A Manual For Discipleship

 

Disciples – Remember You’re In A War

 

In Matthew 11 we saw the restlessness of the righteous in the example of John the Baptist and we saw the restlessness of the unrighteous religious who rejected Jesus as Messiah. Chapter eleven closes by Jesus calling all to come to Him for rest (11:28-30). When the religious leaders heard Jesus refer to “rest” in Him, a defiant thought must have raised up within them thinking, “Rest, we don’t need His rest, we have the Sabbath rest!” And so in chapter twelve we see the spiritual battle heat up in the form of opposition from the religious scribes and Pharisees. It’s in this chapter that we read for the first time of the plot of the Pharisees to “destroy” Jesus. In Matthew it states:

 

  • Matthew 12:14 – “Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.”  [1]

What we see here is not just a squabble over doctrine but a battle in a larger spiritual war. We need to remember while we are laboring in the harvest field of lost souls, that we are in a spiritual war with those who are bloodthirsty for the souls of men.

 

Remember, You’re In A Spiritual War

 

We have mentioned this spiritual war previously in our study in Matthew (see study at Matthew 2; 4:1-11 and 8:28-34). Indeed the satanic forces of evil attempted to destroy Jesus at His birth through Herod, now they will seek to plot and destroy Jesus through the religious Pharisees and religious leaders. They will seem to succeed only to have their plot explode in their faces at the resurrection of Jesus. But just as these forces sought to destroy Jesus, they seek to destroy if not physically, certainly spiritually, those who are disciples of Jesus.  Remember what Jesus said:

 

  • Matthew 10:22-25 - “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.23 “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.25 “It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!” [2]

Remember the inspired words of the apostle Paul who wrote:

  • Ephesians 6:10-12 – “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  [3]

We need to remember that we are in this war and as we fight in this war we need to remember a few things:

 

First, the outcome of this war is decided, Jesus has won and we are victorious in Him. We see evidence of this in the following verses:

 

  • John 16:8-11 - “And when He [ i.e. the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:9 “of sin, because they do not believe in Me;10 “of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;11 “of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”   [4]
  • Romans 16:20 – “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”  [5]
  • Colossians 1:13 – “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,”  [6]
  • Colossians 2:14-15 – “having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”  [7]
  • 1 Peter 3:21b-22 – “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.”  [8]
  • 1 John 4:4 – “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”  [9]
  • Revelation 12:10-11 –“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”  [10]

Secondly, those who reject Jesus are under the influence of Satan to do his bidding. That those who reject Jesus are under the power of Satan is seen in the words of Jesus to Paul which state::

 

  • Acts 26:17-18 – [Jesus said to Paul] “‘I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you,18 ‘to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’”  [11]

Later in his epistles Paul is inspired to elaborate on the influence of Satan on those who reject Jesus when he writes:

  • 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 – “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,4 whose minds the god of this age [ i.e. Satan] has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” [12]
  • Ephesians 2:1-2 – “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,”  [13]
  • 1 John 5:19 – “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.”  [14]

Now Satan’s influence in such people does not at all diminish their own culpability in the crimes against God they commit. They are under the influence of Satan because they have rejected, rebelled against God, they have chosen sin over salvation and so have put themselves in this position. They are a willing tool in the hand of the adversary. An example of this is found in the book of Acts where the gospel being ministered by Paul is opposed by a sorcerer named Elymas. In Acts it states:

  • Acts 13:6-12 – “Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus,7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God.8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.9 Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him10 and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?11 “And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.” And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.”  [15]

Those who reject Jesus are under the influence of Satan. The hatred toward Christians that we see in the world is rooted in a satanic influence upon those who reject Jesus.

Third, Satan’s aim is to destroy God and all associated with Him. That Satan’s ambition is to destroy God and the godly is confirmed in the fact that one of his names is “The Destroyer”:

  • Revelation 9:11 – “And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, [i.e. literally “destruction”] but in Greek he has the name Apollyon. [i.e. literally, “Destroyer”] ”   [16]

Since the time of his ejection from heaven, Satan and his demonic angels have sought to destroy God’s people.  Though ultimately defeated, Satan causes a great deal of pain through persecution of God’s people as seen in the following verses:

  • Revelation 12:7-9,12b – “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought,8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. . . Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”   [17]

Satan is out to murder the saints and those under his influence are out to do the same according to Jesus, as evidenced in the following verses:

  • John 8:44 - “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”  [18]

Jesus here is testifying as to the influence of Satan upon those who would eventually orchestrate His murder.

During the Tribulation period of the End Times we see Satan’s influence behind the murderous work of Antichrist and Babylon who seek to destroy the saints of God. This is evidenced in the following verses:

  • Revelation 13:15 – “He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.” [19]
  • Revelation 17:5-6 – “And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.6 I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.”  [20]

What reaches a height in Revelation has already begun in history. Many of the prominent leaders in the early church died at the hands of persecutors. According to tradition (see Foxes Book of martyrs):

  • James, son of Zebedee, brother of John was beheaded.
  • Philip was crucified.
  • Matthew was beheaded.
  • James the less, author of the biblical epistle, had his skull crushed with a club.
  • Matthias was stoned and beheaded.
  • Andrew was crucified.
  • Mark was torn to pieces by an angry mob.
  • Peter was crucified upside down (upside down at his request because he didn’t feel worthy to die right side up as His Savior did).
  • Paul was beheaded.
  • Jude was crucified.
  • Bartholomew was beaten and crucified.
  • Thomas was speared.
  • Luke was hanged.
  • Simon the Zealot was crucified.

