The Schemes of the Deceiver

The devil has schemes which have been revealed to us by God.  Satan’s primary work is to resist the word of God – whether that word comes through the Bible or your conscience.  The parable of the sower, told in the first three gospels (Matthew 13; Mark 4; Luke 8), reveals Satan’s devices.

The deceiver’s first resort is our hardened hearts.  If we are resistant to God, His words will not even penetrate our consciousness.  This is the seed which was sown by the road. 

If that doesn’t work, Satan applies persecution or affliction.  Many people give up the word of God at the first sign of any difficulty it arouses, even though they may have initially received it with great enthusiasm.  Certainly persecution – in some form or fashion – is inevitable for anyone who seeks to walk according to the word of God (2 Timothy 3:12).  This is the seed which was sown on rocky soil. 

Finally, Satan resorts to our lusts and fears: anything he can get us to think about more than what God has said.  These include everything from the mundane worries of the everyday world to hopes for worldly riches or power to anything else that you might desire more than God’s approval.  (Eve had some pretty good reasons to succumb; we always do.)  This is the seed which was sown among thorns.

Re-read the parable to strengthen your understanding not just of Satan’s devices, but even more of the power of God’s word.  Hold it fast and it will overcome every obstacle in its way.  In due time we will reap a great harvest, if we do not grow weary.

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

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Even Jesus Was Tempted to Disbelieve the Word of God

When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness for forty days (Matthew 4, Luke 4)  it was not an isolated experience.  Rather, it came after Jesus’ experience of being baptized by John the Baptist and hearing the words of God out of heaven, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am very pleased.”  The activity of Satan was intended to undermine this message from God to Jesus, as Satan’s first words to Jesus were, “If you are the Son of God…”  (italics mine).  Thus this tempting of Jesus was a direct result of His having heard the word of God.

This reminds us of how Satan tempted Eve (“Indeed, has God said…” italics mine).  It also reminds us of Jesus’ parable of the sower (“Satan comes immediately to take out the word which was sown”).  You may think that if you heard a voice out of heaven that you would never doubt it.  Yet Jesus was tempted by Satan after just such an experience.  Jesus did not yield, but He was genuinely tempted.

If Satan would tempt Jesus to doubt or disbelieve the word of God after experiencing a miracle, how much more would he tempt you and me after our reading the Bible.  Recognize that you will be tempted to let go of all you have read and understood of the Bible and you will be better able to resist such temptations.

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

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Satan Comes Immediately

Your relationship with God will grow stronger as you better understand the schemes of Satan to undermine it.

In the parable of the sower (Matthew 13; Mark 4; Luke 8), it is said that when the word of God is sown into a human heart, the devil comes immediately to take it away.  Satan’s purpose is clear: if the word of God is removed from the human heart, nothing of God can grow or bloom from that word.  Satan will thus have made the word of God of no effect. 

This is Satan’s pattern and it is what we see him doing in the opening pages of the Bible.  God gave Adam and Eve instructions about living in the garden of Eden.  Satan came immediately to take out that word which was sown into them.  As we know, he succeeded in his purpose.

How does Satan fare where you are concerned?  Do you hold fast the words of God that you hear?  Do you resist the temptations to disregard it or forget it? 

Know this:  whenever you heard the word of God, Satan will come to remove it from you.  Do not let him succeed.  Otherwise it will have done you no good to have heard the word of God.  In some cases, you might even be worse off (2 Peter 2:21-22).

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

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The Temptation of Eve

There is a pattern in the temptation of Eve that is repeated again and again and again – not just in the Bible, but in our lives.  That pattern consists of God speaking and our response.  The part of God’s speaking never varies.  He speaks truthfully and faithfully.  Always.  Our response, however, varies.  We can remember what God says and then act on it.  Or we can forget what we’ve heard and fall into deception.  This is what happened to Eve.  This pattern is particularly important for you as a Bible reader to understand.

Every time you read the Bible you are hearing the word of God just as Adam and Eve heard it.  When you go away from your Bible reading, do you take care to act on what you have read?  I can assure you that the evil one will come to work against what you have heard.  The easiest way for him to work is to simply have you forget what you read.  This happens when we don’t read with “a view to do.”  The next way is similar: your memory is vague and thus when contradictory thoughts arise it is harder for you to resist them.

