Friday, August 31, 2018

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 2, 2018

Over 171,000 readers worldwide

(The account of creation)
(Genesis 1:1-13)

   The purpose of biblical theology is to make known, GOD’s sovereignty over all things. The specified purpose of the book of Genesis is to take us back beyond the pages of recorded history, and reveal to us, the very origins of the universe, and the human race itself. The thrust of the message of this book is to help us to understand, who we are, where we came from, and how that search for those answers must begin and end with GOD.
    The book of Genesis traces the creation of the universe back to a personal GOD, and portrays human beings as unique and special creations of that personal GOD. It explains the origins of sin and evil, affirms man’s moral responsibility, and lays the foundation for a “doctrine of redemption” through CHRIST JESUS.
    It also lays out “the concept of what the Christian Church” (a separation of GOD’s people unto themselves, while still living in the world), would be like. In the book of Genesis the example of the community of the Israelites living in “Goshen” (the community of GOD), which was located in Egypt (which represented the world), is the first biblical example of how GOD’s future “Church” would be organized and challenged.
    The book of Genesis also explains the origins of the Jews (GOD’s chosen people), who were given both the privilege and responsibility to serve as a channel of blessings to all mankind through their behavior, life-style, and worship of HIM, and, how they failed to live up to that charge.  
    The Jews trace their origins back to the towering figure in their history known as “Abraham”. Abraham is the direct recipient of what is now known as “the Abrahamic Covenant”, which is the origin of “the promise” of GOD’s continuing purpose of eventual “salvation” that is now available to all mankind through JESUS, the CHRIST, and has been worked out over the process of time.
    The book of Genesis also lays the foundation for the understanding of all Scripture, as the entire bible speaks from its contents. It clearly defines how GOD was, is, and always will be the only wise GOD, and, how HE cares uniquely for us as HIS greatest creation, “human beings”.
    However, GOD must and will, always judge sin, even though HE has set in motion, a process that can bring even sinners back to HIM through repentance and acceptance of a MESSIAH, HIS SON, WHO, is able to snatch us, quite literally, from the permanency of the grave, which we have so diligently dug for ourselves in this world.
    Because of JESUS’ vicarious sacrifice, “death” (a permanent separation from GOD) is no longer permanent for those who believe on HIM. Now, through repent and our acceptance of JESUS CHRIST, we can re-enter into a personal relationship of friendship with GOD the FATHER in Heaven, and, can be led into eternal life by the HOLY SPIRIT, WHO has come to dwell in every body that is willing to accept what JESUS accomplished, not as GOD, but rather, as a 100% human being under GOD.
   In Genesis chapter 1, we see GOD, in the beginning, exercising HIS creative powers and authority to, quite literally, speak the universe into existence. And after creating the earth, GOD created “the 24-hour day” using “a short span of light”, that HE called “day”, coupled with “a short span of darkness”, that HE called “night”. HE then allowed this 24-hour period to perpetually, automatically repeat itself over and over again, even until this day that we now live in.
    In this chapter of Genesis, we learn how, from day 1, GOD uses “divisions” and “distinctions” in order to fulfill HIS divine purpose for the world. This week we will take a look in the Book at the first three days of GOD’s divine Creation account.

·         On “Day 1” - GOD created the heavens and the earth and then HE separated “the light” from “the darkness” (Vs.1-5).

