Date:         Tue, 6 Dec 1994 09:32:27 CET
Sender:       Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel
From:         Teus Benschop 
Subject:      The Scriptures opened, 8
   1.    Weekly reading, Gen.44:32
   2.    Psalm 116:11
   3.    New Testament, Luke 15:1,2
   4.    Paul and James
   5.    Books
1. Weekly reading, Gen.44:32
For thy  servant became surety  for the  lad unto my  father, saying, If  I
bring  him not unto  thee, then  I shall  bear the blame  to my  father for
Who is saying this? It is Judah, verse 16. He has done a long  speech, from
verse 16 to  the end  of this  chapter. In this  speech, he  shows how  the
situation  was. Yaakov  did not  want to  let go  Benjamin, but  Judah made
himself surety for the  boy. He was surety  to bring back Benjamin to  Yaa-
kov. What, when  he not would do this?  "Then I shall bear  the blame to my
father  forever". In Hebrew is  written: "Then  I have sinned  to my father
all  the days". In reality, Judah had  not sinned himself. Why does he say,
that he will have sinned in the case that  Benjamin not would come back? He
has sinned  because he was surety.  He said: "I will be  surety for him; of
my hand  shalt thou require him: if I bring  him not unto thee, and set him
before thee, then let me bear the blame forever." (Gen.43:9)
Let us take a closer look at this word "surety".  Judah "arav", that is, he
is surety for  Benjamin. The same word is also written, for example, in: "O
LORD, I am oppressed; undertake for me."  (Isa.38:14). The king Hezekiah is
saying this. "O  LORD", he says, "be  my surety". He needed  a surety while
he was oppressed.  This is  important for us  to see. When  we not are  op-
pressed, we will never  pray to God, and ask if He will be our surety. When
we have no problems,  we think that we get along  in own strength. However,
when we stand before the  death, like Hezekiah, or when we are in  a dange-
rous situation, then we see that we need a surety. O LORD, be my surety.
When a  man must  pay, and he  cannot, then the  pay will  be given by  the
surety. The same is  it with Hezekiah. He was oppressed, could  not pay and
stood  before the gates  of the death.  Therefore, he needed the  LORD as a
surety, to pay for him.
The same will  happen to us. When  we come before  the gates of  the death,
then  we will  see what  great sinners  we have  been. When  we not  have a
surety, who will pay for our sins, then we are very miserable.
In the  New Testament is written: "By so much  was Jesus made a surety of a
better testament." (Hebr.7:22)  Jesus was and is surety for the sinners. In
the time of Hezekiah, the LORD was the surety, and  in the times of the New
Testament, also the LORD is surety, as Jesus is the LORD.
Reader, do you already have  a surety for your soul?  Or do you think  that
you  need none? When you think that  you are better than king Hezekiah, and
not need the LORD  as your surety, you are wrong. Perhaps you overlook your
sins because you are  spiritual blind, and you  think that you are  righte-
ous.  Please, open  your eyes,  and  say with  Hezekiah: O  LORD, I  am op-
pressed. Be my surety.
2. Psalm 116:11
Ps.116:11 I said in my haste, All men are liars.
The prophet of  this psalm was in  great distress. He said in  the previous
verse: "I was  greatly afflicted." (Ps.116:10) Because of that  torture, he
hastened to  flee  from the  danger.  While the  enemies  attacked him,  he
hurried  to get  away  from them.  While he  was attacked,  he saw  how the
people in reality were. In his  haste, he said: "all men are  liars". Look,
how all men  persecuted the prophet. You  cannot rely on men. Only  on God,
we can rely. That is  the great difference between God and men. God  is the
truth, and all  men are liars. God is good,  and all men are bad.  God gave
us His law, and  all men transgress it. He said: "Thou shalt not bear false
witness against  thy neighbour" (Exod.20:16), and  all men are  liars, thus
transgressing this commandment.
Sometimes  is said: A goy is  a liar. This is  true, because also the goyim
are part of  "all men". However, to whom  has the prophet said  this state-
ment, in this verse?  Did he say it  to the goyim? No,  but to the Jews  of
that time. Let us  bear this in mind.  Let we not to fast  overlook oursel-
ves, and accuse the  other men. When we hear or see a transgression, we are
inclined to look at  the other people. We  skip ourselves, because "we  are
good and no sinners".  We always overlook our  great sins, and speak  about
the  little sins of  the other  people. Because of  this Jesus  said: "Thou
hypocrite,  first cast out  the beam out  of thine own eye;  and then shalt
thou  see  clearly  to  cast  out  the mote  out  of  thy  brother's  eye."
