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In Hebrews 2:9, the writer tells us that “[he] who for a little while was made a little lower than the angels,” is Jesus. And it is he who was crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death.
We are told that it was fitting that Jesus, the founder of our salvation, in bringing many sons to glory, should be made perfect (perfected) through suffering. Since all things exists for him and he is the creator of all things. Vs 10
Everything exists for Jesus and his purpose. He is also the creator, he brought everything into being to fulfill his purpose. What is his purpose? "To bring many sons to glory," (ie to save the lost).
Hebrews 2:11, For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,...
So, where does he “who sanctifies” bring many sons, “those who are sanctified,” to glory?
13 And again,
So he and the children are where?... In church.
We have progressed in our study of Hebrews where we first learned there was such things as "milk" & "solid food" in the Bible.
In trying to determine what makes something "milk" or "solid food" we noted that the elementary teachings, identified by the Hebrews writer as "milk," namely: Repentance, Faith, Baptisms, Laying on of hands, Resurrection, and Eternal judgment are topics that are "foundational," necessary for becoming a Christian and to Christian "infants" who can build on that foundation to grow into mature Christians. Milk consists of facts, easy to digest, that outsiders and new Christians can eat.
We noted what was not in the "milk" of the gospel, namely: Grace, Righteousness, Justification, etc. The writer makes the point: (Heb 5:13 WEB) everyone who lives on milk is not experienced in the word of righteousness.
Since then we have learned that Jesus being the Son of God, which is "our confession," and our great High Priest, who has been tempted in all points like we are, yet without sin, enables us to "draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace for help in our time of need." Heb 4:15,16
In the first two chapters we learned that the "Son of God" is God. He is the Creator and He currently maintains all things with His powerful word. Because of the Son’s act of making purification for our sins, God exalted Him to be a King at his right hand, with a scepter of righteousness and a throne and a kingdom, etc.
This information led us to studying the "confession" (ie. Jesus is the Son of God and the "Rock") upon which Jesus will build his church, which too, evidently, is solid food.
Since He is God's Son, He is God
You Are My (God) Son, I shall be [his] Father
Psalm 2:7 (cited in Heb 1:5).
2 Samuel 7:14 (cited in Heb 1:5).
God calls His Son, God
God says to His Son, Your Throne & Scepter, O God
Heb. 1:8,9 (Psa 45:6)
Therefore, God, Your God...
Heb 1:9 (Psa 45:7)
God says His Son is the Creator
...The heavens are the work of your hand
Hebrews 1:10-12 (Psa 102: 25-27)
Therefore (based on the 1st argument)
We ought to (the writer includes himself)
Pay greater attention - lest we fall away
If the word spoken by angels proved stedfast AND every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense
How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation... that was:
Hebrews 2:9 (WEB) 9 But we see him who has been made a little lower than the angels, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God he should taste of death for everyone.
We have seen that the first chapter of Hebrews is the opening argument by the writer to lay the bedrock for the foundation of Christianity: The Son of God.
You Are My (God) Son, I shall be [his] Father
Heb 1:5 (cited from Psa 2:7)
Heb 1:5 (cited from 2 Sam 7:14).
Angels Worship You (the Firstborn)
Heb 1:6 (Deut 32:43)
God Says, Your Throne & Scepter, O God
Heb 1:8,9 (Psa 45:6)
Therefore, God, Your God...
Heb 1:9 (Psa 45:7)
You (the Son) are the Creator Hebrews 1:10-12 (Psa 102: 45-47)
Therefore (based on the 1st argument) We ought to (the writer includes himself)
What’s the Message?
God, Himself, in the form of the Son, has given us a message of SALVATION that if we neglect we cannot escape a just recompense (an appropriate punishment or reward).
Psalm 2:7 (cited in Heb 1:5).
Hebrews 1:6 (Deut 32:43), - When [God] brings in the firstborn into the world he says, "Let all the angels of God worship him."
Heb. 1:8,9 (Psa 45:6) - Of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; The scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
Heb 1:9 (Psa 45:7) - You have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows."
Hebrews 1:10-12 (Psa 102: 45-47)
The author of the letter to the Hebrews is establishing that the Messiah from the Old Testament scriptures is the Son and He is God, the creator, King, and God commands we worship him.
Hebrews 1:4 tells us that he has inherited a name and it is superior to the name of angels.
Hebrews 1:3, When he had, by himself, made purification for our sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Father on high.
Heb. 9:16-17, For where a last will and testament is, there must of necessity be the death of him who made it. 17 For a will is in force where there has been death, for it is never in force while he who made it lives.
Hebrews 1:5, For to which of the angels did he say at any time, "You are my Son, Today have I become your father?" and again, "I will be to him a Father, And he will be to me a Son?"
The name he inherits is "The Son of God." Romans 1:3-4, concerning his Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,
The author of the letter to the Hebrews is establishing our confession:
Jesus IS The Son of God with Power… by [His] resurrection from the dead.
To His glory, Scott R
We are in the last days since Jesus' Death and Resurrection. And in these last days God has proclaimed that He speaks to us now through His Son.
God has appointed His Son heir of all things. Everything that belonged to God now is given to His Son.
Everything that exists was made by His Son. That means His Son IS the Creator. When "God said," in the beginning, that was His Son ("The Word") speaking things into existence.
He is the "radiance," (bright reflection) of His glory. The EXACT representation of His nature.
He upholds all things with His powerful word.
He made purification for our sins by offering Himself to purify for Himself a people for His own possession then He sat down at God's right hand in Heaven
It's ALL ABOUT THE SON OF GOD.
To His glory, Scott R
Now that we have had a taste of the "meat/solid food" of the gospel from the middle of Hebrews (4:14-5:10), we will go back to the beginning of the book to continue our study in the order that the Writer presented.
At the time of the writing of Hebrews, thought to be between AD 60 – AD 70, Christians were being persecuted by the Jewish leadership from near the beginning of Christianity, but now the Romans begin to persecute them too. The temple in Jerusalem is still standing and Judaism is a still functioning religion. Hebrew Christians see their Jewish neighbors unmolested. Many Christians begin to become weary and think of giving up and returning to Judaism.
Can Christianity withstand persecution? What message can be given to those under duress? Should they fight? Give in, give up? Do they have the strength to endure? What help can they expect from their faith?
What message will God send his faithful facing persecution? After all, Jesus faced persecution, surely, He would have something to say. What would you say to your brethren thinking of turning away from their faith? Would we tell them again of the importance of the elementary teachings? Repentance, faith, baptism, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment? Or is there something else, something more, to say...
Hebrews is God’s message for such a time as this.
Our first look into the "meat/solid food" of the gospel in Hebrews revealed that Jesus is our Great High Priest. The only other reference to this fact in the entire Bible is found in Psalm 110:4, saying that the Messiah, King David’s descendant, would be a "priest in the order of Melchizedek."
We learned that Jesus is not only "our great High Priest," but that he is the great High Priest of "our confession." We remembered that our confession (like Peter's) is: Jesus IS the Son of God. And Jesus being made in the order of Melchizedek is the High Priest of that confession, that is, He is the High Priest of "the Son of God." That confession is the bedrock (petra) of our faith. Therefore, He is the High Priest of the bedrock of our faith.
Our High Priest is not JUST a mere man (he is a man in every way like his brothers) but He is also the Son of God. He is both Man and God (Deity). And since he was made just like us and tempted in every way we are, yet without sin, he understands our weaknesses and can help us in our time of need. Hebrews 5:1 told us that a high priest is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God. What better person to represent both parties between Man and God than Jesus who is both Man and God.
Now that we have had a taste of the "meat/solid food" of the gospel from the middle of Hebrews (4:14-5:10), we will go back to the beginning of the book to continue our study in the order that the Writer presented.
To His glory, Scott R
We are learning in our Hebrews class (Hebrews 4:14-5:10) that Jesus is our Great High Priest.
Hebrews 2:17 says: Therefore he was obligated in all things to be made like his brothers, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people.