    “In the beginning, GOD created the heavens and the earth” is a statement that, quite literally, defies the limits of human understanding. As human beings, we can only think in the realm of “linear time”, which is seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, etc. For that is the way that GOD made us to think.
    However, here in this opening line of the book of Genesis, we can plainly see that, before linear time existed, “GOD was already here”. HE had to already be here in order to create “the beginning” in the first place. We, as humans may recognize this as fact, because our very existence testifies to it. However, it is “humanly impossible” for us to understand or wrap our minds around such a thought, for this thought can only be reconciled by “faith”.
    In verse 1, we see that the first thing GOD does is to separate and distinguish HIS creation from HIMSELF in importance, and, in the limits of our thought process. And so, as smart as we think we are, we will never be able to think on the same level as GOD. With that understood, the very first statement in the Holy Scripture is perhaps the most humbling statement of all, and we must accept it on faith.
    The bible tells us that, at that time, the earth was a shapeless mass that was covered in darkness. However, even at this time, GOD’s HOLY SPIRIT was hovering over its surface (v.2). It was at this point that GOD spoke “light” into the world, and then HE distinguished and separated it from the “darkness”. In the proverbial sense, this can also represent the separation of “right” from “wrong” or “good” from “evil”. The light GOD called “day”, and the darkness GOD called “night”. And together the day and night made up “one day” and linear time had, for all intents and purposes, began in earnest (Vs.3-5).

·         On “Day 2” – GOD separated “the atmospheric waters” in the heavens above, from “the terrestrial waters” of the earth beneath (Vs.6-8).
    On the second day GOD created “space” or “sky” as a means of separating and distinguishing between “atmospheric waters, which form clouds for rain, and the “terrestrial waters” on and beneath the earth, which stores the waters that came from above, and would provide a home for all of HIS coming marine life creation. It, was and is, the way that GOD chose to irrigates the earth and provide life-giving water also to “the earthly creation” (plants, animals, and human life) that HE would soon bring into existence (Vs.6-8).
·         On “Day 3” – GOD separated “the land” from “the seas” (vs.9-13).

    On the third day, GOD separated and distinguished the “terrestrial waters” of the earth from the “ground” of the earth. HE named the dry ground “land” and HE called the separated terrestrial waters “seas”. Afterwards GOD caused the land to burst forth with various kinds of grass and seed-bearing plants that would serve to provide HIS coming animal and human creation with their “daily need” for life-sustaining food, physical shelter, and clothing (Vs.9-13). All that exist in the world, even today, came from the earth, and was originally meant to be an everlasting, perpetual, blessing from GOD, to HIS animal and human creation. And GOD saw that it was all good. Stay tuned.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

Friday, August 24, 2018

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday August 26, 2018

Over 171,000 readers worldwide

(Living the new life in the chosen Christian community of GOD)
(Colossians 3:1-17)