In July of this year an article concerning the persecution of Christian in Laos contained the following:

Christians in Laos are forced to drink blood and renounce faith
By Alex Spillius in Bangkok (Filed: 15/07/2001)

CHRISTIANS in the isolated communist state of Laos are being rounded up, imprisoned and forced at gunpoint to renounce their faith as part of a widening crackdown on their religion.

In some villages, Christians have been coerced into proving the renunciation of their beliefs by practicing animist rituals, including sacrificing animals, drinking blood, rice wine and whisky and speaking to the spirits. . . . . [21]

And persecution is not limited to foreign lands. There is a subtle persecution and opposition to Christianity that occurs in the USA as well.

In September of 1999 an editorial in the New York Post addressed the subtle persecution of Christians in the media who practices a type of passive aggression via lack of coverage. The editorial was written in response to the media and governmental lack of empathy for Christians killed by a gunman who entered a church and began shooting people at a service. The article was as follows:

MEDIA MUM WHEN THE VICTIMS ARE CHRISTIANS  By ROD DREHER


THE Fort Worth church murders were not a senseless act. They had an express purpose: to kill Christians. "It's all bull-- what you believe!" Larry Gene Ashbrook shouted as he fired, witnesses said. Ashbrook targeted Christians just as the Kentucky high-school student who fired on a prayer group in 1997 did. He targeted Christians just as Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris did in their Columbine High School rampage, which also marked athletes and a black student for death. This is called hate crime.

It's a distinction the media had no trouble making when Buford Furrow opened fire on Jews at a Los Angeles Jewish center last month. It's a distinction the media had no trouble making when those racist monsters dragged black man James Byrd to his death, or when the anti-gay wretches tortured and killed Matthew Shepard. On those occasions, the national soul-searching commenced - as it should have. There was grief at the savagery and hand-wringing over what should be done to instruct our children in the virtues of tolerance, nonviolence and love of neighbor. In his public statements addressing the tragedies, President Clinton rightly challenged Americans to resist those who would demonize Jews, blacks and gays. And before the police even knew the identity of the killer in the L.A. shootings, Attorney General Janet Reno vigorously denounced them as a hate crime. And now, when the victims are Southern Baptists? Reno issued a mealy-mouthed, tepid statement blaming guns, and saying we've got to think about "how we deal with hate." Typical. "She dispatched a civil-rights team of investigators to Texas in the James Byrd case, as well she should have," fumes Robert Knight of the Family Research Council. "But has she dispatched a team of investigators to find out what happened in Fort Worth?" We shouldn't be surprised that Reno and other elites have trouble mustering up much outrage over the mounting body count resulting from anti-Christian hatred.

The number of Christians killed this year alone by fanatic gunmen greatly exceeds the number of abortion providers or gays murdered by right-wing haters. But one waits in vain for the federal task force or blue-ribbon government panel looking into the root cause of these bloody pogroms. One grows old waiting for a "Nightline" town meeting about the way Christians are routinely demonized by the news and entertainment media.
To so many media figures, Christians - specifically evangelicals, orthodox Catholics and others who believe in traditional Judeo-Christian moral teaching - are not victims, but victimizers. They are so used to casting Southern Baptists and fellow travelers as buffoons and bigots that they find it hard to imagine them as anything but. It may never be said on TV, but I know what many people privately believe: "Well, it's too bad for those Southern Baptists, but you know, they do bring this sort of thing on themselves, boycotting Disney, preaching against homosexuality, crusading against abortion and all that." "There's a sense that 'it's payback time, you deserve this,'" says Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. "I'm not surmising this; I see it over and over again." If Larry Gene Ashbrook, guns blazing, had walked into a synagogue, a gay bar, an abortion clinic or even a black church service, there is no doubt what the government, cultural and media elite's reaction would be. Unfortunately, dead Southern Baptist kids don't seem to matter as much to them as a murdered gay youth or a slain abortion doctor. [22]

Disciple, we need to remember that we are in a spiritual war and our adversary is out to destroy us. That is what we see in the life of our Supreme Disciple-Maker Jesus and He has warned us to expect the same kind of opposition that He experienced. Besides martyrdom, what forms can we expect opposition to take? We will consider that question now.

The Battle Lines

In chapter twelve of Matthew we see four fields on which the spiritual battle occurs.

  • The Interpretation of God’s Word
  • The Application of God’s Word
  • The Rejection of the Spirit
  • The Family of God

Let’s turn now to see the nature of the battle on these fields.

The Interpretation of God’s Word

Matthew 12:1-13 – “At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.2 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!”3 But He said to them, Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him:4 “how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which 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 that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?6 “Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple.7 “But 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 even of the Sabbath.” 9 Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue.10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him.11 Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?12 “Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”13 Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other.”  [23]

When Jesus spoke of coming to Him to find rest, the religious leaders may indeed have responded indignantly feeling that the Sabbath was all the rest they needed. However, the Sabbath Day had degenerated into anything but a day of rest for God’s people. Jon Courson makes the following comments concerning the state of the Sabbath in Jesus’ day:

“But in reality, the Sabbath Day had become anything but a day of rest, for the scribes had encumbered it with so many rules and regulations, that the Talmud devoted 24 chapters to instructions for keeping the Sabbath. For example, you could not carry any object on the Sabbath that weighed more than a dried fig. So, if you wore false teeth, you would have to take them off on the Sabbath or else you would be in violation of the Sabbath Law. You couldn’t look into a mirror on the Sabbath because perhaps you would see a gray hair, and you would be tempted to pluck it out, which would constitute work. You couldn’t take a bath on the Sabbath because perhaps while you were in the bathtub, water would spill out, and thus the floor would be washed – a Sabbath violation. . . . Here’s a question I have: What were these Pharisees doing in the field in the first place? They had broken their own codes by being more than 3,000 feet away from their own homes on the Sabbath. But that’s the way Pharisees always are – they’ll always go out of their way to find fault with others, and, in so doing, they blow it themselves.” [24]   

The Sabbath

God rested, or literally ceased from work on the seventh day after creating the universe in six days and He declared that day to be holy and special (Genesis 2:2-3). The Sabbath is not mentioned again until it is mentioned at the Exodus (Exodus 16:23) and made a part of the Law (Exodus 20:8-11). For Israel the Sabbath was a reminder of their being separated unto God (Exodus 31:13-17). C.I. Schofield makes the following comment on the Sabbath:

“Apart from maintaining the continued burnt offering (Numbers 28:9), and its connection with the annual feasts (Exodus 12:16; Leviticus 23:3,8; Numbers 28:25), the seventh-day Sabbath was never made a day of sacrifice, worship, or any manner of religious service. It was simply and only a day of complete rest for man and beast, a humane provision for man’s needs. In Christ’s words, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). Our Lord found the observance of the day encrusted with rabbinical evasions and restrictions (Matthew 12:2), wholly unknown to the law, so that He was Himself held to be a Sabbath breaker by the religious authorities of the time. (Emphasis added.) [25]

In the book of Hebrews it sates:

  • Hebrews 4:9-10 – “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.”  [26]

In Hebrews it is speaking of the failure of the people of God to enter into the Promised Land and even when they did they did not rest in the Lord. The rest that is referred to here is a rest from trying to work your way toward righteousness with God by keeping laws and traditions.

“Have you not read?”

The Pharisees accused Jesus’ disciples of breaking the Sabbath and that Jesus was condoning it. Twice Jesus responds with the words, “have you not read,” (12:3,5). In other words Jesus is saying, “Don’t you know what the word of God says?” Jesus addresses the false traditions of men with the word of God. That is the pattern the disciple of Jesus is to follow.

We are exhorted in Scripture by God to know the word and use it. Jesus concluded the Sermon on the Mount by saying as much when it was stated:

  • Matthew 7:24-27 - “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:25 “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:27 “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”  [27]

If you want to appear foolish before God, just neglect the word of God. Knowing God’s word and applying to life by the Spirit leads to stability and certainty in life.

The Bible tells us that it is necessary to know and rightly interpret God’s word. Paul was inspired to write:

  • 2 Timothy 2:15 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  [28]

Knowing God’s word cannot be overemphasized because so much depends upon it. God’s word is all we need to be useful to Him. God’s word is our sword with which we fight in the battle. This is what Paul is inspired to share with us in the following verses:

  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  [29]
  • Ephesians 6:17 – “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;”  [30]

When Jesus said to the Pharisees, “have you not read,” He was using the sword of the Spirit, the word of God. He is our example and we must follow His lead. What is the right interpretation regarding the Sabbath? Let’s see.

Is the idea of a Sabbath important?

Is it good to take one day out of every week and simply rest in it? Yes, that is a very wise thing to do. God instituted such a day because, as Creator of humankind, He knew we all needed to rest. After Adam sinned, work became a chore and enslaving, “toil.” In Genesis it states of the curse brought on by sin:

  • Genesis 3:17-19 – “Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field.19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”   [31]

The effects of sin on work made the need for regular rest all the more important. We should take a day each week to rest, be with our families and worship the Lord. But what particular day we take to rest should not become a source of guilt and bondage.

Should we go to church and worship the Lord? Yes, we need to fellowship, be in God’s word, worship and pray together as a body of believers just as the early church did. This is what the early believers did, as we see in the following verses:

  • Acts 2:42,47 – “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. . . . 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”  [32]

The book of Acts is God’s model for the church and we would be wise to follow it. Therefore, if we neglect such things we endanger our spiritual growth, our very souls. But when we look at the Sabbath through legalistic eyes rather than in the Spirit, blessing turns to bondage. What about believers and the Sabbath day? Did the first century church worship on the Sabbath, or Saturday? Lets continue with our study.

Is it necessary for Christians to worship on Saturday as the Sabbath day?

The Sabbath or “seventh day” corresponds to our Saturday (Mark 2:23-3:6; Luke 1-11). Seventh Day Adventists make a big deal about worshipping on the “Sabbath” or Saturday, (as do others inclined to a legalistic view of God). They say that “Sunday” is taken from the pagan holy day “Sun-Day” dedicated to the Sun god and was instituted by the Roman Catholic church. They go on to claim that the mark of the beast referred to in Revelation (Revelation 13) is Sunday worship. Because it is a mark of rebellion against God’s stipulated Sabbath day of Saturday. [33]

But there is a problem with such a belief. First, nowhere in the fourth commandment is anyone instructed to worship on the Sabbath, but the day is a day of “rest” (Exodus 20:8-11). Those who refer to the Sabbath in a legalistic way, turn the day of rest into the day of restlessness.

