The Trials of Jesus before the Crucifixion

GodProvide800Before Jesus was crucified, He was put under trial several times in front of several different groups. There were religious and civic charges brought against him. The following is a sketch of the different trials.
Judas left the upper room and notified the chief priests that this night he would lead them to Jesus. Soldiers from the Temple, along with Judas go to the garden and Judas betrays Jesus.
Under the cover of night,, Jesus was arrested and taken to the house of Annas, who was the father in law to Caiaphas the high priest (John 18:12-14). Annas questioned Jesus concerning his disciples and his doctrine. Not happy with Jesus response, He sends Jesus to the house of Caiaphas where the chief priests, scribes and elders were all assembled (Mark 14:53). There were many false witnesses against Jesus, but their stories did not match up. Caiaphas questions Jesus “…tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus finally responds to Caiaphas with “Thou has said.” Caiaphas rends his garments and charges Jesus with blasphemy in the presence of the Council. They wanted Jesus dead, but being under the rule of Rome, they had no authority to carry out the judgment. In the morning, they deliver Jesus to the Governor, Pontius Pilate (Matthew 27:2) for judgment and execution.
Jesus was taken to the palace of Pontius Pilate, the Governor of Judea, serving under Emperor Tiberius, with the idea that they would charge Jesus with the civil act of sedition and turn him over to Rome to carry out their desire for His death (Matthew 27:1-2, 11-14; Mark 15:1-5; Luke 23:1-7; John 18:28-32, 33-38). Pilate interrogated Jesus, but could find no evidence of sedition, nothing worthy of condemning Jesus to death. When Pilate discovered that Jesus was from Galilee, he quickly sent him to King Herod. Herod gladly received Jesus wanting him to perform miracles before his men and himself. Tiring from questions Jesus refused to answer, Herod returned him to Pilate. For the third time, Pilate stated to the crowd that he could find no fault with him, however, being in fear of the reprisals of the religious Jews, Pilate charged Jesus with sedition and commanded that Jesus be crucified.

Was Paul an Apostle?

I have been asked this question many times. Each time I give a quick response. But recently I was asked to support my position. So, I spent time in research and present the following.

Defining an Apostle

The Greek word for apostle, “apostolos” is defined as a “delegate, person sent by another, a messenger, envoy.” “He that is sent” is the most common definition. There are two instances where the Greek word apostolos is not translated as “apostle,” but rather as “messenger” or “representative” (2 Cor. 8:23 and Phil. 2:25).
There are two specific listings of the Apostles (Matthew 10:2-4 and Luke 6:14 (Mark 3:16 and Acts 1:13 list the disciples without naming them as Apostles).
What are the biblical qualifications for an Apostle?
First, the individual must have seen the resurrected Christ. (John 15:27; Acts 1:21-22; 4:33; 22:14-15; 1 Corinthians 9:1). All of the original Apostles saw the resurrected Christ (John 20:19-29) except of course Judas.
Second, they must have personally been called to that office by Jesus (Luke 6:13; Acts 1:2; Galatians 1:1). For example we have the recorded calling of only Peter, Andrew, James, John and Levi of the original twelve. The other seven are not recorded.
Third, they must exhibit the power of working miracles (Mark 16:20; Acts 2:33, 43; 5:2; 1 Corinthians 12:8-11). Jesus gave the twelve Apostles the power to perform miracles when He sent them forth (Matthew 10:1-4).
After Jesus was taken to heaven, the remaining Apostles and disciples decided to fill the vacancy by Judas. They added one other requirement:
Acts 1:21-22 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
They felt that the replacement should be a true replacement, must have accompanied “with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us.”

How many Apostles are there anyway?