It was necessary for him to be just like us in every way. One of the things a High Priest does for us is to make atonement for the sins of the people.
Hebrews 4:14, Having then a great high priest, who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold tightly to our confession.
Jesus has already made it to heaven, we have a High Priest IN heaven acting on our behalf. So we can hold tightly to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God as we believe.
And it is not necessary for us to go through someone else to gain empathy from Jesus because Hebrews 4:15 says: For we don’t have a high priest who can’t be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who has been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin.
He feels and understands our pain so...
Hebrews 4:16, Let us therefore draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace for help in time of need.
In the first three weeks of class we have mapped out the discussion in Hebrews 4:14-7:28. Here are our results:
Several weeks ago we started our study of Hebrews. From previous Bible studies we learned that Hebrews identifies the elementary, foundational teachings about Christ. The Hebrews writer, in an effort to motivate his audience into moving on in their Christian development to becoming mature Christians presents information beyond the basics of the Christian faith that he calls "solid food" or "meat."
We started the class in Hebrew 5:11-6:3 where we are informed that there is such a thing as "elementary teachings" in Christianity that the writer calls "milk." He also tells us that milk is for infants who are unable to consume meat. And that infants are unskilled in the teachings about righteousness. Meat is for the mature who have trained themselves to distinguish good and evil through constant USE of the scriptures. The writer goes on to warn us that if we don't continue in our development then we are in danger of turning away and falling from God. He follows that with a message of hope.
In this study of Hebrews we are interested in following the clues from the Hebrew writer to identify and begin feeding on the meat of the gospel. We want to take the meat that God has supplied for us to chew on and nourish our faith.
By looking at Hebrews 5:11-6:3 and expanding into the surrounding context we can identify the discussion that causes the writer to encourage his audience to move out of the basics and into deeper Christian thought.
If you are interested in developing your faith, please join us on Sunday mornings for class.
In His love, Scott Reynolds
In the Hebrew text, Leviticus begins with the word "and" showing that it was the continuation of the story that was begun in Exodus, with which it stands as a unit. Exodus closes the primary stage of Hebrew history and begins the story of God's legislation to his people through the Law of Moses. Exodus is a prelude to and an introduction to Leviticus.
In Exodus 19:5-6 God makes this statement to the children of Israel after he rescued them out of Egyptian bondage, "Now therefore, if you* will obey my voice indeed and keep my covenant, then you* will be my own possession from among all peoples, for all the earth is mine, 19:6 and you* will be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you will speak to the sons of Israel."
"To be continued."
God is good, I love you all, Kevin C
Romans 1:5, ... obedience [that comes from] faith.
Romans 6:17-18 (WEB) 17 But thanks be to God, that, whereas you were bondservants of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching whereunto you were delivered. 18 Being made free from sin, you became bondservants of righteousness.
Romans 5:17 (WEB) 17 For if by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; so much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:16 (WEB) 16 The gift is not as through one who sinned: for the judgment came by one to condemnation, but the free gift came of many trespasses to justification.
Romans 5:18 (WEB) 18 So then as through one trespass, all men were condemned; even so through one act of righteousness, all men were justified to life.
Hebrews 5:8-9 (WEB) 8 though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered. 9 Having been made perfect, he became to all of those who obey him the author of eternal salvation,
2 Thessalonians 1:5-9 (WEB) 5 This is an obvious sign of the righteous judgment of God,... 6 Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay affliction to those who afflict you, 7 and to give relief to you that are afflicted..., when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 giving vengeance to those who don't know God, and to those who don't obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus, 9 who will pay the penalty: eternal destruction...
Due to hectic schedules of our teachers, including my own, I need to fill this column. Also, due to our current study of Hebrews, the previous study of Romans and the Fishers of Men course, I have been thinking about what the Bible has to say about Christianity…
What do faith, obedience, righteousness, justification, promise, law, love, grace, will & testaments, inheritance, sin, death, blood, sacrifice, life, and the list could go on, Our high priest and the importance of our bedrock confession regarding the Son of God come to mind, What do all these ideas have in common?
I’ve come to believe that RIGHTEOUSNESS equals SALVATION.
But there’s the rub. Is it our righteousness that saves us? Or God’s? And there, is the intersection with Law. Are we saved by following law? The Law of Moses? Of Christ? Any Law?
Law does not save. Any law. The promise saves. Salvation comes through the promise God made to Abraham. Law is for the lawless, not the righteous. As you can see we’ve only shallowly touched a fraction of the ideas involved in salvation. A narrow view focusing on only one of the ideas, like faith or baptism or even righteousness will skew our understanding of salvation.
The more we learn about the whole system and try to solve the many (solvable) puzzles, fitting everything together, the closer we get to the mind of God. What a marvelous adventure.
Or do you* not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor pedophiles, nor homosexuals, nor the greedy, nor thieves, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. And some of you* were these, but you* were bathed, but you* were sanctified, but you* were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) MLV.
In class yesterday in my Ethics class, we were discussing, an article that talks of how we as Christians as a whole condemn homosexuality. And yes rightfully so, but sometimes we go to the point that we condemn the individual including the act. Even if someone is in the act of homosexuality, or are living as a homosexual, we still have a responsibility to at least try to get a sit down with them to guide them to the way. If they refuse, than we have no choice but to clean the dust off our hands and kick the dirt from our feet. Ok, brother Cleary how do we go about doing that? In love, gentleness and, kindness. Those who practice such things will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. We are not gate keepers, we are servants of God and we are responsible to reach out to all men.
We are not to compromise, with those who practice such things. But we do need to reach out to all men , for God says He desires all men to repent, that none should perish.
Love is what separates us from the world.
God is good, I love you all
To present the sufficiency and superiority of Christ
The letter to the Hebrews was written to encourage Christians in a time of trial. It does so by focusing on the absolute supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ. While God spoke in the past "many times and in many ways," he has now spoken to us "by his Son," Jesus Christ, who is the "exact imprint" of God's nature and who "upholds the universe by the word of his power" (1:1-3).
Jesus accomplished complete salvation for all who trust in him (1:1-10:18).
This letter, whose author is unknown, was probably written between a.d. 60 and 70. The book of Hebrews is arranged in the group of 8 books of letters (called Other Letters or Epistles) in the Bible New Testament.
The superiority of Christ over everyone and everything is clearly demonstrated by the author. Christianity supersedes all religious systems and other attempts to reach God; it can never be surpassed. Where can one find anything better than Christ? Living in Christ is having the best of life. All competing religions are deceptions or cheap imitations.
Jews who had become Christians in the first century were tempted to fall back into Judaism because of uncertainty, the security of custom, and persecution. Today, believers are also tempted to fall back into legalism, fulfilling minimum religious requirements rather than pressing on in genuine faith. We must strive to live by faith each day.
God is good, Love you all
We are getting closer to the start of Leviticus, The Law was given to Moses to make a covenant between Moses and Israel and Jehovah. The Law was not a covenant between Israel and the Gentiles. So let us help the world understand that the Gentiles were with out hope under the Law, and the Gentiles were eternally lost. There are even brothers and sisters in the church that believe that we are to keep the whole Law of Moses, except "Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy." You can not keep 9 of the 10 commandments and throw out the one that says, "remember the sabbath and keep it holy." Jesus took the Law and all of it's statutes to the Cross. So if Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets how many of the 10 commandments are we to Keep?
Think about it brothers and sisters, How many are we supposed to keep?
God is good, I love you all.
In Jesus name, amen and amen
As I have been studying the Law of Moses, I find myself overwhelmed by the things that the Israelites had to perform to be forgiven.
As the scripture says, "What was written long ago, was for our learning." We must ask the Father to help us appreciate the Law of Moses, and yet not find our selves want to follow it. Many people today say, "we must follow the Ten Commandments," with out understanding that they would have to follow the whole of the Letter of the Law.
Paul tells us, that, if we follow the Law of Moses we have to follow it in its entirety. And if we break one of the least of the commandments we have broken the Whole law and are with out God and Christ.
