The Problem with Red-Letter Christians

The problem with those who call themselves “Red-Letter Christians” is not that they give insufficient heed to the black letters of the Bible, but that they give insufficient heed to the red ones.

Their agenda sounds more like it comes from the Democratic Party’s platform than it does from the words of Jesus.

The Leaven of the Pharisees

Recall these scriptures:

…Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees…
–  Matthew 16:5-12

A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.
–  Galatians 5:9

You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
–  Deuteronomy 4:2

…you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.
–  Matthew 15:6

‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’
–  Mark 7:7 (quoting Isaiah 29:13)

Note in the following exchange (which originated here) how the commenter’s view invalidates the word of God by the assertion of man-made additions to the word of God:

Yes, mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13), but the Lord will still decide who He blesses with eternal life and who doesn’t find a place of repentance.

Eternal life and places of repentance are on offer here and now.

Yes, His favour outlasts His anger (Psalm 30:5), but there is coming a day of wrath.

As with eternal life and repentance, so the day of wrath is upon us here and now.

Shall not those who are not called sons be called sons? (Hosea 1:10)  Yes, those who are not called sons will be called sons. This is because of Our Lord’s perfect, atoning sacrifice, but if people are unwilling to allow Our Heavenly Father to draw them to His Beloved, sinless Son it will not happen.

To believe this we’d have to believe that the will of the creature is stronger than the will of the Creator.  God is not impotent.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ demonstrates in the most dramatic and profound fashion that even when it appears that God is thwarted, He is not.

*****

James 2:13, Psalm 30:5, and Hosea 1:10 all speak clearly.  It’s only Christian traditions – accretions to Scripture –  that cause people to say otherwise.  We need to scrape away the barnacles that have attached themselves over the centuries to the hull of the Scriptures of God’s prophets and apostles.  The word of God is pure (Psalm 12:6); let us add nothing to it, lest we be like the Pharisees who leavened the loaf with “yes, but’s…”

BSO: Witnesses Against Worry

(“BSO” stands for Bible study outline.  For an explanation of what I mean by that, see here.)

Consider these four New Testament voices (of course, the second, third, and fourth are all echoes of the first) and how firm and united are these voices against any quantity of worry, anxiety, or fear.

Jesus:  John 14:27  (“…Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”)

Paul:  Philippians 4:6  (“Be anxious for nothing…”)

Peter:  1 Peter 5:7  (“casting all your anxiety on Him…”)

John:  1 John 4:18  (“There is no fear in love…”)

 

BSO: Understanding the will of God by its alternative

(“BSO” stands for Bible study outline.  For an explanation of what I mean by that, see here.)

We are helped in discerning the will of God by recognizing that it is often not what we personally would desire to do.  Ponder these references and what they have to do with each other.

Matthew 16:23

Matthew 26:39

1 Peter 4:2

1 John 2:17

See also 1 Peter 1:14-16

BSO: Authoritative Teaching from Jesus

(“BSO” stands for Bible study outline.  For an explanation of what I mean by that, see here.)

Do you recognize the same two ideas present in each of these five verses?

Matthew 7:29

Mark 6:34

John 13:13

Acts 13:12

2 John 1:9

In each verse there is a reference 1) to Jesus’ teaching and 2) to His authority (e.g. “Lord” and “shepherd”).  Thus Jesus relates to us as an authoritative teacher.  Or we could say that He exercises His lordship through His teaching.

Look for themes when you read the Bible and let a verse here be commentary on a verse there.

BSO: What sort of people hear Jesus?

(“BSO” stands for Bible study outline.  For an explanation of what I mean by that, see here.)

Both of these statements were made by Jesus.  Think about what they together say about those who hear His voice.

John 10:27  –  “My sheep hear My voice…”

John 18:37  –  “…Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

The best way to be “of the truth” is to be honest before God.

BSO: From Flesh to Spirit, From Outward to Inward, From Ethnicity to Spirituality

(“BSO” stands for Bible study outline.  For an explanation of what I mean by that, see here.)

Consider these four passages.  The first three are teachings from Jesus; the fourth is from Paul.  Note that even though the various passages use different terms, they are talking about the same central idea.  See if you can identify what that idea is.

Matthew 21:43

Luke 8:19-21

Luke 11:27-28

Romans 2:25-29

The Body of Christ Versus the Body of Christendom

Do not think that the body of Christ is the same thing as the number of people participating in organized Christianity.

Do not think that the body of Christ is the same thing as the number of people who identify as Christians.

The true body of Christ are those who are currently connected to the head – Jesus Christ.

Do not preach so that people will connect with you, your church, or your ministry.  Preach so that they will connect with Jesus.

The body of Christ in the earth today is much smaller than Christendom.  Much smaller.  Christendom is ruled by men.  The kingdom of God is ruled by Christ.

Preach Christ.

