Why Would You Want Jesus in the Flesh When You Can Have Him in the Spirit?

Some people long for a physical Second Coming of Christ.  This is neither wise nor scriptural.  Even during His earthly ministry, Jesus corrected those who preferred physical realities to spiritual ones:

Luke 11:27 While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.”
Luke 11:28 But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

Thus Jesus makes clear that physical proximity to Him is of no significance, but doing the word of God is.

It was always God’s plan that Jesus would come to the earth in the flesh but come the second time in the spirit.  For this reason Paul wrote:

2 Corinthians 5:16 Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.

Christ already came in the flesh.  And He’s already come in the spirit as well.  The only place left for Christ to come is your consciousness.  Invite Him in, and provide for Him an eternal home.

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Isaiah 49:10 – Messiah Quenches Spiritual Thirst Through His Spirit

Isaiah 49:10 “They will not hunger or thirst,
Nor will the scorching heat or sun strike them down;
For He who has compassion on them will lead them
And will guide them to springs of water.

Isaiah prophesies of Jesus who would come to satisfy the hunger and quench the thirst of those seeking righteousness:

Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Jesus points out here that Isaiah’s words spoke of a better kind of water:

John 4:13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again;
John 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

Jesus promises here the never-ending supply of living water through His Holy Spirit:

John 7:37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.
John 7:38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”
John 7:39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Thus Isaiah’s words were fulfilled in Messiah – specifically, the Spirit whom Messiah gives.

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Isaiah 49:9 – The Son Sets Us Free

Isaiah 49:9 Saying to those who are bound, ‘Go forth,’
To those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’
Along the roads they will feed,
And their pasture will be on all bare heights.

This verse speaks of Jesus the Messiah.  He says to those who are bound in sin, “Go forth!”  And He says to those who are in darkness, “Show yourselves.”

As the New Testament says of Jesus:

John 3:19 “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
John 3:20 “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
John 3:21 “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

Truly, Messiah sets us free:  “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Isaiah 49:8 – Christ Has Brought About the Day of Salvation

Isaiah 49:8 Thus says the LORD,
“In a favorable time I have answered You,
And in a day of salvation I have helped You;
And I will keep You and give You for a covenant of the people,
To restore the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritages;

These words Isaiah wrote in prophecy of the days of Christ.  As Paul himself wrote to the church in Corinth, quoting this verse:

2 Corinthians 6:1 And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain–
2 Corinthians 6:2 for He says,
“AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU,
AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.” Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION”–

Thus Paul and the rest of the apostles are continually demonstrating their belief that what we call the Old Testament Scriptures are all about Christ.  (For more on this idea, see The Old Testament (that is, the Hebrew Bible) Is 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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Isaiah 49:7 – The Despised One Became the Honored One

Isaiah 49:7 Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and its Holy One,
To the despised One,
To the One abhorred by the nation,
To the Servant of rulers,
“Kings will see and arise,
Princes will also bow down,
Because of the LORD who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel who has chosen You.”

How can “the despised One,” “the One abhorred by the nation,” also be the One whom “Kings will see” and “princes will bow down,” unless it is Jesus Christ – crucified and raised from the dead!

These kings and princes are certainly included among the “every knee” that Paul mentioned in this glorious refrain:

Philippians 2:9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,
Philippians 2:10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
Philippians 2:11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

As it says in Psalm 118:22, “the stone which the builders rejected became the chief corner stone.”

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Isaiah 49:6 – Messiah Was a Light of Revelation to the Gentiles

Is 49:6 He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also make You a light of the nations
So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

Isaiah is prophesying of Jesus, as is confirmed by Luke’s quotation of this verse in his gospel when he describes Jesus being brought to the temple as an infant.  A devout elderly man named Simeon applied Isaiah’s words to Jesus, saying the child was:

Luke 2:32 A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”

Paul also applies this verse to Jesus and what He was doing through the church in the New Testament when he said:

Acts 13:47 “For so the Lord has commanded us,
‘I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES,
THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH.'”

Thus Isaiah 49:6 testifies of Messiah, as do all the Scriptures of the prophets.

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Isaiah 49:5 – Jesus Came to Bring Israel Back to God

Isaiah 49:5 And now says the LORD, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant,
To bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him
(For I am honored in the sight of the LORD,
And My God is My strength),

Jesus came to bring back Israel to God.  For this reason, Peter wrote:

1 Peter 2:25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

Jesus was formed from the womb to be God’s servant, to gather the people of God.  For this reason, the Gospel of John says:

John 11:51 Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation,
John 11:52 and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

Jesus is still gathering the scattered children of God today.  Where He is lifted up, all men are draw 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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Isaiah 49:4 – From Nothing and Vanity to Justice and Reward

Isaiah 49:4 But I said, “I have toiled in vain,
I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity;
Yet surely the justice due to Me is with the LORD,
And My reward with My God.”

