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Zacharias’ Prophecy

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by Pastor Mark Perkins, Front Range Bible Church, Denver, Colorado, USA

Luke 1:67-69. And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us; to show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to Abraham our father, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His way; to give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.;”

Zacharias concentrates on the cross first. Zacharias realized the need for salvation, and that it had to come before any national independence or prosperity.

Then he talks of national freedom from oppression. He calls to mind the covenant of God, the Abrahamic covenant. He brings up the fact that peace gives one the opportunity to concentrate on God all the more.

John is the one who will prepare the way for the savior, to make smooth the path for him. He is to get people to the point where they can handle the ministry of our Lord.

Christ’s ministry will be hard to swallow, because it is about a personal redemption that requires humility. The people of Israel wanted national redemption without the sacrifice of individual pride. John will preach the message of salvation and forgiveness of sins.

Zacharias concentrates on the mercy of God, because Christ is the visible manifestation of mercy to all mankind. The Sunrise from on high is a term that is used to denote the resurrected status of Jesus Christ.

  • anatole means sunrise in the sense of the rising again of the sun in the east. ana is a preposition which means both up and again.
  • When you add the term from on high, it is obvious that this is God.
  • So, Zacharias looks forward to the manifest mercy of God in the person and work of Jesus Christ, especially concentrating on the resurrection.

The sunrise shines upon those who are in darkness and the shadow of death.

  • Darkness refers to the cosmic system of Satan his design to prevent us from believing in Christ, and to destroy our relationship with God.
  • The shadow of death refers to physical death. The light guides us into the way of peace (prosperity).

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The importance of the doctrine of Circumcision in Church Age teaching.

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One of the first acts of circumcision in the human race involved Abraham.

Genesis 17:6-11

And I will make thee exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

This initial act of circumcision was the seal of Abraham’s faith in God’s promise of possessing the land. It was the indication that Abraham believed God’s word. Abraham separated himself unto the Lord and to the Lord’s promise.

Circumcision is, therefore, a sign of regeneration for the Jews. It was to the born again Jew what water baptism is to the born-again believer in the Church Age, a sign.

Circumcision is also used by God as a teaching mechanism, a visual aid to provide a picture of regeneration by faith. The circumcision of male children on the 8th day was an act of dedication by the parents. By this means they declared that they would teach salvation by faith to their children. They anticipated that their children would become believers.

Col. 2:11-13

In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.

Circumcision is also a picture of positional truth, especially the identification with Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.

There can be no victory in the Christian way of life without victory over the old life, over the sin nature. This is the application of positional truth to experience.

The Lord also used circumcision as a picture of Israel’s restoration to fellowship and service.

READ Joshua 5:1-9

This restoration, by faith, was necessary for the victory the Israelites were about to experience (Jericho) and for the time of rest they were about to enter. There can be no victory over Canaan until there is victory over carnality (Egypt). Circumcision denotes separation from the world and the flesh, self-judgment, yieldedness, dedication, commitment.

Romans 4:9-13

Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.

How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.

And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

Circumcision is a sign of imputed righteousness; it is the sign that one has believed and is cleansed by the blood of Christ and has God’s Righteousness credited to his account. Gen. 15:6; 2 Cor. 5:21.

The true significance of circumcision was not in the physical act being perpetuated but in the reasons the ritual was begun in the first place. Circumcision was a sign that something had already taken place, namely, Abraham’s salvation.

Circumcision was also a seal. A seal indicates the validity of the thing to which it is attached. It has no significance apart from that which it covers. Circumcision was a seal attached to something valuable, salvation.

During the Church Age, water baptism is the outward sign of an inward faith. Circumcision was the outward sign for the Jews before the Church Age.

Religious Jews tried to make the seal valuable in itself. They attached spiritual value to the act of circumcision, ignoring the substance. They contended that circumcision was needed for salvation, which led to the formation of a ritualistic religion.

Abraham was saved by faith, long before he was circumcised. He is, therefore, the “father of all who believe” because he is the pattern of those who were saved in status quo uncircumcision, whether Jew or Gentile.

