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Thursday, April 20, 2023

Trout Run Road flowering trees
Flowering trees beside stone farmhouse on Trout Run Road
Click to enlarge

"The False Commission"
Caution: This message may offend the "woke"

Message summary: The soldiers who guarded the tomb could, for a price, ignore what they witnessed firsthand. We also can ignore what we know to be true, for a price. We can choose to deny truth and fear the wrath of man more than the wrath of God, but the price we pay is the forfeit of our own soul (Mark 8:36). Let us instead be people of truth!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

"While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day" (Matthew 28:11-15).

Lying was first introduced when Satan, the father of lies, first deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Throughout human history humanity has always dealt with lies and in our view this sinful epidemic of lying is increasing exponentially. Actually in some settings I now just assume I am being lied to. In recent years lying is often called misinformation and in today's text we have an example of intentional misinformation.

Our pastor preached on this text this last Sunday and called this section of the chapter "The False Commission", since it precedes the Great Commission. He is a very thoughtful preacher and has a way of pointing out interesting details in the text. For instance he pointed out the phrase "some of the guard" may imply that there were other guards who came to faith after witnessing the resurrection. But good preaching also prompts the listener's own further study and musing of the text and that's what happened as I listened Sunday.

These guards told the chief priests "all that had taken place". At this point there's no reason to believe they were telling anything but the truth; they were eye witnesses of the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. How could this be anything but life transforming?

But the chief priests and elders (the religious elite) demonstrated stunning hard-hardheartedness. Earlier they had posted a guard, being concerned that the disciples would steal the body. Now they heard the truth from the soldiers and rather than examine their hearts they  gave "a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, 'Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep'". That supposedly would keep them out of trouble.

"And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day". This was the False Commission. Instead of spreading the good news of the Great Commission they spread the false news which is still believed by Jews and skeptics to this day. After Pastor made this point Brooksyne told me she whispered in her friend's ear who sat beside her, "And that was taxpayers' money being used for the big lie". Her friend whispered back, "Yeah, and they're still doing it even today".

I am stunned at this unbelief for a price. A sufficient sum of money still buys lies of all sorts. How did these soldiers deal with the certain internal conflict of knowing what really happened but lying about what they know did not happen; that the disciples had stolen Jesus' body while the guards slept.

Today there is so much to which we are being lied about and it gets more and more bizarre as we face the reality of what it is doing to destroy the souls of man and the ruin of our nation. Romans 1:18, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth". People are accepting many lies even though, like the soldiers, they surely have to be internally conflicted if they have even an iota of spiritual discernment and Biblical knowledge. Such as:
  • That the baby developing in the womb is just a glob of tissue and is disposable at will.
  • That the clear design by God for marriage between a man and a woman can be violated with a notion that men can marry other men and women can marry other women.
  • That the clear design from God that "He created them male and female" can be violated with the demonic notion that a male can become a female and a female can become a male.
What's next is presently unimaginable just like the previous points were not long ago unimaginable. That's what lying, repeating the lies, and practicing deception does to the individual conscience or to an entire nation, if not checked by those who refuse to participate in the lies.

The soldiers who guarded the tomb could, for a price, ignore what they witnessed firsthand. We can also ignore what we know to be true, for a price. We can choose to deny truth and fear the wrath of man more than the wrath of God, but the price we pay is the forfeit of our own soul (Mark 8:36). Let us instead be people of truth!

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen and Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we are told in Scripture to speak the truth in love. We want to be full of grace and truth like John described Jesus to be. The Bible does not speak of "your truth" or "my truth" but truth is based on the character of who the Godhead is, so we ask You to help us not to acquiesce to the current philosophies of our day by repeating "approved" lies or by suppressing the truth just to get along or blend in with our post modern world of relativism. Give us courage to build and maintain our character on the truth spoken of in Scripture, for Jesus Himself stated "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." Let us lovingly speak the truth at all times as we seek to honor You and Your name, for it is in Jesus' name that we pray. Amen. 