When Jesus died on the cross, it certainly appeared that he had “toiled in vain,” and “spent his strength for nothing and vanity.”  However, his resurrection from the dead was “the justice due him and his reward from his God.”

In the crucifixion, Messiah had suffering (that’s the first two lines of Isaiah 49:4).  In the resurrection, however, Messiah had glory (that’s the last two lines of Isaiah 49:4).

For more on Messiah’s sufferings and glories, see Index to Posts on Sufferings and Glories.

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Isaiah 49:3 – Messiah Is the One Through Whom God Is Showing His Glory

Isaiah 49:3 He said to Me, “You are My Servant, Israel,
In Whom I will show My glory.”

Isaiah is prophesying of Jesus our Lord – the Messiah of Israel.  Messiah was God’s ultimate servant.  All the prophets served God, but none as greatly as the Messiah did.

God did show His glory in Messiah, and is still doing so – and will be doing so throughout all eternity.  Messiah’s rule was “the administration suitable to the fulness of times” as Paul writes:

Ephesians 1:10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on 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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Isaiah 49:2 – Messiah Is the Arrow of God

Isaiah 49:2 He has made My mouth like a sharp sword,
In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me;
And He has also made Me a select arrow,
He has hidden Me in His quiver.

God made Jesus’ mouth to be “like a sharp sword.”  Thus the apostle John in the book of Revelation writes:

Revelation 19:15  From His mouth comes a sharp sword…

Messiah was hidden until his time.  Then he was revealed.  But even then, he was revealed to Israel and not to the great emperor in Rome.  The task of announcing His coming fell to His humble disciples.

Messiah was an arrow to the heart of God’s enemies.  Satan is defeated by 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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Isaiah 49:1 – Messiah Was Called from His Mother’s Womb

Isaiah 49:1 Listen to Me, O islands,
And pay attention, you peoples from afar.
The LORD called Me from the womb;
From the body of My mother He named Me.

Isaiah is here prophesying to us of Messiah.  Listen to how Matthew describes its fulfillment:

Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 1:19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.
Matthew 1:20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 1:21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Messiah was named (called) “Jesus” by order of the Lord while he was still in his mother’s womb.

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

See “Strong and Courageous” in Both Testaments

We know that the apostles taught from what we call the Old Testament.  Just how deeply the Old Testament texts permeated their common and individual consciousnesses, however, is not always plain to see.  It’s certainly plain when the apostles quote and Old Testament verses – especially when Bibles like the New American Standard Bible identify those quotations by rendering them in all capital letters.  It’s not so plain, however, when the apostles use language from the Old Testament in ways that don’t show up as direct quotations.  Let me give you an example.

The people of God were exhorted by Moses to “be strong and courageous.”  For example [emphasis added here and throughout]:

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

In the New Testament, we can see the same sort of exhortation to the people of God.  Consider this from Paul:

1 Thessalonians 3:2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith,

The point is not that Paul is “quoting” the verse from Deuteronomy, but that the idea of the people of God needing strength and encouragement as they prepared to enter the kingdom of God had become a part of his thinking.

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Jesus Lived Off of Inherited Wealth

You have heard that Jesus was born poor.  And this is true…in the flesh.  In the spirit, however, he was quite wealthy.  This is because he was heir not only to all the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but also to all the promises made to David.  Some say that Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-17) was through Joseph while Luke’s genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3:23-38) was through Mary.  In either case, Jesus was a descendant of David according to the flesh and therefore heir to those “precious and magnificent promises” (2 Peter 1:4).

In a spiritual sense, therefore, Jesus was like a Kennedy or a Rockefeller or a Rothschild.  He lacked for nothing!

How much more then do you and I need to recognize our own wealth in the inheritance He has bequeathed to us (Ephesians 1:18; Colossians 1:12).

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

We Are, Like Isaac, Children of Promise

The apostle Paul wrote:

Galatians 4:28 And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.

Isaac was born as the result of God fulfilling His promise of a son to Abraham.  Ishmael did not count in this regard because he was not born of Abraham’s faith but rather of Abraham’s doubt.  Isaac, however, was a true child of faith.

As the child of faith in God’s promise, Isaac inherited the promises God had made to Abraham – for God had said to Abraham, “…and to your descendants…” as part of the promises.