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Gnosticism and the Colossian Heresy

Introduction 1

[Please read the Epistle to the Colossians before continuing with this study.]

The doctrine of the Person of Christ is stated in Colossians with greater precision and fullness than in any other epistle of Paul.

The Colossian heresy, in its attack upon the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, made it imperative that it be met with such precise and complete doctrinal teaching as would successfully cope with the false teachings of these systems. A full understanding of the implications of the truth in Colossians stems from an acquaintance with this heresy.

The Colossian heresy is composed of two elements, either as taught separately by different people, or fused into one idea structure containing elements of legalistic Judaism and ascetic oriental Gnosticism.

Paul’s mention of Sabbaths, new moons, distinctions between meats and drinks, circumcision – all point to the element of Judaism in the heresy. His references to self-imposed humility, service and worship of angels, hard treatment of the body, and a superior wisdom, indicate that he is dealing with a Gnostic element.

Paul does not define these heresies. We are inferring the questions by examination of the answers that he provides. Neither is there any evidence that he is addressing two different groups; but it is generally agreed that many Christians at Colosse were being taught false doctrine that was based on these two major heresies.


A Gnostic is a person who considers himself as having “knowledge” beyond that which the ordinary person has. He thinks of himself as a member of an intellectual elite, one of the few who set themselves above all others as possessing a superior knowledge.

The ancient oriental philosophy, or religion, of Gnosticism was concerned mainly with two questions.

  1. First, how can the work of creation be explained?
  2. Second, How are we to account for the existence of evil in the universe.

So, the problem posed was, “How can one reconcile the creation of the world and the existence of evil with the conception of God as a being who is absolutely holy?”

The Gnostic argued as follows

If God had created the universe out of nothing, and evolved it directly from Himself, that holy God could not have brought an evil universe into existence. Otherwise, one is drive to the inescapable conclusion that God created evil, which is impossible because He is holy.

But, the fact of an evil universe remained. So the Gnostic explains this with the theory that God must have limited Himself in some was in the act of creation.

There must have been some evolution, some emanation from God, a germination. This first “germination” evolved a second, which introduced a third, and so on. The more numerous the various stages of these creative emanations from God, the more feeble became their deity, until the divine element became so diffused that contact with matter was possible.

Now – matter was conceived to be that in which evil resided. The Gnostic postulated the theory of some antagonistic principle, independent of God, by which His creative energy was thwarted and limited. Thus, evil is seen to be resident in the material universe.

So their reasoning is, the gap between a holy Creator, God, and matter is bridged by these emanations. In this way the Gnostic brushes aside the intermediate agency of creation, namely the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:3) and the fact that God put a curse on the perfect creation because of sin (Rom. 8:20).

From these philosophical speculations, two opposing codes of ethics emerged, a rigid asceticism and an unrestrained license. The problem confronting the religious Gnostic was – since matter is evil, how can one avoid its terrible influence and keep his higher nature pure?

According to one group, the solution was to hold to a rigid asceticism. All contact with matter should be reduced to an absolute minimum. The material part of man should be reduced by subduing and mortifying. One should live on a spare diet and refrain from marriage. Eating animals was forbidden. The anointing of the body with olive oil was prohibited.

Other Gnostics, however, felt that even such strict denial of the body would produce slight and inadequate results. The argued that matter is everywhere and that, no matter how careful you are, you can avoid contact with it.

Therefore, one should cultivate an indifference to the world of matter and sensation. One should follow his own impulses without giving matter any thought one way or the other. Further, this group argues, the ascetic elevates matter to a higher place that it deserves, by pacing such great importance on abstinence. Thus he fails to assert his independence to is. The true rule of life is to treat matter as foreign and alien to one, and as something towards which one has no duties or obligations, and which one can use or leave unused as one likes. This philosophy, or course, led to unbridled license.

Gnosticism had no connection with Christianity directly. The professing Christian church was, however, influenced by Jewish Essenes, who were mystics, members of a secret brotherhood, and characterized by the same sort of severe asceticism that Gnostics practiced, in their rigorous observance of Mosaic ritual. They would not light a fire, move a vessel, or perform other ordinary functions; some even stayed in bed as much as possible.

