Dear Sower - Spirit & Truth Fellowship International

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Dear Sower - Spirit & Truth Fellowship International

FEATURELead Articlebased on a person’s family background,achievements, trade, and even the townhe came from.Clearly this man had none of these,which compounded the problem ofanswering the question, “Who is he?”We’ve never seenanything like this beforeDespite everything that culturallyindicated he was a “nobody,” a persondeserving no special treatment orrespect, everyone who spent anyamount of time near him soon realizedthat there was indeed something veryspecial about him. Stories aboundedabout the many sick people who werehealed at his mere command. As thenews spread about him the stream ofpeople who sought him out grew aswell. They came deaf but left with thesounds of joy and the songs of birdsringing in their ears. It was reportedthat the blind saw and the leprousexchanged their scabs for skin as softand smooth as a newborn’s. There wasa story of a widow’s son being raisedfrom the dead right in the middle ofthe funeral procession, and even a mannamed Lazarus, dead for four days,coming out of the tomb wrapped ingrave clothes.His miraculous works were beyondanything one could imagine, and hiswords had the power to pierce thehardest heart or comfort the saddestsoul. People were used to walking awayfrom the rabbinical teachers feeling aheavy load, as if there was never enoughthey could do to satisfy God. Their dryteachings tended to paint Yahweh as atyrant that no one could satisfy, exceptof course people like themselves– themost pious– but never the commonpeople. The people all felt the burdensof the rabbis’ words, but this man,unlike anyone else they had everknown, had the courage and strength toconfront them about their hypocrisy.Matthew 23:2-42) “The teachers of the law andthe Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.3) So you must obey them anddo everything they tell you.But do not do what they do,for they do not practice whatthey preach.4) They tie up heavyloads and put them onmen’s shoulders, but theythemselves are not willing tolift a finger to move them.Jan/Feb/Mar 2013 The Sower 5


Lead ArticleFEATUREIt was exciting to see him confrontthem but it was also very unsettling, attimes even scary. People who confrontedthose in authority did not last long.There was a clear pecking order in thissociety and those who went againstthe system were quickly quieted, oreliminated.Many who listened to him hadgreat difficulty grasping the meaningof his stories, his many parables abouta spiritual kingdom and the comingjudgment. For some, his stories wereunsettling as he confronted the crowd,especially about loving God andothers. The way he portrayed God as aHeavenly Father was entirely new. Andto think that God really loved everyone;so much so that He numbered even thehairs on everyone’s head! To think thatany man or woman could ask God andthat He would give them everythingthey needed for life was exciting. Butthe thing that electrified the souls ofmany was learning that God was veryloving and that He would forgive themof their sins. This reminded them of thePsalmist’s words that their sins wouldeven be cast as far away as the east isfrom the west.Is this a prophet from thepast?Everything Jesus said and did, theway authority seemed to naturally flowfrom his pores, indicated that he wasa man deserving of honor. It was justa few months earlier that a powerfulprophet named John had appeared,calling thousands to repent and turnback to God. Could it be that afteralmost five hundred years of silence Godwas once again visiting His people? 1Everyone had heard the stories oftimes past when prophets had donesimilar deeds. There was the time Elishahealed Naaman, the commander of thearmy of the king of Aram, who washealed of leprosy as he dipped himself inthe Jordan River (2 Kings 5:1-14). And,similar to Jesus who fed thousands witha few fish and a few loaves of bread,Elisha had fed a hundred men withonly twenty loaves of barley bread (2Kings 4:42-44). It was also Elisha whohad raised a young boy back to life andpresented him to a Shunammite woman(2 Kings 4:18-36), resembling whatJesus did for the widow and her son atNain. There was one thing that manywho followed Jesus were clear about–hedefinitely was a prophet.Matthew 21:9-119) The crowds that wentahead of him and those thatfollowed shouted, “Hosannato the Son of David!” “Blessedis he who comes in the nameof the Lord!” “Hosanna in thehighest!”10) When Jesus enteredJerusalem, the whole city wasstirred and asked, “Who isthis?”11) The crowds answered, “Thisis Jesus, the prophet fromNazareth in Galilee.”Nevertheless, some people wereconfused about Jesus as they asked,“Could this be Elijah?” The way heconfronted the evil rulers remindedthem of the stories about how Elijahhad confronted Jezebel and Ahab. Afterall, the Scriptures even said that Elijahwould come again (Mal. 4:5, 6). Therewas great confusion as many wonderedif God had resurrected a prophet fromthe past. Many asked, “Is this Elijah,Jeremiah, John the Baptizer, or anotherprophet?”Matthew 16:13-1413) When Jesus came to theregion of Caesarea Philippi, heasked his disciples, “Who dopeople say the Son of Man is?”14) They replied, “Some sayJohn the Baptist; otherssay Elijah; and still others,Jeremiah or one of theprophets.”It’s hard to see when thepicture is fracturedAlthough the Scriptures are filledwith prophetic images of the comingMessiah, the nature of the prophetic isthat often we can only see them clearlywhen we look back on events. Eventhose closest to Jesus, ones who hadproperly perceived his identity, did notclearly grasp his mission and “the plan.”The prophetic picture paintedof him is very much like a tapestryof many yarns; it is only when theyare properly woven together that theobservers can clearly seeing the portrait.On the one hand he is portrayed as aconquering king and on the other asuffering servant. These two perspectivesalone can be confusing, and they areonly a part of the prophetic picture ofhim.Scripture presents a mosaicconsisting of many fractured pieces,and it is only with the benefit of 20/20hindsight, especially looking back athis death and resurrection, that we cananswer the question, “Who is he?”The Jewish leadershipdemands to know hisidentityFour months before his arrest, atthe Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah),the Jewish leadership confronted Jesusabout his identity.John 10:22-2422) Then came the Feast ofDedication at Jerusalem. It waswinter,23) and Jesus was in the templearea walking in Solomon’sColonnade.24) The Jews gathered aroundhim, saying, “How long willyou keep us in suspense? Ifyou are the Christ, tell usplainly.”6 The Sower Jan/Feb/Mar 2013