Second, those who say that worship should be observed on Saturday as the Sabbath day because “Sunday” is a pagan day of worship to the Sun god, fail to recognize that “Saturday” is derived from the Latin “Saturn’s Day” a pagan astrological worship day for the planet Saturn. Every name of every day of the week is derived from pagan religious roots.

Third, and most importantly, if salvation is dependent on worshipping on Saturday or the Sabbath this was not stipulated when the apostles in the early church had opportunity to do so. In Acts when the gospel was spreading to the Gentiles the early church, (which was made up predominantly of Jews who had accepted Jesus as their Messiah) had to decide how non-Jewish believers in Jesus related to the Law. When a decision was made and a written instruction sent to the Gentiles, no mention was made of any necessity for Sabbath day observance. In Acts we read:

  • Acts 15:5-11,24-29 – “But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.8 “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us,9 “and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.10 “Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?11 “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” . . . 24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment—25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth.28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”  [34]

Surely this incident in the early church gave the perfect opportunity to claim the necessity of Sabbath recognition, yet we see no reference to it at all. This also predates by centuries any involvement of the Roman Catholic church in establishing Sunday as a Sabbath day. 

Is the Saturday Sabbath a sign for the church? If not, what is?

The Sabbath was given as a sign for Israel, not the Church. In Exodus it states:

  • Exodus 31:13-17 - “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.14 ‘You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, 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 ‘Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.16 ‘Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.17 ‘It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’ ”  [35]

While the Sabbath is a sing to Israel, (as is circumcision – Romans 4:11) nowhere is Sabbath observance mentioned as a sign or seal for the church (as Seventh-day Adventists claim). It is very important in Biblical interpretation to see the distinction God makes between Israel and the church (see Romans 9-11). When the church and Israel are melded together in Biblical interpretation all kinds of problems arise such as the demand that the church obey the Saturday Sabbath. (Another example of misinterpretation of Scripture due to this melding is the faulty application of Matthew 24; mark 13 and Luke 21 as pertaining to the church rather than primarily to Israel resulting in a Post-Tribulation Rapture doctrine.)

If the Sabbath is not the seal or sign for the church, then what is? The Spirit is the seal or sign of the church. Paul says this in 2 Corinthians where he is inspired to write:

  • 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 – “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God,22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”  [36]
  • Ephesians 1:13-14 – “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”  [37]
  • Ephesians 4:30 – “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  [38]

The sign that someone in the church belongs to the Lord is the presence of the Holy Spirit within him or her. If you haven’t got the Spirit, you don’t belong to God. Paul said this in Romans when he was inspired to write:

  • Romans 8:9-11 – “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”  [39]

How do we know the Spirit is in us? The presence of the Spirit in a church or and individual is indicated by the fruit of the Spirit. The primary fruit of the Spirit is “love,” agape love, self-sacrificing, giving, God-like, Christ-like love. This is seen in the follow verses:

  • Galatians 5:22-24 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  [40]

(Notice that the term “love” in the above verse is in the singular form indicating that what follows after it is descriptive rather than a list of various fruits, plural.)

To see the Sabbath as the church’s seal or sign of authenticity actually serves to rob the church, to “cheat” the church of the Spirit. This is exactly what Paul is inspired to warn the church at Colosse. Let’s see what he said.

The truth about Sabbath bondage

Nowhere in the New Testament are Christians told to keep the Sabbath day holy. Rather we are told to not allow others judge us in regards to the days we worship the Lord. A Scripture that is directly pertinent to this situation in Matthew is found in Colossians where it states:

  • Colossians 2:8-10,16-23 – “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. . . . 16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men?23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”  [41]

Paul nails the issue and root problem right on the head; it is a matter of religious pride. What should our attitude be towards such things? In the book of Romans Paul is inspired to write:

  • Romans 14:5-10 – “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”  [42]

 The believer should refrain from judging others in regards to such things.

The first day of the week

The first day of the week was the day after the Sabbath day. This is evidenced in the following verses:

  • Matthew 28:1 – “Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.”  [43]
  • Mark 16:1-2 – “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.”  [44]

The Biblical evidence supports the early disciples worshipping on the first day of the week, Sunday. This is likely because it was the day that Jesus rose from the dead and therefore the early believers wanted to commemorate the resurrection with a day of worship. This is also evidence of the resurrection in that it caused orthodox Jewish believers to alter their Sabbath proceedings and only something incredibly of God and awesome could have moved them in such a way. The Bible states:

  • Acts 20:7 – “Now on the first day of the week [i.e. Sunday], when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.”  [45]
  • 1 Corinthians 16:2 - :On the first day of the week [ i.e. Sunday] let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.”  [46]

The purpose of the Law

Keeping the law or any part thereof can’t save us, the law can only reveal our sinfulness and need of a Savior and hopefully we will respond by running to Christ. IN Galatians Paul expresses this truth and also gives us the purpose of the Law, which is to convict the sinner of their sin and lead them to the cross of Christ. [47]

  • Galatians 3:10-11 – “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”  [48]
  • Galatians 3:13 – “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),”  [49]
  • Galatians 3:19,22-25 – “What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed [i.e. Jesus] should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. . . . 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”  [50]

By knowing God’s word we can avoid wasting time on such entangling traditions or philosophy of men and get on with the harvest of souls to God’s glory. By knowing the word we can respond to those who rely on false tradition and philosophy of men with the words, “don’t you know what the Bible says?” And that is the way Jesus would have us respond.