Essenes held the name of Moses in reverence, and blasphemy was punishable by death. Marriage was an abomination; the adopted children. Those who accepted marriage as necessary regarded it, nevertheless, as evil. They lived for prayer and religious exercises.

Believing that matter is evil, they did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, but believed in the continuance of the soul after life. They rejected blood sacrifices of the Jews (in spite of Moses) and sent offerings of vegetables to the temple. They place angels in the category of things to be worshipped, and prided themselves on their secret documents and teachings.

These, then, are the anti-Christian doctrines and practices that were creeping into the church at Colosse. Paul’s letter was written to combat these things.

  1. Intellectual exclusivism VS the universality of Gospel teaching
  2. Hidden mysteries and secret ritual VS the knowledge of God in Christ
  3. Some men perfect through knowledge VS every man perfect in Christ.
  4. Divine emanations and angels who were mediators in creation VS Jesus Christ as Creator
  5. A distributed divine essence (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) VS the divine essence is totally in Christ Jesus.

The Essenes 2

The Essenes were a Jewish religious community which was first mentioned in history in the writings of Josephus (Antiquities, XIII, 5, 9), who mentions them as flourishing in the time of Jonathan Maccabaeus, in about 150 B.C., where he speaks of Judas, an Essene.

The Essenes are not mentioned directly in the Bible. However, it is thought that Matt. 19:11,12 and Col. 2:8 and 18 include indirect references to Essenes. In any case, the Essenes disappeared from history after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

The Essenes were an extremely ascetic group of men in Palestine and Syria, and they are thought to have formed the first cells of organized monasticism in the Mediterranean world, setting the pattern for the various holy orders which proliferated during and after the time of Christ. It is still not clear whether the Essenes proceeded from some sect of Judaism or whether elements of Greek and other foreign philosophies had an influence in their origin. Their main colonies were near the northern end of the Dead Sea and around the town of Engedi. The study of the Dead Sea Scrolls has produced a considerable body of knowledge of the early Christian sects; and the Essenes may have been the group which produced the scrolls. The bibliography of this article provides references for further study.

Essene Organization

The community of the Essenes was organized as a single body, with a president at the head. The members had to obey the president unconditionally. A man who wanted to join the order was given three articles: a pickax, an apron, and a white garment. After a year’s probation, during which he was observed continuously, he was admitted to the second stage of his probation period. Another two years passed, after which the successful candidate was admitted as a full member and allowed to participate in the common meals. He was required to take a terrible oath, in which he swore to be absolutely open to the brethren and to keep secret the doctrines of the order, under pain of excommunication.

Children were instructed in the principles of Essenism; and Josephus says that the Essenes were divided into four classes. The children formed the first class, the first and second stages of novices were the next classes, and the fourth class were the full members.

Essene Discipline

Discipline was carried out by trial, and guilt was never decided unless at least one hundred members voted for it. After that, the decision was unalterable. The usual punishment was excommunication, often amounting to a slow death, since an Essene could not take food prepared by strangers, for fear of pollution.

The strongest tie between members was the absolute community of goods. Those who came into the order had to give all they had to stewards who were appointed to take care of their common affairs. There was one purse for all, and all members had expenses, clothing, and food in common. Those who were needy, such as the aged and infirm, were cared for at the common expense; and special officers were assigned in each town to take care of traveling brethren.

Essene Ethics and Customs

The daily labor of the members was strictly regulated. After group prayer, the members were dismissed to work by their president. They reassembled later for purifying washings and the common meal. They went to work again for the afternoon and gathered again for the evening meal. The chief employment was agriculture, and there were crafts of every kind. Trading, however, was forbidden; it was thought to lead to covetousness. It was also forbidden to make weapons or any utensils or tools that might injure men.

According to Josephus and other historians, the Essenes’ life was simple and unpretentious. They did not marry, but other people sent their children to them for training and admission to the order. They only ate enough to stay healthy; and they were content to eat the same food day after day. They felt that great expense was harmful to mind and body; and they did not throw any clothes or shoes away until they were completely worn out. They only acquired for themselves the minimum required to maintain life.

