Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My Dad

The Reformed Lawless blog will contain my bible studies as well as my dad's sermons. My dad was a pastor in the SBC for 50 years. He was a reformed expositor of God's word. He pastored bilingual churches so growing up we got a dose of my dad's preaching in English and Spanish. He was gifted in the languages and loved his Greek and Hebrew.

His favorite song was sung by Steve Green, God and God Alone:

God and God alone
Created all these things we call our own
From the might to the small
The glory in them all
Is God's and God's alone

God and God alone
Reveals the truth of all we call unknown
All the best and worst of man
Can't change the master plan
It's God's and God's alone

God and God alone
Is fit to take the universe's throne
Let everything that lives
Reserve its truest praise
For God and God alone

God and God alone
Will be the joy of our eternal home
He will be our one desire
Our hearts will never tire
Of God and God alone

Words and music by Phil McHugh

This blog is dedicated to him. I hope that you enjoy his sermons and I pray that you will be blessed and challenged by them as I am.

Pastor Jim Lawless November 13, 1928 - May 13, 2003

Pastor Jim Lawless - Sermon dated 4-10-1994

Sermon at Micion Bautista El Clavario, Roby, Texas, 4/10/94

Psalms 19:7-10


This Psalm is difficult for modern people to understand because it confronts the prevailing idea that the Law of God is dead, destructive, and damning. Paul in Romans 7:12 makes a statement which should be carefully considered by every Christian, "Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." The Law of God is holy because it is appointed by God for a specific purpose. The Law of God is just because it does not play any favorites. The Law of God is also good because it has accomplished the purpose for which it was, and is, intended. For this reason this Psalm is of utmost importance in understanding how the righteous person of the Old Testament is not so far from the righteous person of the New Testament.



"THE LAW OF THE LORD IS PERFECT," - We need to understand something here. At the time this Psalm was written, the only Scripture that the people had was probably the Law of God or the Law of Moses. Therefore the statements made here concerning the "Law" can well be applied to the entire Scripture as we know it, both the Old and New Testaments.

In this portion of the Psalm, we have the Bible known by a particular description and then an application which rises from that description. The first is that the bible is "perfect". The Hebrew word, (temimawh), has more the meaning of “completeness”. While God's Word is perfect in the absolute sense, when dealing with the written record we call the Bible, it might be better to use the idea of "complete". In the Bible we have the COMPLETE Word of God. It needs no help, no augmentation, no further expansion, or new discipline in order to meet the spiritual need of mankind. It is a real shame how that well meaning people have bought into the idea that God needs help from other sources to handle the world's problems. It is a good indication of just how far the spiritual health of our people has sunk.

"CONVERTING THE SOUL:" - Here the "completeness" of the Scriptures is applied to the necessity of being converted. That is, the soul of man is "restored" to its place before the God who created it. Man fell from a place of fellowship and peace with Almighty God. His conversion, then, restores him to that former place he had before the fall. While the circumstances surrounding all of mankind is not the same as the first man enjoyed, there is the "sure hope" in the restoration being complete one day when God ushers in the Eternal Order. Hence the first benefit is "Conversion"

“THE TESTIMONY OF THE LORD IS SURE," - The second description is concerned with the message of the Bible. The Bible is God's revelation of Himself to mankind. As such, then, it is His Testimony concerning Himself, His Character, His Attributes, and His Actions. The best any other source of knowledge about God can do is just to show His Presence. That is not enough for a person to be able to serve God. When "natural revelation" is all that there is, the result is man-made religion and idolatry. The Scriptures give us an adequate enough understanding of God to be able to live for Him and to live with Him.

"MAKING WISE THE SIMPLE." - The Bible has the capacity to do what eating the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden could not do. From Adam and Eve in the garden this idea of a man's wisdom has been the greatest point of contention. In Genesis we see that this was at the root of the very first sin. In Genesis 3:6 it says, "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat." Many of the trees of the garden no doubt were "good for food", many were also most likely "pleasant to the eyes", but only one was "desirable to make one wise". The second benefit is "Wisdom".


"THE STATUTES OF THE LORD ARE RIGHT," - One of the attributes of God is that He is Righteous. This means, among other things, that He is always right. Since the Scriptures reflect the very character of God, then the Scripture also is always right. They are correct in every single command that is given. Even the passing of time has not dulled them one bit. God charges mankind with His kind of life and man can do no wrong as long as he walks in the ways of the Lord.

"REJOICING THE HEART:" - David said this. Paul said this. Every true child of God knows that the end result of facing the impossible task of keeping the Law in order to come up to God's expectations for man, we have utterly failed, BUT this failure has led some of us to fall back upon God's marvelous Mercy and find salvation. Nothing makes the heart rejoice like being at peace with Almighty God.

