Saturday, November 24, 2012

Is Capital Punishment Biblical?















CAPITAL PUNISHMENT - What Does the Bible Teach on this Vital Subject?

Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. (Genesis 9:6)

1. Instituted by God Himself
Capital punishment was instituted by God Himself after the worldwide flood. We learn of this in Genesis 9:6--"Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man." This verse speaks of a murderer, one who knowingly and violently sheds another man's blood, resulting in death. God here gives man the authority and the right and the duty to put to death the murderer: "by man shall his blood be shed." The reason given for this is based upon the value and sacredness of human life: "for in the image of God made he man." In this case we have justice being carried out according to the rule: "life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth" (Exodus 21:23-24). The penalty should fit the crime. In this case the crime is murder and the penalty is death. Notice that Genesis 9:6 was given to man even before the law of Moses was given.

2. "Thou Shalt Not Kill"?
Capital punishment is not a violation of the sixth commandment which says, "Thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:13). The proper translation of this verb is "Thou shalt not murder." See modern translations (such as the NASB, the NIV and the NKJV) and also see Matthew 19:18 in the KJV. All murder is killing but not all killing is murder. Some examples of killing that would not be considered as murder are as follows: a) killing the enemy in war (Bible examples: David killing Goliath, Joshua and the Israelites when they conquered the land); b) a husband, discovering a man about to kill his wife and/or children, protects and defends his family by having to kill the attacker; c) a policeman who kills in the line of duty in order to protect innocent life; d) the person carrying out capital punishment, such as the man who must pull the switch for the electric chair; e) accidental killing, when the killer never intended to take someone's life. We should also note that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself will "judge and make war" at His second coming resulting in countless numbers of deaths (Rev. 19:11-20).

3. Crimes Punishable By Death
We are assured that capital punishment is not a violation of the Ten Commandments. This is evident when one studies the chapter which immediately follows the ten commandments: Exodus chapter 21 (the Ten Commandments are found in chapter 20). In chapter 21 we learn that God in His law demanded the death penalty for a number of crimes such as murder, kidnapping, cursing parents, etc. See Exodus 21:12,15,16,17. See also Leviticus 20:10-17 for other crimes punishable by death in the law of Moses.

4. The Executioner As God's Servant
In New Testament times capital punishment was still being practiced. Romans 13:4 says that God has given human governments the authority to execute wrath upon evildoers by means of a sword (a common instrument of capital punishment in New Testament days). The Apostle Paul was living in a day when capital punishment was commonly practiced in the Roman empire (quite unlike our day), and yet he did not condemn this practice. On the contrary he described the person who bears the sword as being God's servant. Thus the one punishing the evildoer does so in the exercise of God's delegated authority.

5. An Effective Deterrent
Capital punishment, when consistently practiced, is a very effective deterrent to crime because the fear of death is the greatest fear that man has (see Hebrews 2:14-15). Since death is the king of fears, a man will think twice about committing a crime if he knows it will cost him his life. He will be less reluctant to murder someone if he knows that the worst that could happen to him is to stay in jail the rest of his life with meals provided, television to watch, etc. When swift justice is carried out then "those who remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil" (Deut.19:20). When the right penalty is not executed speedily, then this is an encouragement to crime (see Eccles. 8:11).

6. Cruel and Inhumane?
Is capital punishment cruel and inhumane? Death is usually not pleasant to witness, and certainly those responsible for putting a criminal to death do not have an enviable task. Nevertheless we need to be careful that we do not focus on the criminal and forget about the victim of the crime. Cold-blooded murder is very cruel and inhumane. Forcible rape is very cruel and inhumane. Hijacking an airplane and endangering the lives of many innocent people is very cruel and inhumane. Pushing life-destroying drugs is very cruel and inhumane. In our zeal to protect the criminal we can lose sight of the terribleness of the crime. Regardless of a person's position on capital punishment, all would have to agree that if a murderer is put to death, he will never murder again. It is remarkable that those people who decry capital punishment as being a cruel and inhumane method of destroying people's lives are often the same people who are strongly in favor of abortion rights. Why does a guilty murderer have a greater right to life than an unborn child?