The following special customs were observed by the Essenes:

  • They had no slaves; all were free, mutually working for each other.
  • Swearing oaths was forbidden as worse than perjury; “for that which does not deserve belief without an appeal to God is already condemned.”
  • The forbade anointing the body with oil or perfumes, because they thought that having a rough exterior was praiseworthy.
  • It was compulsory to bathe in cold water before meals, after the functions of nature, and after coming into contact with lower Essene classes or strangers.
  • They wore white clothing all the time.
  • They required great modesty. In performing natural functions they dug a foot-deep hole with their pickax, which they always carried, covered themselves with a mantle (so as not to offend God), and covered the hole when they were finished. While bathing, they tied the ever-present apron around their loins.
  • They sent gifts of incense to the temple, but they did not offer animal sacrifices because they thought their own sacrifices were more valuable.
  • Their common meals had many characteristics of sacrificial feasts. The food was prepared by priests with the observance of certain rites of purification; and an Essene could not eat any food but this.

Essene Theology

The Essene theology was basically Jewish, with an absolute belief in God. Next to God, the name of Moses the lawgiver was an object of great reverence, and whoever blasphemed either God or Moses was sentenced to death. In their worship, the Scriptures were read and explained. The Sabbath was so strictly observed they did not even move vessels or perform the functions of nature. Their priesthood closely paralleled the Aaronic priesthood.

They had a strong belief in angels and revered them highly. Novices had to swear to preserve the names of the angels.

Concerning their doctrines of the soul and of immortality, Josephus writes: “They taught that bodies are perishable, but souls immortal, and that the souls dwelt originally in the eternal ether, but being debased by sensual pleasures united themselves with bodies as if with prisons. But when they are freed from the fetters of sense, they will joyfully soar on high as if delivered from long bondage. To the good souls is appointed a life beyond the ocean, where they are troubled by neither rain nor snow nor heat, but where the gentle zephyr is ever blowing…But to the bad souls is appointed a dark, cold region full of unceasing torment.”

The Essenes had peculiar conduct with respect to the sun. They turned to the sun while prayer, in contrast to the Jewish custom of turning toward the temple.

Essenism seems to have been Pharisaism in the highest degree. It was, however, influenced by foreign systems of theology and philosophy, including possibly Buddhism, Parseeism, Syrian heathenism, and Pythagoreanism.

1 This article is taken largely from Bishop J. B. Lightfoot, Epistle to the Colossians.

2 Bibliography of the section on the Essenes.

Josephus, Antiquities, xviii,1,5; Wars, II,8,2

Schuerer, Jewish People, Vol. II

Edersheim, Life and Times of the Jesus the Messiah,

Brownlee, W.H., “A Comparison of the Covenanters of the Dead Sea Scrolls with Pre-Christian Jewish Sects”, in The Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. XIII, Sept. 1950, pp. 50-72.

Unger, Merrill F., Unger’s Bible Handbook

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Why study Grace Notes material at all?

This is a valid question!  Everybody it seems has packed schedule.  This post falls in the category of “FAQ” regarding Grace Notes. We already have discussed in previous articles that we do not wish to compete either your “church” or your local pastor: they both have special place in God’s economy.  See the following Grace Notes articles for more information:

What we do claim, however, that there is a future benefit in learning God’s Word today. Grace Notes lessons are an ideal way to dig deeper into God’s Word to build life’s most important foundation.  The truth is that we don’t know what tomorrow has in store for us; consequently, its best to continually be in the Word (See GN article “Occupation with Christ”).  Luke 6:46-49 presents the positive results when a firm foundation, base on Biblical doctrine, is planned and executed today.  The passage also presents the consequences of a shaky foundation based on earthly wisdom.  The later resembling a gambler that hedges his bets, “plays the odds”, etc. regarding future events. Waiting for tomorrow may be too late!

I heard a sermon where the pastor stated the “someday” is not on the calendar.  This is why things don’t happen when  scheduled for “someday.” We encourage you to use Grace Notes material today to lay down a solid foundation that is not based on the wisdom of this world.

I have include the Grace Notes lesson for Luke 6:46-9.

