Apr 15

HERMENEUTICS (6)

Is it laziness on our part that we take a passage (verse) out of its context; or is it an honest mistake? Without being able to read the mind of another, I am unable to answer, but we sure have reason to question; why do preachers and others keep on taking the same verse out of its true context? Here we turn our attention once more to “Hermeneutics 101.” In the case before us, all one must do is read the context and ask the question: “What is the subject in which this verse appears?” Context is the first responsibility of the reader, teacher, or writer; if he is to quote another!
With this before us, here is a good time to call upon the words of James: “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1). First, we must understand the word “masters,” it come from the Greek word “didaskalos” and means: “1) a teacher; 2) in the NT one who teaches concerning the things of God, and the duties of man, 1a) one who is fitted to teach, or thinks himself so.” Second, it is the responsibility of the one who is to be a “teacher,” to study and understand the truth being taught in any verse or passage he is to teach on! Therefore, having studied and prepared to teach, in this case by writing, I must understand that James is warning everyone who would be a teacher/ preacher: “be not many masters;” but James is not writing about “masters” as it relates to “master” and “servant!” No, he is writing about one who would be a “teacher!” Third, the one who would be a “teacher” must understand James’ words: “we shall receive the greater condemnation!” Therefore, it behooves us to give all diligence to make sure we understand every verse in the context it appears and never be guilty of taking a “verse out of context!”
With the above firmly in mind, to use an old expression, “I take pen in hand to write!” In modern terms. “My fingers are upon the keyboard and I am prepared to write!” While understanding James’ warning that I: “shall receive the greater condemnation;” should I willfully be too lazy to study, so irresponsible that I have no fear to teach what James was not teaching, and what any verse I may use while taking it out of the context which the speaker or writer put the words in! Friends, I “stand” in fear, should I be too lazy or so irresponsible, that I may teach what Jesus or any other inspired writer wrote out of its context!
How many times have you heard or read Jesus’ words: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20)? How many times have you heard or read where these words are used and applied to worship? Have you read the context? If so, how did you determine that it is a context of worship? Jesus is not speaking of worship! Now, read the following with care! If Jesus was speaking about worship, then, he has implied that one person cannot, yes, one person cannot worship God “in spirit and in truth” by himself! Suppose you are the only Christian is a place and it is the “first day of the week?” Here we need to understand the implication of a statement has the same authority as the statement its self! For it is the implication of the speaker or writer! Therefore, if Jesus was speaking of worship, then, he implied that one person cannot worship by himself! How many times have you prayed or sung a song of spiritual truth, being alone? Was it worship?
The context in which the words, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them;” is identified by Jesus in these words: “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee” (verse 15). The two or three witnesses are required because the truth of the charge is to be proven! Here is what Jesus said in identifying the context: “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established” (verse 16). When the truth of the charge is established, by two or three witnesses, then, Jesus said: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (verse 20). Let it be understood, that Jesus is never with false witnesses!
It should be easy to determine, just by reading Jesus’ words, that he is not speaking of worship! So, why do teachers/preachers/writers, keep on applying Jesus’ words to worship? Is it that they are too lazy to study the context and are just “parroting” what they have heard; that they do not care what the context is teaching; or is it that they just refuse to accept the context in which Jesus spoke? Shame on anyone who falls within any of these!

Frank R. Williams

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Apr 08

HERMENEUTICS (5)

Hermeneutics, as in “Hermeneutics 101,” now takes another step in determining the truth being taught in a verse. Basic to Hermeneutics as noted in the first four articles has for the most part, answered the questions: 1) Who is speaking; 2) To whom was it said; and 3) When was it said? In this article, we will look at the context in which a verse appears.
There are a few statements made in the Bible, that it does not matters in what the overall context may have been, in which a statement is made, it always means the same thing! Strange as this may seem, it is never the less true! Let me give two such statements: 1) Moses wrote: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man” (Gen. 9:6). No matter whatever the subject may be in a context, if these words appear within, they are nevertheless true! It was true in all three ages given in the Bible. It was true in the age of the Patriarchs, in which this statement appears; it was true in the age Moses, as Moses wrote: “And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death” (Lev. 24:17); and it is true in the age of Christ, as Paul wrote: “For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Rom. 13:4). If we can all agree that murdering another person is “evil,” then, we can agree that the person who murders another has done “evil.” Therefore, the civil government, which is God’s minister for good, is responsible “to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” and the government “beareth not the sword in vain!” Therefore, the words of Moses in Genesis 9:6, are tr0ue in all ages, and in all the contexts in which it might appear!
A second statement made to the apostles of Christ, is true in whatever context the words may appear. In John chapters 13 – 16, Jesus is addressing his apostles and said to them: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Is there a context in which these words would not be true? No! No matter what the subject, if these words were put in the context, they would be true! On the other hand, some statements in one context would not be true in another context. Take the word of Paul: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13). Let us say that I am in a weight lifting contest, before me is a weight of 1,000 pounds; I then quote Paul’s words: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Are the words of Paul true when put into this context? No! Yet, lifting weights is a “things;” therefore, it falls into “all things;” if we are to use Paul’s words without the limitations of the context! So, the word “all” must be kept in the context in which it appears. Just what is Paul’s context, wherein he used the words “all things?” “Hermeneutics 101” requires that we look at the context; Paul wrote: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil 4:11-14). The context in which Paul is using the words “all things” is one of “I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Simply stated, it is a context when “things” are good and when “things” are bad! It is wrong to use his words in some other context! Notice what he wrote next: “Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction” (verse 15). This verse also is addressing Paul’s needs! It has absolutely nothing to do with lifting weights!
The thought is much like what Paul wrote in the Roman letter: “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:37-39). Whatever our state, we can be faithful to Christ; so long as we put Christ first!
It is always wrong to take a text out of its context! “Hermeneutics 101” says, read the verse before and after to help get the context! Remember, “A text out of context is a pretext!”

— Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://okcsbs.com/hermeneutics-5/

Mar 31

HERMENEUTICS (4)

How many times have you read or heard the words, “house to house,” as it related to evangelism? Before going any further, let it be known that it is my opinion that the best way to do evangelism is in someone’s house, “sitting at the kitchen table!” We generally call this action, “personal evangelism.” It is face to face, the teacher can look the student in the eye, read the expressions on the face. Then, it may be that the lost person(s) is more comfortable in their own home. It is best for the one being taught to be at ease while studying the Bible. So, there is nothing wrong and it is even desirable, to take the gospel from, “house to house,” as the words relate to evangelism!
However, as we are studying “hermeneutics” and as we are calling it, “hermeneutics 101,” for we are looking at the simplest efforts in understanding the Bible. One of the most often failures in studying the Bible, or as in our case, a study of the New Testament, is a misunderstanding and miss use of pronouns! This is true, for if we apply a pronoun, which referred to others, such as the apostles, to ourselves, then, it may not require any action on our part at all! The apostles were given commandments which we are not required to obey! In fact, we do not have the ability to obey! They were given powers not given to us. For instance, they were baptized in the Holy Spirit; thus, they received what no others received; this gave them the ability to lay hands on others and impart the ability to speak in tongues: languages which they used in teaching/preaching the gospel to the lost. Here, allow me to use one word which includes all spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:9-11); this one word is “miraculous.” A non-biblical word which is used to describe what one does not learn or acquire through natural means. Read the following to help in understanding this very important point; “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14 – 17). Please notice that Luke uses the words “Holy Spirit” to refer to the miraculous gifts which were received by the apostles laying their hands on some of those who had obeyed the gospel (Acts 8:12). Only the apostles had the ability to impart these miraculous gifts; thus, the necessity for the two apostles, Peter and John, to come to the city of Samaria. The apostles could do what Philip was not able to do: impart miraculous gifts! May I point out, we have used “hermeneutics” in gaining this truth! To the best of my knowledge, the New Testament does not say, or you cannot read in it; that only the apostles could impart “spiritual gifts,” but it does teach it! This may not be “hermeneutics 101,” but it is near it!
Surely you are wondering what happened to the point made in the opening paragraph! Just where does the New Testament use the words “house to house” as they refer to evangelism? The first time the three words are found is in Act 2:46 – “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread FROM HOUSE TO HOUSE, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart;” however, the words “from house to house” do not refer to evangelism, but refers to members of the church as they were “breaking bread” which appears to be a common meal, as they “did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” The second time the words appear: “And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and FROM HOUSE TO HOUSE” (Acts 20:20). Here Paul is talking to the elders of the church in Ephesus (Acts 20:17). It is not a context of evangelism, but one of warning these elders! The third time the words appear: “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from HOUSE TO HOUSE; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not” (I Tim. 5:13). With little effort, it is easy to see that this verse is not about evangelism!
So, what is the point? This article is not written to teach that we should not go “from house to house” in teaching the gospel to the lost: evangelism! But, to use “hermeneutics” is seeing the context; to use “hermeneutics” to arrive at the truth, to answer the questions: who is speaking and to whom!
Therefore, go “from house to house,” but do not use these verses as your authority which do not have anything to with evangelism! However, if one continues to read, starting at Acts 2:46 reading through verse 47; it would be learned that evangelism is in the overall context: “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” If there is: “added to the church daily,” there is evangelism in the overall context; however, it is not related to the words: “FROM HOUSE TO HOUSE!”

Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://okcsbs.com/hermeneutics-4/

Mar 18

HERMENEUTICS (3)

So many who desire to study the Bible, yet dislike even the word, “hermeneutics!” Therefore, let us recall the meaning of the word; it means: “1. The science of interpretation, especially of the Scriptures. 2. The branch of theology that deals with the principles of Biblical exegesis” (Dictionary.Com). Therefore, no matter how you read and ascertain what the words, the verse, or the larger text means, you are using some “hermeneutics!” It may be bad or good “hermeneutics!”
As before, us let call this “hermeneutics 101.” Or it may be said, we are at the lowest level of “hermeneutics!” Remember here the four basic questions: 1) Who said it?; 2) When was it said?; 3) To whom was it said?; and 4) Why was it said? These four questions generally will help us understand the basic meaning of the text. When these four questions are never asked, and answered; it is highly possible to draw out of the text a wrong conclusion! Therefore, let us look at the text of Genesis 3:4: “Ye shall not surely die.” The first question: Who said it? The answer is: “And the serpent said.” The second question: When was it said? The answer is: “And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden;” therefore, it was said when Adam and Eve where in “the garden.” The third question: to whom was it said? And the answer is: “And he (the serpent) said unto the woman” (Gen. 3:1). And the fourth question: Why was it said? And the answer is: This was the serpent tempting Eve! The serpent, Satan, who is a liar and he lied in this context. Therefore, we have learned that the words: “Ye shall not surely die,” were not to be believed and obeyed! This means that even though the words are in the Bible, the inspired book; they were the words of Satan and should never be believed and obeyed!
Now let us turn our attention to these words: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:12-13). Notice the pronouns “you” and “ye.” Should I read the these two pronouns as referring to you and all of us? Our four questions will direct us, the reader, to a correct conclusion in understanding the context. The four questions: first, who said it? And the answer is: “Jesus answered and said;” there the answer to the first question is “Jesus.” The second question: When was it said?” We locate the answer in John 13:1, as John wrote: “Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” The events of John chapters 13, 14, 15, and 16, all take place at the “feast of the Passover.” Question three, To whom was it said? As we read through these four chapters, 13, 14, 15, and 16, they reveal that Jesus is speaking to the twelve disciples. Notice the names that we find in these chapters: 1) Judas Iscariot (13: 2); “began to wash the disciples’ feet” 3) “ Simon Peter (13:6); 4) Simon Peter (13:24); 5) Judas Iscariot (13:26); 6) Judas (13:29); 7) Simon Peter (13:36); 8) Peter (13:37); 9) Thomas (14:5); 10) Philip (14:8):; 11) Philip (14:9); 12) Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot (14:22); 13) “Then said some of his disciples” (16:17); and 14) “His disciples said unto him” (16:29). Therefore, the promise of John 16:12-13) appears not to have been made to Judas! It is most likely that Judas Iscariot departed; as Matthew wrote: “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests” (Matt. 26:14; Mark 14:10)). We also learn that Judas was present during the meal when Jesus introduced the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26:20); but Luke reveals that when Jesus went to “mount of Olives” (22:39), to “Gethsemane” (Matt. 26:26); that Judas was with those who came to take Jesus: “And while he yet spake (to Peter, James, and John, Matt. 26:37), lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people” (Matt. 26:47). Therefore, sometime between the introduction of the Lords Supper and Jesus going to the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas departed from Jesus and the eleven!
The reason this is so important, is that the promise to those disciples to whom Jesus is speaking when he makes the promise: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:12-13); Judas was not among them!
Jesus’ words were not made as a general promise when he said: “when he, the Spirit of truth, is come he will guide yo into all truth,” but it was to the eleven, not the twelve and not to anyone but the eleven in the context of John chapters 13 – 16. A great truth is learned by answering the four question of “Hermeneutics 101.” This is a lesson on the pronouns and learning the antecedent used in the text; in that the “you” and “ye” does not refer to us today!

Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://okcsbs.com/hermeneutics-3/

Mar 11

HERMENEUTICS (2)

As we continue to study the subject of Hermeneutics; we can look at the first article as Hermeneutics 101! The reason for this is that we looked at the subject in the simplest manner possible! Yet, if we will ask those basic questions as we study the Bible, they will clear up a lot of misunderstanding of several passages. We will get back to those questions as we look at a few verses which have been used incorrectly in the third article.
Some reject the idea of Hermeneutics because it is not in the Bible! However, it may surprise you that the word “hermeneutics” comes from the Greek word “hermeneuo” and the verb form appears four times in the New Testament: 1) John 1:38: “Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted (hermēneuō), Master,) where dwellest thou?”; 2) John 1:42: “And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation (hermēneuō), A stone.”; 3) John 9:7: “And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation (hermēneuō), Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.”; and 4) Heb. 7:2: “To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation (hermēneuō) King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace.” Then, the noun, hermenia, appears twice: 1) 1 Cor. 12:10: “To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation (hermēneia) of tongues;” and 2) 1 Cor. 14:26: “ How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation (hermēneia) . Let all things be done unto edifying.”
Let us take this a little further. With more study of the New Testament, we are able to learn the verb form later came to be used of “explaining,” “expounding,” “interpreting,” or even “translating.” The compound words appear fourteen times: diermeneuo (6), diermeneutes (1), and methermeneuo (7). Notice first Matthew 1:23: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted ( methermēneuō) is, God with us.” And second in Mark 5:41: “And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted (methermēneuō), Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.” Before leaving this area, it should be noted the word group is used of “translating” the Scripture; this is found two times: 1) Luke 24:27: “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded (diermēneuō) unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” Therefore, we should not hear any more, “Hermeneutics is not in the New Testament!”
The above study should also help us understand better, Paul’s words to Timothy: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). “A workman that needeth not to be ashamed” is one who is “rightly dividing (orthotomeō) the word of truth.” This requires “hermeneutics!” Another most interesting point from Paul’s words is that the words “rightly dividing;” come from one Greek word, which means: “to cut straight.” This requires that we engage in “hermeneutics!” One more thought just here; when you read the word ”interpreted” or “the interpretation,” you need to understand it is from the Greek word: “hermeneia;” and it is the word from which we get our English word, “hermeneutics!”
The English word “hermeneutics” meams: “the study of the methodological principles of interpretation (as of the Bible)” (Merriam-Webster). Finally, look at these words: “To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation (hermēneuō) King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace” (Heb. 7:2). Therefore, the Holy Spirit, who guided the writer of Hebrews, used “hermeneutiecs” in revealing that Melchisedec was “King of righteousness!”
So, what have we learned about the word “hermeneutics?” If you are searching the Bible and what it means, from the opening statement: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” you are using “Hermeneutics!”

Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://okcsbs.com/hermeneutics-2/

Mar 04

HERMENEUTICS (1)

Yes, the word of our title is one of the more hated words among those who say they believe the Bible. Why is this? One replies, “It is not in the Bible; therefore, why should I know anything about it?” Another says, “One interpretation is just as good as another!”
Merriam-Webster gives this as the meaning of the word, Hermeneutics: ”the study of the methodological principles of interpretation (as of the Bible); a method or principle of interpretation.” Phil Sanders, in his course at the Nashville School of Preaching and Biblical Studies, wrote this: “Hermeneutics is the skill and art of interpretation and is especially applied to the Bible.” Bernard Ramm gives us this: “The science and art of Biblical interpretation. It is science because it is guided by rules within a system; and it is art because the application of the rules is by skill and not by mechanical imitation.” (Protestant Biblical interpretation, p.1). Finally, notice what D. R. Dungan wrote: “Sacred hermeneutics is the science of interpreting the Scriptures.” (Dungan,1). So, now you are less interested than ever! Well, be it understood or not, like the word “hermeneutics” or not, if you read the Bible and make any effort at all to understand it, you are using hermeneutics; even if you know what you are or not!
Now that you know you use “hermeneutics,” why not understand a little about how to correctly use it? Years ago, in fact, one of the first things I learned about studying the Bible was to ask four questions: 1) Who said it; 2) When was it said; 3) To whom was it said; and 4) Why was it said? These four questions in my mind are the beginning of any understanding of “hermeneutics!” Now, if we approach our Bible study, by first answering these four questions, many misunderstood teachings will be avoided!
First case, is a command: “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Gen. 2:15). Now, how do we learn who was responsible for obeying this command? We can learn the answer by asking our four questions:
1) Who said it: “And the LORD God” (Gen. 2:15);
2) When was it said: it was said after the first man was created from “the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7);
3) To whom was it said: “And the LORD God took the man” (Gen. 2:15) and we learn as we keep on reading that “the man” was Adam (verse 19);
4) Why was it said: “And the LORD God took man and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (verse 15).
From these four simple questions and their answers, we have learned that God held Adam responsible “to dress it (the garden of Eden) and to keep it;” therefore, Adam is the one who was commanded. No one today is responsible for dressing and keeping the garden of Eden! However, we also learn that if the earth is to produce good plants, it must be dressed and kept!
The second case, is a command: “Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch” (Gen. 6:14). Now, how do we learn that the command is not for us today? We can learn this by asking and answering our four questions:
1) Who said it: “And God said” (Gen. 6:13);
2) When was it said: “And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth” (verse 12), thus, we learn that the command given by God was before the flood;
3) To whom was it said: “And God said unto Noah (verse 13);
4) Why was it said: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (verse 8).

Now we know that the command was given to Noah and no one else!
We have used these two simple cases as examples as to how we may learn to answer more difficult cases! We will get into the more complicated cases in the second article. In the meantime, why not try to use these four questions to better understand?

Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://okcsbs.com/hermeneutics-1/

Feb 25

LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW (2)