Eve did not intentionally disobey God.  She was deceived.  Don’t you be deceived.  When you read the Bible, remember and act on what you read.  It is better to read only one verse of the Bible and act on it than to read all the verses of the Bible and not act on any of them.

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

Have You Drifted Away from Jesus?

In Hebrews 2:1 we are warned that we should keep remembering what we have heard so that we don’t drift away from it.  Since you first heard about Jesus, have you drifted away from Him?

It is so easy for that initial awareness of Jesus to be corrupted by our wandering minds.  This was how Eve fell prey to temptation.  She was not dwelling on what God had said and thus when the evil one began quizzing her she became confused.  He was then able to convince her to act on appearances – what seemed right to her in the moment.

Likewise, you can be lured away from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Jesus Christ which marked the beginning of your awareness of Him.  Return to Him from whom you have wandered.  Cling to Him and don’t ever let go.  If you do let go, cry out to Him and He will bring you back.

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

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If Jesus Came Again in the Flesh, He’d Have to Die Again in the Flesh

You who insist that Jesus Christ will come again in the flesh, why do you want this?  Don’t you realize that if He came again in the flesh, He’d have to die again in the flesh?  All flesh is like grass, and grass dies. 

Paul said in Romans 6 that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again.  In Acts 13, he said Christ, according to the Scriptures, will no more return to decay.  In 2 Corinthians 5 he said that though we have known Christ according to the flesh, we know Him thus no longer! 

We human beings, upon death, are raised incorruptible to live in heaven eternally.  By seeking to have Christ return to earth we would have Him enter a state which even we ourselves aren’t going to enter.

Christ coming again in the flesh would be going backwards.  It is appointed unto man once to die.  Forsake the flesh and live for the spirit (see Romans 8 for a fuller exposition).

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

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Are You Being Perfected?

Christianity as it exists today speaks little to the perfecting of the saints –  that is, the maturing of those who would leave sin and seek righteousness.  Yet Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that we were to be perfect as His Father was perfect.  In the book of Ephesians, Paul spoke of the perfecting of the saints.  In the book of Hebrews, mention is made of the spirits of righteous men made perfect.  If you hunger and thirst for righteousness, therefore, you will have to seek the kingdom of God rather than modern-day Christianity.

The kingdom of God is the rule of Jesus as Lord in your heart.  Are you willing to subject your every thought to His loving gaze?  Are you willing to conform your entire life to the wishes of your Creator?  If so, you are ready for the kingdom of God.  Call on the name of Jesus and He will lead you through its gates into His gracious omnipresence.  In and by that process, you will be perfected.

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

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The Last Chapters of Daniel and Revelation

Both the book of Daniel (from the Old Testament) and Revelation (from the New Testament) prophesy of the coming of Messiah in His kingdom (what is often referred to today as Christ’s “Second Coming”).

The last chapter of Daniel says that the words of the book of prophecy are to be sealed because their time would not be until the end of the age.

The last chapter of Revelation says that the words of the prophecy are not to be sealed because their time was near.

The book of Daniel was written some 500 or so years before the book of Revelation was written.  Therefore, what was distant future for Daniel had become near future for John.  Their views thus coincided. 

Therefore, if John, in essence, was saying that the time for Daniel’s prophecy had drawn nigh, how can we say – almost two thousand years after Revelation was written – that the time has not yet come?

The simple answer is that we can’t, or we shouldn’t.

It is much easier to believe the prophets and the apostles.  Jesus came in His glorious kingdom just when Daniel and John said He would.  By our calendars that would be at the end of the New Testament age, which was around the end of the 1st Century A.D.  The kingdom of God is here – and it has been here for a long time.  Let us be done with lesser things (like church) and seek this kingdom with all our hearts!

See any of these three posts:

Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again

The Kingdom of God Is Here and Now 

Seeking the Kingdom of God Instead of Church 

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

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Our Sufferings with Christ Are Not Worthy to Be Compared to the Glory

Everyone who desires to live godly after the manner of Jesus Christ shall be persecuted.  That persecution, however, is not worthy to be compared to the glory that God will bestow on us if we bear up under that suffering as Jesus bore up under His.

At the close of 2 Corinthians 4 and also in the middle of Romans 8, Paul makes the point that while glory will come as a result of our sufferings, the glories we’ll enjoy are all out of proportion to the sufferings we endure.