How do we Determine what is on the Inside?
Luke 6:46
And why do you call Me, Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?
Here is the contradiction and the hypocrisy.
To call, καλεω (which puts emphasis on the content of the title) Jesus Christ Lord, Lord and yet not obey His is a contradiction. What does it mean to obey Jesus Christ –

John 3:36, He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

In the context of this message the Lord did say something very specific to them in verse 27:
But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.

John 6: 27-29, Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give to you, for on Him the Father, even God, has set His seal.
They said therefore to Him, What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?
Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.

So doing what the Lord says in this context is to love your enemies.
This is only possible in the power of God which comes when we obey the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and believe in Him. And that is the issue in the next verse.

Luke 6:47
Everyone who comes to Me, and hears My words, and acts upon them, I will show you whom he is like.

Three things mentioned in this verse and one conclusion.
Comes to me.
Hears my words.
Acts upon them.
The conclusion that describes this type of man.
I will show you whom he is like
And what he is like is like the one described in the next verse
The Parable of the Two Foundations.
There is no question that the ROCK in this parable is the Rock of Ages, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now as we search this word through the New Testament we can find who the foundation is, who lays the foundation, and what comprises the foundation.

1 Corinthians 3:10-11, According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it.
For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:19-20, So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone.

The apostles and prophets have laid the foundation. The building blocks are you your hands, the Bible, the writings of faithful men of God were inspired by the Holy Spirit to tell us about the grace of God.

Hebrews 6:1,2, Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings, and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

The foundation is made up of basic principles of the teaching of Christ which include an understanding that dead works do not work and that faith does work.
The rituals only point to a reality in Christ, and that we have escaped eternal judgment by way of the resurrection which is our assurance of security in Christ.
So Christ is the foundation, set by the apostles, and includes basic truths that will allows us to build upon the foundation a structure leading to maturity.

Luke 6:48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation upon the rock; and when a flood rose, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.

When we set the foundation of our faith on the Rock, Jesus Christ, we will not be washed away by the storms of life.

Luke 6:49
And this is what he is not like, in Matthew this man is the Foolish man.

But the one who has heard, and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house upon the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.

The RUIN is great because it is not expected.
The one who tries to build a spiritual life on the foundation of sand thinks he has something that will last, but it will not.
Adversity come, pressure comes, and that which man had set his life upon is found to be of no value, possessing no stability, indeed, great is the fall.
We must build our lives upon that which will last.
I am reminded of Paul’s words in Colossians.
Colossians 2:6, As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

The person who builds upon the sand, upon a foundation other than the Lord Jesus Christ and faith in Him makes two mistakes.
He wants to avoid toil.
The foundation of a building is not the fun part of construction. It is hard work to dig down to bed rock. Moving dirt, shoveling, back breaking work. It is just so much easier to build upon the sand.
In the same way it is so much easier to take our own way, to stick with human thinking, works that we can do, rather than rely by faith upon the grace of Jesus.
Grace is tough, at times it cuts through human viewpoint like a knife. It runs contrary to the logic of man. But it is God’s viewpoint and God’s divine viewpoint echoes the words of John the Baptist who is looking at Jesus Christ declared I must decrease and He must increase.
We are so self absorbed, so self involved, so self determined, so self centered – we avoid the toil of saying no to self and yes to the Savior.
Second mistake.
When we build upon the sand we are short sighted.
We never trouble ourselves to think what the outcome of our actions will be. The house built upon the sand may look good now. Maybe even better than the house built upon the rock. We save the time of digging a foundation, put more effort into the structure itself – but what will happen when the river rises.
When pressure comes? It will be washed away.
In every decision of life there is a short view and a long view. The short view ignores the destiny God has for us as His children. The short view ignore the eternity we will have with Christ. So often we do what we do in the light of the moment rather then in the light of eternity.
In our very lives and in the life of our church we are now building a house that will stand. And it has stood!
At times the river has risen to buffet what we are and what we are doing. At times the rising waters of adversity have looked like they would destroy what God has done – but we are here. We are a living testimony to what Jesus said to Peter 2000 years ago.
Matthew 16:18, And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hell shall not overpower it”

Dr. Daniel Hill, P. S., Bible Church. (n.d.). The Gospel of Lude – 1.

