The Relevance of the New Testament Today

The Bible is the best selling and most influential book in human history. No matter how many times you read it, you will never stop noticing and learning new things. There will always be more to discover.

Last week each book in the Old Testament was listed, along with one important question that each book answers. This is a similar list for the books of the New Testament.

Matthew: Who is Jesus, from a Jewish perspective?
Mark: What did Jesus do while He was here?
Luke: What do the eye witnesses tell us about Jesus?
John: Is Jesus God?
Acts: What is the church and how did it start?
Romans: What is the gospel?
1 & 2 Corinthians: How should Christians behave themselves when together and in daily life?
Galatians: Does salvation depend on following the Law of Moses?
Ephesians: What is the spiritual significance of Christ’s church?
Philippians: How can we have joy in the midst of troubles?
Colossians: How should we walk in Christ?
1 & 2 Thessalonians: What encouraging words would God give to His church?
1 & 2 Timothy: What is an evangelist, and what do they do?
Titus: What advice does a young preacher need?
Philemon: How does God feel about slavery?
Hebrews:  Should we give up on Christ if He does not seem to be coming through for us?
James: How can we live wisely?
1 & 2 Peter: How should Christians conduct themselves when persecuted?
1, 2 & 3 John: Can we know we are God’s children, and if so, how?
Jude: What does God have to say about false teachers?
Revelation: What do we know about heaven, hell, and how the story of humanity ends?

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A Nation in Great Need

I have an American friend who lives in an African country where he teaches school. He is not a Bible believer, but he asked for my help recently in constructing a Biblical argument that he could use to persuade his neighbors to stop brutally beating their children. At night he often hears their shrieks as he is trying to get to sleep.

Having traveled to various countries outside of the U.S. and visited areas of various economic status, I can understand my friend’s experience of being uncomfortably close to his neighbor’s problems. In many places around the world, people live in densely populated clusters, homes are not constructed to be even remotely soundproof, windows may not have glass panes, and the vices of your neighbors are on display around the clock. To be sure, many living in apartments in the U.S. have similar experiences.

I think this may help to explain why Americans so often feel that they are “advanced” and “civilized” above and beyond people in other places. Because we have thick walls. Or, in more general terms, because we do a good job of hiding our problems out of sight and pretending that they do not exist.

How many children will shriek tonight in America, but with no neighbors around to hear it? How many men will use their private high speed internet to view pornography from the comfort of their office, without ever having to make a risky trip to a house of prostitution? How many will abuse prescription medication until it controls their lives, while trying as hard as possible to appear normal for the sake of appearances? For that matter, how many will cry themselves to sleep, confused and lonely, and then get back up the next day and act like everything is fine?

I say all of these things as a warning, lest we forget how essential is the life changing power of the Christ. Technology, wealth, affluence, “civilization” will not save us, it will only help us to hide our vices from one another. But only Christ can make us whole.

The U.S. is a nation founded on Christian ideals, many of which remain strong to this day. But her people, like those of all nations, can be described by the words of Jesus in Matthew 7: “The gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 5: “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.”

Sin and its effects are everywhere, whether we see them on full display or not. Just because your neighbors seem fine as they smile at you while they briefly emerge from their houses to collect their mail, this does not mean that they are not in desperate need of the gospel.

I love my country, but it is not a utopia, nor will it ever be. We may be one of the richest nations on earth, but we are in desperate need of the truth of God’s Word. We are perishing without it, and most of us will continue to do so. Will you enter through the narrow door, and to bring as many with you as you can?

Evil Spirits

These days, people are skeptical of talk about demon possessions and evil spirits, and perhaps rightly so. From a scientific perspective, we can now identify many genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors that can lead to the ailments that were once attributed to evil spirits. We know more about viruses and harmful bacteria, for instance, than those who lived in medieval times.

It may also be, as some have suggested, that the high rate of possessions and ailments caused by unclean spirits in Jesus’ time was a special allowance by God while Jesus walked the earth in order that He might demonstrate His power.

But we should be careful not to dismiss the concept of spiritual warfare altogether, or to conclude that talk about spirits is outdated and not relevant to our daily lives anymore. Consider this passage which speak of the reality of the spiritual forces that are at work to harm us:

(Ephesians 6:12-13) “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”

So how are we to understand the identity and role of those “world forces of this darkness” and “spiritual forces of wickedness” that would harm us? I do not have all of the answers, but we can start by considering some of the references to harmful spirits in the New Testament.

  • (Romans 8:15) “For you have not received a spiritof slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’”
  • (Ephesians 2:1-2) “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.”
  • (1 Timothy 4:1) “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”
  • (1 Timothy 5:21) “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of Hischosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.”
  • (2 Timothy 1:7) “For God has not given us a spiritof timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”
  • (1 John 4:6) “We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

These are some of the spirits that we must avoid: a spirit of slavery, a spirit of disobedience, a spirit of deceit and false doctrine, a spirit of partiality, a spirit of timidity, and a spirit of error.

