Through Many Tribulations: Introduction

Through Many Tribulations

As Paul and Barnabas returned to the churches they established during their first preaching tour, they encouraged the disciples to “continue in the faith” as they would go “through many tribulations” in order to “enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). The kingdom to which this referred was not the church – these brethren were already in the church. Instead, this was the eternal kingdom where we will enjoy the reward of heaven. These Christians would have to endure “many tribulations” before they reached that reward.Continue Reading

The Real Pharisees (Free PDF)

The Real Pharisees

We recently completed a 17-part series discussing some lessons that we need to learn from the Pharisees. I want to thank everyone for the positive feedback I received on this material. I hope that everyone found the articles to be beneficial.

This material has now been put together as a free resource for Plain Bible Teaching subscribers. This 66-page study in PDF format was sent out to those on the email list today.

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The Real Pharisees: Conclusion

The Real Pharisees

So who are the real Pharisees? As we have seen in this study, the way they are described in the Scriptures is often not what is intended by those who would use the label today.
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The Real Pharisees (Part 17): The Pharisees Wanted to Hold Onto Parts of the Old Law

The Real Pharisees

But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses’” (Acts 15:5).

Despite all of the problems that we have seen with the Pharisees throughout this study, some of them had evidently believed and obeyed the gospel. A notable example of this was Paul (Acts 26:5; 9:1-18). However, many of them held onto the same attitudes and continued to be “zealous for the Law” (Acts 21:20).

Because of this, certain ones came to Antioch – a church with a large number of Gentile disciples (Acts 11:19-21) and where they were “first called Christians” (Acts 11:26) – and taught, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1). Luke recorded that “Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them” (Acts 15:2) because this teaching would effectively bring these disciples “into bondage” (Galatians 2:4).
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The Real Pharisees (Part 16): The Pharisees Overemphasized Making Converts

The Real Pharisees

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Matthew 23:15).

One might wonder how it could be possible to overemphasize making converts. After all, one of the principal works that we have been given – both individually and collectively – is to try to turn people to the Lord. The New Testament places a good deal of emphasis on making converts.
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The Real Pharisees (Part 15): The Pharisees Overemphasized Human Tradition

The Real Pharisees

Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, ‘Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.’ And He answered and said to them, ‘Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, “Honor your father and mother,” and, “He who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death.” But you say, “Whoever says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,’ he is not to honor his father or his mother.” And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.’

‘You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men”’” (Matthew 15:1-9).

Jesus confronted the Pharisees over their traditions. The Pharisees asked Jesus why His disciples broke “the tradition of the elders” (Matthew 15:2). In response, Jesus asked them why they allowed their tradition to serve as justification for them to “transgress the commandment of God” (Matthew 15:3). They were zealously defending their traditions instead of the law of God.
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The Real Pharisees (Part 14): The Pharisees Honored God’s Spokesmen

The Real Pharisees

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets” (Matthew 23:29-31).

We might wonder why Jesus said what He did on this occasion. He condemned the Pharisees as hypocrites for building monuments to honor the prophets that had been killed by their forefathers. Consider a couple of points:

  1. It is good to recognize and respect those who faithfully proclaim God’s word (cf. Hebrews 13:7).
  2. It is also unfair to hold people guilty for the sins of their fathers (Ezekiel 18:20).

With these two points in mind, how could Jesus condemn the Pharisees and associate them with the sins of those who lived generations before them, especially when it appeared as though they were honoring the prophets instead of opposing them?
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