A Summary of 1st and 2nd Kings

The books of 1st and 2nd Kings give us a glimpse into the nation and kingdom of Israel. As 1st and 2nd Samuel introduced us to the beginning of the monarchy by focusing on the lives of Saul and David, 1st and 2nd Kings is the continuing saga of the Israelites under the rule of the kings.

David’s son, Solomon, took the throne after David died. Early in the book of 1st Kings, we are introduced to Solomon and his reign. He began as a man who sought after God, much like his father. When offered riches, he chose wisdom instead. Solomon wrote many proverbs and songs, which we have some of those writings recorded for us in the Bible. However, the latter portion of his life is disappointing. He was led away by his many wives and concubines. He propagated idolatry because of those marriages. In many ways, Solomon becomes a picture of Israel—he began well, but turned away from God later in life. The nation of Israel also began well and was blessed during the reign of David and Solomon. However, later they would be divided and suffer unfaithfulness from her leaders and kings.

The reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon are known as the period of the united kingdom. After Solomon died, his son Rehoboam took the throne (1 Kings 12). After the beginning of his reign he acted foolishly and the kingdom was divided. Ten of the twelve tribes of Israel made up the northern kingdom of Israel; only two of the twelve tribes constituted the southern kingdom of Judah. It was the southern kingdom which maintained Jerusalem and the Davidic lineage.

During the divided kingdom, the people of God suffered. Israel never had a godly king; Judah had a few godly men lead them. Both kingdoms were influenced by the ungodly nations around them. So, God sent prophets to the kings to help them understand the need to repent and turn back to God. Elijah is the notable prophet in 1 Kings. He mentored Elisha to follow in his steps. Elisha becomes the notable prophet in 2 Kings. During the divided kingdom years, many prophets preached and wrote their proclamations—we have their messages presented to us in the major and minor prophets of the Old Testament.

The books of 1st and 2nd Kings weaves the story of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah. Israel suffered much for their sin, ungodliness, and idolatry. Their were political coos, conspiracies, upheaval, and bloody overthrow of power. Judah, while they had evil kings, was much more stable. God judged Israel for her sin and refusal to repent by allowing the Assyrians to capture them. Read 2 Kings 17 and you will get a sobering picture of why God judged them. The book of 2nd Kings ends with God’s judgment against Judah and the Babylonians coming in, exerting their authority against the children of Israel. Jerusalem was destroyed and they were judged for their iniquities and sins.

These books are a sobering reminder of how far sin will take us and how God will deal with sin, even among the people of God. We must not be deceived. We need to take the warnings seriously and determine we will obey God.

by Sean P. Cavender

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You Have Judged Correctly

Jesus proved why He is worthy of the title, “The Master Teacher,” when He helped listeners come to the right applications of His teachings. One occasion was when Jesus was with a Pharisee named Simon. A woman came into the man’s home, took a vial of perfume, anointed Jesus, and using her hair to clean Him (Luke 7:36-39). Simon began to harshly criticize Jesus, casting doubt about Him being a prophet and allowing that woman to touch Him. The woman was known for her sins. Jesus told a parable of a moneylender who had two debtors. One owed a great amount of money, but one owed a smaller amount. Neither of the debtors could pay the lender, so he graciously released both of
the debt. Then Jesus asked Simon, “which of them will love him more?” (Luke 7:42). Simon answered correctly—the one who owed the greatest amount would love the lender the most. Jesus said to Simon, “you have judged correctly.”

God communicates to us by telling us what He wants us to do. Other times He may show us through examples. Still, there are other times when God gives us all the necessary information and wants us to reach the truth by reason. Jesus led “the horse to water” — and Simon was able to deduce the correct answer. The facts are presented and the truth is “staring us in the face.”

Nicodemus had heard, and possibly seen, some of Jesus’ miracles and came to the conclusion He must be one sent from God (John 3:2). The Hebrew writer used scriptural and logical conclusions to recognize truth when he wrote, “for when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also,” (Hebrews 7:12).

Are these reasonable conclusions, or necessary inferences binding and to be treated as lawful in the church? Absolutely, they are!