"THE COMMANDMENT OF THE LORD IS PURE," - Without admixture or error, the Laws of the Lord are completely trustworthy to tell exactly how God looks at something. Either it is sin or it is righteousness. Adam and Eve thought that they could find a shortcut to this kind of understanding in eating of the tree in the midst of the Garden, but it led to their sin and the downfall of mankind. They found, sadly, that there was no way to circumvent the commandment of God, therefore, it was pure.

”ENLIGHTENING THE EYES." - Real knowledge and real wisdom come from a thorough acquaintance with God's Word. Later we will study a verse in Psalm 119 which deals exactly with this concept. The Word of God gives Spiritual light to a sin darkened soul.


"THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS CLEAN," - It is interesting to note that the "fear of the Lord" is here listed with the attributes of the Scriptures. It teaches a man to be aware of the fact that God is always watching and listening to every thought, word, or act and has the perfect right to judge that thought, word, or act at any time He sees fit. In Its being clean, the Bible intends us to understand that it requires a holy separation from all uncleanness.

"ENDURING FOR EVER:" - The Law of God is permanent. There are those who try to preach and teach that Christ, in fulfilling the Law, did away with It. However, the Law of God is just as much in force today as it ever was, if not more so, since the Christian now has the Holy Spirit to give guidance and wisdom in dealing with sin. The Law of God is just as alive as He Himself is, and many preachers and teachers need to understand that.

"THE JUDGMENTS OF THE LORD ARE TRUE AND RIGHTEOUS ALTOGETHER." -What God has decided is right! He needs no input from either Angels or ourselves. The Kingdom of Heaven is not a Democracy. It is a Theocracy in which God rules and reigns absolutely. If Angels totally failed in rebellion, then mankind is doomed to failure in his own petty rebellion.


"MORE TO BE DESIRED ARE THEY THAN GOLD, YEA, THAN MUCH FINE GOLD:" - Now the Word of God is compared to many of the things which man holds to be valuable to him. The first is the one thing which, for most men of the world, is held to be the first priority of their lives, gaining wealth. Yet the Psalmist says that the Word of God is much more desirous than even a veritable treasure chest of gold. The impression is that all the gold in the world would not take the place of God's Word in its benefit to a man. In other words, salvation cannot be bought.

"SWEETER ALSO THAN HONEY AND THE HONEYCOMB." - Then the Word of God is compared to one of the most prized delicacies in the Biblical world. Many people do not see much favor in the diet of John the Baptist, locusts and wild honey, but it was sufficient to give him much strength and health for a very rigorous life. Proverbs 16:24 says, "Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones." Obviously these pleasant words are from God's Book.


God's Word is complete, perfect, and meets every contingency which man can possibly face in his life. Since God is the One who Created all things, He is also the One who is in control of all things. Also, since He is aware of all things, He has been able to anticipate, in our frame of reference, all things. The Bible never was outdated, is not now outdated, and never will be outdated. Nothing which man has invented, is inventing, and will invent has not already been woven into the grand Plan of God. In short, the Bible is The Word for all men at all times.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

August 28, 2006 Bible Study - 2 Peter 1:15-21

15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

Σπουδάζω - Make every effort – To be diligent – To do your best – To be eager – To strive
Eξοδος – Exodus – Departure – Departure from life
ποιέω – To carry out

Peter is nearing the end of his life and will make every effort to make sure that the people he is addressing will be able to recall his teachings. This is during a time when false doctrines concerning Christ’s’ return are infiltrating the Church.

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

Σοφίζομαι - know how to contrive cleverly; make wise
μuθος – Legends – Fiction – Fable – Falsehood – Invention
γνωρίζω - To make known - “to gain a knowledge of” or “have thorough knowledge of”.
Eπόπτης - spectator, eye witness of anything

Peter told them that they did not follow cleverly devised myths, fables or stories concerning the second coming of Christ. They knew of the majesty of Christ first hand.

This word μuθος, is used by Paul when he refers to those things which we are to have nothing to do.

1 Timothy 1:3&4 - 3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.

The practice of the unbelieving Jews was to embellish the Old Testament Scriptures with all kinds of fanciful developments and stories. The simple, clear word of God just is not thrilling and exciting enough for us. We want to embellish it. That is nothing new. The Jews were doing that with their Old Testament Scriptures as well. The embellishments made the stories more interesting, more appealing and more compelling, but it is something that the true believers are to avoid.

1 Timothy 4:7: 7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come

Churches need to be reminded of that. We are not there to entertain with cute, silly little stories; we are there to minister the word of God. I get the idea here that Paul may have been dealing with a church that offered exercise classes instead of the study of the scriptures. Sound familiar?

The church is losing its ability to discern between myths and the truth.

2 Timothy 4:3-4: 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

The people of the church will want to hear stories that men make up rather than listen to someone teach the pure word of God. Nowadays people think you need to be a good story teller in order to be a good teacher. The simplicity of the word of God no longer holds the attention of people. But as believers we are to have nothing to do with these things - myths, tales, stories, fables.