God is good, I love you all. In Jesus name, amen and amen
Our Father in heaven, Holy is you name, and Sovereign are your ways. Help us Father, to protect our minds and our hearts from those things that would tempt us to be drawn away to the lust of the world, which tries to show us how beautiful the world is, which are not. Our minds Father, are a battle ground of goodness verses evil. Father, the devil is constantly bombarding us with the temptations that have corrupted the minds of many Christians to leave their first love for what they believe is going to make them happy. I pray to you Father, to help remind us of the things that are able to save us, and not condemn us. You Father have given us all things pertain to Life and Godliness. And your ways Father, are wonderful and beautiful, guiding us into our heavenly home. Thank you Father for your word, your Holy Spirit, your grace, and your abundant mercy. It is in the name of Jesus that I pray. Amen and amen.
God is good, I love you all.
Paul writes a message the church must understand: Because the wrestling in us is not with Blood and Flesh, but with the principalities, with the authorities, with the world dominions of the darkness of this age, with the spiritual ones of wickedness in the heavenly places Ephesians 6:12. This states that Christianity was not born in a hostile environment, but it exists in a hostile environment, and it thrives in a hostile environment.
The church must be militant, another words, spiritually, it is engaged in warfare or combat: fighting, aggressively active, combative. We are commanded to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). Our militancy is not because we do not love peace. We do love peace, but we love truth more. It love souls; and error and false teaching and philosophies damn souls (Colossians2:8)
Stick with truth no matter what.
God is good, I love you all
Even though the world celebrates this day as one of two holy days, the other being Christmas, Easter is the day most people celebrate as “Resurrection Day.” It is wonderful to have a family that celebrates “Resurrection Day” every 1st day of the week.
This day has been given to us as the anti-type, Passover is the type. It was the day that the messenger of death passed over those houses where the door posts and the door mantel where covered in blood as they were commanded.
The body and the blood of our Lord which now has become our Passover, reminds us of that dreadful day when an innocent man was illegally tried, tortured, crucified, buried and Rose from the dead as promised. Let us never stop, just on this day , to remember Jesus the Son of God.
God is good, I love you all
Kevin’s 2 cents. Happy Lord's day to everyone.
In Jesus Name Amen, and Amen.
Faith is shown in our deeds and words: "…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and have faith in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one faiths and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved" (Romans 10:9-10). To confess that Jesus is Lord is to confess your faith in the resurrection. To faith in the resurrection is to confess that Jesus is Son of God (Romans 1:4). Peter preached that the crucified Jesus has been made "both Lord and Christ" Acts 2:36). The confession that Jesus is Lord, Christ, and Son of God cannot exist in words alone.
We’ll discuss this more later, but the act of immersion is a confession of faith in the resurrection. Paul links immersion to an act of faith in Colossians 2:12. The person who demonstrates his faith by obediently being immersed shows his faith in the resurrection. As God raised Jesus, so He raises the immersed father to new life (Romans 6:4).
Our faith is grounded in the faith that God has raised Jesus from the dead and that He has promised to raise us from the dead if we will live in obedient faith to Him until our own death (Revelation 2:10). This faith is to define and guide our actions, it is our faith that keeps us connected to God and helps seek a deeper relationship with Him.
God is good. Love you all, in Jesus name, Amen, Amen
The cross of Christ was necessary for our Redemption: Because man had offended God by his sin. Genesis 3:1-6, describes how by Adams transgression, sin entered into the world. Also Romans 5:12, tells us again how sin entered the world. According to Isaiah 59:1-2, sin separated man from God.
You see all men are accountable and are guilty of sin before God. See Romans 3:10 and 3:25.
Man could not, and cannot provide a perfect sacrifice for his sins and thus he was lost unless God intervened. See John 3:16 and Romans 5:8. God loved us enough to send His own Son as a prefect sacrifice for the sins of the world. 1 Peter 2:22.
Christ bore our iniquities as He died on the cross for us. Isaiah predicted this in Isaiah 53:4-6. Christ became the sin sacrifice for us so that we might be reconciled back to Him according to 2 Corinthians 5:21.
We must contact the blood which brings about cleansing for past sins. This is done when we are baptized into the death of Christ according to Romans 6:1-18. Saul was told arise and be baptized in order to wash away his sins as Acts 22:16, reveals to us that this is the mode of reconciliation back to the Father, through Jesus our King.
God is good, Love you all Kevin J.
Jesus was greater than Abraham their father to whom God gave the Promises that would bless all mankind; he was greater than Moses and Elijah whom represented the Law and the Prophets and did the majority of the Old Testament miracles, Jesus Christ is supreme.
The writer of Hebrews explains it best. Heb 1:1-8, "God, having in the past spoken to the fathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, has at the end of these days spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds. His Son is the radiance of his glory, the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, who, when he had by himself purified us of our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; having become so much better than the angels, as he has inherited a more excellent name than they have. For to which of the angels did he say at any time, "You are my Son. Today I have become your father?"and again, "I will be to him a Father, and he will be to me a Son?" When he again brings in the firstborn into the world he says, "Let all the angels of God worship him." Of the angels he says, "Who makes his angels winds, and his servants a flame of fire." But of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your Kingdom." Amen! The Hebrew writer tells us of Jesus Supremacy.
Through the transfiguration Peter, James and John gained full confidence in who Jesus is. After reading about it in the bible we too can have that full assurance that Jesus is the Messiah, the true Son of God.
I hope to see you all soon. Rejoice in the Lord always! Rejoice! — Jim
So when we retell the stories found in the bible to others, we can trust that what we say is true and that we are being reliable witnesses ourselves for the cause of Christ.
If I may suggest a story to read, please read the story of the transfiguration found in Matthew 17, Mark 9 and Luke 9:26-36. We are studying this event in our Wednesday bible class. Peter was a faithful witness of the transfiguration along with James and his brother John. They witnessed Jesus physically turn into his pre-incarnate person; God, the second figure of the Holy Trinity. They witnessed also Moses and Elijah appear with the Lord and that they talked about what was soon to be accomplished in Jerusalem. They also witnessed God's booming voice tell them, "This is my beloved Son, my Chosen One, listen to him!" The three apostles were changed for life by what they saw. They saw God in his majestic glory! They also saw the two most influential characters from the Old Testament; Moses, who represented the Law, and Elijah, who represented the prophets. Peter tells us what he learned from this event in his second letter in chapter one, verses 12-21. Peter tells his readers what that event meant to him and what it means for us, that primarily God's word is true and reliable.
I encourage you to familiarize yourself with this story as well. We will have a more lively discussion about this on Wednesday if everybody has read through these stories beforehand. John alludes to this event in John 1:14-18 saying that he witnessed the glory of Jesus, who tabernacled with man, and that he himself is God and has explained God the Father to us.
For the love of Christ! — Jim
At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: "Cursed before the LORD is the man who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho: "At the cost of his firstborn son will he lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest will he set up its gates." Joshua, filled with the Holy Spirit uttered this oath and curse. This was God's way of saying that if Israel ever goes the way of the people of Jericho, full of idolatry and sin, and forsakes God and not heeding his warnings, they would be cursed and accursed. It took five-hundred years for this to happen, and the word of God stands forever. We see in 1 Kings 16:30-31, "Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him." So because of evil kings, the people turned their backs on God and forgot his word. As the head goes, so goes the body, we read in 1 Kings 16:34, "In Ahab's time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the LORD spoken by Joshua son of Nun." The people no longer feared God and didn't take him at his word. This man Hiel rebuilt Jericho in spite of the well known curse of Joshua to the peril of his oldest and youngest sons. It is possible to get to the point where sin blinds you from the truth of God's word. God is patient with us, but if we are no longer walking with him and are unrepentant of sin, we too will be cursed. To God be true!
A while back in our Wednesday Bible class we went over when Jesus passed through Jericho,and healed some people there as he was making his way to Jerusalem. At the time we also looked at a brief history of Jericho's past.
