Categories
Bible Thought

Social Ethics – Biblical Principles for Making Decisions

Biblical Principles of Social Ethics

I took a class in college many years ago called Social Ethics. The premise of the course was to show how to make proper biblical decisions and avoid improper decision-making models. Most students seemed to enjoy the class probably because it required us to stretch our thinking on how to make our own decisions. It was a time we were looking to break away from our parents and push forward into a life of our own. There were many decisions to be made during those college years.

In the class we were taught ethical principles that I have personally used for over 20 years to help me make decisions on what is right and wrong in various situations. Most doubts can be resolved with these six principles. But the Bible has many principles that you can use to help you make decisions. The six principles mentioned here are examples of how you can look for other principles in the Bible.

Social Ethics Defined

Social ethics are the set of rules—often unwritten—that are accepted by a society on what is and is not appropriate. These are not laws to be obeyed, rather they are principles to be applied to different situations to help you make a proper decision based on what society deems appropriate. As we look at ethics in several related posts here, I will be talking about ethics in a biblical frame of mind. Therefore, the society that makes up the set of societal rules in this context will be the body of scripture as given by God.

Different societies, cultures and countries have their own set of ethical principles. What is acceptable in one place is taboo in another. Since God wrote His Word to teach us throughout time and history, it is a book full of principles that can be applied in any time or place. Therefore, biblical principles of decision making can be applied in all societies and time periods.

The Decision-Making Process

First we should look to God’s Word to see if there is an absolute law stating what is and is not acceptable. A good example is the Ten Commandments. God tells us what we should and should not do in cases of murder, lying, theft, etc. When God has written a law, it should be obeyed.

However, out of necessity, the Bible is a book of principles instead of a list of laws. It would not make sense to anyone until the start of the 20th century to have a catalog of laws about automobile driving rules in the Bible. But the Bible has principles that can be applied when driving a camel, a car or a rocket ship. Sometimes people will justify something as being acceptable by God because He did not write a specific prohibition of their chosen sin in the Bible. Taking a few minutes to look at biblical principles and applying them to the questions at hand would show the person that what they want to do may be wrong.

To start your decision-making process there are two things you should note:

  • God’s laws are to be obeyed.
  • God’s principles are to be applied.

One of the biggest mistakes a person can make is to apply ethical principles to that which God has already prohibited in His Word. It causes confusion when you try to use these principles to justify something that God already prohibits.

The Six Principles

There will be a series of posts which discusses each of these principles in detail. My fear is that you will only look at the principle and the question which helps you apply it without reading the full discussion and application of the principle. Please take the time to see how to properly think through the principle and what the biblical basis for the principle is.

Why Apply the Principles?

Learning to live by principles is a mark of spiritual maturity. Not applying God’s principles of social ethics is a sin as much as breaking one of God’s laws (Romans 14:21, 23; James 4:17; I Corinthians 8:12).

There are many non-biblical ethical models as well. They all break down and are not easily applied in every situation. This is because they are based on man’s wisdom at the time and place the ethical model is devised. At a later time in history those models no longer work because the social ethics of the world has moved to something new.

Learning and applying these six principles of biblical social ethics will help you as you seek to grow spiritually in your Christian walk.

Categories
Bible Reading

Bible Study: 2 Chronicles – Summary of the Book

Summary of the Book of 2 Chronicles

Originally the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles were a single book. Like the books of Kings, this is a historical book. The Kings focused on the northern kingdom, Israel, and this book (1 and 2 Chronicles) focuses on the southern kingdom, Judah.

The second of the two books of Chronicles cover the same time period as the two books of Kings. This is a time period of about 424 years, from the time of Solomon’s reign until Cyrus’ decree to rebuild Jerusalem. Approximately from 960 to 536 BC.

Author of 2 Chronicles

The author of 2 Chronicles is the same as 1 Chronicles:

The book does not claim an author, but tradition says that the author was Ezra. Ezra was a priest in the southern kingdom who lived in Jerusalem (Ezra 7:11). The books of Chronicles focus on temple worship, priests and Levites. This fits with the fact that Ezra was a priest. The writing style is very similar to Ezra, who wrote the book bearing his name. The two books of Chronicles are historical books which go up to the time period of the book of Ezra. The book of Ezra reads like a continuation of the book of 2 Chronicles.

Date Written

The author, probably Ezra, wrote it after the Jews had returned to the land after the Babylonian Captivity (1 Chronicles 3:19; 6:15; 9:1, 2). The book is a guide to those returning from exile to know how to worship in the Temple of Jerusalem. It was written between 450 and 425 BC and covers approximately 424 years.

Categories
Bible Thought

Share Your Christian Testimony

One of the greatest witnessing tools available to anyone is their own Christian testimony. Telling other people your own story of how you understood your need for salvation is a powerful means to witness to others around you. This does not mean that you should avoid telling them what the Bible says, but giving a clear example through your life of how God can save and change a person is a great first step in bringing someone to the Lord.

If you have not shared your testimony with others before, let me encourage you to write it out. Writing your Christian testimony will help you hone in on what is important in your story and what is not. Preparing your testimony on paper will give you a confidence that will help you when you stand before a group or share with an individual.