Perhaps you can think of other spirits that are also a real danger to you personally. It may be a spirit of jealousy or of anger, of apathy, or arrogance, selfishness, or lust.

Something to notice about these wicked spirits is that they do not simply live in any one person. Rather, they live and breathe in our society and our world at large. It may be that a particular person introduces you to a spirit of error, or tempts you to fall back into a spirit of slavery, but the spirit itself is bigger than any one person.   Much like “school spirit” or “team spirit” or “a patriotic spirit,” so too these damaging spirits can take on a life of their own when they spread throughout a growing group of people who adopt them and are shaped by them.

The books of 2 Peter and Jude both warn strongly against those who revile angelic forces without really knowing who or what they are dealing with. The Biblical message is not that we cast spells and practice mystical rituals in order to protect ourselves from evil. But what we must do is be on the alert for those harmful spirits in our world that could lead us astray, and pray to God for help in the fight.

Scriptures and Thoughts on Grief

What instances of grief are recorded in scripture and what can we learn from them?

(John 11:21-38)
Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22“Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”
28When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him.
30Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. 31Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, 34and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35Jesus wept. 36So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!” 37But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?”
38So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.

“deeply moved in spirit” – I snort (with the notion of coercion springing out of displeasure, anger, indignation, antagonism), express indignant displeasure with some one; I charge sternly.

“and was troubled” – literally “and troubled himself” – I disturb, agitate, stir up, trouble.

(1 Samuel 22:18-22)
Then the king said to Doeg, “You turn around and attack the priests.” And Doeg the Edomite turned around and attacked the priests, and he killed that day eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod. 19And he struck Nob the city of the priests with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and infants; also oxen, donkeys, and sheep he struck with the edge of the sword.
20But one son of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. 21Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the LORD. 22Then David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have brought about the death of every person in your father’s household.

(2 Samuel 12:19-23)
But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David perceived that the child was dead; so David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” And they said, “He is dead.” 20So David arose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he came into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he came to his own house, and when he requested, they set food before him and he ate. 21Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows, the LORD may be gracious to me, that the child may live.’ 23“But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

(2 Samuel 18:31-33) And behold, the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, “Good news for my lord the king! For the Lord has delivered you this day from the hand of all who rose up against you.” 32 The king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And the Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be like that young man.” 33  And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”

(2 Samuel 1: 11-12, 17-27) 11 Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. 12 And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword…
17 And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son, 18 and he said it should be taught to the people of Judah; behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar.He said:
19 “Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places!
How the mighty have fallen!
20 Tell it not in Gath,
publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon,
lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
lest the daughters of the uncircumcised exult.
21 “You mountains of Gilboa,
let there be no dew or rain upon you,
nor fields of offerings!
For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,
the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.
22 “From the blood of the slain,
from the fat of the mighty,
the bow of Jonathan turned not back,
and the sword of Saul returned not empty.
23 “Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!
In life and in death they were not divided;
they were swifter than eagles;
they were stronger than lions.
24 “You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet,
who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
25 “How the mighty have fallen
in the midst of the battle!
“Jonathan lies slain on your high places.
26     I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
very pleasant have you been to me;
your love to me was extraordinary,
surpassing the love of women.
27 “How the mighty have fallen,
and the weapons of war perished!”

(2 Samuel 3:31-39)
31Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, “Tear your clothes and gird on sackcloth and lament before Abner.” And King David walked behind the bier. 32Thus they buried Abner in Hebron; and the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept.
33The king chanted a lament for Abner and said,
“Should Abner die as a fool dies?
34“Your hands were not bound, nor your feet put in fetters;
As one falls before the wicked, you have fallen.”
And all the people wept again over him.
35Then all the people came to persuade David to eat bread while it was still day; but David vowed, saying, “May God do so to me, and more also, if I taste bread or anything else before the sun goes down.” 36Now all the people took note of it, and it pleased them, just as everything the king did pleased all the people. 37So all the people and all Israel understood that day that it had not been the will of the king to put Abner the son of Ner to death. 38Then the king said to his servants, “Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? 39“I am weak today, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah are too difficult for me. May the LORD repay the evildoer according to his evil.”

Does grief apply to more than just the loss of a loved one?

(Luke 22:56-62)
Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.

(John 21:17)
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.

(Romans 8:18-23) 18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

What does God’s word have to say to those who are grieving?

(Matthew 5:4) “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

(Psalm 34:18) The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

(Exodus 34:6) Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;

(John 11:35) Jesus wept.

 (Revelation 21:3-5)
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

(1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, 18) 1
3
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus…18Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

(Isaiah 43:1-3)
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

(Psalm 46:1-3)
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.

How would scripture teach us to comfort or interact with those who are grieving?

 (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

(Job 16:1-5)
1Then Job answered,
2“I have heard many such things;
Sorry comforters are you all.
3“Is there no limit to windy words?
Or what plagues you that you answer?
4“I too could speak like you,
If I were in your place.
I could compose words against you
And shake my head at you.
5“I could strengthen you with my mouth,
And the solace of my lips could lessen your pain.

What scriptures have comforted you in times of grief?