Jericho was the first city in the Promised land to be conquered by Joshua and Israel. The land of Canaan and Jericho in particular represented everything that can go wrong with a nation that turns its back on God. Jericho worshipped false gods, and that form of worship enticed the people by incorporating sexual activity in their corrupt worship. They had temple priests and priestesses who were known as temple prostitutes, and both men and women would have to pay their dues by visiting them for their services in order to have them bless their land and their crops and their harvests.
God tells us that the false gods they worshipped were actually demons, and being of Satan, who was called a murderer from the beginning, required the people of Jericho to offer their children by fire, which they willingly did. They were a people in a constant downward spiral of ever-degrading sin, getting worse and worse over time so that they reached a point of no return, they saw no need of repentance and what started out as a prophecy and curse from Noah on his son Ham and his son Canaan after the flood due to their evil heart, their evil attitude that was unrepented of over the span of 1,000+ years turned into an entire nation being so corrupt that God told Israel to devote them to destruction. God told Israel not to even spare anyone. Young and old, men, women and children along with all of their animals were to be put to the edge of the sword. They were punished for unrepented evil behavior, sexual immorality and idolatry to name a few.
That behavior is enough to make God curse. We need to examine our lives to see if we have any unrepented of sin and change.
This is the first of two great confessions that Peter himself will make about our Lord. Peter's confession told Jesus, and us posteriorly, that he believed there was no one else to turn to that could possibly fit the mold that he has made to be the Messiah. There was nobody else that could do the miracles he did. Peter knew he was from King David's lineage, he knew scripture very well for an "uneducated Galilean" so he recognized him, having been a disciple of John the Baptist along with Andrew, James and John, he was waiting for him to come upon the scene. When he arrived John the Baptist pointed him out to the disciples and made witness and confession of his own concerning Jesus. John said to them and all who were in attendance that day in the Jordan river saying, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said a man who comes after me has surpassed me because he existed before me. I did not recognize him but the One who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit,' I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God."
After hearing John's confession, they leave him and followed Jesus because he had the words of eternal life. From being with him for a little more than a year and a half and experiencing everything Jesus did and said, they came to not just believe, but know he was the Son of God.
Our Wednesday evening bible class is in the middle of Jesus' lesson on the bread of life in John chapter six. In it he says, "For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." Of course Jesus is speaking in figurative words which are about spiritual matters of belief in him. This statement horrified many who were listening to Jesus in the synagogue in Capernaum. Not every heart that hears the word is willing to accept it, for various reasons. But having faith is all about the heart that is willing to listen and accept the word of God, for they recognize that only God can fill that empty hole in their life. So they are the ones who open the door to their heart when they hear Jesus knock, and they invite him in. And they are taught of God, and the word is in their mouth and in their heart as Isaiah prophesied about. As for many of the Lord's disciples that day, they turned their backs on Jesus and stopped believing. It was a difficult teaching that many of the disciples couldn't accept. But those who were truly seeking God, those who were truly seeking the Messiah, those who sought after the Savior were patient in their judgment of the matter. They stayed with Jesus because they could tell that he was filling that empty place in their hearts that belongs exclusively to God.
Inside of us there is what is called the "Eternity Gene", and Solomon tells us about it, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in their hearts, yet so that man can't find out the work that God has done from the beginning even to the end." We have a natural desire to seek out God. Jesus tells us in Matthew that it should be ourfirst priority in life, "But seek first God's Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well." Also a chapter later, "Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened." For Peter, he searched for the Messiah along with his brother and friends, and when they found him, they stuck with him, even after this difficult teaching. When asked by the Lord if they wanted to leave too, Peter gives the greatest confession of the Lord in the bible. "Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Peter understood the spiritual aspect of what Jesus was trying to teach. That makes him a true believer and worshipper.
News about Jesus spread far and wide in the Holy Land including in the regions of the Gentiles, such as Samaria, Galilee and Phoenicia. After Jesus taught in the synagogue in Capernaum where many of his disciples turned away after hearing his teaching on the "Bread of Life," he and his disciples withdrew north along the seacoast to the region of Phoenicia. Other than to get away from the crowds and in particular, the Pharisees and scribes who questioned him as to why his disciples broke the traditions of the elders, he had no apparent reason to be way up there...or did he?
Though the Son of Man was sent to save the lost sheep of Israel, under the right circumstances Jesus would have mercy on gentiles who showed true faith. Jesus was met by a Canaanite woman who had that kind of faith. In Matthew 15:21-28, the story reads,
Jesus went out from there, and withdrew into the region of Tyre and Sidon. Behold, a Canaanite woman came out from those borders, and cried, saying, "Have mercy on me, Lord, you son of David! My daughter is severely possessed by a demon!" But he answered her not a word. His disciples came and begged him, saying, "Send her away; for she cries after us." But he answered, "I wasn't sent to anyone but the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and worshiped him, saying, "Lord, help me." But he answered, "It is not appropriate to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." But she said, "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Be it done to you even as you desire." And her daughter was healed from that hour.
How did this gentile woman hear of Jesus? How did she know how to properly address him as "Lord, and Son of David?" We are not told in the story, but someone witnessed to her about Jesus being the Christ. How this woman came to know about the Lord is really quite simple. In our Wednesday bible class we learned that Jesus quoted from Isaiah to describe to the crowd in the synagogue that nobody can come to him unless they are called first by the Father and that they would be taught by Him. (Is. 54:13, Jn. 6:37-46)
The Father, through his blessed word taught this woman, she heard the gospel somewhere and she believed it! She threw herself at Jesus feet and pleaded her case for her daughter and worshipped him. She wouldn't take "no" for an answer, and in humility, she lowered herself to the level as a dog who would eat the bread crumbs of the Living Bread of Jesus that fell off the table and onto the floor, she loved God and needed the Messiah's help so badly, she showed Jesus her true belief in him and he rewarded that faith by healing her daughter. Just from eating the crumbs on the floor of the bread of life she showed great faith. God's word, the true bread from heaven saves!
How hungry are you? Jim
Since the beginnng when God created mankind, he made them vegetarians. He gave them all fruit bearing trees to eat from (except one) and the seeds from the grasses of the field, which they would harvest and make bread from. So bread has always been in man's diet. For most of man's history they lived under agricultural societies and its main product was bread. Bread would sustain them through good times and bad times, through times of plenty and times of famine. You have to admit that just the thought of homemade bread can get your mouth watering as you imagine its smell and taste, it is the original comfort food. Bread sustained their lives, and they were dependent on it. When Moses led Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness, God provided them with a special, never before seen bread, a bread from heaven. This bread was a test to them to see if they would be obedient to him.
Exo 16:4, Then Yahweh said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from the sky for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law, or not."
The people gathered it and said, "What is it." Which in Hebrew is "manna," so that's what they called it. So for forty years they ate manna from heaven. But by Numbers 11:6, they were complaining about it saying,
"Now our appetite is gone and there is nothing at all to look at except this manna."
The people started loathing the bread from heaven. In Dt. 8:2-3 Moses had to explain to the people why they had to eat this bread for so long.
"You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD."
While fasting for forty days in the desert, going without bread and being very hungry, Jesus quoted part of this verse when Satan tempted him to turn stones into bread to eat, he said,
"Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."
In our Wednesday bible study we are about to go over one of the "I Am" statements that Jesus uses for himself to describe part of his role and nature in God's scheme of redemption.
In the gospel of John, 6:35 Jesus says, "I am the bread of life." He tells his people that he is the bread that comes down from heaven and that they needed to eat this bread to have eternal life. So we have our daily bread sustaining the physical body for life in this life on earth, and God's word through Jesus sustaining our souls for daily life in this life and for the next life in heaven as well.
Don't you think that mankind today is being tested the same way Israel was tested in the desert, to see if we would follow his instructions in regard to the bread he gives us. Brothers and sisters, there is a difference as to how much of the bread we can eat that Jesus gives us than what the Israelis were aloud to eat. Jesus didn't set a limit as to how much of the bread he offers that we can gather, in fact, dare I say, that we've been invited to an unlimited buffet! So savor God's word daily and share it with others, and enjoy the bread; the body of the Lord weekly with the saints. Isn't it fitting that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the house of bread?