If you answered 12 or maybe 13, you might be in for a little surprise The following names are specifically mentioned in the bible as being Apostles. For this exercise, I will be using the King James Version.
1. We have the original 12: Matthew 10:2-4 Simon, Andrew; James, John, Philip, Bartholomew; Thomas, Matthew, James, Lebbaeus, Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot – Matthew 10:2-4.
2. Matthias, Judas’ replacement, – Acts 1:26
3. Jesus’ half-brother James, the leader of the church in Jerusalem – Galatians 1:19
4. Barnabas, who accompanied Paul on his missionary journey – Acts 4:36; 14:14
5. Apollos – 1 Corinthians 4:6-9
6. Timothy and Silvanus – 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:6
7. Epaphroditus – Philippians 2:25
8. Jesus Christ – Hebrews 3:1
For the purpose of this study I left out Paul, as that is the central question “Is Paul an Apostle?”

Should Paul be included in the list of Apostles?

First and foremost, if the Bible is true, and it is the Word of God, then by Paul proclaiming he was an Apostle of Jesus Christ ought to be enough for us to automatically include him in the list of Apostles.
But, is there more? Well the book of Acts records the calling and conversion of Saul of Tarsus, to Paul. Saul, was a staunch supporter of Judaism and as such he despised this new movement.

Acts 9:1-2 ¶ And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

It was Jesus who chose Paul, in much the same fashion as the selection of James, John, Peter, Andrew and Levi. The only difference is that Saul was chosen by the resurrected Christ. His instructions from Jesus was to proclaim the Gospel to his people, the Jews, but his real ministry focused on proclaiming the Gospel to the Gentiles.

Witnesses proclaim that Paul was an Apostle

Barnabas witnessed that Paul had seen the resurrected Christ (Acts 9:27)
Luke, the author of the Gospel and the book of Acts declares that Barnabas and Paul were Apostles (Acts 14:14)
Paul proclaims himself to be an Apostle: (Romans 1:1; 11:13; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 9:1-2; 15:9; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:1; 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:1; 11.

Let’s take the requirements listed above and see if Paul fits.

Did Paul see the resurrected Christ? The conversion of Saul is recorded in the ninth chapter of the book of Acts takes place as the resurrected Christ confronts him on the way to Damascus; “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
1 Corinthians 9:1 ¶ Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?
Was Paul personally called to that office by Jesus? Since the definition of an Apostle is “one who is sent” it is clear that Jesus sent him, “…rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
Did Paul perform miracles? The answer is yes! Look at the following list.
Blinded Elymus – Acts 13:11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.
Healed a cripple man – Acts 14:10 Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.
Exorcised a demon – Acts 16:18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
Miracles in Ephesus – Acts 19:11-12 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.
Restored life to Eutychus – Acts 20:10-12 And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. 11 When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. 12 And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.
Not affected by a deadly viper – Acts 28:5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.
Healed a mon on Melita – Acts 28:8 And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.
Paul’s testimony to the church at Corinth – 2 Corinthians 12:11-12 ¶ I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.
Did Paul Accompany Jesus from His baptism until the day He was taken from heaven. No. This was a requirement that Peter and the other Apostles applied to fill the spot vacated by Judas. But, Galatians 1:17-18 and 2 Corinthians 12:1-5 declare that Jesus taught Paul for 3 ½ years in Arabia.

Additional thoughts

Paul declared that his calling was “not of men, neither by man” (Galatians 1:1), unlike Matthias, his calling was not by man but by the Resurrected Christ. Paul states that he had no interaction with the other Apostles until many years later (Galatians 1:16).

Should Paul be included in the list of Apostles?

I believe it that Paul should be included in the list of Apostles. The canon of scripture includes it. Christ’s testimony and calling are sure. Paul did many miracles. Paul preached the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles alike. Paul saw the resurrected Christ. The only area where he did not meet the requirement was following Jesus for those 3 ½ years from His baptism to His ascension. But, Jesus spent the same amount of time with Paul as He spent with the original 12.

He Is Not Here: For He Is Risen!

First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pi...
First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pitsak, a Medieval Armenian scribe and miniaturist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1 Corinthians 15

Introduction

The early church, persecuted to the point of imprisonment and death should have failed.  The message they carried triggered division.  Their leader was murdered and yet He was resurrected.  Many saw him and heard him speak after He rose from the dead.  The Roman guards were paid off to tell a lie.