Our sufferings are temporary, because all of life on earth is temporary.  “All flesh is like grass.”  How can this compare to heavenly glory which is eternal – that is, continuous and never-ending!  Moreover, God’s consolations always outweigh our plights simply because God is generous.  He always gives more and does more than we would ask or think.

As He did with Joseph, He makes us forget all our trouble and makes us bear fruit in the land of our affliction.  As with the resurrection, He raises us not just back to earth – but all the way to heaven!

Let us therefore consider ourselves blessed if we are allowed to suffer for His name, knowing that His benefits make such suffering more than worthwhile. Let us also never forget that perhaps the greatest benefit of all is not anything that comes later, but it’s the assurance in the moment of suffering that we are honoring Him who suffered for us.

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

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If We Suffer with Him, We Will Be Glorified with Him

Christ suffered in the flesh for His devotion to God.  As a consequence, He was glorified in heaven.  If we suffer in the flesh for Christ, we, too, shall be glorified in heaven with Him.

For this reason, when the mother of the sons of Zebedee (the apostles James and John) asked Jesus that they be placed on His right and left when He came in His kingdom, Jesus responded to her, “You don’t know what you’re asking for.”  Then He turned to the two men and said, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?”  (He was speaking of His cup of suffering.)  They replied that they were…and indeed they did ultimately drink of it.  James was martyred in Acts 12 and extrabiblical history tells us that John was miraculously delivered from a vat of boiling oil, just to note the more dramatic of their sufferings.

We do not receive heavenly glory because of suffering due to our own sins.  Neither will we receive glory if we revile and condemn the perpetrators of our undeserved suffering.  But if we suffer because of Christ and bear up under those sufferings the way Christ did, then we shall be glorified as He was.

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

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The Sufferings of Christ and the Glories to Follow

The gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ was written in a mystery by the prophets who penned the Scriptures by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  In 1 Peter 1, the apostle Peter describes the process whereby the prophets did this.  This parallels the passage in Luke 24 where the freshly-resurrected Jesus gently criticizes His disciples for not recognizing that the Messiah had to first suffer and then be glorified.  This theme – suffering and glory – runs through Scripture.

The sufferings have to do with the flesh, and are of an earthly nature.  The glories have to do with spirit, and are of a heavenly nature.  Those who seek earthly glory are constantly missing God.  God is not impressed with earthly glory.  If He had been, He would have sent Jesus to establish a kingdom like that of David or Solomon.  Instead, Jesus came to establish a kingdom of heavenly glory on earth.

The sufferings of Christ were all witnessed by the apostles, who wrote them down for us to contemplate.  The glories that followed were all in the heavenly realm – and these must be taken by faith.  However, since the sufferings were witnessed and reliable, we should have no problem believing the glories.  Those glories include Christ’s coronation in heaven and His return to earth in the kingdom of God.  Thus one of His glories is that He is among us now.  Let us worship Him with every thought!

Consider also:  The Old Testament (that is, the Hebrew Bible) Is About Jesus Christ – His Suffering and Glory

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

Serve Only Unleavened Bread!

In the Scriptures, unleavened bread represents truth.  Leavened bread represents truth with distortions – born of sin, which leads to hypocrisy.  Thus Jesus warned His disciples to watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees.

Leaven results when we add our opinions to God’s thoughts and present them as a unified whole.  The Scriptures warn that we should never add to God’s words or take away from them.  Presenting His words to others in purity is extremely important.

Today’s man-made churches are a constant source of leaven.  That is, today’s human church proclaims Jesus Christ but adds to that message all sorts of unbiblical demands as if God were making them.  Most of these demands stem from the church’s desire to perpetuate itself.  God only needed the church on a temporary basis until the kingdom of God had come.  That’s why the New Testament church is the only legitimate church that the world has ever known.

We should repent and return to the unleavened bread of the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit.  If we did this, then Jesus would be glorified and our lives would be changed.

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

Why Does the Church Preach a Diminished Gospel?

I wrote elsewhere that The Church Preaches a Diminished Gospel.  Why does the church do this?

Tradition is part of the answer.  The church as a structure has been handed down to us from generation to generation.  I myself used to accept it as God’s plan when I was a pastor.  If you search the Scriptures, however, you find that support for this institution in our day is not present in its pages.

The Scriptures speak of the kingdom of God in expectant terms, while churches were merely the means that believers used to prepare for that kingdom.  Jesus never said, “Seek ye first church.”  Rather, He said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.”  Search the Scriptures yourself and you’ll see what I mean.

Therefore, a likely reason for the church to preach a diminished gospel is self-preservation.  If the kingdom of God has come, as Jesus and His apostles said it would, then the church no longer has a reason for being. 

Why should we seek to preserve something God has discarded?  Do we want the temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem as well?  If we’ve been seeking to preserve the church then let us repent…and seek the kingdom of God.

Do not accept a diminished gospel.  Receive the good news of the Lord in all its fullness!

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

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Psalm 110 – A Psalm of Christ

Psalm 110 is quoted throughout the New Testament, and always in reference to Christ.

David wrote it and began it with the words, “The Lord said to my Lord.”  Jesus knew that the scribes and Pharisees rightly regarded this as a messianic psalm (i.e. a psalm of Christ).  Yet He knew they would stumble over its meaning because to understand it you would have to understand that the Messiah would first suffer, and then, by virtue of His resurrection and ascension, enter into His glory.  (That’s the only way David could call his descendant “Lord” because normally it’s descendants who regard their elders and ancestors with such respect.)  This was an understanding that no one displayed until Jesus explained it to His disciples after His resurrection (even though He seemed to chide them because they hadn’t understood it – see Luke 24 beginning with verse 13).

The book of Hebrews deals with this psalm extensively, especially the Melchizedek portion, referring to this as “mature” teaching about the Christ (as contrasted with elementary teaching about the Christ).  Since the name Melchizedek means King of Righteousness, there is certainly teaching about the kingdom of God in this letter.

There is much, much more we have to learn about the Christ.  All the Scriptures testify about Him, including Hebrews…and the Psalms.  If we do not always see Christ in them perhaps it is because we are dull of hearing.  If that is so, God grant us repentance so that we may learn more of Him!

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

Psalm 109 – A Psalm of Christ

We know that this is a psalm of Christ because of Peter’s reference to it in Acts 1.  Peter stated that they had to appoint another apostle to take the place of Judas because (to use our words instead of his) verse 8 required it.

This, therefore, like Psalm 69 and others, is a psalm written by David, ostensibly about David, but actually prophetic of Jesus.  In Luke 2, Simeon had prophesied of the infant Jesus to His mother that he would cause “the rise and fall of many in Israel; and be a sign to be opposed.”  Thus Judas fell because of his opposition to Jesus.

In the beginning and ending of the psalm you can most easily see the life of the Lord Jesus reflected.  He looked to His Father for salvation and His Father did not disappoint.  Knowing this, we can walk in those same steps of faith.  Let Jesus guard and protect you as His Father guarded and protected Him.

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

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Psalm 69 – A Psalm of Christ

In Acts 1, Peter quoted from Psalm 69 (and from Psalm 109 as well) as he spoke of Judas.  He said that “the Scripture had to be fulfilled that the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Jesus.”  If you read the psalm in its entirety, you see that its central subject is ostensibly David (the psalm’s author).  But, as with other psalms, David was looking ahead and prophesying of his descendant, the Messiah.  A reference to the enemies of the psalm’s central figure was where Peter made the connection to Judas.  Thus, the psalm “had to be fulfilled” regarding Judas because Judas had aligned himself against the Messiah.

The important point to see in Peter’s words is that Psalm 69 is being designated by his words as a “psalm of Christ.”  As you read the entire psalm, you will recognize other verses which are applied to Christ elsewhere in the New Testament.

Read this psalm for a greater appreciation of how Jesus constructed His interior thought patterns in His service to the Father.  This will enable you to similarly construct your thought patterns in your service to Christ.

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

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Psalm 2 – A Psalm of Christ

Psalm 2 was referenced as a psalm of Christ in Acts 4 by Peter, John, and the rest of the early Jerusalem church as they prayed to God with its words.  It was also referenced as such by Paul in Acts 13.

As you read this psalm, you may also recognize that a number of it phrases show up throughout the New Testament even when a whole verse may not quoted outright.  These include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Romans 1:4 where Jesus is said to have been declared the Son of God by virtue of the resurrection (the same point Paul made in Acts 13:39).
  • Hebrews 1:1-2 where Jesus is referred to as the heir of all things.
  • John 3:36 where the apostle John is quoting John the Baptist referring to the choice between obeying the Son and experiencing His wrath.
  • Hebrews 12:22 where the heavenly Mount Zion is mentioned.

As with the other “psalms of Christ,”  Psalm 2’s full meaning was not grasped prior to the resurrection of Jesus.  Even today, there is much more to be plumbed of its meaning for as the writer to the Hebrews says in 5:11, “As for Him, there is much more to say…”

Psalm 16 – A Psalm of Christ

In Acts 2:25-28, Peter quotes verses Psalm 16:8-11.  He makes the point that David was not speaking of himself, but rather prophesying the resurrection of the Messiah.

There are a total of 11 verses in this psalm.  Are we to assume that the first seven verses were about something else and only the last four refer to Christ?  Of course not.  Read the whole of Psalm 16:1-11 and see how the whole psalm speaks of Jesus and how He lived.

Remember: the apostles were with Him day and night.  If there had been discrepancies between what the Scriptures said and the way Jesus lived, they would not have been willing to lay down their lives for Him.  I am not speaking of their time with Him prior to His resurrection, for indeed they had their doubts on occasion.  However, once He was raised from the dead and showed them all that had been written about Him in the Scriptures – that’s the point at which they would have questioned any discrepancies.  No such questioning is reported.  Instead, they boldly declared that He was the One of whom the prophets had written.

There was no earthly glory for Jesus to grant His apostles – no riches, no honor, no spoils of war.  All He had to give was heavenly approval.  Therefore, we may know by their testimony that this psalm of Christ portrays Him accurately.

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

The Psalms of Christ

In the forty days He had on earth between His resurrection and ascension, Jesus showed His disciples the things written about Him throughout the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms (Luke 24).

Jesus had ready spoken to His disciples during His earthly ministry, for example, about the Messiah in Psalm 110 (Matthew 22, Mark 12, and Luke 20).  This forty-day teaching therefore was an elaboration, made possible by the resurrection, which cast an entirely unexpected light on these Scriptures for His disciples. 

Empowered with this knowledge, and with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the apostles began preaching on the day of Pentecost – and continually thereafter – constantly referring to these texts, which the revealed fullness of Jesus’ life had given grand new meaning. 

Do you think about Christ when you read the psalms?  If not,  you are not reading them as the apostles would have you read them. 

For example, in Acts 2 Peter says that it may indeed have appeared that David wrote Psalm 16 about himself.  However, it had now become clear that because David was a prophet, he had looked ahead and had been writing of the resurrection of his descendant – the Messiah.  (See also 1 Peter 1:10-12 which likely explains David thought processes as he wrote.)  Thus the apostles were taught by Jesus how to read the Scriptures in an entirely new light.  The “Psalms of David” could now be right called the “Psalms of Christ.”

We would do well to read the entire Old Testament through the eyes of the apostles, for it was the Lord Himself who gave sight to those eyes.

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

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The Similarities of David and Peter

The similarities between David in the Old Testament and Peter in the New Testament are striking.

David exhibited more zeal for God than anyone in his time.  Peter exhibited more zeal for Jesus than anyone in his time.

David was willing to take on the giant Goliath for the honor of God when everyone else was too afraid to fight.  Peter was willing to step out in the storm and walk on the water to Jesus merely on His command when everyone else was cowering in the boat.

David became the leader of the people of God because of the greatness of his heart for God.  Peter became the leading figure among the twelve apostles because of the greatness of his heart for Jesus.

David took up the sword for God.  Peter tried to take up the sword for Jesus.

When David sinned with Bathsheba it indicated his human frailty.  When Peter denied three times that he even knew the Lord it indicated his human frailty.

When David sinned, he repented and accepted his forgiveness…going on to serve his God.  When Peter sinned, he repented and accepted his forgiveness…going on to serve his Lord.

When David came to the end of his life, he made sure his entire legacy – both physical and spiritual – went toward furthering the cause of the Lord.  Consider, for example, how he laid out everything necessary for the temple’s construction before his son Solomon.  When Peter came to the end of his life, he made sure his entire legacy – it was entirely spiritual – went toward furthering the cause of the Lord (Read of the inheritance he left in 2 Peter 1).  Both men were determined that their service to God should survive them.

If David was a man after God’s own heart, and if David and Peter were this similar, what does it say about the identity of Jesus that He would bring into His inner circle someone so much like David?

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

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For Whom Is the Tithe?

When God cried out through Malachi for the tithe to be given so that there would be food in His house, whose interest was He seeking?

Pastors today love to quote Malachi, which they use to equate the withholding of tithes from them to the robbing of God.  They believe God intended this Scripture for the material sustenance of the church.  Yet, the New Testament does not support this view for there are no passages that use Malachi to make this point.  Neither for that matter are there any verses that make this point on any other basis.  There is a reference to tithing in the book of Hebrews but its point would be that the tithe belongs to Jesus as the high priest according to the order of Melchizedek – not to the church.

Jesus should indeed be the recipient of such giving.  We live in the time of the kingdom of God.  Therefore, the house that God wants to have plenty of food is His house, which is the human race.  Therefore, when we give to the hungry or the thirsty, when we clothe the naked, when we invite the stranger, when we serve the sick, or visit those in prison we are giving to those in Jesus’ house.  He said when we have given to the least of His brethren, we have given unto Him.  (He made no reference to the church.)

The time for church ended with the coming of the kingdom of God.  For man-made churches (which all of them are today) to take from God’s tithe is to rob from the least of Jesus’ brethren for whom this surplus of abundance was intended.

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

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Is Your House Doing Better Than God’s House?

If your family doing better than God’s family? 

By answering this question affirmatively , Moses left Pharoah’s palace to live with his fellow slaves, the Hebrews.  By answering this question affirmatively, Nehemiah forsook the comforts of life in the Persian capital and returned to Jerusalem to rebuild it.  By answering this question affirmatively, God Himself left the glory and honor of heaven to walk the earth as one of us.

God does not always ask us to do such dramatic things.  Perhaps He will simply ask us to share from our abundance with those who have need.

God’s house is the human race.  Is your family doing better than the human race? 

If you answered in the affirmative, do whatever He tells you.

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

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Whose House Will You Serve?

Do you exist to serve God’s house or does He exist to serve your house?

Many today who proclaim Christ do so seeking their own houses.  They seek the growth and betterment of their own churches, their own ministries, their own families, their own lives.  And often they seek all these things in material terms: more people and money for their churches and ministries, more material goods for their families and their lives. 

If you would seek the good of God’s house you must seek spiritual blessings and you must seek for them to accrue to others.  Material things are indeed necessary for this life but are always to be kept in a place of lesser importance than spiritual things.

What makes this issue all the more confusing for many people is that what they perceive as God’s house is, in actuality, their own house.  Thus they think of their church as God’s church, their ministry as God’s ministry.  They are blind.  They cannot see God’s house and God’s ministry.  God’s house is humanity.  His ministry is that which edifies human beings.  I am speaking of the entirety of the human race – that which only God can be over. 

So I ask again:  Are you seeking God’s blessing on your house or are you seeking to be a blessing to God’s house? 

Here is good news:  If you seek to be a blessing to God’s house, He will take care of your house.

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

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Do You Know What You Are Asking?

So often when we pray, we do not know what we are asking.

The mother of the sons of Zebedee (the apostles James and John) certainly did not know what she was asking when she asked Jesus if her sons could sit on His right and left when He came into His kingdom.  She thought she was asking for her sons to sit at a place of honor like that which was arrayed around King David in the earlier days of Israel.  She knew Jesus was the son of David and that He would reign over Israel.  What she did not know was that His path to the throne of glory led through the cross.  If she had known it, this mother may not have made this request for she was, in effect, requesting that her sons be persecuted to the point of cruel death.

Christ’s glory is the measure of underserved suffering He took upon Himself for the sake of God.  Similarly, to be close to Him in heaven James and John would have to take on considerable suffering beyond what they deserved as common sinners.

Earthly glory is one thing; heavenly glory is quite another.  Heavenly glory comes at a huge earthly price.  Those who love God, as James and John did, are willing to pay that price.  Let us try to be sure of what we are asking when we pray.  But neither let us shrink from suffering if it will bring Him glory.

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

The Breaker Goes Up Before Them

The prophet Micah prophesied Messiah as “the Breaker” – the one who would “break through” and make a path for all to follow (see Micah 2:13).

God did not call all mankind to repent until after the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  While there were times when He called for a repentance from sin (as when Jonah preached to Nineveh), He did not broadcast a call for worldwide repentance until He had fully established a path for repentant ones to walk.  After all, when the command is to repent, the obvious response is, to what?