Often in my quiet times with the Lord as I reflect on the lessons I've learned from his word, I will muse about how first century Christians had an advantage over us by being in his presence and hearing him speak and teach God's truth and work spectacular miracles. I can't help but think what a rock solid faith we would have, even to the point where it would no longer be faith, but fact, unquestionable and undeniable...reality, how could it not? But as I climb back up out of the rabbit hole of deep thought, and add up all the facts, I realize that we are really not disadvantaged at all.
When I evaluate my own faith, I know that there is nothing anyone can say to me that would make me change my mind about my belief in God, his word and 'what is unseen'. When we consider all the first hand eye witnesses that did see Jesus perform miracles and teach God's word and no detractor could refute anything Jesus said or did, and gave no proofs against them, the only conclusion you can honestly make is that those things are true and are then to believed, which we have.
When each subsequent generation of believers taught the next generation after the first century, Christians spread the blessed gospel to them, obeying Christ's command to teach all men what he taught them, you see the splendid endless cycle of 'teaching and belief' that has gone on over the centuries right up to us. One generation teaching the next, so that even the miracles that we didn't see first hand we can believe with all certainty because those who were first hand eye-witnesses wrote it all down for us; and by God's powerful word he preserves the integrity and reliability of it for us.
There-in lies the reason I have stopped thinking that we are disadvantaged being so far removed from the beginnings of Christianity; we have a reliable chain of witnesses and God's powerful word protecting all that we have come to believe in. Plus this, Peter, even though he was a firsthand eye-witness of miracle after miracle still had at times a weak faith and doubted. When he asked the Lord to command him to come out on the water, he had the faith to get out of the boat, but because of the ferocious wind and waves, after his first few steps, he took his attention and focus off of the Lord and focused on what scared him, and he started sinking, and he did the only thing a person can do when they're about to be swallowed up by 'life's problems', he cried out, "Lord save me!"
The aposle Paul encourages us with these words, 'walk by faith, not by sight.' Peter was walking by sight and not by faith. As we all have to do, we sometimes have to learn the hard way, and sometimes we need to repeat a mistake several times before we 'get it'. For us who have never 'seen', we have to "Fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen, is eternal. Let's not lose our focus, the Lord and his mission work. That is the only way to please God, we must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. We have an advantage over those who did 'see', Jesus said to Thomas, when he finally believed that Jesus rose from the dead, "Blessed are those who believe and have not seen."
Friends- be focused and BELIEVE! Jim
Jesus' first disciples became his very close friends, and confidants. Simon Peter, James and John, and on occasion Andrew were witness to events and explanations that the others were not.
The "Three", Peter, James and John were selected by the Lord to see the raising of Jairus' daughter from the dead (Mk. 5:21-24, 35-43), and they got to witness the Lord transfigure into his Glorious state on the mountain (Mk. 9:2-13),and were trusted to stand watch while Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before he was betrayed by Judas (Mk. 14:32-42). Jesus spoke privately to the three along with Andrew and explained to them the signs of his coming and destruction of Jerusalem and final judgment (Mk. Chapter 13).
The Lord was particularly close to James and John because he knew them well and they were his first cousins. John was referred to as "the disciple whom Jesus loved", and their mother Salome, Zebedee's wife was Jesus' mother, Mary's, sister. We know this from comparing the same event as written by Matthew and Mark.
Mar 15:40-41, 'There were also women watching from afar, among whom were both Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; who, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and served him; and many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.'
Mat 27:55-56 'Many women were there watching from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, serving him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.'
So, Salome was one of the women who would support the Lord's work financially and see to their needs. We now can understand perhaps why James and John put their mother up to asking Jesus for a very special request of letting her sons sit on Jesus left and right side of his throne in heaven, seeing there was a need to oblige this request because of family ties of closeness and financial support. Though it wasn't within the Lord's purview to grant such a request, he asked the men if they were willing to drink the cup that I drink, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? To which they answered, "We are able." Jesus said they would indeed go through the same trials and those words rang true nearly fifteen years later when king Herod Agrippa had James killed with the sword. So sadly, Salome experienced the same grief over the loss of a son as her sister Mary had. It must have been comforting and amusing for Jesus to have family so close that such a request could be asked.
So close were John and Jesus that Jesus committed the care of his own mother to the apostle John while he hung on the cross to redeem mankind. And what love was shown to his mother in that while he was in such pain and agony, he still had the presence of mind to make final care arrangements for his mom. Mary lost and gained a son that day. We can confidently say that Mary and her sister Salome and all the other women who attended to Jesus needs, along with Jesus brothers who were now believers because of the resurrection, were with the eleven apostles and disciples totaling 120 believers in that upper room on the day of Pentecost.
And from all of those they won the world for Christ, whom now we are part of that family too! —Jim
Life in the first century for Christians was full of ups and downs; they had periods of fear and uncertainty, and times of joy and exultation. There was continually a fear of persecution, imprisonment and death, but it was balanced by the blessings from God and his unconditional love for his children and their hope of heaven.
Paul experienced all of those ups and downs, and from prison he wrote some of his most powerful letters. The brothers and sisters of the early church could have walked around with long faces with all the turmoil they had in the world at that time, but they did not.
Paul issued an apostolic command while jailed, that was based on a moral obligation that every Christian is under, then and now. That moral obligation is to rejoice! Paul in his Philippian letter in 4:4 said, "Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again rejoice!" Twelve times Paul uses the word; 'rejoice' in his letter, as he encouraged the bretheren to be at peace and of good cheer despite the suffering they were going through. By choosing to be happy and rejoice, in spite of the afliction they were experiencing shows the inner peace and hope of salvation they have in the life to come.
Jesus too told his followers, "Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven."
"Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been put to grief in various trials, that the proof of your faith, which is more precious than gold that perishes even though it is tested by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ— whom not having known you love; in whom, though now you don't see him, yet believing, you rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory— receiving the result of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
In light of all the turmoil in our present lives, and in this crazy world in which we live, these words ring just as true for us.
So, Rejoice! Jim
As the year 2020 draws to an end and we reflect back on all that has happened, what a year 2020 has been. We have never experienced anything like it. The elephant in the room of course that can't help but be noticed was COVID-19. Never in our lifetime has anything changed every aspect of our life like this pandemic.
Sadly it looks as though we will continue to be "plagued" by this pandemic into 2021. Look at the hysteria it has caused the people in the world that have no hope or trust in God. Because of this malevolent virus and the negative effect it has on hopeless people, we have seen; the worst and the best of leadership throughout our land, political strife, civil unrest, and disobedience and violence. Christians have faith in the Holy Living God of Heaven and Earth and we know that he is in control, nothing that has been happening on earth has escaped his attention, and yes, he has been caring for and has been protecting us all the way. Most of the good decisions being made in this country are being made by leaders who acknowledge and believe in God, and so we thank God for them. We see that it is the Godless who are causing all the strife and division in our country, so this behavior doesn't come as a surprise to us, after-all, hasn't one of their leaders said, "Never let a good crisis go to waste"? In view of all that is happening around us do not let it change our focus on what is important in this life; our love of God and love for our fellow man.
So as we head into 2021, keep your chin up, mask on and march forward, though maintaining six feet apart and try to keep your sense of humor. Keep in mind Proverbs 17:22 which says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up your bones." Do not let what is happening all around us crush your spirits, follow Paul's advice to the Philippians, "Rejoice in the Lord always! I will say it again, REJOICE!!!" My sister Laura sent me an email that had the year 2020 in review. I found it amusing, so I'm passing on to you.
Just ten days before the crucifixion, Jesus and His disciples set out for Jerusalem, they had been in Jericho where Jesus gave them specifics about what was going to happen there.
He told them that the Son of Man would be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they would condemn Him to death, and would hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day, He would be raised up.