   Colossae was a city located in the Lycus River valley in what is now modern-day Turkey. It was populated with a mixture of Greek, Jewish, and native Phrygians. It was also a part of the Roman Empire and in fact, was home to many Roman army veterans in the first century.
    At that time the Colossians were being invaded by many troubling views on religion that were mixed with astrology, witchcraft, and Judaism, and they had already downgraded CHRIST to being just another angel. This letter to the Colossians by the Apostle Paul explains clearly how JESUS was so much more, and in fact, HE represented to us in human form, just what GOD the FATHER in Heaven is like.
    This letter was written during his Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome circa A.D. 59 to 61. It clearly explains the centrality of JESUS CHRIST in GOD’s plan for humanity, and how JESUS relates specifically to the human experience in that plan. The writing of this epistle was also inspired by the need to specifically combat a first-century form of “heresy” called “Gnosticism”, which threatened to infiltrate the Christian Church during its infancy.
   Gnosticism, takes its name from the claim that its members have a superior, secret knowledge, or, “gnosis”, that others don’t have, simply because they are not a part of their sect. These Gnostics make a very distinct difference between matter and spirit, and see absolutely no relationship to the two. They see all material elements in the world, including the flesh, as being essentially evil, and believe that GOD had no part in their creation. Therefore they concluded that JESUS could not have been “GOD incarnate”, and what HE did on the cross in a material body could not really accomplish salvation.
    Here in Colossians 3, after spending considerable time explaining how to be “a faithful community” in our commitment to the work of a supreme CHRIST in chapter 1, and being “a discerning community” in chapter 2, Paul moves on to teach about how we can and should live as “a chosen community” in CHRIST, in mind, word, and deed.
    In verses 1-4, Paul reveals to us, a picture of the Christian baptism. Here he says that we have died to our old self and been raised anew in CHRIST JESUS. Therefore, we should begin to set our sights on the reality, or, truth (alethiea) of Heaven. In other words we no longer live life failing to take what GOD thinks into account, and we have come to be “in harmony with reality”.
    Our new goal is not to abandon “the lost world” that we have become committed to CHRIST to help save others from, but rather, we should now look at the world as “a temporary place of residency”, from which one has to be rescued from the dominance of sinful activities, and, our own former personal behavior. The true Christian has to now view everything against the backdrop of eternity, and he or she has to no longer live as if the world and its material substances are all that matters.
     The Gnostics claimed to have “secret knowledge” of things that others weren’t privy to. In fact, the books that they touted were called, “apokruphoi”, and they were “hidden”, or kept from everyone who was not, first, initiated into their sect. In verse 3 of this passage Paul uses a form of this Greek word to describe how the Christian life is “hidden” (“apokruphos”) with CHRIST in GOD. Here he is saying in effect, that, in time, the judgments of man will be overturned by the judgments of GOD, and then the, “revealed Christian”, will be recognized as the one who shares in the glory of CHRIST JESUS upon HIS return (v.4).
    As Christians, we have to “put to death” any part of our thoughts and habits that are antichrist, and, thereby, keep us from fulfilling the Will of GOD (v.5). We must make radical changes if we are to allow “self” to wither away and die from our “hearts” (the center of our thoughts). We must reach a point where “wrong things” no longer fascinate and have power over us, and lead us into idolatrous behavior.
    The “wrath of GOD” will fall on all things that are “self-seeking”. It is the law of the universe that man can only reap that which he sows, and no one can escape the consequences of sin. Therefore, “the wrath of GOD” and “the moral order of the universe” become synonymous with each other, and are, in essence, one and the same thing.
    In place of our wicked sin nature that we once chose, we now begin to familiarize ourselves with the newly discovered “nature” that CHRIST JESUS has led us back to (GOD’s Nature which we were born with). That nature will renew itself each day that we continue to seek GOD, and nourish our new found relationship with GOD (Vs.10-11).
    The holy people of GOD must clothe themselves with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience if we are to act as GOD’s figurative representatives here on earth, as JESUS did. We must make allowances for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who happens to offend us. Just as GOD forgives us, so we must forgive each other.
    Love is what should bind all of us together in perfect harmony, and the peace of CHRIST should rule in our hearts. Love is the one bond that holds true Christians together into one unbreakable fellowship. As Christians focus on living life as GOD’s people, unified and confident, doing the things of GOD in JESUS’ powerful name, we will ultimately find and experience joy and peace, right now, while living here on earth.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


Friday, August 17, 2018

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday August 19, 2018

Over 170,000 readers worldwide

(Be a living sacrifice to GOD)
(Romans 12)