Barne's Notes of the Bible:  But speaking the truth in love -  "being sincere." The translation in the text is correct - literally, "truthing in love" - ἀληθεύοντες alētheuontes. Two things are here to be noted:

(1) The truth is "to be spoken" - the simple, unvarnished truth. This is the way to avoid error, and this is the way to preserve others from error. In opposition to all trick, and art, and cunning, and fraud, and deception, Christians are to speak the simple truth, and nothing but the truth. Every statement which they make should be unvarnished truth; every promise which they make should be true; every representation which they make of the sentiments of others should he simple truth. "Truth is the representation of things as they are;" and there is no virtue that is more valuable in a Christian than the love of simple truth.

(2) The second thing is, that the truth should be spoken "in love." There are other ways of speaking truth. It is sometimes spoken in a harsh, crabby, sour manner, which does nothing but disgust and offend. When we state truth to others, it should he with love to their souls, and with a sincere desire to do them good. When we admonish a brother of his faults, it should not be in a harsh and unfeeling manner, but in love. Where a minister pronounces the awful truth of God about depravity, death, the judgment, and future woe, it should be in love. It should not be done in a harsh and repulsive manner; it should not he done as if he rejoiced that people were in danger of hell, or as if he would like to pass the final sentence; it should not be with indifference, or in a tone of superiority. And in like manner, if we go to convince one who is in error, we should approach him in love. We should not dog-matize, or denounce, or deal out anathemas. Such things only repel. "He has done about half his work in convincing another of error who has first convinced him that he loves him;" and if he does not do that, he may argue to the hour of his death and make no progress in convincing him.

What is truth? from the Got Questions teaching site- A Proposed Definition of Truth: In defining truth, it is first helpful to note what truth is not:
  • Truth is not simply whatever works. This is the philosophy of pragmatism—an ends-vs.-means-type approach. In reality, lies can appear to “work,” but they are still lies and not the truth.
  •  Truth is not simply what is coherent or understandable. A group of people can get together and form a conspiracy based on a set of falsehoods where they all agree to tell the same false story, but it does not make their presentation true.
  • Truth is not what makes people feel good. Unfortunately, bad news can be true.
  • Truth is not what the majority says is true. Fifty-one percent of a group can reach a wrong conclusion.
  • Truth is not what is comprehensive. A lengthy, detailed presentation can still result in a false conclusion.
  • Truth is not defined by what is intended. Good intentions can still be wrong.
  • Truth is not how we know; truth is what we know.
  • Truth is not simply what is believed. A lie believed is still a lie.
  • Truth is not what is publicly proved. A truth can be privately known (for example, the location of buried treasure).
The Greek word for “truth” is aletheia, which literally means to “un-hide” or “hiding nothing.” It conveys the thought that truth is always there, always open and available for all to see, with nothing being hidden or obscured. The Hebrew word for “truth” is emeth, which means “firmness,” “constancy” and “duration.” Such a definition implies an everlasting substance and something that can be relied upon.

Kevin, a longtime reader made this interesting point regarding yesterday's message: Peter has such a need to see and I presume to touch Jesus that he cannot wait for the boat. It won't be a private moment as the others are less than a football field away. But the shame and guilt of his failure and denial on the night of the 'trial' weighed on him so heavily that he NEEDED to be restored.

Why am I not more like this with the Lord and with people? Why do I delay to reconcile? I don't know - but I see benefit in sandal-in-mouth Peter's urgency

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"The Voice Of Truth  Click to listen on YouTube  Casting Crowns

Here's an interesting article about the current gender fad which is deceiving so many. The comments are equally insightful.

Our pastor's message from last Sunday  Click to listen on YouTube  Includes his thoughts about the false commission.

Yesterday afternoon I took a neighborhood bike ride along with my friend Bob.

Trout Run Road horses
Horses along Trout Run Road
Click to enlarge

Trout Run Road horses
Protecting and incubating the eggs beside Donegal Creek
Click to enlarge

Donegal Springs
Flowering trees beside Donegal Springs
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Cameron Inn Estate
The Cameron Inn Estate dates back before the Civil War
Click to enlarge

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