The Local Church

This article provides a collection of Bible references dealing with the basic attitude and activities which are present in a local church that is functioning as described in Ephesians 4:11-16.
Attitudes in the Local Church

  1. Love for one another: Rom. 13:8; 1 Thess. 3:11,12; 4:9,10; 2 Thess. 1:3; 1 Peter 1:22.
  2. Forbearance or relaxed tolerance toward others: Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:13.
  3. Acceptance or willingness to receive others into assembly: Rom. 15:7.
  4. An attitude which is neither judgmental or con-demning: Rom. 14:13; 1 Cor. 4:5; James 4:11,12
  5. Willingness to subordinate one’s own desires to the needs and interests of others: Phil. 2:3,4; 1 Pet. 5:5,6; Rom. 12:10.
  6. Genuine devotion toward one another as Fam-ily of God: Rom. 12:10.
  7. Harmony or rapport that transcends social bar-riers: Rom. 12:16-18; 14:19; James 2:1-4.
  8. Priority of unity within the congregations: Eph. 4:3,13; Col. 3:14.
  9. Forgiveness: Eph. 4:32.
  10. Encouraging one another: Heb. 3:12,13; 10:24; 1 Thess. 5:11; Rom. 15:4,5.

Activities in the Local Church

  1. Edifying one another: Eph. 4:29; 1 Thess. 5:11; Rom. 14:18-20; 15:1,2.
  2. Serving one another: Gal. 5:13.
  3. Being kind to one another: Eph. 4:32; 1 Peter 3:8,9.
  4. Showing hospitality: 1 Peter 4:9; 3 John 5-8.
  5. Partaking of the Communion: 1 Cor. 11:17-34; Acts 2:42-46.
  6. Admonishing one another: Rom. 15:14; 1 Cor. 4:14; 1 Thess. 5:14.
  7. Restoring carnal believers: Gal. 6:1.
  8. Praying for one another: James 5:16.

The Local Church’s Function as a Community of Believers

  1. Our relationship with God is described in fam-ily terms: Gal. 3:26; John 1:12,13.
  2. Christians are commanded to have a family-like devotion to one another: Rom. 12:10.
  3. The local church is called the household of God: 1 Tim. 3:15.
  4. Paul recommends to Timothy how to relate to others in the congregation: 1 Tim. 5:1,2
  5. Leadership qualifications include how well a man fulfills his family responsibilities: 1 Tim. 3:4,5,12.
  6. A woman’s role in the local church is described in the same terms as her role in the family: 1 Tim. 2:11-13; 1 Cor. 14:34-35.

Grace Notes is a ministry of Austin Bible Church, Austin, Texas
For an index of topics, or information about regu-lar Bible studies, write to:
Louis Roth  Grace Notes PO Box 515, Texas 78642

There is no charge for Grace Notes materials. The work is supported by Christians who pray for the ministry and share in the expenses.

Is Grace Notes a replacement for attending church?

Absolutely not!  We realize that some may erroneously decide they don’t have to “mess” with church if they stay home and do the lessons instead.  That was never the intent.  Grace Notes (GN)  feels that all Christians should have a home church where they have a pastor-teacher.  GN has a great article called “Pastor Teachers in the Church Age” which outlines the importance of this role in our times.   There are several major points which support this position:

“…the pastor/teacher has had bestowed upon him a spiritual gift that he does not deserve and cannot earn. The gift of pastor/teacher provides the individual with the talents and strength necessary to communicate the Word of God. The gift is given at the point of salvation and, as already stated, is not based on merit of any type. The gift is given by God the Holy Spirit, and it would be presumptuous to attempt to document His criteria for assigning the gift.”

I think we sometimes forget that God is involved in our church and the He is the one that decides who should do what.  He decides who should be in charge of the church governing authority (depending on your church bylaws, etc.), not man.

Next we tackle the question as to why the position exists at all:

“This brings up the next idea: Why does the position/gift of pastor/teacher exist? The answer is found in Ephesians 4:12,13, which say, “To prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” In other words, without a pastor/teacher, the saints cannot attain spiritual maturity. This is a remarkable and, to some, a shocking statement.”

