Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
April 18, 2001
Last Updated :
November 28, 2013
Jesus Rebukes Jewish Religionists: Children Of Hell, Vipers And Hypocrites, Discerning God's Spirit, Wild Man John The Baptist Loses His Head, Rebuke Is A Form Of Love, Bastards In The Bible, God Chooses Weak People So He Gets The Glory, Our Wild Crazy God, Only One True God, Atheists Who Endeavor To Embarrass Christians, Saul Of Tarsus Persecutes The Early Church, Foul-Mouthed Apostle Paul: It Is All Just Dung, Paul Goes To Rome And Is Martyred There, Are You Ashamed Of Your Faith?, Jesus Sacrificed Everything For Our Sakes And Became Of No Reputation, Jesus Christ Is The Rejected Cornerstone
Having now shared with you a few examples of God's rather unorthodox methods that are found in the Old Testament, let us take a glance at the New Testament as well. Most modern Christians are probably more familiar with the teachings of Christ, than they are with the Old Testament stories. You may also know that it was because of His teachings -- which to some people appeared to contradict the Mosaic Law -- that the Lord was constantly in conflict with the self-righteous religious leaders of His day. Of course, we know that Jesus eventually grew rather tired of their hypocrisy. Thus, on various occasions, He did not spare His words in order to expose their blatant sins against God and the people. Jesus referred to them as the children of hell, as the evil spawn of their father the Devil, as a generation of vipers, as hypocrites, and more. Consider these sample verses:
"O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."
Matthew 12:34, KJV
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves . . . Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?"
Matthew 23:15, 33, KJV
"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."
John 8:44, KJV
How are we supposed to react to these statements? This is the very same man who preached wonderful sermons regarding loving our enemies, and doing good to those who hate us. Do we have any right to accuse Him of not being very loving, or even of being a hypocrite? Sadly, some nonbelievers have so little fear of God, that they do these very things, and much worse, because they simply do not understand the Spirit of God, and how He operates. Thus it is that the Apostle Paul wrote the following in his first Epistle to the brethren at Corinth:
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
1 Corinthians 2:14, KJV
From a worldly perspective, Jesus' predecessor -- John the Baptist -- did not offer a much better example. Neither did he preach a "respectable religion". Like Jesus, this wild man who roamed in the wilderness of the Jordan River Valley, and who was dressed in camel's hair, and who ate locusts and wild honey, accused the Scribes and the Pharisees of being a brood of vipers, as we see by the following two verses:
"But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?"
Matthew 3:7, KJV
"Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?"
Luke 3:7, KJV
But what really got John the Baptist in trouble, is when he accused King Herod of marrying his brother Philip's wife, while Philip was still alive. In other words, John publicly accused Herod of committing adultery. Imagine going to the leader of your own country, and publicly humiliating him by telling him that he is an adulterer. Is it any wonder then that Herod's vindictive wife, Herodias, saw to it that John was eventually beheaded, as we see in these verses?:
"But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison."
Luke 3:19,20, KJV
"For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus."
Matthew 14:4-12, KJV
So were Jesus and John the Baptist demonstrating God's love to these lost people? Wasn't this behavior of theirs rather unChristian? Quite simply, the answer to the second question is a resounding "No!" It is important that we understand that God's love is manifested in many different forms, depending upon the situation. Furthermore, as I point out in articles such as "Beholding the Evil and the Good", "Do You Want Love and Light, or Rod and Wrath?" and "Love, Mercy, Forgiveness and Chastisement", exposing the sins of wicked people is in fact one form of God's love. Similar to any good parent, it is precisely because He loves us, that our Heavenly Father rebukes us and corrects us when we get out of line and are wrong. As we read in the Book of Proverbs and in Hebrews:
"Open rebuke is better than secret love."
Proverbs 27:5, KJV
"For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons."
