Distinguishing the Scriptures from the Bible

Most people, including me, use the terms “Scripture” and “Bible” synonymously.  Nothing I’m going to say in this post seeks to change that.  I do, however, want to draw your attention to something every Bible reader should keep in mind: that is, the differences between what was originally written by a Bible author and what we see when we read an English Bible today.

  1. The Scriptures were written by many different authors over more than a thousand years.  Therefore, the Bible was not written as a single book but rather is a collection of many writings.
  2. None of the original Scriptures were written in English.  Therefore, what we read is a translation from the original languages.
  3. The original Scriptures contained no chapter numberings, no verse numberings, no punctuation, no capitalization, and no footnotes.  All these have been added to help us read the text.

None of these facts should discourage you from believing that the Bible is the word of God and therefore true.  It should, however, discourage us from getting too hung up on any one sentence or wording or point.

There’s a reason God gave us a Bible with over half a million words.  The volume allows Him to repeat themes that are most important to Him.  The more important something is, the more the Bible repeats it – decreasing the chance that we miss the point because a particular word or sentence wasn’t passed on to us correctly.

The voluminous nature of the Bible also allows us to let one part of the Bible interpret another part.  That is, the documents in the Bible are constantly referring to each other.  For example, we can read Moses or Isaiah in the Bible but we can also read what others in the Bible said about Moses and Isaiah – deepening our understanding in the process.  This is especially valuable when we use the New Testament to better understand the Old Testament, and use the Old Testament to better understand the New Testament.

Therefore, while we rightly use the terms “Bible” and “Scriptures” interchangeably, we also rightly appreciate the “Bible” apparatus through which our “Scriptures” come to us.  In this way, the truth of the word of God has the best chance of shining through..so  that we can understand it, believe it, and act upon it.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Our Amen to the Apostles’ Creed

Here is a text of the Apostles’ Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.  I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended into hell.  On the third day He rose again; He ascended into heaven, He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and He will come to judge the living and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  Amen.

This version may vary here and there from whatever version with which you are familiar.  Nevertheless, all versions are fairly uniform.  While history generally does not ascribe these words directly to the apostles, they are consistent with the apostles’ teaching we find in the New Testament.  Therefore, we may accept the truths laid out in this creed and shout a hearty “Amen” – with one condition.  That one condition is that we acknowledge that what was future and imminent for the apostles must be past tense for us.  That is to say, the coming of Jesus Christ in judgment of which they spoke occurred in the imminent time frame that the apostles gave.  To say otherwise is not to say “Amen” to them at all.  It is to say that they were right about the idea, but completely off about the timing.  The New Testament is emphatic – from one end to the other – that Jesus’ return would occur in the lifetimes of the generation in which He lived.  It is foolish to accept the idea while rejecting the timing.

In fact, it is the folly of churches today that they recite this creed but then maintain that the coming in judgment prophesied by the Lord Jesus and the apostles has still not occurred – two thousand years later.  In other words, they say “Amen,” but don’t mean it!

If you truly trust the Lord Jesus and His apostles, however, you may say “Amen” in sincerity and in truth, for Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again and Judgment Is Upon Us.  For this reason The Kingdom of God Has Come and we should be Seeking the Kingdom of God Instead of Church.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

What Should We Take from Abraham?

In yesterday’s post, I wrote of the three great Abrahamic religions.  (I say “great” not in the sense that religion is great, for it isn’t; but rather in the sense that each of these religions has large numbers of adherents in the world.)  I made the point that all three are off-base – though to varying degrees – about Jesus Christ.  One ignores Him altogether.  Another subordinates Him in importance to another human being.  The third pays Him lip service while promoting its own man-made rituals as if He had ordained them; fortunately, however, this one has preserved for us the Old and New Testaments wherein we may read the truth about Him for ourselves.

The full truth about Jesus is that He was God in the flesh.  Though God is spirit, He visited us for a time…as one of us.  Upon His resurrection from the dead, He ascended in heaven to resume His reign over heaven and earth.  Thus He shall always be our one and only God.  To misunderstand Jesus Christ, therefore, is to misunderstand God’s visitation to the human race. In short, Jesus Christ is God.

Since Jesus – from a human standpoint – was a descendant of Abraham, and spoke highly of him, what would He have us take from Abraham?  Certainly not organized religion.  Rather, He would have us take Abraham’s faith.  That is, Abraham lived in world of polytheism and idolatry…yet he worshiped the one and only invisible God.  We live today in a world of many religions and many godless ideologies.  Therefore, each one of us can imitate the faith of Abraham by walking in the sight of the one true  God – Jesus Christ.

Thus the greatest honor we can show to Abraham is to trust the same God that he trusted.  And it is right to do so for this God has revealed so much more about Himself to us than He did to Abraham.  Jesus was not even born until some two thousand years after Abraham died.  If Abraham could trust the God that he knew, how much more we can trust his God that we know even better.