Some think that the prophet, when he  said this, was wrong. For he  said it
in his  haste. When a  man says something  in his haste,  he does not  know
well what  he says. However, this  is an excuse of the  liars. The liars do
not like that  the Bible so clearly says  that they transgress the  law. To
show that the  prophet was right, we  will have a  look at other  places of
the Scriptures.  "Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not
in any brother: for  every brother will utterly supplant,  and every neigh-
bour will walk with  slanders. And they will  deceive every one his  neigh-
bour, and will not  speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak
lies,  and weary themselves to  commit iniquity." (Jer.9:4,5) "Their tongue
is  as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his
neighbour with  his mouth,  but  in heart  he layeth  his wait."  (Jer.9:8)
"Thou givest  thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit." (Ps.50:19)
When  you have  read these  witnesses, you will  see that  the prophet knew
what he said.
What to do now? Let us say with David: "Remember  not the sins of my youth,
nor  my transgressions:  according to  thy mercy  remember thou  me for thy
goodness' sake, O LORD." (Ps.25:6,7)  It is better that we confess our sins
and ask for forgiving, than that we deny our sins and receive punishment.
3. New Testament, Luke 15:1,2
Then drew near unto  him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And
the  Pharisees and  scribes murmured, saying,  This man  receiveth sinners,
and eateth with them.
This is said about Jesus. All the great sinners came  to Him. The reason is
that all the publicans and the sinners felt themselves  thrown out from the
society. The publicans  helped the dominating Romans  to get the  toll. The
sinners were people, who  impudently sinned in the public. The  sinners are
also mentioned in the first Psalm.  "Blessed is the man that walketh not in
the  counsel of the ungodly,  nor standeth in the  way of sinners, nor sit-
teth in the seat  of the scornful." (Ps.1:1)  The sinners are the  ungodly,
the people who never cease  sinning, the scornful. This kind of  person was
thrown out  from the  society. And with  right as  they transgressed  God's
They came to Jesus because they heard that there  was forgiveness for their
sinful life.  They knew  about themselves  that they  would never  be saved
because of  their sins.  Therefore, they  sought forgiving.  When they  got
forgiving of  their sins, was  it to sin again?  No, surely not.  Who seeks
forgiving  to sin  again, his  damnation is  righteous. When  one comes  to
Jesus,  and  receives forgiving,  real forgiving,  he will  try not  to sin
again. Let  us see this  in the  example of  the publican Zacchaeus.  After
Jesus came  to him, he  did not say:  "Fine, now I  can sin again,  because
through the  belief, all  my sins  will be forgiven".  Although many  name-
Christians say this, this is not  right. A true Christian will try  to live
righteous, in  the power of God. Also  Zacchaeus. "And Zacchaeus stood, and
said unto the Lord;  Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor;
and if I  have taken any thing from any  man by false accusation, I restore
him fourfold." (Luk.19:8)
This is  the task of Jesus.  Coming to the sinners,  and to all  people who
cannot live  righteous. It  is Jesus' task  to make them  righteous through
the belief in Him. A man, like he is born, is unable to live a  true right-
eous  life. He is  only able  to transgress  the commandments.  Through the
belief in Jesus, a man will get His righteousness. As  a result of this, he
will try to live righteous.
Reader,  are  you a  sinner? Know  that  there is  forgiveness  through the
belief  in Jesus  as your  Saviour. Do  you know  of yourself  that you are
absolutely unable to live  well? Know also that you cannot live a good life
without the power of God in Jesus.
"And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying:  This man receives sinners
and eats with them.". The Pharisees and scribes thought  of themselves that
they  were righteous.  They despised  all the  sinners.  The Pharisees  and
scribes though to  be righteous, but  it was  only appearance. Their  heart
was not  righteous,  but a  black  hole of  unrighteousness.  They did  not
understand the work of  the Messiah. Like many nowadays, they  thought that
the Messiah would come  when they were righteous.  And they did not  under-
stand that  the Messiah came  to make the people  righteous. Jesus  came to
forgive  the sins  to make  the  sinners righteous.  The Pharisees  and the
scribes, who  not needed  forgiving, will  keep their  sins, and  therefore
stay unrighteous.
Unrighteous!  I call  you up  to ask  if God  will give  you the  belief in
Jesus.  Righteous! That means: you who think  you are righteous! I call you
up to ask if God  also you will give the belief in your  really unrighteous
nature, and the belief in Jesus Christ.
4. Paul and James
Some say  that James refutes  Paul. Paul  says that a  man is  justified by
faith alone without the  works, but James says that  a man is justified  by
works, and not by faith alone. Paul says in Romans 3:28
   A man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
James says in James 2:24
   Ye see  then how  that by works  a man  is justified,  and not  by faith
These two teachings seem to be contrary, but are not. This will be proved.
