The One Pastor Who Won’t Fall to Sin

Unfortunately, it has become commonplace to hear of some pastor who has gone astray morally.  Such downfalls are often financial or sexual, but pastoral failings are not limited to these.  The shepherd’s flock is usually devastated by such revelations.  Some wounds take a long time to heal.  How many more such debacles have to occur before people realize that church is no longer a divine institution as it was in New Testament days?  The kingdom of God has come but today’s churches go on as man-made and, literally, godforsaken institutions.  They should put “Ichabod” on their doors (1 Samuel 4:16-22).  At least that way, the sheep would be warned.

There is one Shepherd who will never fall to sin.  His flock will never be scattered, or depressed, or devastated.  His name is Jesus and He lives today to pastor all who will submit to His loving care.  If you can have His care, why would you seek anyone else’s?

Jesus was struck down once – not for His own sin, but because of the sins of others.  He was raised from the dead, however, never to die again.  As He is lifted up, He draws all men to Himself.  He shepherds the one true flock of God. 

Stop putting your trust in human pastors – trust the One Pastor who will never fall to sin.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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The Church Is of No Value Against Fleshly Indulgence

If a person is going to live for God, he must have a way of overcoming fleshly indulgence.  The lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh have been sources of temptation since the time of Eve.  How are we to overcome them?  By beholding the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  That is, by looking unto Him who is unseen and seeking His approval at all times, we can be empowered to resist such temptation. 

To go to church, or be a part of a church, does not protect you from fleshly indulgence.  This is because no set of eyes there – no matter how many sets are there – are able to see into your heart where temptation operates.  Only Jesus Christ can see into your heart.  In fact, He can see more of it than you can.  As you relate to Him, and try to live uprightly before Him, He can give you the strength to resist every temptation.  There is no human being who can be with you all of the time.  And if you could find one who could, that person would not be able to see into your heart. 

Not only is it logically true that church is no value against fleshly indulgence, it is also empirically true.  That is, all the sins that beset society beset the church as well: adultery, sexual promiscuity of all kinds, even child abuse.  This fact is confirmed by the news on a regular basis. 

There is only one Person who can protect you from fleshly indulgence.  Your relationship with Jesus Christ – which includes staying conscious of His loving, righteous eyes at all times – is all the protection you will need from temptations of the flesh.  I am not saying that you won’t ever give in to temptation.  I am saying that you won’t ever give in to temptation while you have your eyes on Him.  If you fall to temptation, it will be because you lost sight of Him.  Stay strong and do not lose sight of Him.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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Our Isaac

Hebrews 11:17-19 explicitly describes Isaac as a type of Christ.  There are other parallels not mentioned in this passage (such as Isaac carrying the wood for his sacrifice while Christ carried His wooden cross), but this much will get you started.

Also, Paul mentions Isaac as a pattern in Galatians 4 when Paul alludes to the persecution Isaac received from his half-brother Ishmael.  Paul then likens the persecution of the Judaizers against the Gentile believers in Christ as being of the same pattern.

Isaac was the long-awaited son of Abraham, the heir upon whom all the hopes and promises would depend.  Nations were to come forth from Abraham, and they would have to come through Isaac.  It is not hard to see Christ in this outline.  Jesus came after several thousand years of waiting and preparation by God.  All the nations of the earth were to be blessed through Him – and through no one else, for He was the way, the truth, and the life.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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Our Melchizedek

Melchizedek is mentioned in Genesis 14 and Psalm 110.  He is then discussed at length in chapters five through seven of the book of Hebrews.  Because Hebrews describes this type of Christ so thoroughly I only want to call your attention to it (which I have now done)…and emphasize one of its key points.

The name Melchizedek was a combination of the Hebrew word for king and the Hebrew word for righteousness.  Therefore, the name meant “King of Righteousness” and the letter to the Hebrews makes this point in 7:2.  My question is this: are we thinking of Jesus as the King of Righteousness?  Are we seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33)?  Are we leading the many to righteousness (Daniel 12:3)?  Are we accustomed to the word of righteousness (Hebrews 5:13)?  Does our righteousness surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5:20)?  Are we hungering and thirsting for righteousness (Matthew 5:6)?   I could go on.

I do not hear many people speaking in the name of Christ talking about righteousness.  They are talking about many things, but righteousness doesn’t seem to be at the top of the list.  How can those who say they know God not be talking about His main concern?

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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Our Enoch

Genesis 5:24 and Hebrews 11:5 both briefly tell the story of Enoch and how he was a pattern for Christ.

Enoch “walked with God.”  Several thousand years after Enoch, the prophet Micah would write about what the Lord required of a human being:  To do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with his God.  Several hundred years after Micah, Jesus would echo this tripartite theme in his critique of the Pharisees (Matthew 23:23) when He told them they had neglected the important provisions of God’s law: justice, mercy, and faithfulness.  Faithfulness, of course, referred to the “walk with God.”

Enoch “was pleasing to God.”  If Enoch was pleasing to God, how much more Jesus was!  Jesus was “the Righteous One.”  Enoch, even though he was among the best of us, was still one of us – that is, one who had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Jesus was God’s sinless, beloved Son in whom He was well-pleased!