Jesus was due children as a result of being a descendant of Abraham.  He was denied those children in the days of his flesh, but he is receiving them forever through the spirit.

Therefore, let us experience life as Isaac did – heirs to the very promise that created us.  That is, let us teach the faith to those in our sphere of influence, that our children in the faith might pass it on to their children in the faith and so on.

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The Inheritance of God’s Promises Is Greater Than Any Monetary Inheritance

By watching how Jesus took to heart and trusted the promises of God, His disciples came to see just how valuable these promises were that they had inherited from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Esau is the classic example of a worldly-minded person who had no appreciation for the blessings inherent in a promise from God.  Thus the New Testament says:

Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;
Hebrews 12:16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.

Therefore, be moral and godly…and seek to understand the promises of God that you might benefit from them.

Jesus and his fellow Jews inherited these promises by virtue of their fleshly descent from Abraham.  We, however, receive the full inheritance through our spiritual connection with Jesus Christ our Lord.

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Jesus Lived by Faith in the Promises of God

One of the things that was so striking to the Jews who surrounded Jesus of Nazareth was that from their childhoods he had been reading the same Scriptures as they, yet he was getting so much more out of them than they were.

The difference was faith.  Jesus took to heart what Moses and the Prophets had written.  He banked His life on it.   And look what it did for him!

The original disciples were therefore keen to learn from his faith and to imitate it.  They began to take God’s promises to Abraham much more seriously than they ever had before.

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Noah Found Grace in the Eyes of the Lord. Do You?

Genesis 6:8 KJV says, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”

Many people find no grace in the eyes of the Lord.  They see only problems with the idea that God sees all things.  They must be doing evil, for that would make you fearful of the eyes of the Lord.  If, however, you were seeking only to do good, being watched by God would be a welcome truth.

As it says in the fourth Gospel:

John 3:19 “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
John 3:20 “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
John 3:21 “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

This is why the pure in heart shall see God (Matthew 5:8)…because they want to be seen.  They are hoping He gives attention to them.

Do not “love the darkness.”  Love the light in His eyes, which are like “a flame of fire” (Revelation 1:14; 2:18; 19:12).

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21

The Bible begins and ends with powerful truths.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Revelation 22:21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

These simple truths, if trusted, can change our lives dramatically.

The opening lines declare the truth of creation; the closing lines, the truth of redemption.

God has not left His creation unattended.  He has redeemed us through the grace 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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Bread Can Be Synonymous with Fruit in the Bible

Jeremiah 11:19 But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter;
And I did not know that they had devised plots against me, saying,
“Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,
And let us cut him off from the land of the living,
That his name be remembered no more.”

The marginal note in the NASB for this verse tells us that the word translated as “fruit” is “lechem” in the Hebrew, which is normally translated as “bread.”  Of course, it’s not hard to see the connection between the two terms – something that nourishes us, and that is the result of a process.

We also see this connection in the following verse:

2 Corinthians 9:10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;

If this verse had said “supplies seed to the sower and fruit for food,” we could probably have processed the thought more easily.  Yet understanding the interchangeability of bread and fruit helps us better appreciate the Hebrew mindset that produced the sentence.

Especially when considering spiritual realities taught by the Scriptures, we will do well to remember that “fruit” and “bread” can be considered synonyms.  For example, grace can be considered the “fruit” of God’s goodness of which we partake as well as the bread of God’s goodness.  Or “May no one ever eat fruit from you again” could be rendered “May no one ever eat bread from you again.”  Or we could think of “Give us this day our daily fruit” as easily as we could think of “Give us this day our daily bread.”  The point is that God works through a process and at the end of that process there is something for us to eat.

Both the New Testament and Old Testament were produced in a Hebrew culture with a Hebrew mindset.  Understanding this ethos will help us to better discern the truths in those two testaments.

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Jesus Taught in Parables Because It’s the Way of God

Mark 4:33 With many such parables He was speaking the word to them, so far as they were able to hear it;
Mark 4:34 and He did not speak to them without a parable; but He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples.

One reason Jesus taught by parables was that it had been the way God taught the prophets from the beginning.  Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the rest would see something…and God would explain it.

For example,

Jeremiah 1:11 The word of the LORD came to me saying, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” And I said, “I see a rod of an almond tree.”
Jeremiah 1:12 Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.”

If you will pay attention to Christ, He will teach you this way, too, for He “explains everything privately to His own disciples”:

1 John 2:27 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

Therefore, create space in your thought life that His anointing may teach you through some of the things you see.

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Note to Preachers on “That’ll Preach”

We’ve all heard this phrase and many of us have used it.  It’s the reaction that comes when we read or hear something that we know will serve well as sermon material.  I’ve come to be very wary of this expression.