Paul's teaching:
Paul says that a man is justified by faith alone, without the deeds of  the
law. This  is not a teaching  from Paul, or  from the New  Testament alone,
but it is grounded  in the Old Testament.  Paul gets his doctrine  from the
example of Abraham. He writes:
   For what saith  the scripture? Abraham believed  God, and it was counted
   unto him for righteousness. (Romans 4:3)
Paul cites the Old Testament, where is written:
   And  he (Abraham) believed  in the  LORD; and he  counted it to  him for
   righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)
Abraham was not righteous  through his works. Why  not? Did he not do  good
works? Yes, Abraham did many  good works, but those works were not perfect.
Because  those works are not  perfect, they cannot  be counted as righteous
before  God. To  be righteous before  God, he needed  belief. His belief is
counted to him for righteousness. Paul is  doing nothing else but repeating
what the Scripture says,  that is: a man is righteous before  God by faith,
not through works. We have to bear this in our  mind. We cannot say that he
is teaching something new above the Old Testament. Abraham  had not his own
righteousness, but  he got a  righteousness from God.  He got a  righteous-
ness, which was counted unto him.
James' teaching:
It  is James' intention  to show that a  belief without works  is dead. One
can say that he  believes, but when he not is doing good  works, his belief
is not true.
   What doth it profit,  my brethren, though  a man say he hath  faith, and
   have not works? can faith save him? (Jam.2:14)
When one says that he  believes, and he is not doing good works,  we cannot
believe him. For  a belief without  works is  dead. A real  faith can  save
him,  says  James, but  a  belief which  is  without works  is  not  a true
believe, so it cannot save  a man. James does not say that one  is saved by
works, but he  says that  the belief is  proved to be  true out the  works.
Therefore, he says
   Show me thy faith without  thy works, and I will show  thee my faith  by
   my works. (Jam.2:18)
He says: I will  show my faith by  my works. The  faith needs to be  proved
before the eyes of the  people, out the works. The works  have the function
to prove the belief before the people. James is  not stating that the works
are a ground for one to be  saved, but that the works show the truth of the
Comparison of the two teachings:
Paul  is speaking about  the ground, whereon  one is  righteous before God.
The belief is the ground. James  is speaking about the signs, from  which a
belief can be proved to be true. That is  the difference. Paul speaks about
the  ground and James  about the fruits.  I will  draw it, to  make it more
clear for you.
ground              ->                               ->               fruit
belief              ->         righteousness         ->          good works
The   ground  of   the     Through the belief,  a    The  fruit  of a  man,
righteousness  is  the     man     is     counted    who is righteous,  is,
belief.                    righteous before God.     that  he will  do good
                                                     works. The good  works
                                                     show   to  the   other
                                                     people   that   he  is
When you  connect Paul  and James, you  get a good  idea of  this teaching.
Paul  speaks often  about the  grounds, and  James about  the fruits.  Both
things  are indispensable.  A belief without  good works is  not true. Good
works without belief are  not really good. The belief is the  ground of the
righteousness, and the good works are the fruit of the righteousness.
Admonition and spur:
There  are many Christians in  the world, who say that  they have belief in
Jesus Christ.  When we, however,  look at them, we  see that they  not have
any good works. James is warning them, saying: A  belief without good works
is not true. On the other hand,  there are many Jews in the world,  who say
that they have good  works, and are righteous  before God. Paul is  warning
them, saying that  Abraham was not righteous  through good works, but  only
through belief.  Do not think,  Jews, that this is  Paul's doctrine. Surely
not, but it is taken from Abraham.
I admonish you  to ask for  belief in the Lord,  in order that you  will do
good works. I always  admonish the Christians that  they do good works,  in
order that their belief is proved to be be true.
5. Books
John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy.
The  200 sermons  Calvin preached  on the  Book of  Deuteronomy in  1555-56
remain one of  the finest examples of  evangelical preaching - faithful  to
the biblical text and thoughtfully applied to the individual and society.
A quality  facsimile reproduction  of Arthur  Golding's translation of  the
Deuteronomy sermons first published in 1583.
ISBN 0 85151 511 8
1408 pp. Cloth-bound.
Price around $55,00. Ask your local bookstore or order from:
   Slaak 4-14
   3061 CS Rotterdam        tel. 31 104111607
   The Netherlands          fax. 31 104136682
   Chr-Exp, a Christian explanation of the Tanach and the New Testament
             Editor: Teus Benschop  -
      No copyrights on this publication  -  Translated by a Dutchman
          Institution Practical Bible-education, the Netherlands

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