Scriptures & Thoughts: Gospel

What did “gospel” mean to the original hearers?

A good message to hear!

(Romans 1:15-17) So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 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. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written,  “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

The news of the fulfillment of prophecies which were hundreds of years old:

(John 1:43-46) The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He *found Philip. And Jesus *said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter.45 Philip *found Nathanael and *said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip *said to him, “Come and see.”

(John 4:28-30) So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” They went out of the city, and were coming to Him.

(John 7:40-44) “Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, “This certainly is the Prophet.” Others were saying, “This is the Christ.” Still others were saying, “Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He? “Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” So a division occurred in the crowd because of Him. Some of them wanted to seize Him, but no one laid hands on Him.

The news of a coming kingdom:

(Matthew 4:23) Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.

(Matthew 9:23) Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

(Matthew 24:14) This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

(Mark 1:15) and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

A whole new way to live:

(Acts 14:15) and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.

(Romans 6:5-7) For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.


A message worth dying for in order to spread it:

(Mark 8:35) For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

(Acts 20:24) But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

(Revelation 2:9-10) Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Why is there more than one Biblical gospel account?

(Mark 1:1) The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

(Luke 1:1-4) Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

(John 20:30-31) Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

Different audiences?

TO WHOM?

implied audience?

Mark:

mostly Gentiles, fairly new in their faith, and facing persecutions

Matthew:

better educated Jews who believe in Jesus, but argue over the Law

Luke:

wealthier Gentile Christians in an urban setting, becoming complacent

John:

very mixed: mostly Jews, some Gentiles, Samaritans, etc.

 

What are the differences between different biblical gospel accounts?

WHAT?

subtype of “Gospel” genre?

Mark:

narrated “good news” (1:1) about Jesus, esp. his actions & his death

Matthew:

book of “heritage” of Jesus (1:1) & much of his “teaching” (28:20)

Luke:

an “orderly account” for attaining “secure knowledge” (1:1-4)

John:

much “testimony” and “signs” for believers (20:30-31; 21:24-25)

WHY? community circumstances & author’s purpose? to encourage a group undergoing difficult trials and persecutions to teach a community with internal divisions and external enemies to challenge believers to put their faith into practice more fully to strengthen a group ostracized by other Jews for their faith

 

Another synopsis:

Matthew: Jesus as the son of David who establishes the kingdom of heaven.

Mark: Jesus as the Son of God who suffers to ransom others.

Luke: Jesus as the Savior of the world who seeks the lost.

John: Jesus as the Lamb of God who brings eternal life.

Is the gospel good news to you?

(Matthew 13:44-46) “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

(Romans 1:14-16)  I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.   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.

(John 8:4) Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.

(Philippians 4:4) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

What has the gospel done for you?

(Ephesians 1:13-14) In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

How can we convey the gospel to communicate it as good news?

(Matthew 5:13) “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”

(Mark 16:15) And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

(Acts 26:27-29) “King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets? I know that you do.” Agrippa replied to Paul, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.” And Paul said, “I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains.”

What about the “gospels” that are not included in the Bible?

The word “gospel” is derived from the Greek word (euangelion) which literally means “good news”

Around the time of the Apostolic Fathers and Justin Martyr the word was formerly noted as referring to the written records of the life and work of Jesus

By end of the second century like “The Gospel According to…” were assigned to these works. By the fourth century this is universal.

How are only the four gospels linked? Three answers have traditionally been given (Boring 466)

  • Divine Inspiration- we believe this to be true but no particular theory of verbal inspiration helps make the link clear here
  • Individual Memory- between the death of Jesus and first written Gospel accounts this message was passed down orally. Yet the selection, order, and verbal agreement of the Gospels requires more that’s memory be involved.
  • Community Tradition- Traditionally scholars have imagined snippets of material being collected and edited from the oral tradition including miracle stories, passion stories, legends, sayings, parables, etc. – It is much more likely that the first Christians faithfully & creatively preserved, expanded, and interpreted this tradition which four men recorded as guided by the Holy Spirit.

(Galatians 1:8) But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!

Listen and Respond

Have you ever been sitting in the church’s auditorium on a Sunday morning, before the worship service begins, when a visitor walks in? Depending on the size of your congregation, there’s usually a commotion that starts from the back of the auditorium that makes its way to the front, and before the new person or group finds a seat, the entire auditorium knows of their presence. In most scenarios, upon that visitor’s arrival, there is an overflowing amount smiles and handshakes that the visitor will experience as they make their way from the entrance to an empty pew, probably closer to the back of the auditorium. A kind and welcoming atmosphere is what the congregation hopes for the visitor to see, in an effort to make it likely that he or she will visit the church again.

Hospitality and niceness are great things for a person to see as they walk into our midst on either a Sunday or Wednesday, and those things are great for Christians to seek as they try to express an interest in the individual who walked in the door. It’s important to keep in mind also that it takes a genuine person with a genuine approach to establish a relationship or experience to inspire someone, who may be new to the church, to keep coming back. This isn’t to say that being hospitable and kind are not genuine attributes of some greeters. Getting lost in the best-foot-forward mentality could be received as a façade rather than the authentic nature that makes up that greeter, though.

