Biblical Language Without a Biblical Spirit

Beware of those who quote the Bible but do not have the Bible’s spirit.

The Bible’s spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Not everyone who uses biblical language is of this spirit.  You know this. 

Do not listen to those who speak Scripture with anger, bitterness, strife, malice, or any other ungodly spirit.

Biblical language without a biblical spirit is as a noisy bell or clanging cymbal.  God is love.

Whenever you refer to the Bible, be sure you are doing so in God’s spirit.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible. For a list of verses relevant to this post, see this post on related blog.

Isaiah 26:19

In this verse, Isaiah portrays how the tomb of the earth would become the womb of the earth.

Sheol was the nether region which housed all human beings who had died.  In Greek, its name was Hades.  Jesus descended to this region through death that He might be raised from it for the sake of its inhabitants.  In the coming of the kingdom of God, all the dead were raised and this lower world exists no more.  For an exposition of this truth, see the online book The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

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The Purpose of the Apostles and the Church Was to Bear Witness to Jesus and His Kingdom

The New Testament is sworn testimony of the apostles and their church regarding the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Now having their testimony (i.e. the New Testament), our responsibility is to believe it and act upon it.

Believing it and acting upon it does not mean establishing and adhering to the religious rituals of churchgoing.  Rather, it means believing in Jesus and keeping His commandments.  His commandments are that we love God above all and our neighbor as ourselves.  In fact, we ought to be laying down our lives for each other.  Churchgoing is not a fulfillment of this way of living, but rather a diversion from it.

We are to be imitating the faith of the apostles and their church.  That is the way to honor their service, and to honor the Lord who they honored.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

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1 Chronicles 11:2

Even though Saul was king of Israel, it was through David – the anointed one – that God delivered the people of Israel.

Even though church exists as an institution and claims authority from God, it is through Jesus that God grants deliverance for us today.  As Saul did not faithfully keep the charge of Samuel and was replaced by David, so the church did not faithfully keep the charge of the apostles and was replaced by the coming of the kingdom of God (Romans 14:17).

You can find grace in church today, but only because Jesus is preached there – and only for as long as He is preached there.

Like a honeycomb in the carcass of a dead lion is Jesus in the church today.  But just as you needn’t go to the carcass of a dead lion to find a honeycomb, so you do not have to venture into a church to find Jesus.  He is everywhere.  Entrance to His kingdom is found wherever His name is called and His word is declared.

Do not be confused about the source of your salvation.  It is the Spirit of Jesus –  and none other.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

The Church Was Preparation for the Kingdom of God

As you read the New Testament, you can see that those who wrote it and those who read it were preparing for the coming kingdom of God. 

The church was a school for the apostles to pass one what they had learned of, and from, Jesus Christ.

It is clear from the reading that the purpose of the church in the New Testament was not to become the institution of church that we see today.  The apostles made no provision for their authority to be transferred to anyone except the Lord Himself.  They were not seeking to establish a permanent church, but rather to prepare for an eternal kingdom.

If anyone would seek to imitate the New Testament church today, he will not seek anything except to lead others to Jesus and His kingdom.  God is not seeking churchgoers today.  He is seeking persons of faith.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

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Psalm 119:28

Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1; Luke 1:1-4; Revelation 19:13).  When we ask what the psalmist asked in Psalm 119:28, we ask with greater clarity and therefore greater power.

We ask for God to strengthen us according to Jesus Christ.  This is whose flesh we eat and whose blood we drink (John 6).  Do you think that this is too difficult a statement?  Are you still fleshly?  (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)

Paul wrote that this was the One who strengthened him (Philippians 4:13).

When we ask for God to strengthen us according to Jesus Christ, we are asking to be made like Him.  Though we may be weak in ourselves, through Him we are strong.

O God, strengthen us through Jesus who was sent for us to show us how to live in any and every circumstance.  O God, we do not ask that You change our circumstances; we ask that You change our hearts.

(For elaboration, see It’s a Salvation of the Soul…Not Circumstances )

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

Why Does God Call Us Gods?

In John 10, Jesus responded to a challenge by referring to Psalm 82 wherein God refers to human beings as “gods.”  Jesus’ point was that if the Scripture, which can never been in error, called humans gods, how could He be wrong by calling Himself “the son of God.”

