1 You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. 2 You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice. (Exodus 23:1–2, NKJV)
Israel was strictly charged not to 1) Spread falsehoods, 2) Support unrighteous witnesses, 3) Join others in committing evil, and 4) Affirm what is false and influence others to pervert justice. Honest people continue to earnestly avoid speaking and promoting falsehoods against others. So, shouldn’t we be just as concerned with not advancing falsehoods about God? Yet, untold millions of otherwise honest people see no problem with accepting and spreading false teachings as if they belong to God. By affirming doctrinal error as truth, they influence many others to twist the truth. False teaching in the name of God is a sin of injustice against God. We are sure this does not go unnoticed by the Almighty (Matt. 7:21-23). Before you assign a doctrine and a practice to “the will of God” you must be sure His word supports it (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Examine the Scriptures to see if what you or others are saying about God and His will is true (Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1, 6). Accept no counterfeit gospels. They are false reports that bring souls under divine condemnation (Gal. 1:6-10).
But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Corinthians 11:3, NKJV)
One of the apostolic traditions (teachings) we follow as we imitate Christ is respect for and compliance with God’s arrangement of headship. Headship refers to leadership. Whether God, Christ, man or woman, each have a role that is definable and distinguishable. The apostle wanted them to know (perceive, grasp, understand) the orderliness of the headship, for it will lay a foundation for what he will say concerning certain women wearing an artificial covering in the following verses (4-16). Headship is not tyranny, and, following the leadership of one’s head does not make you a slave. Different roles do not mean one is more valuable than another. Headship describes the authority to lead, while implying one’s willing submission to that leadership. Christ willingly follows the will of God the Father. Man serves under Christ and also leads at His direction. Women are to respect to leadership role God gave men, not usurp it. When understood, this principle solves rivalry and produces solidarity with God and Christ, and between men and women. The dereliction of headship, the refusal to respect headship, and the usurping of headship are affronts to God and His order of headship. Once we understand (“know”) headship, we are ready to hear Paul apply this truth to the question of women wearing a covering when praying or prophesying (v. 5).
Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. (1 Corinthians 11:2, NKJV)
Traditions hold a place of value in our lives. They distinguish families, enclaves, nations, and religions. The Bible discusses traditions we are to hold fast as the teachings and practices handed down to us by the apostles (2 Thess. 2:15). It is praiseworthy when Christians keep the apostolic traditions because they came from God by revelation and were transmitted by inspiration (Eph. 3:3-5; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Christians who refuse to live according to the truth the apostles taught are “walking disorderly” (2 Thess. 3:6). Note how Paul commended the Corinthians because they kept the apostolic traditions “just as I delivered them to you.” They were not at liberty to change what the apostles taught and practiced to suit themselves. Indeed, they apostles taught the same truth “everywhere in every church” (1 Cor. 4:17). Commit yourself to keeping the apostles’ traditions. They are the traditions that have eternal value.
Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1, NKJV)
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit expect Christians to follow the examples set by the apostles. By inspiration, Paul the apostle commands imitation of him as he imitated Christ. Obviously, our ultimate model is Christ Jesus. The apostles were His faithful witnesses to the world. It is by their preaching that we know of Christ, come to trust in Christ, are called to follow Christ, and are saved in Christ. It naturally follows that once saved by the apostolic gospel, we then follow the pattern they set to continue to be faithful to the Master (Matt. 28:19-20). To imitate means to mimic, to be a follower of another. In today’s verse, Paul is repeating an earlier exhortation (1 Cor. 4:16). Who is your role model? Jesus, you say? Then, you will be following the examples of His apostles, because they are our “pattern” (Phil. 3:17). Let us imitate the apostles of Christ to have peace and fulfillment in life and throughout eternity. “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:9).
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 1:1, NKJV)
Today is Saint Patrick’s Day, a celebration of Ireland named for Patrick, a fifth-century cleric from Roman Britain credited with bringing Christianity to the island. March 17 is regarded as the day of his death. Patrick recounted a vision led him to Ireland as a missionary. Legends and tales of shamrocks, snakes, and walking sticks becoming living trees wrap themselves about the imagery of Patrick. Never officially canonized by a Catholic pope, he is venerated by millions. And, herein is just some of the problems with “Saint” Patrick. In the New Testament, every Christian is a “saint” (holy person) as today’s verse indicates (see also, Acts 9:13, 32, 41; 26:10; 1 Cor. 1:2). God does not speak through visions now, but through Jesus Christ and His apostles (Heb. 1:1-2; Matt. 10:40). Patrick’s imaginations ought not be thought of as divine directives. (Many have made that mistake through the centuries!) And, please explain how drinking alcohol to celebrate a “saint” squares with the holiness of a “saint,” when the Bible says do not start the drinking process, much less continue it to inebriation (Eph. 5:18). The Bible does not teach us to have feast days to honor “saints” of the Catholic Church. Celebrate Ireland, but don’t confuse worldly indulgence with honoring a saint of man’s own creation.
