Wiley Richards is a retired professor of theology and philosophy at The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville.
Latest Articles by W. WILEY RICHARDS
Oct 13, 2014
Joseph is one of the most intriguing men named in the Old Testament. The Bible shows a major shift with the phrase, “These are the generations of Jacob.” Previously, the phrase was used in regard to the heavens (Gen. 2:4), Adam (Gen. 5:10, Noah (Gen. 6:4) and so forth. In Jacob’s case, the account omits Reuben, the first born, and shifts the lineage to Joseph, the Holy Spirit’s way of signaling a major genealogical change. We immediately see Joseph, a youth of 17 years old, sharing with Jacob, his father, an “evil report” concerning his 10 brothers. The Bible does not detail what the brothers were doing that led to the troubling report, but the action probably put at risk the welfare of the sheep. Also, Joseph incurred anger on two other accounts. First, Jacob had clothed him in “a coat of many colors” (v. 34). From the use of the word revealed in Judges 5:38 and 2 Samuel 13:18, we can infer that such garments signified honor and position. The elder brothers probably felt threatened that Jacob was abrogating the policy of passing authority to the eldest son, i.e., Reuben. Joseph made the situation worse by revealing a dream he had in which, while binding sheaves, the sheaves rose up and bowed before his sheaf (vv. 5-8). He added insult to injury from another dream in which the sun, moon and 11 stars “made obeisance” to him (v. 9). Even Jacob objected to the notion that he and Joseph’s mother, now deceased, would bow before Joseph (v. 10). The conditions were right for a family tragedy. The brothers decided to kill Joseph.
Oct 7, 2014
In our studies in the Book of Ephesians, we began with a presentation of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in chapter one. As we progressed through the other chapters, we were challenged to honor God in our daily lives. In this concluding study we are challenged to comprehend our role in God’s revelation of His will for us. The issues are momentous.
Sep 29, 2014
In our last study, we considered the kind of impression we Christians have on our communities. I likened the process to a military white-glove inspection in which neighbors have contact with us on a daily basis. Now, we turn our attention to inner aspects of our life within the fellowship. What ways are open to us to make our lives fulfilled and complete? I call the following “Seven principles for a fulfilled life.”
Sep 23, 2014
One announcement that always invoked dread, if not abject fear, in every sailor was the prospect of a “white-glove inspection.” The method was to uncover areas for cleanliness not visible, such as the top of an open door or lockers. The inspector would run a gloved hand over the suspected section and then look at his gloved fingers to check for signs of dust. Along these lines, imagine if someone, for whatever reason, smeared Vaseline on the top of the door. Who did it would not matter. The ones being inspected would suffer the consequences. More to the point, when I was about to complete my boot camp training in Bainbridge, Md., in December 1951, we had to lay out our clothing for our final sea bag inspection when we learned one sailor’s heavy coat, his peacoat, was missing. We collected enough money from the prospective graduates to buy him a new coat. Team cohesion was important. Now, let’s turn our attention to the local church.
Sep 15, 2014
All too often at the Monday morning pastor’s conference, one man confides to a friend, “Man, if the Lord opens up a new ministry somewhere, I would welcome a recommendation. The church I am serving is not interested in growing. I need a change.” At the back of our minds is the image of an ideal church in which excitement fills the air. Yet, the Bible at no point commands us to grow a bigger church, choir or anything else. The Great Commission motivated the apostles because Jesus said, “And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14). Whatever it took to bring Him back, they would do. They scattered to the ends of the earth. That should be our motivating commitment, but in the meanwhile, what should be our spiritual goal for the church that we serve? The Bible makes that work abundantly clear.
Sep 9, 2014
In reading through the epistles, we notice an absence of emphasis on signs and wonders as gifts or functions within the churches. Peter said Jesus performed signs and wonders as indicating His approval by God (Acts 2:22). Following Pentecost, the apostles performed signs and wonders (Acts 2:43). Several other passages affirm the apostles exercised those gifts (Acts 5:12, 6:2, 7:36, 15:12). Paul also performed signs and wonders (Romans 15:19). As Hebrews 2:2-4 explains, God bestowed the power to confirm them who heard him (v. 3). Jesus also warned that merely claiming the power to prophesy in His name, cast out devils and perform wonderful works will gain no favor at the judgment (Matt. 7:21, 22). The only criterion is whether or not one has been born again. We now look at some doctrines that are more relevant for experiencing peace and fellowship.
Sep 1, 2014
In order to have a fuller appreciation for the message of the Book of Ephesians, we must go back to the magnificent teaching in chapter 1, verses 3-14. First, the Bible there provides us with God’s glorious plan for the ages as it centers around the blessed Trinity. It is set forth in verses 3-6. He chose—elected—to implement a way to show forth His glories by saving those who trust in the Son. He predestined to be saved anyone believing in the Son. Second, the Bible then gives in detail the saving work of the Son (vv. 7-12). The fundamental elements of His death on the cross will bring redemption, forgiveness, the inheritance and an unveiling of the mystery of God’s will according to what He has planned through Jesus. Third, the Bible highlights the work of the Holy Spirit (vv. 13-14). He is the seal, that is, God’s down payment, guaranteed by His presence in every believer. The Holy Spirit does not seal. He is the seal.
Aug 26, 2014
The Bible assigns to humans the responsibility for having dominion over fish, fowl and every living thing that moves upon the earth (Gen. 1:28). We can easily discern God’s will for us as caretakers of the natural order. However, our assigned text concerns not humanity’s oversight of the creation, but Israel’s mandate to observe the Sabbath year (Lev. 25:4). To understand that divine mandate we will need to delve a little deeper into the background of the seventh day, seventh year and 50th year. We will conclude with a brief application to us as Christians.
Aug 18, 2014
A person rises no higher than his or her prayer life. The opposite is also true. Failure in prayer often leads to failure in actions and character. Prayer focuses upon God and His Kingdom, yet the Kingdom-building God builds Kingdom servants through prayer. The elderly Daniel was a prayer warrior. Prayer was a daily habit of the administrator.
Aug 12, 2014
In approaching our assigned texts for this study, we must note the word “therefore” in verse six. It could be interpreted to mean, “on the basis of what was just written.” It points to the important ideas that shed light on the subsequent discussion. Two merit our attention. First, the Bible refers to the time when “the Chief Shepherd” appears (v. 4). He is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep (John 10:11) and knows them by name (John 10:14). He is the Great Shepherd through the blood of the everlasting covenant (Heb. 13:20). Second, Peter alludes to the crown of glory that does not fade away to be awarded at the Chief Shepherd’s appearing. James 1:12 speaks of the crown of life for those who love Jesus. Three other crowns are to be given out: the incorruptible crown for those practicing self-discipline (1 Cor. 9:25), the crown of rejoicing for the soul-winners (1 Thess. 2:19) and the crown of righteousness for those who love our Lord’s appearing (2 Tim. 4:8).