   Romans chapter 12, along with 1 Corinthians 12, presents to us the Christian image of what the Holy Body of CHRIST, which is the Church, should look like. Paul has already shown how GOD has moved to provide and impart righteousness (chapters 6-8). Now he moves on to the more practical issues that go to the heart of Christian theology, and what the attitude of the true Christian should be like.
    JESUS CHRIST does not ask that we die for HIM, but rather, HE asks that we live for GOD. Paul says we should strive to be a living, acceptable, holy sacrifice to GOD. We are not to allow ourselves to be conformed to and by the world, but rather, we are to be transformed from the world’s way of thinking, by the Word of GOD.
    As GOD’s messenger, Paul warns us to be honest in our estimation of ourselves, measuring our value by how much faith GOD has given us. And in doing so, we will be able to function better in the body of CHRIST, the physical Church. And just as our bodies have many parts that must work together in unison, so it is with the body of CHRIST, the Christian Church.
    As Christians, we’ve all become a part of CHRIST’s body and we each have different tasks to perform. However, at one and the same time, we all belong to each other, and also, need each other to survive and suceed. GOD has given each of us certain gifts, and we are obligated by GOD to use those gifts in service to HIM, and, to each other. We are to genuinely love each other, honor each other, and love what is right, while enthusiastically serving GOD in the body of CHRIST, in our homes, and, in all other areas of our lives.
    Do not curse those who trouble you, but rather, pray for them that GOD might bless them too. When others are happy, be glad that they are happy, not envious because you’re not. And, when they are sad, we should share with them in their sorrow. Do your part to contribute to peace, and don’t try to repay people for their evil deeds toward you, for that is a matter for GOD to handle at HIS OWN divine discretion. Don’t let evil conquer you, but rather, access the power of the HOLY SPIRIT in you, that you may be able to conquer evil.
    GOD’s righteousness is revealed through the transformed lives of men and women, who strive to reflect HIS image to others through their own behavior. As a person is transformed in their mind, and is, as a result, made more like CHRIST, they begin to, not only approve of, but also desire GOD’s Will. To do GOD’s Will, will become paramount to them, as they begin to discover and understand more and more, that which pleases GOD. What pleases GOD and what is good for us, are, in fact, one in the same thing. In that sense, which is the spiritual sense, a person becomes complete in every other way, and, is able to walk in the newness of life, that is CHRIST JESUS, and of course, enjoy GOD’s Will full time.
    The commands of Scripture are as real today, as they were in the beginning. GOD’s, expectations of us, has not changed over time. HE still expects us to do things that the world cannot do, or even understand. Things like, serving, instead of wanting to be served all the time, sharing, instead of keeping things to ourselves, blessing people, instead of cursing them, loving, instead of hating. All of these actions are conditions of the heart that are expressed in our lives on a daily basis, and they really do identify, just whose side we are really on, GOD’s, or satan’s.
    It is always a sad commentary to hear a non-believer say this about a Christian; “You know, I didn’t really notice anything different about that person. What makes being a Christian so special?” Christians must demonstrate and prove to the world, through our behavior, that Christianity really does produce the best men and women.
    Pray to GOD for courage to no longer be fascinated with the idea, or desire to blend in with the world. Pray that you can be a better witness for Christianity, to the world, through your daily behavior. Pray for the courage you need to reach out to the world in an effort to “feed JESUS’ lost sheep” with the powerful, life-changing news of GOD’s Holy Word.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

Friday, August 10, 2018

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday August 12, 2018

Over 169,000 readers worldwide

(A call to generous giving)
(2 Corinthians 8:1-15)

