Episode 141

Disciple Up # 141
Is the Bible Reliable?
By Louie Marsh

Show Intro – Read E-mail from John Explain this was part of my Basic Bible Questions and this chapter was taken largely from Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell found here: shorturl.at/eoQ68

I have asked this question about the truth of the Bible first for good reason. Everything in Christianity hangs on how this question is answered.

If you say, “Yes, the Bible is true,” then you approach the Scriptures as the very Word of God, accept everything it says as truth revealed by God, and have a standard for truth and morality that transcends time and cultural shifts and quirks. If the Bible is true, then the Christian faith is true also, Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of the world, and everyone should believe and follow Him.

On the other hand, if you say, “No, the Bible isn’t true, it’s simply a collection of writings of men who lived a long time ago,” then you have no eternal standard and are left on your own to decide what’s true and what isn’t. So our faith and the identity of Jesus are left hanging.

The so-called middle ground, that the Bible contains both truth and error, doesn’t really leave you in any better position. Because the end result is that you are the one who decides what’s true and what isn’t. So again we have no standard, and in essence are left to be our own little “gods,” deciding between right and wrong.

The historic Christian position is to accept the Bible as God’s Word, inspired and true in the normal sense of that word. And yes, that is the position I hold.

As will be seen below God has provided us with an overwhelming amount of evidence to support the truth and validity of the Bible. We will only be able to cover a small part of this evidence, but even that should go a long way to answering this question is the Bible Reliable?

What Does the Bible Say About Itself?

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.  2 Tim. 3:16-17 (NLT)

 The Bible makes the astounding claim that it is God message to mankind! The real author of the Bible is God Himself – working through men that He picked! Not only that but Paul makes it clear that it’s not only inspired by God, but practical as well. The Bible tells us that it is God’s Word and is to be used and followed in every area of our lives!

 Because of that, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. Pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a light shining in a dark place—until the day Christ appears and his brilliant light shines in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophets themselves or because they wanted to prophesy. It was the Holy Spirit who moved the prophets to speak from God. 2 Peter 1:19-21 (NLT)

 The reason we are told to obey the Bible is that it is God authority for living. Peter says it came about when God moved people to speak or write things down, not when they felt like it themselves. The Bible is like a light directly from God that shows us what to do and how to do it, and what not to do as well.

People sometimes think that this status as God’s Word was something given to the Bible by people who lived long after it was written. But that’s just not true! Look at what Paul and Peter said about their writings:

 If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 1 Cor. 14:37

 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. 2 Peter 3:15-16

You can see from the emphasis I placed in the verses that Paul knew God was inspiring him, and that Peter agreed, placing Paul’s writings in the same class as the writings of Moses or David!

It’s clear from these few Scriptures that we’ve studied (and there are more we don’t have time for now) that the Bible claims for itself a unique status – God’s Message to Mankind!

But is there any evidence to back this up? Are we being asked to believe the Bible is true just because it says so? Or is there credible evidence to support this amazing claim?

How do we know the Bible is true?

1) Through it’s Uniqueness.

  • The Bible is unique in its continuity. It was written over 1500 year span (that’s more than 40 generations), by over 40 different authors. These men came from every walk of life, including Kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, scholars, etc.
  • The Bible is Unique in its Languages. The Bible was written on three different continents (Asia, Africa, Europe) in three different languages.
  • Hebrew, was the language of the Old Testament. In 2 Kings 18:26-28 its called “the language of Judah.”
  • Aramaic, was the “common language” of the Near East until the time of Alexander the Great (6th century BC).
  • Greek, the language of the New Testament, it was the international language of the Roman Empire during the time of Christ.
  • The Bible is Unique in its translations. As far is known today, the Bible was the first book to be translated into another language. The Greek translation of the Old Testament was made in c. 250 B.C. The Bible has been translated, retranslated and paraphrased more than any other book in existence. By 1977 the number of translations stood at 1603.
  • The Bible is Unique in its survival. It has survived through time better than any other book in history. The Bible is one of the oldest books in the world, yet more copies of the Bible exist than any book its age.
  • It’s also Unique in its survival through Persecution. The Bible has withstood more attempts to destroy it than any other book every written. Here’s just a few examples…

In 303 A.D. Diocletian issued an edict to destroy Christians and the Bible. Twenty-five years later Constantine commissioned Eusebius to prepare 50 copies of the Bible at the expense of the Roman Empire.

Voltaire, noted Frenchman, said before his death in 1778 that in 100 years Christianity would be extinct. Fifty years after he died the Geneva Bible Society was using his printing press to publish Bibles!

  • The Bible is Unique in its survival of Criticism.  For more than 1800 years critics have been attempting to destroy the trustworthiness of the Bible. They have made about as much headway as a man armed with a tack hammer facing the Pyramids of Egypt would (John W. Lea, paraphrased). Bernard Ramm says, “A thousand times over the death knell of the Bible has been sounded, the funeral procession formed, the inscription cut on the tombstone, and the committal read, but somehow the corpse never stays put!”
  • The Bible is Unique in its Teachings. No other book in history presents truth like the Bible does. Below are just three of the many unique ways the Bible teaches truth.
  • Prophecy: The Bible contains by far the largest and most detailed predictions ever assembled. They include prophecies about the Messiah, Israel and her neighbors, etc. Not one prophecy in the Bible has ever been proven wrong – and that’s unique too!
  • History: Distinguished archaeologist Professor Albright wrote in his book, The Biblical Period, “The Table of Nations in Genesis 10 stands absolutely alone in ancient literature without a remote parallel even among the Greeks…The Table of Nations remains an astonishingly accurate document…(it) shows such remarkable ‘modern’ understanding of the ethnic and linguistic situation in the modern world, in spite of all its complexity, that scholars never fail to be impressed…”
  • Personalities: The Bible deals very frankly with the faults of its main characters. Many ask why the Bible reveals the flaws of its hero’s. Well, the Bible has the habit of telling it like it is, it is indeed the Word of Truth.

