Archive for May, 2008



Identifying the foolishness in Hypocrisy

WEDNESDAY

NAU Luke 11:39 But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness. 40 “You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also?

NIV Luke 11:39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?

NKJ Luke 11:39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. 40 “Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also?

What was a Pharisee? They were the political conservatives and religious fundamentalists of their day. They were a society of men who were zealous for traditional Jewish values that exalted the Hebrew Scriptures and acted under the guidance of their greatest influence, the scribes. They were zealous for obedience to the Law of God and stressed the righteousness of formality rather than a righteousness of action based upon faith. They focused upon the external, formal and mechanical application of God’s law rather than cultivation of an inner attitude. They reversed the focus taught in Deuteronomy 6:5:

“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

Jesus, in Luke 11:39, 40, alludes to them being hypocrites because they chose to look good before men rather than living to please God. They focused on loving the WRITTEN Word of God rather than embracing the attitude of loving the LIVING Word of God expressed through faith before being demonstrated in their actions. A fool lives this way – living for the approval of men rather than God.

And so, a third characteristic of a fool is one who is hypocritical.

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Being Contentious – a mark of a fool

TUESDAY

There are several marks of a fool or, as we learned yesterday, one who is morally deficient. The foundational principle of foolishness is atheism but our study this week will not be exhaustive of foolishness. This leaves room for your personal study and an opportunity for me to return in the future to the subject.

A second characteristic of a fool is one who is contentious.

NAU Proverbs 18:6 A fool’s lips bring strife, And his mouth calls for blows.

NIV Proverbs 18:6 A fool’s lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating.

NKJ Proverbs 18:6 A fool’s lips enter into contention, And his mouth calls for blows.

What does it mean to be contentious? It is one who is quarrelsome, who likes to fight. A contentious person is one who causes strife. It is the opposite of one who strives to promote or maintain peace. The picture being painted in this proverb is one who sees a problem and exacerbates the problem by joining verbally into the fray either as one lacking the foresight to see the outcome or as one who intends to make it even worse than it is. The implied warning is to stay away from a person like this because, as it says in the proverb, this person is looking for a fight and the language indicates it may end up being fatal!

And, if we are such a person, we should think twice and walk away from a tense situation without speaking. If we are self-controlled (a fruit of the Spirit), the alternative to walking away is to think twice and then ONLY speak as a peacemaker rather than an exacerbater.

The Foolishness of Atheism

MONDAY

Life is full of contradictions. For example, we live in an age that has distilled an abundance of facts into beneficial, organized knowledge but we are surrounded by fools! As creatures who are created in the image of God, man through the ages has taken information regarding the world around him, combined it with his God given ability to reason and come up with innovations beneficial to mankind. Yet, we are still plagued with fools! Rodney Stark in his book The Victory of Reason demonstrates the superiority of the Judeo-Christian thinking over every other worldview yet others are increasingly striving to destroy it.

A fool is one who misuses true wisdom. This definition of a fool begs us to define wisdom. Wisdom is defined as combining knowledge with understanding and resulting in application. Within the Judeo-Christian worldview, we can refine this definition even more to be taking the knowledge or information revealed by God, then striving to understand this knowledge, and finally, practicing our understanding of revealed Divine truth.

But fools are an obstacle to wisdom. We are surrounded by them and are challenged by them to abandon the wisdom for which we search and apply. So this week, we will look at fools so that we will be alerted to their presence and avoid the danger that comes by listening too intently to them.

The first characteristic of a fool is their atheism.

NAU Psalm 14:1 For the choir director. A Psalm of David. The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

NIV Psalm 14:1 For the director of music. Of David. The fool {1 The Hebrew words rendered fool in Psalms denote one who is morally deficient.} says in his heart, “There is no God.”

NKJ Psalm 14:1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

This truism is repeated in Psalm 53:1 – an almost exact duplicate of Psalm 14. The fool says there is no evidence of God, there is no demonstration by God of His existence and ultimately there is no need for God. This is the foundation of their thinking, and ultimately, their worldview and way of living.

Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, is attributed to have said while in space, “I looked and looked but I didn’t see God.” Contrast his statement by examining Psalm 19:1.

Others can look at the intricacies of life (i.e. trees, human beings) and imagine that complexity in life came about without the need for intelligent design (i.e. the Omniscient, Omnipresent, And Omnipotent Creator God). Their equation for origins is nothing + nothing = something – an equation that defies logic as well as truth! Rather, it is this complexity of life that attests to His existence (Romans 1:20).

But the ultimate tragedy is thinking that there is no need for God. Paul tells us two important truths about the basics of our need for God.

NAU Acts 17:28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’

NIV Acts 17:28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

NKJ Acts 17:28 “for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’

And, speaking regarding Jesus he said,

NAU Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

NIV Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

NKJ Colossians 1:17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

God has ordained that one of the tests of a wise man is to be able to observe the world around him and to conclude that there is a God even though He may not have manifested Himself visibly to all mankind.

The Eternal State

FRIDAY

Colossians 1:20 And through Him to reconcile all things into Himself, the one making peace through the blood of His cross, whether the things upon the earth or the things in the heavens.