But what about the Sabbath, is it of any value to the Christian other than telling us we need to physically rest?

 

Lord of the Sabbath

What did Jesus mean when He said, “For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”? (Matthew 12:8)  [51] To understand what Jesus meant here, we need to look at how He answered the Pharisees. Jesus first referred to a circumstance with David in 1 Samuel 21 where David was fleeing from Saul and hungry and ate from the ceremonial showbread kept in the Tabernacle (12:3-4; Leviticus 24:5-9; Number 28:9). (Jesus may have chosen this reference to David to subtly touch on the fact that as Saul persecuted David, He too is persecuted by the Pharisees and religious leaders of His day). Jesus also refers to the priests who profane the Sabbath in that they work harder on the Sabbath preparing and carrying out sacrifices, than on any other day (12:5). Then finally Jesus quotes from Hosea (Hosea 6:6) stating mercy is more important than sacrifice or ritual (12:6-7). The point Jesus makes is that necessity can lead to overruling the traditional ritualistic law.

Once these Biblical precedents are mentioned, Jesus makes His statement about being Lord of the Sabbath. He is laying a scriptural foundation and by saying He is Lord of the Sabbath, He is saying, “It all speaks of Me, it all points to Me.” This is what Paul meant when he was inspired to write:

  • Colossians 2:16-17 – “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”  [52]

When you read God’s word, don’t see it as a book of dos and don’ts, as a set of laws and regulations to follow, see it as a picture of Christ, as revealing Jesus. In Hebrews it states:

  • Hebrews 10:7 – “Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of Me—To do Your will, O God.’ ”  [53]

When you read God’s word, read it prayerfully and ask, “What does this reveal about Jesus?” Then you will know what the Bible was meant to reveal. In what way does the Sabbath foreshadow Jesus?

Jesus our rest

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath because the Sabbath was meant to foretell or picture, or illustrate how in Him we can find rest for our souls. Jesus is our rest and we need to rest our lives in Him by faith. In Hebrews it states as much when it says:

  • Hebrews 4:1-16 – “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: 1 “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’ ” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”;5 and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience,7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.”8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”   [54]

Rather than create restlessness over what is and what is not the “Sabbath,” all believers should come to see the Sabbath as a day to commemorate resting our lives in Jesus by faith.

Legalism limits the work of God

Matthew 12:9-13 – “Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue.10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him.11 Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?12 “Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”13 Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other.”  [55]

If it had been left up to the legalistic Pharisees, the man with the withered hand would have gone unhealed, he would have continued on in his painful state. That is what a legalistic mindset does, it limits God’s work. Jesus pointed out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who were more willing to aid an animal than a man with a withered hand. Rather than limit His ministry with a legalistic mindset, Jesus said a word and the man was healed as he obeyed Jesus’ command. Don’t limit the Lord with a legalistic mindset; be open to His Spirit and what He wants to do.

The Application of God’s Word

Matthew 12:14-21 – “Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.15 But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all.16 Yet He warned them not to make Him known,17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:18 “Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, 1 My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, And He will declare justice to the Gentiles.19 He will not quarrel nor cry out, Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.20 A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench, Till He sends forth justice to victory;21 And in His name Gentiles will trust.”  [56]

The Pharisees became so jealous and frustrated with Jesus that they decided He needed to be murdered. This shows the no-holds-barred attitude of opposition in this spiritual war. Notice how legalism and religious pursuit of God leads to hatred and a diabolically murderous plot. Most persecution in the world is perpetrated by those who claim to be doing God’s work. The inquisitions of the Roman Catholic church and the Jihad’s of the Muslim world against non-Muslims are all done in the name of their god. Such devilish actions are far different than the example set by the Supreme Disciple-Maker Jesus. Jesus is the Agent of God’s love (12:18a), who acts to please His loving heavenly Father (12:18b; John 3; 8:29). Jesus is anointed with the Holy Spirit (12:18c). He is not one to quarrel or argue His point (12:19). Rather of Jesus it is said, “A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench” (12:20). Jesus welcomes the bruised and gently restores them. He takes those who are just about burnt out, who are mere smoldering wicks, and lights a fire within them. The greatest difference between Jesus and His opposition is that is that He lives out the Word, they do not.

That is the battlefield we stand upon; are we going to simply know God’s word, or know it and have Him apply it to our lives. Are we going to know God’s word, and ignore it, substituting our own traditions and legalisms, or are we going to know it, respect it, and seek God’s application of it in our lives.

James was inspired to write:

  • James 1:21-25 – “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”  [57]

When we go to the word of God with a desire to have Him apply it to our lives, we will be liberated from the things that imprison us.

God’s word reveals our true self to us. We may rationalize and excuse ourselves and be inclined to go easy on ourselves, but when the Spirit of God takes the word of God and applies it to us, the truth comes out. As the writer of Hebrews was inspired to write:

  • Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  [58]

And knowing the truth about ourselves and where we stand according to God’s word is the first step in growing in the Lord as we seek His help to conform us to the likeness of His Son Jesus (Romans 8:29). The Pharisees depended on the traditions of men and whenever you rely on anything other than God’s word as the primary tool for God to build you spiritually, you will stunt your growth. And if you persist in such practices, you’ll end up like a religious Pharisee.

God’s word is His chosen tool to build us up in our faith. When Paul gave his farewell to the Ephesians he entrusted those he left behind to God’s word. Read what he said:

  • Acts 20:27,32 - “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. . . . 32 “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”  [59]

Disciple, the battleground is your heart and whether or not you will let God apply His word to you and mold you to the likeness of His Son. Pharisees and those who oppose God disregard, deny and throw away God’s word, a disciple lives by God’s word.