Jesus is the example for all mankind to follow.  He loved God and He loved those around Him.  God was demonstrating to us through the life of Jesus Christ how He would have us live by living that way Himself before He asked any of us to do it.

As a child imitates his father so we should imitate Jesus.  He blazed a path for us.  He carved a way through the wilderness.  We are not, of course, to imitate Jesus outwardly. That is, we are not to wear 1st Century garb, live in the Middle East, speak Aramaic, and so on – unless all those circumstances are natural to us.  Rather, we are to imitate His inward motivations.  His selfless thinking is to be our mental model.

The Breaker has made a way for us when there was no way.  In fact, He has cut a wide path, making for us a “highway of holiness” (Isaiah 35:8).  You will not find this highway by accident – you must seek it.  The Breaker Himself will lead you there.

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

Who You Are in Christ

Do you know who you are in (relation to) Christ?  That is who you are.  Christ is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.  Therefore, to know who you are in Him is to know who you are.

To seek to know who you are in relation merely to earthly things is to seek a limited and misleading understanding of yourself.  Yet many people seek to understand themselves only in this dimension.  Thus they regard their surname, their place of birth, their age, their circumstances, their likes and dislikes, and such as the full expression of who they are.  There is so much more to a person than this.

Paul said in Colossians 3 that we should seek Christ because when He is revealed, then we also are revealed. 

When you search the Scriptures, search for Christ.  When you find Him, look at who you are in relation to Him.  Thus you will increasingly come to know who you are.

In Him we have all things pertaining to life and godliness.  In Him we are raised up to heavenly places.  In Him all things are possible.  There is much more to who you are in Him.  Seek Him that you may find out all these things.

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

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The Apostles’ Testimony

The opening chapters of the book of Acts reveal the transformation that had come over Jesus’ apostles.  At His crucifixion, they fled from Him lest they be punished with Him.  Yet, after His resurrection, they boldly faced the same sort of hostility that had previously cowered them.  What accounted for the change?  Two things.

First and foremost, they spent forty days experiencing Jesus as risen from the dead, never to die again.  Uncertain at first, they quickly adapted to the wondrous reality that death had no lasting power over Jesus as it had over every other human being who had ever lived.  Every day brought them more assurance that Jesus was indeed alive and would never die again.  This forty-day period was concluded with His ascension into heaven – capping off any residue of doubt that humanity was passing into an an entirely new phase of existence.

Second, during the forty days Jesus took pains to explain to the apostles all that had been written about Him in the Scriptures.  The apostles knew that the Scriptures foretold Messiah.  What they hadn’t known was how thoroughly it had foretold of Him.  Jesus revealed the many passages of Scripture where He had been taught, but that had previously escaped anyone’s notice.  Flush and fresh with this knowledge, the apostles quote Old Testament scripture passages in the opening chapters of Acts (as well as throughout their writings) with unmitigated confidence and excitement.  They had been brought to see an old book in an entirely new light and they were filled with energy to spread that enlightenment.

The apostles had a story to tell…and a script from which to tell it!  How astounding that the script had been written well in advance, yet no one but the Savior Himself had been able to follow it!  It was written in a mystery, but revealed in the outworkings of reality.  Jesus Himself explained the story Himself to His apostles.  They, in turn, boldly declared what they had seen and heard.  The world was the courtroom and the apostles were witnesses.  There was no need for a court stenographer, however, because all the testimony had been written before any of them were born.

In our day, we have lost sight of how much the Old Testament spoke of Christ.  Re-read the book of Acts noting every time that the Old Testament is being quoted.  You will be amazed at how much of it we have let fall back under darkness.  Let us bring it all out to the light of Christ.

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

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Who Is Worthy to Be Believed?

Being a prophet or apostle in Israel was a dangerous occupation.  They were always persecuted and often killed.  Yet they kept proclaiming their message.  And indeed it was one message for all of them.  They did not have different messages.  They may have spoken in many different portions and many different ways but they all spoke a consistent message: redemption through the Righteous One who would be sent with a kingdom which would never end – the prophets in the Old Testament beforehand, the apostles in the New Testament after Jesus walked the earth.

The prophets always spoke of the Righteous One in the future tense – until John the Baptist, who spoke of Him in future and present tense.  Then, after His resurrection, the apostles spoke of Him in past, present, and future tense. 