Lead ArticleFEATUREOne of the problems with theirquestioning was that if he answeredthem “plainly,” as they demanded, theywould have cause to kill him. Accordingto “their” law anyone who claimed tobe the Messiah, the Anointed One,was claiming to be the Son of God,and deserved death for committingblasphemy. Jesus, knowing this, alwaysavoided directly answering theirquestions.However, this all came to a headwhen he was arrested and questioned onthe night of his trial. The High Priestquestioned him in a very purposefulmanner, as prescribed in Leviticus (Lev.5:1). In essence, when charged underoath before God, a person must answerhonestly, and silence is considered tobe the same as admitting to the charge.This is why when the High Priestthen said, “I charge you under oath bythe living God: Tell us if you are theChrist, the Son of God,” that Jesus wascompelled to answer.I envision everyone present to havebeen leaning forward as far as theycould, anxiously waiting for his responseas the words of the High Priest stillechoed off the stone walls. Then slowlyand deliberately he spoke, but not witharrogance or pride. He spoke with thesimple tone of someone who reallyknows in the depths of his being whohe is. “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied(Matt. 26:64).Many thought, “Finally it is out inthe open for all to hear, he has claimedto be the Anointed One.” In their rushto rid themselves of him, their prideblinded them from seeing the reality ofwho was standing in their midst. Jesus’simple answer to the question, “Whoare you?” was profound and should haveshaken them to the core. His wordsdeclare for all with ears to hear that heis:The Seed of the Woman (Gen.3:15)The Holy One (Ps. 16:10)The Cornerstone (Isa. 28:16)Immanuel (Isa. 7:14)The Mighty Hero (Isa. 9:6)The Counselor (Isa. 9:6)The Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6)The Battle Bow (Zech. 10:4)The Redeemer (Job 19:25)The Rock (Ex. 17:6)The Branch (Jer. 33:15)The Heir to the Throne ofDavid (Ps. 132:11)The Scepter (Num. 24:17)The most importantquestion everyone mustanswerDespite many Christians’ deepdevotion to him as their Lord andSavior, their daily actions seem toindicate that they really do not knowwho he is. Our personal perspectives cancloud and distort our view. Considerthe many different “types” of Jesus thatpeople’s actions present to the world. 2Although there is some truth in manyof these views, focusing on any one ofthem presents a distorted picture of whohe really is.Touchdown Jesus: He helps athletesrun faster, hit harder, and jump higherthan their competitors. He determinesthe outcomes of games, especially theSuper Bowl and World Series.Therapist Jesus: He is primarilyconcerned with our self-esteem andwants to help us heal our past hurts, andhelp us with every little hurt.Prosperity Jesus: He wants usto be wealthy, healthy, and have greatabundance. Of course this includes a bighome, a large bank account, and lots of“bling” so that unbelievers are attractedto our Gospel message.Republican Jesus: He is against taxincreases, activist judges, welfare andfree handouts. He is for lots of firearms,and family values.Democrat Jesus: He is againstcorporate greed, Wall Street and Wal-Mart. He is for a strong centralizedgovernment, mercy programs providedthey include government handouts, andthe environment.Hippie Jesus: He teaches everyoneto “give peace a chance,” and imagineWatch Dan Gallagher’s Video - “Who do you say that I am?”YouTube.com/TruthOrTradition8 The Sower Jan/Feb/Mar 2013


a world without religion and war. Hehelps us remember that all we needis love, and that we must fight the“establishment.”New Age Jesus: He hates religion,churches, pastors, priests, and allthe trappings of the denominationalchurches. He would rather people be atone with nature, find god within andlisten to ambiguously spiritual music.Psychic Jesus: He is the one peopleturn to when seeking the answers tolife’s questions, such as “Should I goto college?” “What should I majorin?” “Who should I work for?” Andof course the big one, “Who am Isupposed to marry?”Platitude Jesus: He is especiallygood for Christmas specials, greetingcards, and sayings on coffee cups. Heinspires people to believe in themselvesand lifts people up so they can “soarwith the eagles.”Guru Jesus: He is a wise andinspirational teacher who had greatinsights on how to live life and findbalance.Boyfriend Jesus: The one whowraps his arms around us as we singabout his intoxicating love.The question, “Who ishe?” remains for all toanswerThe question that Jesus posed to hisclose followers, “Who do you say I am?”is the most important question thatevery man and woman will ever answer.Matthew 16:13-1713) When Jesus came to theregion of Caesarea Philippi, heasked his disciples, “Who dopeople say the Son of Manis?”14) They replied, “Somesay John the Baptist; otherssay Elijah; and still others,Jeremiah or one of theprophets.”15) “But what about you?”he asked. “Who do you say Iam?”“But what about you?” was Jesus’question to his disciples, because itdoesn’t really matter how others answerthe question. What matters is, “Who doyou say I am?” Finding the answer tothis question is not like struggling withsome complex formulas in an advancedmathematics course. This is an “openbook”exam with the answer clearly laidout now in the pages of Scripture.Unlike those who walked with himwho had trouble seeing the “picture,”today we get the benefit of hindsight.This allows us to piece together thecolorful mosaic and see the details ofthe Masterpiece. The most importantquestion for every person alive todayis still the same one Jesus asked twothousand years ago, “Who do you sayI am?”We all see things differently becauseof our varied backgrounds, callings,gifts, and needs. Jesus is graciousenough to meet us where we are, whichmeans at times he will show up inmany of the ways described above. Butthe reality is that he is a very particularperson, filling a very specific role inGod’s plan, not just who we think he is.The proper answer to his question,“Who do you say I am?” is what theBible says, which is The Lord of Lords,and King of Kings; he is the Alpha andOmega, the Beginning and the End,the Firstborn from among the dead,the Firstfruits, and the Savior of allmankind. He is the Anointed one, theChosen one of God, and the Messiahof all mankind. He is the Mediatorbetween God and man, and he is theWay to everlasting Life!Notes:1. Prior to John the Baptist, it hadbeen about 500 years since theprophet, Malachi, circa 430 BC.2. The list of the various “types” ofJesus described above was adaptedfrom a Blog by Kevin DeYoung at“DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed.”Kevin’s blogs can be found atTheGospelCoalition.org/blogsJan/Feb/Mar 2013 The Sower 9