In Scripture, it can be observed that relationships with newcomers were founded on people being real with other people, and building on what set apart their church from the others. For example in Acts 2, when Peter and the rest of the apostles were asked what the men should do in regards to the message they had just heard, the response was one that was truthful and real. “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’”.

Although the topic of this dialogue probably isn’t going to be represented in a first-time discussion between a member and a newcomer in a church today, the point from this example can be observed in how the conversation was handled. In this example, the member (Peter) listened the newcomer’s question and treated him with an answer that correlated with the question asked. It shouldn’t be a surprise to notice that key ingredients to making the conversation between the member and the visitor something beneficial is listening and responding! By making it obvious to the visitor that what he or she said is being acknowledged with an appropriate response, the visitor will be brought into the conversation rather than pushed away by a response that just flowed off the tongue by habit.

It’s easy for anyone to be caught in having a surface-level conversation with someone, especially if they don’t know the person they’re speaking with. Certain phrases that have etched themselves into our go-to memory bank are easy to whip out, but may not have much depth. When it comes to our visitors, however, should their experience be traced with conversations like that? It is my challenge that we get out of what is comfortable, when it comes to talking with visitors, and go for the deeper parts of communicating with people who are new to church. By listening and by responding, we may find our way into a new relationship with another soul who is eager to discover what God’s will for them is.

Scriptures and Thoughts on Prophecy

What is prophecy?

 Hebrew – Naba – 123 times in Old Testament

“To bubble up,” “to boil forth,” “to pour forth words, like those who speak with fervor of mind or under divine inspiration, as prophets and poets.”

In Biblical usage, “to receive God’s speech and then to proclaim it, emphasizing the reception of divine communication by the Nabi.”

Greek – propheteuo – 216 times

“The Biblical proclamation of the divine, inspired message.”

(Exodus 7:1-2) Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land

(1 Samuel 9:9) Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer.

(Amos 3:7) 7  Surely the Lord God will do nothing,  But he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

Are there still prophets/prophecy today?

 (Jude 3) 3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

 (2 Peter 2:1) “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.”

 (1 Corinthians 13:8-10) Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

(Romans 12:6-8) Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

(1 Corinthians 12:4-11) Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

(1 Corinthians 12:27-31) 27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. 29 All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? 30 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? 31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts.

And I show you a still more excellent way.

(1 Corinthians 14:1-5) Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.

(1 Corinthians 14:29-33) Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. 30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; 33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

(Matthew 24:11-14) Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13“But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 14“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

(Matthew 7:15-20) 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits.

Are there woman prophets in the Bible?

(Exodus 15:20-21) Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing. 21 Miriam answered them, “Sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted; The horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea.”

(Judges 4:4) Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel came up to her for judgment.

(Kings 22:14) So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. (She dwelt in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter.) And they spoke with her.

(Nehemiah 6:14) Remember, O my God, all the evil things that Tobiah and Sanballat have done. And remember Noadiah the prophet and all the prophets like her who have tried to intimidate me.

(Isaiah 8:3) And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz.

(Luke 23:6) “And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;”

(Acts 21:8-9) On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.

(Ezekial 13:17-23) “Now you, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people who are prophesying from their own inspiration. Prophesy against them and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Woe to the women who sew magic bands on all wrists and make veils for the heads of persons of every stature to hunt down lives! Will you hunt down the lives of My people, but preserve the lives of others for yourselves? . . . therefore, you women will no longer see false visions or practice divination, and I will deliver My people out of your hand. Thus you will know that I am the LORD.”

(Revelation 2:20) “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce my servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.”

 What can we learn from the examples of the prophets of the Bible?

 (Acts 7:52) “Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become;

 (Luke 20:9-19) “And He began to tell the people this parable: ‘A man planted a vineyard and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey for a long time. At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, so that they would give him some of the produce of the vineyard; but the vine-growers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And he proceeded to send another slave; and they beat him also and treated him shamefully and sent him away empty-handed. And he proceeded to send a third; and this one also they wounded and cast out. The owner of the vineyard said, “What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.” But when the vine-growers saw him, they reasoned with one another, saying, “This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance will be ours.” So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others.’ When they heard it, they said, ‘May it never be!’ But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘What then is this that is written: “The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone?” Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.’ The scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on Him that very hour, and they feared the people; for they understood that He spoke this parable against them. “

(Matthew 21:45-46) 45When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them. 46When they sought to seize Him, they feared the people, because they considered Him to be a prophet.

(2 Samuel 12:5-7) Then David’s anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.” Nathan then said to David, “You are the man!

(Isaiah 6:8) Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

 (Jeremiah 20:9) But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.