40 Then they served it to the men to eat. Now it happened, as they were eating the stew, that they cried out and said, “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it. 41 So he said, “Then bring some flour.” And he put it into the pot, and said, “Serve it to the people, that they may eat.” And there was nothing harmful in the pot. (2 Kings 4:40–41, NKJV)
There was a famine in Israel and food was scarce. When Elisha the prophet told his servant to make a pot of stew, someone gathered unknown herbs, vines and gourds for it, “though they did not know what there were” (2 Kings 4:38-39). Elisha miraculously cleansed the poisonous stew, and they ate without harm. When we eat spiritual food we must know what it is. The doctrines and commands of men are “death in the pot” and destroy our souls by taking us away from God’s truth (Gal. 1:6-9; Col. 2:20-23; 2 Jno. 9). The wisdom of the world causes spiritual death (1 Cor. 1:21; 2:6-7; 3:19). Yes, the spiritual food we “eat” matters! Be sure you partake of the Bread of Life (Jesus) by hearing, believing and following His word (John 6:27, 35, 48-58). He has the words of eternal life (John 6:60-68).
9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. 10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. (Acts 9:9–11, NKJV)
An important question arises from the aftermath of Saul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-8). Saul asked, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” and was told to “go into the city, and you will be told what you must do,” to which he complied (Acts 9:6-8). Here is the question: If Saul was saved when Jesus appeared to him on the road, why did Ananias ask him, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord?” (Acts 22:16) The answer is obvious. After three days of blindness, fasting, and praying, Saul was still in need of his sins being cleansed. Although fasting, Saul’s repentance was not all he needed to be forgiven. Although praying, Saul’s prayers did not constitute “calling on the name of the Lord” to be saved. However, when his faith compelled Saul to arise and be baptized, his sins were washed away by the blood of Jesus (Rom. 6:3). This is how sinners are saved today. Not by miracles. Not by faith alone, repentance alone, prayer alone, or baptism alone. Do you have the faith to do all Jesus commands so your sins will be washed away?
14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14–15, NKJV)
Death and Hades will be overpowered and destroyed at the resurrection of the dead (1 Cor. 15:26). At the resurrection and judgment day, Christ (who has “the keys of Hades and of Death,” Rev. 1:18) will destroy death and the grave, fulfilling the prediction that “death will be swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:54-55). The “lake of fire” is the “second death,” the place of eternal punishment where the devil and his cohorts “will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10). Death will never claim another body. Hades will never hold another departed spirit. On the judgment day they will “die” – forever separated from the power and fear they have exerted against humanity. The “second death” has no power over those who have part in the “first resurrection,” for they share in Christ’s victory over sin and death (Rev. 20:4-6; 6:9-11). However, those who are not saved in Christ are not in the Book of Life. Their judgment will be the lake of fire, the second death. Hell is real. Hell is forever punishment, eternal separation from God and all this is good. It is outer darkness, filled with weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 25:30; Mk. 9:43-48). Knowing these things beforehand should compel us by faith to repent and follow Jesus completely.
The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. (Revelation 20:13, NKJV)
The comprehensive nature of the final judgment (v. 12) is amplified here by elaborating the extent of the resurrection of the dead. Even the depths of the sea will not prevent its dead from coming forth at the Lord’s command (John 5:28-29; 1 Cor. 15:52). Death and Hades are pictured in John’s vision as being brought into submission at the resurrection, no longer to hold their power over humanity. Hades is not hell (the place of eternal punishment following the judgment). It is the realm of departed spirits where we go after death as we await resurrection. Hades is composed of a place of rest and a place of torments, with no crossing from one place to the other (Lk. 16:22-26; 23:43). The judgment will be the moment when every one of us will answer to God for our lives. There will be no doubt of the accuracy and legitimacy of God’s decision toward us on that day. Every knee will bow to Jesus Christ, and every soul will receive righteous judgment (Rom. 14:10-12). We have an appointment with death and with the judgment that follows our resurrection from the dead (Heb. 9:27). Be prepared. “Save yourselves from this crooked generation” (Acts 2:40, ESV). Read Mark 16:15-16 and Acts 2:36-42, put your faith in Jesus, and obey Him now.
And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. (Revelation 20:12, NKJV)
The final judgment will be inclusive – every human being will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). The “small and great” will stand before God to give a personal account to Him on that day. Whether nobility or commoner, rich or poor, famous or anonymous – all will be there. Our judgment will be impartial, complete, righteous, and according to truth (Rom. 2:2, 5-6, 11). That “books were opened” draws attention to the standard by which we will be judged. God’s word – revealed to humanity and recorded in inspired Scriptures – is the rule by which we will be judged (John 12:48). Another book, the “Book of Life,” will be opened to reveal the names of those who received and obeyed the commands of God, and thus have everlasting life (John 12:50). We cannot afford to live as if we are only answerable to ourselves. No one is an island devoid of moral responsibility toward God and toward others (Rom. 14:7). We are accountable to God for our heart, our words and our actions. We must attune our lives to God’s word now. We are accountable, and one day we will answer to God for our choices to obey His word or reject it.