With the weight of the world on His shoulders, and knowing in full detail what would soon happen, Jesus still had the wonderful and loving attitude He always had. His love for mankind didn't waiver.
Many of us, if we were in His circumstance, would be terrified, angry, so consumed with "trying to get out of it," we would unlikely notice or care about someone else who had problems.
But not Jesus. He stuck to the mission to seek and save the lost, He still put others first. He left us with such good examples of grace under fire. In the face of meeting His own death, observe Jesus' love for the unfortunate.
Mat. 20:29-34, "As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed Him. And two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, "Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!"
(Mark's retelling of this event mentions that one of the men's name is Bartimeus. By these men calling Jesus, "Son of David," it is an acknowledgement to their faith in Him because that is the same as calling Him Messiah)
The crowd sternly told them to be quiet. (The crowd that followed actually tried to silence them...can you imagine? But isn't that like the world and Satan? They will do everything to keep a soul from finding the Lord's salvation.)
But they cried out all the more, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, "What do you want Me to do for you?"
(They showed their determination to get the Lord's attention and their efforts were rewarded. Jesus knew what they wanted, and He wanted to heal them because He loved them, He just wanted them to express it and ask for it out of faith.)
They said to Him, "Lord, we want our eyes to be opened." Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him."
Mark's account mentions that after Jesus healed them He said, "Go, your faith has made you well." He dismisses them. After having compassion on them and giving them sight, a life altering event, going from blackness to seeing clearly, they received their sight, believing in Jesus, the Light of all men.
They ignored Jesus dismissing them and followed Him. We don't know for how long they went with them on Jesus journey to Jerusalem, I would like to think that they became disciples of Jesus. Just think about the events that their new eyes were to behold in the next week.
Jesus is God's compassion in action. Cling to Him brothers and sisters!
To establish truth or guilt God required that a matter be established by eyewitnesses who could give testimony.
Moses writes in Dt. 19:15,
"One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall a matter be established."
Jesus likewise used this standard for his church. Mat. 18:16,
"But if he hear thee not, take with thee one or two more, that at the mouth of two witnesses or three every word may be established."
And Paul also used it in his second letter to the Corinthians 13:1,
"This is the third time I am coming to you. At the mouth of two witnesses or three shall every word be established."
So God himself provided to Mary and Joseph people who would give eyewitness testimony to establish as truth the words spoken by the angel Gabriel. First are the shepherds who came and saw the baby Messiah in the manger and told Mary and Joseph all that happened to them and what they heard. Then came the Maji from the east and worshipped the King of the Jews that was born. When the mother and father of our Lord took him to the temple to present him to God, we had both Simeon and Anna take the child and prophesy about him and bless them and praise God for getting to see the consolation of Israel.
God himself also gave eyewitness testimony concerning his Son. At Jesus baptism, at the transfiguration and at the market place when the Greek men were seeking audience with Jesus, God thundered from heaven,
"This is my Son whom I love, with him I am well pleased.",
"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased-listen to him!" and,
"I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again."
Brothers and sisters it is a well established fact that Jesus is the Christ, the King of kings and the son of the Living God of heaven.
The proclamation of great news is often made into a special event. When a young couple decides to tie the knot and get married, careful consideration is given to what kind of announcement cards are used. Often the available cards to pick from are just not good enough and they end up designing their own special announcement card. The same is true in announcing the birth of a child, a lot of thought goes into how that will be done.
My daughter Amy, told Ruth and I, that she was going to have another child and came up with a rather fun and unique way to tell us what the sex of the child would be. She brought over a black balloon filled with either pink or blue paint and a bow and arrow and attached it to a tree and had me pop the balloon with the arrow... yes, it did put a lot of pressure on me to show off my bow skills, but much to my amazement I popped the balloon and pink paint exploded all over, announcing to us that Amy and David were going to have a baby girl. To me, that was better than an announcement handed to me on a silver platter!
God, no doubt, had the most elaborate announcement of all time concerning the birth of his son. God sent first, an angel to proclaim the birth of the Christ child to some shepherds who were tending their flock at night.
"And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them,
'Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.'
And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!'
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,
'Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.'
And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them."
Such great news needed a great announcement and God gave exactly that. Though Joseph and Mary were very poor, God our father provided the most glorious birth announcement anyone could ever want.
As we enter our study of Peter, it is important to point out that we are entering a new "era" or "dispensation" in the bible known as the Christian era or Christian dispensation. An era is a period of time characterized by a notable historical event that has occurred. Such eras include the pre-flood and post- flood eras where the great global flood of Noah's time is the historical event that marks the period of time on earth before and after the flood. In our dispensation, the birth of our Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth is the single most significant event the world has ever known; God being born as a man and living among his creation. It was an event even more significant than the flood itself which destroyed the world's sinful inhabitants at that time. It is more important because the birth of the Christ Child will bring everlasting life to all of mankind who believe in him. The words era and dispensation vary slightly in that dispensation is a more descriptive word to illustrate important aspects in the moments of God's dealings with man.
Daniel Webster describes the word dispensation this way:
"That which is dispensed or bestowed; a system of principles and rites enjoined; as the Mosaic dispensation; the gospel dispensation; including, the former the Levitical law and rites; the latter the scheme of redemption by Christ."
You know what? They talked funny in the Puritan Era so; a dispensation is a significant moment in time marked by a historical event in which a method or scheme of the unfolding of God's love,mercy, and grace that God uses to carry out his will for the redemption of mankind. Synonyms for dispensation are; administration, stewardship, management and economy. There are three major dispensations throughout the bible. The Patriarchal, the Mosaic and the Christian dispensations. As a biblical excersize, see if you can determine times, places and events that mark the various dispensations in the bible. Examine also these bible passages that use these words for dispensation. 1 Cor.9:17; Eph.1:10; 3:2,9; Col.1:25; 1 Tim. 1:4
As we establish the main characters in our study of Peter, God first shows us in the gospels of Matthew and Luke the family of Joseph and Mary, and Zacharias and Elizabeth. They are related through the maternal side; Mary and Elizabeth share the same blood. When the angel Gabriel announces God's plan of salvation to Mary and that she would carry God's Son, the Messiah, he gives her a sign of proof that her relative (kinswoman, possibly a cousin or second cousin) who is old and barren is in her sixth month of pregnancy. So this family has two miracle babies! Nothing is impossible with God. And that also makes Jesus and John related. These two children would grow up to be so vitally important to not just Israel, but to the whole world. John would be the harbinger, ushering in and making the people ready for the Messiah who was to follow.
Peter may have been one of John's disciples along with Andrew his brother and their fishing partners James and John. So these four men were keeping a watchful eye out for the messiah. James and John we can trace through Matthew, Mark and John's account of the crucifixion, and of who were there of the women that followed Jesus and witnessed his death are the sons of Mary's sister Salome, making them first cousions of Jesus. Mary and Joseph had children themselves and they are: James, Joseph, Simon and Judas and daughters though not mentioned by name, making them half brothers and sisters. So if we were to see a gathering of this holy family, they would be: Zacharias, Elizabeth, John, Joseph, Mary, Jesus, James, Joseph, Simon, Judas, Jesus' sisters, Zebedee, Salome, James and John. Look at all the names in this family and you see many of them contributed greatly for the cause of Christ.
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Zachariah in the temple, he announced God's plan for he and his son in the scheme of redemption. The angel made seven points to him that we can see become fulfilled as we read the gospel story.
The points are:
Likewise the angel told the details of God's plan of salvation as revealed to Mary and Joseph with these points:
As we go through our study, look for these points and make note of them; this will show you God's invisible hand at work, exercising his providence and will to fulfill his word.
