Christianity 201

May 29, 2018

The Chastisement of Our Peace

Sometimes a reader will leave a comment at very old post here, and it will remind me that the article might be worth sharing again. This one is from January, 2011…


He was wounded for our transgressions.

Those words, from the KJV of Isaiah 53:5 are probably among the scripture verses most known by heart.

By his stripes we are healed.

If you grew up Pentecostal or Charismatic, there is no escaping teaching on that part of the verse; no escaping the connect-the-dots between the scourging Christ suffered and the healing that is available to us today, in the 21st century.

But what about the third of the four clauses in that verse? Here’s the whole verse in the new NIV:

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah, in this Messianic prophecy is saying that Christ’s suffering has brought us forgiveness for our transgressions and iniquities as well as (if you’re not dispensationalist) healing of mind and body.

But there it is, in the second-to-last, a reference to peace.

I mention all this because of a post I did this morning at Thinking Out Loud, where a U.S. pastor had his congregation complete an index card indicating the trials they were facing and the burdens they were carrying. If Isaiah 53 applies, then it must apply to the point of bringing peace to the very doubts, anxieties, fears, angers, jealousies, anger, pride, insecurities, addictions, pain, disappointments, attitudes… and everything else that people mentioned on those little 3-by-5 cards.

First, let’s do some translation hopping:

  • He took the punishment, and that made us whole (Message)
  • The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him (NASB)
  • the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him (Amplified)
  • He was beaten so we could be whole. (NLT)
  • The punishment which gives us the peace has fallen on him (tr. of French – Louis Segond)

Clearly, the intent of this verse is that our peace is part of the finished work of Christ on the cross.

The New International Bible Commentary says:

Peace and healing view sin in terms of the estrangement from God and the marring of sinners themselves that it causes.

The ESV Study Bible notes on this verse concur:

His sufferings went to the root of all human vice.

Lack of peace as sin? Worry and anxiety as sin? That’s what both of these commentators seem to say.

The Wycliffe Bible Commentary makes clear however that the peace that is brought is a general well-being, not simply addressing the consequences of sin.

But in the Evangelical Bible Commentary, something else is suggested, that the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 is bringing a peace that represents the restoration between God and man.

Many of the other commentaries and study Bibles I own do not directly address this phrase. A broader study of the chapter reveals a Messiah suffering for all of the burdens we bear, such as the ones listed above in the pastor’s survey. (“Oh, what peace we often forfeit; oh, what needless pain we bear…”)

I’d be interested if any of you can find any blog posts or online articles where this particular phrase is addressed apart from the wider consideration of the verse as a whole.

At this point, let’s conclude by saying that the finished work of Christ on the cross is sufficient for all manner of needs we face; all types of burdens we carry.

December 15, 2017

The Lamb of God

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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This is a first-time visit to Vicki who writes at the blog Homeward Bound. The article below is part one of two, at the bottom is a link to the second part which provides the New Testament resolution to the sacrificial system. Click the title of each if you wish to read at source.

The Lamb of God: Old Testament

I used to watch a show called Lonely Planet, where the guide went to different countries and around the world, where the culture was different from North America. Quite often there were lambs killed, and one thing I noticed was that they never made a sound..they go to their death without struggle. Often it moved the guide to tears. And so I have been dwelling on the Lamb of God, who went to the cross without struggle, going to complete the work He came into this world to accomplish, to pay the penalty for sin and to shed His precious blood, and die on the cross.

There are many references to lambs in the bible, but these are a few specific ones that came to my mind in dwelling upon this subject. The first one is in Gen.3:21 “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Adam and his wife had tried to cover themselves with fig leaves after their disobedience to the command of God, but this covering was by their own works. God covered them with the skins of animals, requiring the shedding of blood. Nothing could cover the sins of Adam and Eve but that which God gave them, just as our sins are covered by the precious blood of Christ, Romans 4:6-8..2 Cor 5:19, 1 Peter 1:19 “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

The next instance that comes to my mind is that of Abel, “he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering” (Gen 4:4) Abel’s offering was acceptable being that which was not of the work of his own hands, but desired the sacrifice of one of the firstlings of his flock. And we know that because Abel’s offering was accepted by God, and Cain’s was not, Cain in a fit of rage murdered his brother. And still today, this old world tries to find its way to heaven by doing good works, and not by faith.

Next is Abraham and Isaac, that wonderful story of trust, obedience and grace. When God required Abraham to sacrifice his only begotten son (that which was promised by God- Isaac, and not his son by the will of the flesh which was Ishmael) Abraham did not hesitate, but took Isaac to Mount Moriah where he completely trusted that “I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” (Gen 22:5). Even though Abraham knew that he was to sacrifice Isaac, he believed that somehow Isaac would return with him. And when Isaac inquired of his father “…where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” (Gen 22:7) Abraham said these words “…my son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (Gen 7:8), and of course, the animal was provided at exactly the right moment “…and Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns…”(Gen 22:13) and so the animal provided by God is slain in Isaac’s stead, Abraham’s trust and obedience were shown grace, and Isaac fulfilled his destiny.

A very graphic example of the Lamb of God is given in Exodus 12, during that fateful night when the firstborn of Egypt would die..there is a wonderful progression here, Verse 3 “…in the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb…..a lamb for an house.” one of many, a lamb. Then in Verse 4 it becomes more selective “and if the household be too little for the lamb… Now it is narrowed down to the lamb. no longer one of many, it is the lamb. And finally, it is made personal – Verse 5 “your lamb shall be without blemish…” Now it is not just “a” lamb, nor “the” lamb, but “your ” lamb. Just as the Lord Jesus Christ is not “a” Saviour, one of many, He is “the” Saviour. But even though He is “the” Saviour, our salvation is not accomplished until He becomes “your” Saviour.. we must believe the gospel and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour.

And so the little lamb is killed, and its blood was to be placed “on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the house” (Exodus 12:7) And “the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you….” (Exodus 12:13) The firstborn were saved by the blood of the lamb as long as they were in the house protected by it. Just as we are saved by the precious blood of the Lamb, The Lord Jesus, and when God sees us, He sees us righteous by the blood of the Lamb.