We don’t need Christendom to grow.  We need the kingdom of God – the body of Christ – to grow.

Preach Christ.

Christians don’t need a relationship with more Christians or different Christians.  They need a relationship with Christ and they need that relationship to be growing.

Preach Christ.

BSO: Meditation Times

(“BSO” stands for Bible study outline.  For an explanation of what I mean by that, see here.)

During which times of the day should we meditate on the law of the Lord?  (The “law of the Lord” is, course, love – first for God and then for each other.)

Psalm 119:97

Psalm 119:148

Psalm 1:2  –  Given the answers we found in the two verses above, this answer is to be expected.

BSO: Definitions and Paraphrases for Love

(“BSO” stands for Bible study outline.  For an explanation of what I mean by that, see here.)

Consider these verses as definitions or paraphrases for the verb “to love.”

John 15:13

Romans 13:10

1 Corinthians 10:24

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

To what extent do these verses deepen your understanding of what God means when He tells us to love one another?

For an extended study on this subject, see Defining Love which contains these scriptures and more.

BSO: Jesus as the Exclusive Spokesman for God

(“BSO” stands for Bible study outline.  For an explanation of what I mean by that, see here.)

Consider Jesus as the mouth of God.  He is God’s ultimate spokesman.  This is because, of course, God was in Christ…reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

Mark 9:7-8

Matthew 4:4

Matthew 5:1

Deuteronomy 18:15, 18

Hebrews 1:1-2

BSO: Life Among Lions

(“BSO” stands for Bible study outline.  For an explanation of what I mean by that, see  here.)

Read and meditate on each of these passages.  One thing they all have in common is a reference to “lions.”  See what the Spirit of God would teach you what these passages say about how we should live our lives for the Lord today.

1 Peter 5:8  –  This is Peter’s reference to Satan as “a roaring lion.”

2 Kings 17:24-28  –  This episode takes place after Assyria had conquered and exiled the northern Kingdom of Israel (i.e. Samaria).

Daniel 6:1-28  –  This chapter is the story of Daniel in the lions’ den.

Consider also Isaiah 11:6.

Explanation of Bible Study Outlines (BSO)

A post labeled “BSO” is a Bible study outline.  That is, I’m not writing out a post.  Rather, I’m giving you an outline which will enable you to do your own study.

Actually, I’m giving you the raw material from which I would write post, the ingredients from which I would make bread.

If I were to write the post, it would only take you only 2-3 minutes to read it.  Since I’m only giving you the scripture verses it could take you from 10 to 30 minutes.  However, you will gain so much more because the Holy Spirit will be your teacher.

You must keep a quiet heart, which means finding a quiet place.  You should allow more than the time you will need. And make sure your heart is right before God.  Do not study the Bible with unconfessed or secret sins.

Read the scripture verses listed.  Ponder them.  Turn them over and over in your mind.  God will enlighten you.  It’s very simple, and quite profound.

If these occasional BSO’s are not enough for you and you want to go deeper into Bible study, see the category to the right “Word Studies” and, for even more, see one of my other blogs:  Bible Study Notes for the Kingdom of God.

Preacher Preach First to Themselves

Take heed to these verses, preachers, and be sure that you are practicing what you are preaching.  Jesus only preached that which He practiced.

Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.  –  1 Timothy 4:16

you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal?
–  Romans 2:21

For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.
–  Ezra 7:10

He who teaches before he practices short-circuits the three-step process that Ezra demonstrated.

Preachers Should Preach Jesus

When Jesus is preached, life springs forth from those who hear.  I have seen it happen over and over.

I am talking about proclaimingthe profound simplicity of Jesus Himself – crucified and risen – King of the Universe and Lover of Souls!

Preachers today preach about many things.  Few preach Jesus.  This is why there is so little life in the people.

 

You Are a Billboard for the Gospel of the Kingdom of God

You are a walking, talking advertisement for God’s rule in a human life.

Are you an attractive billboard for His message, or a blighted one?

Your manner of life is already sending a message about your relationship with God before the first words ever come out of your mouth.  Take heed to the billboard that you are.

Use Your Mouth…Wisely

Those who would be Christian leaders must first seek to be mature Christians.  Christian maturity is achieved only when the tongue is under control.  This is what the third chapter of the letter of James is all about.

If you cannot control your mouth, you have work to do.  Let James set you straight.

You who watch over the souls of others, watch over your own!

What the verses below have in common is the idea that he who would be a minister of the word must be sure to minister that word to himself as well as to others.

If you are a preacher, be sure that you apply to your own soul the same preaching that you hope your listeners will apply to their souls.

If you are a parent, be sure that you are applying to your own life the spiritual lessons you are teaching to your children.

Galatians 6:1

Matthew 7:3-5

1 Timothy 4:16

Philippians 1:7

1 Corinthians 9:23

Ezra 7:10

The Man of God Speaks the Words of God

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
–  1 Peter 4:10-11

Note, Christian leader, that it is not your utterances that are the “special gift.”  Rather, it is the utterances of God.  You are but a steward of those utterances.  Be a faithful steward of His “special gifts.”

The saints of God need the utterances of God – that is, His word.  They cannot survive without it.  Be sure to give them His words when they are spiritual infants.  Once they’ve grown, they can feed themselves.  But for now, you must feed them lest they starve.

Do not let this be said about you:

The little ones ask for bread,
But no one breaks it for them.
–  Lamentations 4:4

Those who claim to speak in the name of the Lord must always be sure to speak His words and not their own.

The Spiritual Growth of the Apostle John

John the son of Zebedee gives us a vivid picture of the spiritual growth the Lord wants to work in us.

In the Gospel of John, he presents himself, along with his fellow disciples, as fleshly in orientation.  This was early in Jesus’ ministry.  For example, Jesus would say to them something like “I have food to eat that you do not know about,” and they would say to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” (John 4:32-33).  Jesus was speaking spiritually, but they were still quite fleshly.

In another example (Matthew 16:5-12), Jesus speaks to John and the others about leaven.  They think He’s talking about physical leaven, but He’s actually speaking about spiritual leaven.

Note then the great contrast when you get to the book of Revelation, also written by John.  That book is so spiritual, and we are so fleshly, that it sounds like gobbledygook to most of us.  Yet the same John wrote it that had such a hard time understanding Jesus in the beginning.  John had grown.  He had matured from a fleshly orientation to a spiritual orientation.

We must go through the sort of change that John did – especially if we are to speak the word of God to others.  Remember 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 and let not its admonition apply to you.  Remember also Hebrews 5:12-14.  If you are to teach others the way of Christ, be mature.  To be mature means to be spiritual and not fleshly.  The apostle John provides a clear example to follow.

A People for His Own Possession

…Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession…
–  Titus 2:13-14

If He’s purifying for Himself “a people for His own possession” why do popes and pastors claim these same people for their own possession?  It’s not right.

Hear the word of the Lord, O pastor:

…”Let My people go…”
–  Exodus 5:1

Why should you let the people go?  Because they are His people, not yours.  And so that…

…”…they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness.”
–  Exodus 5:1

How will the people celebrate a feast to Him in the wilderness?  According to Romans 12:1, they will offer their lives a living and holy sacrifice to the Lord in every place they go.

The Lord wants to possess His people – He does not want us to possess them.  He wants us to point the people to Him…that He may possess them.

The Older Shall Serve the Younger

…the older shall serve the younger.
–  Genesis 25:23

Christian leadership operates on a principle at odds with worldly leadership.  In the world, the older has authority over the younger, but in the kingdom of God the older serves the younger.

Notice how God sets the example.  He Himself is older than everyone, yet He serves everyone.  When the world had gone completely astray, He committed Himself to coming to earth as one of us to set an example.  From the ignominious death He suffered in the fulfillment of that commitment, He was raised back to His place of majesty.

Likewise, you and I are to humble ourselves on earth that we might be exalted in heaven.  If therefore you aspire to Christian leadership, know that you are aspiring to be a servant – not a ruler.  It’s not about how many Christians you can be over, it’s about how many you can serve.

As Jesus taught:

“But do not be called Rabbi;
for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.
Do not call anyone on earth your father;
for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.
Do not be called leaders;
for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.”
–  Matthew 23:8-10

If we are all brothers, then those of us who are older (i.e. who have been walking with the Lord longer) should set out to serve our younger brethren – not lord it over them.

Consider also how Jesus responded when His disciples pestered Him about who was “the greatest” (i.e. who would be in charge when He wasn’t around?):

And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.  And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’  But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.  For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”
–  Luke 22:24-27

Survey the institutional church today and see that leaders do not “become like the youngest” or “like the servant.”  Rather, they have authority over their flocks.  And indeed the flocks are theirs and not the Lord’s.   This is the case whether it’s a mega-church of thousands or a small church of less than a hundred.

It’s not about hoarding the sheep; it’s about feeding the sheep.

True Christian Leaders Rebuke Unrighteousness; They Do Not Kowtow to It

Pope Francis yesterday make the first remarks of his visit to the United States.  Read the text of what he said at the White House and see if his remarks (a 3-minute read; 614 words below) seem appropriate for a spokesman of Christ to a man who has been outspoken in his support for abortion and homosexuality.

Mr. President,

I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of all Americans. As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families. I look forward to these days of encounter and dialogue, in which I hope to listen to, and share, many of the hopes and dreams of the American people.

During my visit I will have the honor of addressing Congress, where I hope, as a brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation’s political future in fidelity to its founding principles. I will also travel to Philadelphia for the Eighth World Meeting of Families, to celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and the family at this, a critical moment in the history of our civilization.
Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of good will, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty. That freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.

Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our “common home”, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about “a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change” (Laudato Si’, 13). Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it.

We know by faith that “the Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home” (Laudato Si’, 13). As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home.

The efforts which were recently made to mend broken relationships and to open new doors to cooperation within our human family represent positive steps along the path of reconciliation, justice and freedom. I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development, so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children.

Mr President, once again I thank you for your welcome, and I look forward to these days in your country. God bless America!

When the “vicar of Christ” chose to speak in favor of the president’s pet issue while being silent on his Lord’s issues, he demonstrated his corruption.  Christ’s spokesmen speak truth to power – not flattery.

The pope’s capitulation to the spirit of the age, and to a man who speaks for it, was complete.  If you would be a leader for Christ, do not be like this.

Source of the pope’s remarks:  Time.com

The False Doctrine of Hell and the True Doctrine That Everyone Goes to Heaven

If you set aside two thousand years of church history and go back to the Scriptures on which that two-thousand-year-old church bases its authority – that is, the Old and New Testaments – you will see that everyone is going to heaven.

The way to see this is to start with the Old Testament. It is clear that the Old Testament teaching was that everyone who died descended to Sheol (Hades). Everyone. There was a hope of resurrection, but nothing more. Then the New Testament, in the story of Christ, explained how resurrection was going to work. The big surprise – even for believing Jews – was that resurrection led to heaven. They had been assuming that it led back to earth. Jesus shocked them with this revelation.

Once it was clear that resurrection led to heaven, the only thing left to ask was “Who would be raised?” The New Testament answer was clear: the dead.

Since everyone died and the dead would be raised and resurrection led to heaven, then it’s clear that everyone goes to heaven. Of course, there’s much more biblical corroboration of this but I’ve laid out the essential logic.

What people call hell (Jesus called it Gehenna) is the judgment for sin that consumes the earth. It is thus on this earth and in this life. It is not something that happens elsewhere after this life.  Hell is a real thing and it is an awful thing, but it is something the Lord gives us the means to escape.  And right relationship with Him is the means of escape.

The heaven-or-hell afterlife scenario under which the post-NT church has erroneously labored for almost two thousand years is a theological perversion of Scriptural truth. And the longer that error holds sway, the more frightened people are to challenge it. The way to challenge it is not with intellect or emotion, but with the Scriptures.

To God be the glory!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

John 2:5

John 2:3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus *said to Him, “They have no wine.”
John 2:4 And Jesus *said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.”
John 2:5 His mother *said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

Jesus did not speak in the way that most folks spoke.  Mary knew this.  Therefore, when she presented the problem to Him, she told the servants to do whatever He said.  She knew He might say something that struck them as unusual, but she also knew that, if they heeded Him, the problem would be solved.  She could only have known this by experience.

We, too, can have the experience of doing the things that Jesus says and seeing the results take shape in our hearts and lives.

Jesus did not come to give you wonderful circumstances.  He came to give you peace and joy in every circumstance.  This is the way of God, and we are privileged to be able to walk in it.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

John 7:46

John 7:46 The officers answered, “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.”

How profoundly true are these words!  It was true then.  And it’s true today.

Look for a human being whose rhetoric matches that of Jesus.  No one comes close!

Therefore, when you pray, don’t expect Him to speak the way you do, or the way that anyone else does.  But whatever He says to you, do it! (John 2:5; Luke 6:46)

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The book of Acts describes a process of finding those who were His

God knew those Jews and God-fearing Gentiles who truly loved Him and lived for Him.  When the apostles went from city to city, preaching the good news of Jesus the Messiah and the kingdom of God, those Jews and Gentiles who heard and believed were those who had been sincerely seeking God before the apostles arrived.

The gospel was not so much changing people’s’ minds about God as it was revealing people’s minds about God.  Those who had a heart for God were accepting the gospel, and those whose hearts were hardened toward God were rejecting that same gospel.

Lots of religious people were rejecting the gospel.  That’s because their hearts were hard before they ever heard the gospel.

Thus the book of Acts shows how God picked the ripe fruit and discarded the rotten fruit.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Why do people who accept Jesus Christ descend to lesser themes in the Bible?

Jesus Christ is the main point of the Bible.  This wasn’t made clear to the Jews, of course, until He came.  Yet once He did come, and demonstrate that everything about the Scriptures was intended to bear ultimate witness to Him, why do those who follow Him seek to use the Bible for other purposes?

For example, why study the history of the Old Testament if it doesn’t enrich your understanding of Christ?  Why try rummage through the Law of Moses to look for laws to obey if you can’t understand them according to Christ’s interpretation of them?  Why study biblical prophesy if you’re not going to relate it directly to the One to whom all prophecy points?

The Bible is about Jesus Christ.  Period.  Let us never study it except in the light of Him.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Jesus in Psalm 100:2

Psalm 100:2 Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.

Who is this Lord we serve with gladness?  Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, son of David, Messiah of Israel.

He is the One we come before with joyful singing.

Let us imbibe the words from this psalm with Jesus fully in mind.

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 in Isaiah 45:22

Isaiah 45:22 “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth;
For I am God, and there is no other.

Is Jesus not the one to whom we should turn?  Yes; see Hebrews 12:2.  Is He not available to us from any place on earth we happen to be?  Yes; see Romans 10:12.

He is God, and there is no other.

To whom else can we turn?  (Psalm 73:25).

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Jesus in Isaiah 60:1

Isaiah 60:1 “Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

Who is the light but Jesus?  He is the light of the world!

And when has the glory of the Lord risen upon us but when He rose from the dead!  And His resurrection is eternal, for He is never to die again.

Let us therefore glory in Him who has risen for our good and who shines forever as our light!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

1 Peter 3:21 Shows the Necessity of Christ for the Redemption of Conscience

…an appeal to God for a good conscience – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  –  1 Peter 3:21

Only in Christ can the human conscience be redeemed.  For only in Christ is the true nature of God fully revealed.

Christ suffered crucifixion…and was raised to eternal glory.  Love conquers all things.

Why didn’t God just tell humanity to walk according to conscience and not go through with Messiah and His cross?  Because only through Messiah and His cross could the human conscience be properly calibrated to God.  Only in Christ can we truly see the love of God.  No words could have explained it to the point that we would understand and accept.  God had to demonstrate His love toward us.  We had to see His love in action in order to believe it.

Let your conscience be redeemed through connection to Jesus Christ our Lord.  Without Him as its standard, conscience can never operate in full godliness.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Jeremiah 45:5 in the Day of the Lord

Jeremiah 45:5 ‘But you, are you seeking great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I am going to bring disaster on all flesh,’ declares the LORD, ‘but I will give your life to you as booty in all the places where you may go.'”

These words that Jeremiah spoke to Baruch on behalf of the Lord are relevant to us today – for we live in the day of the Lord.  The “disaster on all flesh” speaks of the judgment that is upon the earth.  Our “life” speaks to us of the grace the Lord gives us in the midst of this judgment – we who look to Him and live righteously for His sake.

Christ is our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7).  Thus the “disaster on all flesh” passes over us as we enjoy fellowship with the Lamb of God.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Jesus in Haggai 1:12

Haggai 1:12 …And the people showed reverence for the LORD.

These words were fulfilled in Acts through Revelation.  That is, God raised Jesus from the dead and the people of God – the true people of God – showed Him reverence.  That includes Peter and James and John and Mary and Paul and Apollos and many, many others.

The saints of the New Testament showed reverence for the Lord.  And because they did, we have the New Testament, and through it the knowledge of God’s all-encompassing work through Jesus Christ.

Let us walk in the footsteps of the New Testament church by showing reverence for the Lord in our generation!  (A common biblical exhortation to show reverence for the Lord is the expression “Fear the Lord!”)

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Jesus in Haggai 1:13

Haggai 1:13 …”I am with you,” declares the LORD.

Who is saying this but Jesus Christ our Lord?  And when He says “I am with you,” He means it in the most significant and relevant way possible.  That is, He became one of us.  He became a human being and experienced life as we experience it.  Only He lived it without sin.  None of the rest of us can say that.

This is Immanuel: God with us:

Matthew 1:23 “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.”

What the Lord Jesus declares is eternally true.  He is with us.  Always!

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: Matthew 1:23 is referring to Isaiah 7:14; 8:10; 9:6.)

Jesus in Ezekiel 18:32

Ezekiel 18:32 “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord GOD. “Therefore, repent and live.”

Can you hear this cry of Jesus’ heart?  He came to His brethren to warn them of the judgment that was coming upon the nation of Israel.  And indeed in 70 A.D. the Romans utterly destroyed Jerusalem.  Many Jews lost their lives.  Jesus had warned His fellow citizens of this crisis throughout His ministry and even as He was being led to His crucifixion.  Remember:

Luke 23:27 And following Him was a large crowd of the people, and of women who were mourning and lamenting Him.
Luke 23:28 But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.
Luke 23:29 “For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’
Luke 23:30 “Then they will begin TO SAY TO THE MOUNTAINS, ‘FALL ON US,’ AND TO THE HILLS, ‘COVER US.’
Luke 23:31 “For if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Jesus was taking no pleasure in the death of the wicked.  Think about that.  People were wrongfully torturing and killing Him, yet He took no pleasure in the retribution that would come their way.  Instead, He hoped they would repent and be spared.

Let us be like this One.

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: Luke 23:30 is quoting or alluding to Hosea 10:8 and possibly Isaiah 2:19.)

Jesus in Obadiah 1:15

Obadiah 1:15 “For the day of the LORD draws near on all the nations.
As you have done, it will be done to you.
Your dealings will return on your own head.

Jesus is the Lord and this is His day.  And He is judging us according to our ways.

As we do, so it shall be done to us.  Therefore, let us fear Him and turn away from evil.

Proverbs 3:7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Jesus in Zechariah 13:6

Zechariah 13:6 “And one will say to him, ‘What are these wounds between your arms?’ Then he will say, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’

Jesus may have been crucified by Roman authorities, but it was His friends – His own countrymen – who turned Him over to the Romans.  Thus the apostle John says:

John 1:11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.

“Did not receive Him”?  That’s putting it mildly.

He was rejected by the nation that had the most reason to accept Him.  That’s how it will be for all those who walk in His steps.  So, do not be surprised when it happens to you.  And, if it does, love those who oppose you as He loved those who opposed Him.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Zechariah 14:17

Zechariah 14:17 And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them.

Jesus sent His apostles into the world…to the Jews first.  The King was Jesus of Nazareth, He who was crucified with the sign “King of the Jews” hung above His head.  He was made Lord of all (Acts 10:36) – thus He was “Lord of hosts.”

Gifts of the Holy Spirit were poured out like rain (Acts 2:17; Hebrews 6:7-9) on those who came to the Jerusalem above (Galatians 4:26).

Let us rejoice in this King…the One who reigns forever and ever!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Jesus in Malachi 3:3

Malachi 3:3 “He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness.

This is our Jesus…seated in glory.  His eyes are like – well, let me have the apostle say it:

Revelation 1:14 …His eyes were like a flame of fire.

These eyes see into the deepest parts of our soul.  And if we remain mindful of these eyes, they will purge the evil from our hearts, for we only want to think and be motivated by what pleases Him.  Thus will we be purified for Him.  As Paul wrote to Titus:

Titus 2:14 [Christ] gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

Thus is Jesus Christ our Lord the fulfillment of what God promised through the prophet Malachi in Malachi 3:3.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Jesus in Ezekiel 38:1

Ezekiel 38:1 And the word of the LORD came to me saying,

Is Jesus not “the word of the Lord” to us?  See what the apostle John says about Him:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

So, yes, Jesus is “the word” of the Lord to us.  John also said this:

1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

And so we can see that Jesus is “the word of the Lord” come to us.  And that word says:

1 Peter 1:16 …”YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

Therefore, let us heed the word of the Lord…and be holy unto Him.

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: 1 Peter 1:16 is quoting Leviticus 11:44; 19:2; 20:7.)

This Is Not the Day of Church; It is the Day of the Lord

The day of the church was New Testament times.  We can read there the glory of that church that bore glorious witness to her Lord.  The light of that witness shines so bright that it is still enlightening us today – and will be lighting creation for all eternity.  Their witness shall never be silenced.

But they did not live in the day of the Lord.  Read their letters: they looked forward to the day of the Lord and saw themselves as on the eve of it.  That day came as that generation was passing away.  And since it is an eternal day, it burns as brightly for us.

The members of the New Testament church would be the first to tell you; relinquish your grasp of the church that you might fully grasp the Lord.  For this is His day!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The Bible Is a Record of God’s Interaction with His People

The Bible is a collection of ancient writings that record God’s interactions with His people across many generations.  We who live in modern times can learn from it because “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) and “no temptation has overtaken us but such as is common to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Even Jesus’ short life of 33 years was long enough for Him to be “tempted in all things as we are” (Hebrews 4:15).  Therefore, Paul was able to write of Satan, “we are not ignorant of his schemes.”

From the compendium of the Bible we are able to find parallels to the temptations we face in life.  We have no need of a modern text for this purpose; the ancient one will do just fine.  Satan has no new tricks.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Proper Study of the Bible Is Devotional, Not Intellectual

The Bible can be studied intellectually, but that doesn’t mean this is the best way to study it.  If it were, intellectuals who study the Bible would be the people most like Jesus.  However, we know that it’s often humble, and relatively uneducated, people who remind us most of our Lord.

Yes, you should use all of your mind to study the Bible just as you should use all of your soul and body and strength.  But do not think that a mind with educational degrees is able to absorb any more of the life-changing spiritual power in those words than a mind without them.

Make sure your study of the Bible is primarily devotional, and not intellectual, in nature.

And by devotional, I don’t mean reading it and forgetting it.  I mean reading with a view to do.  That is, study the Bible devoted to the purpose of practicing what it teaches you about our Lord.

Intellectual reading of the Bible produces theologians; devotional reading of the Bible produces saints.  God is interested in producing saints, not theologians.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Are We To See a Connection Between the Good Samaritan’s Story and Martha’s?