Why wary?  Because it can be a sign that we are more interested in saying what God says than in doing what God says.

Ezra the priest gives us the proper three steps for declaring God’s truth – whether it’s to a neighbor as an individual or to a crowd as a preacher.  Those three steps are: 1) study the word, 2) practice the word, and 3) preach the word (Ezra 7:10).  We short-circuit this process when we gain an insight during our devotional time (step 1) and then say to ourselves, in effect, “That’ll preach!” (step 3).  If we’re not careful, we’ll skip right over step 2.

I’m not saying that it’s a sin to ever think or say “That’ll preach” but I am saying that every time you think it or hear it, you ought to stop and ask yourself if you’re unwittingly skipping over Ezra’s critical second step.  This is what caught the Pharisees (Matthew 23:3 “they say things and do not do them”).

Note to Preachers on the Example of Balaam

Balaam is given to us in the Scriptures as an example.  A bad example, to be sure.  Yet we can learn from bad examples just as we learn from good examples.  In fact, bad examples help make the good examples more clear to us.

I do not think we preachers today are paying enough attention to the bad example of Balaam.  We too easily think, “Oh, that couldn’t be me; that’s someone else.”  Usually, we think it’s televangelists who are always asking for money.  Yet the love of money can be a far more subtle corruption.

We are to be free from every form of corruption – that’s what the good examples of the apostles are to teach us.  Will we point the finger at someone else and say “He loved money more than I did” as if that’s going to be an acceptable excuse before the Lord?  Turn your heart toward Him.  Ask Him if there is any area in life wherein you might be committing the sin of Balaam – which is to allow the love of money to corrupt your preaching for God.

One of the biggest tests I ever faced in this regard was when I began preaching the more radical truths I had come to learn from the Scriptures:  everyone is going to heaven, the kingdom of God supersedes institutional church, and the second coming of Christ has already occurred.  I could quickly see that declaring such things would jeopardize my standing with those for whom I was a pastor.  I could see that I was eventually going to lose my church, and therefore my living – my way of life.

I did not want to give up my way of life.  I wanted to serve the Lord through preaching the gospel.  I wanted to remain in full-time ministry.  I cannot think of words to convey to you how badly I wanted this.  And yet, to keep it I would have to suppress the very things God had shown me because I had been praying for the people of my church.  Once I realized this, I simply had to accept the fact that I was going to lose my parishioners…and therefore my church and my living as a minister.

Though it was painful, I have never regretted this decision to preach the truth regardless of the cost.  I did not “follow the way of Balaam…who loved the wages of unrighteousness” (2 Peter 2:15).  And the peace of mind this gives me means far more to me that the financial security I lost.

The way of Balaam is subtle.  He was not a complete fraud for he related to the true God.  He heard the words of God.  And he spoke a degree of truth.  But a little corruption is like a little poison – never safe.

Beware the way of Balaam.  Be a pure-hearted preacher of Christ.  Keep humble before Him that He may keep your heart pure…day after day after day.  We can never be free from all temptation until we leave this earth.

The People of God Should Be As Devout As the Man of God

When we are reading the Bible and come across the phrase “the man of God” we generally associate that phrase with someone upright and godly – someone who is tuned to God’s will and does it.  When it comes to the expression “the people of God,” however, we are not so conditioned.  We are prepared for much more variation in behavior, because the people of God are depicted in the Scriptures as wayward more often than they are depicted as walking righteously.

That historical reality aside, God expects His people to be righteous just as He expects a man of God to be righteous.  For what are the people of God except the aggregation of all the men of God.  (I am, obviously, using the term “man” in its non-gender-specific sense.)

Christ came to purify a people for His own possession (Titus 2:14).  Thus in the kingdom of God, the same holy standard applies to qualifying as “the people of God” as applies to qualifying as “a man of God.”  Therefore, if you aspire to be among the true people of God you must aspire to be a true man of God.

For more, see: How to Be in the One True 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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Serving the Lord Feels Good…Morally Speaking

As the following Scriptures indicate, those who serve the Lord find great blessedness of soul:

Psalm 16:11 You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Romans 2:9 There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek,
Romans 2:10 but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

The Apostles Taught Righteousness; Today’s Pastors Teach Something Else

It is common to find in American churches these days a system of classes offered to newcomers as a way of matriculating them into local church life.  Such classes are often numbered – in the style of college courses – 101, 201, 301, and 401.  Churches also call such classes, in a baseball metaphor, “rounding the bases.”  The classes usually teach the distinctives of that local church, opportunities for volunteering, assessments for gifting and service, and so on.  For example, here’s how the classes are titled at Saddleback Valley Community Church in southern California – considered the originator of this particular format:

  • Class 101 – Introduction to Our Church Family
  • Class 201 – Introduction to Spiritual Maturity
  • Class 301 – Discovering My Shape for Ministry
  • Class 401 – Discovering My Life Mission

In this way, a church seeks to transform church visitors into productive church members.

Contrast this approach with the teaching of the apostles found in the New Testament.  The difference is stark.  The apostles taught people to turn from sin and to become godly.  As for specific examples, look at these passages:

  • Ephesians 5:22 – 6:9
  • Colossians 3:18 – 4:1
  • 1 Peter 2:11 – 3:16

In other words, the apostles taught morality.  Their focus was to teach ungodly people to be godly.  Most of all, they taught Christ, who was the guide for all righteous behavior.

Today’s American churches are more interested in turning a visitor into a member than they are in turning a sinner into a saint.  It’s just one more reason to recognize the superiority of the kingdom of God over church.  In this regard, see:

If you attend a church, ask yourself: Are the people here becoming more godly?  Am I becoming more godly among them?  How much progress can I measure?

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Genesis 3:21 – We Are Clothed with Christ

Genesis 3:21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.

As God clothed Adam and Eve after their sin, so He clothed all of us with Christ to cover our shame (Galatians 3:27).

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Note to Parents on the Great Divide

There are a number of recognizable, and almost universally acknowledged, milestones in the human journey from conception to adulthood.  Among them are birth, the first tooth, the first steps, the first words, learning to ride a bike, going to school, teenage, driver’s license, age 18, high school, and age 21 – to name some of the more obvious ones.

When trying to identify the most significant milestone among all of these, most people will settle on age 18 (at which time you can vote and make your own legal decisions about cigarettes, alcohol, and other things) or age 21 (the age often considered full adulthood).  Some people would choose high school graduation (which roughly corresponds to age 18) or college graduation (which roughly corresponds to age 21) as that most significant milestone – the dividing line between the time when your parents are responsible for you and the time thereafter when you are responsible for yourself.

In our day, people seem to be graduating from college later and later – often well past age 22.  Also, they are getting married later and later.  Because of this, even the age of 30 has come to be considered something of a milestone in terms of full transition to adulthood – especially if accompanied by marriage or having children.  Young people – especially males – are said to mature later, contributing to this timeline extension.

Identifying the most important milestone in the process of human maturation is particularly important for Christian parents because they have a goal, and achievement of that goal is marked by milestones.  That goal, of course, is that the child love and serve the Lord.  Therefore, knowing the milestones, and especially the most important milestone helps you pace yourself – helps you manage your efforts as a parent.  The milestone become closely associated with the goal toward which you’re shooting, because you know after that time – that is, once adulthood occurs – your job must largely have been completed.  This is therefore the point which divides all parental time where that child is concerned.  Before this point, you are responsible for the child; after this point, the child is responsible for himself or herself.  This point – wherever you place it – is, therefore, “the great divide.”

It is normal for parents to think of the great divide in the child’s life as the transition from childhood (or teenage) to adulthood.  As we’ve said above, this divide is considered by most people to occur sometime around the age of 20, give or take a few years.  Therefore, most parents think, “I’ll raise my child toward adulthood and then let go; I’ll still have some parental responsibility once adulthood is achieved, but not nearly as much.”  There’s nothing wrong with this way of thinking…except that it misses the great divide by about 7 years.  In fact, it places the great divide about 7 years after it has already occurred.

The great divide in human maturation is age 13 – give or take a year or two.  Though I’m using age 13 as the reference point, I’m not meaning the thirteenth birthday per se.  I’m meaning that general time in a person’s life.  And I’m not even meaning puberty, though certainly that is an important part of the great divide.  What I’m primarily meaning by saying that the great divide occurs around age 13 is that before this time children are more affected by what their parents think than by what the children’s peers think.  After the great divide, children (i.e., adolescents, teenagers) care more about what their peers think than what their parents think.  You only have to think about this for a minute to realize that there could be no point in a child’s life more signficant for a parent to notice than this one.

Let me state it again for emphasis:  this great divide is the most important milestone a parent will see in a child’s life.  This is the age you must remember – more than 18, more than 21, more than any other age.  Some people call this time the onset of peer pressure, and indeed it is.  It is the onset of puberty and peer pressure that are driving this change in the parents’ status for the child.  It is not that the child chooses to distance himself from his parents; rather, it is the natural progression of growth.  Parents who don’t allow for it, or resent it, will only make life after the great divide that much harder.

Gradualness is an intrinsic aspect of growth, so it’s not like a switch is thrown one day.  It’s not as if not as if peer pressure doesn’t matter one day and the next day it does.  Nevertheless, even though you may not be able to pinpoint the specific instant in which your child begins fearing his peers more than he fears you, this transition will occur – just as surely as night transitions to day, and summer transitions to autumn.

This fear – whether of you as parent or others as peers – is the fear of man.  And it is a fear with which we are all born.  That is, we’re born with the fear of man.  Everyone is bigger than we are.  We can’t help but be intimidated.  We will eventually become as big as everyone else, but along the way the fear just takes different forms.  As a result, fully-grown human beings can be driven in every aspect of their lives by the fear of man.

To become a disciple of the kingdom of God is to begin to fear God more than man.  When you became a follower of Jesus, you did so by exchanging your fear of man for a fear of God.  Of course, it is possible in your Christian walk to stumble and to fall back into the fear of man.  Sadly, many Christians today are as motivated by the fear of man as a non-Christians.  Nonetheless, I’m going to speak to you as someone who, if he fallen, has returned to his first love (Revelation 2:4).

Here’s the importance of knowing about, and paying attention to the great divide:  your goal as a Christian parent is to transition your children from a fear of you to a fear of God before the great divide occurs – that is, before they transition from a fear of you to a fear of peers.  I’m not saying that there’s no hope of transitioning your children from their fear of man to the fear of God after the great divide – I’m just saying that the job will be much harder and much different.  This is primarily because your influence over the child’s life will be diluted by the presence of peer pressure.

Since transitions in life are gradual, you do not want to wait until age 13 is just around the corner before you try to effect the transition from fear of man to fear of God.  You want to have accomplished your goal well before that.  You want a “buffer” period of time during which you can continue to reinforce the transition before the great divide actually occurs.  This buffer period will also be a “margin of safety” for you – giving you time to make up for lost time if you’ve stumbled along the way and gotten delayed in putting Jesus on the pedestal you’ve been occupying in your child’s heart.

If your children have already passed the great divide, you can still win them to kingdom of God when they stray, but your approach will have to be much different.  The old methods won’t work.  You can no longer demand obedience and expect to get it after the great divide.  Peer pressure after the great divide works as powerfully as parental pressure before the great divide.

Parents who think that the teenage years are a seven-year interim phase separating childhood from adulthood are seeing the child’s life in three periods. Yet there are really only two: before the great divide and after.  That is, childhood and adulthood.  Again, the two periods of a person’s life to be considered when it comes to parenting are 1) the period of time when you are the primary influence (that is, the first dozen or so years), and 2) the period of time when you are no longer the child’s primary influence (which is the rest of his life).

Am I saying teenagers are adults?  Yes, I am.  Immature adults, to be sure.  They still need nurturing, they still need guiding.  They can still revert to childish behavior at times.  But they must be guided as budding adults, not as non-adults.  They must be guided as you would guide a younger adult friend, not as you would guide a child.  There is no middle stage called “teenager.”  That’s just a reference to how many years they’ve lived.  Nature has made them adults and they are struggling to get the hang of it.  The least helpful thing we can do is act as if they haven’t been through something incredibly profound.  Aside from physical changes, the most notable aspect of this transition is that their fears of other human beings have come alive in all sorts of forms – some of which they, or you, may not even be recognize as fears.  Our job as parents is to help them negotiate this frightening and existing new world into which they’ve been thrust – and to do so as advisors and not as authoritarians.  For they’ve come to see that, unlike the past, our parental authority is not going to go very far in this world they now have to navigate.  They are going to have to go where we cannot help them.  (That’s why the presence of Jesus as Lord in their hearts is so critical.)

Once again: there is no middle stage of life between childhood and adulthood we can call “teenagerhood.”  Oh, we can call it that if we want to, but we’re just misrepresenting reality.  There is only childhood and adulthood, and those in their teenage years are living on the adult side of that dividing line.  They will need time and our help to get to the stage where they can be fully responsible for themselves, but let us not treat them as less than they have become.  Nothing is going to happen to them at 18, 21, or any other age that will match in magnitude what happened to them at 13.