The work of Messiah was to reconcile the creation with the Creator. He did this by making peace between these two parties. The Greek word for reconciliation means to change from one condition to another by removing every enmity in order to leave no hindrance for unity and peace. Another way of stating this would be to say to restore that which was lost. There was peace between Creator and creation in the Garden. It was destroyed when Man, the pinnacle of God’s creation violated His (God’s) will. Man has been seeking reconciliation ever since. But it was not until Messiah did His promised work that reconciliation was accomplished and it resulted in peace (literally the absence of strife) with the Creator for those who believe.

Messiah’s work initially produced a localized peace within the hearts of believers (Luke 17:20) and, as we saw yesterday, a more universal peace will come for those surviving the tribulation during the millennial kingdom. But the eternal peace for the redeemed of all ages will not be established until God allows all who are opposed to His rule one final attempt to dethrone Messiah. They will fail miserably because of the power of God (Revelation 20:9). This will usher in the Eternal State, the time when the absence of strife in creation will be re-established.

NAU Revelation 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband…. 5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” 6 Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost…. 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God…. 23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25 In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; 26 and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; …22:5 And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.

The MILLENNIAL Kingdom

THURSDAY

Yesterday we saw that the KOG is the sphere of influence where God rules. It existed in the Garden of Eden until the Fall of Man and his expulsion from the Garden. God promised, though, that it would be re-established on earth and the Jews eagerly awaited its inception. When Messiah appeared the first time and entered Jerusalem on the very day prophesied in Daniel 9:26, they thought the KOG was here at last. But His refusal to take the throne at that time left everyone disillusioned (especially Judas) and continuing to look for the KOG. Jesus, the Messiah, had taught with His coming, however, that the KOG would for a time be within man (Luke 17:20) and from Pentecost to the present, the KOG has been in the hearts of believers (Romans 14:17). However, before His ascension into heaven, Jesus assured His followers that the promised, earthly KOG was yet to come (Acts 1:6, 7).

There are two manifestations of the KOG yet to be seen – the one thousand year earthly rule of Messiah (the millennial kingdom described in Revelation 20:1-6) after the tribulation (Revelation 6:1-19:6), and the final Eternal State (Revelation 21:-22:5). Today we will look at one of the descriptions of the millennial kingdom from Micah 4.

NIV Micah 4:1 In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. 2 Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 3 He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 4 Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken. 5 All the nations may walk in the name of their gods; we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever. 6 “In that day,” declares the LORD, “I will gather the lame; I will assemble the exiles and those I have brought to grief. 7 I will make the lame a remnant, those driven away a strong nation. The LORD will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever.

Kingdom Transition

WEDNESDAY

NAU Romans 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

NIV Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,

NKJ Romans 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit

In its broadest sense, the Kingdom of God is that sphere of influence where God rules. At the present time Luke 17:20 and Romans 14:17 affirm a more localized sphere of influence within the hearts of those who have experienced His salvation as the Kingdom of God (KOG). However, while the KOG is being established in the hearts of some men through salvation (i.e. confidence in the Messiah’s work on the cross), Acts 1:6, 7 tell us that the localized KOG will one day expand to its prophetically promised earthly proportions (NAU Acts 1:6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority). This is later confirmed most prominently in the Book of Revelation when the beast and the false prophet (Rev 19:20) are seized along with Satan (Rev 20:2) and thrown into the abyss for one thousand years (Rev 20:3). At that time the Messiah and King will be the ruler over all the earth:

NAU Zechariah 14:9 And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one.

NIV Zechariah 14:9 The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.

NKJ Zechariah 14:9 And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be — “The LORD is one,” And His name one.

Kingdom Conundrum??

TUESDAY

NAU Matthew 6:10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

NAU Luke 11:20 “But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

NAU Luke 17:20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

Yesterday we were presented with a problem. Jesus taught us to pray for the coming of the Messianic Kingdom of God in Matthew 6:10 (ca AD 28). One year later He said that it had a present, demonstrable existence through His ability to exorcize demons (Luke 11:20), and then, one year later at His Ascension, He spoke about the future coming kingdom! How can we pray for something to come into existence if it is already in existence? And then, why should we look forward to something that is already present?

Here is a humble explanation of the kingdom from these verses. Matthew 6 is indeed a prayer requesting the establishing of the earthly kingdom foretold by the prophets. However, Luke 11 emphasizes that the King of that kingdom is in their midst (although His earthly Kingdom is yet to be established). Finally, Luke 17 shows us that while the earthly kingdom is yet to be established, it is for the moment being established in the hearts of men (until the earthly kingdom is established). Luke 17 could not have been a spiritual replacement of the earthly kingdom foretold by the prophets – the Apostles in Acts 1:6 (just before Jesus’ Ascension) asked the ‘King’ if the EARTHLY kingdom was at that time being restored. Jesus’ response to such a question is:

NAU Acts 1:7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;

NIV Acts 1:7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.

NKJ Acts 1:7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.

If the earthly kingdom had been replaced by a spiritual kingdom in the hearts of men, why did Jesus answer in such a nebulous way – affirming that the earthly kingdom was yet to come?