FEATUREThe Contenderrightly interpreting His Word we can beunified about Him in many things.What Question Are WeAsking?If we are going to be unified in ourunderstanding of the Bible, it is vitalthat we ask the proper questions aboutit. Individualism is highly esteemed inthese modern times, and it has becomefashionable for people to read theBible and ask, “What does this mean tome?” While that question is important,a much more important questionis, “What is God saying?” It does notrequire any study of the Bible toanswer the question, “What does thismean to me?” Any passage of Scripturecan mean any number of things to theperson reading it. We must realize thatGod did not write the Bible so we couldtell Him what we thought about it. Hewrote it for many reasons, but certainlyone of them was to guide us in life andtell us about Him. We have to get from,“What does this mean to me” to “Whatdoes this mean?” Only when we knowwhat the Scripture means should wethen go back to, “What does this meanto me,” and figure out how to apply theScripture in our lives.Division is HarmfulAnother reason we should careabout division in the Church is thatit is harmful to both Christians andunbelievers. Division is harmful toChristians because it establishes a“nobody knows for sure” attitude in theChurch. This can cause people to giveup trying to read their Bible and learneternal truths. That is a sad situation,because God gave us the Bible so wecould know things, not to be confusedor to decide that nobody can know forsure about spiritual things.Division is harmful to unbelieversas well as Christians. Once I was inthe shop of a man from a differentreligion and the topic of religion cameup. He told me he did not know whatto think about Christianity becauseevery Christian who came to his shoptold him something different about it.Christians should greatly desire to havea unified witness to give to unbelievers,and that is an important reason tostrive to know the truth and be unifiedabout it.Unity is Not a TruceSadly, one way that some peoplesuggest we become “unified” in theChurch is by ignoring the difficultissues and “just getting along.”Someone might say, “Do we have totalk about it?” Frankly, at some point wedo have to talk about what we believeif we are going to have genuine unity.God wants us to have “fellowship” witheach other, and that means that wehave to be able to talk about what webelieve and at least try to understandeach other.Ignoring what we believe byagreeing not to discuss it may preventfighting in public, but it does notproduce unity in the faith. A truce isnot unity. A truce is when enemiesagree not to fight, and it can look alot like unity (“Look, they are gettingalong together!”). When Christianstry to reach unity in the faith, but stilldisagree, then a truce and treating eachother in a loving and godly manner isthe right thing to do. Every Christianis a child of God and a member ofthe Body of Christ, and if we can haveloving and godly relationships witheach other that will be a blessing toGod and to the world.HumilityThe road to true unity is paved withhumility, and humility is certainly oneof the most important things one musthave in order to properly understandthe Bible. In fact, the humility thatleads people to a proper understandthe Bible is of the deepest kind. Tobe humble to the truth we mustvalue finding it above our pride, ourinsecurities, and our friendships.Pride Will Keep Us fromTruthPride always gets in the way oftruth, and it does so in lots of differentways. For one thing, it is deceptive.Obadiah 1:3The pride of your heart hasdeceived you.One way pride deceives us is thatit can keep us from admitting we arewrong and changing if we find newtruth. It can be hard to admit we arewrong, and hard to change things toadjust to the truth we have discovered,but we should. The Christmas storycan fall into this category. In the trueChristmas story portrayed in theBible, the magi (sometimes called the“wise men”) were not “kings,” theydid not travel as a company of three,and they did not arrive at Jesus’ birth.Nevertheless, the traditional songs,Christmas plays, and manger sceneshave become so comfortable thatmany Christians have no interest intrying to change them even whenthey learn their traditions are not trueaccording to the Word.Our Emotions Can KeepUs from TruthOur emotions can stand in theway of being humble to the truth. TheBible is about life, and life is deeplyemotional. A good example of howemotion can stop our quest for truthconcerns the state of the dead. TheBible says that when a person dies,he is dead in every way. 1 Death ishorrible. Actually, God wants us toget in touch with how horrible deathis so that we will greatly appreciatethe resurrection and everlasting life.Unfortunately, the horror of death isso emotionally troubling that somepeople are unwilling to even considerthe possibility that the Bible saysthe dead are dead. Those people arecomfortable believing their deadrelatives are in heaven, and they willnot consider that the Bible could saysomething different.Our Insecurities CanKeep Us from TruthOur insecurities are another thingthat can keep us from being humbleenough to see the truth or act on it. NoJan/Feb/Mar 2013 The Sower 13