The following paragraph on the Bible by an unknown author is well worth reading:

THE BIBLE - GOD’S HOLY BOOK

This Book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, it’s precepts are binding, its histories are true, and it’s decisions immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.  It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. Christ is its subject, our good it’s design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. It is given to you in life, will be open in the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and condemns all who trifle with its holy precepts.”

The Rejection of the Spirit

Matthew 12:22-24 – “Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.23 And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”  [60]

In an incredible evidence of Jesus power a demon-possessed blind and mute man was healed. This demonstrated the power of Jesus over the forces of Satan. Rather than acknowledge the miracle of Jesus as coming form God, the Pharisees rejected this clear work of God and chose to attribute Jesus’ work to that of “Beelzebub” or Satan. The same thing happens today when hardhearted intellects attribute miracles of God to unknown anomalies or yet to be learned scientific laws. People will rely on almost anything to excuse themselves form admitting there is a God who is involved in our world today.

One day a group of scientists got together and decided that man had come a
long way and no longer needed God. So they picked one scientist to go and
tell Him that they were done with Him.

The scientist walked up to God and said, "God, we've decided that we no
longer need you. We're to the point that we can clone people and do many
miraculous things, so why don't you just go on and get lost."

God listened very patiently and kindly to the man. After the scientist was
done talking, God said, "Very well, how about this? Let's say we have a
man-making contest." To which the scientist replied, "Okay, great!"

But God added, "Now, we're going to do this just like I did back in the old
days with Adam."

The scientist said, "Sure, no problem" and bent down and grabbed himself a
handful of dirt.

God looked at him and said, "No, no, no. You go get your own dirt!"

As we learned in the previous chapter, these people had predetermined to reject Jesus (11:16-19). Some will say though, “I haven’t rejected Jesus, I just haven’t accepted Him.” What Jesus said next is very important.

No decision is a decision.

Matthew 12:25-30 – “But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.26 “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?27 “And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges.28 “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.29 “Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.30 “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.”  [61]

Jesus responds to the accusations of the Pharisees by stating the impossibility of His exorcising Satan by Satan’s power. A house divided against itself cannot stand (12:25-26). Jesus pointed out their hypocrisy in that they endorsed some exorcists, which raised the question of how those they endorsed exorcised demons (12:27). Jesus then takes the conversation as He often did and demonstrates the need to make a decision regarding Himself and His message. He states that if He cast out demons by the Spirit of God then they should recognize the prophetic significance that God’s Kingdom had come to them (12:28). The exorcising of demons was evidence that a work of God was imminent (12:29). Then He states, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” and by making this statement Jesus is saying they must choose to follow Him or not. He was giving them another chance to follow Him right then, and they refused. In refusing Jesus they were committing the unpardonable sin. What is the unpardonable sin?

The unpardonable sin.

Matthew 12:31-32 - “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.32 “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”  [62]

According to Jesus’ words here, there is only one sin that is unforgivable, what is it? First let’s determine what it is not. The blasphemy is not a specific word or words that are uttered which God says He won’t forgive. Indeed Jesus goes so far as to say that words spoken against Him are forgivable. The Bible tells us that on the cross Jesus paid the price for ALL SIN. We see this in the following verses:

  • 1 John 2:1-2 – “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”  [63]

The gospel or literally “good news” is that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for all sin, even the sins of the world. We can go to anyone and tell him or her, “Do you know your sins have been forgiven you?” But there is one sin that is unforgivable. There is one sin that will damn your soul to hell and that sin is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. What is that sin?

The context of this statement by Jesus is that a demon-possessed man has been healed. An obvious work of God has occurred. The only way one could deny the work of Jesus would be to willfully turn one’s back on the evidence and choose to hold to any position (no matter how illogical or untenable) rather than choose to accept Jesus. The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the continual rejection of the Spirit’s offer to accept salvation in Jesus Christ until the point is reached where God determines the decision to reject Jesus is to be accepted by Him.

The Spirit of God strives with the sinner seeking to repeatedly offer the way of salvation. But there is a point of no return for a person who constantly and persistently rejects Jesus.  In Genesis just prior to the Flood, God said the people had rejected the Spirit’s offer of salvation so persistently that the Spirit of God would no longer strive with them (Genesis 6:3). In John’s gospel we are told that the Pharisees rejected the overtures of the Spirit until they could not believe. John writes:

  • John 12:37-40 – “But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him,38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”39 Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.”   [64]

Those who hear the offer of the gospel presented them by the Spirit and who constantly and persistently reject it; they can and will get to a point of no return. God spoke to Jeremiah and told him:

  • Jeremiah 7:12-16 - “But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel.13 “And now, because you have done all these works,” says the Lord, “and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you, but you did not answer,14 “therefore I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to this place which I gave to you and your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh.15 “And I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brethren—the whole posterity of Ephraim. 16 “Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you.”  [65]

God will not be anyone’s patsy. God will not allow presumption on His grace and longsuffering. He says in His word:

  • Hebrews 3:7-15 – “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: 1 “Today, if you will hear His voice,8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness,9 Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty years.10 Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways.’11 So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,15 while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”   [66]

When you pray for your unsaved loved ones, pray passionately that they will open their heart and accept Jesus in. Only god knows the time when the blasphemy of the Spirit has occurred, so keep on praying, but understand, “today” is the day for each person’s salvation.