And yet, His followers flourished.  Everywhere new churches were forming.  The Gospel Message was getting out.  But how would they identify who they could trust.  They had to have a way of identifying each other and to find safe places to hide and meet.  For a while, Christian homes would display the ixthus (fish symbol, ‘ikh-thoos’) to identify a safe haven.  Jesus calling of fishermen as His first disciples and the idea that spreading the gospel is like catching fish was easy for them to relate.  Inside the sign of the fish would include five Greek letters.  The letters formed “ixoye” is an acronym comprised of the first letter of five Greek words: iota – Jesus, chi – Christ, theta – God, upsilon – Son, and sigma – Savior…Jesus Christ is God’s Son, our Savior.

These five Greek letters became the message that Christians clearly identify with.

A password was also given that would be easy to identify and yet be general enough that the non-believer would not understand.  The pass phrase would be spoken, “He is risen”.  If the other person responded, “He is risen indeed” that would be the authority that they were followers of Jesus the Messiah.

History tells us of statements made that we will always remember.

  • J. F. K’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.”
  • Do you remember when we were made to memorize the preamble to the Declaration of Independence?
  • I still remember every word of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
  • I remember hearing the scratchy recording of FDR’s words; “a day that will live on in infamy.”
  • In addition, I remember when Linda said she would marry me.  These words are forever etched in my mind.

Today I would like to remind you of some words uttered by an angel to a follower of Jesus at His empty tomb that mankind must never forget.

“He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.  Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (Matthew 28:6)

In churches all across the world today, the message of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ is celebrated.

This is the Christian High Day.

We remember today that death and the grave could not hold Jesus.  Throughout the early church, the cross was not commemorated as the central theme of the Gospel, the resurrection became the capstone.  All through the book of the Acts of the Apostles, we read that the Gospel presentation always included the resurrection as the cornerstone.

Biblical scholar, G. E. Ladd, stated, “The entire New Testament was written from the perspective of the resurrection.  Indeed, the resurrection may be called the major premise of the early Christian faith.”

The Gospels reveal the remarkable events that Jesus said and did during his three and a half years of ministry.  However, the remainder of the New Testament barely mentions these miracles.  The emphasis is on Jesus death and resurrection.  Much of what we consider Christianity and the message of the early church; how to live, how to love, how to defeat sin, and our hope for the future is centered on the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah.

  • Without the resurrection, Jesus was just a prophet going about doing good.  With the resurrection, Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away our sin.
  • Without the resurrection, many of the prophecies remain unfulfilled.  With the resurrection, only the final chapter remains.
  • Without the resurrection, God’s redemptive plan is without the perfect sacrifice.  With the resurrection, Jesus sits down next to the Father waiting to return to earth to gather in His bride.

References to the Resurrection in Scripture

  • In the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians, the Apostle Paul clearly identifies the importance of the resurrection of Jesus.

“And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain”…”And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.”  (1 Corinthians 15:14, 17)

  • In order to be considered an Apostle, the qualifications included seeing Jesus after His resurrection.  (Acts 1:22)
  • On that great Feast Day of Pentecost, Peter spoke of the resurrection of Jesus.  (Acts 2:31)
  • Peter and John preached the resurrection of Jesus, after which they were arrested.  (Acts 4:1-2)
  • The Apostle Paul preached “Jesus and the resurrection.”  Acts 17:18)
  • The Apostle Paul in writing to the church at Rome declared “Jesus to be the Son of God and His resurrection”.  (Romans 1:4)

The Apostle Paul lays out the importance of the resurrection to the church at Corinth.  He takes great care to give the brethren hope and encouragement to those who are grief-stricken.  Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophecies.  With the resurrection, Jesus conquered death.