The ContenderFEATUREone wants to be different or rejected,but truth is a powerful divider. Jesusmade this very clear.Matthew 10:34-3634) “Do not suppose that I havecome to bring peace to the earth. Idid not come to bring peace, but asword.35) For I have come to turn a managainst his father, a daughteragainst her mother, a daughter-inlawagainst her mother-in-law—36) a man’s enemies will be themembers of his own household.”Wow! What is it about Jesus’in his Father’s glory with the holyangels.”The English word “ashamed” doesnot carry the full sense of what thisverse is saying. 2 It is saying that if weare ashamed of Christ, or if we lack thecourage to stand up for him, he willnot “stand up” and support us at theJudgment. This makes perfect sense.Jesus gave everything for us, includingbeing tortured and killed. If we do notmuster the courage to speak up onhis behalf, he will not ignore that facton the Day of Judgment. Jesus doesnot ask us to be unwise or obnoxious,but we should ask ourselves if we are39) Whoever finds his life will loseit, and whoever loses his life for mysake will find it.To be truly humble enough tofollow the road of discovery whereverit leads, we have to get over ourinsecurities and trust that God will beat the center of what we discover.Logic and WisdomOnce we have become humbleenough to search for truth whereverthe search leads, foundational buildingblocks to discovering truth are logicand wisdom. God expects us to uselogic in life and in understanding Himmessage that would even dividehouseholds? People are often soemotionally staked to what theybelieve that they cannot even talkpeaceably about it with people whobelieve differently. We can often figureout that saying what we really believewill cause others to reject us, and atthat point many people take the “safe”road and never mention what theybelieve. Of course, the word “safe” is inquotation marks because it is not reallysafe; at best it is only temporarily safeuntil the Day of Judgment.Mark 8:38If anyone is ashamed of me and mywords in this adulterous and sinfulgeneration, the Son of Man will beashamed of him when he comeshanging out with the right crowedif we do not feel comfortable sayingwhat we believe about Jesus.Jesus had to be very honest withhimself about what he was going togo through or he would not have beenable to endure it, and he has beenhonest about what he expects fromus—that we love him with all that weare.Matthew 10:37-3937) “Anyone who loves his father ormother more than me is not worthyof me; anyone who loves his sonor daughter more than me is notworthy of me;38) and anyone who does nottake his cross and follow me is notworthy of me.and His Word. God challenges us toreason with Him. The Bible tells us:“‘Come now, let us reason together,’says the LORD” (Isa. 1:18). Followinghis Father’s example, Jesus used logicin many of his teachings and whendealing with people. For example,the tradition at the time of Christwas that it was considered breakingthe Sabbath to heal on the Sabbath.Jesus did not have a verse from theOld Testament that said, “It is okay toheal on the Sabbath.” No such verseexisted, so Jesus used logic to show thetradition was ungodly, and pointed outthat it was not breaking the Sabbathto pull an animal out of trouble on theSabbath. Then he concluded: “Howmuch more valuable is a person than asheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good14 The Sower Jan/Feb/Mar 2013


on the Sabbath” (Matt. 12:12). If wewere confident in using logic as a toolof exegesis, we could remove a lot oferror from the Church.A Scholarly ApproachA scholarly approach tounderstanding the Bible means toapproach it as we would any otherhistorical document we are trying tounderstand. To really understand theBible, we must understand its content,its words, its idioms, the culture of thetimes it was written in, the geographyof where it was written, the history ofwhere it was written, etc. We expectthis of our “experts” in other fields,and we should expect it of our biblicalexperts too. We do not say this todiscourage the average Christian fromreading the Bible, and there are manysimple and straightforward truthsset forth in Scripture that beginningreaders can understand. But there arealso things that require years of studyto understand to the point of beingable to teach them to others, andwe should require that study of ourprominent teachers.Even to understand the generalcontent of the Bible is no smallundertaking, because the Bible is a bigbook and covers many subjects. Sadly,many people who teach the Bible havenever read the whole Bible or read itenough to grasp even some of its morefundamental concepts. Certainly thereare some situations, such as in placeswhere the Church is persecuted orwhere youth are teaching, that we arethankful that many of the concepts inthe Bible are simple and easily taught.We want the Christian faith to spreadand people to grow by doing, but atthe same time, we have to realize thatnot knowing the Bible leads to disunityin the Church. Every Christian shouldbe striving to honor God by knowingHis Word.The Word Does NotInterpret ItselfWe must also realize that we needto know more than just the Bible toreally understand it. A commonly heldmisbelief is that the Word interpretsitself, and thus all one needs tounderstand it is the Bible itself. That issimply not true, but because of thatmisbelief there are a number of peoplewho will not read a commentary,Bible dictionary, or Bible study help.Of course knowing the scope ofScripture is important in interpretingthe Scripture, but it is wrong to thinkthat the Scripture interprets itself fullywithout help from sources outside theBible.Examples of the Bible notinterpreting itself are too numerousto count. The meanings of the vastmajority of the Hebrew and Greekwords in the Bible are arrived at withhelp from outside the Bible. We knowwhat a “centurion” is, and that he was aRoman soldier over one hundred men,not from the Bible, but from Romanculture. We know that a “denarius” is acoin worth a day’s wage, not from theBible, but from the Greek and Romanculture. We use Hebrew and Greeklexicons to know what the words in theBible mean, but the definitions cometo us with the help of the collectiveliterature of those cultures, only rarelyfrom the Bible alone.We know where the countries of theBible, such as Egypt or Assyria, are onthe map, not from the Bible, but froma study of geography. We know aboutthe daily life and customs of biblicalpeople from the collective literaturefrom and about those cultures, andfrom archaeology—what we find in theground. The Bible mentions customsbut rarely describes much about them,so we learn the details about themfrom other sources.The more we know about thevocabulary, geography, and historyof the biblical world, the more welearn about the Bible. If we do notunderstand the vocabulary in theWord, we cannot understand theWord. A good example comes fromthe King James Version, which saysthat Abraham settled in the “plainof Mamre” by Hebron (Gen. 13:18).Modern versions say he settled by the“oaks” or “great trees” of Mamre. Whythe difference? In 1611 the translatorsJan/Feb/Mar 2013 The Sower 15