Many passages indicate the early church met regularly (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Hebrews 10:24-25). In Acts 20:7, the church met on the first day of the week to partake of the Lord’s Supper. We can correctly, rightly, and necessarily infer the truth of the practice of the New Testament church—they met each first day of the week. Since every new week has a first day, the necessary inference is the church should each and every first day of the week.

In Acts 4:4, the Bible says many who heard Peter’s message believed and the number of the church increased to about 5,000 people. The Philippian jailer repented and was baptized (Acts 16:33) and the Scripture says he “believed in God” (Acts 16:34). Crispus “believed in the Lord” (Acts 18:8) and he did what many other Corinthians did—believed and was baptized! The believers in Acts 4:4 must have believed, repented (Acts 2:38; 16:33), confessed (Acts 8:37), and been baptized (Acts 2:38; 8:38; 16:33; 18:8) into Christ in order to be counted among the believers (Acts 4:4; 16:34; 18:8).

Recognizing necessary inferences is critical to understanding the Scripture. If we want to know and practice the truth, we must read, study, and search for critical facts that will lead us to the truth. When we do that, as Jesus would say, “you have judged correctly.”

by Sean P. Cavender

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General Authority and Expediency

In recent studies, we have noticed the binding nature and elements of approved examples. This is one of the ways which God expresses His will. We learn what God wants us to do by following and keeping these examples. We also noted that some aspects of these examples are merely incidental and not essential elements. Any discussion on biblical authority would be incomplete without understanding principles of general authority and specific authority.

When God specifies something that He wants in particular, then it is binding and approved. We are not free to change the command or pattern. God told Noah to build an ark of gopher wood (Genesis 6:14). By specifically and deliberately telling Noah what to use, all other types of wood were excluded. God gave the specific dimensions that He wanted Noah to use to build the ark. These were not to be changed by Noah or anyone else. The New Testament instructs Christians to sing (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Any other musical expression besides singing is an addition and change to God’s law; instrumental music is excluded and unauthorized.

However, when God told Noah to build an ark of gopher wood, He did not specify all the equipment that Noah might use. This introduces us to the realm of general authority—what God states generally, or when examples are general in their execution and application. In matters of general authority there are

some liberties and freedoms in how we obey the commands. For example, Noah was free to use a saw for cutting, some sort of tool to measure, a hammer, and scaffolding, etc. to help him in the construction of the ark. When Jesus told His disciples to go into all the world (Mark 16:15), He did not specify the way they were to go. Therefore, they were at liberty to go by sailing, walking, or chariot, etc. Today we might go by airplane, automobile, or use of media (Internet, TV, newspaper, radio).

The tools and aids which assist in fulfilling God’s expectations that He has authorized become expedients. They are the means by which we obey God. Expedients must be lawful, cannot be specified, must be helpful, and cannot change the nature of what has been authorized. Expedients may not be bound as law. If some action or means is specified and demonstrated in a pattern, then it is law and not an expedient. For example, when the New Testament refers to baptism, it is referring to baptism in water (Acts 8:38-39; 10:47).

In the New Testament, Christians assembled regularly: they met in a home (Acts 12:12; 1 Corinthians 16:19), in a school (Acts 19:9), and in an upper room (Acts 20:8). There was not one specified type of location where saints must assemble. Locations were incidental to God’s expectation of assembling. Therefore, we have liberty to choose what might be expedient and helpful to fulfilling the obligation to assemble for worship. Church buildings are expedient and helpful to obeying this command (cf. Hebrews 10:24-25).

We also read of baptisms occurring in the New Testament. Some of these baptisms occurred outside (Acts 8:36-39). Again, a location of where a baptism must take place is not specified nor required by God. Since many congregations today have church buildings, they also have baptisteries. The baptistery is an expedient; the type of baptistery is incidental in any discussion. Some local congregations do not own a building, nor do they use a baptistery. Immersion in water is required, but baptisteries are not required nor essential to baptizing a person in the name of Jesus Christ. Use of a tub, swimming pool, lake, pond, or river would be acceptable—as long as enough was water present to immerse the penitent believer.