The last instance in the Old Testament in this little meditation is found in Isaiah 53: 6-7 “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” Even those many years before the birth of the Lord Jesus, when he came from heaven to cloth himself in human flesh, the prophet Isaiah spoke of him as the Lamb. But it was not as a little baby in a manger, no, it was the lamb to the slaughter, the death of the Lord Jesus on the Cross…

Worthy, worthy, is the Lamb
Worthy, worthy, is the Lamb
Worthy, worthy, is the Lamb
That was slain.

click the link below:

The Lamb of God: The Lord Jesus Christ

to read a short New Testament conclusion to this article.

March 3, 2017

Devotional for 3/3: The Trinity

Someone pointed out the coincidence (if that applies) that a major motion picture about the Trinity is releasing on 3/3. That got me thinking that perhaps we could look back at this topic as it has been discussed here.

In November of 2014 we began with a quote from Tozer:

Our sincerest effort to grasp the incomprehensible mystery of the Trinity must remain forever futile, and only by deepest reverence can it be saved from actual presumption.
~A.W. Tozer, The Idea of the Holy, chapter 4

and then continued to look at “who does what.”

In the Holy Scriptures the work of creation is attributed to the Father

Gen. 1:1 In the beginning, God created everything: the heavens above and the earth below

to the Son

Col 1:16 It was by Him that everything was created: the heavens, the earth, all things within and upon them, all things seen and unseen, thrones and dominions, spiritual powers and authorities. Every detail was crafted through His design, by His own hands, and for His purposes.

and to the Holy Spirit

Job 26:13     By His breath, the heavens are made beautifully clear;
        by His hand that ancient serpent—even as it attempted escape—is pierced through.

Psalm 104:30 When You send out Your breath, life is created,
    and the face of the earth is made beautiful and is renewed.

The article continues as a scripture medley worth checking out… continue reading here.

In July, 2013 we looked at the idea of “One What and Three Whos” with this item by C. Michael Patton:

I believe in one God (ousia), who exists eternally in three persons (hypostasis) — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit — all of whom are fully God, all of whom are equal.

Spirit of GodSince there is only one God, one member of the Trinity, in his essence, cannot have more power, authority, or dignity than another. They all share in the exact same nature (ousia, ontos, “stuff”). I did not understand this until later in my Christian life. For many years I existed as a functional polytheist (a tritheist, to be technically precise). I believed the three members of the Trinity shared in a similar nature, not the exact same nature. In other words, just like you and I share in the nature of being homo sapiens, so the members of the Trinity are all from the “God species” . . . or something like that. But this is a bad analogy since, though you and I may be the same species, we are different in essence. You are you and I am me. I have my body and you have yours. But in the Trinity, all three persons share in the exact same essence. One in nature; three in person. One what; three whos…

For more on the idea of a hierarchy within the Trinity… continue reading here.

In February of 2011, we offered “The Trinity Collection,” to go-to verses in which all three members of the Godhead are referenced:

Matthew 3: 16, 17 NIV

16As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Matthew 28: 19 NLT

19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

John 15: 26 ESV

[Jesus speaking] 26“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

Acts 2: 33 NIrV

33 Jesus has been given a place of honor at the right hand of God. He has received the Holy Spirit from the Father. This is what God had promised. It is Jesus who has poured out what you now see and hear.

II Cor. 13: 14 The Message

14The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.

Ephesians 2: 17 – 18 TNIV

17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

I Thess. 1: 2-5a CEV

2We thank God for you and always mention you in our prayers. Each time we pray, 3we tell God our Father about your faith and loving work and about your firm hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4My dear friends, God loves you, and we know he has chosen you to be his people. 5When we told you the good news, it was with the power and assurance that come from the Holy Spirit, and not simply with words…

I Peter 1: 1 – 2 NIV (UK)

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world … 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Also included in this list is the longer passage at I Cor. 12: 4-13.

That’s pretty much the entire piece… read at source here.

Also in February, 2011, we had a discussion at Thinking Out Loud and noted that

…four of the seven statements in the National Association of Evangelicals Statement of Faith which specifically refer to God, Jesus and Holy Spirit, of which the first is primary for this discussion:

  • We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  • We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
  • We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
  • We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.

(For Canadian readers, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada Statement of Faith is identical.)

For that article… continue reading here.

Finally, in January of this year, here at C201 we quoted Fred Sanders on Trinitarian Praise:

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the
Holy Ghost! As it was in the beginning, is now,

and ever shall be, world without end.

The glory of God is from everlasting to everlasting, but while the praise of the Trinity will have no end, it had a beginning. There was never a time when God was not glorious as Father, as Son, and as Holy Spirit. But there was a time when that singular glory (singular because, to gloss the Athanasian Creed, there are not three glorious, but one) had not yet disclosed itself so as to invite creatures to its praise. To join in the ancient Christian prayer called the Gloria Patri, directing praise to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is to come into alignment here in the world “as it is now” with triune glory “as it was in the beginning.” All theology ought to be doxology, but Trinitarian theology in particular is essentially a matter of praising God. This doxological response is the praise of a glory (ἔπαινον δόξης, Eph 1:6, 12, 14) that always was, and whose epiphany in time entails its antecedent depth in eternity. Those whom God has blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ are summoned to join that praise: “Blessed be God the Father, who has blessed us in the Beloved and sealed us with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph 1:3–14, condensed).

For more of that article… continue reading here.

February 8, 2017

Christ as Seen in Ephesians

Today we’re again paying a return visit to Robert Lloyd Russell’s blog. He is one of the most faithful and disciplined online Bible study writers I’m aware of. My hope is that when you’re finished today’s short reading, you’ll click through and look at both the content he offers and the way the studies are organized.

This is reprinted from “Abundant Life Now,” a free blog which offers inspiring moments, thought-provoking comments, and solid Biblical insight at http://RobertLloydRussell.blogspot.com/ .

Christ in Ephesians

~ Jesus Christ Is Cornerstone of The New Temple and the Head of His Church ~

The Bible is about Jesus Christ ~ “Jesus said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself” (Luke 24:25-27).

Jesus Christ in the Book of Ephesians ~ As the Head of the Church Jesus Christ is the Giver of ministry gifts, the Christ of unsearchable riches, and our glorious treasure. He is also our Reconciler, and Heavenly King.

The Old Testament anticipated that the Messiah would be a Temple builder. Jesus Christ has come and is building a temple—but not a physical bricks-and-mortar temple. He is the chief corner stone and the foundation has been built with the apostles, prophets. His saints (both Jewish believers and Gentile believers) are completing this most important of all temples.

Now, therefore, you [Gentiles] are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

Comment ~ We have only touched the surface of Christ in the book of Ephesians. The Apostle Paul told us the Scriptures present many shadows of things to come but the reality is found in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:17).

Compare the Following Passages:

Ephesians 5:31 with Genesis 2:24

Ephesians 6:2-3 with Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16

You’re invited to read one of the O.T. articles in this series: Christ in the Book of Joshua. (The entire series is linked in the page’s left sidebar.)

February 12, 2015

The Beauty of John’s Prologue

This post is from the blog Living the Gospel by Jason Velotta. If you’re unfamiliar with the term in today’s title, it refers to the first 18 verses of John’s gospel; the passage beginning

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  (NIV/KJV/NASB)

and containing that important incarnational verse 14

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (NIV)

To read the whole passage first, click here, and then read the first 18 verses. We’ve chosen a newer translation here, the CEB, or Common English Bible. (But you can select a different one, or even a different language, from the pull-down menu.)

The Prologue of John – Responding to the Word of God

The first 18 verses of John’s gospel (commonly known as the Prologue) represent a literary masterpiece of inspired Scripture. On the one hand, John’s introduction is so simple a child can understand it, yet it is also so theologically deep, the most intellectual scholars could never mine every detail held within its verses.

incarnationThere have been many debates regarding the structure of John’s prologue. The most convincing in my opinion is that the first 18 verses are a narrative which summarize not only the entirety of John’s gospel but make a broad sweep of salvation history. The prologue begins in eternity before creation, declaring that in the beginning the Word already existed. It proceeds through the creation (all things were made by Him) and He is the source of all life and light. Then John skips over the majority of Israel’s salvation history and shows that a final prophet, John the Baptist, came to testify to the light. This light is the revelation of God Himself. He came into the world and was rejected by the world. Yet, those who received Him became the sons of God.

The prologue finishes by showing the culmination of Israel’s salvation in Jesus. The law (which was itself a grace given to men) came through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Jesus has completely explained the Father. Jesus is the Father’s final word to man. – This culminates salvation history. So, we see that the prologue begins in eternity past and concludes with God’s final word of salvation and redemption.

What John simply states in the prologue (albeit with great theological depth and nuance) he will elucidate throughout the pages of his gospel. First, we see that Jesus is the divine Word of God.

There is much discussion about the Hebrew and Greek presuppositions regarding the word (logos). Although there is much to be learned from these distinctions, I think John has primarily the Old Testament view of the “Word.” In the Old Testament the Word of God was His creative power, authority, and organizing principle. In Genesis, God created by the word. Repeatedly Genesis one presents God’s creative power in His speech. Over and over again God created by speaking – “And God said let there be…and there was.”

Likewise, the word is personified in the Old Testament when the prophets were given God’s words to speak. Repeatedly the Bible says, “The word of the Lord came to…” whatever prophet to whom God was speaking.

The idea of a divine word was not uncommon for a Jewish person. What is uncommon is John’s assertion that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The idea being that Jesus Himself is the divine person of the Word. In lieu of an extended treatise on the Trinity, I would point you to my discussions on the doctrine here.

The verb “dwelt” is the verbal form of tabernacle. John says that the word became flesh and tabernacled among us – this, taken along side John’s introduction of Moses and the law shows us that Jesus’ incarnation is the fulfillment of God’s promise to dwell with His people. He is truly Emmanuel – “God with us.” Jesus fulfills the types and shadows of the Old Testament. Jesus is the display of God’s glory which can be seen. In Exodus, Moses asked to see God’s glory and was told that it was impossible for man to view Him. Instead, Moses was only allowed to see God’s hind parts. But here John says that we saw His glory. It was the glory of God the Son who is full of grace and truth.

Jesus has perfectly revealed the Father to mankind. The Son of God became a son of man so that the sons of men might become sons of God. Jesus is the word of God that demands a response. To those who received Him, He gave them the authority to become sons of God – yet to those who reject Him, He brings the completion of the judgment of God for there will never be another door of salvation.

 

September 8, 2014

Knowing Our Place; Knowing God’s Place

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
..” Isaiah 55:8-9

For our devotional thoughts today we return to the blog of First Evangelical Free Church in Sioux City, Iowa, which we visited last year. Pastor Kevin Miller’s reminder here is vital at a time when God is sometimes treated casually in both a church and secular environment. Click the title to read this at source.

Jesus: Like Us and Yet Greater Than Us

This fall, we will be working through the New Testament book of Hebrews. As part of my preparations, I like to take the time to read through an entire book repeatedly both before and in the midst of preaching it. To this end, I was recently reading through Hebrews once more and something caught my eye:

The primary point and purpose of the first several chapters of Hebrews is to establish that Christ is supreme over all. Chapter 1, for example, tells us that He is supreme over the angels. Chapter 3 tells us that Christ is superior to Moses. Later, we see that Christ is superior to Melchizedek (chapters 7-8). In short, it’s as if the bulk of Hebrews spends time exalting Christ over everyone and everything. He is the better High Priest. He is the coming King. We can’t help but be in awe of Him because He is so different than even the best of us.

And then, the turn comes: it’s not just that Christ is different and better than anyone else, it’s that He is different and better and then He dies FOR everyone else.

“For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Hebrews 9:13-14)”

The Priest literally atones for all who trust Him – for those who are, if nothing else, are very unworthy of atonement.

Jesus Christ is not like us in so many ways – we dare not simply think of Him as a good teacher or as simply a buddy. And yet, Jesus IS also like us in so many ways – He gets tired, needs to eat, rests, laughs, bleeds, and dies.

Hebrews proclaims the Gospel loud and clear: salvation comes from God Himself, through His Son, who is higher and better and more absolutely perfect than anyone else. And yet this very same Savior walks and talks and lives amongst us, both back then and someday coming soon. What a Savior! What a Lord! The exalted King walks amongst and dies on behalf of His people! He rises to new life and promises that for all who trust in Him, they too shall inherit new life in His coming kingdom.

August 3, 2014

Testimonies to Christ’s Sinlessness

Today we want to introduce you to, and give you a sample of another website just discovered: WayOfLife.org and the ministry of Way of Life Literature.  More information is shown at the bottom of today’s devotional.  Click the title to read at source, and then take a few minutes from there to look around the rest of the site. (Note: Scripture references are KJV, but if you are struggling with them, copy/paste the references into BibleHub, BibleStudyTools, or BibleGateway.)

Testimonies of Christ’s Sinlessness

Two thousand years ago a man walked this earth who was like no other man who. His birthplace was a stable in the tiny town of Bethlehem in Israel. He lived on this earth for about 33 years and was crucified by the Roman government as a criminal. He life was under the microscope of human observation. He did not live in secret. His ministry was public, and his every word and deed was examined by those who lived at that time. And the record of His life has been examined by the world ever since. No man has been as intensely examined as Jesus of Nazareth.

Before His death Jesus issued an amazing challenge that has never been answered, a challenge that only an insane or a sinless man could offer. He said, “Which of you convinceth me of sin” (John 8:46). The word “convince” means to bring an accusation that can be proven, a charge that can stand.

Though He was accused of wrongdoing by those who hated him, the accusations were blatant and obvious lies. The Roman governor himself said that Jesus was innocent of all charges. He wasn’t crucified because of any sin He had committed. He was crucified because of the jealously of false Jewish teachers and the idolatry of the Roman Empire with its Caesar worship. But far more than that, He was crucified because He came to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). He came as the Son of God to make atonement for man’s sins so that men might be reconciled to God.

The fact of Jesus’ sinlessness proves that He was the Son of God. Every man since Adam has been a sinner by nature, by thought, and by deed. Children don’t have to be taught how to sin. We don’t need schools to educate children in how to lie and cheat and dishonor their parents and disobey authority.

I believe that the Bible is the Word of God for many reasons, and one of those is that what it says rings true to what can be observed in life. The Bible says, for example, that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). I can observe that in my own life, and I can see it everywhere in the world today and everywhere in human history.

Everywhere except in Jesus.

Following are some of the testimonies to Jesus’ sinlessness:

The testimony of PilatePilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. (Joh 18:38). See also John 19:4, 6.When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. (Mt 27:24)

The testimony of Pilate’s wife

When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. (Mt 27:19)

The testimony of the thief on the cross

But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. (Lu 23:40-41)

The testimony of the centurion

Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man (Lu 23:47)

And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. (Mr 15:39)

The testimony of the apostle Paul

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2Co 5:21)

The testimony of the apostle Peter

Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: (1Pe 2:22)

The testimony of the apostle John

And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. (1Jo 3:5)

The testimony of God the Father

While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. (Mt 17:5)

_____

About Way of Life – The name “Way of Life” is from Proverbs 6:23: “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” The biblical instruction that molds men to God’s will requires reproof. It is not strictly positive. It does not focus on man’s “self-esteem.” It does not avoid controversial or unpopular subjects. It warns as well as comforts. It deals with sin and false teaching in a plain manner. It is reproves, rebukes, exhorts with all longsuffering and doctrine (2 Tim. 4:2). This is what we seek to do through Way of Life Literature. The Way of Life preaching and publishing ministry based in Bethel Baptist Church, London, Ontario, of which Wilbert Unger is the founding Pastor. A mail stop is maintained in Port Huron, Michigan.

February 3, 2014

Salvation: Still Free (Last Time I Checked)

Although I don’t use eBooks, I’m always intrigued by the concept that publishers now routinely offer books completely free of charge. There are Christian bloggers who regularly advise their readers where to find the daily and weekly bargain downloads, but sometimes I’m reading an old blog post, so even though I don’t have an eReader, I’ll click through to learn more, only to find the offer is no longer in effect and there is now a price to be paid.

Fortunately, when it comes to salvation, there is currently no closing date on God’s offer. True, a day will come when that will change. Also true, you don’t know long you have to take advantage. But it’s a free offer.

Mercy there was great and grace was free
Pardon there was multiplied to me
There my burdened soul found liberty
At Calvary

For some, this is simply too good to be true. “Surely there is a cost;” they say, and truthfully they are correct. While Salvation itself is a free gift, God offers so much for us for this life, and that is going to involve taking up your cross daily. It might mean sacrifice or it might mean being ostracized by your family, friends and co-workers.

But in our original coming to Jesus, we find the offer to “taste and see” is both easy and simple. The problem we have is putting this idea across to those outside the church, and I believe part of the challenge is that we are living in a culture that is not Biblically literate, and therefore are not, as music and literary people say, “familiar with the literature.”

The story that needs to be kept told for me is the story in Numbers:

Numbers 21:7-9

(NIV)

7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

8 The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.

This Old Testament story foreshadows, as do so many OT stories, what Christ is going to do. As God’s people sojourn, they are given pictures which are somewhat for our benefit. Sometimes we impute this into the text from a New Testament perspective, but sometimes Jesus spells out for us in words unmistakable:

John 3:14

(NIV)

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up…

Again, some of you are thinking, “this sounds really familiar,” and that’s because we covered this here in August, just a few months ago. But I felt directed that we need to return to this Old Testament picture, and furthermore we need to teach people how to teach people this story. While a testimony of “what God has done for us,” and a rudimentary knowledge of basic salvation scriptures are both helpful, it’s needful to be able to construct the offer of “God’s gift” in terms unrelated to the deeper, doctrinal considerations of Romans or Hebrews which the novice believer can’t fully process.

That’s why, for the fourth time, I’ve returned to this theme today. It can be explored more in each of the blog posts listed below.

But what if salvation is being commodified too much in this approach. As with all things, we need to be careful; we need to strike a balance. Tomorrow, we’re going to explore this in a way we haven’t in any of the preceding articles. Stay tuned.

The Great Exchange from Adam4d

Go deeper, read more:

Graphic: Adam4D (click graphic to source)

December 17, 2013

Grace Arrives on the Scene

It was just three months ago that we featured the writing of Paul Tautges at the blog Counseling One Another. Normally, we wait six months to return to particular source here, but I want you to be sure to check out some of his other writing, not to mention how much I enjoyed today’s featured post, which is appropriate to the season.  Click to read Grace Has Arrived on the Scene.

Grace is the gift of God brought to sinners through the giving of His Son who willingly humbled Himself, dwelt among us, died a cruel death in our place, and was raised from the dead to give us life. This is the gospel. Romans 1:1-7 is a one-sentence, 126-word, announcement of good news from God. Alva McClain writes, “The literary construction of this sentence is very beautiful, and the unfolding of the ideas exquisite! It is almost like the unfolding of a flower—first the stalk, then the bud, then the full bloom, then the heart of it!” (p. 34). The author of this text is Paul, formerly Saul the persecutor of the church.

  • Paul was a servant of Jesus Christ: Six different words could have been chosen by Paul to explain his servitude, but he chose the strongest, the most absolute servitude. Doulos = slave, one purchased from the slave market of sin.
  • Paul was called to be an apostle: To be an apostle, by New Testament definition, two things had to be true of the man. He had to have seen the Lord (Paul did when Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus). He had to have received his call directly from the Lord, which Paul was at the same time (both described in Acts 9).
  • Paul was separated unto the gospel: Paul was chosen by God to be an apostle. Galatians 1:15 indicates that God separated Paul out for this ministry while still in his mother’s womb. God called him to salvation (Acts 9), set him apart for the work of the gospel (Acts 13) for the purpose of spending his life announcing the Good News that God loves and saves sinners through repentance and faith in His Son. It is that gospel that is the very heart and soul of the message of these seven verses. Here we see three simple, foundational truths concerning the gospel.

The Gospel Is Good News from God (vv. 1-2). Paul calls this good news the “gospel of God.” It is God’s gospel. This gospel was “promised beforehand by the prophets.” So many Scriptures were perfectly fulfilled in the first advent of our Lord (see this encouraging article from Answers in Genesis)! Perhaps the greatest Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in our Savior’s death, burial, and resurrection is Isaiah 53. This good news from God was also “recorded in the Scriptures.” Paul stresses the importance of this truth in 1 Corinthians 15:1-5.

 

The Gospel Is Good News about Jesus (vv. 3-4). The gospel concerns God’s Son. This sounds very simple, but it is very significant. The gospel is not about you; the gospel is not about me. The gospel is about Jesus Christ. He is the center of it all. Jesus was born of “a descendant of David” according to the flesh. Matthew’s genealogy, in particular, traces the lineage of Jesus back to King David. He began, “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David” (Matthew 1:1). This was to establish the fact that Jesus is the rightful heir to the throne of David. He is the long, promised King of Israel. Jesus was born “according to the flesh.” Jesus is fully human. He is the God-man who broke into earth’s history to rescue us from our sin, and He did this in accordance with God’s perfect timing (Galatians 4:4-5). Jesus was declared the Son of God by His resurrection. The first advent of Jesus, as a descendant of David according to the flesh, presents his humanity. The resurrection of Jesus was a declaration of His deity. He is God in the flesh. He was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. And it is because of His resurrection that we may have new life. Four names and titles are used of Jesus in these verses.

  • Son = defines His relationship to the Father
  • Jesus = speaks of His humanity, He is “the salvation of Jehovah”
  • Christ = His office as the Messiah
  • Lord = His exalted position. He is the Lord Jehovah.

The Gospel Is Good News for Sinners (vv. 5-7). The good news is that the gospel turns sinners into saints. Here believers are described in three ways:

  • Believers are called of [by] Jesus Christ. By means of the gospel, Jesus Christ calls sinners to Himself. He offers us forgiveness, new life, and peace (Matthew 11:28-30).
  • Believers are loved by God. Isn’t this an amazing description?! We are sinners loved by God (John 3:16)! It is true that we are—right now, this very minute—children of God! (1 John 3:2).
  • Believers are called to be saints. Believers are saints by calling, not by deed. When God saves us from our sin He, at the same time, calls us to Himself. He sets us apart. Alva McClain: “God never goes to a sinner and tells him to try to attain to sainthood. He picks us out of the mud, and He says, ‘You are a saint.’”

God has given us good news. The good news is that grace has arrived on the scene. Grace has been given to desperate, fallen humanity. The gospel is the message of grace, which saves us when we first become a Christian., but the gospel continues to preach to us—day after day—that God’s grace is enough for us. God loves sinners. What a wonder that is!! There is no greater news. There is no greater message. God’s grace has arrived. And it is found in His Son, the Lord Jesus.

November 1, 2013

The Book of Boaz

Kinsman Redeemer 1

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16 (NIV)

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” Luke 18: 29-30 (NIV)

I am currently reading Jesus on Every Page by David Murray, published this summer by Thomas Nelson. The book is all about how the Old Testament reveals Jesus, and the activity of Jesus during Old Testament times. If it were possible, I would blog the whole book here. It’s that good. Part of my motivation for reading is that there were other books on the pre-incarnate Christ I wanted to read, but missed the opportunity. Here is a very small excerpt:

Jesus on Every Page - Davd MurrayThe Old Testament was originally written for “the church in the wilderness.”  That’s why instead of jumping immediately to ask, what does this mean for me? we must pause and ask, what was the original message to the original readers of this Old Testament passage? …

Example:  When we turn to the book of Ruth and ask this fundamental question, what is the coming Saviour like? our focus shifts radically from Ruth to Boaz.  The book might equally be named after him because he is the center and pivot of the book.  Chapter 1 begins with a bitter Naomi, and the book ends with a blessed Naomi. What made the difference?  Three chapters of Boaz.  All eyes should be on him.

The key word in the book also dramatically spotlights Boaz.  The Hebrew word ga’al appears twenty-one times.  It is variously translated, but it basically combines two elements:  relation and redemption.  It refers to a close family member who steps into defend, protect and provide for the needy.   It’s a word used to describe God’s past action of redeeming Israel out of Egypt, and the later prophets also used it repeatedly to describe a future redemption that God would accomplish.

When Mr. and Mrs. Israelite were reading in Exodus about God’s past redemption or in Isaiah about God’s future redemption, they would perhaps turn to each other and ask, “Isn’t there another book about redemption somewhere in the Scriptures?  Oh, yes, that little book about Boaz has lots about redemption.   Let’s read there and find out what kind of Redeemer God is and what kind of Redeemer the Messiah will be.”

If you want to read Ruth like Mr. and Mrs. Israelite did, then ask, what is the Messiah like?  And if you do, you will discover the beautiful answer:  The Messiah is like Boaz.  Notice Ruth’s important genealogical postscript that further boosts the messianic momentum by tracing her descendants to King David.

pp. 61-63

Today’s two-for-one special: The graphic at the top of the page and the two scripture verses which introduced today’s thoughts are from a seminar by Brian Lindman of Christ Presbyterian Church in Bradenton, Florida.  Click here to listen.  The sermon is part of a series, “Jesus in All of the Bible,” which is similar to the theme of the above book.

August 15, 2013

The Salvation Transaction

…and the transaction so quickly was made, when at the cross I believed…

~lyrics, “Heaven Came Down”

Today’s thoughts appeared here exactly a year ago, but I wanted to repeat this because I believe an understanding of the foundation underpinning salvation — which goes back to the book of Numbers — is often missed, even by seasoned Christ-followers who have been on this journey for a long time.

The moment of salvation is an invisible transaction. For some people there is an inward witness that verifies that step of faith.

John 9:24-25

(NIV)

24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”

25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

But for some people, there is a desire to understand the underpinning of how that invisible transaction takes place. An entire branch of theology is devoted to this:

so·te·ri·ol·o·gy

[suh-teer-ee-ol-uh-jee]

~noun Theology.

— the doctrine of salvation through Jesus Christ.
So while the healing of the blind man in the story above provides its own satisfactory proof if you are, in fact, the blind man or his parents; for everyone else we have the books of Romans and Hebrews to understand the depth of salvation doctrine; how the saving work of Jesus meets all of the criteria necessary for the forgiveness of sin.
But we often miss a basic fact of how salvation works:

John 3:14

(NIV)

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up
The verse recalls a story from the book of Numbers often overlooked in times of increasing Biblical illiteracy:

7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

8 The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.

The concept of the invisible transaction was once entrenched through a hymn written by William Ogden in 1887 that was popular in some circles, the chorus inviting you to…

“Look and live,” my brother, live,
Look to Jesus now, and live;
’Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!
It is only that you “look and live.”

Youth ministries in the late 1960’s borrowed a phrase from a popular Clairol commercial and suggested that the invisibility of the transaction was such that “only your hairdresser knows for sure.” In other words, there isn’t necessarily a physical manifestation of salvation.

But as with so many things in God’s kingdom, there is a balance to be found on that issue, since the visible manifestation of salvation ought to be the presence of the fruit of the spirit.

Ultimately, the invisibility of the salvation transaction ought to be central if putting our trust in Jesus Christ to both redeem us and then from that point guide us is to be considered part of the realm of faith. You don’t get a certificate, or a wallet card — though sadly, some churches do just that — when you decide to become a Christ follower.

We cross the line of faith to become Christ followers at some point, but the line itself remains seen only in the spiritual world.


Today’s music:
For complete original lyrics to Heaven Came down, click here.
For an abridged version of the original redone in a modern style by David Crowder, click here.
Go Deeper:
To see an index of the main subjects that form a study on soteriology, note the ten sessions covered on this page.
To go extra deep on this topic, check out this teaching page.
Finally, here are links to dozens of other resources on the doctrine of salvation.
~PW

July 23, 2013

Is There a Hierarchy within The Trinity?

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:32 pm
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As much I’d love to engage comments on this one, I find this topic often attracts people who want to debate Trinitarian doctrine itself from one particular viewpoint. Therefore, I suggest that today comments be referred to the source blog of the article.

This appeared at a blog I highly regard and respect, Parchment and Pen. Author C. Michael Patton originally posted this under the title Why Jesus is Greater than the Holy Spirit.

I believe in the doctrine of the Trinity. This is how I would formulate this doctrine:

I believe in one God (ousia), who exists eternally in three persons (hypostasis) — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit — all of whom are fully God, all of whom are equal.

Spirit of GodSince there is only one God, one member of the Trinity, in his essence, cannot have more power, authority, or dignity than another. They all share in the exact same nature (ousia, ontos, “stuff”). I did not understand this until later in my Christian life. For many years I existed as a functional polytheist (a tritheist, to be technically precise). I believed the three members of the Trinity shared in a similar nature, not the exact same nature. In other words, just like you and I share in the nature of being homo sapiens, so the members of the Trinity are all from the “God species” . . . or something like that. But this is a bad analogy since, though you and I may be the same species, we are different in essence. You are you and I am me. I have my body and you have yours. But in the Trinity, all three persons share in the exact same essence. One in nature; three in person. One what; three whos.

Confused? Good. Anytime you have an “aha!” moment with regard to the Trinity, it is a good sign you have just entered into the world of heresy.

While I don’t believe there is an ontological hierarchy (gradation of essence, or all that stuff I said above), I do believe there can be a hierarchy in person. In other words, one member of the Trinity can take on a different rank than another. I think we can all agree that at the incarnation, this hierarchy presented itself as Father, then Son, then Spirit. After all, even Christ said that the Father was greater than he was (John 14:28). This is sometimes called a “functional hierarchy.” This should not be too difficult to process, as we can see many analogies to this in our own world. For example, President Obama is greater than I am in one respect. He is the President of the United States. Therefore, his position and authority are greater than mine. But he is not greater in essence. Similarly, parents are greater than children in rank. But they are not greater in their being. And (cover your eyes, egalitarians) I believe the Bible presents the husband as having greater authority than his wife. However, he is not greater in his ontos or humanity.

When it comes to the Holy Spirit, I believe the Holy Spirit is last on the divine authority totem pole. The Father sends the Son, the Son sends the Holy Spirit, and the Father is sent by none. There is much less said about the Holy Spirit in the New Testament than either the Father or the Son. But as far as honor and dignity, it would seem that Jesus Christ tops them all. When I read the Bible, I am struck by how much Christ is the center of all things. He is the image of God which is seen, the one who becomes incarnate and relates to humanity more than any other, he is the one who calls us friend, he is our intercessor, and he is the one in whom we are to believe for eternal life. In fact, the very name of our faith finds its basis in his name. It is not called Holy Spiritanity or Fatheranity. It is not even called Yahwehanity. It is called Christ-ianity.

Another way to think about it can be illustrated as follows: The first two members of the Trinity have very relational names. We find it easy to relate to the title “Father,” since most of us have an example (though not perfect) through our earthly fathers. So “Father” is endearing. And “Jesus” is a personal name. I figure that he will always go by that handle. And the father may always go by “Father.” But what about the Holy Spirit? “Holy Spirit” is such a distant and (forgive me) cold name. Is that really his name? First name “Holy” last name “Spirit”?  Do those who are close to him just call him “Holy,” while everyone calls him “Mr. Spirit”? Maybe in heaven we can get the insider scoop on what his real name is (not Yahweh…that is a Trinitarian name, as they are all Yahweh). Maybe Bob, John, Nate, or Michael. Just something more personal, as I envision having a very distinct relationship with him in the new earth.

My point is this: the Holy Spirit, while having equal power, authority, and diginity as the Father and the Son, and having the same nature as Jesus and the Father, is the least spoken about and recognized of all three members of the Trinity. By the way, before you begin to feel sorry for him, realize this: this is intentional. The Holy Spirit does not seek air time. We often talk about Christ’s humility (and rightly so), but we rarely recognize the Holy Spirit’s humility. His primary purpose is not to get you to recognize him (as deserving as he is), but to recognize Christ.

In the Upper Room Discourse (John 14-17, the most Trinitarian section of the Bible), Christ speaks a lot about sending  the Holy Spirit (sometimes called “the Helper” or “the Spirit of Truth”), but notice what the primary goal of the Holy Spirit will be:

John 15:26
“When the Helper [Holy Spirit] comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.”

Did you get that? The all-powerful, omniscient, everlasting creator of all things — the Holy Spirit — will not testify about himself, his glory, and his person, but about Christ, whom the Holy Spirit loves with a greater love than we ccould ever imagine. Why doesn’t the Holy Spirit testify about himself? After all, he has every reason to pat himself on the back and toot his own horn, yet all he wants to talk about is Jesus. Why?

I can’t tell you how the role distinctions were chosen for redemption. It is possible that the Holy Spirit could have been the one who became incarnate and died on the cross. It could have been the Holy Spirit to whom all attention was given. Yet this is not the case. He elected to humble himself to the point of almost non-recognition.

I believe the Holy Spirit is just as much God as the Father and the Son. I believe the Holy Spirit deserves as much honor as the other members of the Trinity. Yet the greatest way for you to honor the Holy Spirit and evidence his work in you is to glorify Christ. What an example He is.

Why is Jesus greater in function than the Holy Spirit? Because that is the way he wants it. Amazing!

Similar Posts:

May 23, 2013

Jesus is the New Temple

Jesus A TheographyI am currently working my way very slowly through the book, Jesus: A Theography by Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet. The book explores various aspects of Jesus’ ministry and goes beyond the simple ‘womb to tomb’ biography by dealing with the pre-incarnate and post-incarnate Christ. I’m currently about half-way through the book and landed on this section where the authors enumerate the various places where Jesus takes on the role that Israel formerly ascribed to ‘temple.’  This is taken from pages 171-173. I encourage you to visit Bible Gateway or Bible Hub to check out the various references in context.

  • The Jews understood that the temple was the one place on earth where heaven and earth intersected.  It was the extension of the garden of Eden, the playground of angels and humans.  Jesus was God and man.  He was the joining together of God’s dwelling and the dwelling of humans.  Jesus is the reality of Bethel, the “house of God,” which is marked by commerce between the heavens and the earth.  (Recall Jacob’s dream in Genesis 28, where angels ascended and descended from heaven to earth, and Jesus’ words to Nathanael in John 1 that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s house.)
  • Jesus identified Himself as the tabernacle of God, the fulfillment of the tabernacle of Moses, where God’s glory rested.  The words of John 1:14, He “dwelt among us”, literally mean He “tabernacled among us.”  In the same text, John went on to say “and we beheld his glory.”
  • In John 2:19, Jesus said to the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”  John then informed us, two verses later, that Jesus was speaking of the temple of His body.
  • In Matthew 12:6, Jesus announced that he is greater than the physical temple.  The physical temple was a signpost.  Jesus is the reality.
  • In Colossians 2:9, Paul says that all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Jesus in bodily form.  In other words, Jesus is the dwelling place of God.
  • In John 20, Jesus breathed into the disciples.  They were now a new creation.  He then gave them the word of proclaiming forgiveness to sinners.  Forgiveness was the rule of the temple in Jerusalem.  The temple afforded forgiveness of sins by the sacrifices that were offered there.  Now Jesus, the real Temple and the real Sacrifice, offered forgiveness.  And those who were part of the Temple, His disciples, declared it as well.
  • In His ministry in Galilee, Jesus was acting and living as though He were the temple itself.  He was fulfilling all of the temple’s functions.  To have your sins forgiven in that day, you had to go to the temple.  Jesus was subverting this system by offering forgiveness Himself.
  • After the temple of His body was destroyed, Jesus rose again on the third day.  Fifty days later, at Pentecost, thousands of Jews were converted to Christ.  They were the “living stones” that were “hewn out of the one Rock,” which is Christ.  In Mark 14:58, one of the witnesses at Jesus’ trial said, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man'”.  These living stones became the building blocks for the house of God.  Jesus, the real Temple, had increased.  Now the church has become the temple of God on earth.
  • In Acts 2, an unusual event occurred on the day of Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem.  The Spirit of God fell on 120 disciples of Jesus.  They spoke in tongues, and tongues of fire appeared on their heads.  The real temple of God was being born right in the midst of the old physical temple.  The tongues were the reverse of what happened in Babel.  At Babel sinful men tried to achieve unity by creating a tower to reach the heavens.  God judged their effort and confused them by scrambling their languages.  At Pentecost the Spirit of God united them, they spoke in other tongues, and they understood one another.  The fire on their heads is reminiscent of the fire that fell from heaven on the temple when it was dedicated.  The new temple of God is not built with human hands.
  • The temple was a signpost of a future reality.  It was God’s dwelling place.  It was the place of forgiveness, redemption, restoration, and wholeness.  It was the place of God’s presence on earth.