did not know the meaning of theHebrew word, and it’s always nice topitch a tent in a flat place, so they tookan educated guess and translated theHebrew word elon as “plain.” As ourknowledge of the Hebrew languagegrew, it became known that elonreferred to trees, and old, huge treeswere admired in the ancient world justas they are today. Abraham pitched histent by those huge trees. This is justone of thousands of examples whereour knowledge of the Bible did notcome from the Bible interpreting itself,but from a greater knowledge of whatthe words in the original text of theBible really mean.We Will Be UnifiedThe reality is that Christians willnever be totally unified in this life, butthis does not mean it is not somethingthat we should work toward now. Godsays He wants “no divisions” and for usto “be unified in mind and thought”(1 Cor. 1:10), so that means we mustwork toward this. In a similar way toGod telling us He wants us to “be holy,”we do not quit trying just because it isnot something we can completely dountil Christ returns. God wants us tobe unified so we must work toward it.Thankfully, one day we will be unified.Ephesians 4 speaks of a future timewhen “we all reach unity in the faithand in the knowledge of the Son ofGod and become mature, attaining tothe whole measure of the fullness ofChrist” (Eph. 4:13).The fact that we will be unified inthe future should give us the energyto realize that a good measure of unityis attainable right now. Yes, we maydisagree on some of the things in theBible. But we cannot forget that theWord of God is a document. It is madeup of words, and its events and peopleoccurred in a real historical context.If we are willing to humble ourselvesto God’s truth, and approach theBible with prayer, logic, and scholasticintegrity, we will almost certainly findthat the unity that God said He wantedfor us in 1 Corinthians 1:10, is not as faraway as some people have imagined.And, if we cannot be in unity about adoctrine or action, we can agree to beconsiderate of each other, knowingthat one day we will all fully knowGod’s truth.Notes:1. For more information on whathappens when we die, see the book, IsThere Death After Life, by Graeser, Lynn,Schoenheit, and the audio seminar:“Death and Resurrection to Life”(TruthorTradition.com)2. The Analytical Lexicon of the GreekNew Testament by Friberg speaksspecifically of the use of the Greekword usually translated “ashamed.” Itis epaischunomai (Strong’s number#1870 ἐπαισχύνομαι; pronouncedě-pay-skoon’-ŏ-my), and it means,“denoting reluctance through fear ofhumiliation; be ashamed, be afraid(to), lack courage to stand up for.”16 The Sower Jan/Feb/Mar 2013


Featured ArticleThe ABC’s of GodLessons from my childrenby Cara HansonA Shot in the Armfor a LambHow did we survive twelveor more years of schoolingwithout being taught aboutthe microscopic magnets inside theshinbone and the big toe? Even withmy limited science background, Ihave deduced that these body partsare attracted to some sort of magneticfield surrounding sharp corners onfurniture. We are warned not to runwith scissors or eat paste, but none ofthat has helped me in life. I would haveappreciated a warning about keeping atwenty-foot radius between my leg andthe corner of the bed frame.This week I injured myself ontwo different pieces of furniture.Feeling down about myself, I utteredthe self-ascribed nickname, “ClumsyOaf,” and then deliberated for a fewminutes about what in the world an“oaf” is and why it is so much fun tosay. After snapping back to reality, Irealized that the problem does not reallyreside in me, but in the manufacturingcompanies. Furniture manuals giveelaborate diagrams and details about theparts required for assembly. Not oncehave I seen parts labeled “Toe-Stubber”and “Shin-Splitter.” Hello, Freedom ofInformation Act, anyone?I’m not exactly proud about howI handled the pain. As I was cryingout and leaping in circles like a oneleggedgrasshopper in a circus act, Isuddenly pictured Jesus on the cross. Myhistrionics came to a grinding halt whenI realized he had remained silent even“In his brave endurance,Jesus left us some sage advice:Take it like a lamb.”while his entire body was tortured.Isaiah 53:7He was oppressed and afflicted,yet he did not open his mouth;he was led like a lamb to theslaughter, and as a sheep beforeits shearers is silent, so he didnot open his mouth.In his brave endurance, Jesus left ussome sage advice: Take it like a lamb.This week was also my four-year-oldNate’s annual checkup, and he was duefor a shot. If there is one thing I hatemore than being in pain, it is seeing mychildren in pain. As he stood waitingfor the nurse to arrive, he looked sosmall and vulnerable in his Spidermanunderwear. All of his cutenessculminated in his protruding bellybutton, which I just wanted to beep like18 The Sower Jan/Feb/Mar 2013