Why did Psalm 82 refer to us as gods in the first place?  Because it was anticipating the resurrection in which Jesus says we will be like angels in heaven.  That is, the resurrection of the dead brings humanity to the heavens, in a place higher than angels.  For this reason also Psalm 8 extols God for the power and privilege He has given humanity.  He goes so far as to say that all things have been put under the feet of mankind.  The writer of Hebrews picks up on this theme and rejoices in it.

Mankind had authority over everything on earth in the original creation, but Psalm 8 is speaking prophetically of the resurrection which Jesus Christ has brought about.  In this resurrection, deceased humanity has been seated in heavenly places higher than angels.  Angels are under our feet.

For this reason we should not think that anything can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39).  Satan once stood between us and God.  No longer.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

 

 

“Do Not Stretch Out Your Hand Against the Lad”

You have heard these words from Genesis 22:12.  God was intervening as Abraham was about to slay his beloved son Isaac as a sacrifice to God.  This was a test and Abraham had passed it.  There was no need for the process to continue further.

Fast forward over two thousand years.  Jesus is about to be crucified.  Where were we?  That is, why did not the humanity present look up to heaven and say to God, “Do not stretch out Your hand against the lad.”  We could have said to God, “You have proven that you love us and you do not have to take this innocent Life.”  Yet we did not say this.  On the contrary, we shouted, “Crucify Him!”  Or at the very least, we were silent.

Even so, God loved us and followed through with the sacrifice.  Thus is the love of God – though He desires us to reciprocate it, He will not cease extending it even when we don’t reciprocate it. 

God, help us to repent and be like You!

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

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The Word of the Lord Came Unto Me Saying…

In the Old Testament, Israel’s prophets would make this claim.  In our day (that is, the days of the kingdom of God) every human being who has heard of Jesus of Nazareth can make this claim.

Jesus Christ is the word of God to each and every one of us.  Through Jesus, God gives us light.  Through Jesus, God sets an example for us to follow.  Through Jesus Christ, God governs the universe.

What is Jesus saying to you?  He speaks afresh each day.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

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The Closer You Get, the Better Jesus Looks

If all you know of Jesus’ life is the rough outline, it’s still pretty impressive.  With the power of the Holy Spirit, He went about doing good things for people, healing those who were oppressed by the devil.  (Acts 10:38)

As you listen more to His words, you recognize that you have never heard a human being speak the way that He spoke (John 7:46).

A Roman centurion, having seen the abuse that Jesus had taken through His crucifixion, exclaimed as Jesus breathed His last that he had never been so impressed by anyone in his entire life.  (Mark 15:39)

Reading His words in the Bible for yourself allows you to come to your own conviction – that is, your own faith – that He is indeed the Savior of the world, and the God of all creation.  (John 4:39-42; John 1:1)

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible. For a list of verses relevant to this post, see this post on related blog.

Why Are People Looking for the Kingdom of God To Come with Observable Signs?

Jesus could not have been more clear.  In Luke 17:20-21 He told the Pharisees that the kingdom of God would not be coming with signs to be observed.  Why then do so many people still look for Jesus to come in His kingdom with signs to be observed?  It’s folly!

The kingdom is in our midst now for surely it came just when Jesus said it would.  (For elaboration, see The Kingdom of God Is Here and Now .)

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible. For a list of verses relevant to this post, see this post on related blog.

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Like a Thief in the Night

How does a thief in the night come?  Without warning and without detection, until the morning when you realize your loss.

This is how Jesus said He would come again (Matthew 24:43; 1 Thessalonians 5:2).  Why then do people continue to look for Him to make a grand physical appearance? 

Do they not understand that He came just as He said He would?

See Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible. For a list of verses relevant to this post, see this post on related blog.

Jesus – The Greatest Bible Student

We know Jesus was the greatest Bible teacher, but He had been the greatest Bible student before that.

If you’ve ever tried to read the Law of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), you know how tedious it can be.  Genesis, with all its stories, is not too bad, notwithstanding the genealogies.  Exodus has a lot of action in the beginning, but it starts getting boring halfway through.  By Leviticus, only the most athletic of readers can keep paying adequate attention.  At least this is the experience of most Bible readers in the initial stages.