Now if your children make the transition from the fear of man to the fear of God before the great divide, your parental job will be easier (note that I didn’t say “easy”) through the teenage years.  This is because their fear of God will cause them to respect your opinions much more than they would otherwise.  If, however, they pass the great divide still in the fear of man, they will begin to regard peer opinions more important than yours and you will have to work much harder to convince them of anything.  And by working harder, I don’t mean yelling more or even demanding more.  After the great divide, such methods become counter productive.  The human heart is very complex, and these teenagers (that is, young adults) will develop personal strategies of all sorts to cope with you and keep you at bay while they are simultaneously negotiating in their hearts all the fears they have about interacting with their friends the next day.  They won’t even be able to comprehend all the complexity going on in their hearts.  These deep machinations of the human heart can lead to all sorts of predictable – and unpredictable – behavioral issues.

So, whether your children are before or after the great divide, you still want to insure that they are walking with the King…just as you are.  Therefore, what’s most important – both before and after the great divide – is that you yourself are walking with the One with whom you want your children to walk.  If it’s “do as I say, not as I do” then all bets are off.  None of what I’m saying will help you.  But, as I said above, I’m going to continue speaking to you as to someone who knows the greatest joy of life is to love the Lord Jesus Christ and you want to share that joy with your children.  You want them to embrace Him freely, just as you have embraced Him freely.

My wife and I have raised four children and the youngest is almost 30.  I have noticed many milestones in their lives, and I have noticed much growth, many phases, and change of all kinds.  Yet there is no comparison between the great divide and any other milestone of their lives.  More changed at the great divide than changed at any other milestone they crossed.  When you consider all the changes that a human being experiences in the course of life (all those ones I mentioned at the beginning like “first tooth, first steps,” and so on as well as all those that come later like first job, marriage, first home, first child), it is saying quite a lot to say that “the great divide” is the most significant.  It is the transition from child to adult.  What could be more profound?

Note that I am not saying that the great divide is the most important milestone for the child.  They may not see their lives that way – at least not yet.  Rather, I’m saying that it is the most important milestone in the child’s life for you as parent.  You occupy one place in their lives before it and a different place in their lives after it.  Your place in their lives is central before the great divide…and something other than central afterward.  Seek to have Jesus become central in their lives before you lose your place as central.  That is, give Him your place while you still have it, because it won’t be yours to give after the great divide.

There is, of course, a lot more to effective Christian parenting than just being aware of, and navigating through, the great divide.  However, ignoring this monumental phenomenon is just asking for extra trouble in your parenting responsibilities that you don’t want or need.  Therefore, always be aware of where each child is with respect to the great divide…and adjust your efforts accordingly.

 

The Apostles and Prophets Bear Witness to Each Other

The apostles bear witness to the prophets by declaring, “This is that!” where “this” is the life that Jesus lived and “that” is the set of prophecies about that life, written long before it happened.

The prophets bear witness to the apostles by providing documentation for what the apostles saw.  The apostles had no need to produce a set of scriptures to support their message about a resurrected Messiah because such a set was already in place.

Stated another way, the New Testament bears witness to the Old Testament and the Old Testament bears witness to the New Testament.

The apostles and prophets had no opportunity to collude because they were separated by centuries.  Therefore, they are not merely scratching each others’ backs.  Truly, their testimonies of each other are independent…and, therefore, all the more credible.

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Psalm 110:2 – His Strong Scepter

Psalm 110:2 The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying,
“Rule in the midst of Your enemies.”

In this verse “the Lord” is to us, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ.  The “strong scepter” that He stretches forth is the life He lived.  He rules in the midst of His enemies by having us imitate Him in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Philippians 2:14-15).

His strong scepter is not “crooked” – it is straight (Acts 13:10).

See also:  Christ’s Life Replaces the Law – That Life Is the Scepter, Rod, Staff, and Measuring Rod.

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Revising the Name and Purpose of This Blog

I’m revising the name of this blog from “A Bible Reader’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom” to “Leadership in the Kingdom of God.”  In some ways, this is a return to the original purpose of the blog, which was a focus on Christian leaders.  (Some of the blog’s history is given here; you can also see “Christian Leaders” is in the blog URL, which has always remained the same, even when the blog name changed.)

This change will not mean dramatic change in the content, especially in the beginning.  That’s because I have a backlog of posts written which will continue to be published on schedule.  Even when I start writing new posts, they will still be directed to people familiar with the Bible.  I will just start having a sharper focus on leadership.

My focus on leadership will mean helping Christian leaders – such as pastors, elders, and bishops – understand how they can serve the people of God without having authority over them, and without trying to build an institution out of them.  I know this transitional path because I used to be a pastor, with authority over a parishioners and the goal to build a church for God.  I learned that God does not want or need us to do that.  He Himself builds…and it’s His church that He’s building.  Leadership is the kingdom of God is about being a servant.  And isn’t this just what Jesus told us in the beginning?  (See Matthew 18:4.)