Isaiah 53:7“He was oppressed and afflicted,yet he did not open his mouth;he was led like a lamb to theslaughter, and as a sheep beforeits shearers is silent, so he did notopen his mouth.”a car horn, but he had other plans.He called me over to his side andwhispered in my ear.“I’m concerned.” His blue eyeswatered and swelled to the size ofhard-boiled eggs.It’s funny how people cancondescend to children, when herewas the perfect example of a man’sheart living in a little boy’s body. Noneed to patronize this guy.“The shot is going to hurt,”I told him. “But it won’t hurt forlong. I believe you can take it like aman.”He nodded in agreement, asthe nurse entered and prepared herportable torture chamber. She askedme to have him look away, but mypost-40 reflexes must have takenover, and I couldn’t react in time.Oh, no. He’s going to scream. I bracedmyself for the worst.The needle entered Nate’s arm,and he was completely still. I hadwitnessed the “calm before thestorm” many times, the deafeningsilent scream which precedes theactual one. But this storm musthave gone out to sea, becausenothing happened. He just sat thereand endured the pain without asound or a tear.Try as I might, I could not helpbut flash back to my earlier injuriesand the ensuing circus acts. Herewas my four-year-old, rubbing hisWinnie the Pooh Band-Aid andgrinning with pride at his braveryand fortitude.“Mommy, I took it like aman!”No, my dear. You took itlike a lamb.AUDIO TEACHINGWho do you say I am?Almost two thousand years agoJesus asked his disciples, “Whodo you say I am?” This is the mostimportant question that any personcould ever answer and, in manyways, it still echoes through theworld to this very day.In part one of this teaching, “WhoDo You Say I Am?” Dan Gallagherexplains why there was so muchconfusion about the Messianicidentity of Jesus among those heinteracted with. Then, in part twoof this teaching, Dan discusseshow despite many Christians’ deepdevotion to him as their Lord andSavior, their daily actions seem toindicate that they really do notknow “who he is,” at least not in apractical way. We believe you willenjoy this teaching as you gain anew perspective for Jesus’ questionand look more deeply at how youanswer it.Subscribe to our audio podcast iniTunes and listen to this teaching forfree at STFonline.org/podcastJan/Feb/Mar 2013 The Sower 19


The Need forHospitalityBy John W. SchoenheitHelping people understand and apply the lessonsof the Bible is one of the great goals of The Sower,and in that light we are presenting a series of shortarticles on customs of the Bible.The Bible is written in such a way that it iscompletely and inextricably interwoven with the culture andthe customs of the times and places in which its events occur.While the cultural references were well known to the peoplewho lived in biblical times, many of them are unfamiliar tous today. Learning biblical customs has many advantages: itmakes reading the Bible more enjoyable when we know aboutthe people and how they lived; it clarifies things in the Bible wewould otherwise not readily know, or that do not make senseto us at first; it alerts us to possible mistranslations in the Bible;and it gives us great insight into how to properly apply theWord of God in our lives.[Author’s Note: Some of the customs articles I write explainancient customs so we can better understand the Bible, butdo not have any direct modern application. That is not the20 The Sower Jan/Feb/Mar 2013


case with this article onhospitality. Although ourmotels and restaurantsare nicer today than theinns of the Roman world,Christians should still“seek to show hospitality.”Ecclesiastes 5:13 warns usabout wealth that harmsits owner, and that can bethe case today. Sometimeswe are afraid to open ourhomes to others becausewe fear what mighthappen to what we own.While we want to be wise,true wisdom lies in theeternal verities of valuingrelationships, helpingothers, and fellowshippingaround the Good News.These are the things weshould be seeking.]ShowHospitalityRomans 12:13 (ESV)says Christians should“seek to show hospitality.”The biblical customsconcerning hospitalitydiffer greatly because theBible takes place over thousands ofyears and involves many cultures. In thisarticle we will focus on the necessityof Christian hospitality in the Romanworld.The New Testament admonishesChristians to show hospitality to others.Besides Romans 12:13 quoted above,the Bible specifically tells Christianleaders to show hospitality (1 Tim. 3:2;Titus 1:8), and 1 Peter 4:9 says, “Offerhospitality to one another withoutgrumbling.” One of the many reasonsChristians were to show hospitalityto others was because the inns in theRoman world were almost alwaysunpleasant, ungodly places. Travelhas always been difficult, and in fact,our English words “travel” and “travail”not only come from the same Latinroot word, they were once the sameEnglish word and were differentiatedonly recently. 1 In the Roman world, thecondition of the inns made travel evenmore difficult.Avoiding the InnsPeople who could avoid the innsusually did. Most wealthy people anddignitaries were able to make otherarrangements. They usually stayed inprivate residences, but sometimes theyjust camped beside the road. Friends,and even mere acquaintances or thirdparty contacts, often had an “I’ll stayat your place and you stay at mine”agreement, and sometimes formalizedit with a tessera hospitalis. The tesserawas a small clay tablet or a clay flatfigurethat was often in the shape ofa pig, cow, lion, or shaking hands. Thetessera was broken in half, and eachparty to the agreement kept a half.The traveler carried his half, whichgave him entre to the other homeeven if the owner was away—if thehalves matched, slaves or servants whowatched over the house immediatelygranted room and board to the traveler.In many cases sleeping under thestars by the side of the road would havebeen nicer than staying in a Romaninn, but the danger of robbers wasusually so great that people soughtout the “safety” of an inn. The generalexceptions were wealthy people andgroups. The wealthy usually traveledwith a small army of servants whowould carry the tents and food andact as bodyguards, while groups weregenerally protected by virtue of theirsize.The Innkeepers andtheir ClienteleAs a class of people, the innkeeperswere of such ill repute that Romanlaw forbade them from joining thearmy or forming a trade guild. Theywere generally cheats and thieves, andsuspected of spying on their clients andselling the information, which was verylikely since they, and their prostitutestaff, were in a good position to findout lots of juicy information from theclientele. Innkeepers’ wives also hada bad reputation, and St. Augustinewarned travelers about innkeepers’wives who were witches and whowould add magic potions to the foodand turn the traveler into a mule.The standard clientele of theinns were usually just as rough asBiblical Customsthe innkeepers. They were peddlers,muleteers, sailors or soldiers, slaves orfreedmen running errands, runawayslaves, and the like.The InnAlthough inns in the Roman worldall differed somewhat, just as ourmodern motels do, they also had a lotof similarity. A standard Roman innwas a courtyard surrounded by rooms.Baggage and animals stayed in theopen yard, while people spent the nightin a room (or beside their animal if theythought it might be stolen). Almost allinns had a kitchen and a dining room,although sometimes the cooking andeating occurred in one big room. Someinns converted the dining room into adormitory if the rooms were all full.Innkeepers made money most anyway they could, so many inns had somekind of shop attached, such as smith’sshop where travelers could have repairsmade to animal tack, carts, etc., andsome inns offered medical treatment,if it could be called that, to people whogot sick on the road.The cold of winter and the heat ofsummer are always hard on travelers,and most inns offered only a littlecomfort. To fight the winter cold, someof the more expensive inns had a hotair duct system under the floor or inthe walls (the same basic system thatwas used to heat the cauldarium, the“hot pool,” in the Roman baths). Theaverage inn, however, would have hadsome kind of brazier or fireplace thatheated with coal or wood, or else noheat at all. When it came to the heatof summer there was no reliable relief.The only way to cool rooms duringthe summer was any breeze comingthrough the door or a window. Manyinns had second story rooms that bettercaught the daily breezes and were morecomfortable than lower rooms.A Place to SleepUnlike our hotels and motels, theaverage inn did not rent a whole roomto the traveler, but rather rented asleeping space in a room. In nicer innsa person could rent a bed with a strawmattress, but often the “bed” was just aspot on the floor with straw or grassesJan/Feb/Mar 2013 The Sower 21


