfermented wine is the meaning. The cluster refers to the grapes which are still on the vine. It is not logical to think they could be fermented, and, therefore, intoxicating, while the juice is still in the grapes on the vine.

The Bible is filled with warnings of the dangers of drinking intoxicating wine. The wise man wrote, “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, Those who go to taste mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it goes down smoothly; At the last it bites like a serpent And stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things And your mind will utter perverse things. And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, Or like one who lies down on the top of a mast. ‘They struck me, but I did not become ill; They beat me, but I did not know it. When shall I awake? I will seek another drink’” (Proverbs 23:29-35).

The prophet Isaiah speaks of the wicked rulers of his day: “And these also reel with wine and stagger from strong drink: The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, They are confused by wine, they stagger from strong drink…” (Isaiah 28:7). The prophet, Habakkuk, said: “Woe to you who make your neighbors drink, Who mix in your venom even to make them drunk So as to look on their nakedness” (Habakkuk 2:15)!

In the New Testament, there are many strong condemnations of drunkenness. In 1 Corinthians 5:11,13, Paul wrote: “I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler–not even to eat with such a one…REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.” In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul lists the sins of which the Corinthians had been guilty before they became Christians.  Drunkards are listed along with fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, extortioners, and revilers. Those who are guilty of these things, “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Some have argued that it is all right to drink if one does not get drunk. However, Ephesians 5:18 says: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” According to Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, the verb which is translated: “Do not get drunk” (Be not drunk, KJV) actually means, “Do not begin to be softened” with wine. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words defines this verb as: “to make drunk, or to grow drunk (an inceptive verb, marking the process of the state expressed in methuo), to become intoxicated….” In other words, Paul is saying, “Do not even begin the process of becoming drunk.” (See also Luke 12:45 and 1 Thessalonians 5:7). So, the process of becoming drunk begins with the first drink. Hence, one is forbidden to take even one drink of an alcoholic beverage.

It is a well-known fact that people do many evil things while drinking. Hundreds of people are injured and die every day in automobile accidents which are caused by drunk drivers. Many violent crimes are committed by those who have been drinking. Drinking alcohol contributes to many of the major health problems facing us today such as heart disease and cancer.

If one desires to be pleasing to God, they will not drink any alcoholic drink, in any amount, for any purpose, at any time! Remember, the process of becoming drunk begins with the first drink. Those who are guilty of drunkenness cannot go to Heaven!

The Good Seed

Planting good seed

Many years ago, an interesting article appeared in a magazine. In the picture that accompanied the article a man was standing beside some pea vines. According to the article, some peas were found in a tomb in Egypt. These peas were purported to be over 2000 years old. The article went on to say the man had planted the peas to see if they would grow, which they did, and the peas produced were exactly like the peas found in the tomb. If true, it is a remarkable story and illus­trates some truths about spiri­tual seed.

Jesus spoke a parable about seed. He told of a man sowing seed in different kinds of ground. Some of it bore fruit and some did not bear fruit. It bore fruit when the ground was good. He explained what the seed represented, “The seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). He also explained what the different kinds of ground represented. Of the good ground He said, “these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance” (Luke 8:15).

Today there are many kinds of religious beliefs, all going by the name of “Christian.” When we see different kinds of plants, we know they grew from different kinds of seed. When there are different beliefs people should know that they are the result of different teachings. The right seed is the Word of God, the Bible. Any teach­ing that is not found in the Bible is the wrong seed and will produce the wrong fruit.

Seed produces after it’s kind

What fruit will the true seed produce when people take it into their hearts? It will produce Christians. It will make people believers in God and His Son Jesus Christ. It will cause them to love God and follow His teaching in His Word. If people follow God’s Word only, they will be Christians only, just like the first Christians.

Christians are people who have been born again. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). By what seed is he born? We find the answer in 1 Peter 1:23, “you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable…”

The fruit of the true seed is also the church. When one person receives the Word in faith and obe­dience, he becomes a Christian. When others do the same thing, they also are Christians, and the group of Christians is a church. A church is just a group of Christians who worship and serve God together. God gives instructions to the church in His Word. He describes how a church is to be organized, how Christians are to worship, to live, and to tell others about Christ. The way the apostles organized the churches they established is the way God wanted them to be organized. This is true because the apostles were God’s messengers and were inspired by His Spirit in them.

Paul’s warning

Paul warned that other seed would be planted and would pro­duce the wrong fruit. He said to the elders of the church at Ephesus, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).

Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31). The words Jesus spoke when He was here on earth were His words. When He went back to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to guide His apostles and others in teaching. What the Holy Spirit gave them to teach was Christ’s Word also. When He promised to send the Spirit He said, “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you” (John 16:14-15).

Let us take into our hearts the pure Word of God. Let us con­tinue in that Word, learning it and following it. Never accept teach­ings that are not found there. In that way we will be faithful disciples, and the final fruit will be eternal life in the glory of God with all the redeemed.

Judge With Righteous Judgment

Use righteous judgment

In Genesis 1 we are told God made man in His image. Included would be the ability to reach a conclusion from observable evidences. The ability to reason manifests itself every time we make a judgment about a person or thing. Therefore, with this ability comes grave responsibility. It is such a serious a responsibility that there are admonitions in scripture warning us about how to judge.

A Warning

For instance, Jesus warns, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Jesus’ statement implies that mankind will make judgments from time to time.

The acceptability of an action or thing to God (is it righteous) is to be the basis of these judgments. Peter and John challenged the Sanhedrin of their day to judge if it was right to obey God rather than man (Acts 4:19). Paul asked the Corinthian brethren the rhetorical question, “Do you not judge those who are within the church?” (1 Corinthians 5:12). He then instructs Christians not to go to law against one another but to let brethren judge in any legal dispute that may arise (1 Corinthians 6:1-8). In 1 Corinthians 10:15 Paul continues by saying, “I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say.” Then he charges the brethren to judge whether it is proper for a Christian woman to pray to God unveiled (1 Corinthians 11:13). As we look to these many admonitions to “judge,” it is undeniable that men can and do, in fact must, make judgments. Therefore, those who would be righteous must judge with righteous judgment.

Wait until all evidence is in

When Jesus said that we are not to judge according to appearance, He was warning us not to make judgments before we have understood all the evidence. Paul makes this point concerning his own stewardship as an apostle of the Lord. In first Corinthians chapter four, he encourages them to accept him as a steward of the mysteries of God (vs. 1). He then says a steward must be found faithful (vs. 2). Next, he addresses the possibility man’s judgment can be faulty by saying, “But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord” (vvs. 3-4). Paul knew judgment without understanding could be faulty, hence his statement about man’s judgment. His own judgment of his stewardship did not justify (declare him righteous). Only the Lord can justify. The reason man’s judgment may be faulty is because of his propensity for prejudice (Proverbs 24:23).

Paul concludes the thought by saying, “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God” (vs. 5). The way righteous judgments are made is by considering the evidence as Paul illustrates with the judgment of the Lord.