The goal of this bulletin is to keep you up to date with the International Bible Teaching ministry AND provide practical Bible study material through a report that you can read in 2-3 minutes.
11 February 2015

Hello from Atlanta! We've just flown in from Costa Rica. Over the weekend we presented six lessons centered around the theme of Unity in Christ. Specific classes were shared on marriage, parenting, communion, love, discipling, and evangelism. The classes were well attended. It was also a great opportunity to practice my Spanish. Sometimes I sound like an adult; at others I'm sure I must sound like a 5-year-old, violating grammar and making up crazy words.

After last week's newsletter, many of you wrote in, expressing appreciation for the lesson on Filthy Rags. Great! It's good to know the material is useful. This week we begin a 2-week series on Judging. It has been said that the most quoted Bible verse is no longer John 3:16. Now it's Matthew 7:1 -- "Judge not."

Actually I put this study together when we lived in Sweden, some 25 years ago. In any culture--whether liberal Sweden of 1990 or liberal America of 2015--thinking biblically demands that we come to terms with what the scriptures say about this important subject.

"Judge Not"?

The following material should be useful for anyone who has heard that we should never "judge." Certainly, a judgmental spirit is wrong and unbecoming of a believer, but this doesn't necessarily mean that all judging is wrong. Quite often, when someone pleads, "Judge not!", he's just being defensive. In fact, the Bible distinguishes a number of types of judging—some good, some bad. This week we will consider six types; next week we will take six more.

I. HYPOCRITICAL JUDGING (Matthew 7:1-5; Romans 2:1)
This is the kind of judging most people have in mind when they express the judgment that one shouldn't judge. Jesus tells us to get the log out of our own eye so that we can see clearly enough to help our brother. Clearly he expects us to do a certain amount of "judging”—but not hypocritically.

It is not unkind to judge who's open to the gospel message and who isn't. It's what is fairest to all—both to the person at hand as well as to others who may be seeking the Lord (7:7).

Get the facts, and know the scriptures. That is the only way to make a “right judgment.” The person who fails to make a right judgment will make poor decisions, and may even be duped by others more shrewd. The entire book of Proverbs exhorts us to this sort of practical wisdom.

The act of judgment itself is neutral. The usual Greek verb for judge or discern is krinein. It is not an inherently negative word. It means moving from premises to conclusions; assessing a situation; discerning; etc. As we will urge in the next chapter, we ought to think clearly about the claims of the various world religions; this is not in itself ungracious. In fact, Paul insists that the spiritual man makes all sorts of judgments (1 Corinthians 2:15). That is good.

We must all take a stand on the crucial issues, but it is wrong to judge others on the basis of peripheral matters or non-salvation issues. (In this case, the disputable matter concerns foods.) Of course the apostles expect us to accept the weaker brother, not necessarily to leave him in a state of ignorance or weak faith. Yet the Lord will hold all of us accountable for how we use our freedom of thought and expression, and there are many passages in the Bible reminding us of this truth.

VI. FINAL JUDGMENT (Romans 14:10-12; Acts 10:42)
This is God's prerogative, and his alone. Sentencing people to heaven or hell is "final judgment." Obviously, no human has the authority to send any other human being anywhere after death. Further, do not confuse judging in the sense of warning with judging in the sense of sentencing; they are different things.

To be continued...
Church History -- 12 lessons
Would you like to understand what happened to our spiritual brothers and sisters between the first century and the present? AIM (our biblical training program) will be offering a 6-Saturday online church history program beginning 21 February. Click here and scroll down half a page for the details.
Note about 2015 tour (Germany & Switzerland)
Last week the price of our 2015 Biblical Study Tour came down $100. Details here.
This weekend I will preach in Midtown Atlanta. This month I'm also teaching in Grenada, Trinidad, and St. Vincent. It's been great having Vicki with me for most of these events, and we often teach together. (They like me; they love her!)

We certainly appreciate your prayers and generous financial support for the International Bible Teaching Ministry (IBTM). 

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