Discernment, wisdom, and a good attitude must be held by all parties when considering some of the needs of the congregation and the best way to fulfill those needs. We must put other people’s thoughts and needs before our own (Philippians 2:3-4). Therefore, we must not be too exacting in forcing people to keep the expediencies we prefer. We ought to consider the thoughts of others and make an informed decision on what is appropriate and best for everyone at large. This is the nature of all decisions pertaining to the realm of general authority.

by Sean P. Cavender

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Determining The Binding Elements of An Example

We noted that examples are given in the New Testament and they are binding upon us today. The examples that are applied universally to various people in diverse locations and in many different circumstances are the examples that are binding. Throughout the book of Acts, for instance, we see numerous examples of conversion. In each of the examples, we noted they end in the believer submitting to baptism in water for the remission of sins. Therefore, it can be concluded that is a binding example and practice that we should keep today.

However, not all examples are binding—even apostolic examples! For example, the apostle Paul took a vow and cut his hair (Acts 18:18). We are not expected to keep the same vow and cut our hair if we want to be faithful Christians. So we must use discernment and understanding to ascertain which biblical, apostolic examples are approved by God. This means there may be some elements of Bible examples that are incidental to a particular situation and circumstance that are not binding upon us now.

An example is binding when:

1. The purpose and intent is clear—in relationship to baptism, the reason immersion in water is practiced is because it is for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).

2. The element of the example is binding—take the Lord’s Supper as an example. The elements of the Lord’s Supper are unleavened bread (Luke 22:7, 19) and fruit of the vine (Luke 22:18). Concerning

baptism, it must be immersion in water (Acts 10:47). Philip went down into the water with the eunuch (Acts 8:38), demonstrating there was enough water for it to be immersion—not simply sprinkling or pouring. No other elements in these examples were used and we are not at liberty to substitute anything else for them.

3. The subject of the example must be considered. When we read of a baptism in the New Testament it was of a believer (Mark 16:16; Acts 8:36-37; 16:30-31, 34). There is no example of babies, or unbelievers, baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus; only penitent believers were baptized in the New Testament.

4. Uniformity and similarities are also indicative of the binding nature of an approved example. Three thousand in Jerusalem were baptized (Acts 2:41), many people in Samaria were baptized (Acts 8:12), and Cornelius was baptized in Caesarea (Acts 10:47-48). There are similarities in each of the accounts, but they were all slightly different. However, they agree in the essentials—purpose, intent, elements, and subjects.

Even in these examples, where some elements are binding, there are specific details which are merely incidental to the purpose and nature of the example themselves. Consider: in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost when 3,000 were baptized, it was about 9AM (Acts 2:15), whereas the Philippian jailer was baptized at night (Acts 16:33); Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper at night (Mark 14:17), on a Thursday, and in an upper room (Mark 14:15). In Acts 20:7 Paul preached until midnight, but there is not a mandate that preachers continue preaching until midnight. (Aren’t you thankful for that?) While there are binding aspects to each of these examples, the time of day and location are incidental to the example and not binding. 

Cultural practices surrounding many of the examples are not binding either. For instance, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet in John 13. In a time when people traveled by foot, washing a guest’s feet was an accepted and common practice. This was not an ordinance given to be kept in the churches; it was an example of service, submission, and selflessness. Greeting one another with a kiss was another cultural aspect of welcoming guests and friends (Romans 16:16). We can learn to be kind- hearted, friendly, and hospitable to people today without greeting one another with a holy kiss. These were cultural customs that we can learn great lessons from, and are good examples, but the custom is not a binding example upon us today.

If there is any variation between approved, biblical examples then it must be an incidental; therefore, not binding. As noted above, the 3,000 were baptized during the daytime, but the jailer was baptized at night. Cornelius was likely baptized in his house (Acts 11:12; 10:47-48), whereas Lydia was likely baptized in a river (Acts 16:13, 15). May a person be baptized inside? Yes. May a person be baptized outside? Yes. Neither of these incidentals are binding requirements nor essential to keep.