2) Through Archaeology

 The science of Archaeology has greatly assisted Christians in showing the world that the Bible is what it claims to be – the Word of God and absolutely true. This only makes sense since if the Bible does give us an accurate account of God’s dealing with mankind you would expect it to be backed up by historical evidence.

Nelson Glueck, well known Jewish archaeologist wrote, “It may be well stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference.” He also wrote about “the almost incredible accurate historical memory of the Bible, and particularly so when it is fortified by archaeological fact.”

Let’s first examine the Old Testament to see how well it’s stood the test of science and time.

At one time critics rejected the Old Testament because it spoke about a mighty tribe called “Hittites.” Since no other reference to Hittites was then extant, the Bible must be wrong. Only it wasn’t. Since the late 1800’s the fact of a huge and powerful Hittite empire in the ancient east (Turkey was its center) has been proven and is now accepted by everyone.

Here’s a short course on what the Bible says about the Hittites:

  • Descended from Canaan’s son, Heth. Genesis 10:15
  • Called
  • Sons of Heth. Genesis 23:3, 20
  • Children of Heth. Genesis 23:5
  • One of the seven nations of Canaan. Deut. 7:1
  • Dwelt in Hebron. Genesis 23:2-3, 19
  • Governed by kings. 1 Kings 10:29; 2 Kings 7:6
  • Land of, promised to Israel. Genesis 15:20; Exodus 3:8
  • Israel commanded to destroy. Deut. 7:1-2, 24
  • Part of their land given to Caleb. Joshua 14:13
  • Not entirely destroyed by Israel. Judges 3:5
  • Made tributary in the reign of Solomon. 1 Kings 9:20-21

Not bad for an imaginary tribe is it?

For years Genesis 14 was considered to be historically unreliable. Yet the archives of Elba, discovered in 1964 contained thousands of clay tablets. One of those tablets lists the five cities mentioned in Genesis 14, and does so in the exact order found in the Bible!

Okay, okay – you might be saying, but what about the New Testament, how reliable is it?

Of all the New Testament writers Luke has often been singled out for a great deal of criticism. This is due to the fact that he wrote the book of Acts which is the only history book in the New Testament.

At one time most scholars agreed that he had completely missed the boat on the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. Critics argued that there had been no census that Quirinius was not the Governor of Syria at that time and that everyone could not have been made to return to their ancestral home.

Once again archaeology comes to our rescue again! Discoveries were made that show the Romans had a regular enrollment of taxpayers and also held a census every 14 years. This practice was begun by Augustus and the first one took place in either 22-23 B.C. or 9-8 B.C. The latter one is the one referred to by Luke.

We also now know that Quirinius was indeed Governor of Syria around 7 B.C. We know this because he name was found on an inscription in Antioch dated to that time period.

A papyrus found in Egypt gives directions on how to conduct the census. It reads, ‘Because of the approaching census it is necessary that all those residing from any cause away from their homes should at once prepare to return to their own governments in order that they may complete the family registration of the enrollment and that the tilled lands may retain those belonging to them.”

Luke gives to Publius the chief man in Malta the title, “The First Man of the Island in Acts 28:7. Inscriptions have been unearthed which give him the title of “First Man.”

Luke used the Greek word Politarchs to denote the civil authorities in Thessalonica (Acts 17:6). Since this title wasn’t found in classical literature Luke was thought to have been wrong. However, some 19 inscriptions have been found that make use of the title. Interestingly enough five of these are in reference to Thessalonica.

The Apostle Paul, writing from Corinth in Romans 16:23 makes mention of the city treasurer Erastus. A pavement was unearthed during the excavations of Corinth in 1929 which read ERASTUS PRO:AED:S:P:STRAVIT (“Erastus, curator of the public buildings, laid this pavement at his own expense”).

https://www.foxnews.com/science/biblical-town-emmaus-may-have-been-found

So what conclusion can we draw from the evidence so far seen? Obviously it speaks loudly that the Bible is a true, historically accurate and trustworthy document. Surely it is worth of our respect, attention and obedience.

Evidence from the Prophets

If you think that Archeology has produced an impressive amount of evidence to support the Bible as God’s Word, wait till you take a look the fulfilled prophecies of the Old Testament. Below is a list of prophecies we know from archeology and history have been fulfilled, with a estimation of the odds against it coming true.

 

#

Scripture Reference

Subject

Odds Against Fulfillment

1 Ez. 26:3-21 Tyre 1 in 7.5 X 107
2 Hosea 13:16, Micah 1:6 Samaria 1 in 4 X 104
3 Amos 1:8; Jer. 47:5; Zeph. 2:4-7 Gaza & Ashkelon 1 in 1.2 X 104
4 Ez. 25:3-4; Jer. 48:47, 49:6 Moab & Ammon 1 in 103
5 Isa 34:6-15; Jer 49:17-18; Ez 25:13-14, 35:5-7 Petra & Edom 1 in 104
6 Isa 13:19-22, 14:23; Jer. 51:26,43 Babylon 1 in 5 X 109
7 Jer. 31:38-40 Jerusalem Enlarged 1 in 8 X 1010
8 Lev 26:31-33; Ez 36:33-35 Palestine 1 in 2 X 105
9 Josh 6:2-5 Jericho 1 in 2 X 105
10 Ez 44:1-3 The Golden Gate 1 in 103
11 Jer 26:18 Zion Plowed 1 in 103

The probability of these 11 prophecies coming true is 1 in 5.76 X 1059. Let’s try to visualize that number. First of all we’ll round it off to 5 X 1059. Then let’s suppose that we had that many silver dollars. How big a pile would that make?