(Isaiah 30:9-13) For this is a rebellious people, false sons, Sons who refuse to listen To the instruction of the LORD; Who say to the seers, “You must not see visions”; And to the prophets, “You must not prophesy to us what is right, Speak to us pleasant words, Prophesy illusions. “Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, Let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel. Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, Since you have rejected this word And have put your trust in oppression and guile, and have relied on them, Therefore this iniquity will be to you Like a breach about to fall, A bulge in a high wall, Whose collapse comes suddenly in an instant,”

 What is the difference between prophecy and inspiration?

See notes on “what is prophecy.”

(2 Peter 1:16-21) “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased’— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

 What are some of the greatest and most impressive prophecies found in scripture?

(Jeremiah 25:11-12) This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 ‘Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ declares the Lord, ‘for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation.

This prophecy was written sometime from 626 to about 586 BC and was not fulfilled until about 609 BC to 539 BC (approximately 50 years later, depending on your calculation)

(Nahum 1:10) They will be entangled among thorns and drunk from their wine; they will be consumed like dry stubble.

600 years later, Diodorus Siculus recorded of the Ninevites: “The Assyrian king gave much wine to his soldiers. Deserters told this to the enemy, who attacked that night.”

(Ezekiel 26:12) They will plunder your wealth and loot your merchandise; they will break down your walls and demolish your fine houses and throw your stones, timber and rubble into the sea.

250 years later Alexander threw stones, timber and rubble of Tyre’s mainland ruins into the sea to make a land bridge to the island of Tyre, one that exists to this day.

(Daniel 9:25) “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks of years and sixty-two weeks of years”

69*7=483 years. The time between Nehemiah’s request and Jesus’ revelation as Messiah? 483 Jewish years.

(Daniel 11:1-7) “In the first year of Darius the Mede, I arose to be an encouragement and a protection for him. 2 And now I will tell you the truth. Behold, three more kings are going to arise in Persia. Then a fourth will gain far more riches than all of them; as soon as he becomes strong through his riches, he will arouse the whole empire against the realm of Greece. And a mighty king will arise, and he will rule with great authority and do as he pleases. But as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom will be broken up and parceled out toward the four points of the compass, though not to his own descendants, nor according to his authority which he wielded, for his sovereignty will be uprooted and givento others besides them. “Then the king of the South will grow strong, along with one of his princes who will gain ascendancy over him and obtain dominion; his domain will be a great dominion indeedAfter some years they will form an alliance, and the daughter of the king of the South will come to the king of the North to carry out a peaceful arrangement. But she will not retain her position of power, nor will he remain with his power, but she will be given up, along with those who brought her in and the one who sired her as well as he who supported her in those times. But one of the descendants of her line will arise in his place, and he will come against their army and enter the fortress of the king of the North, and he will deal with them and display great strength.”

(Psalm 22) “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning…All who see me sneer at me; They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, “Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him… 12 Many bulls have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me. 13 They open wide their mouth at me, As a ravening and a roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death. 16 For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; 18 They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.”

(Isaiah 53) Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. 10 But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. 11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.

Verses and Thoughts about Truth

What is truth?

αλήθεια- truth, divine truth revealed to man

Webster- a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality, the state of being the case, the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality

“The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.” – George Orwell

Properties of truth: “Logical consistency, empirical adequacy, experiential relevance”

Logical consistency:
(Galatians 1:6-12) I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

(1 Corinthians 14:33) “God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”

(Ephesians 4:4-6) “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”

(2 Timothy 1:13) “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”

Some may argue that the doctrine of the Trinity is true, though it does not meet the criteria of logical consistency.  But scripture never lays out an official “doctrine of the Trinity,” and what it does say is not logically inconsistent, regardless of what contradictory conclusions men may have drawn from it.  For instance, Jesus says “I and the Father are one,” but scripture also shows Jesus saying “not My will but Yours be done.”  Some will say that oneness and the presence of differing wills are logically inconsistent.  But in saying this they assume that the the oneness to which Jesus refers is defined so as to include a sameness of will in the sense the word is used by Jesus in Gethsemane.  This assumption is unwarranted.

Empirical adequacy:
(Deuteronomy 18:22)
“When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”

(Acts 17:11) “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”

(1 Corinthians 4:19) “But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power.”

(2 Corinthians 13:5) Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?

(Matthew 7:21) “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.”

Experiential relevance:
(Matthew 7:15-20) “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

(Psalm 34:8) “O taste and see that the Lord is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”

What does it mean to “buy the truth and sell it not”? (Proverbs 23:23)

(Proverbs 23:23) “Buy truth, and do not sell it, Get wisdom and instruction and understanding.”

(Matthew 14:44-46) “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

(Romans 1:25) “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”

Is truth relative?

Some questions are subjective, such as “what is your favorite flavor of ice cream?”

Other questions are objective, such as “How many gallons of ice cream did Blue Bell Creameries sell in 2016?”
The answers to subjective questions vary based on our feelings.

The answers to objective questions do not.

(2 Timothy 2:15) “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”

(2 Peter 1:20) “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

(John 7:24) “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

(Acts 2:36) “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”

(John 14:6) “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’”

(Matthew 7:13-15) “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

(Matthew 7:21-23) “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’”

Is it ever okay to lie?