“God commanded Christians whohad food and shelter to providehospitality for others, and that issomething we should still be willingto practice today.”cut from a field. The obvious questionanyone renting a place in the inn wouldask themselves was, “With whom (andwith how many) will I be sharing a roomtonight?” One had to guard his personand belongings very carefully. Romanrecords show that a number of peoplewho stayed at the inns were murderedfor the goods they were carrying, andstealing was very common.Every experienced traveler alsobecame an expert at inspectingbedding for bedbugs and othercreatures, such as fleas, spiders, lizards,etc. No telling how many people hadalready slept on the matting that wasthe bed. Bedbugs were so commonthat they had a nickname: cauponarumaestiva animalia, “the summertimecreatures of the inn.”Food, Drink andEntertainmentThe inns were not usually verydesirable places to eat, so it wasnice that the larger towns had manyrestaurants to choose from besidesthe inn. However, in the countrysidethere often was very little choice.Most travelers carried at least a littlesomething to eat on their journey,making Jesus’ specific instruction tohis Apostles not to take food withthem when they traveled an unusualrequest (Mark 6:8). The ancientswatered down their wine, and thatincluded the Romans. Unscrupulousinnkeepers, however, watered it downa lot, hoping their thirsty clients wouldnot notice. Paul refers to this practicein 2 Corinthians 4:2 (NASB), and says heis not “adulterating the word of God,”that is, he did not water down the Wordfor his own profit, but taught it fullstrength in spite of the consequences.Much more ghastly than wateringdown the wine was the cheating ofsome innkeepers (actually, the Romanphysician Galen said he knew ofmany) who stole dead bodies from theColiseum and cooked them to boosthis profits. Inn food was usually in theform of spicy soups and stews so clientsrarely noticed. One cheating innkeeperwas discovered, however, when ahuman finger bone showed up in thestew.All inns had gambling—it justcame with the clientele who stayedthere. However, there were localswho frequented the inns to take partin the gambling and perhaps enrichthemselves with some of the travelers’purses. In fact, just as today peoplego “bar-hopping” or on a “bar-crawl,”occasionally some of the more wellto-dotownsfolk would go from inn toinn, gambling and carousing throughthe night. The noise from the raucouspartiers could make sleeping in the inndifficult.Most inns were staffed by maleand female slaves who, along withtheir everyday chores, made moneyfor the owner by being rented out asprostitutes. So if the person or personsthe traveler was sharing the room withhad the money to pay for sex, well, thatwould be an added distraction in theroom.Show Hospitality to OneAnotherTo avoid the inns and theungodliness associated with them,Christians tried to find other Christianswith whom they could stay. Thankfully,many Christians knew about thebelievers in other towns and where tofind them, and people usually willinglyopened their homes and hearts tobrothers and sisters on the road. Godcommanded Christians who had foodand shelter to provide hospitality forothers, and that is something we shouldstill be willing to practice today. 2Notes1. Both “travel” and “travail” came froman older Latin root word that changedsomewhat in the Late Latin, and thendeveloped on somewhat parallel paths in theOld French and Middle English. Writings fromas late as the 1700’s show “travail” being usedwhen today we would use “travel.”2. Selected Bibliography: Bouquet, A. C.,Everyday Life in New Testament Times (B.T. Batsford, Ltd., London, 1953). Casson,Lionel, Travel in the Ancient World (Book ClubAssociates, London, 1974). Davis, William S,A Day in Old Rome (Allyn and Bacon, Boston,1962). Gower, Ralph, The New Manners andCustoms of Bible Times (Moody Press, Chicago,1987). Hamblin, Dora Jane, and Grunsfeld,Mary Jane, The Appian Way: A Journey(Random House, New York, 1974). Johnston,Mary, Roman Life (Scott, Foresman andCompany, Chicago, 1957). Murphy-O’Connor,Jerome, “On the Road and on the Sea with St.Paul” (Bible Review magazine; summer 1985,p.38-47).22 The Sower Jan/Feb/Mar 2013