7. Paul's Own Testimony
What did the Apostle Paul think of capital punishment? Did he consider it to be unfair and cruel and inhumane? We have already considered Paul's teaching in Romans 13, but we should also make note of what the Apostle said in Acts 25:11: "If I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die." Paul knew that there were certain crimes that were worthy of death, and he knew that those guilty of such crimes must be executed. If he was guilty of such, then he would not refuse to die. He would submit to capital punishment if he had done deeds worthy of such. Of course, Paul was innocent of any such crimes, and yet he was eventually executed under Nero. For what crime? For preaching the gospel of the grace of God!

8. Bright Barbarians
Even uncultured men know deep down in their hearts that certain crimes demand the death penalty. This is illustrated in Acts 28 when Paul was shipwrecked upon the island of Melita (Malta) where he met a group of kindly barbarians (v.1-2). As Paul was gathering sticks for the fire, a deadly venomous snake bit him on the hand. Normally such a bite would be fatal in a matter of minutes. When the natives saw this they said, "No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet justice alloweth not to live" (v.4). These natives saw what they thought was the penalty (death) and thus they assumed the crime (he must be a murderer). They soon learned that they were mistaken, but the point is that these barbarians had a built in sense of justice and they knew that murderers should pay for their crime by death.
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9. The Testimony of a Thief (Robber)
In Luke chapter 23 we have the honest testimony of a man who was being put to death for crimes he had done. This was capital punishment by means of Roman crucifixion. This man was an evildoer, he was arrested, and he was found guilty of crimes worthy of death. Modern methods of execution are generally very mild and painless as compared to Roman crucifixion. What did this man think of capital punishment? Was he opposed to it? Did he consider it to be cruel and inhumane? Did he think it to be unfair and unjust? Here is his testimony (his words to the other condemned criminal): "Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds" (Luke 23:40-41). In other words, he was saying, "We are getting exactly what we deserve: death by crucifixion. What we have done is worthy of death!" Before men and before human government most of us are not guilty of crimes worthy of death. However, before a Holy God every one of us needs to recognize that we have done certain things that are worthy of death (see Romans 1:29-32; 6:23a). As the Old Testament says, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4). How thankful we should be that our Lord Jesus Christ suffered the death penalty for us: "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8).

10. The Death of an Innocent Man
If capital punishment is practiced, are there not times when an innocent man is pronounced guilty and put to death? Yes, sadly this is true. Our judicial system is far from perfect and there are times when the guilty are justified and the innocent are condemned (compare Deut. 25:1). Even without the death penalty, it is true that occasionally some innocent men are sent to prison even for life. We must remember that there is in heaven a true and righteous Judge who sees all and who knows all and who someday will make right all that is wrong and will straighten out all that is crooked. In eternity, all will be corrected (see Luke 16:25 for an example of this). The greatest example of an innocent man being put to death is that of the Lord Jesus Himself, "who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth" (1 Pet. 2:22). The only sinless Man who ever lived was condemned to death by crucifixion! As we think about Christ's death, we must remember that it was for our sins that He suffered and bled and died (1 Cor. 15:3; Rom. 5:8). "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just (the Righteous One) for the unjust (the unrighteous ones), that he might bring us to God" (1 Pet. 3:18). We are the guilty ones who deserved the death penalty (Rom. 6:23), but Jesus paid it all! He died so that we might live (John 5:24)!

GWZ I.F.

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Only One Said 'Thank You'



Only One Said 'Thank You'
By Dr. John C. Whitcomb

The Command
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God commands us to give Him thanks for everything He has done, is doing and will do for us.
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"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God" (Phil. 4:6).

"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thess. 5:18).

"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men" (1 Tim. 2:1).

"Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 5:20).
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The Problem

But this is not the normal response of the sinful heart of man. Even in times of health and prosperity, do we genuinely thank God for what He has given us?
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One day, our Lord cleansed 10 lepers who cried out to Him, "'Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!' So when He saw them, He said to them, 'Go, show yourselves to the priests.' And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, 'Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?' And He said to him, 'Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well'" (Luke 17:13-19). As in the entire nation of Israel, many thousands were physically healed by the Lord Jesus, but relatively few really believed in Him as God and Savior.
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In fact, from the beginning of the world, even in the hearts of our first parents, Adam and Eve, "although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools" (Rom. 1:21, 22).
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Difficult Circumstances for Thankfulness

While inside the body of a gigantic fish deep in the Mediterranean Sea, with "weeds...wrapped around [his] head" (Jonah 2:5), the disobedient prophet Jonah cried out:
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"I will sacrifice to YouWith the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD" (Jonah 2:9).

In response to that amazing prayer, "the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land" (Jonah 2:10).

And what about the prophet Daniel? When threatened with death in a lions' den for offering a prayer to "any god or man" (Dan. 6:7) besides the king of Medo-Persia, Daniel "went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days" (Dan. 6: 10).
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Thus, in every conceivable circumstance, "by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (Heb. 13:15).
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Why? Because "we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28).

In ETERNITY

What will believers be doing in heaven? We will be saying:
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"Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever" (Rev. 7:12).
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So let us ask God to help us today to thank Him for His infinite grace and love in sending His Son to pay in full the penalty for our sins which we could never pay. What a gift!

Yes, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" (2 Cor. 9:15).

Do you want to learn more about this topic?
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Listen to "Only One Said 'Thank You'" by Dr. Whitcomb on SermonAudio.com.
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Rush Limbaugh: The True Story of Thanksgiving










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The Near Extinction of the God Honoring Father

We here in America have witnessed over the last past 50 years the EXPONENTIAL disintegration of the family unit and its catastrophic tsunami of violent physiological effects on our nation’s citizenry. From this disintegration and devastation has come most of the horrific social consequences in which we as a nation shall NEVER recover. The question that must be asked is, “Where is the God honoring father today in the “Land of the Free?” Well, America's culture has replaced the father by marriage to the mother with the "Baby's Daddy" and countless women are selling themselves to this immoral practice only to have their children left desolate and ravish by the absence of a father figure.

We in our “lawless good intentions” - ever seeking our godless utopian world - have LEFT OUT of the social equation a God fearing father, personal responsibility, accountability, morality, the Laws of Nature and the fear and reverence of Almighty God the Creator of Heaven and earth.

Our nation has invested countless TRILLIONS of taxpayer money into fixing America’s social disaster only to see the EXPONENTIAL increase in our nation’s social deterioration. How can this be? We in our “lawless good intentions” - ever seeking our godless utopian world - have LEFT OUT of the social equation a God fearing father, personal responsibility, accountability, morality, the Laws of Nature and the fear and reverence of Almighty God the Creator of Heaven and earth. To put it simply and to visualize our current state, we in our reprobate lawless bent and narcissistic mindset have sought to put out America’s ravishing social fire by using gasoline (Isa. 5:20). Is that not simple enough for all to understand? Yet to convey such common sense reality to America today and to both political parties is to be called insensitive, bigoted, extreme, radical and a host of other slanderous names in an attempt for America to hold onto their subjective, godless and lawless delusions (Rom. 1:18-32, 3). America today is drunk with delusion, void of common sense and saturated with lawlessness. All that is left is Divine judgment for her, which is at our very door.

Since the removal of prayer (i.e., Almighty God and His Word the Bible) from our children’s classrooms in 1962 and the rejection of healthily moral boundaries by the adults of that generation we have become a godless, reckless, tribal, sex addicted, drug addicted, drunken, super narcissistic and a pleasure seeking nation hell bent on full destruction (Rom. 3). We are as a train roaring out of control with nothing to stop her but the end of a cliff and a ball of fire. Who is to blame and to be held most accountable for the current state of our godless and lawless nation? As we shall see it is none other than the godless American man.