(2 Kings 6:18-19) “When they came down to him, Elisha prayed to the LORD and said, ‘Strike this people with blindness, I pray.’ So He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha. Then Elisha said to them, ‘This is not the way, nor is this the city; follow me and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.’ And he brought them to Samaria.”

(Joshua 2:3-7) “And the king of Jericho sent word to Rahab, saying, ‘Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.’ But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them, and she said, ‘Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. It came about when it was time to shut the gate at dark, that the men went out; I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.’ But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them in the stalks of flax which she had laid in order on the roof. So the men pursued them on the road to the Jordan to the fords; and as soon as those who were pursuing them had gone out, they shut the gate.”

(James 2:24-26) “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”

(Hebrews 11:31) “By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.”

(Exodus 20:16) “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

(Leviticus 19:11) “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.”

(Psalm 119:163) “I hate and despise falsehood, But I love Your law.”

(Proverbs 12:22) “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal faithfully are His delight.”

(Zephaniah 3:12-12) “But I will leave within you the meek and humble. The remnant of Israel will trust in the name of the Lord. They will do no wrong; they will tell no lies. A deceitful tongue will not be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid.”

(John 8:44) “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

(Ephesians 4:25) “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.”

(1 Kings 22:19-23) “Micaiah said, ‘Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left. The LORD said, “Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?” And one said this while another said that. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD and said, “I will entice him.” The LORD said to him, “How?” And he said, “I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.” Then He said, “You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.” Now therefore, behold, the LORD has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; and the LORD has proclaimed disaster against you.’”

(2 Thessalonians 2:8-12) “Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.”

(Colossians 3:9) “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices”

(Hebrews 6:16-18) “For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.”

(Revelation 21:8) “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

What does it mean that Jesus is the truth?

(John 14:6) “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’”

(John 1:1-5) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” – (John 17:17 “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”)

(Titus 1:1-2) “Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,”

What does it mean that the Word is truth?

(John 17:17) “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”

(Psalm 119:160) “The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.”

(1 Kings 17:24) “Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”

(John 8:31-32) “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ They answered Him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, “You will become free”?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.’”

What criteria can we use to judge whether or not something is truthful?

If God said it, that settles it:

(John 17:17) “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”

(Psalm 119:160) “The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.”

(1 John 4:1-6) “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because 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; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

(1 John 2:21-21) “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.”

The Masterpiece (Romans 1:20) – Austin Gonzales

At last, the Artist had finished laboring. He took a step back and surveyed His work. Completely satisfied, He said, “It is very good,” then He rested for a day (Gen. 1:31-2:2). Within this masterpiece are many smaller works – each one a masterpiece in its own right. I am one of those privileged to observe some of these every day, as the Artist
continually touches-up and cares for them. Some of my favorites are “Water,” “Flora and Fauna,” “Sky,”

“Chemistry,” and “Music.” “Chemistry” is the medium that the Artist uses to mold his masterpiece. Within “Chemistry,” I consider Elements, which struggle together as small teams cooperating and building upon each other to construct the entirety of the vast masterpiece, as the Artist directs (1 Cor. 12:12-31). I also observe Fire, which He uses to refine various parts of His masterpiece – eradicating great stains and smears through much toil and patience, as well as strengthening the mold (1 Pet. 1:6-7).

“Flora and Fauna” illustrates the delicacy of the masterpiece. From this we can see how such art owes its existence to its Creator and to the Person who preserves it and cares for it. It is a beautiful creation – filled with untold complexity and variety that give us just a taste of how intelligent and wise the Maker of this masterpiece must be (Rom. 11:33-36). Moreover; through examining the intricacies of the relationships between “Flora and Fauna” set pieces, we discover amazing jewels like care and protection (Matt. 6:25-34).

“Sky” makes use of the Artist’s full palette of colors, patterns, and lighting. The dominant feature – Weather – is a constantly changing canvas. Weather portrays, at times, immense power. At other times it portrays peace, or anything else in-between (Mark 4:35-41). Another feature is Sunrise, sometimes called Sunset. Sunrise is a live exhibition portraying the Artist’s emotions in color. This fascinating display of emotion continually changes as each moment passes. But even when it disappears from view, it’s still there – bleeding, growing, mourning, smiling. Though many parts of the masterpiece fade away after a time, Sunrise never ceases to be. It is at the Beginning and, as Sunset, it is at the End of the masterpiece (Rev. 22:13).

“Water” is the shading technique that connects all of these masterpieces to each other in a pure hue. It sometimes acts as an eraser – cleansing and shaping the foundations for the masterpiece. At other times, it gives life to the masterpiece (John 3:5; 4:13-14): “Sky,” “Chemistry,” and especially “Flora and Fauna,” could not be what they are without “Water”, and wherever “Water” is not, there is instead a blemishing agent called Death.