Saving decisions result in spiritual fruit.

Matthew 12:33-37 - “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.34 “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.35 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.36 “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.37 “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  [67]

 How do we know if someone has properly responded to the Spirit and been saved? Jesus addresses that question here. He says the person who is genuinely saved will bear spiritual fruit (Galatians 5). There will be a noticeable change in the genuinely saved person.  It is impossible to repent, to have a 180-degree change of heart and mind and then still continue in your old sinful way of life. Jesus died to set us free from the bondage of sin. Might we struggle with certain sins? Yes, but there will be movement away from sin, there will be progress and spiritual growth (12:33).

Jesus says a practical indicator of the presence of spiritual fruit is the words spoken form the mouth (12:34-37).  I can speak from experience that this is true. Before I was a Christian I spoke in sentences laced with four letter expletives. Cursing and using profane words were as natural to me as breathing. My language was so bad that on one occasion when I returned to a school homecoming football game I nearly started a riot by shouting curses at the opposition. Both the hometown and rival town fans looked to shut me up. But when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, there was an instant change that occurred. The Lord removed my foul mouth and replaced it with a mouth that uttered clean words form a cleaned up heart. I believe He did that in me to spare those around me, but also to bear witness to me that the Lord I had accepted was real. And He is real, He changed my life.

Your words indicate what has happened in your heart. In Romans Paul explains this when he is inspired to write:

  • Romans 10:9-10 – “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  [68]

You will confess what has or has not happened in your heart.

If a person has accepted Jesus as their Savior and received the gift of salvation and forgiveness of sin; if a person has been filled with the Holy Spirit and regenerated to new life in Christ, then there will be a definite fruitful evidence of that work in them. A new creation, a new man, cannot continue in their old ways (Romans 6:1-14; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Sign seekers rather than Spirit seekers.

Matthew 12:38-42 – “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.40 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.41 “The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.42 “The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.”  [69]

Jesus had repeatedly healed the sick, delivered the demon possessed, and selflessly shared the gospel; all the religious Pharisees could do in response was ask for more signs. The one and only sign Jesus promises to give all mankind is the sign of Jonah. What is the sign of Jonah? It appears clear here that the sign of Jonah is the resurrection of Jesus. This is why the resurrection is so important, because the resurrection validates that what Jesus said was and is true, and that His atoning sacrifice on the cross was and is acceptable to God. Without the resurrection we are empty and opposed to God (1 Corinthians 15).

Those who seek a sign as evidence that Jesus is true need only look to the cross and resurrection. And that is truly the only place they can look for validation. Those seeking the Spirit will accept the resurrection as the validating sign that it was meant to be by God. Those who reject the Spirit are constantly looking for more and more signs, and as we saw in the last chapter, they will likely never be satisfied.

Regeneration not reformation is the goal.

Matthew 12:43-45 - “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none.44 “Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order.45 “Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”  [70]

When a person tries to clean up their lives in their own strength, they may have a temporary measure of success. But when the inevitably falter and fail, they will wind up worse off than at the beginning. The answer to the problems in our world is not a great societal reformation program; it is the regeneration of the Spirit. In Romans it states clearly:

  • Romans 8:8-13 – “So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”[71]

The “flesh” is simply a term used metaphorically to refer to that done in one’s own strength and resources. If you live by your flesh, you will die, but if you live in the power of the Spirit who indwells you, you will live (Romans 8:13). You see, you can help someone to clean up his or her act, perhaps his or her addiction or other such problem, but you will still have a spiritually unsaved reformed alcoholic. And the success one has cleaning their life up in the flesh is frustrating and doomed to failure. In the Spirit there is life and victory. We need regeneration in the Spirit, not reformation in the flesh.

 

The Family of God

Matthew 12:46-50 – “While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him.47 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!50 “For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”  [72]

The last area of spiritual battlefield is the family of God. The world exalts biological family above all else; here Jesus points to a deeper more eternal family, the family of God. This is not to imply the neglect of disregard of earthly families by believers, but it is to recognize that that the relationships we have with other believers are eternal not temporal.

 

Becoming a member in the family of God does not come by physical birth. If your parents are born again believers who serve the risen Christ that does not necessarily mean you are. If you go to church, that does not necessarily make you a member in the eternal family of God. If you do good deeds and consider yourself a pretty good person, even a very good person that does not necessarily mean you are a member in God’s family. No, the only certain way to be a part of God’s eternal family, for Jesus to say of  you,  “Here are My mother and My brothers!” is if Jesus’ substantiating comment is true of you too which is,  “For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” Therefore, to become a part of Jesus family, (“My mother and My brothers”) you need to do “the will of My Father in heaven”

 

What is, “the will of My Father”? How does someone become a part of the family of God?

 

“the will of My Father”

 

What is the will of God? Through the revelation of His word, God has given some very specific truth about His will. Let’s see what God’s will is and how it relates to becoming a part of the Family of God.