The volume of the sun is 1,000,000 times larger than that of the earth, yet out of 5 X 1059 silver dollars would could make 10 silver balls the size of the sun!

 It has been estimated that the whole universe contains about two trillion galaxies and that each galaxy contains about 100 billion stars. From our 5 X 1059 silver dollars we could make all of the stars in these galaxies 2 X 105 times!

Now suppose that we marked one dollar and stirred it into the whole pile before making them into balls the size of the sun. Then suppose that we blind fold someone and told him to go over to each of the balls and pick up the dollar which he thinks is the right one.

What chance would he have of picking the marked silver dollar?

Assuming he could travel 60 mph day and night it would take him 5 years to go once around each star, or 500 billion years for each galaxy! So let’s suppose that this guy is really fast and is able to look over all the dollars contained in the 100 billion stars of a galaxy in one second!

It would still take him 3 X 10 years (that’s 3 billion years!) to cover them all!

It is absurd to think that he would pick the marked coin! It is just as absurd to think that these prophecies were fulfilled by chance! Only an all-powerful and all knowing God could have written a book that is so amazingly accurate.

This is powerful evidence that the Bible is true and is a good reason for you to put your faith in the Bible as God’s Word! [This section was taken from the book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Vol. 1, page 318, Written by Josh McDowell.]

Evidence From Ancient Literature

 Many people are bothered by the age of the Bible. They wonder how we can know that the Bible we have today is the same as what was originally written? After all how would we know if it had been changed several hundred years ago?

The answer to these questions are found in manuscript comparison.

The number of copies left of any ancient piece of literature is the main way to tell how accurate it is. Even more important than that is the period of time between when it was written and the date of our earliest copy is. The more copies and the shorter the gap between the original copy and the manuscripts we have means the more accurate the manuscript.

Below is a chart comparing the Old and New Testaments to some of the best known ancient literature.

 

Author

Date Written Earliest Copy Time Span # of Copies
Homer (Iliad) 900 BC 400BC 500 yrs. 643
Caesar 100-44BC 900 AD 1000 yrs   10
Plato 427-347 BC 900 AD 1200 yrs     7
Tacitus 100 AD 1100 AD 1000 yrs   20
Pliny the Younger 63-113 AD 850 AD 750 yrs     7
Thucydides 460-400 BC 900 AD 1300 yrs     8
Suetonius 75-160 AD 950 AD 800 yrs     8
Herodotus 480-425 BC 900AD 1300 yrs     8
Cataullus 54 BC 1550 AD 1600 yrs     3
Euripides 480-406 BC 1100 AD 1500 yrs     9
Demosthenes 383-322 BC 1100 AD 1300 yrs 200 (all from 1 copy)
Aristotle 384-322 BC 1100 AD 1400 yrs 49 (of any 1 work)
Aristophanes 450-385 BC 900 AD 1200 yrs  10
 
New Testament 40-11 AD 125 AD 25 yrs More than 24,000
Old Testament 1500-350 BC 200 BC ??? Over 800

As you can see we have more copies of the Bible than we do of any other piece of ancient literature. So why is it that only the Bible is attacked as untrustworthy? When was the last time you heard someone say that Caesar or Aristotle didn’t really write the books that have their names? If we are going to be fair we must judge all ancient literature by the same standards. By that standard the Bible stands head and shoulders above the rest as true and trustworthy!

Evidence From the Early Church

 If the Bible is indeed true and trustworthy then we would expect to find that it was widely read, used and quoted by the early Christians. Indeed it was!

If every single copy of the New Testament was completely destroyed, we could reconstruct the entire New Testament except for 11 verses!  How? Through the writings of the early church leaders, known as the Church Fathers.

 

The New Testament & the Early Church Fathers

Writer Gospels Acts Paul’s Letters General Letters Rev. Total
Justin Martyr 268 10 43 6 3 330
Irenaeus 1038 194 499 23 65 1819
Clement of Alex. 1017 44 1127 207 11 2406
Origen 9231 349 7778 399 165 17922
Tertullian 3822 502 2609 120 205 7258
Hippolytus 734 42 387 27 188 1378
Eusebius 3258 211 1592 88 27 5176
             
Totals 19368 1352 14035 870 664 36289

This chart leaves little doubt two things:

  • The New Testament was recognized quickly to be the Word of God.
  • The Bible we have is the same one that the early Christians had.

Conclusion

 After reading over this brief look at some of the evidence available the question we started with seems easy to answer now. Is the Bible reliable?

Yes! The evidence is amble and overwhelming – you can trust the Bible as God’s Word!

