If Bible Scholars Are Right – Part 3 of 3

If scholars are right about the general dating of New Testament documents, we need to recognize how widespread and yet how uniform was the gospel message by the year 50 AD.

Paul’s letters indicate occasional uncertainty and disagreement about how to apply the gospel, but none about what the gospel was.  Peter said that sometimes Paul wrote some things that were hard to understand (2 Peter 3:15-16) but that only the “untaught and unstable” got them wrong – and Peter said those same people got the rest of the Bible wrong, too.

Given the uniformity and clarity of the gospel as preached and as confirmed by the apostles, we would do well to go back to it and try to better understand it.  For, in case you haven’t noticed, the gospel of Jesus Christ is presented as many different messages today.

The apostles had it right.  Let us return to their word.  They were not sent to establish an institution; they were sent to deliver a message.  Let us seek to be as faithful to receive it as they were to deliver 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.

If Bible Scholars Are Right – Part 2 of 3

If Bible scholars are right about the dating of events described yesterday, the Christian movement was relying on the Hebrew Bible (what is also called the Old Testament) as its source text.  That is, unlike Islam (The Quran) or Mormonism (The Book of Mormon) or Scientology (Dianetics), no book had to be written to spread the word.  The apostles already had a book, written centuries before they were born.  This book, or collection of books, was already distributed throughout the Roman Empire.  Wherever there were Jews, the Hebrew Bible could be found.  This is why even the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, typically began his preaching in a city by going to a synagogue or place of prayer.

Therefore, we should not be using the New Testament independent of the Old Testament.  Rather, we should be using the New Testament to understand 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 Bible Scholars Are Right – Part 1 of 3

It is widely accepted among Bible scholars – conservative and liberal alike – that, of all the New Testament documents, Paul’s letters were written first.  It is further agreed among these scholars that the first of Paul’s letters that we have (1 Thessalonians) was written around 50 AD.  These same scholars usually date Jesus’ crucifixion somewhere between 27 and 33, with most putting it at 30-33.  This means that for its first 15-20 years, Christianity was operating by word of mouth.  If it was producing documents, we don’t have them.

What makes this notable is that examination of Paul’s letters reveal a very clear, coherent, and consistent view of who Jesus was.  There were lots of points at issue in Paul’s letters, but Jesus’ identity was not one of them.  This is quite remarkable.

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 God Spoke by Raising Jesus from the Dead Cannot Be Overemphasized and Should Not Be Overlooked

For the last week we have been seeing some of the various ways that God was making clear to Jesus’ contemporaries that He was the Son of God – and how in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and His installation at the right hand of God according to Psalm 110:1 this claim was demonstrated to be true with unprecedented power and in unrepeatable fashion.  Oh, to be sure, others would be raised from the dead – everyone, in fact.  But no one else could be raised to the highest position for there was only one of those.  There cannot be “lords” – there can only be “the Lord” – and that is what Jesus was named, not only in that age, but in the eternal one to follow.  It is we who live in that eternal age.  Jesus is the peerless Lord.  And it is by faith in Him that we truly live.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most pivotal moment in all of human history.  It is as important as the moment of creation itself, for it is the new creation (that is, the “re-creation” or first step in the “restoration of all things” spoken of in Acts 3:21).

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.

God Confirmed at Jesus’ Resurrection What the Centurion Said at Jesus’ Crucifixion

When a centurion standing guard at Jesus’ crucifixion “saw the way He breathed His last,” he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.” (Mark 15:39).

As if to put an exclamation point on that statement, God raised Jesus from the dead three days later.

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.

God Confirmed at Jesus’ Resurrection What Jesus Had Been Saying Throughout His Ministry

Throughout His ministry, Jesus had been calling God His “Father,” and such statements did not go without challenge (John 5:18).  When God raised Jesus from the dead to heaven, however, it made the naysayers look utterly foolish.

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.

God Confirmed at Jesus’ Resurrection What Matthew Said About Him After His Birth

After Jesus’ birth, Matthew describes how Joseph took Mary and Jesus to Egypt in order to escape the jealous and murderous King Herod.  In so doing, Matthew foresaw fulfillment of Hosea’s prophecy “Out of Egypt have I called My Son”  (Hosea 11:1) when Jesus later returned to the land of Israel to settle in Nazareth of Galilee.

We may therefore see in God’s raising Jesus from the dead an emphatic affirmation of what Hosea and Matthew had said about Him:  This Jesus was indeed God’s Son.

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.

God Confirmed at Jesus’ Resurrection What the Angels Had Said About Him at His Conception

In Luke 1:35 the angel announced to Mary that the miracle in her womb would be called “the Son of God.”  Nowhere was this more dramatically attested to than in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and ascension to the right hand of God in heaven.  See Acts 13:33.

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.

God Confirmed at Jesus’ Resurrection What He’d Said at the Mount of Transfiguration

Peter, James, and John witnessed Jesus on the mountaintop, hearing a voice from heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son.”  This was the same message they had heard at Jesus’ baptism.

Thus heaven had announced that Jesus was the Son of God well in advance of Jesus’ resurrection.  But it was at Jesus’ resurrection when that truth was validated in a dramatic, unmistakable, and eternal 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.

God Confirmed at Jesus’ Resurrection What He’d Said at Jesus’ Baptism

When Jesus was baptized, a voice came from heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17).

God backed up these words with action when He raised Jesus from the dead.

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 Was Begotten at His Resurrection

Acts 13:33 says that the second Psalm was fulfilled when Jesus was raised from the dead.  That is, the phrase “This day have I begotten Thee” was the day of Christ’s resurrection.

Paul repeats this thought when in Romans 1:3-4 he writes that Jesus was “declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.”

Sometimes actions speak louder than words.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ was just such an occasion.

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.

2 Samuel 7:12-14

2 Samuel 7:12-14 says that David’s son will be God’s son.  How can he be both?

He was David’s son according to the flesh, and God’s Son according to His resurrection from the dead.  So says Paul in Romans 1:3-4, in what was probably a repetition of an early church confession, or portion thereof.

The Bible contains many such riddles* about messiah.  Thus messiah’s coming was prophesied in mystery, but revealed by the demonstration of reality (Romans 16:25-27).

* – Do a search on this site for “riddle” and you will see other examples of how the messiah was prophesied in riddles.

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 Distinguished “The Way” from the Two Hundred Other Messianic Movements of That Age?

“The Way” was led by a messiah with God’s stamp of approval.  No other messianic movement had at its head a resurrected leader, directing activities from the throne of heaven.  For this reason, “the Way” prevailed while the others died out as their respective leaders died out.

(Regarding “the Way” see John 14:4-7; Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 24:14, 22 and even 2 Peter 2:21.)

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.

The Entire Apostolic Church Bore Witness to Jesus Christ

It wasn’t just the apostles who bore witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  It was all those who believed their message as well.

1 Corinthians 15:1 and following tells us that there were many besides the apostles who saw Jesus raised from the dead.  And we know from the gospel accounts that various women were chosen to be able to see Him and visit with Him after He came out of the grave.

Many others of the disciples had witnessed Jesus’ miracles, or heard His teaching, or saw His crucifixion.  When we believe the New Testament witness to Jesus Christ, therefore, we are not just believing the apostles.  We are also believing all those who also saw what the apostles saw.   Moreover, we are even believing those who, while not seeing everything the apostles and others saw, believed the apostles and others about the rest because of what they themselves had seen.

Therefore, it is a mighty cloud of witnesses we are believing when we believe the testimony about 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.

Philippians 2:5-11

Jesus went from the highest place in heaven to the lowest place on earth (rejection by His own people and cruel crucifixion).  Because He so humbled himself in the cause of being obedient to God, He was raised to the highest place of all once again in His resurrection – with unprecedented honor in heaven and on earth.

This fulfilled the words of Jesus which had said, “Many who are first shall be last and many who are last shall be first” (Matthew 19:30).  He was the last who became the first.  Condemned as a blasphemer, He was vindicated by the One who knew there was no sin in Him.

Jesus chose the “better resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35) – which is vindication in heaven, not on earth.  We should similarly seek vindication in heaven where it is eternal, not on earth where it is temporary.

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 Christianity Is Better Than Modern Christianity

Ancient Christianity is biblical Christianity.  It is a far cry from the Christianity we see today.

Modern Christianity claims to be built on the biblical foundation, but if you will read the Bible for yourself you will see that this is simply not true.

If you really want to understand Christ, go back to the foundation.  That is, go back to the Bible.

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 Is the Only Begotten

Having seen over the last couple of days that the Scriptures call Jesus “the only begotten Son of God” and “the only begotten God,” we see today that the Scriptures also call Him simply “the only begotten.”  See John 1:14

Over and over again, the Bible describes to us the various ways is which Jesus is unique.  He is not only unique among all earthly beings who’ve ever lived, He is also unique among all heavenly beings.

All hail the Only Begotten!  (We are born of 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.

Jesus Is the Only Begotten God

In yesterday’s post we saw that Jesus was called the only begotten Son of God.

John 1:18 calls Jesus the “only begotten God.”  This conforms to Hebrews 1:8-9 (which is a quotation of Psalm 45:6-7) in which the Son is called “God.”

Thus Jesus is the only begotten Son of God and the only begotten God.

All hail the power of Jesus’ name!

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 Is the Only Begotten Son of God

Angels are sometimes called “sons of God” in the Scripture.  Thus to call Jesus “the only begotten Son of God” (as we see in John 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9) is to distinguish Him from them.

Thus in Hebrews 1 Jesus is explicitly described as greater than all angels.  Note also in verse 5 that He is described as a son “begotten” – that being a key distinguishing feature.

Jesus is unique.  And that’s putting it mildly.

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 Trinity Concept Introduces Confusion about Who Is the Lord

Is Jesus Lord?  Do you want to obey Him?  Then call upon Him as Lord and do His will.

The trinity concept only confuses those who want to actualize Jesus’ lordship in their lives.  The trinity gives you four Lords and four Gods: Father, Son, the Holy Spirit, and the one God who is these three.

There is only one Lord (see 1 Corinthians 8:6 and Ephesians 4:5).  Obey Him.

See also:

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.

Hebrews 9:27

Jesus Christ demonstrates this scripture to us in dramatic fashion.

He died.

Afterward he was judged.  In execution of this judgment he was raised above all creatures, human, angelic, and otherwise to sit at the right hand of God and rule over all creation.

Thus Jesus experienced what is the lot of humans – to die once and then the judgment.

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 Is the Wisdom of God

In 1 Corinthians 1:24 Paul writes that Jesus is “the wisdom of God.”  Later on, in verse 30, he repeats that Jesus “became to us the wisdom of God.”

We know that in the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit was poured out from Jesus in heaven to all those who believed in Him.  Proverbs 1:23 says, “Turn to my reproof; behold, I will pour out my spirit on you, I will make my words known to you.”  If you read just a few verses before to find who was speaking, you’ll see that it’s…personified Wisdom.  Of course, we know that Person as Jesus.  Thus we have a prophecy in Proverbs of what would happen in Acts.

Therefore, when James says in the first chapter of his letter that whoever lacks wisdom from God should ask for it because he’ll get it, we see that in every circumstance our true solution is to seek more of Jesus and to thereby become more like Him.

For these reasons, Paul could say in Philippians 4:11-13 that he could be content in any and every circumstance because he knew that he could do whatever was needed through the One who would strengthen him.  As it says in Ecclesiastes 7:19, “Wisdom strengthens a man.”  Christ is that wisdom.

Christ is always our wisdom.

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.

Read Psalm 119 with Jesus as the Living Torah in Mind

Try reading through the 176 verses of Psalm 119 substituting the name “Jesus” for the word “law.”  The word “law” shows up 25 times in this psalm (at least it does if you’re using the NASB or some other literal English translation).

See the “law” as embodied in the selfless way that Jesus lived.