The Bible speaks of resurrection in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Resurrections of the Bible

Old Testament

Elijah raises the Widow’s son                          1 Kin. 17:17–22

Elisha raises the Shunammite’s son                   2 Kin. 4:32–35

Unnamed man thrown in Elisha’s grave         2 Kin. 13:20, 21

New Testament

Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter                                Matt. 9:23–25

Widow’s only son in Nain                                   Luke 7:11–15

Lazarus of Bethany                                           John 11:43, 44

Many saints                                                       Matt. 27:52, 53

Dorcas                                                                Acts 9:36–40[1]

Paul’s first epistle to the Church at Corinth…

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

12Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 ¶ But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. (1 Corinthians 15:12-20)

51 ¶ Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 ¶ Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.  (1 Corinthians 15:51-58)

The resurrection of Jesus is the pinnacle of Jesus being God.  Other religions may be ethical, moral, agree that there is an afterlife and even have their own scriptures.  But Christianity stands alone because God became flesh and dwelt among us.  Jesus died for His people and He was raised from the dead in power and glory.

You may be saying, “Preacher why are you so focused on the resurrection?”  Well let me give you some reasons why the resurrection of Jesus is so important.

  • The resurrection proclaims the deity of Christ (Romans 1:4)
  • The resurrection turns the tragedy of the murder of Jesus into the triumph of God’s redeeming power.
  • When Jesus was raised from the dead, the world now faces redemption instead of ruin.
  • When Jesus rose from the dead, He conquered death and therefore His Bride will conquer death as well.
  • When Jesus rose from the dead we know that He will keep all the promises recorded in Scripture.
  • When Jesus rose from the grave that early Sunday morning, the Church was given a message to proclaim to the world.  The Apostles preached that Jesus had been raised from the dead!
  • The resurrection of Jesus gives us hope in times of great tragedy and hope for the future.
  • The resurrection of Jesus assures us that Jesus is on the throne, sitting on the right hand of God.
  • The same power that resurrected Jesus will one day bring our mortal bodies to life. (1      Corinthians 15:12–19).
  • After the resurrection Jesus has been preparing a mansion for me (John 14:1-6)

In Christian denominations, we can look different, worship differently, and even have differing views on politics, how to live our lives and varying theologies.  But the one point that is true of all Christians today is:  Jesus rose from the dead.

Conclusion

The resurrection celebration of Easter invites all to believe that Jesus is the Son of God!

The decision is yours.  The gift has been laid before you.  Will you accept it?


[1] Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1995). Nelson’s quick reference topical Bible index. Nelson’s Quick reference (530–531). Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Birth Certificate

Birth Certificate Ana de Caboga
Image via Wikipedia

A birth certificate is one of the most important documents you own.  If you were born within the last hundred years, you have one.  This official document contains the important data of your birth, including your name, sex, date, place, delivery doctor, witnesses and parents.  This document was filled out after you were born and is kept on record.

There have been a number of times that I had to prove “who I was”.  In order to obtain a driver’s license, a Social Security card, enlist in the United States Coast Guard or apply for a passport, I had to show my birth certificate to prove my age or that I was a United States citizen.  This document is so important that I keep it in a secure place where I have easy access.

Today the government is responsible for the task of safeguarding birth certificate information.  What would it be like to prove who you were before birth certificates?  I believe it would be an overwhelming task.  In Old and New Testament times everyone simply took the word of the family and community.  Genealogies were very important to the Jewish  nation as proof  of the family and which tribe they belonged to.  It was in the time of Jesus that the Roman government attempted to control the Jews by announcing a “taxing of all the people”.  Everyone had to return to the town of their  father’s place of birth, to be taxed and counted.

In order to be eligible for the highest office in the United States, the applicant must prove that they are a natural-born citizen, but no other requirements of their birth are mandatory.  The “requirement” to be the Messiah of the Old Testament on the other hand is entirely different.  In the Bible the proof of birth of the Messiah; the King of the Jews was painstakingly detailed beforehand.

There were no public records of birth, but if we were to fill out the birth certificate for the Christ, it would have to  include his name, sex, date, place, delivery doctor, witnesses and parents.  The birth would have to fulfill all of the prophecies concerning the Messiah.  First the baby would have to be male.  His name would be Immanuel (“God with Us”; Isaiah 7:14).  He would be of the seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:3) and more specifically that He was of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10).  His birthright would include being eligible as the Heir to the throne of David (Isaiah 9:6-7).  His place of birth would be the town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).  His birth certificate would include that His mother was a virgin (Isaiah 7:14).  Jesus didn’t need a doctor at the time of delivery and the witness to his birth was by the angels to the shepherds.