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The VineThe Fellowship NetworkSTFonline.org/networkStart with a Meet and GreetBy Dan GallagherAlthough at times change canbe hard, it can also be a verygood thing. A number ofmonths ago my wife Loriand I pulled up stakes and moved ourfamily back to the West Coast. On ourtrek west I reflected on our situationas we followed the historic OregonTrail, the route that American settlersseeking a new life in the West followedmore than a hundred of years ago.Fortunately, unlike those early pioneers,we didn’t have to worry about food,water, disease or Indian attacks. Notonly could we traverse many hundredsof miles in a single day, we did so in thecomfort of air conditioning. Amazingly,despite our many modern blessings,there were still times when we foundthings to complain about. This timeinstead of taking the fork in the roadthat leads over the Sierra Mountains tothe golden state of California, we turnedour modern wagon-train northward toour new homestead in the great State ofOregon.One of the hardest parts of movingis not necessarily all the packing andlifting, or even the physical act ofmoving; rather, it is the mere fact ofchange. We humans are all creaturesof habit and moving demands thatwe break our routines. A significantrelocation equates to “new”—newhome, new neighbors, new grocerystore, new schools—new everything! Inour case it even meant a new time zone,new weather patterns and, of course, themandatory new coffee shop. As hard as“For many Christians the word “fellowship” has lost its truemeaning, but thankfully the Body of Christ is realizing thatgenuine biblical fellowship is not the refreshments andsocializing that happens at the end of church services.”all the unfamiliar physical and mentalterrain can bring, the “new” can also bea sense of “re”—rebirth, regenerationand refreshment.One of the biggest benefits ofour move was that Lori and I got theopportunity to plant a brand newsimple church. 1 We never questionedthat once we got settled we would onceagain embark on hosting a “church”in our home. My sister Teresa howevermade it very clear to us that she believedone of the purposes of us moving to“her town” was for her and many of herfriends to be able to attend.Although this was the third timein twelve years that Lori and I havestarted a new church work, this timethings were quite different. In thepast we have had the benefit of ourpersonal connections to others in thecommunity. In this instance, besides mylittle sister and her family, we really hadno social connections of our own. Wesoon realized that our success requiredus being much more methodical in ourapproach. This time we would need tobuild momentum if we were ever going24 The Sower Jan/Feb/Mar 2013


Dear SowerYouTube FeedbackI lost my Bible so I’ve beenwatching this channels videos. Thankyou guys very, very much. Thank theLord for you fellas.Brandon M.Editor’s Note:Check out our YouTube Channel,visit Youtube.com/truthortraditionTruth SeekerI have been so thankful thatthe Lord has led me to your site.There were so many things thatI always believed in my heart tobe right and true, and I alwaysbelieved that God was revealingthese things to me by his spirit.Then when I began to read andstudy some of the teaching topicson your website, magazines, andCD’s, I was so very thankful, andpraised God for directing me tothe all truth.Thank you again for yourwonderful labor of love and for allthe good work that you, and Dan,and everyone else there does.Maggie F.Live Stream TeachingI wanted to say thank you toJohn Schoenheit for the teaching hedid live on Obedience. I enjoyed itbecause it was God’s word. He tookon a seldom talked about subjectat least in an accurate way andpresented with love.Thank you for the stand you takeand your love for God’s people.God Bless YouDon C.Editor’s Note:See all of our live stream videosat livestream.com/stfonlineREV FeedbackI can’t express how amazed I amwith the REV contents you’ve postedonline! I’ve never seen a translationthat gets Jesus’ genealogy correct inMatthew. I did a double-take when Isaw that it correctly listed Joseph asMary’s father, not her husband, andthen clarified in the notes that herfather and husband were both namedJoseph. And the notes on the Greektext and Aramaic are quite correctbut seldom referenced let aloneutilized.I’m looking forward to readingmore.David B.Editor’s Note:For more information visitSTFonline.org/REVPodcast FeedbackThe last couple of months some ofthe podcasts have been very helpfulas our church Sunday school hasbeen working through I Corinthians.God Bless!Sandy S.Website FeedbackYour website is an answer toprayer and a gift from God. Keep upthe good work and be blessed to be ablessing.Irene F. [England]Editor’s Note:Visit our research website atTruthOrTradition.comAudio CD’sThanks for your continued standon God’s Word. I enjoy reading theSower and listening to the CD’s. Iusually carry the newest one in mycar so I can listen to it over and overas I drive.Marilyn HanichakTeaching of the MonthThanks for all the love and laborthat all of you put into this ministry.Each of you are much appreciatedby Christ and your fellow believers. Ialways look forward to the teachingof the month and the Sower. Bothalways bless me.S.E. GradyEditor’s Note:Visit STFonline.org/podcastSend us your FeedbackDo you have questions aboutthe Bible?Comments about our articles,audio teachings & videos?We would love to hear from you!Email us at STF@STFonline.org26 The Sower Jan/Feb/Mar 2013


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