Yeah But…

 YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO ARGUE ANYONE INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

https://Alpha.org

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Email – louie@discipleup.org

 


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Episode 139

139 Disciple Up Show Notes
The Real Meaning of Christmas
By Louie Marsh, 12-18-2019

Past Shows on Christmas:

Disciple Up #86 – CS Lewis & Christmas

 Disciple Up #87 – Non-Pagan Roots of Christmas

 Disciple Up #88 – Christ Is In X-Mas

A Christmas Story Part One – written for my radio show, Tales From the Scrypt, which airs each Wednesday on KLPZ, 1380 AM here in Parker. Available at 1380.com on the web.

https://www-nytimes-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.nytimes.com/2019/12/09/us/nativity-scene-cages-claremont.amp.html?usqp=mq331AQCKAE%3D&amp_js_v=0.1#aoh=15760221212693&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&amp_tf=From%20%251%24s&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2019%2F12%2F09%2Fus%2Fnativity-scene-cages-claremont.html

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Email – louie@discipleup.org

 


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Episode 138

Disciple Up #138
News: Jesus Game, Micro-Churches, Persecution in China
By Louie Marsh, 12-11-2019

NEW book – #forparker
55 Daily Devotionals to strengthen your outreach and evangelsm.

Available on Amazon as a paperback and e-book: http://shorturl.at/sCFK5

Micro-Congregations:
https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2019/fall/carving-out-niche-for-micro-congregations.html

Persecution in China:

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/december/lottie-moon-church-china-historical-site-sbc.html

Jesus Video Game:

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1198970/I_Am_Jesus_Christ/

Coming soon: Jesus Christ, the video game

Please Get In Touch!

Email – louie@discipleup.org

 


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Colossians Pt 3 – Paul’s Prayer for You and Me

Disciple Up Show Notes #137
Colossians: The Supremacy of Christ, Pt 3
Paul’s Prayer for You and Me, Col. 1: 9-14

As we study Colossians you might also want to read Ephesians since there are many parallels between them.

If you were asked to pray for a small, struggling group of Christians who you had heard of but never met, what would you pray for?  Would you pray for revival, more warmth in their fellowship, more evangelism or that they try some new exciting program to grow?  Well Paul didn’t he prayed that the Colossians – and us! – would know God’s will!  Why?  Lets see…

  1. I) THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL (vs. 9)

9  And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, Colossians 1:9 (ESV)

  1. A) Filled Up

1, filled = filling out to completeness.  We should be completely filled with knowledge of His will.

2, This knowledge comes from receiving God’s grace (vs. 6)

6  which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, Colossians 1:6 (ESV)

3, Knowledge = a full grasp of something MUCH deeper than mere mental understanding.

                              a, THIS IS THE PLAGUE OF BIBLE STUDY!!

4, Paul is asking that we be filled with a complete knowledge of God’s will?  HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE??

  1. B) Through Wisdom & Understanding

1, Wisdom = a mind controlled by the Spirit of God.

2, understanding =applying this God given wisdom to our circumstances

3, This means that we must PRAYERFULLY ANALYIZE situations before jumping into them.

  1. C) But What About God’s Will?

1, We’ve been talking about it!

2, God’s will in the N.T. isn’t primarily concerned with which job should I take etc.

3, It’s really concerned with verses 10-11.

  1. II) RESULTS OF THIS KNOWLEDGE (vs. 10-11)

 10  so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11  May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, Colossians 1:10-11 (ESV)

 A) Living Worthy of the Lord (vs. 10)

1, Paul doesn’t want our knowledge to be barren orthodoxy!

2, He wants our total understanding of God’s will to show in a transformed life!

a, Knowing God’s will is the only way to live a life pleasing to Him.

b, Full knowledge will make us want to please Him in every way!!

3, A transformed life bears fruit.

a, just as the Gospel does (vs. 6)

b, our fruit is our CONTINUAL good works for Christ

c, the more our full knowledge of God’s will grows the more fruit we’ll show.

  1. B) Powered By God (vs 11)

1, I’m tired, I can’t produce fruit!  You need some power to do it!

2, We are to be strengthened with all power.

a, power = dunamis (Acts 1:8) dynamite, dynamic, dynamo

b, Might = Kratos = God’s perfect power, used of Him almost exclusively.

3, This means that God’s Kratos continually becomes dunamis in us!

a, so we depend on God – not circumstances – for the power to live.

  1. C) The Purpose of the Power (vs 11)

1, Notice how these 3 qualities parallel the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5)

a, the purpose of God’s power is to bear fruit in our lives

2, Great endurance = the kind of perseverance which enables one to hold the position already taken in battle against enemy attacks from without.

3, Patience = not striking back when attacked

4, Joyfully – these 2 qualities must be tempered with joy for we are not stoics!

III) FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT (vs. 12-14)

12  giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:12-14 (ESV)

  1. A) Give Thanks!

1, for what?  The Power and the will of God!  And for what follows.

2, Qualified to share with the saints.

a, notice that GOD qualified us – we didn’t qualify ourselves. HOW?

  1. B) Rescued From Darkness (vs. 13)

1, Dominion = exousia = the right or legal authority to rule

2, How does the Darkness or the Devil get this authority over us?

a, We give it to him by sinning

b, ALL non-Christians are helpless slaves of the Dark rebel kingdom – totally helpless to free themselves, just as all of us once were!

3, The Father must rescue us!

a, How?  Through Christ’s death for us and His resurrection which gave Him the exousia, the legal authority, over Darkness.

b, The Beloved Son died – that we might live.

c, And He died that we might be transferred to the Kingdom of Light!

1, aorist tense – it’s an accomplished fact for those who believe!

  1. C) The Way Out! (vs. 14)

1, Redemption – the O.T. concept is of paying a price to buy something back that once belonged to you.

a, Christ died to buy us back from Satan to God Again (Mark 10:45)

45  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 (ESV)

2, Forgiveness of Sins.

a, Forgive = to release or let go

b, What happens when WE don’t forgive?