   In the biblical Greek, the word used for “grace” is “charis” and it is “the divine influence upon one’s heart, and its reflection on life”. In 2 Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9, the Apostle Paul turns to the subject of “gracious giving” by the saints of the newly formed Christian Churches. The main purpose of Paul’s third missionary journey was to raise money for the central church at Jerusalem, which had fallen on hard times.
    Paul had actually been planning and organizing this tour to aid the needy within the “Christian network” for a number of years, after being urged to do so by Peter, James, and John (Acts 9:27-29, also see Galatians 2:9-10). From the time the Corinthians first heard about this collection, they had been, seemingly, very eager to participate, and Paul had previously laid out a plan that would make it possible for them to do so without putting a strain on their personal budgets (1 Corinthians 16:1-4). Each church in the Christian network would set aside funds weekly that would be earmarked as a benevolent offering for those who were in need in their fellow Christian Churches.
    According to Paul’s wording in this passage, however, it seems that the previous good intentions of the church at Corinth had since dissipated, and so Paul asked his trusted aid, Titus, to go and look into the situation at Corinth. Paul wanted to find out what factors, or, issues had come up to interrupt, or derail, the church’s previous intended benevolence (2 Corinthians 8:6). 
    Here in 2 Corinthians 8, verses 1-5, Paul sought to motivate the Corinthian’s spirit of generosity, by first, giving the great example of the benevolence of the Church at Macedonia. Here he told of how, even though, the Macedonians were going through much hardship themselves, they were able to “turn the concern for their own deep poverty, into an overflowing of rich generosity for others”.
    The Macedonians had gave, not only what they could afford, but through their joyful spirit, they even went beyond the ordinary call of Christian duty. In fact, Paul says that they even pleaded for him to allow them the privilege of doing even more, and they dedicated themselves to the LORD and to Paul and his aides, for whatever directions and instructions GOD would give them.
    Then, in verse 9, Paul uses the greatest example of all times to motivate this young Church at Corinth. Here he steers their attentions to the very “personification of benevolence”, our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST. Here Paul reminds the Church of how full of love and kindness CHRIST was when HE came to us, though HE was very rich, HE made HIMSELF poor so that, by HIS poverty, HE could make us rich.
    Paul’s advice to the Corinthians in verses 10-11 is that the young church finishes what they had started a year earlier when they were so enthusiastic about wanting to give and help with the benevolent project that had been initiated for Jerusalem. Their church had been the first to act upon this idea, and now, it was the time to go forward towards its completion.
    In verses 12-13, Paul reasons that “each individual’s giving need only be commensurate with their ability to give”. Beyond an individual’s tithes, GOD does not want us to give what you can’t afford to give. HE does not want us to give so much that we suffer from having too little for ourselves. Such could, in time, cause us to have ill feelings about giving, or cause one to feel as though they have put the church in their debt, or, even “put GOD in their debt”. And so we can see that, even in giving, one must use GODLY wisdom.
    Finally, in verses 14-15, Paul expounds upon the guiding principal regarding the material exchange between Christian churches. It is the “principle of equality” which involves the “checks” and “balances” that are contained in “GOD’s system of justice for the regulation of human existence”:

When one has plenty,
he should share with others,
and when one does not have enough,
others should share with him”.

When we apply that principle to real life, the needs of every individual will always be met, and there would never be a need for worldly government sponsored welfare programs.
    Paul then reminds the church of the very source of this “guiding principle”, which GOD exposed to the Israelites one day in the wilderness of the Negev, following their divine exodus from Egypt. It is with the miracle of “manna from Heaven”, as it is recorded by Moses in Exodus 16:14-18:

When the dew evaporated, a flaky substance, as fine as frost, blanketed the ground.  The Israelites were puzzled when they saw it. “What is it?” they asked each other. They had no idea what it was. And Moses told them, “It is the food the Lord has given you to eat.  These are the Lord’s instructions: Each household should gather as much as it needs. Pick up two quarts   for each person in your tent. So the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little.  But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed”. (NLT)

    There we see that, by the Israelites gathering two quarts for each person, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had plenty enough. Each family had just what it needed”. Let those who have ears to hear, take heed, and those who can read this lesson, understand. GOD is deeply concerned with providing our daily needs. HE does not, however, concern HIMSELF with the enablement of our greed.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

Friday, August 3, 2018

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday August 5, 2018

Over 168,000 readers worldwide

(GOD’s judgment of sin)
(Roman’s 2:1-16)