Titus 1: 13&14: 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.

Here again the myths are the Jewish embellishments of the Scripture. Why are the people of God so easily turned aside from the simplicity and the purity of Christ and their devotion to His truth? They want to hear the stories, the myths, and the fables. Why is it more interesting for someone to stand up and tell stories about personal life experiences than it is to hear what the living God has to say? Paul says to reprove them severely so that they don't do these things.

17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

Peter says that they speak with an experiential knowledge of Christ. He was there and he heard the voice of God. What Peter says next is amazing.

19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,

βεβαίωσις – Confirmation – Verification
λόγος – Words or statements from the OT prophets, the Old Testament Scriptures.
ποιέω – Perform, give attention – Present active – You will do well to give attention and continue to do so. Do not stop giving attention to…

Peter is saying "You can have full confidence in the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ for two reasons: first, because of our experience on the Mount of Transfiguration, and second, because we have the prophetic word made more sure."

Peter, however, has more in mind than just accepting his personal testimony. He points his readers to the prophetic sections of the Scripture which told of the coming Messiah. The real power of the Old Testament is its ability to project the coming of Christ in such detail that there is no doubt about His Deity and Person. Peter is telling his readers that Scripture is superior to personal experience. It may well be that Peter was alluding to the entire Old Testament when he used the phrase "word of prophecy". Peter is leaving no doubt in anybody's mind that he believes in the superior authority of Scripture.

Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

In the dark you can say anything and be anybody. But when the light is turned on you are exposed to who you really are. That is what the word of God does. It is a lamp, a light in the midst of darkness.

The “World” is pictured as dark.

1 John 1:5: 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Ephesians 6:12 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.

One point should be made. People have their favorite translation of the Scriptures today, and there is entirely too much argument about which is the best. This verse should be a grave warning to all those who take on the task of translation, especially those who use the pages of the Scripture Itself for their own comments; but it should serve as a warning to those who choose certain translations to prove their point of theology. Some of the modern “paraphrases” are most dangerous at this point. While they may help in understanding some of the more difficult verses, they are not faithful enough to the original language of the Bible to be used for proof texts.

Let us look at one of the passages for instance.

The King James Version of I Corinthians 2:9 says, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

The New International Version says, “However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”--

The American Standard Version reads, “but as it is written, `Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, And[ which] entered not into the heart of man, Whatsoever things God prepared for them that love him.'”

The Revised Standard Version has it, “But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,”

Now let us look at one of the “Paraphrases”, The Living Bible. It has, for the same verse of Scripture, “That is what is meant by the Scriptures which say that no mere man has ever seen, heard or even imagined what wonderful things God has ready for those who love the Lord.”

Notice the word WONDERFUL inserted into the verse. While this may strike a chord on the heart of many of the readers, it is very inaccurate. Such a word does not appear in either the Greek New Testament or the Hebrew Old Testament passage of Isaiah 64:4, from which Paul quotes it. The reason for seeking accuracy when formulating doctrine is that, as far as this passage is concerned, God has prepared many things for his people which are hurtful and painful, but in the long run give God Glory. Every truly regenerated Child of God willingly accepts those “bad” experiences God has in store for him in order that he might either grow in God's Grace or be useful in bringing God Glory. I rest my case.

21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Φέρω - carried along - from the word φέρομαι.

Luke used this word in referring to a sailing vessel carried along by the wind (Acts 27:15, 17).

The inspiration of Scripture was given by God Himself. Peter also notes that God set aside certain men, chosen by His Sovereign Will, to speak and have set down in writing as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. We have here one of the glimpses of the ministry of God's Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. In some cases the Scripture was dictated by the Holy Spirit, as in the case of the Law given to Moses and the Prophetical books. In other cases the man spoke and wrote as he saw the need for the Word of God in a particular situation. In others it was God being in control of an historian chronicling the events of Hebrew history, as in the case of 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles. In every case, God was in complete control of the Record God wished to reach the people.


Peter moves from recounting his own personal experience with hearing the testimony of God to the written testimony of Scripture. In so doing he subordinates himself to the written Word and gives to It the supreme authority of God's Revelation to mankind. It is of extreme importance that we recognize this and constantly reach for, through study and prayer, the interpretation and application which God wants in each particular instance. It must be said, however, that the right interpretation will always agree, and the right application may well vary. There is only one correct interpretation, the interpretation which God has for the Scripture. Any disagreement means that either all are wrong or one is right, all varying opinions cannot possibly be correct. The application is something else altogether. The application meets the need which God wants for any given situation and may vary with the situation. It cannot be stressed too strongly that people need to be able to differentiate between that which is interpretation and that which is application, or else grave errors will be made.

“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles,