When Jesus Became Christ

Jesus did not become the heavenly Son of God until He was raised from the dead (see the recent post When Jesus Became the Son of God).  And He did not become Lord of heaven and earth until after He was raised from the dead (see the recent post When Jesus Became Lord).  He had become Christ well before that.

Jesus became the Christ when He was conceived in His mother’s womb (Matthew 1:20).  The fullness of Christ’s role, as prophesied by the Scriptures, however, began with His suffering which culminated in His crucifixion.  This would be followed by His glorification.  The Scriptures taught that Messiah would experience sufferings, followed by glory (Luke 24:26; Acts 3:18; 1 Peter 1:10-11).  Thus, being declared “the Son of God” and “Lord” were part of the glory that followed the suffering of the cross.

The suffering of Christ is finished (John 19:30).  The only suffering that the Lord and the heavenly Son of God would suffer would be when He shared in the sufferings of His people (Acts 9:3-5).  Hallelujah!  His suffering is over; only His glory remains.

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.

When Jesus Became the Son of God

We often think of Jesus being the Son of God because He came from God.  That’s fine.  We often think of Jesus being the Son of God because He acts like God.  That’s fine, too.  There is, however, a special sense in which Jesus became the Son of God which we do not want to miss if we want to understand all that the apostles are trying to teach us about Jesus through the New Testament.

In Acts 13:33, Paul says that it was Jesus’ resurrection from the dead that made Jesus the Son of God.  Paul makes this point by quoting Psalm 2:7: “You are My Son; today I have begotten You” (italics added).  Paul makes this even clearer in Romans 1:3-4 when he writes that while Jesus was the son of David according to the flesh, He was “declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.”  This point is echoed by 2 Timothy 2:8 and Hebrews 1:5-6.  This specific sense has to do with Jesus bearing godlike qualities – specifically, residing above the heavens at the right hand of God.  In Old Testament times, angels were sometimes called “sons of God” because of their “godlike” qualities – mainly dwelling in heaven, far beyond the reach of humanity.

This special sense of “the Son of God” wouldn’t speak to the days of Jesus’ flesh.  During the days of His flesh, He was tempted in all things as we were (Hebrews 2:14-18) – He didn’t rely on godlike capacities.  All this changed, however, when He was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven where He was enthroned above all creation.  Think of this sense as “the heavenly Son of God.”  (Bear in mind also that the ancient mind thought of heavenly things in a different way than we do today: for more see The Ancient Mind Versus the Modern Mind and Ancient Minds Saw Heaven as Off-Limits for Humanity.)

Whenever you read the phrase “Son of God” in the Scriptures, therefore, try to understand the specific sense in which it is being used (though the senses are not mutually exclusive).  The apostles were struck by the magnitude of this glorification of their teacher (that is, from “teacher” to “Teacher”).  We should give heed as well.

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.

When Jesus Became Lord

Jesus was occasionally called “Lord” in the gospels.  Sometimes, this was a sign of respect from His devoted followers (sort of like calling Him “Sir”).  Sometimes it was a reference made to Him in retrospect by His apostles who wrote or provided the information for the gospels.  He was not Lord in the sense of “God,” however, until the process described by Peter in Acts 2:34-36.

Being seated at the right hand of God was a glorification of Jesus that God gave Him based on the life of devotion that He had lived during the days of His flesh (Philippians 2:5-11).  That Jesus had not been Lord during His earthly life was clear.  Upon being asked to divide a family inheritance during that time, He responded that no one had made Him a judge or arbiter over the questioner (Luke 12:13-14).  However, after His resurrection and ascension He was declared to be the one who would judge heaven and earth (Acts 17:31).

Know for certain, therefore, that Jesus was made Lord according to the prophecy of Psalm 110, which was fulfilled in Acts 1:9-11.  That was the moment that the Messiah assumed His role as Lord.  A more momentous event for us can hardly be imagined.  We do well not to deprive that moment of its significance.  For if we embrace it, our understanding of God will grow.

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 Had Not Been Made Lord, the Gentiles Would Have No Inheritance in God

Jesus was well aware that God’s promises to Abraham were not available to Gentiles (Mark 7:26-27).  The key event which altered this distinction was described in Acts 2:34-36.  In this passage, Peter quotes Psalm 110 and declares that it was fulfilled when Jesus ascended into heaven.  From that point, Jesus was lord over heaven and earth, and thus the Gentiles had opportunity to profess allegiance to this Son of David and receive of His inheritance.

For this reason, in Romans 15:11 Paul quotes Psalm 117:1 and makes this very point.  You need to fully appreciate the import of Paul’s declaration here.  When he quotes “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles” from Psalm 117:1, he is doing so on the basis of the declaration Peter made known on that awesome day of Pentecost in Jerusalem described in Acts 2.  That is, “the Lord” is now Jesus.  Therefore, Gentiles are commanded to praise Jesus, the risen Messiah.  He is the one who brought the Gentiles in by virtue of His resurrection and ascension to the highest place of honor in creation.

Thanks be to God for opening this door!

See also the post Psalm 117.

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 Not Written to Us, but Was Written for Us

We might wish for the Bible to be written so that we in the 21st Century could pick it up and find it immediately and directly answering all the questions we have – and to do so in a form that is easy for us to understand.  However, the Bible is simply not written in this way.

The Bible is a product of its times, just as our writings are a product of our times (centuries from now people will consider us antiquated and our writings out of fashion).  However, the Bible’s documents were inspired by the Holy Spirit who knew well that its truths needed to communicate to human beings of all eras.  Since the same Holy Spirit is available to us as we read, we can be confident that we can be led to glean understanding from these ancient documents.  Abundant understanding, in fact, for God is generous with His Holy Spirit.

Recall that Paul said in Romans 15:4 and also in 1 Corinthians 10:11 that the Scriptures were written for “instruction.”  And in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 he made clear that the instruction was about “righteousness” – what we in the 21st Century might call “morality” or “virtue.”

Do not stumble over the parts of the Bible that are relics of their age.  Instead, look past them to the truths that are timeless.  Human nature has always been the same…and God is still the answer for its shortcomings.

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 Inheritance of the Prophets

Jesus taught that those who followed Him would have lives which followed the pattern of the prophets.

For example, Jesus’ followers would receive the Holy Spirit and meditate on the word of God.  They would live in accordance with God’s will.  They would speak in God’s name…and be persecuted as a result.

Consider these passages of Scripture where Jesus likened the experiences of His followers to that of Israel’s prophets: Matthew 5:12; 13:17; 23:29-34; Luke 6:20-26.

Consider also that Jesus said that of all those ever born, John the Baptist was the greatest prophet…and yet he who was least in the kingdom of God was greater than John.  Thus the inheritance of the prophets’ has grown immeasurably through Jesus Christ.

By contrast, today’s churches teach that followers of Jesus should attend church regularly and tithe.

So, you have your choice if you would be a minister of the Lord:  Follow Christ or follow the church, because they are going in different directions.

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 Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces of Prophecy

The prophets whose writings we now call the Old Testament wrote their prophecies of God’s coming kingdom and king in many installments and in a variety of different genres.  Each prophecy was like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle.  For example, they prophesied a Messiah.  They also prophesied a kingdom for this Messiah.  They also prophesied of a resurrection of the dead.  So clear were these prophecies that it was commonplace in the 1st Century for Jews to have a hope in all three of these outcomes.  However, the prophecies were no so clear that Jews had a unified and consistent way of seeing those different hopes fulfilled.

As God began to fulfill the prophecies, He would reveal how some of the puzzle pieces fit together.  For example, resurrection began with the Messiah.  Thus, when devout Jews were presented by the apostles with the declaration that God had raised Jesus from the dead to heaven they had a basis for believing something they might have otherwise questioned.  They had already believed that a Messiah was coming and they had already believed that a resurrection was coming.  They just had to put those two prophecies together – in a way that they hadn’t foreseen – and, by this combination, they had a basis for believing the apostles’ assertion.

God did not reveal how all these final puzzle pieces snapped together before the apostles stopped writing.  Therefore, we see the mysteries of the Second Coming still outstanding when we read the New Testament documents.  However, there is more than enough information in the Bible, when combined with the activity of the Holy Spirit, to continue to reveal to us the mysteries of God.  For, as Jesus said, nothing has been hidden except to be revealed, and nothing has been kept secret except to be made known (Mark 4:22).

Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again

The Kingdom of God Is Here and Now

All Bible Prophecy Has Been Fulfilled in 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.

The Proclamations About Jesus in the Book of Acts

In the Acts of the Apostles we see several bold, emphatic, and repeated declarations regarding Jesus of Nazareth as a result of His resurrection from the dead:

He is the Christ (Messiah) – Acts 2:36; 3:18-20; 5:42; 8:5; 9:22; 17:3; 18:5, 28

He is the Lord – Acts 2:36; 8:16; 10:36; 11:17

He is the Son of God – Acts 8:37; 9:20; 13:33

Jesus’ true nature and identity were glimpsed by some before His suffering and death.  And certainly, since the gospels were written well after Jesus’ resurrection, His apostles’ high view of Him can be seen in their retrospectives we call the gospels.  Nevertheless, Jesus’ identity as Christ, Lord of heaven, and Son of God went largely unnoticed during His earthly life.  This was all according to plan, for Jesus ministered as an anointed son of Abraham during the days of His flesh.  In the days of His spirit, however, He was made Lord of heaven and Son of God in a way that outstripped all earthly glory of those titles.  The epistles return to these truths about Jesus again and again.  Meditate on them and understand who Jesus is to us.

Behold the Lamb of God in the book of the Acts of the Apostles…and enjoy Him forever!

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 Preexistence of Christ

The New Testament teaches that Christ existed in heaven long before He was born in Bethlehem.  Here are some of the verses where this can be seen, some more explicitly than others:

John 1:1-3; 3:11-13; 6:62; 8:58; 17:5, 24

2 Corinthians 8:9

Philippians 2:5-7

Colossians 1:15-17

2 Timothy 1:8-11

Hebrews 1:1-4, 10-12; 7:3; 13:8

1 Peter 1:20

Note also Micah 5:2 from the Old Testament where Jesus’ preexistence is mentioned in the very same breath as His birth in Bethlehem, as if to emphasize that His birth – important as it was – would not mark His beginning…not by a long shot.

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.

Christ Is the Focal Point of the New Testament

Christ is the focal point from the beginning to the end of the New Testament.

The four gospels are His biographies.

The book of Acts is the history of how His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension were made known through the Mediterranean world within the lifetimes of His apostles.

The epistles remind readers that they should not be swayed “from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3) and that “anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God while the one who abides in the teaching of Christ has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 1:9).

The last book of the New Testament and of the Bible is “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.”

If you would understand the New Testament, you must make Christ your focal point.  Not the church.  Not the trinity.  Christ!

For more on this subject, 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.

He Is the Image of the Invisible God

How is it that when Jesus was made Lord upon His ascension to the right hand of God (Acts 2:34-36), the Old Testament descriptions of “the Lord” (such as I have been posting the last few days) applied so well to Him?

The answer is that Jesus of Nazareth was the image of the invisible God, as Paul wrote in Colossians 1:15.  Or we could say it a bit more poetically, as the writer to the Hebrews did: Jesus is “the radiance of God’s glory” (Heb 1:1-4).

For this reason, descriptions of God’s characteristics as we find throughout the psalms (e.g. “great,” “merciful,” “kind”) apply equally well to Jesus.  And with the resurrection, even characterizations like “enthroned in the heavens” and “high above the nations” apply as well as to Jesus as they do to Israel’s God as originally written.  Why do you suppose that is?

It is because when it came time for the greatest mission in the history of creation, God took on the task Himself (Isaiah 59:16; 63:5).  Jesus was God in the flesh.

For more on this subject, 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.

Psalm 27:1

In John 8:12 Jesus said He was the light of the world.  If this was true when He was on earth, how much more when He was enthroned in the heavens!

Given His abundantly merciful character, how blessed are we human beings that Jesus was raised from the dead to glory in heaven and declared to be Lord of all (Acts 2:34-36; 10:36).

We have no one to fear and no one to dread.

If our bodies are destroyed, we have better ones waiting for us in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:1).  Indeed, there is nothing at all that can separate us from the love of God through Him (Romans 8:35-39).

No wonder the Lord Jesus is our light.  His face is like the sun shining in its strength (Revelation 1:16) for He is the sun that rose from the dead (Malachi 4:2).  As Isaiah exhorted, let us walk in the light of this Lord (Isaiah 2:5).  That is, let His penetrating eyes disinfect us of every unworthy thought and word (Revelation 21:23; 22:5).

Do not think of the Lord as uncertain and nebulous.  Jesus has put a sure and certain face on God (2 Corinthians 4:6).

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.

Psalm 123:1

Notice the similarity between Psalm 123:1 in the Old Testament and Hebrews 12:1-2 in the New Testament.

Ever wonder where those who wrote the New Testament got their inspiration?  From believing what was written in the Old Testament as fulfilled by the life, suffering, death, crucifixion, and ascension into heaven of Jesus of Nazareth.

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.

Christ Is a Type of God

The Bible is filled with types of Christ.  (A type is a representation or pattern of something; a foreshadowing.)

Enoch is a type of Christ (because Enoch “walked with God” and “was taken up”).  David is a type of Christ (because David was a triumphant king).  Solomon is a type of Christ (because Solomon was a regent of peace).  The Scriptures explicitly declare that Adam was a type of Christ (Romans 5:14) and that Isaac was, too (Hebrews 11:19).  The book of Hebrews gives an extended explanation of how Melchizedek foreshadowed Christ.

There is a category of posts in this blog titled “Types and Shadows” which, as of the current date, identifies over 50 types of Christ in the Bible.  Many books have been written about biblical types which list far more than I have.

Thus seeing types of Christ in studying the Bible is neither new nor original.

However, it is worth noting that Christ Himself is a type of God.  As Christ suffered on the cross from the rejection of His people, so God Himself suffers daily as His creation rejects Him.  Just as Jesus uttered no threats from the cross, so God utters no threats as we have our picnics, watch our television shows, and enjoy each other’s company – all while generally disregarding anything He might want to occur in any of those settings.

God created us and all that we see.  How is it right that we live life as if He were absent?  Who acknowledges Him as if He were present – other than an occasional perfunctory prayer (and even those are being eliminated in public meetings)?

It is long past time to stop rejecting the presence of God.  He is everywhere.  We should act like it.

As Christ rose from the dead so God rises in our consciousness that we might acknowledge Him every moment of every day.

As is Christ, so is God.  For Christ is God.

For more on the  subject of Christ being God, 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

Psalm 117

Who is the Lord who should be praised by all nations?  Jesus.

Who is the Lord who should be lauded by all peoples?  Jesus.

Who is it whose mercy is great toward us?  Jesus.

Who is it who truth is everlasting?  Jesus.

Who is the Lord we should praise?  Jesus!

For explanation, see Reading Psalm 1 in Light of Jesus and His Kingdom – Part 1 of 2.

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.

Jeremiah 9:23-24

In 1 Corinthians 1:30-31, the apostle Paul writes that, having been made “Lord,” Jesus Christ has become to us everything necessary to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).  That is, through knowing Jesus, we know the Lord.  This is because, through His resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven, Jesus became the Lord (Acts 2:34-36).

Therefore, knowing Jesus (that is, knowing the Lord) is more valuable than earthly wisdom, earthly power, or earthly riches.

Jesus is “the Lord” of Jeremiah 9:23-24 to all of us on earth today.

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.

Psalm 113:4

How did the Lord get to be “high above all the nations, His glory above the heavens?”  He was raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of God the Father, that’s how!

Yes, these words were true of the God of Israel long before Jesus was ever born in Bethlehem.  Yet these same words were also a prophecy of what would happen when Jesus, upon being crucified, was raised from the dead three days later to be enthroned in heaven forever.

As Peter said in Acts 2:34-36, this was in fulfillment of what God had prophesied through King David in Psalm 110.  Through His resurrection, Jesus was made Lord so that every knee might bow (Philippians 2:9-11) and that all things might be summed up in an administration through Christ (Ephesians 1:10).

Blessed be the name of the Lord Jesus 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.

Ancient Minds Saw Heaven as Off-Limits for Humanity

Yesterday’s post, The Ancient Mind Versus the Modern Mind, sets the stage for today’s post.  That post identified the difference between how a modern mind views heaven and how an ancient mind viewed it.

When a modern mind hears Everyone Is Going to Heaven it asks, “How can everyone be going to heaven?’  When the ancient mind heard it, it would ask, “How can anyone be going to heaven?”  This is because the ancient mind saw everyone who died as descending (and certainly not ascending) to the underworld of the dead.  The Hebrews called it Sheol and the Greeks called it Hades.  This was the mindset that prevailed in New Testament times among both Jews and Gentiles.

The descendants of Abraham were unique among ancient peoples in that they held a clear and firm hope that there would one day be a resurrection of the dead.  But not even they were prepared for the announcement that Jesus made to them – that resurrection would not lead from the underworld back to earth, but all the way to heaven!  You can read about this surprise in chapter 7 of The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven.

In the meantime, when you read the Bible keep in mind that the apostles’ declaration that Jesus had gone to heaven and sat at the right hand of God was absolutely staggering to the ancient mind.  The notion that the rest of us would follow Jesus to heaven seemed just as wild, but it was that first idea – that Jesus had already gone there, and to the place of highest honor – that was the big hurdle for the ancient mind to accept.  Remembering this will help you better understand what the Bible is teaching about God.  Otherwise, we’re just dulled to penetrating truths that can change our lives.

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 Ancient Mind Versus the Modern Mind

When we read the Bible, we are aware that the people who originally wrote it and read it didn’t have computers, telephones, televisions, automobiles, and all sorts of other devices that are commonplace in our lives today.  That is, we are usually conscious of how many aspects of life we don’t share with those folks.  On the other hand, we can also conscious of the many aspects of life that are unchanged between then and now: birth, life, death, love, afterlife, and so on.  However, we often forget that ancient prophets and their readers didn’t always have the same ideas about these common issues that we modern readers do.

One very important example of this difference in outlook is heaven.  To the ancient mind, heaven was not a place for human beings (whether in this life or the next).  Heaven was where the gods dwelt.  See, for example, Acts 14:11 where Paul’s hearers (wrongly) thought he and his companions were gods descended from the heavens because of the miracle God had performed through them.  See also Acts 17:18 which took place in a different city where Paul’s hearers (rightly) understood that Paul’s claim of Jesus’ being raised to heaven was a claim for His divinity.  Examples abound in the Bible – whether of Jews or Gentiles, believers or pagans – which show this fundamental difference in practical cosmology between ancient people and modern people.

Modern people have a wide variety of ideas about who and what is in heaven.  Ancient people had a clearer and more consistent view, varying only in which and what kind of gods occupied heaven.  And they certainly didn’t envision human beings up there.

Only by acknowledging the ancient world view that heaven was for gods and earth was for men can you fully appreciate what a dramatic assertion it was for the apostles to say that Jesus had been raised from the dead to sit at the right hand of God.  It was literally life-changing for anyone who heard it and believed.  This is explained in the seventh chapter of the book 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.

Psalm 113:6

Yesterday’s post about Genesis 18:20-21 spoke of how God humbled Himself to see just what sort of things go on in the earth.  Psalm 113:6 (NASB) ascribes that same characteristic of humility to our Lord.  Specifically, it says that He “humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth.”

In fact, the entirety of Psalm 113 speaks of the glory of Jesus and His mission.  Consider, for example, how He is “high above the nations” because of being raised their after death and seated at God’s right hand as described in Psalm 110:1 (just a page or two back in your Bible).  No wonder Jesus told His disciples, “all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44).

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.

Genesis 18:20-21

Genesis 18:20-21 foreshadows the mission of Jesus who heard the outcry from the earth and chose to “go down and see” if the world’s sins were as great as their outcry.  Whether it was or it wasn’t, God said, “I will know.”

Indeed, Jesus came to know firsthand the sins of humanity – and that they were indeed very great.  Our sins were so great that we rejected and murdered the One who created us and who has always loved us.  But cheer up!  Jesus was raised from the dead and He reigns forevermore to save us from our sins by turning us from our wicked ways (Acts 3:26).

Turn to Him now and turn away from your selfish living.  Let us live properly – that is, as servants of the King, doing His will (Psalm 103:21).

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.

Psalm 115:1

A recent post described how “Jesus” became the name of the Lord.  Essentially, this was the result of God raising Jesus from the dead, seating Him at His right hand, and thus fulfilling the prophecy of Psalm 110:1 in which David wrote, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand’.”  In this way Jesus became Lord and thus His name became the name of the Lord.

You can see how the apostles were praying with the attitude of Psalm 115:1 in Acts 4:24-30 (NASB) when they asked that “signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.”  The apostles were not seeking glory for their own names, but for the name of the Lord: Jesus.

It is also fascinating to continue reading through Psalm 115 and see its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus, especially in the references to eyes, ears, nose, hands, and feet – all of which Jesus brought to the throne in a whole new dimension!

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.

Psalm 8:9

Yesterday’s post about Genesis 4:26 sets the stage for today’s.

In Acts 2, those who believed Peter’s message could now hear the words of Psalm 8:9 invested with new meaning.  It still conveyed the same truth but with a much sharper edge.  God had seated Jesus at His right hand and made Him Lord (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:34-36).  It is this name of the Lord – Jesus – that was now to be majestic in all the earth.  And indeed the subsequent chapters in Acts reveal the signs and wonders that God performed in that majestic name.

Considering all that the apostles learned in the days before the proclamation of Acts 2 (see What the Apostles Learned and When They Learned It), they would never read Psalm 8 the same way again.  Neither should we.

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.

 

Genesis 4:26

Genesis 4:26 (NASB) includes these words “Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.”  This foreshadows what we see taking place in Acts 2.

By the beginning of Acts 2, Jesus is seated at the right hand of God.  From there, He pours out the Holy Spirit on the 120 (including the apostles) who were assembled, praying, and waiting in Jerusalem for this very outpouring (because Jesus had promised it to them).  As a crowd gathers, Peter begins his explanation of the event by quoting the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28-32) which speaks of everyone who “calls upon the name of the Lord” being saved.  Peter proceeds to quote other passages (from what the apostles called “the Scriptures” and we call “the Old Testament”) which he connects to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  Peter then dramatically announces to the surrounding crowd that God has made this Jesus “Lord” (Acts 2:34-36) and goes on to exhort them to call upon Jesus, the name of the Lord – evoking his previous mention of Joel’s prophecy about the name of the Lord.

When Jesus was on earth, people could approach Him as they could any human being.  But now that He was in the heavens at the right hand of God, they had to “approach” Him the way they had always “approached” God: by calling on His name.  On earth, Jesus had lived as a man; in heaven, He now lived as a god – and needed to be addressed as such.  Had the believing Jews not clung so tightly to the longstanding prophecies of Messiah and of resurrection, they might not have even been able to contemplate such a change in circumstance for Jesus.  But if this was the way God chose to reveal His Messiah and begin the resurrection, they would believe it!  May we learn from them and imitate their example by calling on the name of the Lord: Jesus 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.

The Apostles Believed Their Lord About the Timing of His Second Coming

Jesus made clear that He would return in His kingdom before His contemporaries would all pass away.  In other words, He would return in that generation.  We see His teaching about this time frame recorded in multiple places in the very first book of the New Testament: Matthew 10:23; 16:27-28; 23:36; 24:34.  The other gospels also testify of Jesus’ teaching on this point.

Throughout Acts – and all the epistles that follow – we see the apostles who wrote these documents accepting, believing, and declaring this same timetable, though often expressing the truth in different ways.  Most notably, the book of Revelation, considered by many as one of the last New Testament documents to be written, concludes with five statements all declaring the great event to be “soon.”

Truly, the apostles believed their Lord on this subject.  We should, too.

For more, see the post Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again or the full biblical case for this in Whatever Became of Jesus 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.

How Blind Can We Be?

When it comes to spiritual things, how blind can we be?  Apparently, we can be completely blind.  Consider what Paul said in Acts 13:27 (NASB) about the religious leaders in Jerusalem, that “recognizing neither [Jesus, the Messiah] nor the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning Him.”  Whoa!  The promoters and defenders of prophecy could only recognize it when it was in a book, not when it happened in real life.

Paul is telling us that it is possible to get to the head of the class in what the Bible prophesies and then not recognize those prophecies when they’re being fulfilled right before your eyes.  Stop a minute and think about that.

Actually, the process Paul is describing is worse than that.  He is saying we can actually be participants in the fulfillment of the prophecy – and even participants on the dark side of it – and still not recognize it.  This is why the Lord warned us against judging other people.  If we’re not careful, we can be the culprits in a morality play that we don’t even know is taking place.

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 the Apostles Learned and When They Learned It

It is a very interesting question to ask what the apostles knew and when they knew it.  While the 27 documents we have in the New Testament were not written to specifically answer this question, they do provide information that gives at least the beginning of answers to it.

The apostles were those individuals, twelve at first, who were chosen by Jesus from among His disciples to go out with His message.  They were obviously standout disciples, but even they often did not immediately grasp the things Jesus was telling them and teaching them.

While everyone who followed Jesus knew that He was special, for example, not everyone recognized Him as the Messiah of Israel.  When, in Matthew 16, Jesus famously asked, “Who do men say that I am?” and Peter famously answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus declared that God the Father Himself had opened Peter’s eyes to this truth.  Jesus subsequently warned Peter and the rest of the apostles present not to reveal this fact to anyone else.  Obviously, though many people in Israel were aware of Jesus and His amazing ministry, not everyone was aware, or confident, that He was the Messiah.

This ignorance or uncertainty about Jesus being the Messiah was to change dramatically once Jesus was raised from the dead.  You may recall that His apostles lost hope in Him when He was crucified – so much so, that they were slow to believe the early testimonies of His resurrection from the women who had visited His tomb only to find it empty.  The closing verses in each of the four gospels illustrate the great dawning that Jesus’ resurrection brought to the disciples.  And Jesus was not content to merely prove to His followers that He was alive forevermore, He wanted to teach them how all of this was happening according to what had been written in the Scriptures hundreds of years before by its many different authors.  Read Luke 24, paying special attention to verses 25-27, 31-32, and 44-48 (see also Acts 1:1-3, as it applies to the same time period), and see how much information Jesus was passing on to His apostles during this time.  As John 12:16 indicates, the apostles were beginning to recognize how practically all that they had witnessed of Jesus during the previous three years had been foretold in the Scriptures they had all heard since they were children.

The effect of all this teaching was most notable upon Peter, and fully apparent in his orations in Acts 2 and 3.  Remember that he had become so weak in faith that he even denied that he knew Jesus.  And yet we see him speaking with dramatic boldness about that same Jesus in Acts 2 and 3.  In Acts 4:13, even the opposition took notice of the confidence with which Peter was speaking.  It was what he learned from Jesus after the resurrection that made the difference.

We also see that the apostles’ learning continued even after Jesus ascended into heaven.  In Acts 10, Peter is learning about the degree to which God has accepted the Gentiles.  In Acts 15, Peter and others are still trying to absorb the full truth about Gentile involvement in God’s plan.  Galatians 2 gives particular insight into the false steps sometimes made by the apostles as they all sought to follow Him who is “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

God reveals Himself to us progressively (Proverbs 4:18), “line upon line, precept upon precept” (Isaiah 28:10).  The better you understand how He did this even with the apostles, the better you will understand how He does it with you and me.  We don’t “get” God all at once.  He dawns on us like the sun…if we’ll come out from the rocks we’ve been hiding under.

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.

Churchgoing Is Obsolete

If Baptism Is Obsolete, and if Communion Is Obsolete, then is churchgoing also obsolete?  Yes, of course.  The kingdom of God has come.

This is just what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13: when the perfect is come, the partial is done away (1 Corinthians 13:10).

The New Testament church was a foreshadowing of the perfect, but it was not the perfect.  One of its chief imperfections was its human rule.  This is why Peter warned his fellow shepherds that they should be ready to hand over rule to the Chief Shepherd when He appeared (1 Peter 5:1-4).  That all the church’s leaders in that day would not do so was sadly and soberly prophesied by Paul (Acts 20:29-30), Peter (2 Peter 2:1), John (1 John 2:18), and the other apostles (Jude 1:3ff).  Paul had even prophesied that this apostasy was one of the last signs that would appear before the coming of the kingdom (2 Thessalonians 2:3).  The coming of the Lord was the separation of the wheat and the tares.  The tares remain as the man-made churches we see today.

The church was the very last stage of ancient Israel, and Israel’s role in salvation was coming to an end.  Thus all the New Testament talk of “the end” (such as 1 Peter 4:7).

As long as salvation required human intermediaries – whether that be kings or priests of Israel, or whether it be elders or pastors of churches – salvation could not always be close at hand.  But in the kingdom of God, all administration is by God and salvation is near and available to all who believe.  It is no longer necessary to trust in humans in order to trust in God; it is only necessary to trust in God (Jeremiah 17:5-8).

Do not seek the living among the dead (Luke 24:5).  Rather seek the living One who is always near (Psalm 145:18).  Be aware, however, that you must hate your sins and love righteousness in order to experience Him.  You do not have to be perfect, but you do need to make progress – just as the true believers in the New Testament church were doing.  If you draw near to Him, He will know it.  Trust that He does!  (See James 4:8)

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.

Communion Is Obsolete

When the apostle Paul gave instructions for the practice of communion in the church he mentioned its temporary nature when he said in 1 Corinthians 11:26 that it would be practiced “until He comes.”  This matched perfectly what Jesus Himself had said when He lifted the bread and cup at that fateful Passover meal the night before He was crucified.  He said, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15-16).  He went on to lift the cup and say with reference to it as well that He would not do so again “until the kingdom of God comes.”

Thus communion was a commemoration of the Lord’s Passover to be relinquished when the reality it foreshadowed had fully come.  We see this reality on the verge of fulfillment in the book of Revelation when Jesus said that He stood at the door, ready to come in a sup with those who received Him (Revelation 3:20).

Therefore, there remains a communion that can be practiced today in the kingdom of God.  It is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit in your heart who discloses to you the thoughts of Jesus.  This is the only communion worth pursuing.  Who pursues the shadow when the substance is available?  (Colossians 2:17)

I hasten to add that communion in New Testament times was practiced by the church while communion in the kingdom of God is something you individually experience with your Creator.  You have no need of any human mediator.  The only mediator given between God and humans is Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).

(See also Baptism Is Obsolete.)

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.

Baptism Is Obsolete

Baptism, which was so prevalent at the beginning of New Testament times, was already becoming obsolete as those times ended.

Even the apostle Paul in his first letter to the believers in Corinth stated, “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 1:17).  He knew then that baptism was a transitional ritual for taking the repentant descendants of Israel and preparing them for the kingdom of God which was about to dawn.  On this basis, Paul made clear that the importance of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ transcended the ritual of baptizing.  As it says in Hebrews 8:13, “Whatever is becoming obsolete is growing old and ready to disappear.”  If this was true of the entire old covenant, how much more of baptism?

There remains a baptism today, but it is entirely spiritual in nature.  Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38), be baptized in His Holy Spirit (John 1:33) , be washed in the water of His word (Ephesians 5:26), be cleansed by the rivers of living water flowing from your innermost being (John 7:37-39).