1, It’s like an ancient penalty for murder, being chained to the corpse till it falls apart!

2, By dragging around your pain you’re stinking up your life, and everyone else’s you know!

3, Christ’s death forgives ALL OUR SINS!

4, You must receive Him for this forgiveness to be yours!

Please Get In Touch!

Email – louie@discipleup.org

 


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Disciple Up #136
Christian Publishing Is Dying & Why You Should Care
By Louie Marsh, 11-27-2019

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/november/christian-bookstores-authors-publishers-changing-market.html

Those became mega-bestsellers, but the big retailers also demanded bigger discounts from publishers, in turn undercutting prices at evangelical bookstores. The big stores also sold fewer titles, so publishers increasingly looked for authors with some celebrity or platform, making it harder for unknown writers to break into the market.

On another side of the evangelical book industry, though, it’s just part of the business. Take Christian authors, who are competing for fewer bookstore spots and Amazon rankings with the already-famous: reality stars like Chip and Joanna Gaines, the Duck Dynasty crew, and breakout Instagram influencers like Rachel Hollis.

Please Get In Touch!

Email – louie@discipleup.org

 


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Episode 135

 Disciple Up Show Notes
The Supremacy of Christ, Colossians Pt. 2
Thank God For the Gospel!
By Louie Marsh, 11-20-2019

THANK GOD FOR THE GOSPEL!
Col. 1: 1: 1-8

Intro. Paul wrote this book around 62-63 AD probably from Rome. Colossae was in Phrygia on the Lycus river – nearby were the larger cities of Hierapolis & Laodicea. In Paul’s day Colossae was in decline – today the site is uninhabited.

This letter was written to clear up a heresy which was being taught in the church. The false teaching had not made as strong of inroads in the Colossian church that another heresy did in Galatia. We don’t know the exact form of this heresy but it appears to be some sort of cross between Judaism & the Mystery religions. It seems to be a forerunner of Gnosticism, a heresy which would nearly destroy the church in the 2nd century.

I) PAUL’S GREETING – vs. 1-2

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. Colossians 1:1-2 (ESV)

A) Form and Substance
1, Paul follows the typical Greek form of a letter opening.
2, However, while his form is Greek the content is uniquely Christian.
a, Putting Christian content into cultural forms is part of God’s plan for reaching the world.
3, Example of typical letter – Fred, Roman Centurion to Harvey Tax preparer – “What do you mean I’m being audited??”

B) His Authority
1, Paul was an Apostle of Christ.
a, Apostle = “one clothed with the authority and endued with the power of the sender.”
b, This means that what follows isn’t just the opinion of a missionary – it’s the Word of the Almighty God – & is to be obeyed!

2, An Apostle by God’s Will
a, he didn’t get this job on the basis of his resume – it was God’s sovereign choice.
b, Since he’s never been there Paul wants them to clearly understand this.
c, None of us serve God because of our knowledge, goodness etc. We serve by His Choice which is an extension of His Grace!

C) Who His Readers Are
1, Saints.
a, ALL Christians are saints! Not just long dead nice guys!
B, How? We have been set apart by God by His Grace!
2, Faithful Brethren
a, a word of encouragement to this small and troubled church.
3, Grace and Peace
a, Grace encapsulates what salvation is all about – a free gift!
b, Peace, this word in Greek was used to translate the Hebrew Shalom, which means “wholeness.” That’s the goal of grace in our lives.
c, This comes from a God Who is our Father – not a distant god.

II) PAUL’S THANKSGIVING vs. 3-4

3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, Colossians 1:3-4 (ESV)

A) Thank God! vs. 3
1, Paul is sincere in writing this letter
a, note that he didn’t write a thanksgiving in Galatians & 2 Cor.
2, Paul praises God – not men – something the church today could learn from!
a, He recognizes work well done, as we’ll see, but true praise he reserves for God.
3, Paul, who is always bugging us to pray, practices what he preaches.

B) Faith and Love vs. 4

1, “faith in Christ” doesn’t mean that the object of their faith is Christ (though of course He is!) but the Greek refers to Christ as the sphere in which their faith works.
a, They are in Christ (vs. 2) we draw our spiritual life from Him, all that we are and can hope to become must come from HIM. We really are IN HIM!
b, to be “In Christ” is to be under His Lordship
2, Love for our brothers & sisters – the mark of the true Christian.

C) Hope, Faith & Love vs. 5

5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, Colossians 1:5 (ESV)

1, Hope gives birth to this Love and Faith that we have.
a, These 3 qualities are often linked in Scripture, this is an indication of their importance. ALL 3 are needed to live a truly Christ-like life.
2, What Hope? The Greek indicates an objective hope – the 2nd coming, the resurrection, eternal life.
a, it’s objective because it’s secured for us by our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus, & because it’s promised to us in the Word of God

D) Thank God for the Gospel vs. 6

6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, Colossians 1:6 (ESV)

1, The Gospel = the word of truth, as opposed to the false religions around them.
2, The Gospel’s two vital characteristics:
a, Growing
1, Colossae was on the Lycus Riv., a tributary of the Meander Riv. which was famous for it’s many curves – hence the English word.
2, The Gospel doesn’t meander – it grows – if not much where you are right now, we know it is in other places & it will grow here if we’re faithful.
b, Producing Fruit:
1, Because it’s the living (Word) logos of God it bears fruit
2, Two Fruits – reconciliation to God – and a changed life!