Hebrews 12:6-8, KJV
Oh my! There is that offensive "b" word in the Holy Bible! What are we supposed to think of this Book? From one end to the other, it is simply filled with repulsive language, with very questionable behavior, and with extremely graphical examples which would both appall, offend and confuse a lot of people, if they knew about them. Given the examples that we have seen here, how can we possibly justify our faith before nonbelievers? How can we possibly invite them to join our faith? Who would possibly want to join such a religion as ours; a religion which was founded by, and which has been promoted by liars, deceivers, thieves, murderers, adulterers and adulteresses, whores, wild men running naked, deranged people with very unusual appetites, gluttons, drunks, and people who are supposedly filled with the Devil? One would have to be crazy to join such a religion as ours, wouldn't they? The Apostle Paul apparently didn't think so. In his first Epistle to the Corinthians he wrote the following:
"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence."
1 Corinthians 1:26-29, KJV
Why does God choose such people? Paul tells us plainly that it is so "that no flesh should glory in his presence." In other words, we are such sinners, we are such losers, we are such weaklings, that we really have no other choice but to acknowledge Him, to thank Him, and to glorify Him, whenever something good happens to get done through us. By our very weaknesses and imperfections, He gets the glory. That's why!
Well, I must tell you that I truly got a good laugh as I finished writing the previous paragraph where I described the kinds of people God has chosen to use down through the ages. We Christians must have the wildest, craziest, most unorthodox God in the entire Universe! Actually, He is the only true God that there is, as becomes evident by verses such as the following:
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:"
Deuteronomy 6:4, KJV
Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."
Isaiah 44:6, KJV
"Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any."
Isaiah 44:8, KJV
"I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:"
Isaiah 45:5, KJV
"Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me."
Isaiah 45:21, KJV
"Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me."
Hosea 13:4, KJV
"And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he . . . And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:"
Mark 12:32, 39, KJV
"Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith."
Romans 3:30, KJV
"But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him."
1 Corinthians 8:6, KJV
"Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one."
Galatians 3:20, KJV
"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
Ephesians 4:4-6, KJV
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;"
1 Timothy 2:5, KJV
"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble."
James 2:19, KJV
At any rate, who can possibly doubt that our God has a good sense of humor? Personally, I love it; I love Him; and I love His Word. I am not the least bit ashamed about what I have learned from the Scriptures. Occasionally, I have encountered certain misguided atheists and other ungodly individuals who seem to think that they can embarrass and shock us Christians by pointing out some of the aforementioned "offensive" verses and hard-to-swallow stories. However, I am not the least bit embarrassed by them. I am not ashamed of my faith. Neither am I ashamed of any of the colorful characters who populate our spiritual ancestry. How about you? As I noted earlier, God can choose and use whoever He likes, and it is simply none of our business to say otherwise.
This list of Scriptural examples would not be complete if we did not include one of the most celebrated leaders of the New Testament Church. That, of course, is the Apostle Paul. Here we have a highly educated, devoutly religious man who was a Pharisee of Pharisees, and a Roman citizen as well, as Paul informs us in his own words. Paul was obviously very serious when it came to his religion and his Jewish upbringing; so much so that he heavily persecuted the First Century Church. Consider the following verses which verify these points:
"But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people. And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying, Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you. (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,) I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished."
Acts 21:39-22:5, KJV
"And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman. Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea. And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born. Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him."
Acts 22:25-29, KJV
"But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question."
Acts 23:6, KJV
"I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities."
Acts 26:9-11, KJV
"For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God."
1 Corinthians 15:9, KJV
"For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers."
Galatians 1:13-14, KJV
"Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him [Stephen] with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison."
Acts 7:57-8:3, KJV
"And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem."