   In the beginning, GOD uniquely placed into the human side of HIS creation, seven “communicable attributes”; they are Life, Personality, Love, Truth, Wisdom, Justice, and Holiness (a share of HIS nature), which enables mankind to worship HIM, obey HIM, and have a personal, experiential relationship with HIM. In other words, in the beginning, out of all of HIS other creations, GOD made “only man” to be compatible with HIMSELF in this way, in HIS OWN “spiritual image”.
    These communicable attributes allow us to be “set apart” from all of GOD’s other living creations (animals, birds, insects, etc.), so that we might have dominion over the earth that HE made. This is what GOD meant when HE said that HE would make man “in HIS OWN image” (Gen. 1:27). And since JESUS says that “GOD is spirit” (John 4:24), that means that HE does not have a physical image, and so the statement by GOD in Gen. 1:27 does not mean that man’s “physical appearance” is like GOD’s, but rather his “spiritual makeup” is compatible with GOD’s.
    By way of these communicable attributes, man instinctively knows (in spirit) when he’s doing right or wrong (Rom. 1:19 & 2:14-15) in accordance to GOD’s law. That is why JESUS says that we have to worship GOD, not only in the physical “truth” of HIS Word, but also in the “Spirit” of HIS divine nature.
    In Romans chapter 1, verses 18-20, the Apostle Paul talked about how GOD is angry and disappointed with all of us, Christians and non-Christians alike, because of our sin, and because of the innate sense of truth that we constantly push away from ourselves. Paul says that the truth about GOD is known to every man “instinctively”, because GOD has placed this knowledge in our hearts from the beginning. Paul also says that, by those facts, man has always been able to see GOD’s invisible qualities, HIS eternal power, and, HIS divine nature, and we have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing and obeying GOD.
    Here in Romans 2:1-16, Paul, now sensing the arrogant attitudes of the Jewish Christians, who may have over-indulged in his previous criticism of the Gentiles, and unbelieving Jews, warns against judging other people in the way that only GOD qualifies to judge. In the biblical Greek, we find three different words that are used to describe three very different kinds of “judgment”.
    The first is “krino” judgment, and it is a judgment that only GOD can render, it is “the power to condemn”. The most basic reason why man can’t judge another man in this way, is simply because, we are all, ourselves, people under judgment from GOD. This type of judgment is a judgment of “final condemnation”, and only GOD is qualified to condemn a man’s soul, beyond physical death.
    The second kind of judgment is “diakrino”. It is one of two judgments that GOD not only allows, but actually expects us to make. “Diakrino” judgment “is using the standards set by GOD in order to help one determine that which is right, from that which is wrong” in a person, place, or a thing. It is the “common sense of morality” that GOD’s instills in us so that we can make sound righteous decisions regarding, not only people, but any and all of the human situations that we may find ourselves in, in life.
    And then finally, there is “anakrino” judgment, and it is a “self-examination” by which we use GOD’s standards to “examine ourselves” to make sure that we, ourselves, are living within the Will and plan that GOD has laid out for us as human beings. Wise people go to this kind of judgment “first”, and thereby end up not having very much time left to worry about the other two. Paul says that, by condemning others, we also condemn ourselves (v.1), because, after all is said and done, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of GOD.
    GOD, in HIS justice, will punish anyone who does evil, whether they be Jews or Gentiles, Believers or unbelievers. Every one of us will have to make an account for the deeds done in our lifetime (v.6), and whether or not we believe that GOD exists, therefore, is totally irrelevant. GOD does not play favorites in HIS judgment of HIS highest creation (v.11). HE will not withhold HIS disciplinary actions against sin from anyone, regardless of who they are.
    In fact, Paul says that, GOD will even start with the Jews first (v.9), because the law was given to them first. For it is not merely knowing the law, that brings GOD’s approval, but rather, it is those who obey the law, based on faith and trust in GOD, that will be declared right, or righteous, in the sight of GOD (v.13).
    Because GOD has placed HIS nature in all human beings, believers and unbelievers, HE holds no man blameless for his own sins. We have no excuse for not knowing GOD, even if we have never picked up a bible in our lives (v.12), because we all share GOD’s wonderful nature from birth, that desire bestowed upon us by GOD, to want to do the right thing.
    That is the advantage that we hold over all of the rest of GOD’s creation. Even as an unbeliever, man, before he has ever read or heard GOD’s Word, will instinctively want to do what the law says, because GOD’s nature is in him. That divine nature will convict him, if it hasn’t been suppressed by him for too long.
    Man demonstrates that GOD’s law is written within him because his conscience will either accuse him by telling him he is doing what is right, or, he is doing what is wrong (Vs. 14-15). Paul’s message here is very clear; the day is coming when GOD, through HIS SON, JESUS CHRIST, will judge, even everyone’s secret life, because HE is able to see all, hear all, and know all that we do, every second, of every day (v.16).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website