III) HOW THE GOSPEL CAME TO THEM vs. 7-8

7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. Colossians 1:7-8 (ESV)

A) Epaphras
1, short for Epaphraoditus – a very common name in those days – there’s no evidence that he’s the guy as Phil. 2:25, but he could be.

25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, Philippians 2:25 (ESV)

2, Servant = deacon
a, who preached the Gospel, started churches, and helped Paul
b, a deacon brought them the Gospel!

B) Learning the Gospel
1, Learned is an unusual word for Paul to use in this context
2, it means Epaphras gave them a systematic instruction in the Gospel
a, perhaps like the Bereans, they too studied diligently.
3, Many people have to come to Christ this way.
a, they need more than a sermon or two, they must study it out
b, If you are dealing with someone like this, or ARE someone like this, don’t give up! Keep giving them reasons for faith. (Acts 18: 4)

4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. Acts 18:4 (ESV)

News Article: What Baptism Tells Us About the “Seal” of Believer’s Baptism

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/november/research-believers-baptism-teens-faith-affiliation-jssr.html

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Episode 134

Disciple Up #134 Show Notes
Colossians: The Supremacy of Christ
Introduction: Examine Our Relationship to the Truth
By Louie Marsh, 11-13-2019

 Colossae. Colossae was in Phrygia, where religion was practiced with intensity and sometimes frenzy (e.g., the famous mother-goddess cult of Cybele). There is evidence for a Jewish presence in Phrygia as early as the sixth century b.c.; this Phrygian Judaism seems to have mirrored its culture to a significant extent. Christianity likewise exhibited unorthodox tendencies in this region in subsequent centuries. Colossae was a small and socially unimportant city by this period; it is probably only one of many cities in which Paul’s students had founded churches (Acts 19:10). The city was severely damaged or destroyed by an earthquake in a.d. 61, hence many scholars think that Paul wrote before that date.

Situation. Col. 2 may indicate that Christians were attracted to mystical or apocalyptic elements in a Judaism thoroughly influenced by Phrygian culture. (A great number of backgrounds have been proposed for the error at Colossae: mystery cults, broader Hellenistic mysticism, Hellenistic Judaism, Qumran-type Judaism and so on. The merit of considering these sources is that they all reflect some broader cultural ideas that played into the problems Paul confronted in Colossae; even Qumran parallels, while limited to Palestine, provide evidence for some more widespread Jewish beliefs in this period. The one suggestion with little merit to sustain it is Gnosticism, since full Gnostic systems cannot be dated this early. But that the Colossian error reflects one synthesis of different streams of thought that later developed toward Gnosticism is quite possible.)

That some Jewish Sibylline oracles may issue from that region and the activity of later Christian Montanists there both suggest the possibility of ecstatic elements in local Judaism (Col. 2:18). Acts testifies that Paul was preaching Christ to philosophically minded audiences in this period (see comment on Acts 19:9), and letters like Ephesians and Colossians give us an indication of Paul’s grasp of Greek philosophy and also some of the popular philosophical ideas that permeated both Gentile and Jewish thought in mid-first-century Asia Minor. – Bible Background Commentary – The IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament.

Colossians was written from Rome during Paul’s (first) imprisonment there, as recorded in Acts 28:30. At the same time Paul wrote Ephesians and Philemon (ca. a.d. 60-62). In Philemon 1, 9 Paul referred to himself as “a prisoner of Christ Jesus.” Ephesians also contains references to Paul being a “prisoner” (Eph. 3:1; 4:1). And Ephesians refers to Tychicus carrying the epistles from Paul to their destinations (Eph. 6:21; cf. Col. 4:7). Since the record of Acts ends around a.d. 60-62, Colossians was probably written during this two-year imprisonment. And since neither Colossians, Ephesians, nor Philemon mention the outcome of Paul’s trial, anticipated in Philippians 1:19-21, it can be assumed that Colossians was written before Philippians.

Colosse was in the Lycus Valley, about 100 miles east of Ephesus in Asia Minor. Its name is possibly derived from Colossus, a large statue, which in turn may have been named for the unusual shape of stony deposits there. Colosse is about 12 miles from Hierapolis and Laodicea, the other two cities of that valley (see the location of these three on the map between Acts and Rom.). The area was rich in mineral deposits and was also subject to frequent earthquakes. Rich pasturelands were nearby. Several references in Colossians indicate that Paul had not visited the city (Col. 1:7; 2:1; 4:12).

Purposes

Three purposes seem to have been in Paul’s mind as he wrote Colossians. First, he sought to show the deity and supremacy of Christ in the face of the Colossian heresy (1:18; 2:9). Second, he wanted to lead believers into spiritual maturity (1:28; 2:6-7). Third, he wanted to inform them about his state of affairs and elicited their prayers on his behalf (4:2-8).

The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty.

Americans & The Truth

Christians vs non-Christians

  • 50% of Christians vs. 25% of non-Christians said that there are moral truths which are unchanging, that truth is not relative to the circumstances. (1997)
  • Robert Wuthnow has documented this dis­turbing trend in modern spirituality:
    Spirituality is no longer true or good because it meets absolute stan­dards of truth or goodness, but because it helps me get along. I am the judge of its worth. If it helps me find a vacant parking place, I know I am on the right track. If it leads me into the wilderness calling me to face dangers I would rather not deal with at all, then it is a form of spir­ituality I am unlikely to choose.
  • Wade Clark Roof confirms these findings. He notes that people do not approach truth objectively but want to know what it can do for them and how it can do it more efficiently. A consumerist mentality allows each person to choose his or her particular brand of truth just as he or she might choose a certain make of automobile or toothpaste, according to preferences and perceived needs.