As we enter the gospel period of time in our Wednesday study, we are introduced to two families; Zachariah and his wife Elizabeth and Mary and her betrothed Joseph. It is a very wonderful time to say the least because we read of supernatural events taking place which causes great excitement in these families and their communities. God sends an angel; Gabriel, to Zachariah and to Mary, to announce to them that God would bless them with a child. To Zachariah, his wife who was barren would be blessed with a child that would be the 'Elijah' that was to come and make straight paths for the Messiah and to Mary he told her that she would bear the Son of the Most High and that God would give him the throne of his father David and that his kingdom would have no end. It may have even been the angel Gabriel who came to Joseph in a dream after he had contemplated divorcing his wife quietly and explained to him that the baby conceived in her was from the Holy Spirit and that the child would save his people from their sins. The lives of these four people would be changed forever as well as the lives of the people of the whole world. I would highly encourage you to read these particular stories from the gospel because they are an excellent revealing of our Christian history, they can be found in; Luke 1:5-56 and Mat.1:18-25. They aren't only just a lesson in history for us but there are lessons we too can apply in our lives. One such lesson is about belief. In Zachariah's case he doubted when Gabriel told him God's plan, he said to Gabriel, "How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years." He was immediately punished for his disbelief by being struck mute. Mary had an attitude that should be emulated by all believers, her response was, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And Joseph too was faithful in his due dilligence and took Mary as his wife. Let's have good and positive attitudes in our lives and service to our Lord as we seek to serve him too. For his glory! Jim
God's people in the Old Testament went through many trials that tested their faith and allegiance to God. Exodus 20:20 (NASB) Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin." God knows that man is prone to sin. God loves us and knows that sin can enslave us and be our 'master'. He is a jealous God and wants all of our devotional focus on him, not idols. We are to have no other gods except him, today we may not bow before an image made of wood or stone, but we create idols of other types in our lives that are sinful. Paul tells the Philippians, 3:18-19,"For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things." The phrase "whose god is their belly" means; our carnal appetites can become our gods or idols in this life and that makes us enemies of Jesus. If unrepented of, our idol worship can cause us to be eternally lost.
Sin can so consume us it literally can deceive us and blind us to the lost spiritual state we are in. Israel found that out the hard way, they rejected all the prophets who warned them to repent and their sin got so bad that the Assyrian kings killed many of them and carried the rest of them away. Judah too soon found itself in the same predicament years later. 2 Chr.36:16 "but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and scoffed at his prophets, until Yahweh's wrath arose against his people, until there was no remedy." No remedy; nothing could fix or heal them, they were in spiritual hospice waiting to die. God had to destroy them to get their attention, most of them were slaughtered and a remnant were exiled to Babylon for 70 years. John tells us that there is sin that leads to death, I believe it is sin that is unrepented of that has become an idol in our life, John then concludes his letter by saying, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols."
— Jim L
As we have stated in our Wednesday evening bible study: The Apostle Peter, we are "setting the table," so to speak, to set up the mood of the day.
I ask you to read 2nd Chronicles 36 and if you have the gumption, the book of Daniel also. These verses from the bible have some rich history we can go over to better help us understand what Israel and Judah in particular just went through that shapes their thinking and attitudes during Peter's day.
If you read the book of Daniel, pay particular attention to the dreams of both the king of Babylon and Daniel himself because they both cover the world empires that will be of interest to us.
Happy reading and I can't wait to discuss these topics in class with you.
See you then. Jim
It may be difficult for some of us to imagine that an all powerful eternal God has walked with mankind on earth through all the ages; but it's not difficult for us to imagine one who reigns from heaven and directs the affairs of man from there. But we do have a God who is a "hands on God", and has interacted with his creation on an intimate level, face to face even.
The apostle John tells us in John 1:18 (NRSV)
So it took the Son of God to actually reveal the Father to us through his life and teachings.
John further tells us, John 14:6-11 (NRSV)
Jesus said to him,
Philip said to him,
Jesus said to him,
So the oneness of the Godhead is shown to us in Jesus' statement. When we see Jesus, we see the Father, for they are one in purpose and mind. Jesus has interacted with his creation in many different forms.
In the Garden of Eden we see it is in the form of the eternal being, "Jehovah Elohim", which is "LORD God." He was the first law giver, and gave Adam the Law of Sin and Death to follow, yes — Jesus did that. — Jim
Having completed a study in the elementary teachings of Christ, we will be examining the life of Simon the son of John whom the Lord gives the nick-name Peter.
Peter is one of my favorite characters in the bible because he is an average working class guy who has many flaws and many wonderful traits. Jesus saw great potential in Peter and mentors him to become the 'Rock' which he saw him as.
This class will be for young teenagers who want a deeper understanding of our faith so that they may have a faith of their own and become a Christian one day, so the 'milk' of God's word will be taught; plus there will be plenty of 'meat' to chew on in this class for the mature audience as well.
My expectaion for this class is that upon its conclusion, we can all be of the same mind that if God can use a person like Peter in his ministry, he can use me too! I hope to see you all this Wednesday.
In his service — Jim
Lately, in preparation for our future class on the book of Hebrews, we have been exploring the concept of types & antitypes. The idea came as a result of looking at Adam (referred to by Paul as a "type of" Christ) & Jesus in Romans 5:12-21, baptism and the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, in Romans 6:1-11, and Peter, when talking about the flood, mentions that the "antitype" (of the flood), namely baptism, now saves us, 1 Peter 3:20,21. We learned that types & antitypes are for making comparisons. You can hold the type up closely against the antitype for contrasting effect (juxtapose). This is what the Bible does in Romans 5, 6 and 1 Peter 3, as mentioned above.
Last Sunday night, in the PM sermon, we looked at Ephesians 5:21-33, where Paul makes the comparison between the husband, wife relationship and the relationship Christ has with His church. Paul used this comparison to instruct us on how we ought to behave in our marriage relationships, emphasizing that this contrast was intended for us to make the comparison. In fact, he says, "Therefore," and states the law of marriage. Then says, "This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church." (i.e. because God wanted to show man the importance of His relationship with His church, He designed marriage.)
In other words, the marriage relationship AS a type of Christ and His church IS THE reason marriage exists!
Marriage is the ONLY authorized relationship for sexual union because God designed it (marriage) to show the relationship of Christ and His church. That is why all other sexual unions are wrong (because they don't show the relationship Christ has with His church). Not because of some "phobia" we may be accused of having.
Further, Jesus connects the dots for us when He was asked what was proper behavior regarding marriage. He says, "Have you not read that He who created them FROM THE BEGINNING (predating Moses) made them male and female, and said, 'THEREFORE, '" and He states the law of marriage, (i.e. because I made them male & female, they are to be married), Matthew 19:3-6.
THE REASON why God made us male and female is to be married and our marriage was DESIGNED to show the relationship of Christ and His church. And that IS WHY marriage between a man and a woman is the ONLY relationship that is RIGHT for sexual union and ALL OTHER relationships are NOT. See 1 Corinthians 6:13b-20.
— Scott R (The power of the type and antitype)
One of the things Hebrews reveals is a series of comparisons between Angels and Jesus, Moses and Jesus, Jesus and Melchizedek, and the Levitical High Priest and Jesus our High Priest, all showing the superiority of Jesus. Not to mention comparisons between the Tabernacle and Heaven, the old and new covenants, and between animal sacrifices and Jesus' sacrifice.
But, there are other things mentioned too. In the passage of Hebrews that identifies and contrasts the elementary teachings to teachings for the mature Christian we find a context that is the book of Hebrews in miniature. The Hebrew writer is in the middle of a deep discussion when he stops to give a criticism, a list of elementary teachings, and a warning to his audience. After the warning he returns to his discussion right where he left off. We see this cycle of instructing & warning repeated over several times.
The instruction is aimed to address the warnings the writer presents to his audience to help them maintain their walk with Christ. Some warnings are listed.
Take time to read Hebrews and see for yourself how the writer tailors his instruction to the warnings he presents. Give careful thought to his message. It is as pertinent today as it was 2,000 years ago.
— Scott R
Thanks to Jim Lokenbauer for an excellent study on “the elementary teachings about Christ” from Hebrews 6:1,2.
Jim plans on taking us through a study on the Apostle Peter next. We’re looking forward to his class.
