Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Christmas Story in Chronological Order - KJV

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  (John 1:1-3)
 
 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
 
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
 
Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38)
 
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
 
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25)
 
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David), To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)
 
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
 
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
 
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. (Luke 2:8-20)
 
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
 
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. (Matthew 2:1-12)
 
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.  (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
 
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.  (1 Timothy 3:16)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Love" Does Not Mean "Compromise."

Someone posted an article on Facebook about the Christian Bed and Breakfast owners in England who lost in court after they stood up for their convictions. They ended up having to sell their business.
 
The Facebook post brought a number of comments, and there was a very interesting one that criticized the Christian couple by using the text of 1 Corinthians 13, basically implying  that if we operate by love, we will be accepting of others, no matter what. Below is a combination of two comments I made to the post.
 
1 Corinthians 13 is generally considered "The Love Chapter," and it makes some great statements about love in general, but if that is all we see there, we are isolating it, using it out of context, and are missing the point. Chapter 13 is in the middle of a longer passage (Chapters 12-14) dealing with spiritual gifts within the Body of Christ. Chapter 13 teaches us that the use of spiritual gifts is only profitable and beneficial to the body if they are used in a context of love.
 
It is not possible to find anything in this chapter, or anywhere else in Scripture, that justifies giving tacit approval to things that God says are wrong. “Love” does not mean compromising with the world’s philosophies, lifestyles, or standards. There is a great deal said today about "tolerance" in our culture, and it is usually Christians who are told they need to be tolerant. We rarely hear about any necessity for people to be tolerant of Christians. In reality, the majority of Christians are the most tolerant of people.
 
The meaning of the word “tolerance” has been changed by many to mean "approval." In reality, the actual meaning of the word implies that we only tolerate that with which we disagree. I can tolerate people with whom I disagree without giving my approval of their lifestyle, doctrine, etc.  I can be tolerant of a person but be utterly in disagreement with their lifestyle or beliefs. If I approve of everything someone does, I am no longer tolerating them, I am agreeing with them.
 
To truly tolerate someone with whom we disagree means we do not try to destroy their property or to hurt or kill them. Instead, we recognize their freedom to do what they are doing, but we do not have to agree with them. If someone says, “You have to be tolerant and accept what I do,” that individual has no comprehension of the meaning of “tolerance.” If a believer accepts someone’s sinful lifestyle, then that believer is not loving the other individual in any way. That is no more a way to show love than an overindulgent parent is showing love when he allows his children to do things that are harmful to themselves. Overindulgence is not love. Approving of sin is not love. Real love is tied to the truth.
 
There are things taking place that I can do nothing about other than stand faithfully for the truth of the Gospel. I can tolerate people, who were made in God's image, without agreeing with their behavior. When government gives “hearty approval” to evil, it has stepped over a line. “...they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them” (Romans 1:32, NASB). I cannot put a stop to behavior with which I disagree, but I do not have to give it my approval by allowing it in my house. Those who wish to do those things can go elsewhere.
 
From what I have read on the subject, the people involved in this situation did what they needed to do in order to be consistent with their convictions. That is a basic tenet of freedom. There used to be, and maybe there still are a few, signs displayed in places of business that say “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” In reality, that is consistent with biblical truth. In Matthew 20, Jesus told the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. The owner of the vineyard made equal payments to all who worked that day, from those who had worked all day to those who had only worked one hour. Some of those he hired were saying things very similar to what people would be saying today. “Not fair! Not fair! I’ll call the union,” etc. But he answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’” (Matthew 20, 13-15, NASB). From the narrative, it is clear the Jesus approved of this man doing what he wished with what was his own. Private property, and the use of private property, is a biblical principle. “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own?” is a biblical way to express “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.”
 
It is not the responsibility of every business to provide services to everyone. For example, I don't go into shops that sell incense, candles, and other New Age paraphernalia, but I also don't try to deny their right to have a store just because they don't meet my needs. I go to other stores. The lawsuits that are allowed these days border on insanity. It is up to the customers to find a store or business that suits them rather than trying to force every business to change to meet their individual needs. We need to allow the free market to take care of such things. If there is a demand, someone will supply it. If a business doesn't have enough customers, it will be out of business. Government needs to stay out of such things.
 
If I were ever to go into a store that had a sign posted that said, “We don’t sell to or serve Christians,” I would politely take my business elsewhere. If they don’t want my money, that would be fine with me. It’s their loss. I would not raise a ruckus or sue them. Instead, I would pity them and pray for them, because being anti-Christian means being anti-Jesus Christ, which means they need Him as Savior. Not only would they lose out on a sale, they would also be losing out on salvation because of their unbelief. As Christians, there needs to be a difference between how we handle such matters and how unbelievers handle them.
 
It was rightly pointed out by another commenter that 1 Corinthians 13:6 says, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”