Another view of “Looking out the window!” In the first article on this subject our attention was on the positive; the beauty of God’s physical world and what so many fail to see. The God-rejecter sees it all, but has no one to give thanks for it; while the believer knows from who all blessings come! In this article, it is our aim to see the other side of “Looking out the window!”
This article does not mean to forget the beauty of God’s natural order of things! In fact, it is by seeing the beauty of God’s natural order, that allows the one who is “Looking out window” to endure what is also seen! If your health is so bad, your physical abilities so limited, that you cannot go out and do what you know needs to be done! Here we are talking about the many things, which are seen as you look out the window!
So, just what is seen, as you are “Looking out the window?” You see all things that need to be done; 1) you see the areas that need to be cleaned up; 2) you see unfinished work that requires a lot of work; 3) you see the ground that needs to be prepared for Spring; 4) you see your plans that are never going to come to reality; and 5) you see outdoors that you would really like to just go out and enjoy, but cannot!
These things and others, all need our attention, but it is not to be! At least and at last, you realize you will have very little physical involvement! This brings us to the mental part of “Looking out the window” and seeing the negatives! In years, now past, it was with joy that you looked forward to engaging in such physical activities but the reality is ever on your mind now, it will not be! You will not be able to “look out the window” at the work just completed, and enjoy that feeling that you did it! Such as a little thing of looking back and seeing a straight row just cut as you mowed the yard! Here the mind goes way back to my step-grandfather, who following a horse and plow, as he picked an object at the other end of the field; and following that object, now a straight furrow is completed. A great sense of satisfaction is enjoyed just looking at a straight row, and the same is true with the mowed straight row in the back yard! Just a few days ago, a fellow preacher wrote that his yard was the “envy” of the neighborhood! Well truth be told, my yard has never been the “envy” of the neighborhood, but it has been nice to look at!
Now there is a porch that needs stain put on it; a ceiling that needs to be put up on it; dirt that needs to be moved and put where it is needed for the wife’s rose garden; the porch needs to be sealed to keep the creatures out; the driveway needs to have the sealer put on it, in order to make it last longer; a walk way that needs to be put in, from the porch to the driveway; a gutter that needs to be put up on the north side of the house to keep the rain water from running under the house; and last but not least, a metal covered gateway needs to be installed. Yes, some of these were only dreams, but now even the “dreams” are lost. These realities come before me as I “look out the window!”
You can see what, “Looking out the window,” may mean; not only seeing the beauties that God has given us, which brighten and lifts our spirits, but there is the other side of “Looking out the window!” In the same view, there is the positive and the negative! Here is a proper view of Paul’s words, so often quoted out of context: “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:12-13). The beauties of nature show God’s kindness, generosity, and love; as they remind us of our Heavenly Father taking care of those made in his image, as he sends forth the sun shine and the rain upon all equally.
On the other hand, whatever our physical state, nothing can remove us from the love of God; hear Paul just here: “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). No, nothing seen as I am “Looking out the window” can take me from the love of God in Christ, from whom I get my strength; thus, I can endure “all things” and remain faithful!
In conclusion, I recall these words: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Rom. 8:35, 37)).

— Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://okcsbs.com/looking-out-the-window-2/

Feb 17

LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW (1)

Life gives us many opportunities and some of them come upon us before we are ready! God’s blessings are not limited to age, however; as there is not one who has been born who is not blessed by God’s love, kindness, and generosity. Of course, there are some, and this number is growing, who have no idea that they enjoy these blessings from God.
As in the time we now are living, more and more people are rejecting God’s existence! Even though the same sun shines upon the rejecter as it does upon the believer. It is that the believer knows whom to give thanks to! Looking out the window, the words of Moses come to mind: “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:14 – 18). Of course, the non-believer looks at the same sun, moon, and stars that the believer does, knows there are four seasons: 1) Winter, 2) Spring, 3) Summer, and 4) Fall. He just does not know from whom the blessings of these seasons come; how sad it must be, to enjoy such blessings and having no way of give thanks for them!
Just as surely as winter changes to Spring, those beautiful little yellow flowers stand up for all to see; no one tells them to come up and brighten the early Spring days; but the Creator put it within them to come up! So, it is with the budding of the green that shows up on the trees and the brown land begins to turn green. All these are announcing that it is the season of Spring! The unbeliever and the believer see all these and enjoys them, but the non-believer has no one to give thanks; but this is never the case with the believer, as he knows from whom such blessings come. Thus, the believer looks up, as the heavens are higher than the earth; so is the Creator higher than the blessings he gives!
These are but the kindness and generosity of God! As Jesus said: “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). But, Jesus spoke these words in a context of love. For he had just spoken these words: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” and follow the words about the sun rising and the rain coming, upon both “the evil and on the good” and “on the just and on the unjust!” Now notice the verse which follows: “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?” (verse 46). Therefore, one is to conclude that God’s generosity is evidence of his love; but the non-believer has no idea that he is receiving such blessings from God. On the other hand, the believer knows that as he looks upon and enjoys the rain, that he is the subject of God’s love. In such knowledge, the believer understands these are more than, just kindness and generosity, but the love of God; therefore, the believer gives thanks to God for such blessings and love.
These things are seen just by “Looking out the window!” As one who spends more time than I like in a chair located next a window, “Looking out the window,” I have learned such lovely things! A non-believer may be in another house, “Looking out the window,” but he sees not even one of these blessings as coming from God! Oh, he sees the little yellow flowers as they brighten up the first days of Spring, he sees the sun shining, the moon giving the lesser light as the sun lowers itself in the west, the brown earth and the trees turning green; but he has no one to thank! Such loneliness in the mist of God’s kindness, generosity, and love!
Yet, the non-believer is missing even more, as he sits in his chair “Looking out the window,” for he is missing the greatness of God’s love! You see, he has failed to have God’s greatest love: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). Yes, the sadness in failing to see and to enjoy God’s love in its fullness, the salvation of one’s soul/spirit!
The next time you look out the window, stop and think of the things you can see, just by “Looking out the widow!”

Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://okcsbs.com/looking-out-the-window-1/

Feb 11

THE PROBLEM WITH A MORAL STANDARD? (2)

How do we as Americans determine a “moral standard” for this nation?” America has been debating this question for years! There are two basic thoughts: 1) mankind will make their own moral standard; and 2) “the teaching of Christ” is the only true moral standard! Here we recall the words from the first article: “Consistency—the absence of contradictions—has sometimes been called the hallmark of ethics. Ethics is supposed to provide us with a guide for moral living, and to do so it must be rational, and to be rational it must be free of contradictions.” The truth is, “mankind” is incapable of making such a “moral standard” that is “consistent!”
Let us take up two concurrent subjects of debate: 1) assisted suicide and 2) euthanasia. It is necessary to understand these two words; therefore, let us do so! These have been debated from two standpoints: 1) from the medical field and 2) from the ethical view! In this debate, there are those who assert that: 1) both assisted suicide and euthanasia are morally wrong and should not be provided. Those on the other side: 2) hold that assisted suicide and euthanasia should, and maybe, must be, allowed. This is true, regardless of the circumstances of the case! Then, 3) others hold that assisted suicide or euthanasia are ethically legitimate in rare and exceptional cases; there is the inconsistency of some! Is euthanasia ethically right, or is it ethically wrong; is assisted suicide ethically correct, or is it ethically incorrect? Yet, it is also stated: 4) “but that professional standards and the law should not be changed to authorize either practice.” Speak of inconsistency; here it is in full view! But, the debate does not stop here; 5) “Finally, some advocate that assisted suicide, or both assisted suicide and euthanasia, should be recognized as legally and morally acceptable options in the care of dying or severely ill patients.” (Ethics Education of Military Leaders A Edward Major, Esq).
Early in man’s history, God said through Moses: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man” (Gen. 9:6). This principle is then clearly stated in “the teaching of Christ,” which makes it the responsibility of civil government: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. (2) Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. (3) For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: (4) For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Rom 13:1-4). First, the word “Let,” expresses a command; 2) the words “for he beareth not the sword in vain” is capital punishment; and 3) then notice that these words are followed with: “for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil!” Clearly, the “higher powers” as used here, refer to civil government and it is the God given responsibility of civil government as the “minister of God” to fulfil this responsibility. Here we have “consistency!”
It remains to answer the questions: 1) is assisted suicide, and 2) euthanasia, murder? Here is a good place to recall the words of Theodore Roosevelt: “To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” First, the laws of this Nation; “West’s Encyclopedia of American Law states that “a ‘mercy killing’ or euthanasia is generally considered to be a criminal homicide” and is normally used as a synonym of homicide committed at a request made by the patient.” Next, it is necessary to understand the word “homicide:” “The judicial sense of the term ‘homicide’ includes any intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, even to relieve intractable suffering.” Without doubt “mercy killing” and “euthanasia” fall within the words “criminal homicide!”
It is a common practice used by those who desire to do something illegal, immoral, to dress it up with nice sounding words: 1) “mercy” and 2) “euthanasia.” Euthanasia means: “the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy and comes from the Greek word “euthanatos” which mean: “easy death,” but the use of sweet words do not change the nature of it; it is still murder! Here is a good place to give meaning to the word “murder;” The definition of murder has evolved over several centuries. Under most modern statutes in the United States, murder comes in four varieties: (1) intentional murder; (2) a killing that resulted from the intent to do serious bodily injury; (3) a killing that resulted from a depraved heart or extreme recklessness; and (4) murder committed by an Accomplice during the commission of, attempt of, or flight from certain felonies. (The Free Dictionary)
Therefore, “To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” This is what happens when “mankind” tries to write his own “moral standard!” It becomes an immoral standard and those who follow it, are “a menace to society,” which falls short of consistency! Consistency being the hallmark of a truly moral standard and this moral standard is “the teaching of Christ!”

Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://okcsbs.com/the-problem-with-a-moral-standard-2/

Feb 04

THE PROBLEM WITH A MORAL STANDARD? (1)

There is a great debate taking place about morals! It is not new; neither are the two sides of the debate: 1) the New Testament – the teaching of Christ, and 2) the mind of mankind! The word “mankind” is used, as no one person has the authority to determine a moral standard than does any other! This means “the standard” is constantly changing; thus, there is no real “standard” for all time, for anyone! The real battle here is that no one has any more authority, then, does anyone else! This means there is no “real standard!”
The means that the most qualified, one who is more able to see the long-lasting consequences of certain actions; has no more moral authority, than does the person who see only today! This brings before “mankind” a major problem for which they have no such answer! How is a moral standard determined? There are several ways this problem could be “settled:” 1) a moral standard could be voted on and the “standard” would then be the one that gets the most votes, wins: 2) an authoritative body could be voted in by all who are to be under this moral authority and this body would write a moral code; and 3) there could be a moral standard outside of “mankind!”
First, it must be understood that: ”By the use of the word “standard,” implies” “Consistency—the absence of contradictions—has sometimes been called the hallmark of ethics. Ethics is supposed to provide us with a guide for moral living, and to do so it must be rational, and to be rational it must be free of contradictions.” (Santa Clara University: Jan 1, 1988)
Second, it is good at this point, to recall these words: “To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” (Theodore Roosevelt). With these thoughts in mind, read the following which addresses “business and morals: “In The Moral Leader course at Harvard Business School, students exchange their business management case studies to discuss some of the great protagonists in literature. Sandra Sucher discusses how we all can find our own definition of moral leadership. (Working Knowledge – Business Research for Business Leaders – 19 NOV. 2007). The key words here are: “how we all can find our own definition of moral leadership.” If businesses are free to “find our own definition of moral leadership;” then, the “moral leadership” is free to defined what is moral! Notice, “leadership” changes; therefore, each “moral leader” is free to set forth what is “moral” and it may be very different from the last “moral leader!” This violates the earlier point: “Consistency—the absence of contradictions—has sometimes been called the hallmark of ethics. Ethics is supposed to provide us with a guide for moral living, and to do so it must be rational, and to be rational it must be free of contradictions.”
The only true, consistent moral standard in the world today, is “the teaching of Christ!” This statement, of course, has been and is debated; and it is the subject of this article! Take for instance in business “a moral leader” faced with the decision: 1) “Do I follow what is best for the company” or 2) “Do I follow what is morally right?” If he is free to “defend his own moral leadership,” then, he more than likely would go with what makes more money for the company, as this is his “definition of moral leadership!” However, to do this he must be dishonest in his business dealings with other companies! Thus, his “moral code” is not consistent and has within it contradictions. Now you ask: does he expect those with whom he does business to be honest in their dealings with him! Here we come face to face with the “heart and soul” of “the teaching of Christ” when dealing with others; Jesus said what is called “the golden rule:” “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31). Jesus’ teaching is superior to that of any other!
The teaching of Christ is all-sufficient; in all areas of life: personal, family, business, national and internationally! As Paul when addressing the inspired word of God; he said: it “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://okcsbs.com/the-problem-with-a-moral-standard-1/

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