Enoch “was taken up.”  This is an enigmatic expression, leaving us uncertain of its complete meaning.  Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:13 that no one had, as of that time, ascended into heaven, so we know Enoch did not take up residence there when he was “taken up.”  But we can assume that his experience at death was far more pleasant than was customary (e.g. disease, foul play, old age).  Jesus was “taken up” in a way that no one had ever been taken up before.  He was raised from the dead, never to die again.  He was ushered fully into heaven and seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Enoch was great in the sight of God, but Jesus was infinitely greater.  When Jesus was taken up, it meant the whole human race would eventually be going up with Him!

Nevertheless, as a type (a foreshadowing), Enoch helps us to “see” Jesus.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

Our Seth

Not much is said about Seth in the Scriptures.  But we see enough to appreciate his likeness to Him who was to come; that is, Jesus.

Seth was born to Adam and Eve after Cain had killed Abel.  Take a moment to think through how awful that murder must have been, and the devastating effect it would have had on Adam, Eve, and God.  Of course, any murder is awful.  However, this was the first murder – no one had even heard of one before.  The family of man was so small at the point that such a loss decimated it.  Consider also how the ultimate estrangement of Cain combined with the loss of Abel would have impacted the parents.  The emotional devastation brought by this murder must have been beyond anything we can easily imagine.

In the aftermath of this ordeal, Adam and Eve conceived another child.  They named him Seth.  Eve commented that God had given her this offspring to replace Abel who had been killed by Cain.  As a type, Seth represents Jesus who was given as a child to replace fallen humanity.  Through Jesus, fallen humanity would be made to stand again – not on earth, but in heaven!

Adam and Eve, and all the patriarchs saw the bearing of children as a more profound phenomenon than people see it today.  People today do see childbirth as profound, but the patriarchs more so.  The reason?  The patriarchs knew that they were going to die and that children offered the only hope of redemption from that destiny – and all the more so since God had told Satan that it was the seed of woman who would triumph over him.  The patriarchs, and especially Adam and Eve, knew that they would not be achieving their own salvation from death.   Each child therefore not only brought joy into the world, it brought hope for an ultimate victory over death.

In Seth, the replacement child, we can foresee Jesus to come.  When Isaiah would many years later say, “For unto us a son is given,” he would be echoing this same hope, only in more specific form.

Seth also foreshadows Jesus in that he was the life given in place of the death of Abel.  Even so, Jesus’ resurrected life was given to replace the earthly life that He had lost.  The Hebrew name Seth is a play on the word “appointed” that shows up in many English translations of Genesis 4:25.  The meaning being that God had “appointed,” or “placed,” or “put” this child as Abel’s replacement.  Certainly God appointed, placed, or put the resurrection of Jesus.  That is, He replaced the fragile  life that Jesus had lost with an indestructible life that could never be taken away.

Seth gives us a picture, in very few words, of the way God would accomplish redemption for the people whom He had created:  Out of grief, hope.  Out of a child, redemption.  Out of death, life.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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Our Abel

Abel was a type, a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ.  Abel was great, but Jesus is greater.

Abel pleased God; his brother Cain did not.  Jesus pleased God, His fellow leaders in Israel, as well as the Roman rulers, did not.

There was no good reason for Cain to dislike Abel except jealousy over Abel’s favor with God.  There was no good reason for the rulers to strike down Jesus except for their jealousy over His favor with God and man.

Cain struck down Abel.  The rulers struck down Jesus.

The blood of Abel cried out from the ground.  The blood of Jesus cried out from the ground with a shout that obtained forgiveness for all mankind.

Abel was innocent.  He led a quiet life, and pleased God.  For this reason he was killed.  Jesus was innocent.  He led a quiet life of service to others, and pleased God.  For this reason He was scourged, reviled, and killed.  Thanks be to God for Abel who helps us to see Jesus!

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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Our Adam

Through Adam, sin entered the world.  Through Jesus, life entered the world.

Because of Adam, we all die.  Because of Jesus, we’ll all live.

Like Adam, we all walk the earth.  Like Jesus, we shall all walk the heavens.

Adam’s companion was a helper made suitable to him.  Jesus’ companions are helpers made suitable to Him.

Adam did not lord his position over Eve.  Jesus calls us friends.

Adam was the beginning of something great.  Jesus was the beginning of something far greater.

Both Adam and Jesus were first-born’s.

As we have borne the image of Adam, so we shall bear the image of Jesus.

Adam is the first person described in the Bible.  Jesus is the last Person described in the Bible.

Because of Adam, we can understand Jesus better.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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Our Abraham

Abraham was one of the great types of Christ in the Scriptures.

Abraham stood alone for God against the idolaters of his age.  Jesus stood alone for God against the idolaters of all ages.

Abraham was promised that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through his seed, yet he was childless even into his old age.  Jesus was heir to the same promises but never even made it into old age.

Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.  Jesus believed God like no one ever had and He was reckoned “the Righteous One.”

Abraham finally bore a child according to the promise of God when his body was as good as dead.  Jesus bore children for God according to the promise after He actually was dead.

Abraham sojourned in the land of promise looking for a city with foundations, whose designer and maker was God.  Jesus sojourned on the earth, with no place to lay His head, looking forward to the joy of the heavenly Jerusalem set before Him.

Abraham was the progenitor of a great race of people.  Jesus became progenitor of an entirely new human race as the second, and last, Adam.

Abraham was the great example of faith…until the Greater Example came along.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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Our Samson

Samson foreshadowed Jesus for us.

Samson’s birth was announced to his mother by an angel (Judges 13:3).  Jesus’ birth was announced to His mother by an angel.

Samson was born to a previously barren wife and was designated for a lifetime of special service to God (Judges 13:5).  Jesus was born to a virgin and designated for a lifetime of special service to God.

The Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson mightily (Judges 13:25).  The Spirit of the Lord was poured out upon Jesus without measure.

Samson moved the gates of a desert city to a mountaintop (Judges 16:3).  Jesus moved the gates of death so that they no longer led below but rather above.  (See more at The Gates of Gaza.)

Samson killed more Philistines in his death than in his life (Judges 16:30).  Jesus caused more demons to flee in His death than He had in His life.

As Samson was endowed with supernatural strength so that he could deliver God’s people from their enemies, so Jesus was endowed to be able to deliver us from any and all evil.  Thanks be to God for our Samson!

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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Our Noah

Jesus is our Noah.  What Noah was and did, Jesus was and did greater.

Like Noah, only greater, Jesus has given us rest from our labor from what God had cursed (Genesis 5:29).

Like Noah, only greater, Jesus prepared an ark for the salvation of His household from the judgments that the world had brought on itself (Hebrews 11:7).

Like Noah, only greater, Jesus was a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5).

Noah did great things for God, providing a foreshadowing of the even greater things God would do through His Son the Messiah.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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Psalm 97:6

The verse had rich meaning as it was written under the Old Covenant.  The heavens, whether viewed at night or during the day, are glorious beyond description.  Their predictability and reliability only add to that glory.  Truly these works of God have been seen and admired by all peoples.

Though we could rest content with this understanding, God would have us see this verse in light of His great redemptive work through Christ.  That is, Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended into the heavens.  At the last trumpet, He brought up all the dead to be with Him.  The angels of God marveled at this feat!

All heaven had witnessed the righteous life He had lived on earth – not reviling when reviled, not threatening when suffering abuse.  He was indeed the sinless, spotless, worthy Lamb of God, given for the sins of the world.  The angels rejoiced without measure when He was restored to His heavenly home in stupendous glory.  Just as the prophets had written in the Scriptures: the Christ was to suffer, and then would enter into His glory.  H was revealed in the flesh; He was vindicated in the spirit.  He suffered on earth; He was glorified in heaven.

The heavens spoken of here under the New Covenant understanding, as you can see, are the spiritual heavens.  Thus this verse, as so many did, foretold the Messiah to come.  Beginning from this Scripture – reminiscent of Philip in Acts 8 – you can preach Jesus to anyone.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ was revealed progressively.  Like the sun which makes its gradual entrance at dawn, Malachi’s sun of righteousness could not be revealed all at once lest His light blind every eye.

There were prophecies mentioned at the birth of Jesus of Nazareth but not much more until His baptism by John.  Even then, Jesus told no one He was the Messiah.  He simply did the things that Israel’s prophets had done (though to a greater degree) and was content with people’s description of Him as a “man of God.”  Even when His closest disciples realized (through Divine revelation) that He was the Messiah, He instructed them to tell no one.  Only after He was raised from the dead did the fact that He was the Messiah become a part of the kingdom gospel message He was preaching.

Throughout the apostolic age, more was revealed about Him.  The apostle Paul talked about the revelations he had received.  The apostle John began the last book of the Bible, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.”  The full revelation of Jesus, however, was not to be given until the coming of the kingdom – that event which all the apostles said was imminent in that age. 

Looking back on this time from a two-thousand-year perspective, we can see what they were talking about.  Jesus of Nazareth hadn’t just been the Messiah, He had been God Himself.  The apostles had often come close to saying this in their writings, but they kept separate Father-Son construct because of its importance to our instruction.  Jesus fully demonstrated the role of the Son so that when He assumed the role of the Father, we could imitate before Him what He had done as a son.

Of course, Jesus Christ is still being revealed to us today as He will be for all eternity, for there is no end to the glories of our God.  The great sun of righteousness, however, has indeed dawned on humanity – that is, the truth that Messiah was God.  When you become aware that Jesus was God, you are having an experience like Peter did at Caesarea Philippi.  That is, something is being divinely revealed to you.  And you are not far from the kingdom.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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Church Worship Is Idolatry

Some people worship church, thinking that they are worshiping God.  Worship of anything other than God Himself is idolatry.   

The woman at the well in Sychar brought up to Jesus a discrepancy between Samaritan worship and Jewish worship:  The Samaritans worshiped at their mountain and the Jews worshiped at Mount Zion.  Jesus replied that the time had come for the issue of worship’s place to be rendered obsolete.  Thus He said that “neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem shall you worship.”  How then do people today say that having a place of worship is important?

Jesus did not die so that Old Testament rituals could be replaced with New Testament rituals.  What would be the point of that?  Rather, Old Testament worship rituals were to be replaced with sacrificial living (Romans 12:1), doing good, and sharing (Hebrews 13:16).  Worship that had previously been focused on festivals and events would now be expressed through all our waking hours as we lived before the invisible Savior God.

By making worship something we do when we go to a designated place, we commit the sin of idolatry for we have reduced God to a time and place.  All idolatry creates idols or relics that become the objects of our devotion.  God wants to be the constant object of our devotion and it demeans Him to relegate our worship to representations of Him.

To say, as some do, that one cannot live a life of worship pleasing to God outside of a church context is to instruct people to place church on a level with God.  Idol worship always makes people forget about the omnipresent God.  This is why God always condemns it.  It is contrary to truth.  God allowed the Israelites to have a tabernacle, a temple, and related furniture and utensils of worship, but only on a temporary basis until an eternal and spiritual administration could be put in place.  Now that the eternal administration of the kingdom of God has been established, all that temporary equipment is obsolete.  It memory is useful as types and shadows of Christ and His kingdom, but to set up our own houses of worship, furniture, and utensils in its place is as much idolatry as if the Jews were to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and start sacrificing animals again.

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The Messiah Is God and That’s Why He’s Not Coming Back in the Flesh Anymore

Yesterday’s post, The Messiah Is God, described how God designed ahead of time a human identity He would use to walk among us.  This design was revealed over several thousand years of human history and recorded in the Scriptures which were written before Jesus’ birth.  This identity described how Messiah would live on earth (His sufferings) but also how He would reign in heaven after His resurrection (His glories).

Only after God had lived through the sufferings of Messiah, did He focus the attention of his followers on the glories of Messiah.  Those glories would bring in the kingdom of heaven, the day of the Lord, the new heavens and new earth, and incorporate all those events usually called the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  Once the glories were completed at the end of the apostolic generation (which could also be called the New Testament age), God was free to remove the veil and reveal that He Himself had been Messiah. It is a wondrous thought that enters the human heart – the realization that Jesus Christ was none other than God Himself in the flesh.

Because Messiah was an identity that God assumed for a period of time in order to accomplish His purposes, and because He has now revealed that He Himself was Messiah, there would be no reason for Him to assume human form again.  Therefore, the hopes of those who expect to see a Second Coming of Jesus in the flesh will continue to go unfulfilled.  They should have listened to Paul who said in 2 Corinthians 5:16 that while “we did know Christ in the flesh, we know Him thus no longer.”  (Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again)

Just as it was not possible for the prophecies of Messiah to be fully understood apart from the resurrection, so it is not possible to understand the fullness and finality of Christ’s work apart from acknowledging that He was, and is, God.  The whole thrust of Jesus’ work through His apostles was to convert believing Jews and Gentiles from a fleshly orientation in the Law of Moses to a spiritual orientation.  To bring back Jesus in the flesh would run entirely counter to this thrust.

“God is spirit,” Jesus told the woman at the well in Sychar, “and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.”  He came into a world where people focused myopically on earthly things with a goal to shift their gaze heavenward.  It is high time we took His words seriously, stop looking for flesh, and start worshiping in spirit and truth the one and only God, our Messiah.

God doesn’t want a relationship with you in the flesh.  He wants one in the spirit, because that is far more intimate.  In the flesh, He could be close to you – but still always outside you.  In the spirit, He can dwell inside you.  Thus, He stands at the door and knocks (Revelation 3:20).

For more on this subject, see:

There Is No Trinity; There Is Christ

Posts to Date on the Trinity Versus Christ

The Messiah Is God

Before the creation of the world, God created an identity for Himself that He would use to enter human history.  The first mention of this identity was at the judgment for sin in the garden of Eden.  God told the serpent that the seed of woman would overcome him.  This “seed of woman” was the Messiah.  God used many other names for Messiah besides Messiah itself:  the seed of Abraham (Genesis 22:18), the Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15), the Son of David (2 Sam 7:12-14), Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14), the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), the Branch (Jeremiah 33:15), the Breaker (Micah 2:13), and many more.   Thus the identity of Messiah was revealed piece by piece throughout the ages until the time of Jesus.

By the time of Jesus, expectations for the Messiah were high.  However, the specifics of expectation were all over the map.  No one had been able to piece together all the various prophecies about Messiah into one cohesive picture.  Most people were looking for an earthly king like David, only greater.  There were many pieces of the Messianic jigsaw puzzle, though, that just didn’t fit their perceptions (e.g. “He was despised and forsake of men” in Isaiah 53:3).

Jesus never proclaimed Himself to be the Messiah during His earthly life (though He did not deny it at His trial).  Only when He was raised from the dead did He give permission to His disciples to make the fact known.  Only when He was raised from the dead and seated in heaven could the combined prophecies begin to make sense.  For the remainder of that generation, the apostles proclaimed Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, using all the Old Testament prophecies of His coming to tell the story.  This much the apostles told in past tense.  There were aspects of the Messianic prophecies, however, that were still in future tense at that time:  how Messiah would rule the whole world, how the kingdom of God fit into this rule, what judgment would be like, and so on.

As the apostolic age was drawing to a close, it had become apparent that Messiah was an even greater Personage than anyone seems to have foreseen.  So great, that some explanation was going to be needed about how the Messiah and God would relate in the final order.  That time was coming soon, so no one would have to wait long for the answer.  The answer, when it came, was stunning beyond description.

Messiah was an identity that God had used to live as a man on the earth, with all the limitations of a man.  Messiah was not a separate being from God.  Messiah was not even a separate person of God, for God is one.  Rather, Messiah was God.

God had created the identity of Messiah ahead of time so that He could live as a man without detection.  His purposes would have been compromised had people realized He was God while He was still on earth.  Only once He had returned to heaven, and the gospel had been preached in the whole world throughout that generation, was it time to reveal the secret He had kept to Himself all those ages: He did not send anyone to do His work – He came and did it Himself.

For more on this subject, see:

There Is No Trinity; There Is Christ

Posts to Date on the Trinity Versus Christ

The Second Coming of Christ Occurred Long Ago – A Book Explains

I have posted online a book – Whatever Became of Jesus Christ? –  which explains the Bible’s perspective on the Second Coming of Christ.  Contrary to current popular theology, the Second Coming of Christ does not lie in the future and does not consist of a return of Jesus in an earthly body.  This book allows the Bible to make its own case that Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again

Jesus Christ is God.  His first coming was as a man (Jesus of Nazareth); His Second Coming was as God (Jesus Christ Is God).  This is True Christianity.

Types of Christ in Acts 7 and Hebrews 11

Stephen’s message before Jerusalem’s Council in Acts 7 constitutes a great history of Israel.  Similarly, Hebrews 11 lists individuals who acted in specific expressions of faith throughout Bible history.  Both of these histories are fascinating, instructive, and inspiring.  However, there is more to them than just this, for each contains many types of Christ.

For example, in the beginning of Stephens’ speech he recalls God’s words to Abraham, “Leave your country and your relatives and come into the land that I will show you.”  This was a type of God calling Jesus to come out from His family and nation according to the flesh, and go to the cross which would take Him to “a new land.”  If Abraham’s journey required his faith, how much more did Jesus’ journey require His faith.  And this is how types of Christ work – the actuality of Christ is always greater than the type that preceded it.

At the beginning of Hebrews 11, mention is made of Abel who was killed by Cain.  This typifies Jesus because He, too, was killed by His own brethren – and for the same reason: His deeds were righteous and His brethren’s were not.  Thus Jesus has obtained a greater testimony than Abel.

By the way, one other quick example is Hebrews 11:17-19 which explicitly states that the story being told is a type of Christ.

See how many types of Christ you can find in both these passages.  Don’t strain.  The Holy Spirit will make them know to you as you consider each story in which they occur.  The more patterns we see of Christ in the Scripture, the more inspired we become to imitate Him because they enable us to see Him better.  It took thousands of years of Bible history to produce the biographies required to fashion a composite photograph worthy of Jesus Christ.  We’ll be studying the facets of that portrait forever.

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Acts 13:22 (A Man After My Own Heart Who Will Do All My Will)

This passage explicitly describes King David, but it is clearly a type of Jesus Christ.

David’s great passion for God foreshadowed the heart of Jesus.  We see David’s enthusiasm for God in every phase of his life.  He was devoted to God as a shepherd boy, fending off lions and bears to protect his father’s flock.  He was devoted to God as soldier, slaying Goliath with a minimum of weaponry and a maximum of courage.  He was devoted to God as a king, putting Israel on the map with military victories and wise alliances.  He was devoted to God as a poet and musician, being the major figure behind the book of Psalms.  He was devoted to God as a benefactor, enabling Solomon to reign in unparalleled glory and peace.  But David was just a foreshadowing of Jesus, whose devotion greatly exceeded David’s.

We see Jesus as the person who is the ultimate fulfillment of these words: “A man after My own heart, who will do all My will.”  He who knew no sin was made to die on a cross for our sins, yet while suffering He uttered no threats and while being reviled He did not revile in return.  He didn’t surpass David’s example, however, that we might merely admire Him.  He did so that we might imitate Him.

As Jesus inspired this accolade from His Father (in typified form), let us see what kind of accolade our behavior might elicit from Jesus.  Oh, thanks be to God and praise be to God for His awe-inspiring example to us!

2 Chronicles 15:3

Hard times came on Israel when they went without the true God, teaching priests, and the law.  We face similar hard times today.

The true God – There are many false gods today:  gods of worldly success and gods of false worship.

Teaching priests – There are many faithless priests today: priests loyal to their own finances and not to the living God.

The law – There are many alternatives to the law of Jesus taught today: every sermon topic imaginable except Christ and Him crucified.

Things ought not to be this way.  We live in the kingdom of God.  The one true God reigns over it.  His name is Jesus and those of us who know it ought to be able to praise His name clearly enough for others to follow.  As for the law, He could not have been clearer:  we are to love one another as He loved us.

Let us cast aside our church and Christian identities and return in humility to our respective places in the family of man.  Let us live for the invisible King and thus demonstrate to all those around us that there is one true God, that we are faithful priests, that His law is love, and that all humanity is His kingdom.  That will be the beginning of the end of hard times.

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Judges 21:25

These days are like the days when there was no king in Israel: everyone does what is right in their own eyes.

Jesus is the one person worthy to be king over all the earth.  His moral character and selfless nature make Him the obvious choice.  Moreover, He is the one person capable of being king over all the earth.  His omniscience and omnipresence give Him the ability to be everywhere He needs to be and know everything He needs to know.  So why don’t make Him king?  Actually, He already is.  He is “King of the Universe” – that is, over all the earth and every other planet as well. 

What then is the problem?  We are not obeying Him as king.  Even those who profess His name, as a general rule, do not obey His rule even in their organizations they call by His name: churches.  If churches were treating Him as king, there would only be one church for how could the One who said “No kingdom divided against itself can stand” presided over a divided kingdom?  Thus churches call Him Lord, but do not treat Him as Lord.  Unless our righteousness surpasses theirs, we shall not know what it’s like to be obedient in the kingdom of God.

There is only one thing left for us as individuals to do: sanctify Him as Lord in our hearts being ready always to give an account for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15).  I cannot control whether anyone else obeys His commands.  I can only control myself, and so that I must do.  Perhaps my reverence for Him will inspire someone else.  And perhaps that someone else’s behavior may inspire yet someone else.

Maybe if someone did act like there was a King in Israel, Israel would come around to that truth.

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The Apostles’ Lexicon

During the forty days between Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and His ascension into heaven, He held the most amazing Bible school imaginable.

The Teacher:  None other than the newly-risen Lord Himself.

The students:  The same disciples who had followed Him through His roughly three-year itinerant ministry in Palestine.

The text:  What Christians call the Old Testament; what Jews call the Tanakh (i.e. The Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings).

The lesson  plan: Jesus showed the disciples how the Bible testified of Him and His righteousness.  More specifically, He showed them how to interpret it.  Growing up in Israel, they had only heard it interpreted according to the flesh.  Jesus would show them its meaning in the spirit.  He had been doing this for the three previous years but only when He was raised from the dead did they begin to get it.  Even so, the book of Acts reveals that their understanding continued to progress in the years that followed.  It was simply too much to take in at once.

Circumcision, Passover, the Sabbath, worship, the temple – all these words came to have different meanings as they were interpreted in the spirit and not the flesh.  Circumcision was now of the heart.  Passover and Unleavened Bread portrayed Messiah.  Worship was to be unseen.  The temple was no longer a physical building.   And this is just a fraction of the new lexicon they had to learn.  Everything that used to apply to something physical now applied to something spiritual.  Jerusalem and Zion were no longer on earth, but now were considered heavenly places.  Warfare was not to be with surrounding nations but with spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places.  Jews were no longer physical descendants of Abraham, but rather those who walked in the kind of faith he had.

It is time to return to the lexicon that Jesus taught His apostles.  Some of those understandings have made their way down to us but many of them have been lost or overlooked.  Jesus had come to give the Bible the spiritual meaning God had sought for it all along.  Its usage for religion and ritual was only temporary until the Savior Himself could come and break the seals of the book to fully reveal its eternal purpose: the teaching of righteousness.  The Lord Jesus is here now to continue His teaching, if we will only sit at His feet and listen.

He Is Our Manna

God gave His people bread out of heaven when they were in the wilderness.  This foreshadowed the giving of Jesus from heaven in the wilderness of our wandering from God.  God gave that bread of Jesus’ earthly life, death, and resurrection… and it is still feeding the multitudes.

While on earth, Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”  Manna was a daily provision.  Jesus said that we should not worry about tomorrow.  Today, today, today.  Jesus wants us to reach out to Him and embrace Him daily – embrace Him like the very bread we need to survive.  Even on the night before His crucifixion, a day for which He had been preparing His entire life, He still expressed the need to pray.  Could there be any more profound demonstration of the need for daily bread?  If this is what He required, how much more do we need such manna.

This daily bread comes down from heaven like the rain and snow.  If we give Him the time, He will be sure we receive what we need.  Most importantly, that manna will be more of Him.  That’s what we need every day – more of Him.

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He Is Our Sabbath

Many Christians say that Sunday is the Sabbath.  Is that why Jesus died – so that the Sabbath could be moved from Saturday to Sunday?  God forbid that Jesus’ life should be so trivialized!

The Sabbath was intended to signify something.  Like all the rest of the Law of Moses with its feasts, rituals, and laws, it was intended to signify the coming Messiah.  The Sabbath would be God’s rest from all His redemptive work just as the seventh day had been His rest from the original creation.  When challenged about doing what the Pharisees considered unlawful on the Sabbath, Jesus replied that the Son of Man was Lord of the Sabbath.  This emphasized the Messianic foreshadowing for which the Sabbath was designed – and that on the eve of it fulfillment.

Isaiah 58 speaks of a Sabbath in which one stops doing things his own way, stops pursuing his own pleasures, and stops speaking his own words.  This is the life Jesus lived, and the life He calls us to imitate.  We are to be ceasing from our own ways and pursuing the ways of God (Is 55), forsaking our own interests to look our for the interests of others (1 Cor 10), and speaking as one who speaks the utterances of God (1 Pet 4).  This way of living, of course, is not to be a one-day-a-week affair.  It is a lifestyle we are to wholly embrace.  This is the Sabbath God intended.

Jesus Christ is our Sabbath.  Therefore, let us celebrate the Sabbath seven days a week.

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What Is Eternal Life?

Some people think that eternal life is what you get after you die.  Jesus made it clear, however, that eternal life is something meant to help on this side of death.  Yes, eternal life extends through death into all eternity.  And for that we shall be eternally grateful (appropriately so).  Yet eternal life is meant to be manifested on the earth and we are the ones who are meant to manifest it and benefit from it.  Who are we?  Human beings.  There are no other qualifications required – Jesus died for the whole world.

Jesus defined eternal life very simply in John 17:3:   “knowing God.”  He didn’t mean just “knowing about” God.  Lots of people know about God but aren’t experiencing eternal life.  Neither did He mean “praying the sinner’s prayer.”  Lots of people have engaged in that exercise, too.  But even if it was completely heartfelt, it is one transaction with God and doesn’t constitute the “knowing” that Jesus has in mind here.  It is only the beginning of knowing. 

The “knowing God” that Jesus is talking about is knowing in the sense of “being aware of.”  Jesus himself had eternal life – He was eternal life (1 John 1:2).  As we know Jesus – that is, as we stay aware of His surrounding presence through all of creation – we experience eternal life.  This includes being aware of His true nature: love, righteousness, peace, joy, gentleness, discipline, and more.  Eternal life is a way of life.  Some people only attempt to be aware of God at certain times and places.  God, however, longs to be experienced continually – that is, eternally.  That’s why it’s called eternal life. 

Are you aware of Him now? 

If you experience eternal life, your days of reading this blog will diminish and end.  Let this blog decrease, let Him increase.

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We Are the Sons of Men

The biblical expression “sons of men” can simply be a synonym for “men” or “people” or “human beings.”  But it can also refer to the new creatures we have become in the work of Christ.  In this sense, the sons of men are the sons of God.  These are the seed of the last Adam, Jesus Christ.  The sons of “the Son of Man.”  This is a new humanity, a new breed, and new human race.  Birthed in the new heavens and new earth of Messiah, we have a better covenant based on better promises than those who proceeded only from Adam.

God expects us, as these sons of men, to live up to our powers and privilege.  We have benefit of knowing about the life of Jesus.  We have benefit of living in a world that He shaped by His life, death, resurrection, and second coming.

Jesus came to demonstrate what a “new man” should act like.  In short, he should act like God. 

Be alert to scriptural references to the “sons of men” or even to the “Son of Man.”  Let’s see what God expects to do through us because of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit – two unlimited resources inaccessible to the fullness of humanity prior to the 1st Century A.D.  They are ours today!  Let us partake.

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Who Is Your Brother?

Jesus died and rose from the dead so that He could be Lord of both the dead and the living.  Until the Second Coming, He sat at the right hand of the Father waiting for all His enemies to be made a footstool for His feet.  Once that happened, He became (once again) King of the Universe, Lord of all humanity, and Father of the brotherhood of man.  Therefore every man is your brother; every man is my brother.

Do you remember the story of the Good Samaritan and what provoked Jesus to tell it?  A lawyer had challenged Him by asking what was necessary to inherit eternal life.  In response, Jesus asked him what his reading of the law seemed to say.  The lawyer answered with the commandments to love God and neighbor.  Jesus commended his answer but the lawyer went to on ask, “And who is my neighbor?”  You can almost hear Christians asking today, “And who is my brother?”  Both questions attempt to diminish the scope of God’s commandments.   

Jesus is not Lord of some – He is Lord of all.  Every knee shall bow; every tongue shall confess.  It is not our business to know when and how that happens for each of our brothers.  It is our job to love them.  And honor them.  All of them.

Let us repent of all spiritual arrogance and not waste any more time wondering if someone is our brother.  He is.

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Evidence That Demands a Lifestyle

You have heard that the evidence for the truth claims of Jesus Christ are so abundant that they demand a verdict. Indeed, they do…but they demand so much more than just a verdict.

Many people have rendered a verdict for Christ as if they think that this is the main thing Christ wants from us.  Is this “the big question” of life – who Jesus is?  And does He judge each of us primarily on the  basis of our answer to this question, rendering to secondary status how we lived, how we treated others, how we responded to His commandments?