The Barna survey asked questions about God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, Satan, and demons.

All 1,871 self-described Christians were asked about their perception of God. In total, three-quarters (78%) said he is the “all-powerful, all-knowing Creator of the universe who rules the world today.” The remaining one-quarter chose other descriptions of God – depictions that are not consistent with biblical teaching (e.g., everyone is god, god refers to the realization of human potential, etc.).

For the other survey items a four-point opinion scale was used to measure people’s reactions to statements about each spiritual entity.

Four out of ten Christians (40%) strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” An additional two out of ten Christians (19%) said they “agree somewhat” with that perspective. A minority of Christians indicated that they believe Satan is real by disagreeing with the statement: one-quarter (26%) disagreed strongly and about one-tenth (9%) disagreed somewhat. The remaining 8% were not sure what they believe about the existence of Satan.

Although a core teaching of the Christian faith is the divinity and perfection of Jesus Christ, tens of millions of Christians do not accept that teaching. More than one-fifth (22%) strongly agreed that Jesus Christ sinned when He lived on earth, with an additional 17% agreeing somewhat. Holding the opposing view were 9% who disagreed somewhat and 46% who disagreed strongly. Six percent did not have an opinion on this matter.

As with Satan, most Christians do not believe that the Holy Spirit is a living force, either. Overall, 38% strongly agreed and 20% agreed somewhat that the Holy Spirit is “a symbol of God’s power or presence but is not a living entity.” Just one-third of Christians disagreed that the Holy Spirit is not a living force (9% disagreed somewhat, 25% disagreed strongly) while 9% were not sure.

Influence of Faith

Most self-described Christians contend that their religious faith has significantly impacted their life. Almost six out of ten adults (59%) said their faith had “greatly transformed” their life, while 29% said their faith “has been helpful but has not greatly transformed” their life and 9% stated that their religious faith “has not made much of a difference” in who they are and how they live.

Christians were asked if they believed that a person must either side with God or with the devil – that there is no in-between position. A large majority strongly agreed with the notion (61%) while an additional 15% agreed somewhat. Just one out of ten adults disagreed somewhat (10%) and a similar proportion (11%) disagreed strongly. Surprisingly few adults (3%) did not have an opinion on this matter.

Thoughts on Other Faiths

Among self-identified Christians, few held a positive opinion of Wicca. Overall, just 5% had a positive opinion while 55% had a negative opinion of Wicca. However, a huge segment (40%) did not know enough about Wicca to have formed an opinion of it.

Survey respondents were asked whether they believed that Mormons are Christians. Mormons themselves claim to be Christian, but most evangelical leaders say that they are not. There was no clear-cut perspective among the self-described Christians: four out of ten felt Mormons were Christian (18% strongly agreed, 21% somewhat agreed), three out of ten disagreed (17% strongly, 12% somewhat), and three out of ten were not sure what to think.

Views on the Bible

A slight majority of Christians (55%) strongly agree that the Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches, with another 18% agreeing somewhat. About one out of five either disagree strongly (9%) or somewhat (13%) with this statement, and 5% aren’t sure what to believe.

When faced with the statement that “the Bible, the Koran and the Book of Mormon are all different expressions of the same spiritual truths,” the group was evenly split between those who accepted the idea (19% agreed strongly, 22% agreed somewhat) and those who rejected it (28% disagreed strongly, 12% disagreed somewhat), while leaving a sizeable portion (20%) undecided.

How Born Agains Differ

  • Born again adults are at least twice as likely as notionals to strongly agree that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches; that their life has been greatly transformed by their faith..
  • Born again adults are more than twice as likely as notionals to strongly disagree that Satan is just a symbol of evil, and that Jesus sinned while He lived on earth.
  • Born again adults are more than three times as likely as notionals to strongly disagree that the Holy Spirit is merely a symbol of God’s power or presence; that Mormons are Christians; and that the Bible, Koran and Book of Mormon teach the same truths.
  • Born again adults are one-third more likely than notionals to possess a definition of God as the omniscient, omnipotent creator and ruler of the world; nearly 60% more likely to believe that you either side with God or Satan because there is no in-between

If you’re going to live right in a warped world – then you have to start with the truth – at Jesus’ trial Pilate asked Christ, “What is truth?”  A very modern question – and one that must be answered if we are get though life the way we ought too.

  • “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” – Sir Winston Churchill
  • “The truth is the most valuable thing we have.” – Mark Twain
  • How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four; calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg. – Abraham Lincoln
  • Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. – Daniel Patrick Moyniham
  • Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true. – Demosthenes
  • It takes two to speak truth — one to speak and another to hear. – Henry David Thoreau

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Episode 132

Disciple Up #132 Show Notes
Suffering & Keeping the Faith
By Louie Marsh, 10-30-2019

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/october/rankin-wilbourne-brian-gregor-cross-before-me-jesus.html

 

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/october/tobymac-son-truett-foster-mckeehan-21-dies.html

 

https://www.christianitytoday.com/

Taken from The Cross Before Me: Reimagining the Way to the Good Life by Rankin Wilbourne and Brian Gregor, ©2019. Used by permission of David C Cook.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5: 25-33 (NIV)

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Episode 131

Disciple Up # 131

Mission Myanmar 2019

By Louie Marsh, 10-23-2019

7  Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem, how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare, down to its foundations!” 8  O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed, blessed shall he be who repays you with what you have done to us! 9  Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock! Psalm 137:1-9 (ESV)

 16  Their infants will be dashed in pieces before their eyes; their houses will be plundered and their wives ravished. Isaiah 13:16 (ESV)

10  Yet she became an exile; she went into captivity; her infants were dashed in pieces at the head of every street; for her honored men lots were cast, and all her great men were bound in chains. Nahum 3:10 (ESV)

We all have these kind of terrible thoughts in our hearts. So why did the Holy Spirit inspire these words to be put in Scripture? To show us we are not alone with these horrid feelings and that they need to be confessed, healed and transformed into the love of God through Jesus Christ.