“For the invisible things of him, that is, his eternal power and Godhead, are seen by the creation of the world, being considered in his works, to the intent that they [men] should be without excuse:” (1599 Geneva Bible) (Brackets added for clarification, based on context)

Art is a way of expressing oneself. The Artist desired to express Himself – His personality – to His masterpiece. So through art, as well, we can see the personality of this master Artist displayed. Through music, we can see harmony – the idea of multiple parts working together as a whole – much like Elements. Through smithing and pottery, we can see His method of refining and strengthening through toil and pain – much like Fire. Through score composition and architecture, we can learn about the mathematics, complexities, and other such evidences of this Artist’s intelligence – much like “Flora and Fauna.” By studying colors, patterns, and lighting – as seen in “Sky,” we can learn a great deal about sin and righteousness (1 John 1:5-10), and about human emotion, a gift bestowed by the Artist upon His portrait “The Likeness of His Image” (Gen. 1:26-27).

Even in the use of our cleaning materials when the work is done we can observe the pure, cleansing nature of the Artist – like that of “Water.” We can observe how they may be used to both erase and create, to make the artwork exactly what the Artist wants (2 Cor. 5:21). Even more; we can observe how, without the proper cleansing Agent, the art may remain blemished or covered up, but never restored – much like those marked by sin, for Death. The Artist can only use the proper cleansing Agent to restore that precious gift of Life to His portrait and make it again, truly, “The Likeness of His Image” (John 14:6).

Scriptures & Thoughts: Covenant

What is a covenant?

Greek:

Diathéké (dee-a-THAY-kay):

a covenant between two parties, a will, testament”

Merriam-Webster’s:

Covenant:

1: “a usually formal, solemn, and binding agreement; a compact

2a: “a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action.”

Testament/Will:

“an act or declaration by which a person determines the disposition of his or her property after death” – (A type of covenant, it appears.”

Conditional covenants can be made between two parties such as two men, a man and God, or men and God.

Unconditional covenants can be made from one party to another such as from God to man, man to man, or man to God.

Is it possible for modern day people to fully grasp this concept?

(Hebrews 6:13-18) 13 For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,14 saying, “I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you.” 15 And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. 16 For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. 17 In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

(Joshua 9:3-27) 3When the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, 4they also acted craftily and set out as envoys, and took worn-out sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins worn-out and torn and mended, 5and worn-out and patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and had become crumbled. 6They went to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us.” 7The men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you are living within our land; how then shall we make a covenant with you?” 8But they said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” Then Joshua said to them, “Who are you and where do you come from?” 9They said to him, “Your servants have come from a very far country because of the fame of the LORD your God; for we have heard the report of Him and all that He did in Egypt, 10and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon and to Og king of Bashan who was at Ashtaroth. 11“So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey, and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants; now then, make a covenant with us.”’ 12“This our bread was warm when we took it for our provisions out of our houses on the day that we left to come to you; but now behold, it is dry and has become crumbled. 13“These wineskins which we filled were new, and behold, they are torn; and these our clothes and our sandals are worn out because of the very long journey.” 14So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD. 15Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.

     16It came about at the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were neighbors and that they were living within their land. 17Then the sons of Israel set out and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon and Chephirah and Beeroth and Kiriath-jearim. 18The sons of Israel did not strike them because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the LORD the God of Israel. And the whole congregation grumbled against the leaders. 19But all the leaders said to the whole congregation, “We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and now we cannot touch them. 20“This we will do to them, even let them live, so that wrath will not be upon us for the oath which we swore to them.” 21The leaders said to them, “Let them live.” So they became hewers of wood and drawers of water for the whole congregation, just as the leaders had spoken to them.

     22Then Joshua called for them and spoke to them, saying, “Why have you deceived us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ when you are living within our land? 23“Now therefore, you are cursed, and you shall never cease being slaves, both hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.” 24So they answered Joshua and said, “Because it was certainly told your servants that the LORD your God had commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land before you; therefore we feared greatly for our lives because of you, and have done this thing. 25“Now behold, we are in your hands; do as it seems good and right in your sight to do to us.” 26Thus he did to them, and delivered them from the hands of the sons of Israel, and they did not kill them. 27But Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, to this day, in the place which He would choose.

How is a covenant different from swearing?  Didn’t Jesus say not to swear?

(James 5:33-37) 33“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’ 34“But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. 36“Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37“But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.

How many covenants are mentioned in scripture?

Genesis 9-Noah/flood, Genesis 15-Abraham, Exodus chapter 20-31-Moses/Law, Deuteronomy 11-blessing/curse, etc., also the new covenant in Jesus blood.

Also:

(Joshua 24:19-28) 19Then Joshua said to the people, “You will not be able to serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgression or your sins. 20“If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you.” 21The people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the LORD.”22Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen for yourselves the LORD, to serve Him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” 23“Now therefore, put away the foreign gods which are in your midst, and incline your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.” 24The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the LORD our God and we will obey His voice.” 25So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. 26And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the LORD. 27Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be for a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the LORD which He spoke to us; thus it shall be for a witness against you, so that you do not deny your God.” 28Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to his inheritance.

(2 Samuel 7:12-17) When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, 15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”’” 17 In accordance with all these words and all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.