If the only thing Christ wanted from us was a verdict, He would be making us judges and not doers.  He would be the doer of life and we would be the judges of life.  This idea is repugnant.

Jesus Christ is indeed the Doer and Judge of all life.  We, however, are also to be doers – not mere judges of His doing. 

If the evidence of Christ has compelled you to a verdict, fine.  But recognize that your verdict is to be the beginning of something not the end of something.  God is not looking for your approval.  He’s looking for a relationship whereby you may walk in a way that honors Him…and thereby add even more evidence to what has already been accumulated.

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Galatian 3:3 (Perfected in the Flesh?)

Paul asked the believers in Galatia why they were seeking to perfect in the flesh something that they had begun in the spirit.  Even today, many seek to perfect in the flesh something they began in the spirit.

A man begins, or resumes, his intimacy with God by turning his eyes and heart toward heaven – toward the Jesus he cannot see with his physical eyes, but whom he trusts is there – and asks for forgiveness.  He also promises obedience to the Lord he cannot see.  Then, however, he turns his attention to a group of people who call themselves by the name of the Lord for the purpose of growth and improvement (i.e. the perfecting process).  This group of people cannot look into his heart where the roots of sin exist.  They do not have “eyes like a flame of fire” (Revelation 1:14) which can “disperse all evil as a king who sits on a throne of judgment” (Proverbs 20:8).

How odd – this man looks to God for the beginning and foundation of salvation but to other people for the completion and capstone of that salvation. 

As Paul said elsewhere in Galatians, if we have begun by the spirit we ought also to live by the spirit.  As he said in Colossians, as we have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so we ought to walk in Him.

Turn your eyes to the invisible dimension where God dwells and forget about seeking approval in the eyes of mankind.  If you obey the unseen God, humble people will rejoice while the proud will criticize you.  Love and serve them all without making distinctions. 

He who birthed you is able to mature you.  He who began a good work in you is able to perfect it.  Don’t look to anyone else for the completion of your salvation.

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1 Corinthians 3:11

Of course, Jesus Christ is the only foundation of faith.  Anyone who reads the Bible with devotion or who professes to be a Christian would heartily agree.  Yet, if you read Paul’s statement in context you will see that he was arguing against those people who rallied around specific Christian persons:  Paul, Apollos, Cephas.  Even “Christ” was the name of one faction who sought to have their purity humanly approved.  Paul’s argument for one foundation was not made in a vacuum – he was challenging these factions.

How are these factions any different from those which we see today in the self-described church?  They are not different.  And those who today promote themselves in Christ’s name are of the same spirit as those who promoted themselves in Christ’s name at Corinth.  What was only a handful of incipient denominations in Corinth has become over 30,000 in the early 21st Century.  Division is one of the most common marks of organized Christianity today.

Paul felt that to redress the Corinthians divisiveness, he must cut to the central issue:  People had begun to preach themselves instead of Christ.  And what was nascent in Paul’s day has been full-grown ever since: rampant self-promotion in the name of Christ. 

I call you to return to your roots.  Is Jesus Christ your foundation?  If so, why do you tell people they need to come to your church or follow your ministry?  Be true to Him and fulfill 2 Corinthians 4:5.

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Conviction Before Man or God?

In Romans 14:22-23 Paul says that faith is a conviction.  Moreover, he says, it is a conviction one has before God.  In our day and age, faith in common evangelical parlance has become perverted to a profession before men.  That is, if a person tells others, “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior,” or “I am a born-again Christian,” or some other such phrase – and can make the statement credible to listeners – then that posture is considered faith.  This does not meet Paul’s standard.

It does not meet the standard, first of all, because it can hardly be called a conviction because it is hardly ever tested.  We can only be sure something is a conviction if it holds up against challenge.  Professing Christians generally receive acceptance from other professing Christians and yawns or groans from everyone else.  There’s no challenge.  By contrast, Satan always challenges faith. 

The second, and more important, failure to meet Paul’s standard is that such professions are not before God but rather before men.  True faith toward God produces signs which others can see, but its primary focus is God, not the signs.  Faith is the conviction of things not seen (Heb 11:6).

If we would have true faith before God, let us look to Jesus Christ with an open heart…and let Him see it.  And let us continue in this posture day after day because when we lose this posture, we lose faith.

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The Gates of Gaza

Samson had come to the city of Gaza.  The Gazites had decided to gather near the city gate and spend the night there so as to attack Samson in the light of morning.  Yet Samson arose at midnight and, with his great strength, lifted the gates of the city, transporting them on his shoulders to the top of the mountain opposite Hebron.  Thus he not only foiled the plan of his enemies to kill him, he made a mockery of them by removing their city gates and placing them prominently on a mountaintop far away.

Similarly, Satan and his host had planned to hold Jesus in death after His crucifixion.  Yet Jesus rose from that darkest of pits in the greatness of His strength and moved the gates of Sheol below to the mountain of heaven above.  Thus He triumphed over His foes, removing the sting of death by causing death to become a gateway to heaven.  Thus Jesus is our Samson.