Imagine then that moment when a religious leader in Israel asks Jesus, “What is the great commandment in the Law?”  What would Jesus say?  How would you even begin to answer a question like that?  Contrary to all expectation, Jesus in one quick breath says that we should love God above all and with all that we are.  This wasn’t so hard because it was part of Israel’s Shema.  But then He pulls a verse from the middle of Leviticus of all places (“Love your neighbor as yourself.”).  Then, if that wasn’t breathtaking enough, He has the chutzpah to say, “Upon these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”  Whew!  He answered for the Prophets as well as Moses, and put every other Bible verse in the right perspective. 

The entire exchange would have taken less than a minute.  No, less than half a minute!  Jesus receives a pop quiz for a final exam on the entire course and aces it without a sweat.  No wonder He’s at the head of the class!

We do well to worship Him!

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible. For a list of verses relevant to this post, see this post on related blog.

Like a Weaned Child Rests Against His Mother

Psalm 131 paints a picture that brings to mind Jesus’ admonition that unless we humble ourselves like children, we would not be able to enter the kingdom of God.

As adults, we are prone to worry of all kinds.  We wonder about our careers, about our financial situations, about our families –  and in this world wonder quickly turns to fear.  This fear takes the form of fretting or gnawing concern or outright terror.

The antidote, Jesus says, is to become like children.  Depend on a Father.  Let trust in your Father be your dominant mindset.  It is remarkable to see this demonstrated in the life of Jesus Himself.  He was the Savior of the world.  Talk about “having the weight of the world on your shoulders!”  Yet, we never saw Him stressed, out of sorts, or fearful. 

If Jesus – the One who had the concern of every human being who ever lived on His heart – could be as carefree as a beloved and protected child, then so can we.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

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Jesus is the Wisdom of God – Let Us Listen!

You know that it is better to quietly listen to someone who has wisdom than to be in the company of a celebrity with all the hoopla (Ecclesiastes 9:17). 

Jesus is the personification of God’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). 

Let me ask:  How do you listen to Him?  How often do you listen to Him?  What good is wisdom if we do not listen to it?  And what good is wisdom if we listen to it but do not act on it?

Moses said that we should give heed to everything Jesus says.  No, Moses didn’t  know Jesus by that name but he prophesied of Him in Deuteronomy 18:15, telling us to listen to Him when He came.

What if all the people going to church stayed home for the same amount of time to listen quietly to Jesus?  And then acted on what they heard?

If you have not been listening to Jesus, God probably seems distant to you (Isaiah 59:2).

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

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So Earthly Minded They’re No Heavenly Good

You’re probably used to hearing this expression the other way around (“So heavenly minded they’re no earthly good”).  But what if God would actually prefer us to be heavenly minded? 

The apostle Paul certainly seemed to think this was the case.  He exhorted believers in Colossae to set their minds on things above and not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:1-2).  In a similar exhortation to the those at Philippi he lamented those who set their minds on earthly things and whose true god was their own selfish desires (Philippians 3:17-21). 

Evangelical Christians usually try to do everything the world does and then be spiritual on top of it all.  It’s an impossible task.  Being spiritual can’t be accomplished in addition to being worldly,  it must be in place of doing what the world does.

What impressed God more than anything else Israel did – was it Joshua’s conquest of Canaan?  Was it David’s defeat of Goliath?  Was it Solomon’s temple?  Was it Nehemiah’s recovery of Jerusalem?  All these things paled in significance to the greatest accomplishment of ancient Israel – the life and death of its Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

And what did Jesus leave behind to bear witness to His own greatness in the eyes of God – a building?  An organization?  An autobiography?  A reputation with world leaders?  It was none of these things.  He left behind human hearts touched by the kindness of God through Him.  That is the standard of measure in the kingdom of God, and this is why we must become less earthly minded and more heavenly minded.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

He Turns the Curse into a Blessing

Balak hired Balaam to curse Israel, but God made the curse into a blessing (Deuteronomy 23:5).  By acts like this, God made a name for Himself as the One who could turn a curse into a blessing.  Never did He do this on a grander scale than when He raised Jesus from the dead and thereby made a path for all humanity to enter heaven.  Death, which previously had been man’s biggest curse, now became life’s biggest blessing!  (Philippians 1:21)

Even before the Balak-Balaam episode, God had demonstrated His ability in this regard when he transformed the trials of Joseph into the triumphs of Joseph.  Joseph was able at the end of it all to look his brothers in the eye and tell them, in effect, “Don’t feel bad about any of this; you may have meant evil to me, but God meant it to be good for all of us.”

For this reason Paul could say that all things work together for good to those who love God and who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  He could also exhort his disciples to give up dissensions, disputes, and any desire for revenge.  In fact, he asked  them, “Why not rather be wronged?” (1 Corinthians 6:7) knowing that God was able to turn any difficulty into a triumph.

Through Christ our Lord, we are able to go from one triumph to another (2 Corinthians 2:14) in  life. 

So much did Paul embrace this way of thinking that he was able to rejoice whenever he was weak, because then he was actually strong through the Lord (2 Corinthians 12:10).

This way of thinking is completely incompatible with the world’s way of thinking, for your defeats in the flesh are vindicated in the spirit (1 Timothy 3:16), as Jesus’ was.  Your mind must be set on the spirit and not on the flesh to understand and act on this principle (Romans 8:6-8).  Once you digest this principle, however, you cannot be defeated in life.  Ever!

This is the love of God, both for us and through us (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

What Have You Done with the Keys to the Kingdom?

Remember how Jesus chastised the spiritual leadership of His day with the indictment that they had withheld the key of knowledge from the people?  (See Luke 11:52.)  What about us who claim to speak in His name today – what are we doing with the keys to the kingdom?

Jesus left us the keys of the kingdom through His apostles.  The most prominent of the original twelve, Peter, gave a complete set of them in the opening of his second epistle.  You know the list – what are we doing with those keys?

Are we using these keys ourselves, and thereby leading others into the kingdom through our example?  Or do we completely divert our own attention (and that of others as well) by focusing on building church instead of entering the kingdom?

Church is about attendance and offerings – the kingdom of God is about righteousness.  Let us seek His keys and enter His kingdom.  In other words, let’s stop constructing things and instead enter what He has constructed!

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

The Stone Which the Builders Rejected

As the Pharisees and Sadducees rejected Jesus the King in the flesh, so today’s church leaders reject Jesus the King in the spirit.  The builders always reject God, preferring their own structures to obeying God’s commands (see The Tower of Babel for an elaboration on this point).

The point in this post, however, is the rejection itself that Jesus faced, and continues to face, in the world.  What kind of king is this who refuses to stop loving those who reject Him?

Read the gospel accounts of His trial and crucifixion and consider the mountain of scorn that was heaped upon Him.  Earthly kings are crowned in pomp and ceremony; Jesus was spat upon.  Yet this was all according to the plan of God which was based on His love.  He would demonstrate to us beyond all reasonable doubt the indestructible nature of His love for humanity.

Psalm 2 tells of how earthly leaders are forever wanting to throw off God’s restraints.  It also shows how foolish these leaders are in this regard.  They only bring wrath on themselves.  Though God loves us, He still must judge the world and so there are consequences for all our sins and rebellion against Him (even though Everyone Is Going to Heaven).

If, however, you come to this rejected One, and stand with Him, you will be exalted with Him to the degree you suffer with Him.  How much rejection can you take before you stop loving?  If you are His, if you are seeking His kingdom, there is no amount of rejection that will stop you from loving – for He is the vine and we are but the branches.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

The Kingdom of God Is Spiritual and Present

Jesus told us that the kingdom of God coming, but not with signs to be observed (Luke 17:20-21).  We should not be surprised therefore that history does not record the coming of the kingdom.  The kingdom indeed has come (see Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again) and is in our midst, just as Jesus promised.

If this seems hard for you to accept, go to the third chapter of 1 Corinthians and see what Paul said to his readers in Corinth.  He said that they were “babes in Christ” because they were not spiritual, but fleshly.  Spiritual people relate to unseen things (most notably, God).  Fleshly people relate to things they can see and touch and understand.  This is why so many people are seeking church instead of the kingdom of God (the former being visible, the latter being invisible).    

Church is something you can see – just like the kingdom of Israel was.  But earthly kingdoms can always be shaken or corrupted.  Therefore, God’s ultimate plan was to put a spiritual kingdom in our midst to which we could each submit day after day.  Jesus Christ is the King of this kingdom, and He Himself is invisible.  We knew Him according to the flesh, but we know Him thus no longer.  This kingdom cannot be shaken or corrupted, and spiritually-minded people are willing to seek it.

All over the world there are people who believe that Jesus will come again some day in the future in a fleshly kingdom.  Do not join with such people for they are fleshly minded.  Instead, join with your Lord for a kingdom that is not future but present, not fleshly but spiritual.   If you do, then the life you live in the flesh will bring glory to Him.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

A Great Light Dawned on the Apostles

We can tell from reading the New Testament that even the apostles did not immediately grasp the full import of Jesus’ resurrection.  In the first chapter of Acts they are asking Him about when the kingdom will be restored to Israel.  As time went on, they would gradually realize that God intended His salvation to benefit Gentiles as much as Jews.

In Acts 6, the Hellenized Jews felt discrimination from the native Jews, indicating the myopia that God would have to heal.  By Acts 10, we see Peter preaching the gospel to Gentiles after significant coaxing from God.  By Acts 15, all the leaders of the geographically spreading church had to come together in Jerusalem to settle differences in expectation from Gentile and Jewish believers.  This controversy did not go away quickly for we see the book of Galatians taken up with it.  Circumcision of the flesh was being replaced with circumcision of the heart – but even Peter had to be nudged by Paul to give up the old. 

Just as God lets the sun dawn on us (lest we be blinded by the immediate full light of a noon-day sun), so He lets great truth come to us progressively.  Much of this revelation came through the apostle Paul who was not even one of the original twelve.  God had to work hard to convey the fullness of His truth.  Paul wrote in Ephesians that God was moving to an era wherein there would be no distinction at all between Jew and Greek.  At the time Jesus returned in His kingdom*, any final distinctions were thus wiped out.  The Son of God assumed full control of the universe and every human being from that point on became a child of God. 

What was a faint glimmer on the horizon in Acts 1 became a brilliantly shining sun by Revelation 22.  See especially Revelation 1:16c – and relate it to Malachi 4:2.  The last book of each testament bears witness to the great Light of the world, Jesus Christ.  See Psalm 27:1; Isaiah 9:1-2; 60:1-3; John 8:12; Ephesians 5:14 – and let Him shine on everyone in your world!  It is no longer sunrise, for we know now that He is the Lord God Almighty Himself!  We live in the noon-day sun of His glorious countenance.

*See Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again or The Kingdom of God Is Here and Now in this Introduction.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

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Is Your Faith Alive?

Many people today have reduced faith to the point where it is a one-time transaction wherein a person prays the sinner’s prayer, stops going to bars, and starts going to church.  Before this event, the person was considered an unbeliever.  After this, the person is considered a believer.  This is a cheapening of the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 

In this cheapened faith, a person is actually putting his trust in people and not in God.  The people he’s trusting are the self-described “people of God” with whom he is going to church.  The person is assuming that association with these supposed “people of God” is association with God.  Association with God is achieved not by associating with people but rather by associating with God.  It’s just this simple, yet people are missing this point all the time.

True faith is an attitude, a way of thinking.  True faith is a conviction we have before God (Romans 14:22-23) and tolerates no doubt.  Did you “accept” Jesus as your Lord and Savior 20 years ago?  If so, good!  But are you believing Him today for the life you are living today?

You do not become a believer by calling yourself a believer.  You become a believer by believing…and by continuing to believe.  You need no one to approve your faith except God Himself.  If your faith in Him is alive, He will know it!

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

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Beware of Today’s Pharisees

You have to wonder if today’s church leaders ever read Matthew 23.  If they did, it would give them pause.

The kingdom of God does not need human leaders.  Its power structure is entirely Divine, and therefore not subject to any form of corruption.  For this reason, Jesus cautioned against forming any sort of power structures in His name.  He said we should not allow ourselves to be called rabbi, teacher, father, or leader.  There was a time when God needed such leaders.  This included the time of ancient Israel, including the time of the church in the New Testament.  Since then, however, the kingdom of God has arrived (see The Kingdom of God is Here and Now in this Introduction) and God Himself is doing the leading of every human heart.

Who are today’s Pharisees?  Church leaders are the most common example.  They present themselves as being over the flock of God – or rather some portion thereof.  Thus they divide God’s flock.  God did use overseers in New Testament days but that was only until the kingdom of God came.  For this reason Peter told the shepherds to prepare for the coming of the Chief Shepherd who would assume oversight of His flock (1 Peter 5).  Some leaders, however, would be unwilling to yield the sheep to Him and for this reason Paul said some church leaders of that age would seek to draw away the disciples to themselves (Acts 20).  This spirit has animated church leadership ever since. 

If you read the apostles’ writings you see that they left no plan of succession (whether it be popes, bishops, or local pastors) because the only person to whom they planned to hand over the church was to the Lord Himself.  Woe to those who seek to take His place by trying to be a leader in the kingdom of God.  Rather, we should be servants to the King who is able to interact with each of His subjects individually.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

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All Is Vanity…Except…

“All is vanity,” declared the Preacher of Ecclesiastes.  He looked at the world of flesh and declared what any sane person would:  “It’s futile.”  The hope we see so dominant in the book of Isaiah is subdued in the book of Ecclesiastes.  Yet the Preacher does close his tome with the conclusion, “Fear God and keep His commandments.”  Thus he hopes for a solution to the dilemma he has described.

Like Job who said, “I know that my Redeemer lives and at the last He will take his stand on the earth,” while in the depths of his despair, the Preacher knows whom he has believed.  

You, too, know whom you have  believed.  Only you can see Him so much more clearly than could Job or the Preacher, for you have heard of the life of Jesus Christ – crucified and three days later raised from the dead.

Therefore, lay aside the way of life you inherited according to the flesh.  Live in the spirit.  That is, live life in this world in the light of the dimension you cannot see – where God dwells.  That is, live by faith.  Specifically, live by faith in Jesus.  He loved us and released us from our sins by His blood.  In the light of His loving and righteous eyes, there can be meaning in the midst of vanity, purpose in the midst of futility. 

Our purpose is to love at every opportunity, just as He did.  We do not build monuments, we relieve pain – the pain of human suffering.  Therefore, all is vanity, except that which is done out of love for Him.  Nothing you sow to Him is in vain, for in due time you shall reap.  Fear God and keep His commandments.  That is, revere Jesus in your heart every conscious moment and do what He says. 

Stop building things that will eventually crumble.  Instead, be kind to the hurting.  God will remember, and that is your foundation for the future.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

God Was Unwilling to Listen to Balaam…or Satan

When Balaam was hired to curse the people of Israel, God would not listen to him and, instead, turned Balaam’s curse into a blessing.

Similarly, when Satan spoke against humanity and said they deserved to be incarcerated forever in death due to their disobedience to God (which Satan himself had inspired), God would not listen to him and, instead, made the curse of death into a blessing.  (Balaam is a type of Satan – the erstwhile servant of God whose own disobedience has relegated him to a life of self-seeking, foolishness, and futility.)  Because of Jesus Christ, death no longer leads down to Sheol, but rather above to heaven.  It used to be that death was the worst thing that could happen to a human being.  Through Jesus Christ, it has become the best thing that could happen to a human being.  Praise be to our God!

Though death casts its shadow on every part of human existence, yet the light of God’s redemptive love overcomes it.

Therefore, you should never worry or fret when anyone criticizes or condemns you for it will always work to your good.  God’s love is so great that even bad things can work out for our good.  For this reason the apostle Paul could say that all things work together for good to those who love God.

Love endures all things.  Blessed be the name of the One who is love:  Jesus Christ our Lord.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

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Jesus Is the Resurrection

What is wrong that two thousand years after Christ’s resurrection people are still afraid of death? 

God took upon Himself the flesh of Jesus of Nazareth to redeem us from the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15).  Through that resurrection and the glories that followed, He made clear our destiny (2 Timothy 1:10).  He gave us a future and a hope beyond death (Jeremiah 29:11).  God was so opposed to death that He called it an “enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:26), something over which He would achieve “victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). 

Why then do human beings cower under the shadow of death – even some who claim to belong to God?  Unbelief.  Lack of faith.  An absence of trust in God. 

Jesus is the resurrection; he who believes this never dies (John 11:25-26).   

Fix your eyes on Jesus now and forever more.  Live life in His loving sight.  So live that when you finally reach that heavenly shore, you will receive the kind of glory and honor that He did (Hebrews 12:1-2; Romans 8:15-17).  Have no fear of death – it honors Him.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms for those familiar with the Bible.

Jesus Is the Second Adam

Even though Nicodemus was a respected Jewish rabbi, and even though he recognized that Jesus was sent from God, he was slow to see that the kingdom of God would not be an earthly kingdom like David’s or Solomon’s.  Rather, the kingdom of God would stem from heaven.  For this reason, humanity would need a heavenly progenitor just as it had an earthly progenitor.  Whether you translate Jesus’ words as “born again” or “born from above” (John 3:3) the meaning is consistent: just as earthly life had flowed from Adam so heavenly life would flow from Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:45-47).

In Peter’s first letter, he made reference to this new birth stemming from a heavenly location.  He made explicit in 1 Peter 1:3 what had been implicit in Jesus’ words to Nicodemus (John 3:1-21): that it was the resurrected Jesus who was giving the life of the kingdom of God.  In 1 Peter 3:21 Peter emphasized that this new life was about a clean conscience before God:  that is, it’s about stopping our sinning and living righteously.

By his sin, the first Adam set his descendants on a downward course.  By His righteousness, the Second Adam (or you could say “the Last Adam”) set His descendants on an upward course (Philippians 3:14). 

The Heavenly Adam is the Lamb of God who removes our sin (John 1:29) and the serpent of Moses who removes the poison of sin (John 3:14).  He Himself is the living and enduring Word of God which Peter preached (1 Peter 1:22-25; see also John 1:1, 14; Luke 1:1-2; Revelation 19:13).

Do you now see this Adam from heaven?  Is He real to you, or is He just a theological concept?  Treat Him as real and present.  Trust Him now and always.  If you believe in the corrupting influence of your earthly origins, believe even more in the redemptive influence of your heavenly origins.  Do not postpone the living of eternal life until you die; live it today…looking constantly unto Him who loves us righteously.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms for those familiar with the Bible.

Jesus Is the Forerunner

Over and over in the New Testament, the apostles made reference to the location of the Jesus who had been crucified: heaven.

Jesus’ ascension into heaven was remarkable for many reasons, but not least of which was that He was the first human being to ever do so (John 3:13; Hebrews 6:20).  That the rest of the dead were not yet raised at that time is made clear by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:12-28, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, and 2 Timothy 2:18.  This is why Micah prophesied that “the Breaker” would “go up before them”  (Micah 2:13, underlining added).  Jesus “broke” through heaven, making a place for us.  For this reason, He told His disciples the night before He died that He was going to “make a place” for them (John 14:2-6).  Yet, at the time of Paul, as we have seen, no one else had yet ascended with Jesus.

What then happened, you ask?  The answer is that the rest of the dead arose to heaven to be with Him at the Second Coming.  They’ve been with Him there in heaven ever since.

Here then is the question I have for those of you who believe that Jesus’ Second Coming has not yet occurred:  Given Paul’s insistence that the resurrection of the rest of the dead would not take place until the coming of the Lord, how is it that you believe anyone else is now in heaven?

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms for those familiar with the Bible.

To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice

Hebrews 10: 4-9 quotes Psalm 40.  This psalm was written by David who lived about a thousand years before the time of Jesus Christ.  Hebrews was written during the apostolic age, called so because it took place during the generation that Jesus’ apostles were bearing witness to His resurrection from the dead.

Psalm 40 was a prophecy of the day that would come when the worship of God would change from the sacrifice of animals to the doing of God’s will.  Animal sacrifice was only to take place until the time of Jesus, when He would offer Himself as the sacrifice for our sins.  (For this reason, John the Baptist called Him “the Lamb of God”  – see John 1:29, 36.)  Thereafter, humanity would be called upon to do the will of God from the heart (This is the kingdom of God).

Church was ordained by God for the apostolic age.  It was the gathering of people who believed the apostles’ testimony about the risen Jesus.  These gatherings were teaching sessions to prepare the people for the coming kingdom of God, when there would be no physical house of worship or earthly priesthood.  We now live, of course, in that day for which they were preparing.  Since the kingdom of God has come, we no longer need the structure of church. 

When someone tells you that you should go to church because it’s in the Bible, you should remember that animal sacrifice is also in the Bible.  Just because it’s in the Bible doesn’t mean you should imitate the act.  Rather, you should look at the spirit behind the act and imitate that spirit.  Thus, you should worship God today in humility and reverence, knowing that He is omnipresent.  He sees all the thoughts of your heart.  Jesus died to consummate the sacrifice of animals and the attendance at church so that we would have an understanding of what it means to live in the kingdom of God.

If church today were a gathering for the purpose of teaching people how to enter the kingdom of God, it would make sense.  Instead, church leaders make church the destination instead of the kingdom.  The kingdom of God is about obeying God in all that we do.  And, as Samuel the prophet has said, “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22).  If that was true in the days when animal sacrifice was called for, how much more is it true in our day when animal sacrifice has been done away by the all-sufficient sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ!

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms for those familiar with the Bible.

John the Baptist Was a Model for Jesus’ Apostles

John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for the Messiah as a man.  The apostles were sent to prepare the way for the Messiah as God.  (Luke 1:16-17)

John the Baptist preached repentance.  The apostles preached repentance.  (Luke 1:16)

John the Baptist was preparing a people for the Lord.  The apostles were preparing a people for the Lord.  (Luke 1:17; Titus 2:14)

Those who did not believe and act upon John’s message did not recognize the Messiah when He came as a man (i.e. Jesus of Nazareth).  Those who did not believe and act upon the apostles’ message did not recognize the Messiah when He came as God (the resurrected and glorified Jesus). 

Those who did believe and act upon John’s message were gathered by Jesus as His flock of disciples.  Those who did believe and act upon the apostles’ message were gathered by the glorified Jesus as His flock of disciples (the kingdom of God).  (Isaiah 40:10-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; 1 Peter 5:4)

John the Baptist showed no jealousy when his disciples left him to follow the Lord.  The apostles likewise were making disciples for the Lord, not for themselves. 

As John was martyred in the course of his ministry, so also the apostles were martyred in the course of their ministry (thus the apostles did not live quite long enough to demonstrate that they would not have been jealous because of disciples leaving the church for the Lord’s kingdom; on the contrary, they would only have been bothered by disciples who did not discern the Lord’s appearance).

As John downplayed his own role and magnified the Lord, so the apostles downplayed their own roles and magnified the Lord.

The Lord establishes patterns, and those who know His patterns follow Him.

Blessed be the God of John the Baptist and the apostles of Jesus!

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

When the Great Shepherd Gathered His Flock

The kingdom of God came when Jesus said it would: before the passing of the generation of which He was a part (Matthew 24:34).  By our calendars, this means that the Second Coming occurred no later than the latter part of the 1st Century A.D.

The apostle Paul said that those worthy would be gathered together to the Lord at that time (2 Thessalonians 2:1).  That is, the children of God would cease to have human overseers but would be gathered to the Lord Himself.  The apostle Peter spoke also of this gathering when he told the human shepherds to work toward the day when the Chief Shepherd would assume control of the flock (1 Peter 5:4).  No one on earth saw any difference but the chosen ones knew the Lord had come to them and was speaking to their hearts (Revelation 2:17; 3:20).

Of course, both apostles were speaking from the authority of the Lord and of the prophets, for Isaiah had spoken of the time when the Lord would come in judgment but also in mercy for His holy ones (Isaiah 40:10-11).

Since that time, the Lord Himself has nurtured the sheep that hear His voice (John 10:27).  He knows those who are truly His (2 Timothy 2:19).  His sheep care about righteousness (Hebrews 1:19; Matthew 7:21-23).  And that’s what separated the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:21-46).  This is still what separates them today, for the kingdom of God is eternal – it will never end.  If you would hear His voice, do not harden your heart (Hebrews 3:7-19).

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

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