As a powerful witnessing tool, your testimony should simply share with the listener (or reader) the basic elements of salvation. Here are some questions that will help you think through the basics of what each testimony should include.

  • How did God reveal to you that you were a sinner?
  • Once you understood your condition before God, how did God begin to show you His love?
  • With an understanding of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, what were the next steps you took to accept His salvation?
  • Did God use one person or event to show you your need, or were there several people over time that God brought into your life?
  • What were some of the events surrounding your salvation? Were you in a church? At a park?
  • Do you have any stories that illustrate how God made Himself known to you?

Now that you have your testimony written down, you need to look for opportunities to tell others. Often people will give their testimony for the first time at a church meeting.  When going on a mission trip the individuals in the group are usually asked to share their testimony with others in the group or on the field where they are visiting. These are great opportunities to tell others what God has done for you. You are surrounded by friends who want to know more about God’s leading in your life.

Your friends and co-workers may be the first ones who see that there has been a change in your life. You might find it easy to tell them about the Lord because they are already curious. However, telling strangers about your salvation may seem a little awkward. Just remember the last time you got involved in a conversation with someone you had previously never met. Did you talk about the weather? Your favorite baseball team? We usually talk about things that are going on around us. Use that as an opportunity to steer the conversation so you can tell what God has done for you.

Be careful to avoid “church words.” These are the words and phrases we become accustomed to in the church, but the world has no idea what they mean. Remember each time you give your testimony that there may be someone in the audience who is unsaved. This is true even if you are telling your story in church. Keep your words easy to understand.

  • What is a sinner?
  • What does it mean to repent?
  • You were convicted?! Of what crime?

Try to use normal vocabulary. Not everyone has the same background and experiences you have. Take time to answer any questions that come up about the Lord. Not everyone will get saved the first time they have the Gospel presented to them. It is our privilege to tell others about our salvation, it is God’s responsibility to draw them to Himself.

Reading books like Ray Comfort’s God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life or Charles Ryrie’s book, So Great Salvation, will help you understand your own salvation in a clearer way. These books can help you define, in simple terms, what salvation means to your friends.

Sharing your Christian testimony is important. By writing it out and sharing it with your friends, you will soon become bold enough to tell complete strangers about your Savior.

Categories
Bible Thought

Deuteronomy: Is It A Neglected Book?

I am reading through the book of Deuteronomy and notice that in my notes it is a book that I tend to skip over (I keep a record of how many times I have read each chapter in my Bible). Apparently it is one of those books that I neglect more than I should.

However, I am actually a little surprised by this revelation. When I flip through my Bible I have lots of verses in Deuteronomy underlined. I also have notes in the margin of what God has taught me while reading through the book. If I didn’t know how many times I had read the book in comparison to the rest of my Bible, I would have said that it looks as equally used as any other book.

The book of Deuteronomy is filled with great verses that you probably know if you have been in church any length of time. It is not an obscure book. It is quoted from many times in the New Testament.

Following are a few verses from a 5 chapter span of the book that you probably already know or are familiar with.

Deuteronomy 6:5 “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”

Deuteronomy 8:3b “…that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.”

Deuteronomy 10:12, 13 “And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?”

Deuteronomy 11:18-20 “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:”

Deuteronomy 11:26-28 “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.”

The book is made up of four sermons preached by Moses to the people of Israel before they finally entered into the Promised Land. These are the sons and daughters of the men and women who came out of Egypt. Much of the book is a re-telling of the history of Israel so that the current generation would know how God had led them in the past. Chapter 5 is a complete restatement of the the Ten Commandments.

What about your copy of Deuteronomy? Has it been neglected for too long? Take some time to read the Word of God as told through the mouth of Moses in the book of Deuteronomy.

Categories
Bible Reading

Bible Study: 1 Chronicles – Summary of the Book

Summary of the Book of 1 Chronicles

The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles were originally one book. Like the books of Kings, this is a historical book. However, the books of Kings focused on the northern kingdom, Israel, and this book focuses on the southern kingdom, Judah.

The two books of Chronicles cover about the same time period as 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings. For 1 Chronicles this is approximately 1000 to 960 BC. It includes the end of Saul’s reign and takes the reader up to the beginning of the reign of Solomon.

Author of 1 Chronicles

The book does not claim an author, but tradition says that the author was Ezra. Ezra was a priest in the southern kingdom who lived in Jerusalem (Ezra 7:11). The books of Chronicles focus on temple worship, priests and Levites. This fits with the fact that Ezra was a priest. The writing style is very similar to Ezra, who wrote the book bearing his name. The two books of Chronicles are historical books which go up to the time period of the book of Ezra. The book of Ezra reads like a continuation of the book of 2 Chronicles.

Date Written

The author of the book wrote it after the end of the Babylonian Captivity (1 Chronicles 3:19; 6:15; 9:1, 2). The book seems to be a guide to those returning from exile to know how to worship in the rebuilt city of Jerusalem. It was written between 450 and 425 BC. The book of 1 Chronicles covers just 40 years while 2 Chronicles is approximately 424 years.