The prophets and apostles were motivated by love for Him and love for us (their fellow human beings).  No other motivation could account for the suffering they endured.  The power of the gospel is seen in them.  That is, they proved worthy of the gospel that they preached.  The gospel they preached transformed them into the likeness of Christ.  They who bore witness to Him, came to resemble Him. 

When it comes to life and death matters, could there be any more worthy witnesses for us to believe than the prophets and apostles of ancient Israel?

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

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Christ Is the Fact

All the prophets of Israel who wrote foretold of a coming Messiah (i.e. Christ).  All of these prophecies were written hundreds of years before Christ’s birth – some, over a thousand years before His birth.  And some were originally spoken over two thousand years before the first Scriptures were written.  Thus, by the time of Christ there was a substantial library of predictions about His life.  In fact, Jesus testified that the Scriptures were written primarily with Him in view (John 5:39-40; Luke 24:25-49). 

After Jesus was raised from the dead, He instructed His apostles to bear witness to His life, death, and resurrection – which they had all seen firsthand.  He revealed to them also the way that the Scriptures had previously testified of all that they had seen.  They, being devout Jews, already had a sense of how the Scriptures foretold Messiah and His coming kingdom.  However, they had only seen through a glass darkly.  Through Jesus’ explanations, the day dawned and the morning star arose in their hearts.  They began to see the fullness of what the Scriptures had said about Him. 

Thus, what the prophets wrote of Him was confirmed by what the apostles saw with their own eyes and heard with their own ears.  The central fact of history – the most important fact that will ever be known in all history that ever has been or ever will be recorded – is attested to by the prophets and the apostles in two very different, but mutually reinforcing ways:  the prophets by inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the apostles by their five physical senses.  We who look for assurance about what matters in this life could not be better served than by these two faithful streams of witness to Jesus Christ.

The prophets and the apostles are the witnesses – Christ is the fact.  Let us accept the indisputable Fact…and live our lives accordingly.

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

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The Testimony of Jesus Is the Spirit of Prophecy

All biblical prophecy is about a Person – the Person of Jesus Christ.  All biblical prophecy looked forward to Him and is fulfilled in Him. 

God Himself chose to come to earth and live as a human being – Jesus of Nazareth by name.  After being raised from the dead, He ascended back to heaven.  From there He orchestrated the coming of the kingdom of God by which the entire universe is now governed.  This all occurred on the biblical timeline, which means it was concluded around the latter part of the 1st Century A.D.

People who teach any Bible prophecy today by speaking of a yet future fulfillment have missed the main point of the Scriptures:  Jesus Christ.  I say it again:  all Bible prophecy has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  (For more, see All Bible Prophecy Has Been Fulfilled in the Introduction to A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus.) 

If you want to understand Bible prophecy, understand first that it speaks of Jesus Christ.  If you don’t understand how it speaks to you of Him, don’t worry about it.  One day you will.  Until you do, don’t attempt to apply any other interpretation to the verse.  No scripture is a matter of human interpretation; the Holy Spirit inspired its writing, therefore let the Holy Spirit inspire its understanding.

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

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Noah’s Ark Won’t Do Us Any Good Today

Noah’s ark would provide us no protection from the judgments of God today.  It wouldn’t matter if archaeologists found the original and refurbished it, or if we took the instructions in the Bible and built a new one.  The ark that Noah built was designed for salvation from a specific judgment at a specific time in the earth’s history.  Fortunately, hardly anyone today thinks that Noah’s ark would provide deliverance, so people are not wasting their time pursuing it.

Unfortunately, people are pursuing church today which is just as useless as an instrument of salvation for us as Noah’s ark.  The apostles’ church, that is, the church we read about in the New Testament was designed for salvation from a specific judgment (or set of judgments) at a a specific time in the earth’s history.  Attempting a reconstruction of that church will do no more good than an attempted reconstruction of Noah’s ark.  Each vessel was an instrument of God designed for a specific time.

Noah’s ark and the original church are useful to us as types of God’s deliverance for us who live in the days of the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 10:1-11; Romans 15:4).  Yet people are forever trying to imitate the forms of God’s prior salvations instead of their spirit (Hebrews 11:29).  It is the spirit that prevails; the flesh profits nothing (John 6:63).

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

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