August 3, 2003


The execution of John the Baptist by Herod Antipas is well known. In Mark 6:17-20, Mark tells us some factors that were involved in that event. "For Herod himself had sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; for he had married her. Because John had said to Herod, 'It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife.' Therefore Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not; for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly."

We will look at the later context in a later lesson, but for now, let us look more closely at these verses. Note that Herod Antipas had violated God's law by marrying the wife of another man, even the wife of his own brother. John was a just and holy man, and a preacher of God's truth. Not only that, but he had been charged with the responsibility of preparing Israel for the Messianic kingdom, which was at hand, Matt. 3:1-3. He had found it necessary to say to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." And Herod knew that John was correct in what he taught. Herod knew that John was just and holy. Herod was willing to listen to John's preaching of God's truth-and he was even willing to do some things he needed to do in response to that preaching, He knew that he had no right to have married his brother's wife.

Herodias, on the other hand, had absolutely no respect for John nor for the truth he preached. She hated him, and wanted to see him dead. And as the later context shows, she plotted and brought about John's death.

Now, let us take a moment to take note of the fact that it was not only unlawful for Herod to take his brother's wife--it was also unlawful for him to have her, to keep her. When Jesus was talking about the subject of divorce and remarriage, He explained, "Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery" (Matt. 19:9). Mark shows that the same is true when a woman divorces her husband, "If a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery" (Mark 10:12). According to historical sources (Josephus, etc.) that is exactly what Herod and Herodias had done. Herodias had divorced her husband, Philip, the brother of Herod Antipas--and then she had married Antipas. Their marriage was unlawful. It was not right for Herod to have his brother's wife, or for her to have him. So long as they continued in their unlawful union, they were continuing to violate God's will.

--Clarence R. Johnson


After severe persecution arose in Thessalonica, "the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so" (Acts 17:10-11, NASB). 

Let us note some reason that the Holy Spirit by the pen of Luke describes the people in the synagogue in Berea as being noble-minded. By following their example, we, too may be noble in the sight of God. We must…

1. Study the BIBLE. They examined the Scriptures. There are many books that have been written about the Bible. Some of them can be helpful, but as a friend of mine in Texas said a number of years ago, "some helps aren't, and some aids don't." It is of primary importance to study the Bible itself. There is absolutely no adequate substitute. 

2. Actually STUDY the Bible, They examined the Scriptures. It is one thing to casually read the Bible; another thing to studiously examine or search (KJV) the Scriptures to learn what God has said. Some people read a chapter in the Bible each day, but never really STUDY the Bible or search out what God has said about a particular matter.

3. Study the Bible FREQUENTLY. They examined the Scriptures daily." The Bible, the inspired word of God, is the most important book in the world, and we should study it often. It has more importance to our every-day living than the daily newspaper and should be valued far above it.

4. Study the Bible to know what IS TRUE. They examined whether the things they were hearing were so - that is, whether or not it was in harmony with the written word. Too much Bible study is for the purpose of confirming ideas we already hold. While it is true that if such ideas are religiously true, they can be confirmed by the Bible, it is far more important to study the Bible to learn what God would have us to know and do. We must be willing to make any changes our study should demand.

5. Study the Bible with eagerness (readiness of mind, KJV), not only to learn what God has said, but to put it into practice. Perhaps the greatest hindrance to learning is an unwillingness to put into practice what one is learning. Even if one were to learn God's will, and not put it into practice, no spiritual blessing will result, (James 1:22-27; Matt. 7:24-27).

Many other suggestions regarding Bible study could be offered, but these simple observations should be helpful to those who want to know and do what God has commanded of us. Only then can we be the noble-minded men and women God wants us to be. 

--Clarence R. Johnson


 The above expression is probably still familiar to those old enough to remember times during WW II.  This was a time of shortages.  Gasoline was rationed.  Typical families would get 4 gallons per week.  Tires were in limited supply and of inferior quality.  Women were unable to get sheer hosiery.  Such staples as soap and sugar were rationed.  Even kids had trouble getting gum.  If anyone complained about the shortage, it was dismissed with something like, “Don’t you know there’s a war on?”  We were very much aware there was a war going on.  Family and older friends were being drafted.  The headlines in the paper told of the war each day.  The newsreels at the 10 cent picture shows showed films of it.  All were encouraged to buy Savings Stamps or War Bonds.  

 It is harder to convince people today there is a war on.  I don’t refer to the war on terrorism.  I fear many of the people of God do not realize there is a spiritual or cultural war going on right now in our nation and in our personal lives.  We are warned of this many times. “For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,” (2 Cor. 10:4). See also 2 Cor. 6:7; Rom. 13:12; Eph. 6:13-18; 1 Thess. 5:8, etc.  

 Our nation was founded on Biblical principles by those who believed in a Higher Power.  Our first settlers had fled England and persecution so they could be free to practice religion not imposed on them by the State.  Our congress was opened with prayer.  One of the first purchases it approved  was for Bibles.  Oaths in courts were taken with an appeal to God.  Early education was by religious people.  Our coins have expressed this deep national faith – “In God We Trust.”  The business activities shut down on Sunday.  Laws upheld righteous principles.  Political parties kept religions separate, but they were not committed to changing moral laws.

 There has been a complete change in the direction of our country.  Political parties now have as party planks such things as abortion on demand, full recognition of homosexual relationships, no or lax censorship of movies and TV programs.  Politicians have passed such thoughtless laws as to discourage marriage and families staying together.  Many married couples have to pay more taxes than two single people making the same income.  There were once laws against indecent exposure.  Leftist Hollywood stars, who have no concept of history or what is right, have a tremendous influence over too many politicians.  Judge Moore in Alabama has lost another round with liberal courts in trying to keep the 10 commandments in his courtroom.  Schools have about given up on prayer to avoid lawsuits.  The United Way in San Francisco, Florida and Massachusetts has refused to finance the Boy Scouts unless they relaxed their stand against homosexuals.  The Supreme Court has struck down our state law against homosexual activity.  The Houston Chronicle, July 1, 2003 has a rare article by Bill Maier in which he tells of what is troubling ex-homosexuals.  “Ex-gays say what distresses them most about the Supreme Court ruling is that, as dissenting Justice Scalia states, the court has signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda.  They warn that this agenda is meticulously mapped out by nation’s gay activist organizations.  Groups such as the Human Rights Campaign, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network are lavishly funded, politically connected and have plenty of pals in the media.  According to those in the ex-gay movement, these organizations are deliberately deceiving the American Public. ” The article goes on to expose such lies as “homosexuality is genetic” or “One in 10 is homosexual.”  Any investigation will show the 10% figure is a myth.  Even if were even almost right, that does not prove the practice is right.  It looks like all of Sodom had gone this way.  Another myth exploded is “homosexuals live normal, healthy lives. “  The truth is, “gay men” are 1,000 times more likely to contract AIDS than the general population.  “The Journal of the American Medical Association indicates gays and lesbians have extremely high rates of psychiatric illness, drug and alcohol abuse and suicide.  

 Unless you have been under a rock, it should be apparent “There’s a war on.”  Are you working on the solution or are you part of the problem?  We cannot be neutral and please Christ.  

 --Robert W. Goodman



August 4-9

Hyde Park, PA

Carroll Sutton

August 11-14

Watertown, NY

Different Speakers

People talk about having an open mind.  I believe in having an open window, too, but I want a screen over it to keep the bugs out.


Clarence R. Johnson
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