For example, here’s verse 97:  “O how I love Your law; it is my meditation all the day!”  becomes “O how I love Jesus; He is (or You are) my meditation all the day.”

Let us not see “the law” not as dead letter, but as living spirit.

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 Is the Torah of God

Moses gave the Torah to ancient Israel – what we call the first five books of the Bible.  Torah means “teaching,”  You could also say “doctrine” or “instruction.”  Nevertheless, it’s often translated in our English Bibles as “law,” as in “the Law of Moses.”  The Torah was the quintessential “word of God” for ancient Israel.

John 1:17 says that the law was given through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  It also says that “the word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).  Thus Jesus is the living Torah, the Torah made flesh.

Therefore, if you want to know how to interpret the Old Testament, look to Jesus.  His behavior is what the Torah was seeking: selfless devotion to God and others.

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 Announcer of the Show or the Star of the Show

Who is more important – the announcer of the show or the star of the show?  It’s the star, of course.

Why then do preachers allow all sorts of attention to be drawn to themselves when it’s the Star they ought to be promoting?

(When Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem do you think the donkey thought he should get more attention than the One riding him?)

When I see people still and hushed to hear a great preacher, I wonder if they show Jesus the same deference when they’re alone.

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.

Peter and John Agree about Obeying Jesus and the Cleansing of His Blood

Peter wished that we would obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood (1 Peter 1:2).

This sounds like what John said to us in 1 John 1:7:  “If we walk in the light as he Himself is in the light we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

The blood written about in the Old Testament foreshadowed the precious blood of Jesus of Nazareth that Peter and John saw spilled.  This is the blood that truly cleansed (Hebrews 9:22).

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.

Suffering and Glory in Psalm 118:22

Jesus said in Luke 24:25-27 that the prophets had written that the messiah had to suffer and then enter into his glory.  Psalm 118:22 depicts both that suffering and glory.

The suffering was in being rejected (crucifixion), and the glory was in being made the chief corner stone (resurrection).

Peter references Psalm 118:22 in 1 Peter 2:7 and then sounds the theme of suffering and glory explicitly in 1 Peter 5:1ff.

Paul employs this theme in Romans 8:17 (for it was surely a well-known theme among all the early Christians), describing in the verses that followed how the Christ paradigm works to our benefit.

This theme of “suffering and glory” is rich in the Scriptures and we should seek to understand it better.

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 Did Not Come in Their Own Names; They Came in His

The true apostles did not come in their own names.  They did not seek the approval of men, or the blessing of men.  They were commissioned by the Lord and sought only His sanctioning, His blessing, His approval.

Opponents of the apostles boasted of credentials, approvals, and sanctions.  They boasted in the blessing of great men, and great reputations, and synagogues.  They derided true apostles like Paul, Peter, John, and the others whom Jesus commissioned.

True apostles spoke only in the name of the Lord, and received the response that the Lord receives.  That is, the humble welcomed them and the haughty despised them.

Even though there are no apostles today, as it was with those who spoke for the Lord then, so it is for those who speak for the Lord now.  Consider it honor to suffer shame when you speak in His name.  The humble will receive your message about Him.  See Psalm 34:1-2.

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.

True Apostles Brought Grace and Peace from Our Lord

The expression “Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ” were not idle chatter.  Neither were they boilerplate or rubber-stamped expressions.  They represented the very heart of the Lord Jesus as expressed through His apostles.

Though we are not apostles in this age, we may indeed bring the grace and peace of our Lord to each other.  Jesus does not send His representatives in judgment.  Rather, He sends them in peace.

Indeed, we must repent to find Him – but the call to repentance is itself a measure of grace.  For all that would be necessary to leave us in darkness is for Him not to call us to repentance.

“Turn to my reproof,” He says in Proverbs 1:23.  And what will be His response if we do?  Read on and see that He will 1) pour out His Spirit upon us, and 2) make His words known to us.  That is benefit all out of proportion to the price we’ve paid!

There may indeed be no apostles in our age, but we should none the less imitate their faithfulness in bringing grace and peace to others.

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.