I also want to address, at least to some degree, Christian parenting – precisely because it is a manifestation of Christian leadership.  Parents lead their children to the kingdom of God and disciple them in it.

The reason for my refocusing of this blog lies in the change I recently made to another of my blogs.  Because Bible Study Notes for the Kingdom of God exists, I can narrow the focus of this blog.  I had been trying to address both people who were familiar with the Bible as well as people who wanted to become familiar with it.  Now the “Bible Study” blog can help those who want to become familiar with the Bible, and this blog can focus on those who’ve achieved familiarity with it.  A specific focus for each blog should help the writing be more focused…which should, of course, benefit readers.

My purpose for this blog – and for all my blogs, podcasts, and other output – remains the same as it has been from the beginning: to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.  May you find in Him all that is important.

Three Things Immediately Become Clear When You Read the New Testament

If you were to sit down and give some extended and concentrated reading time to the New Testament – with fresh eyes free from doctrinal bias – at least three things would become clear from that reading.  All three of those things are contrary to most current Christian teaching.  They are:

  1. The expectation of the Second Coming of Christ in that generation is virtually pulsating from every page.
  2. There is no teaching of the trinity concept to be found.  No “God in three persons” language.
  3. Right living is championed and churchgoing (as it is practiced today) is not taught.

Regarding the first, please read Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again.

Regarding the second, please read There Is No Trinity; There Is Christ.

Regarding the third, please read Seeking the Kingdom of God Instead of Church and How to Be in the One True 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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

When You Read the Bible, Look for Principles and Not Practices

When you are studying the Bible, search for principles – not practices.

That is, look for the spirit that motivated or animated certain actions – and not the actions themselves.

For example, Jesus drew great strength from the life of his forefather King David.  Yet Jesus did not use a slingshot to advance his cause.

You likewise search for the inspiration that biblical characters give without placing undue emphasis on their outward actions. Consider the 11th chapter of the book of Hebrews.  It describes all sorts of things done by various Hebrew heroes and heroines.  Yet the chapter’s clear point is that faith is the common thread…and it is faith that is to be imitated.

As it says in the final chapter of that epistle:

Hebrews 13:7 Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

Note that the exhortation does not say to imitate their conduct, but rather their faith.

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

The Scriptures Are What They Are

The Scriptures are what they are.  They are not going to change.

Antiquity has bequeathed them to us.  We cannot go back and change them.  They are what they are.  They say what they say.

Psalm 119:89 says, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.”  It appears to be settled on earth as well.

That settledness is a source of great strength for us.  Great strength!

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

There Were No Scriptures Until There Was a Nation Capable of Safeguarding Them

There were no Scriptures for Israel until there was a nation capable of safeguarding them.

The Law of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) was the foundation of all the scriptures of the prophets that came after.  Coming out of Egypt, Israel could field an army of 600,000 strong.  The strength of the nation insured that the sacred writings could be protected over time.

As for important events that took place before Moses, they were passed on orally and Moses committed them to writing in the book of Genesis.

Israel protected the Scriptures the way that any nation protected its national documents.  This insured that the Scriptures could be preserved and handed down to all subsequent generations.  By New Testament times, copies of the Scriptures were dispersed throughout the world to the same degree that Jews were dispersed throughout the world.  Though the originals were probably all lost by this time, the sheer number and geographic dispersion of the copies insured that what the original documents said would always be known.  Even today, the scholastic field of textual criticism works to keep fine-tuning our understanding of the exact contents of the original manuscripts.

Oh, the wisdom and understanding of God!  He has so worked that from ancient times until now, we have access to a written edition of the most important things He has ever said.

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Double-mindedness Supports Trinitarianism

God takes a dim view of our being double-minded.  See Psalm 119:113; James 1:8 and 4:8.

Double-mindedness is obviously a confused state of thinking.  It results from an unwillingness to take a stand.  There’s a classic case of it revealed in Matthew 21:23-27 when the Pharisees refuse to take a stand on whether or not John the Baptist was sent from God.

The Pharisees wanted to have it both ways.  They wanted to be able to affirm John the Baptist before the crowds who revered him, while they simultaneously condemned him in private for giving his approval to Jesus.

That sort of contradictory thinking would allow a person to tolerate and even promote a concept like the Trinity – which is obviously a self-contradictory concept.  If you’re used to being double-minded, however, contradiction doesn’t seem to be much of a problem.

I’m not suggesting that the Pharisees came up with the idea of God being a trinity – just that their way of thinking did.

By contrast, God desires that we be single-mindedly devoted to Christ.  See 2 Corinthians 11:3 and 2 John 1:9.

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.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)