“Now that we have the ‘why’ of the pastor/teacher, ‘how’ does the pastor/teacher perform this sensitive and vital function? The answer is found in Ephesians 4:20,21, which say, “You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.” In other words, the pastor/teacher is to teach what the Word of God says; only by doing this may the saints become spiritually mature. And this ‘teaching’ pre-supposes the spiritual gift of pastor/teacher, human maturity, education and scholarship, self-discipline manifested in good study habits, academic and spiritual honesty, and the courage to teach what Scripture says without being afraid of
insulting or offending the saints.”

“Thus, it may be seen that the pastor/teacher must be careful to stay within the bounds of the gift. This means not intruding on the spiritual privacy of the saints, not judging the saints, nor making private and personal decisions for the saints. This does not, however, preclude normal social and/or human intercourse such as friendship, interest, or
even love.”

“According to I Corinthians 12:11,28, pastor/teachers are provided the gift at the moment of salvation. ‘All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. 28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.'”

In light of these truths, GN never recommends our material as a substitute for being a part of a local church body.  Please read the topical article for more information.

See also the article “Church” on the page.

Grace Notes, what is it anyway?

When I describe Grace Notes, I get maybe one minute to catch a person’s interest… It is a self-paced way of thoroughly going through books of the Bible. It never replaces a church or pastor, but it does enhance your understanding of God’s Word. When I finished Unit 1 of the Grace Notes curriculum, it made such a positive difference in my teaching that I strongly recommend finishing Unit 1 for anybody who teaches Bible classes. Doing Grace Notes accelerates your learning so that an individual can be productive in communicating Bible truth. Ask yourself, how much difference in would occur in my life with this deep study of God’s Word. Concepts that occur throughout Scripture become obvious. Oral communication is always going to be limited as to what ideas can be developed fully. Written words are a much better vehicle for developing multiple concepts, linking multiple Scripture references, examining the important Greek or Hebrew words to determine if deeper ideas are present.

Grace Notes is suitable for Bible study in homes or large groups, and can be generally be used as commentary. Most important, they are free.

What makes Grace Notes Different

As I visit various churches to talk about Grace Notes and hand out business cards, I realize I have maybe a minute to catch the person’ interest.  The first thing I tell people is that it’s free!  You cannot buy anything on the  Then they relax.  Grace Notes is self-paced.  You never have to drop a lesson series because you fall behind.  This is no final date when everything is due.  Its your pace.

Grace Notes a very thorough way to study Scripture.  This is something I call the Grace Notes Advantage.  Here is a description from our website:

The Grace Notes curriculum has been developed specifically using four interrelated components of Bible instruction:

Bible Analysis (exegesis, hermeneutics, and exposition). The process of dissecting a passage of Scripture into its component parts (vocabulary, syntax, grammar) in order to learn as well as possible the meaning (interpretation) of passages. Grace Notes has Verse by verse expositional studies of 50 books of the Bible.

Topical Development (categorization). The process of determining the meaning of words and concepts found in a passage of scripture by searching the whole Bible for explanations and illustrations of the subject under study.

These include: Studies of categorical Bible doctrines regarding salvation, stability in the Christian way of life, and all phases of a Christian’s growth in Christ, Old Testament survey, New Testament survey, Life of Christ, Acts and Life/Epistles of Paul.

Historical Study (isagogics). The process of studying (1) the social history of the people and cultures in the context of the Bible passage, (2) the language history of the text as it was used colloquially in the time in which it was written, and (3) to learn how the text was applied to the people living in that time and place.

These studies include: Survey of Ancient History (early times to Byzantine Empire), Old Testament history and history of major mid-Eastern world powers – Egypt, Assyria, Sumer, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Hittites, Greece, Rome; History of Judea; History of the Jewish religion and practices; the Temple at the time of Christ; The Life and Times of Paul the Apostle

Correlation of Categorical Doctrine – This involves the gathering together of groups of related expositional and doctrinal studies that deal with specific areas of application.