Distinctions between different covenants:

(Galatians 3:16-19) 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.17 What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18 For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.

19 Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.

(Jeremiah 31:31-33) 31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

Consider the new Covenant in Jesus blood, Matthew 26, etc.
This covenant is clearly distinguished from the Law of Moses, for instance, in Jeremiah 31, above or Hebrews 8, below.

What signs are associated with covenants in scripture?

See Joshua 24 reference above – the stone that was set up.

(Genesis 9:8-17) 8Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, 9“Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; 10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth. 11“I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations;13I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.14“It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, 15and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.16When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

(Genesis 15:5-21) And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. 7 And He said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.” 8 He said, “O Lord God, how may I know that I will possess it?” 9 So He said to him, “Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. 11 The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.
12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. 13 God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. 14 But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. 16 Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”
17 It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying,
“To your descendants I have given this land,
From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:
19 the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite 20 and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim 21 and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.”

(Exodus 31:12-18) 12 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 13 “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. 14 Therefore you are to observe the sabbath, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. 15 For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death. 16 So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’ 17 It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.” 18 When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.

(Ruth 4:7-12) 7Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning the redemption and the exchange of land to confirm any matter: a man removed his sandal and gave it to another; and this was the manner of attestation in Israel. 8So the closest relative said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself.” And he removed his sandal. 9Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. 10“Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased will not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his birth place; you are witnesses today.” 11All the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem. 12“Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring which the LORD will give you by this young woman.”

(Matthew 26:26-29) 26While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 27And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. 29“But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

What does it mean that the Bible is divided into “Old and New Covenant/Testament?”

(Hebrews 8:6-13) But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. 8 For finding fault with them, He says,
“Behold, days are coming, says the Lord,
When I will effect a new covenant
With the house of Israel and with the house of Judah;
9 Not like the covenant which I made with their fathers
On the day when I took them by the hand
To lead them out of the land of Egypt;
For they did not continue in My covenant,
And I did not care for them, says the Lord.
10 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
After those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws into their minds,
And I will write them on their hearts.
And I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.
11 “And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen,
And everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
For all will know Me,
From the least to the greatest of them.
12 “For I will be merciful to their iniquities,
And I will remember their sins no more.”
13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.

(Matthew 5:17) “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

Is it ever okay for a covenant to be nullified?

(2 Timothy 2:11-13)  It is a trustworthy statement:
For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.


(Numbers 23:19) God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent;
Has He said, and will He not do it?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

Notice the covenants in Genesis 9 and 15 above for example.  There were no conditions mentioned in these covenants that would nullify them.

Romans 9-11 explains in great detail how God is not being unfaithful to Israel when He extends salvation to both Jews and Greeks, and only through Christ.

(Romans 1:16)  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

But what about cases in which God explicitly makes the covenant conditional at the time it is entered into?

(Deuteronomy 11:13-17, 22-28) 13 “It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, 14 that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. 15 He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. 16 Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them. 17 Or the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you…

22 For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him, 23 then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you. 24 Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours; your border will be from the wilderness to Lebanon, and from the river, the river Euphrates, as far as the western sea. 25 No man will be able to stand before you; the Lord your God will lay the dread of you and the fear of you on all the land on which you set foot, as He has spoken to you.
26 See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today;28 and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known.

But what if we enter into a covenant and then realize we have made an oath to do something that we actually should not do?

Consider the situation in Joshua 9.  Consider also the following two situations:

(1 Samuel 25:21-26, 32-35) 21 Now David had said, “Surely in vain I have guarded all that this man has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him; and he has returned me evil for good. 22 May God do so to the enemies of David, and more also, if by morning I leave as much as one male of any who belong to him.”

23 When Abigail saw David, she hurried and dismounted from her donkey, and fell on her face before David and bowed herself to the ground. 24 She fell at his feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the blame. And please let your maidservant speak to you, and listen to the words of your maidservant. 25 Please do not let my lord pay attention to this worthless man, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name and folly is with him; but I your maidservant did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent.

26 “Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, since the Lord has restrained you from shedding blood, and from avenging yourself by your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek evil against my lord, be as Nabal… 32 Then David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me, 33 and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed and from avenging myself by my own hand. 34 Nevertheless, as the Lord God of Israel lives, who has restrained me from harming you, unless you had come quickly to meet me, surely there would not have been left to Nabal until the morning light as much as one male.35 So David received from her hand what she had brought him and said to her, “Go up to your house in peace. See, I have listened to you and granted your request.”


(Judges 11:30-36) Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, “If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, 31then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” 32So Jephthah crossed over to the sons of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD gave them into his hand. 33He struck them with a very great slaughter from Aroer to the entrance of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim. So the sons of Ammon were subdued before the sons of Israel.

     34When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, behold, his daughter was coming out to meet him with tambourines and with dancing. Now she was his one and only child; besides her he had no son or daughter. 35When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you are among those who trouble me; for I have given my word to the LORD, and I cannot take it back.” 36So she said to him, “My father, you have given your word to the LORD; do to me as you have said, since the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the sons of Ammon.