 

May 1, 2013

Jesus Answer Knocks Them Off Their Feet

 

“…they drew back and fell to the ground.” ~John 18:6

The quotation above is from John’s account of Jesus’ arrest. Judas leads a group of soldiers and Pharisees to a grove of olives and Jesus steps out from his group and asks who they are seeking. They said, “Jesus of Nazareth;” and he answered, “I am he.” And then John tells us that at the words, ‘I am he;’ they fell to the ground. I’ve quoted the NIV (or ESV) above; The Message version adds a different dimension, “He said, “That’s me.” The soldiers recoiled, totally taken aback. Judas, his betrayer, stood out like a sore thumb.”

This detail about the soldiers is singular to John’s gospel. (He doesn’t mention the betrayal with a kiss at all.) I’ve often wondered what caused this particular reaction.

  • The Life Application Bible suggests that they were startled by the boldness of his question
  • The Wycliffe Bible Commentary suggests he unnerved his captors, some of whom may have been the ones previously unable to lay hands on him (John 7:43-46);
  • Though the Pharisees had seen Jesus teaching in the temple, it’s possible the soldiers had never seen him up close and personal. As they came into proximity with him he was either not what they expected, or they sensed something “wholly other” about him. (Matthew Henry adds that the term ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ was used derisively, and that Jesus could have simply answered “No” for technically he was ‘Jesus of Bethlehem.’)
  • The Life App. and various other commentaries tell us that his “I am he” answer used the “I AM” form of God’s name; it indicated his claim of divinity. There are many pivotal turning points in John’s text, but this is one where we often miss the full impact;
  • The above, combined with what they where about to do; they suddenly felt the impact of their own actions. Were they arresting an innocent man? Were they arresting God?
  • If the full force of his answer registered at all; Matthew Henry points out they would realize that he could simply strike them dead at that point. Was there any limit to his potential response?

Without taking away from any of these explanations, I want to introduce a new dimension to the narrative that had never struck me before in this context. I picked this up reading Michael Card writing in an older issue of the Our Journey devotional booklet.

“When Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane, He was already bloody before anyone laid a hand on him. He had been fighting a battle that would make certain the final outcome on Calvary. The blood and water that flowed from his wounds on the cross were preceded by bloody sweat that poured from His pores as He suffered the agony of a death more painful than the physical death of the cross, the death of the will... The painful crushing began appropriately enough, in the garden…” ~ Michael Card (Italics added)

What do you do if you are the soldiers, sent to arrest someone, who looks more like a victim than a criminal? What do you do if the plan calls for flogging or torture and the person seems to be already spent? Could that be part of what caused them to draw back and fall to the ground?

April 16, 2013

Slave: A Bible Word Study

Lots of text today, but you need to click through to read it. This is from the blog of Clay Gentry where it appeared under the title Slave: The Christian’s Identity in Christ. Note the difference between the way the word was understood then as compared with today.


I recently presented a lesson to a small group on the slave metaphor used in the New Testament that describes Christians as Slaves of Christ. Below is my PowerPoint outline from that presentation. I did not intend for this to be an exhaustive study. Rather I hope that it will wet ones apatite to study this rich metaphor even further.

Several Metaphors Used to Describe Christians:

  • Sheep,
  • Soldiers,
  • Athletes,
  • Brothers, and
  • Workers.
  • However, Slaves is the most common…

Two Primary Greek Words Establish Christians as Slaves:

(1) kyrios: “master and Lord.” To confess Jesus as your “Lord” is to say He is your “master” and “owner” and you are His slave.

(2) doulos: “slave.” The Primary word used in the NT to describe Christians as slaves of Christ (124x). For the most part it is missing from the pages KJV and to a certain extent the NKJV, ESV, NASB and HCSB. Often times doulos, or its congugents is simply translated servant, or serve. In this lesson well jump around between various translations to show slave language.

American Verses Roman Slavery:

(1) Roman Slavery:

  • Non Racially Based,
  • Encompassed All Professions,
  • Everywhere in the Empire,
  • Hope of Freedom

 (2) American Slavery:

  • Race Based,
  • Primarily Agrarian in Nature,
  • Geographically Limited to the South,
  • Little/No Hope of Freedom

(3) Similarities Between the Two

  • Exclusive Ownership by the Master,
  • Complete Submission to the Master,
  • Total Dependence on the Master.
  • These are true of physical and/or spiritual slaves

Slaves of God in the Old Testament

Slaves in Jesus’ Teaching:

(1) An Element in 13 Parables (Here’s a sampling):

 (2) An Aspect of His Commands:

Slaves of Christ in the Epistles:

(1) Self Descriptions:

(2) Teachings Concerning Slavery:

(3) Various Verses:

Slaves of Christ in Revelation:

Suggested Reading:

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