We live in the days after the New Testament – that is, in the promised days of the kingdom of God.  Jesus is on the throne and ruling all of creation.  His kingdom is entirely spiritual.  This, however, does not make it less potent than physical kingdoms – on the contrary, it is more powerful than them all.  Ascribe more value and power to spiritual things than to physical things (2 Corinthians 4:18).  Jesus is Lord!

(See also Communion Is Obsolete and Church Is Obsolete.)

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 Name “Lord” in Acts 2

(If you haven’t already, you may want to first read yesterday’s post, The Name “Lord” in Acts 1.)

The name (or word) “Lord” appears 8 times in the second chapter of The Acts of the Apostles.  The bulk of this chapter consists of Peter’s sermon in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven.  The verses that precede and follow the sermon are narrative that give the context of the sermon.

The two key occurrences of the name “Lord” occur in verses 34 and 36.  This is the part of Peter’s oration where he quotes the prophecy of Psalm 110 in which King David declared that the Lord (God) would instruct David’s Lord (who would be David’s descendant and the Messiah) to sit at God’s right hand (the highest place of authority in the heavens).  This riddle (of David’s son also being his “lord”) had confounded the religious leaders of Jesus’ day as is evidenced in Matthew 22:4-46 (repeated in Mark 12:35-37 and Luke 20:41-44).  Of course, Jesus knew what no one else knew at the time and He therefore challenged the religious leaders to answer the riddle.  The answer was that the Messiah was indeed David’s descendant according to the flesh, but became David’s Lord through the resurrection.

Thus Peter boldly declared in verse 36 that the riddle had been dramatically answered – that “God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”  This striking declaration explains what would otherwise have been a strange quote of Joel 2:28-32 in Acts 2:17-21.  For the passage in Joel promises salvation to those who “call on the name of the Lord” and therefore Peter was claiming (specifically in verse 36 and again in verse 38) that “the name of the Lord” had become Jesus by virtue of His resurrection and ascension to God’s right hand.  Without Peter’s connecting the name of Jesus to the name of the Lord, a listener could have called on the name of the Lord while rejecting Jesus of Nazareth.  Indeed, those who rejected Peter’s message and Jesus did think they were calling on the name of the Lord in doing so – but they were wrong.

This was a startling development for anyone familiar with the Hebrew scriptures.  No longer could any verse which made reference to “the Lord” be read in the same way (and note that there are thousands of such verses in the Old Testament alone).  The resurrected Jesus had been declared “Lord” and thus given the Scriptures new life with a spiritual and not a fleshly orientation.  Passages like Psalm 23 and Psalm 27 would now be particularized and personalized around the exalted Jesus of Nazareth.

The many references to “God the Father and the Lord Jesus” which began and ended so many of the New Testament epistles was a clear and unequivocal reminder of the faith in which the apostles and their disciples stood: Jesus, the Son of God, had inherited the title of “Lord” from His Father.  To continue to read biblical references to “the Lord” without references to this transference was, and is, a denial of God’s will…and of reality.

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 Name “Lord” in Acts 1

The name (or word) “Lord” appears three times in the first chapter of The Acts of the Apostles.

The first occurrence is in verse 6 where Jesus’ apostles address a question to Him beginning “Lord, is it at this time…”  Clearly they are questioning Jesus for it was Jesus who had gathered them and was speaking to them in the preceding verses…and it was Jesus who answered this question in the following verse.

The second occurrence is in verse 21 where Peter is mentioning Jesus and calls Him “the Lord Jesus.”

The third occurrence is in verse 24 when they began their prayer with “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two [Joseph or Matthias] you have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”

Given that in this opening chapter the first two occurrences of “Lord” applied to Jesus, it is logical to assume that the third did as well – especially since there was no reference to “God” or “the Father” that would have offered an alternative understanding.  (Luke had mentioned “the Father” in verses 4 and 7 so he certainly knew how to make it known if the Father was being addressed instead of Jesus if that had been the case.)  It is also logical that this group would appeal to Jesus to name the replacement since it was Jesus who chose apostles in the first place.  The reason for addressing Him in prayer in that He is no longer on earth but now in heaven at the right hand of God.  There is no reasonable basis for thinking that this occurrence of “Lord” applies to anyone other than Jesus.  The assembled group had prayed, and they had prayed to Jesus.  It’s that simple.  (There was no formula of “praying to the Father in the name of Jesus as trinitarians would have it.)

Thus all three references to “Lord” in Acts 1 apply to Jesus and none apply to God the Father as some might suppose.

For more on how Jesus became “Lord” and what this means for our understanding of the Old Testament, see:

Reading Psalm 1 in Light of Jesus and His Kingdom – Part 1 of 2

Reading Psalm 1 in Light of Jesus and His Kingdom – Part 2 of 2

For more on what this means about following Christ, 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.