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 Vol. 5, No. 1 

January 2003

Since You Asked

~ Page 20 ~

typewriter The Christian's
Benevolent Obligation

By Louis Rushmore

My husband and I are Christians and need direction on our responsibilities to a young man in need. Kyle is now 17 1/2 and has been living with us for 7 months. Neither parent's new spouse will allow him to live in their home, nor does either parent provide for him. They did not remember his birthday or Christmas and do not call or visit to check on him or offer us financial assistance. I feel sorry for Kyle and so far, I have been willing to provide for him, but I feel we have become enablers. He has been kicked out of alternative school and does not work. He runs around until the wee hours of the morning and then sleeps until afternoon. We have not charged him anything to live in our home and I know he can't afford to live on his own, but I am ready to issue an ultimatum: get his GED and work or join the military OR find another place to live. My husband thinks it's too harsh and not scriptural and that we would not be fulfilling our obligations as Christians. Can you help? Thank you. Cathy R. Davis

From the information you provided, Kyle was 16-years-old when he came to live with you. Probably then, if not still and at least until he turns 18, his parents had or have a legal obligation to be financially responsible for his health and welfare. Though it seems that Kyle's parents have evaded their legal responsibilities, they cannot as easily evade their moral (biblical) responsibility toward Kyle (1 Timothy 5:8). Despite Kyle's family problems or even Kyle's misbehavior, it appears that Kyle's parents are no more responsible than their son is. While that doesn't excuse Kyle, it may help explain his irresponsibility, in addition to the inexperience of youth.

It is admirable that you and your husband have stepped forward to attend to Kyle as he makes the transition from childhood to adulthood. Apparently, though, he is not helping you help him. It remains a fact of life that we cannot help anyone successfully that does not determine to help himself.

Several New Testament passages indicate that opportunity equates to responsibility, including in the realm of benevolence. One portrait of the great Judgment pictures the distinction between those ultimately lost and those and ultimately saved eternally based on whether they practiced benevolence (Matthew 25:31-46). The apostle Paul in Galatians 6:10 wrote, "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith"; benevolent Christian responsibility begins from Christians to Christians but may extend to others as well as opportunity permits. James, the brother of our Lord, penned, "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin"; of course, that message applies to more than benevolent opportunities and addresses sins of omission in general.

However, Scripture further tempers Christian benevolent responsibility with two additional considerations: need and one's willingness to help himself if he can. Notice the following Scriptures specify benevolence was provided based on need. "And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need" (Acts 2:45). "And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need" (Acts 4:35). The next passage teaches that an accountable person is obliged before God to see to his own needs if he has the capability to do so. Otherwise, he is blameworthy before God and man.

"For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother" (2 Thessalonians 3:10-15).

Were Kyle an unaccountable child or mentally incapacitated irrespective of his age, adults would have legal, financial and moral responsibilities toward him in spite of misbehavior and irresponsibility. If, though, Kyle is no child in age or mind, then Kyle bears some personal responsibility for himself. Since Kyle apparently has an ongoing track record of not taking responsibility for himself, and he will soon enter the real world on his own, ready or not, a person or persons must act as the catalyst to move Kyle in the right direction. That may occur by nudging him into accepting some responsibility through some hard choices he is prompted to make (if he respects you enough to be influenced by you). It may be that other catalysts will need explored that cannot as easily be ignored (e.g., children's services, a court ruling, a warning from local police, etc.).

This is not easy to pen and it is harder to experience; ultimately, you'll have to do the best you can based on all available information. I hope that some of what I wrote helps you toward a happy ending.Image

BC and AD

By Louis Rushmore

Image Hello my name is James and I have been pulling my hair out trying to find an answer to my question. We define the period prior to Jesus' birth as B.C., we also define the period after his death A.D. Is there a defined period while Jesus was alive?  If so what is the name of that period? Thank you for any insight you can provide. ~ James Kregness

Your difficulty lies in the false assumption that "AD" means 'after the death of Christ.' Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary identifies the abbreviation "AD" with various words for which it sometimes stands, including "anno Domini." Then, the dictionary defines "anno Domini" by its etymology from Medieval Latin, meaning, "in the year of the Lord." Whereas the abbreviation "BC" means "before Christ" according to Webster's, the abbreviation "AD" stands for "anno Domini" and refers to time after the birth (not death) of Christ.

For centuries, competing calendars were adopted by various parts of the known world. In the sixty century, a Roman Catholic monk by the name of Dionysius Exiguus (500-560) devised a calendar (525) by which modern time was calculated from the birth of Christ. It was not for another two centuries before his calendar was generally accepted. Incidentally, the monk made an error of about four years, which now it is too late to correct given the two millennia that have elapsed since the birth of Christ. The error is evident from first century writers, including Josephus and the Gospel writers, as well as from astronomical calculations.Image


McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia, Electronic Database, (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft) 2000.

Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, (Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, Incorporated) 1993.

Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

Image Image Cornelius, Baptism
and the Holy Spirit

By Louis Rushmore

Hello, I just read some of your web page. Water baptism is not necessary for salvation because we see Cornelius receiving the Holy Spirit before he was baptized. Sincerely, Marc Taylor

There is much in the New Testament and several articles archived on the Gospel Gazette Online site that you have to completely ignore to arrive at your summary conclusion based on the Holy Spirit visiting Cornelius. For instance, do you believe Jesus? He said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved..." (Mark 16:16). Do you believe the apostle Peter? He said, "...Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..." (Acts 2:38). Peter further penned, "...baptism doth also now save us..." (1 Peter 3:21). The Holy Spirit that you say exempted Cornelius (and by implication yourself and all mankind) from 'baptism for the remission of sins' or to "save us" caused Mark and Peter to write Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21, Peter to speak Acts 2:38 and Luke to record Acts 2:38, and Acts 22:16 where Saul (later the apostle Paul) was commanded, "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." All Scripture came about through Divine inspiration (2 Peter 1:20-21). Baptism is not all there is to salvation as the New Testament describes it, but because baptism is the point at which mankind usually attacks God's plan for human redemption, the New Testament records more about baptism than any other facet of the redemptive plan.

The miraculous manifestation by the Holy Spirit at the household of Cornelius no more signaled that Cornelius was saved without baptism than that a miraculously visited donkey was saved, or even in need of salvation.

"And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab. And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him. And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way. But the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side. And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall: and he smote her again. And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff. And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times? And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee. And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay. Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face. And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me: And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive. And Balaam said unto the angel of the LORD, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again.  And the angel of the LORD said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak" (Numbers 22:21-35).

Sincere and honest truth seekers will visit the New Testament Scriptures and accept what it teaches irrespective of what they may have been taught or what they wish the Word of God taught. True religious authority resides not in men but in the Bible alone (Revelation 22:18-19). Jesus said, "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46).Image

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