The irony of Abraham’s legacy is that he would not participate in the organized religions of his day.  He stood alone…and worshiped God.  Don’t be like the “great” organized religionists who claim his legacy – be like him!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

What’s Right and Wrong with All Three Abrahamic Religions

What Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all got right was that indeed God had spoken to Abraham.  From there on, they each lost their way (though to varying degrees).

Islam got the identity of the last and greatest prophet wrong.  It wasn’t Muhammad, it was Jesus.  That’s a fundamental error, and has led to much misery.

Judaism refused to accept that Jesus was the fulfillment of all that Moses and the their prophets had promised.  That’s a fundamental error, and has led to many dashed hopes for the Jewish people.

Christianity got the truth of Jesus’ identity right, except that they have refused to believe what He said about His Second Coming.  That is, they don’t recognize that Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again.  As a result, they have built a human institution called church which has led to much misery and many dashed hopes.

Here’s the baby that should be saved from all this bath water:  Abraham had a descendant, Jesus of Nazareth, who was God visiting us in human form.  This God reigns supreme and He would like us to pay attention to what He taught us through Jesus Christ.  Thank God we have the Bible to preserve the truth about Him for us.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Aaron’s Rod That Budded

Hebrews 9:4 speaks of Aaron’s rod which was kept as a reminder in the tabernacle – a reminder of God’s minor miracle (I say minor only in the sense of comparison with, say, parting the Red Sea).  The story is told in Numbers 17 of how the twelve tribes of Israel had been complaining about Moses’ and Aaron’s leadership.  God told Moses to have each leader deposit his rod in the tabernacle, Aaron’s included.  The next morning, lo and behold, Aaron’s rod had sprouted blossoms while the rest of the rods remained as they were.  The other leaders got the message.

Of course, all these rods used to be tree branches.  No one would have been surprised if they had sprouted blossoms while still connected to their respective trees.  However, having blossoms spring forth from a dead branch was obviously a sign that God indeed had chosen Aaron for his leadership role and the other tribes might just as well get used to it.

This experience foreshadowed Jesus Christ.  He is called “Branch” in several Old Testament prophecies.  In this case, He is the branch who bore fruit even after He had been broken off from the tree!

One of the great hopes of every Hebrew was to marry and have children – that is, to be a father.  Jesus was never married and was crucified, yet He has become the Father of many nations!  Abraham, at age 100, was too old to have children, and yet he had one.  Jesus was too dead to have children and yet He had many!  It is the branch broken off that has produced more fruit than all the others put together!

With God, nothing is impossible.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Jar of Manna

Hebrews 9:4 mentions the jar of manna which had been kept as a reminder in the tabernacle – a reminder of the time that God had fed the Israelites in the desert with bread from heaven.

Of course, bread from heaven is a type of Christ – a foreshadowing of He who would come from heaven to give His flesh as nourishment to the world.  His flesh was the human life He lived – perfectly moral in the midst of an immoral world.  Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness continue to be sustained by it to this day – as we will for all eternity.

The jar of manna also can speak of the Holy Scriptures written by the prophets.  They were God’s manna as well because they were the word of God – a precursor to Him who would be the embodiment of those words (Revelation 19:13).  Thus the jar is a reminder of that which fed us in the wilderness, before we came to the promised land flowing with the milk and honey of His presence.  You can also think of it this way: the jar of manna is a type of Jesus the written Word (Luke 24: 25-27, 44-48) which points to Jesus the Word made flesh (John 1:14), and who is now the Word made spirit (2 Corinthians 5:16; 3:17).

As Jesus said in John 5:39-40, we may study the Scriptures in search of eternal life but the Scriptures testify of Him – and He is the One who gives eternal life.  Jesus Christ is eternal life and we experience eternal life as we experience Him.  Thank God for the manna in the wilderness which leads us to trust in Him!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Let Nothing Obscure the Preeminence of Christ

The New Testament makes abundantly clear, in practically every one of its books, that Christ is the preeminent work of God, the preeminent focal point of God, and the preeminent purpose of God.

Christ is to be the object of our love, the focus of our faith, and the standard of our obedience.  He is the Lord our God whom we are to love with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds, and all our strength.

Why then does the church today promote the Trinity, which obscures and confuses our allegiance to Christ?  The New Testament doesn’t proclaim the Trinity.  In fact, this word is absent from its pages.  Moreover, why does the church promote itself instead of Christ?  The New Testament never promoted church.  In the New Testament, it was the church that promoted Christ.  Today’s church promotes itself.  It says, “If you want to serve Christ, serve us.”  This is idolatry.

When you read the Bible recognize that the New Testament makes Christ supreme in its own pages.  The New Testament also draws Christ out of the Old Testament and makes Him supreme in its pages as well.  As a result, the whole Bible – from beginning to end and throughout both testaments – proclaims Christ.  Let all humanity serve Him and no one else.  Religious labels don’t matter.  Jesus is the God of every human being.

To learn more about Christ versus the Trinity, see:

There Is No Trinity; There Is Christ

Posts to Date on the Trinity Versus Christ

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

GICNAT

The Redeemer God Replaces the Creator God in Our Consciousness

The God of the Old Testament was the Creator God.  That is, He was the one true God who had created heaven and earth and all that is in them.  After mankind turned against Him and sinned, God sought a way to permanently bring humanity back to Himself.  This initiative was one that took great patience and effort, for it spanned many generations.  It began in earnest when God chose a man named Abram (Abraham) to be His representative in the earth.  From the descendants of this man, God established the nation Israel and situated them at the crossroads of three continents – that is, in the Middle East.

Some two thousand years after choosing Abraham, God brought forth from the nation of his descendants a Savior named Jesus.  After Jesus was rejected by His generation, crucified, and buried, God raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand.  The message was then sent forth throughout the earth that all humanity – not just the descendants of Abraham – should turn to this Redeemer.

This Redeemer, being at the right hand of God, possessed all the powers and characteristics of God – invisible to the human eye, all-powerful, and all-knowing.  This Redeemer God was to replace the Creator God in man’s conscience.  Of course, the Creator God and the Redeemer God are one – there is only one God.  But in our consciousness we needed to think of Him primarily as a Redeemer rather than primarily as a Creator.  This is because we intuitively recoil from a creating God because we know we have sinned against Him, but we are attracted to a redeeming God because He has died to redeem us from our sins.

Therefore, let us maintain a constant consciousness of our great Redeemer God.  In His kindness, our Creator God knew He needed an identity which we could more easily approach, and therefore He became our Redeemer God.  Christ is God!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Bible Must Be Spiritually Discerned

You have heard the Bible misquoted and misused enough to know that it can be misunderstood.  How can you properly understand the Bible?  First of all, it must be spiritually discerned.  That is, it was not originally written to us even though it was written for us.

Since it was addressed, in the case of the Old Testament, to the ancient Israelites, we must spiritually discern its meaning for us today for we certainly have no warrant to take its words at face value.  (Do you really want to sacrifice an ox?)  The New Testament, too, was written to a generation which lived almost two thousand years before us – people who lived in a culture and time before the kingdom of God had come.  Again, it takes spiritual discernment to apply its truths to our age.

How can you acquire the requisite spiritual discernment?  Simple.  Trust God who gives His Holy Spirit to any human being who looks to Him in sincere faith.  He will guide you into all the truth and make you to know the paths of righteousness.

This doesn’t mean you’ll always understand everything you read in the Bible, but it does mean you’ll understand enough to obey that day.  When God’s Holy Spirit gives you such understanding, be sure to act on it.  If you do, you will not only be blessed in what you do, but you will also understand more of the Bible the next time you read it.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Something Greater Than Church Is Here

In Matthew 12, Jesus said that “something greater than the temple is here.”  He went on to say that “something greater than Jonah is here.”  He then said, “something greater than Solomon is here.”  Of course, He was speaking of Himself and the kingdom of God which was in Him. 

When the kingdom of God came in glory (Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again), Jesus came in the spirit as King of the kingdom of God.  In the days of His flesh, He had been a subject of the kingdom of God.  In the day of Christ (also called “the day of the Lord”), however, He reigns as King of that kingdom.  Therefore, He can say by the Spirit, that something greater than the church is here: that is, the kingdom of God reigning over the whole earth.

Read the New Testament and you will see that the apostles looked forward with great anticipation to the imminent coming of the kingdom of God.  Once the kingdom came, they would forsake church in the same way that they forsook the temple – because the kingdom of God was greater.  In fact, the kingdom of God through Jesus Christ is the greatest of all the gifts God has ever given mankind in the earth.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Bible Was Written for the People of God

The Bible was written for the people of God.

In Old Testament times, the people of God were the physical descendants of Abraham.

In New Testament times, the people of God were the spiritual descendants of Abraham (that is, those who had faith in God as Abraham had).

In our time, the people of God consists of all humanity.  This is because Jesus Christ died for the sins of the whole world.  When He came in His kingdom, all people became His.  God no longer makes distinctions between Jew and Gentile or even between Christians and Non-Christians.  All nations are His.  Every human being can trust the promises of God.

Therefore, the Bible has always been addressed to the people of God.  It’s just that the identity of the people of God has been expanding…until it now includes everyone!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Bible Is a Book of Truth

 For the ancient Hebrews, the Bible was the governing document for their nation.  For the New Testament church, the Bible was the sustenance of their hope that the kingdom of God would soon arrive.  In both cases, those purposes were served long ago.  What then is the Bible to us today?

The Bible is a book of truth.  Because it wisely guided the nation Israel, and because it accurately prophesied the coming of a Savior in a kingdom, we may trust what it says without reservation.  The Bible has been vindicated and we thus have ample reason to trust it on all issues to which it speaks.

We look to the Bible for spiritual principles which we might individually obey.  We do not use the Bible as a club to beat others.  We humble ourselves to read and obey.  We will not always understand everything we read in the Bible.  In fact, there might be many more Bible passages we don’t understand than there are passages which we do understand.  Yet we needn’t fret, because God will only hold us accountable for obeying those parts that we do understand.

Most of all, we must view the Scriptures in the context of Jesus Christ, Lord of heaven and earth (that is to say, the God of every human being whether that human being knows it or not).  We are to understand the Bible as Jesus did.  He did not seek to build an organization.  Rather, He sought first to obey the Scriptures.  And, along the way, He taught others who wanted to learn from the way He was living.  Therefore, I should never look at the Bible as a way to get other people to do what I want them to do.  Instead, I should view it as a way God can get me to do what He wants me to do.

We need truth in our day.  The Bible provides that truth.  It does this most powerfully – and practically – when it proclaims Jesus Christ our Lord.  We should let it.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Would the Apostle Paul Be a Christian if He Were Alive Today?

If the apostle Paul were alive today would he be a Christian?  No.  Oh, he might be a former Christian in the same way that he was a former Pharisee, but Paul clearly would not be a champion of organized Christianity.  On the contrary, he would be proclaiming Jesus Christ and faith in Him alone – just as he had done ever since his conversion.

Paul had been a Pharisee.  They had the best doctrine of any group in the New Testament.  Just as the Jews had more truth about God than the rest of the nations (John 4:22), so the Pharisees had more truth about God than the rest of the Jews.  This made the Pharisees’ hypocrisy all the more noxious to God and is why Jesus singled them out for such stern condemnation.  When Paul the Pharisee saw the light, he realized that the problem of the Pharisees wasn’t that they didn’t have truth.  On the contrary, they had it in abundance compared to most people.  Their problem was that they didn’t truly believe it, they didn’t obey it, they didn’t act on it – they only talked about it.  This made them take refuge in each other’s approval, and made them judges who condemned everyone else.

Assume Paul was born today in a Christian home and then read Philippians 3:1-16, substituting references to Christian pedigree and credentials for his reference to Hebrew and Pharisaic pedigree and credentials (remember, “Pharisee” was not a term of derision then as it is in our day).  When you do this, you will see how Paul would stand apart from the church today in order to proclaim Christ instead.  In other words, he would be true to the spirit of his words in 2 Corinthians 4:5.

Paul would be the same stalwart and energetic witness for, and lover of, Christ today that he was in the New Testament.  He would not, however, be a supporter of organized Christianity for the same reason that he was not a supporter of Pharisaism.  You are walking in the footsteps of Paul when you seek the kingdom of God instead of church.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Jesus’ Blood Cleansed the Earth

Hebrews 9:22 makes the point that the Old Testament sacrificial system was intended to convey the necessity of blood for cleansing.  The writer then goes on to explain how Christ’s blood thus cleansed the heavenly places.  But let us not forget that His blood fell to the earth – and therefore cleansed the earth, too.  As it says in Acts 10:15, “No longer consider unholy what God has cleansed.”

Wherever we walk on the earth, therefore, let us consider it holy ground.  He has cleansed the altar of the earth with His own blood that we might lay down our lives as holy sacrifices to Him (Romans 12:1-2).  There is no part of the earth that the cleansing power of His blood did not reach.  Therefore, wherever you walk – no matter how mundane it may seem to you or others – is special to Him.  Indeed, His blood has cleansed the earth on which we walk. 

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Christians Can’t Practice the New Testament Anymore Than the Jews Can Practice the Old Testament

I don’t mean that the Christians can’t practice the principles of the New Testament or that the Jews cannot practice the principles of the Old Testament.  For indeed, Jews, Christians, and everyone else can – and should – practice the principles of both testaments.  But I’ll get back to this point at the end of this post.  First, let me establish the point of the headline.

Everyone knows that Jews cannot practice the Old Testament, at least the way it was practiced in biblical times.  This is because, of course, Jerusalem’s temple has been in ruins ever since it was destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Romans.  That temple was the place for the worship of God through animal sacrifice.  This was the heart of Jewish worship, having been established through Moses originally in a mobile structure (called a tent or tabernacle).  Without that sacrificial system, large portions of the Jewish Scriptures are rendered “un-obeyable,” if we may coin a word.

Similarly, Christians today are unable to practice the New Testament, at least the way it was practiced in New Testament times.  This is because the Holy Spirit is no longer building a single church through apostles who were eyewitnesses of the resurrected Lord.  Therefore, the only verse in the New Testament which even comes remotely close to commanding church attendance (Hebrews 10:25) cannot be obeyed because it calls for believers to assemble together – the one thing Christians cannot, or will not, do.  For with over 30,o00 different Christian denominations, Christians dramatically demonstrate their inability to do what was natural to church of the New Testament – get together.

So, the Jews cannot sacrifice animals in Jerusalem and the Christians cannot be one flock with one Shepherd in any city.  Neither Jews nor Christians live in accord with the very Scriptures to which they appeal as their authorizing documents.  Astounding!

Do we for this reason discard the Scriptures?  God forbid!  Rather, we worship the God of the Bible and practice its principles.  When I say “we” I mean all humanity – Jews, Christians, and everyone else.  In other words, every human being.  For the Bible is for all of us.  God spoke through His holy servants in times past that we might have His wisdom in permanent written form.  His wisdom comes to us in abundance (there are over half a million words in the Bible) and they were settled long ago.  Therefore, we don’t have to worry about having too little information from God; nor do we have to worry about recent writings overturning anything from the past (the New Testament affirms the Old Testament).

Therefore, look to the Bible to guide your heart in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.  Jesus came to replace a fleshly perspective on the Scriptures with a spiritual perspective.  Through His Holy Spirit you can understand enough of the Bible each day…to believe and obey it.  That’s the whole point anyway.  Don’t worry about whether you’re a Jew or a Christian or something else because none of those labels matter.  What matters is that we seek the kingdom of God.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

We Have the Mind of Christ

In 1 Corinthians 2:16, the apostle Paul declares that we have the mind of Christ.

A mind, of course, is a collection of thoughts.  In 2 Corinthians 10:5 Paul said that we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

If we have Christ’s mind, if we have His thoughts, how then do we appropriate them?  How do we apprehend them, dwell upon them, and act in concert with them?

The Holy Spirit gives us Christ’s thoughts.   If, however, we need a steadying guide – a standard by which we may measure our thoughts to see if they are indeed from God, we may turn to the Scriptures.

The most obvious examples of the mind of Christ (that is, His thought patterns) are found in psalms like Psalm 22 and Psalm 69, which the gospels quote.  These psalms give us a picture of Christ’s thought life, the inner workings of His mind as He showed us His kindness and then experienced our ingratitude.

These psalms are merely a starting place.  The Scriptures capture and retain for us thousands upon thousands of thoughts that inhabited the mind of Jesus as He lived His earthly life.  They are all there for our imitation.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Bible Was First Written to Jews, But Now Speaks to Every Human

The Bible was written by Jews (both testaments).  However, the intent all along was that its words would have their ultimate meaning and fulfillment through Jesus Christ who would become Lord of all humanity.

Note that I said “Lord of all humanity” and not merely “Lord of Christians.”  Indeed He was Lord of Christians in New Testament times but that brief age was merely an earnest, a down payment, a deposit on the time when He would be Lord of all humanity.  His dominion over all humanity was accomplished at His Second Coming which occurred in the latter part of the 1st Century A.D.  (For more explanation, see Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again.)

Jesus Christ now reigns supreme as Lord and God.  He is not the God of Christians only, He is the God of all of us.  And through Him, the truths of the Bible are ours.  You do not have to become a Christian to appropriate its benefits, you only have to trust in Jesus.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

If Jesus Didn’t Go to Hades, How Was He RAISED from the Dead?

Proponents of the heaven-hell theory of afterlife have a hard time explaining why the Bible speaks of the dead being raised, but never lowered.

Just think, if good people go up to heaven and bad people go down to hell then good people would have to lowered from the dead if they came back to life.  The Bible says, however, that even Jesus was raised from the dead.

Throughout Bible times, everyone who died went down.  Everyone.  Since then, and because of Jesus Christ, everyone goes up.  Everyone.  Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 15:22 that just as everyone died because of Adam, everyone will live again because of Jesus.  If you’re not sure about this and want to study more than that one verse, see The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Lord Promised to Bring Up Jacob

In Genesis 46:3-4 the Lord assures Jacob that it will be alright for him to go down to Egypt because God would make from him a great nation there.  Moreover, God promised “I will surely bring you up again.”

This passage is a type (or foreshadowing) of the resurrection.  Since the first sin, Adam and his descendants knew that they must die.  In Hebrew thought, they descended to Sheol (the Greek term is Hades) – which in this context is analogous to Egypt.

That Jacob would become a great nation was analogous to Sheol receiving more and more immigrants as life on earth progressed.  Eventually there would be a great number and at that time God would “go down with them.”   This foreshadows Jesus dying and going to Sheol.  Of course, God promises Jacob, “I will surely bring you up again” which is the foreshadowing of resurrection.

Jesus brought up all the dead subsequent to His own resurrection as is prophesied in Psalm 68 (see Jesus Led Captivity Captive).

(The redemption of Sheol is discussed in much more detail at The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven.)

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Lord Went Down to Sodom and Gomorrah

In Genesis 18:20-21 the Lord said that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah made a clamor that arose to heaven.  He then said He would go down there Himself to see if things were really that bad.  Either way, He said, He would know.

This passage is a type (or foreshadowing) of God taking on human flesh, coming to earth, and living as Jesus of Nazareth.  Sodom and Gomorrah, of course, is analogous to the world.  God found out firsthand that things in the world were indeed – and unfortunately – worthy of the sinful reputation it had earned in heaven.  By firsthand, I mean, of course, that He Himself was cruelly rejected and violently murdered.

Yet Jesus rose from the dead to forgive the world of its sins.  In doing so, He has shown us the right way to live.  Let us repent, therefore, forsaking the pursuit of our own desires.  Let us live instead for the love of God and our fellow man.  Praise be to the name of the Lord our God who has led us in His gentleness to live His way.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The New Testament Is a Riddle to Which the Old Testament Is the Answer

Just as the Old Testament is a riddle to which the New Testament is the answer (this was the subject of yesterday’s post), so the New Testament is a riddle…to which the Old Testament is the answer.

Why do I say this?  Because even though the New Testament is a bright and clear revelation of the Messiah, it is also a mystery all its own.  Even the book of the New Testament that begins with the words “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” is itself a mystery.  Thus, the New Testament is both revelation and mystery.

If the New Testament is where you find the answer to the riddle of the Old Testament, where can we find the answer to the riddle of the New Testament?  In the Old Testament.

Again, just taking the book of Revelation as an example, there is hardly a phrase of its imagery that wasn’t first uttered and written by the prophets of the Old Testament.  Thus God, in His manifold wisdom, has so designed it that each testament is necessary to decode the other.  To God be the glory!

What, by the way, is the specific answer to the mystery or riddle of the New Testament?  That the Messiah was…God.  This is why the institutional church missed the Second Coming.  They were looking for Jesus in the flesh and He came instead as God.  (For explanation of this, see Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again.)  How does the Old Testament reveal that the Messiah was God?  In passages such as Isaiah 9:6-7 where the Messiah is called the “Son” and also “God” and “Father.”

Thus as the New Testament solved the riddle of the Old Testament by declaring Jesus as the Messiah, so the Old Testament solves the riddle of the New Testament by revealing the Messiah to be God -albeit in a way that could only be discerned once New Testament truths had been revealed.  To God be the glory!

No one suspected that Jesus might be God when He was walking the roads of Judea.  At that time, He did not even want word to spread that He was the Messiah, much less God.  God’s revelation of Himself comes to us in stages lest we be blinded by sudden light (Proverbs 4:18 and Psalm 97:11).  He “kept us in the cleft of the rock and covered us with His hand while His glory passed by” (see Exodus 33:21-23).  From Acts to Revelation, Jesus was declared the Messiah – the Son of God.  There were only hints that He might be more.  Once the kingdom had come, however, He could fully reveal Himself to us.  The Second Coming made Isaiah 9:6-7 clear in the same way that the resurrection had made the riddle of Matthew 22:41-46 clear.  Praise be to our Creator!  There is none like Him.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

GICNAT

The Old Testament Is a Riddle to Which the New Testament Is the Answer

God never intended that the Old Testament should present a clear and unambiguous portrait of the Messiah and the age to come.  On the contrary, God presented it as a mystery or riddle.  The mystery would be revealed (that is, the riddle would be solved or answered) not on humanity’s timetable but on God’s.  Thus during His earthly ministry Jesus downplayed the fact that He was the Messiah.  This fact was only trumpeted once He was raised from the dead and He ascended into heaven. That was God’s timing for revelation.  As Jesus said, “Nothing is hidden, except to be revealed” (Mark 4:22).  God keeps something hidden, until it’s time to reveal it.

The Bible uses the word mystery more often than it uses the word riddle, but their meaning and purpose is the same from His point of view.

For more on riddles in the Bible see Our David or Samson’s Riddle.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

GICNAT

Follow the Steps of Jesus

In the days of His flesh, Jesus trusted the words of Scripture so much that they mapped His life.

For example, He could read Psalm 23 and see His Heavenly Father as His Shepherd.  If you have time, read through that psalm, line by line, visualizing Jesus and how He might have applied each line to Himself and His situation.  Especially consider “the valley of the shadow of death” in the light of His suffering and crucifixion, and “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” as hope for His own resurrection.

Now, picture Jesus exalted in heaven as your Lord.  Read through the psalm again, line by line.  Only this time, put yourself in the place of the sheep and see Jesus as the Shepherd Lord.  Apply each line to yourself and to your own life situation.  And don’t forget to focus on the last line as hope (and, because of Jesus, assurance) of your own resurrection.

This process is how you can “follow in Jesus’ steps.”  You will notice that this is just the process Peter was suggesting in 1 Peter 2:21-25 to his readers when he counseled them to apply Isaiah 53 to themselves.  That is, Peter was saying, “Just as Jesus followed the steps laid out for Him in Isaiah’s prophecy, so you can look to Jesus as Lord and yourself as the servant suffering for Him – if indeed you find yourself in a situation where you are suffering for Him.

Any place in the Scriptures (and you will find lots of them in the Old Testament, especially the Psalms) that you can see Jesus relating to His Father, you can then substitute Jesus for the Father and you for Jesus.  Through this process,  you can let the Scriptures map your life, too!  (By the way, the more you do this the more patterns you will find; and the more of these patterns you find, the more you will begin to recognize them in the way Jesus behaved in the four Gospels – for He was living His life according to the Scriptures).

For reinforcement in this process, go to See Jesus in the Scriptures, and Follow Him.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

If You Don’t Have Time to Read the Whole Bible, Start at the End and Not the Beginning

If you don’t have time to read the whole Bible, start with the New Testament.  That’s what I mean by starting at the end and not the beginning.

The Old Testament was written as a mystery…in hope of one day being revealed.  The New Testament was that hoped-for revelation.

Even the disciples of Jesus who knew the Old Testament could not comprehend the revelation until after Jesus had been raised from the dead.  How much less will we understand it if we don’t understand Jesus Christ first.

The Old Testament should be read in the light of the New Testament.

For more on reading the Bible when you’re short on time see If You Don’t Have Time to Read the Whole Bible, Read…

For more on how the two testaments relate to each other see The Old Testament Is a Mystery Which Only the New Testament Can Explain.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Kingdom of Heaven Versus the Kingdom of Earth

When John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth came preaching the kingdom of heaven, they were announcing the end of religious hierarchy.

Since the time of Moses, the Israelites had been governed by priests, judges, kings, and governors whom God used to oversee the people of God. Even in the run-up to the kingdom of heaven (that is, the time of the New Testament), He used apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, elders, bishops, and such to oversee His people.

In the kingdom of heaven, however, the Lord alone would be exalted (Isaiah 2:11, 17). When the kingdom came, all human authority between God and man was forever abolished (1 Corinthians 15:23-24). This is why you can relate directly to God and do not need a church, a pastor, a priest, or any other earthly intermediary. (As to the fact that the kingdom of heaven has indeed come see Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again or The Kingdom of Heaven Is Here and Now.)

Those today who say they have authority to stand between you and God are simply building a kingdom of earth. You don’t have to concerned with them. In other words, there is no official church of God today. No churches are sanctioned by God, and certainly no other religions are sanctioned by God. Every human being is a child of God and “the people of God” refers to the whole human race. Jesus died and rose again from the dead that all people might belong to Him.  The Lord will know if you pay attention to Him (2 Timothy 2:19)!

Jesus Christ our Lord is present everywhere and you are encouraged to trust Him in faith and live righteously. This is the kingdom of heaven and has nothing to do with human intermediaries. Yes, there are those of us who proclaim the name of Jesus Christ (Would that every human being proclaimed His name!), but we have no authority, no title, and no place of honor. We are just like you: subjects of the kingdom of heaven.

[You may have noticed that today’s post was identical to yesterday’s (The Kingdom of God Versus the Kingdom of Man), except that I substituted the word “heaven” for “God,” and the word “earth” for “man.”  My purpose, in addition to reinforcing the original point, was to demonstrate that the terms “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven” are synonymous.  Whenever you read either of them in the Bible, they are referring to the same reality.  Thus “kingdom of heaven” speaks to a reality of this life, not just the next one.]

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Kingdom of God Versus the Kingdom of Man

When John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth came preaching the kingdom of God, they were announcing the end of religious hierarchy.

Since the time of Moses, the Israelites had been governed by priests, judges, kings, and governors whom God used to oversee the people of God.  Even in the run-up to the kingdom of God (that is, the time of the New Testament), He used apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, elders, bishops, and such to oversee His people.

In the kingdom of God, however, the Lord alone would be exalted (Isaiah 2:11, 17).  When the kingdom came, all human authority between God and man was forever abolished (1 Corinthians 15:23-24).  This is why you can relate directly to God and do not need a church, a pastor, a priest, or any other human intermediary.  (As to the fact that the kingdom of God has indeed come see Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again or The Kingdom of God Is Here and Now.)

Those today who say they have authority to stand between you and God are simply building a kingdom of man.  You don’t have to concerned with them.  In other words, there is no official church of God today.  No churches are sanctioned by God, and certainly no other religions are sanctioned by God.  Every human being is a child of God and “the people of God” refers to the whole human race. Jesus died and rose again from the dead that all people might belong to Him.  The Lord will know if you pay attention to Him (2 Timothy 2:19)!

Jesus Christ our Lord is present everywhere and you are encouraged to trust Him in faith and live righteously.  This is the kingdom of God and has nothing to do with human intermediaries.  Yes, there are those of us who proclaim the name of Jesus Christ (Would that every human being proclaimed His name!), but we have no authority, no title, and no place of honor.  We are just like you: subjects of the kingdom of God.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Apostles and the Prophets Witness Christ’s Sufferings…in Dramatically Different Ways

Jesus chose his twelve apostles from among His disciples.  They would be eyewitnesses to the world of what they had seen, heard, and touched of Jesus of Nazareth.  It is impossible to overestimate the importance of their role.  Had they been silent, the world might never have learned about the greatest life ever lived.

Even so, the Lord had provided Himself another set of witnesses hundreds of years beforehand.  The prophets of Israel were inspired to write of the Messiah to come.  They wrote about Him in many diverse ways.

When the apostles went out into the world to give their testimony about Jesus there were no gospels.  There was no New Testament.  Nevertheless, the apostles had an authoritative written record to which they could refer people.  It was the written testimony of the prophets that we call the Old Testament.

One of the many amazing juxtapositions of these two different sets of testimony is found in 1 Peter 2 where the apostle Peter paints a picture of Jesus’ suffering by quoting the words of Isaiah 53.  If you will go to Isaiah 53 and read it, you might think the description came from an apostle who was present.  Instead, it was written by the prophet Isaiah hundreds of years before Christ was even born.

Such stunning collaboration of writing, directed across the centuries by the hand of God Himself, bears witness to the uniqueness of Jesus’ story.  His story is true…and it is indeed the greatest ever told.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Apostles Quoted the Prophets

The apostles (who wrote the New Testament) quoted the prophets (who wrote the Old Testament).

When you read the New Testament, you notice that the apostles seldom quoted each other.  By contrast, they often quoted the Old Testament – that is, Moses and the Prophets.  Thus when the apostles spoke and wrote, they repeatedly appealed to a source that they and their audience considered authoritative.  That audience was Jews, with perhaps some God-fearing Gentiles also in attendance.  Even Paul, who was sent by Jesus to the Gentiles, usually started his preaching in any new city by looking for the local synagogue.  This is where the words of Israel’s prophets would be revered.

The apostles appealed to the Scriptures (what we call the Old Testament) not just because their audience considered it authoritative, but because the Lord reaffirmed to them that it was indeed authoritative.  In fact, the Lord showed them how the Old Testament told the story of His redemptive work.

To this authoritative source the apostles added their own eyewitness testimony of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

It’s not always clear when the writers of the New Testament were quoting the Old Testament because the chapter-and-verse numbering system – as well as the punctuation and capitalization – we use today were not in place at that time.  Sometimes the New Testament writers would preference an Old Testament quote with “It is written” or the name of the Old Testament person they were quoting, but other times they just would just quote the words without any such framing.  Some Bibles make such references easier to find that others (for example, they might put such a quotation in all capital letters).  You’d be served well by a Bible that makes quotes of the Old Testament in the New Testament easier to identify.  That will help you to appreciate the interconnectedness of the Bible and the consistency of its ideas.  Most of all, it will help you to see that Jesus Christ is the common thread that holds every part of the Bible together because the quotes so often refer to Him.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Old Testament Provides the Vocabulary of the New Testament

The apostles who wrote the New Testament used the terms and concepts they learned from the prophets who wrote the Old Testament.

Therefore, if you want to understand the New Testament better, study the Old Testament.  You will find that this enriches your understanding of the New Testament because so many phrases and points of view come directly from the Old Testament.

For example, the New Testament says over 20 times that when Jesus ascended into heaven He sat “at the right hand of God.”  Where did the apostles get this idea?  The Old Testament.  Specifically, Psalm 110.  After He was raised from the dead and before He ascended into heaven, Jesus taught His disciples how the Scriptures had spoken of Him in ways they had not previously understood (Luke 24:25-27).  This was not just a matter of pointing to a few verses.  Rather, it was a way of understanding the Scriptures that would serve them going forward (Luke 24:44-45).  The Lord Himself gave the apostles this way of understanding the Old Testament.  It is this way of thinking that guided their writing of the New Testament.

Not everyone has all the time they’d like to study the Bible, but when you read the New Testament always remember that there is richness of explanation and insight waiting in the Old Testament.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

If You Don’t Have Time to Read the Whole Bible, Read…

If you don’t have time to read the whole Bible, read the New Testament.

If you don’t have time to read the New Testament, read the Gospel of John.

If you don’t have time to read the Gospel of John, read John’s first letter (1 John).

If you don’t have time to read 1 John, read 1 John 3:23.

1 John 3:23 is the Bible in a nutshell.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.