When the man abandons his God given responsibilities for the family unit expect only lawlessness to increase and social devastation to follow.

Men are firstly and most soberly held personally accountable to Almighty God for their behavior, family and for a health society. This is God’s order like it or not (Gen. 2:7-17, 1 Cor. 11:3, Eph. 5:23, 1 Peter 3:5-6). When the man abandons his God given responsibilities for the family unit, expect only lawlessness to increase and social devastation to follow (Rom. 1:18-32, 5:11-21). With Christ as the foundation the family unit is Almighty God’s design and building block for a healthy society for a sin fallen world (Matt. 7:24-27). One can always tell the strength of a nation by the strength of its family unit. Destroy the Divinely ordained institution of the family and reject Almighty God’s moral absolutes and a nation will fall. Strengthen the Divine ordained institution of the family and apply Almighty God’s moral absolutes and a nation will prosper (Deut. 4:7-8, Psalm 33:12). It is just that simple. Our founders held to Almighty God’s ordained institutions and thus we rose to be the greatest nation in the world. Our current leaders have rejected these Divinely ordained institutions and we are on our hospice deathbed.

The family unit (i.e., Father and Mother) is Almighty God’s design to protect and insulate mankind from the immoral ravishings, which manifest themselves by the violations of the moral absolutes instilled at the beginning of the creation (Gen. 1:1-31, Ex 20:1-17, Mark 10:19, Rom. 13:9, Heb. 13:4).

The family unit (i.e., Father and Mother) is Almighty God’s design to protect and insulate mankind from the immoral ravishings, which manifest themselves by the violations of the moral absolutes instilled at the beginning of the creation.

It was man’s rejection of Almighty God’s moral absolutes and Divine mandates for the family which led to the Genesis flood (Gen. 6) and it will be the global rejection of Almighty God’s moral absolutes for the family unit which will lead to the Day of the Lord (Rev. 6-19).

My dear friend, it is an ETERNALLY, HORRIFIC and a SOBERING thing to fall into the hands of the RIGHTEOUS judge and ETERNAL God of Heaven and earth (Heb. 13:4). When a man rejects and refuses Almighty God’s design for society and the family he will be  held FULLY accountable in that Day of Judgment (Matt. 12:36-37, Rev. 20: 11-15). What one does not recognize is that the deeds of a man's life here in time have huge consequences on his family (pro or con) and on society in general and will follow him all the way into that Day to be manifested and to be judged accordingly (Matt. 12:36-37, Rev. 20:11-15).

It was man’s rejection of Almighty God’s moral absolutes and Divine mandates for the family, which led to the Genesis flood.

The American male today is a wild man and there is no taming him. He is lawless, godless and a destroyer of the youth of America. This Father’s Day how many fathers truly seek Almighty God plan for their life and will for their family with all their heart, soul and mind? The God fearing father is near extinction today in America and in this world and the devastation of it is seen everywhere.

My dear friend, may it be our sincere desire to be all that Almighty God would have us to be to your wives and our children (Rom. 8:29). As the Day of the Lord is at hand we as fathers have much to offer our children and loved ones. We have much to tell them of Almighty God’s WONDROUS LOVE and ETERNAL HOPE (John 3:16-17, Rom. 8:28-39, 2 Cor. 1:9, 20, 1 John 3:1-3, Rev. 21-22:1-5). For us who know the Lord, this world is not our home and Almighty God has rescued us from the destructive consequences that will FOREVER follow those who rebel against the Creator of Heaven and earth (John 14:1-3, 1 Cor. 9-11, Gal. 1:4, Rev. 20:11-15). We have a Heavenly Father this Father’s Day who ETERNALLY loves us! What could ever be greater than that!

The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!

DJP I.F.