Acts 9:1-2, KJV
So here we have a man who had received the best possible education available to a Jew living at that time; and then he has this life-changing experience on the dusty road to Damascus, which not only totally reverses his personal belief system, but which drastically changes his personal values and priorities in life as well. Following Paul's miraculous conversion to the Christian faith, exactly how did he describe everything he had acquired while he was still a citizen of the world? Consider the following verse in which Paul summarizes his new spiritual perspective:
"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,"
Philippians 3:8, KJV
Dung! Paul viewed it all as just a bunch of dung; and we all know perfectly well what word is commonly used today instead of dung. Yes, my friends, the original Greek word that used in this verse does in fact mean excrement; or to be even more precise, the excrement of animals. Everything was just a pile of crap to Paul, compared to having Jesus in his life. Should we consider Paul any less of a servant of God just because he chose to use this word in his Epistle to the Philippians? In fact, some of his Jewish enemies might have even accused Paul of being a hypocrite; because in this very same Epistle, and in his letter to the Ephesians as well, he plainly states the following:
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
Philippians 4:8, KJV
"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."
Ephesians 4:29, KJV
So was Paul a hypocrite? Was he unholy? Was he any less of a Christian because he used the word "dung"? Hardly! No honest Christian can deny that the Apostle Paul was undoubtedly one of the greatest evangelists and missionaries of his time. Not only that, but we all know that according to tradition, Paul paid the ultimate price for his faith in the end, when he was beheaded by his ungodly enemies in Rome; that is, by Emperor Nero. Ironically, the Roman elite were the very ones who Paul had gone to witness to in the first place. This becomes clear by verses such as the following:
"After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome."
Acts 19:21, KJV
"And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome."
Acts 23:11, KJV
"And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli: Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome. And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage. And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him."
Acts 28:13-16, KJV
"To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ . . . So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also."
Romans 1:7, 15, KJV
"Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. [To the Galatians written from Rome.]"
Galatians 6:18, KJV
"Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen. [To the Ephesians written from Rome, by Tychicus.]"
Ephesians 6:24, KJV
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. [To the Philippians written from Rome, by Epaphroditus.]"
Philippians 4:23, KJV
"The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen. [Written from Rome to Colossians by Tychicus and Onesimus.]"
Colossians 4:18, KJV
"But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me."
2 Timothy 1:17, KJV
"The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen. [The second epistle unto Timotheus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians, was written from Rome, when Paul was brought before Nero the second time.]"
2 Timothy 4:22, KJV
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. [Written from Rome to Philemon, by Onesimus a servant.]"
Philemon 1:25, KJV
Regarding the previous set of verses, let me clarify that it is commonly believed that Paul did not personally write all of his Epistles. Due to his poor eyesight -- which may have possibly been a result of the incident on the road to Damascus where the Lord struck down Paul, and left him blind for three days -- Paul was forced to dictate a number of his Epistles to his traveling companions.
In light of everything we have discussed thus far, allow me to ask you something. Are you ashamed of your Creator? Are you ashamed of His Holy Book? Are you ashamed of your faith? I certainly hope not; because Jesus was most certainly not ashamed of us when He voluntarily chose to leave His majestic Throne in Heaven, in order to take on the lowly form of human flesh, so that He could fulfill His Father's Divine Plan. He was not ashamed to be falsely accused of things which He did not do. He was not ashamed to be mocked and ridiculed. He was not ashamed to be called a glutton and a drunk, or a companion of publicans, harlots and sinners, and a devil as well. Jesus was not ashamed to be rejected by the Jewish religionists, to be beaten, to be stripped naked, and to be hung publicly on a Roman cross like a common criminal, in order to demonstrate His Father's magnificent love for us, by dying for our sins. Please consider the following verses:
"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:2, KJV
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
Philippians 2:5-8, KJV
"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not"
Isaiah 53:3, KJV
"The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes."
Psalms 118:22-23, KJV
"Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?"
Matthew 21:42, KJV
"And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again."
Mark 8:31, KJV
"And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?"
Mark 12:10-11, KJV
"Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day."
Luke 9:22, KJV
"But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation."
Luke 17:25, KJV
"He came unto his own, and his own received him not."
John 1:11, KJV
"This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner."
Acts 4:11, KJV
"To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed [that is disapproved, rejected, repudiated] indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed."
1 Peter 2:4-8, KJV
". . . Thou hast a devil . . ."
John 7:20, KJV
Please go to part four for the conclusion of this series.
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