In the Bible we read of the institution of the Lord’s Supper, where it was held at night in an upper room. That does not mean observing the Lord’s Supper in the morning is sinful. We never read of a person being baptized in a church building, much less a baptistery, in the New Testament. That does not invalidate a person’s baptism who was baptized inside a church building. A person who was baptized in a baptistery is just as much a Christian as the person who was baptized outdoors in a natural body of water. We must use discernment in understanding these examples and which aspects are binding.

Also, we must be aware that some details are given in some accounts, but those details might be missing in others. Remember, variations between examples are incidentals. Some details may be given in one account, but only generally stated in others. In Acts 8, for instance, the Scripture reports both Philip and the eunuch went into the water. This is the only example where it specifies anything about the actions of the one doing the baptizing. Other times, the only information we are given is they were baptized (Acts 18:8). With variation between accounts, or lack of information, we cannot bind what was not intended to be bound, since it is an incidental it is not a binding element.

Where there are incidentals, there is freedom and expediency. We must exercise wisdom in carrying out these examples, but we must also recognize the principles of freedom, liberty, and general authority. We do not have to build a two-story church building in order to keep the Lord’s Supper; it is not only baptisms that occurred in natural bodies of water that are genuine. Some elements are simply incidental to the persons involved and the details given in the examples. We must discern the binding aspects of each biblical example.

by Sean P. Cavender

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I Am Under Authority


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Benefits of Confession


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A Summary of 1st & 2nd Samuel

In the books 1st & 2nd Samuel, the reader comes to the conclusion of the period of the judges. Over a span of nearly 400 years, many different judges ruled the nation of Israel. These judges were deliverers for the nation after they had been enslaved by the Canaanites. Israel would cry out to God for deliverance and God would be gracious to them, saving them through the leadership of the judges. The time of the judges was a tumultuous period in Israel’s history. They did not have a king of their own and every man did what was right in his own sight.

The book of 1st Samuel transitions from the days of the judges to the establishment of the monarchy in Israel. Samuel was the last judge to rule in Israel and is considered to be the first prophet. The Israelites desired a king to rule over them so they might be like the other nations. They had denied the rule of God and selfishly desired to be like the Canaanite nations surrounding them.

God allowed Israel to have a king. Samuel anointed Saul to be the first king. Saul started out well, being a humble man (1 Samuel 9:21). However, pride, fear, and disobedience destroyed Saul. He acted without authority from God in offering a sacrifice (1 Samuel 13:13-14). Saul blatantly disobeyed God, not utterly destroying the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15). He became corrupt in his thinking and pride destroyed him (1 Samuel 15:17).

Since Saul acted wickedly, God chose another king to serve after him. This king would not be a descendant of Saul’s. The kingdom was removed from Saul’s family and would be given to a man after God’s own heart. This later caused Saul to act out of fear and cowardice towards Israel’s next king— David.

The latter half of 1st Samuel gives record of Saul chasing David, seeking to kill him. David found safe harbor in several different places, but was constantly on the move. He had a couple of opportunities to kill Saul, but David acted honorably and would not strike God’s anointed king. First Samuel ends with the Philistines fighting against Israel and killing King Saul. Second Samuel focuses on the life and rule of King David. He united Israel, conquered the foreign territories surrounding Israel and established the kingdom. God promised David one of his descendants would rule forever, establishing the throne of David (2 Samuel 7:16). This promise made to David was concerning the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.

We also read in 2nd Samuel of David’s shortcomings and failures which plagued him throughout the rest of his life. He committed adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11) and his own household became utter chaos. He dealt with rebellion from his own sons. However, David demonstrated his godliness and sincere desire to do what was right by repenting and being a strong leader by turning people to follow the Lord.

by Sean P. Cavender

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Are Examples Binding?

When discussing matters of the work, organization, and worship of the church, or the plan of salvation, our objective should be to establish biblical authority. Direct commands, approved apostolic examples, and unavoidable conclusions become the avenues by which we read and understand what the church should, or should not, be involved in.

It is incredibly hard to deny direct statements. When some teaching is directly stated or commanded, then it becomes undeniable. However, examples and implications/ inferences of Scripture are more subtle. We must exercise caution and examine carefully for what is an approved example, or a required and necessary implication.