 

It is first and foremost the will of God that people be saved from their sin and receive eternal life. The Bible is a story of redemption, of salvation from sin to a personal eternal relationship with God. That this is God’s will is seen in the following verses:

 

  • 1 Timothy 2:3-4 – “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  [73]
  • James 1:18 – “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”  [74]

Secondly, it is God’s will that salvation comes through faith alone in Christ alone. God has sent His only son Jesus Christ to save the world from their sin. It is His will that we might be saved from the sin that separates us form Him, through faith in Jesus Christ. The following verses show this:

  • John 6:39-40 - “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.40 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”  [75]
  • Galatians 1:3-5 – “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ,4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”  [76]
  • 2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  [77]

Notice that when we take 2 Peter 3:9 along with the other verses we see that saving faith in Christ includes the characteristic of repentance, a change of heart and mind, a turning from sin to God. This leads us to the third aspect of God’s will that places us in the Family of God.

 

Third, God desires that the saved live a holy life. This is clearly stated in numerous verses a few of which are:

 

  • 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 – “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.”  [78]

 “Sanctification” is translated from the Greek term HAGIASMOS (Strong’s #38) meaning, “holiness; a separation to God” for His use and purposes. When we are saved from our sins we are saved to service of the Lord. God is not a taskmaster, but through service we grow in our faith.

Other verses which show that God’s will is that we live a holy life are:

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – “Rejoice always,17 pray without ceasing,18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  [79]

The holy life is a joyful, prayerful, and thankful life.

Fourth and finally, God’s will is that you are conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. This is His highest desire and plan from before creation as the following verses show:

  • Romans 8:28-29 – “ And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”  [80]
  • 1 Peter 4:1-2 – “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”  [81]

When Paul wrote the final inspired words of his letter to the Colossians, he mentioned a prayer of one Epaphras which was:

  • Colossians 4:12 – “Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”  [82]

It was the desire of Epaphras that the Colossians be “perfect” or complete and mature regarding the will of God. Can these characteristics of’ God’s will come to be in our lives? Can we become a member of the Family of God through faith in Jesus? The bible tells us we can be certain that if we prayer according to God’s will, we have our answer. John was inspired to write:

  • 1 John 5:14-15 – “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”  [83]

Therefore, knowing the will of God, prayer with confidence and receive God’s will in your lives.

Just think, when you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, you become a member of the family of God, an eternal family with God as your Father, your perfect Father. What an incredible gift God has given to us here. When we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior the Spirit comes to regenerate and reside within us and we enter into an intimate personal loving family relationship with God. In Romans Paul was inspired to write of this saying:

 

  • Romans 8:12-17 – “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”  [84]

What an incredible gift and blessing God has provided, it is one worth fighting for.

Mariology 

 

Furthermore, we need to mention that if ever there was an opportunity for Jesus to glorify His mother Mary, this was it. And yet, Jesus nearly disrespects His mother. If  Mary is the “Mother of God,” as claimed by some, then Jesus has very little regard for her based on what we see here. She doesn’t seem to have had much influence with Jesus. Jesus diminishes the role of Mary if anything. If this is the case, it is baseless to pray to Mary now because she supposedly has influence with Jesus, if she did not have such influence then. Mary was a holy believer who accepted Jesus as her Savior (Luke 1:46-47). She is a tremendous example for all believers and especially for women, but she is by no means eligible to become the fourth person of the Trinity co-redemptrix, mediatrix, immaculately conceived, or any such thing (see Romans 5:12; 3:10,23; 1 Corinthians 15:20,23; 1 timothy 2:5). There is just no scriptural basis for such a tradition or doctrine

 

Conclusion

 

The battlefield is set, the skirmish lines are drawn. Remember disciple we are in a spiritual battle. The enemy will attempt to destroy us through misinterpreting the Scriptures, not applying the Scriptures, rejecting the Holy Spirit and perverting the family of God. Don’t let him do it; fight on in the power of  the Lord.

 



[1]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[2]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[3]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[4]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

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[6]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[7]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[8]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[9]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[10]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[11]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[12]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[13]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[14]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[15]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[16]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[17]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[18]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[19]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[20]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[21] http://telegraph.co.uk Wednesday August 29, 2001

[22] Subj: New York Post Online Edition ColumnistsDate: 9/18/99 1:08:18 AM Canada Central Standard Time
New York Post Online Edition: ColumnistsMEDIA MUM WHEN THE VICTIMS ARE CHRISTIANS By ROD DREHER

[23]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[24] Jon Courson, Tree of Life Bible Commentary – Matthew Vol. One (Tree of Life Pub.: Jacksonville, OR) 1993. pgs. 305-306,308

[25] C.I. Schofield, The New Schofield Study Bible NKJV  (Nashville. TN: Thomas Nelson Pub.) 1989. note from Matthew 12:1, p. 1142.

[26]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[27]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[28]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[29]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[30]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[31]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[32]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[33] Seventh-day Adventists Believe . . . A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines (Washington, D.C.: General conference of Seventh-day Adventists) 1988. p. 167. This book was sent out to pastors by the Seventh-day Adventist church in an effort to legitimize their beliefs and therefore is authoritative concerning the beliefs of 7th-day Adventists.

[34]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[35]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[36]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[37]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[38]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[39]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[40]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[41]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[42]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[43]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[44]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[45]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[46]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[47] Ray Comfort, The Evidence Bible,  Gainsville, FL: Bridge Logos Pub.) 2001. p. 532.

[48]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[49]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[50]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[51]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

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[53]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[54]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[55]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[56]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[57]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[58]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[59]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[60]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[61]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[62]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[63]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[64]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[65]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[66]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[67]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[68]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[69]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[70]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[71]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[72]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[73]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[74]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[75]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[76]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[77]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[78]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[79]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[80]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[81]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[82]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[83]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[84]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.