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Episode 130

Scripture Over Culture

By Louie Marsh

 

THEORETICAL FAITH:

1) Faith in Christ is MY CHOICE.

 The Lord is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

 Faith is a personal choice placed in a PERSONAL GOD.

2) Then Jesus becomes MY PERSONAL SALVATION.

 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is ” ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:8-12

 IT RESULTS IN…

 1) POSITIVE CONFIDENCE – because God is with me!

When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.  Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.  Psalm 27:2-3

Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of judgment, and this shows that his love has not been perfected in us. 1 John 4:18 (NLT)

2) POWER through focus.

 One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I see…: Psalm 27:4a

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3:13-14

 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

 3) It is sustained by WORSHIP.

For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.  Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.  Psalm 27:5-6

Definition of Culture:

the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group

culture is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next. Culture is symbolic communication.

Culture determines what is acceptable or unacceptable, important or unimportant, right or wrong, workable or unworkable. It encompasses all learned and shared, explicit or tacit, assumptions, beliefs, knowledge, norms, and values, as well as attitudes, behavior, dress, and language.

Don’t forget – there’s the culture you live in and then there’s “church culture” as well. We have to be aware of both.

My Definition of Culture

 “Don’t follow the culture…all culture is, is a bunch of messed up people being messed up together”

Culture is a way of life well-meaning people established a long time ago. But these people were fallen souls and thus made mistakes. Every culture in the world, including mine and yours, contradicts God in many areas. Therefore we must test our culture by the Word of God and only follow it when it is following Jesus.

14  And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15  See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16  Rejoice always, 17  pray without ceasing, 18  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19  Do not quench the Spirit. 20  Do not despise prophecies, 21  but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22  Abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 (ESV)

Jesus Verses 1st Century Jewish Culture

 Washing Hands – Eating

 Traditionally, Jews are required to wash their hands and say a blessing before eating any meal that includes bread or matzah. The ritual, known as netilat yadayim, is typically done using a two-handled cup, but any vessel will do. There are various customs regarding how the water should be poured, but a common practice is to pour twice on the right hand followed by twice on the left (this is reversed for those who are left-handed). Hasidic custom is to pour three times on each hand.

After the washing, the following blessing is recited: Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments, and commanded us concerning the washing of the hands.

Other Times to Wash Hands

  • On Waking in the Morning

This ritual is rooted in the belief that certain impurities come to the body when it is asleep and is also typically performed with a two-handled cup. Morning washing is followed by the recitation of the same blessing said after washing hands before bread.

  • After a Meal

In some Hasidic and other communities, it is customary to wash the hands after a meal, a practice known as “afterwards water.” Though not as widely practiced as pre-meal washing.

  • Prior to Reciting the Priestly Blessing

On days when the priestly blessing is recited during synagogue worship, it is customary for  Levites (descendants of the temple priests’ assistants) first to wash the hands of the Kohanim (descendants of the temple priests). No blessing is recited.

  • During the Passover Seder

Prior to dipping herbs in salt water, it is traditional to wash hands without reciting a blessing. This washing is in addition to the later washing prior to the seder meal at which a blessing is recited, since this washing is done in preparation for the eating of matzah.

  • Upon Returning from a Cemetery

1  Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2  they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3  (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4  and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5  And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6  And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7  in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8  You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

  9  And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10  For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11  But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— 12  then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13  thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:1-13 (ESV)

Sabbath Day

to those who observe Shabbat, it is a precious gift from God, a day of great joy eagerly awaited throughout the week, a time when we can set aside all of our weekday concerns and devote ourselves to higher pursuits. In Jewish literature, poetry and music, Shabbat is described as a bride or queen, as in the popular Shabbat hymn Lecha Dodi Likrat Kallah (come, my beloved, to meet the [Sabbath] bride). It is said “more than Israel has kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept Israel.”

Shabbat is the most important ritual observance in Judaism. It is the only ritual observance instituted in the Ten Commandments. It is also the most important special day, even more important than Yom Kippur. This is clear from the fact that more aliyot (opportunities for congregants to be called up to the Torah) are given on Shabbat than on any other day.

Shabbat is primarily a day of rest and spiritual enrichment. The word “Shabbat” root meaning is to cease, to end, or to rest.

1  At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2  But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” 3  He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: 4  how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5  Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? 6  I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7  And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8  For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

 Jewish Tradition: The disciples were plucking the heads of wheat which to the Pharisees was reaping and were rubbing them in their hands  which was threshing – Word Pictures in the New Testament.

  9  He went on from there and entered their synagogue. 10  And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. 11  He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? 12  Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13  Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. 14  But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. Matthew 12:1-14 (ESV)

Jewish Tradition:  Said that the Sabbath prohibition of not working applied to healing as well. You were not allowed to heal on the Sabbath. You could give medicine to someone who was sick but only enough to keep them from getting worse, not enough to make them well.

 14  And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15  See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16  Rejoice always, 17  pray without ceasing, 18  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19  Do not quench the Spirit. 20  Do not despise prophecies, 21  but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22  Abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 (ESV)

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