Are examples binding? Yes, some examples are binding; not all examples are binding. Some approved examples are binding, but some examples may be permissive (for more on this, please be sure to look forward to next week’s article).

In the book of Acts we have many examples which show us how a person receives the forgiveness of sins and becomes a Christian. The 3,000 in Acts 2 were baptized “for the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 2:38, 41). The Samaritans were baptized and converted to the Lord (Acts 8:12), the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:36-38), Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:18), and Cornelius (Acts 10:47-48)—all of these were baptized to have their sins washed away (cf. Acts 22:16). Later in Acts Lydia and her household were baptized (Acts 16:15), a jailer from Philippi was also converted and baptized (Acts 16:33). The Corinthians and the Ephesians were baptized, as well (Acts 18:8; 19:5). We learn from so many examples there is an approved action that must take place in order to become a child of God—a person must submit to the Lord in baptism. Baptism was (and is still) a universal requirement.

What makes these examples binding? It was applied universally to various people in diverse locations and in several different circumstances. Specific details might be

different, but the principle and example of baptism is evident in each case.

In regards to the organization of the local church, in the New Testament, we read of only a plurality of elders. We never read of a congregation having a single elder, or pastor. Paul and Barnabas brought a collection to the elders of the church (Acts 11:30). Paul and Barnabas ordained elders in all the churches (Acts 14:23). Paul met with the elders of the church in Ephesus (Acts 20:17). He addressed the elders of the church at Philippi (Philippians 1:1). Paul told Titus to ordain elders in the churches (Titus 1:5). Churches are to be organized by the New Testament pattern and example—having a plurality of elders in the churches. There is no other example and no exception, so the example becomes binding.

Clearly, some apostolic examples are not binding on us today. Paul took a vow that involved cutting his hair (Acts 18:18). He traveled by boat (Acts 20:6), whereas, other preachers’ mode of travel is not specifically given (Acts 8:26-27). Paul went into the temple in Jerusalem and purified himself according to Jewish tradition (Acts 21:26). Peter sinned and acted hypocritically by not accepting Gentiles, even though he knew better (Galatians 2:11-14). Simply because an apostle did something, does not mean it was an approved action, nor are we expected to keep those examples.

How do we know when an example is approved and binding upon us? We will look at this question next week, Lord willing.

by Sean P. Cavender

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The One Baptism

The Bible subject of baptism is one that should not be neglected. It is an important subject because it relates to one’s personal salvation. In the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul states there is “one baptism” (Ephesians 4:4). What is this one baptism? Have I participated in that one baptism?

The one baptism that Paul refers to is the baptism in the name of Jesus Christ. In Acts 2:38, “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” There is salvation only through Jesus Christ and any baptism that is not authorized nor approved of by Christ is an invalid baptism.

Also, we must recognize the baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is for salvation. By submitting to the will of Christ in baptism we may receive the forgiveness of our sins. Ananias told Saul of Tarsus, “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His

name,” (Acts 22:16). When a person is baptized, they obtain the forgiveness of their personal sins and have them washed away. They are cleansed and become a new creature.

The one baptism is a burial in water. Paul describes it as a burial in Romans 6:3-6 and Colossians 2:12.

Baptism is a complete immersion in water (cf. Acts 10:47-48). When a person dies and is buried, they are put under the earth. When a person who is spiritually dead is buried in baptism, they are immersed in water, but they are raised to walk in newness of life!

The Scriptures also show the one baptism must be joined with belief. Jesus said, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved…” (Mark 16:16). Philip would baptize the eunuch only if he believed Christ was the Son of God (Acts 8:36-37). We must believe in Christ. We are not saved at the point of faith alone, but belief is enjoined with baptism. When a person believes and is baptized, they will be saved.

We must examine our heart, our lives, and our actions. If we have sinned, but have never believed in God and been obedient to Him in baptism, then we remain in our sins. There is a wonderful way to become a Christian—by being saved in the waters of baptism (1 Peter 3:21).

by Sean P. Cavender

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We Are Brothers

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