Following that, I would like to present a class on the book of Hebrews. It is in the context of discussing difficult Biblical ideas that the Hebrew writer tells us what the elementary teachings about Christ are. This Biblical definition of what constitutes the basic/elementary principles/doctrine that are foundational to the Gospel appears almost incidentally. Without this list we would be left to our own opinion/understanding of what forms the basics of the oracles of God (Hebrews 5:12).
The book of Hebrews is a case study of the “meat” of the gospel. In our Hebrews class we will take a look at the arguments the author makes with a mind of trying to understand what he is saying and for what purpose.
While Jim is on vacation, I plan on presenting, over the next Wednesday or two, a brief overview of the book of Hebrews. We will identify the structure, outline, and some arguments of the book and look for clues to what was motivating the writer to pen the book. Hopefully this will stimulate interest for everyone to read & study the book of Hebrews in preparation for the future class.
See you Wednesday Evening —Scott R
By the power of Jesus' word he created the heavens and the earth and holds everything together by it (Ps.33:6, Heb.1:3) Creation was the start of time, year zero. In that same year, he established his law to Adam and Eve, the law of sin and death. Through the twisting of God's word Satan deceived the first couple and got them to break that law. Mankind chose to listen to Satan and therefore has been under his influence ever since. God has a plan to redeem mankind and save them from the power of Satan and his fate.
Two thousand years later, God Jesus established a people who would be God's chosen people. He appeared to Abraham and gave him three great promises; a family, a land, and a Savior Messiah from his bloodline that would bless the world.
Two thousand years after that, the Savior was born in Bethlehem through the lineage of King David, the fulfillment of the third promise to Abraham. He taught the people the gospel of the kingdom of God; repentance and obedience and love and peace are the core of those teachings.
These are some of the reasons as to why Jesus came down from heaven.
"I must preach the good news of God's kingdom." (Luke 4:43)
Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. (Mat.5:17)
Jesus was born King of the Jews and came to testify to the truth. (John 18:37)
Jesus came to die on the cross to redeem mankind. (John 3:16, 12:27-33)
John tells us in his first letter 1 Jn.3:8,
"He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil."
It has been nearly two thousand years since Jesus died on the cross and rose again to redeem mankind back to himself and destroy the works of Satan. It seems like these two thousand year periods are marked with significant religious events, the only promise yet to be fulfilled is Jesus second coming which will bring about the destruction of creation and the end of time. It's also when the resurrection and Judgment Day occurs and the unbelievers and Satan and his army of demons will be thrown into the lake of fire, and the redeemed will enter heaven for eternity.
And you know what? Two thousand years passing is upon us, are you ready? —Jim
Jesus our master and savior knows how to mold and shape each of his disciples into his image.
In Paul, James and John, and Peter we have men who had the spirit of the sons of thunder. Their thought processes were worldly and carnal and not on the things of God. Saul (Paul) delivered on his murderous threats, James and John seriously wanted to rain down fire on the Samaritans and incinerate them and were jealous over others calling on the name of the Lord besides them and Peter forcefully took Jesus aside and rebuked the Son of God for revealing that he was going to Jerusalem to be killed by the gentiles.
In each of these events, the Lord showed his wisdom in dealing with each of them, whether it was a sharp rebuke or blinding light he knew how to get through to them to redirect their thoughts and actions to do his will.
Examine their attitudes in these verses. Act 9:1, Mar 9:38, Mat 16:23, Luke 9:53-55. Their manner of spirit was worldly, thinking only from the human viewpoint, they could've easily been influenced by the evil one while walking according to the flesh (Eph 2:1-3; 6:10-13). That should make us stand up and take notice, they were with the Lord and were still carnal minded and/or influenced by the evil one.
Thankfully the one whom they called "Lord" is stronger than he who is in the world. Unfortunately, Judas Iscariot, who was very carnal minded, never changed spiritually and his faith and life was influenced and destroyed by Satan. We as humans have so many obstacles to overcome to be faithful to Jesus and be led by the Spirit, but God is faithful!
The greatest challenge to our faith is what baggage we carry around with us from our lives prior to becoming Christians. Also our own frailties and weaknesses and lack of biblical knowledge are hindrances too. It is only through prayer, reading and studying God's word, being a part of a body of believers, and keeping God's word at the forefront of our thoughts that can remedy this. We need to carry our cross daily as we go through our lives so as to influence our decisions and actions that we can be the clay that's set apart for noble purpose for the Master Potter to transform us into something special. If we will believe we'll be set free by his words and if we reject him we'll be judged by Jesus' words.
John 8:31-32, "So, Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, 'If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.' "
John 12:48, "There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day."
Let us be ready. —Jim
Matthew chapter 25 has three parables that depict the Savior being away on a long journey, as He is right now. Upon His return, which will be His second coming, it shows how He deals with His followers, not those who don't believe and reject Him in this life, but His followers.
The first is the Ten Virgins. It shows two types of believers, wise and foolish.
(Hebrews 9:28 "so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.")
(Matthew 25:13 "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.")
The second parable is the Talents, three are given talents acording to their abilities.
(Romans 12:6-8 "We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.")
(John 15:8 "By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.")
The final parable which we will go over in detail this coming Wednesday bible study, is called the Final Judgment, or the Sheep and the goats, and it may surprise you just who exactly are the goats.
After God created the heavens and the earth and all that was in them, He planted a garden in Eden and placed man there to tend to it. In the middle of the garden God planted two special trees, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He told man that he was free to eat from any of the trees except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they were commanded not to eat from that tree or the punishment of death would come upon them.
Presented to mankind was a choice,
After time, the two innocent souls were confronted by that age old protagonist Satan, who through trickery and twisting the word of God beguiled Eve and the woman and the man ate of the forbidden fruit, breaking the only command they were given.
After God meted out judgment and punishment on them all, deferring man's death sentence till a latter time at the end of all time, a final judgment day, He instituted temporary systems of atonement using animal sacrifices. He also removed their access to the tree of life.
Because of the original couple's sin and condemnation, a death sentence was presented to all mankind, because all have sinned, all will die. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the only man to have led a sinless life which meant He was righteous in the sight of the law and by Him being willing to be crucified illegally made Him the perfect atoning sacrifice to take away man's sin. By having faith in Jesus Christ, believing that He is the Son of the Holy Living God of Heaven, and that God raised Him from the dead, we receive mercy and grace from that loving God and we have peace with Him.
Since Jesus death burial and resurrection, mankind is now faced with a new choice, believe in Jesus Christ as your personal savior and have future access to the tree of life, or reject the Savior and face eternal condemnation in the lake of fire.
Tree of Life references;
Gen.2:9, 3:22, 3:24, Rev.2:7, 11, 22:14
Soon we'll be studying the sixth and final elementary teaching; eternal judgment.
Immediately following the resurrection, judgment on mankind happens and the destruction of creation takes place. According to Peter's account, the heavens and the earth and everything in them will be burned up. The gospel gives us so many warnings of the judgment to come. Even as Jesus was casting out evil spirits, they knew who Jesus was, the Messiah, the Son of God! They actually gave testimony as to who He was! Listen to these testimonials.
"What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?"
When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and bowed down to him, and crying out with a loud voice, he said, "What have I to do with you, Jesus, you Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, don't torment me." and after that meeting all of the disciples were believers
Demons also came out of many, crying out, and saying, "You are the Christ, the Son of God!" Rebuking them, he didn't allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.
As we were going to prayer, a certain girl having a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much gain by fortune telling. Following Paul and us, she cried out, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us a way of salvation!"
The evil spirit answered, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?"
Those demons knew Jesus was the Son of God, that salvation was through Him, that there was coming a day of judgment and that they would be tormented for all eternity.
Brothers and sisters! With the belief and knowledge the bible gives us, let us not be out-evangelized by demons! Time may be short and hell is an awful horrible place, we need to tell others about Jesus, God is being patient with us, He doesn't want anyone to suffer this fate, and wants all to repent!
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
As the hymn goes,
"Will your sheaves be many, will you garner any for the gathering at the harvest home?"
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