All this was foretold by the prophets of God centuries before Jesus was born.  Jesus not only fulfilled the the prophecies concerning his birth, but every other prophecy about the Messiah in the Old Testament as well.  He is the Christ!  In Jesus case, his birth certificate wasn’t written the night of His birth.  Instead the ink had been dry on His birth certificate for two thousand years before He was born in a stable in the little town of Bethlehem.

THE SPACE OF ETERNITY

This week is what many proclaim as Holy Week.  It is the time when Jesus of Nazareth triumphantly entered into Jerusalem as the people shouted hosanna, placing palm fronds and their outer garments along the entry way into the city, unto the time of Jesus last days on this earth until his trials, torture and His murder.  Holy Week culminates in the event of the resurrection from the dead of Jesus on that first Easter morning.

Easter is found only one time in the Bible and that is in Acts 12:4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.  The person being put into prison was Paul.  The word “Easter” is of Chaldean origin and is translated everywhere else (28 times in 26 verses) as Passover.  We derive our current holiday name of Easter  from this Chaldean word for Passover.

Last Sunday, Palm Sunday, I preached a message titled “Conversations at the Crucifixion”.  As I was studying the last sayings that Jesus spoke while enduring such pain on the cross, I was drawn to all the other conversations taking place as three men were dying.  There were conversations from the crowd of onlookers there to viewf the agonizing death of crucifixion that day.  There were conversations and accusations from the religious crowd, Chief Priests and Scribes.  The soldiers carrying out the punishment even got in on the discussions.  The two thieves surrounding Jesus each had something to say and then the man tasked with carrying out the deaths, a Centurion, made the most profound statement after Jesus died.  And of course we have the statements of Jesus as His final hours of life were being drawn to a close.

As I marveled at all the activity that was going on around the crucifixion of Jesus, I also made a note of something else that I had never noticed before.  I was given a glimpse through the eyes of Jesus of what He saw and the unbelievable truth that day.

There wasn’t a battle going on at Golgotha that day, but a war!

There were people on both sides of the issue that brought Jesus to this death sentence.  There were those that believed that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, the Christ and the Son of God, and those that did not.  There were two sides.

There wasn’t a battle going on at Golgotha that day, but a war.  Soldiers from two different sides had taken their positions, raised their banners and captured in word and deed which side they were on.  While there wasn’t an arrow shot, a swing of a sword or a javelin tossed, the battle was real.  There was a spiritual war going on and in the balance was the hope of man.  God had a simple plan of salvation for mankind and His Son was the perfect offering and sacrifice that God would accept.  It was not in the sacrifice of animals but with the GOD-Man, Jesus.  The Son of God “became flesh and dwelt among us.”  Man could never be good enough to merit Grace, so in the greatest love story of all time, God gave.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

The distance between the crowd and Jesus was more than just space.  It wasn’t measured in feet and inches, but in eternity.

The scene at the crucifixion of Jesus was more than an execution of a man.  The Romans went about the business of death; they had slain many in this same manner in many different locations.

Sides were taken that day.  A line was drawn in the sand.  On which side would the people choose?  On the one side, the crowd, one thief, the Chief Priests and Scribes and the soldiers did not choose Jesus.  On the other side of that line, the other thief and those there to worship Jesus made their choice that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God.

Jesus had to endure the torments, both mental and emotional, as well as the death of the body.  The distance between the crowd and Jesus was more than just space.  It wasn’t measured in feet and inches, but in eternity.  For those that chose to be on the side that denied Jesus as the Messiah, the eternity that awaits them is in hell.  A place of torment that was prepared as punishment for Satan and his demons.  For those that accepted that Jesus was the Messiah, the Savior, they would be on the side of God’s salvation plan for mankind and the eternity that awaits them is in heaven.

So on this second day of April, 2010 I would ask the same question that has echoed through the canyons of time; “Today, which side of that line drawn in the sand are you on?  With whom do you associate?  The mockers or the Redeemed?”