The story of the Good Samaritan occurs in Luke 10:25-37.  It is immediately followed in Luke 10:38-42 by the story of the sisters Mary and Martha: one of whom sat and listened to Jesus while the other tried to serve Him, being “worried and bothered” in the process.  Can it be that Luke (or, more importantly, the Holy Spirit) wants us to see the similarity between Martha’s “busyness” for the Lord and the hurrying of the priest and Levite right by the wounded traveler?

Might this sort of dynamic also be a reason for James’ admonition in James 4:13-17?  He chides those who do not recognize that even if you believe you are “going to Jericho for the will of God” it can still be the will of God for you to stop along the way to help someone in need.  Even if it makes you a day late and a dollar short.

Read the two passages from Luke 10 mentioned above and see if you see at least a slight similarity between Martha and the priest and the Levite.  Then, be willing to stop anywhere along the way of your life in order to do the will of God.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

How Can God Be Found True If No One Can Be Sure What He Has Said?

Paul wrote:

Romans 3:4 May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar…

Some say that the Bible is subject to interpretation and that therefore it’s pointless to argue about what God has said.  But if we cannot know what God has said, then the idea that He does not lie is useless.

That God testifies through the prophets and apostles that He does not lie is therefore evidence that He does not consider it impossible to be sure about anything He has said.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The Feast of Booths

The first biblical reference to booths is found here:

Genesis 33:17 Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built for himself a house and made booths for his livestock; therefore the place is named Succoth.

Moses expanded this idea into a time of celebration for Israel:

Leviticus 23:34 “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Booths for seven days to the LORD.

Booths were temporary housing which foreshadowed the church of saints first drawn to the resurrected Christ that we see in the New Testament.

It was not God’s intent that Israel live indefinitely in booths.  Neither was it His intent that the New Testament church go on indefinitely.  It was only to house the believing until the kingdom of God came.  And that was to happen, of course, before the generation of Jesus’ contemporaries had all passed away (Matthew 10:23; 16:28; 24:34).  (If you are in doubt, see Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again.)

See also these posts:

The Feast of Temporary Housing

When Christ Was King of Israel and When He Became King of All Nations

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Jesus Was Anointed on Earth, and the Son of God in Heaven

The New Testament confession of Jesus was “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” as voiced famously by the disciple Peter in Matthew 16:16.  This confession was echoed in John 20:31.  These and other such confessions are echoes, of course, of Psalm 2 – quoted most extensively in Acts 4:25-26.

Jesus was certainly seen as anointed by God while on earth.  As Peter said:

Acts 10:38 “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

And Jesus was seen as the Son of God most notably in His resurrection from the dead.  As Paul wrote of Him:

Romans 1:4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead…

Linking the resurrection of Jesus to Psalm 2, Paul says:

Acts 13:32 “And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers,
Acts 13:33 that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘YOU ARE MY SON; TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU.’

Thus Jesus was viewed as anointed like a prophet while on earth (Isaiah 61:1), and crowned as the Son of God in His resurrection (Psalm 110:1).  This is not to say that He could not be seen as the Son of God on earth or as anointed in heaven.  It is to say, however, that He ministered as a prophet on earth and not as a king.  He didn’t begin to reign as king until His elevation to heaven.

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 – e.g. Acts 13:33 above which is quoting Psalm 2:7.)

The Righteous Scepter of the King

The righteous scepter of the King of the kingdom of God – who is, of course, Jesus our Lord – is the life He lived on earth.

A rod is a branch that is cut off from the tree.  And, of course, Jesus was the Branch (Isaiah 4:2 and elsewhere) and He was cut off from the living (Isaiah 53:8).

Jesus lived a perfect life.  He loved everyone – even His enemies.  He turned the other cheek; He walked the extra mile.  To put it succinctly, He practiced what He preached.  That perfect life was cut short (“cut off”).

It is by this life that He measures righteousness.  If you want to be righteous, measure up to that.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

When the Kingdom of God Was Partial

In the post “‘Something Greater Than…’ = ‘When the Perfect Comes…’,” I quoted this verse (among others):

1 Corinthians 13:10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

The kingdom of God was partial in the nation of Israel.  That’s why, when Jesus came, He could make this statement to them on the eve of His crucifixion and resurrection:

Matthew 21:43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.

Thus “the kingdom of God” was partial or provisional in Israel.  Of course, the people to whom it was given are chronicled in the New Testament from the book of Acts onward.

Then, at the coming of the kingdom, prophesied in Matthew 24-25 and throughout the New Testament, the kingdom was taken away from the visible church and given to those within it who were truly sanctified – those found worthy of the fullness of the kingdom.  The New Testament is not able to tell us who they were  by name because it was written by the apostles who were largely martyred before the kingdom came.  This, too, was as Jesus had prophesied.

Thus the partial (ancient Israel and the New Testament church) was done away when the perfect (the kingdom of God) came.

Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The Church Was a Transitional Stage Between Ancient Israel and the Kingdom of God

God used the church (that is, the one that existed in New Testament days) as a bridge between ancient Israel and the kingdom of God.  It was therefore a temporary ordering of things, just as the Feast of Booths had foreshadowed – and just as the time Noah and his family spent on the ark was a temporary ordering of things.

From the beginning, God had been planning to administer a redeemed creation (that is, redeemed from the sin that had marred it) through the kingdom of God.  The New Testament church was the last stage of preparation for that kingdom and therefore did not need to last long.

This explains why today’s churches have to write by-laws for themselves when, by contrast, ancient Israel had theirs provided by God through Moses.

If the church was God’s vehicle for today, there would only be one church instead of the myriad denominations we have.  A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand, and God’s kingdom is certainly not divided against itself.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The Kingdom of God Replaced the Church as the Church Had Replaced Israel

When God does a new thing, the old thing is supplanted.  Thus, once Messiah came, the temple was rendered obsolete for God’s purposes.  This is the way of God.  This is how He works.

Therefore, when the church came into being, the nation of Israel was rendered obsolete for God’s purposes.  And, similarly, when the kingdom of God came, the church was rendered obsolete for God’s purposes.  Granted, the time frame of the church was much shorter than that of the nation Israel.  It was approximately 1,500 years from the time God used Moses to form a bunch of slaves into an independent nation until the time of the church, but only one generation after that before the kingdom of God came.  Nevertheless, the church became obsolete just as the nation of Israel had because the kingdom of God superseded it just as it had superseded Israel.

Nothing will supersede the kingdom of God, however, for we have been clearly told that it is eternal (Isaiah 9:6-7, Daniel 7:13-14, and elsewhere).

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

“Something Greater Than…” = “When the Perfect Comes…”

Jesus used the expression “Something greater than ______ is here” three times in the Gospel of Matthew:

Matthew 12:6 “…something greater than the temple is here.”
Matthew 12:41 “…something greater than Jonah is here.”
Matthew 12:42 “…something greater than Solomon is here.

Paul used an expression with similar meaning:

1 Corinthians 13:10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

This is the way of God: When He does something greater, the lesser becomes obsolete.

As it says in Hebrews:

Hebrew 8:13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete…

Therefore, when God does a new thing, let us not keep clinging to the old thing.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

God Is Faithful – and Even Zealous – to Keep His Promises

Jeremiah 1:11-12 tells us that God says, “I am watching over my word to perform it.”  It not as though God makes a promise and then forgets about it.  Even if it takes thousands of years – which it did for His promises about Messiah to come true – He remembers and keeps His word.

For this reason, Abraham was right to trust God and be “fully assured that what He had promised He was able also to perform” (Romans 4:21), and Sarah was right to consider Him faithful who had promised” (Hebrews 11:11).

God does not make His promises lightly.  We may be a vapor that appears for a while and vanishes away, but God has a reputation to maintain before the host of heaven.  Thus He is not just faithful to keep His promises, but zealous to do so as well.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Daniel 2:44

Daniel 2:44 “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.

“The days” being spoken of here are the days we read about in the New Testament, for it was in those days that the kingdom of God was established to reign eternally.

This prophecy was being given in the days of Daniel, centuries before the kingdom of God would be established.  Thus Daniel was subsequently told that the ultimate meaning of these words would be concealed until “the end time” (Daniel 12:9) – that is, what we call New Testament times.  For in New Testament times, prophecy was no longer under seal (Revelation 22:10).  The end had come.  We therefore live in the new and eternal age which was to come after “the end” to which Daniel was pointed.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Daniel 2:34

Daniel 2:34 “You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them.

Jesus – the Messiah – is “the stone” (Psalm 118:22 and elsewhere).  That it was a stone “cut without hands” is a reference to our Creator.  That is, Messiah was not the work of men; Messiah was the work of God.

Messiah’s kingdom struck down and prevailed over Satan’s kingdom of the world.  Thus the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of God through His Messiah (Revelation 11:15).

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Luke 2:38

Luke 2:38 At that very moment she [i.e. Anna, an 84-year-old woman who prayed regularly in the temple] came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him [i.e. the infant Jesus, who was being presented in the temple by his parents] to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Just as Anna spoke of Jesus to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem, so we should speak of Jesus to all those who are looking for the redemption of the earth – for it is the same Jesus who redeems them both.  First, He redeems Jerusalem, and through Jerusalem, all creation.

Let us never stop speaking of Him…even if people are dull of hearing (Hebrews 5:11).

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Luke 2:32

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

Even in infancy, Jesus was called “a light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of God’s people Israel.”  Truly, this was the light of the world in the early stages of His human life.  He was the most glorious Israelite who ever lived, and He became the brightest light to the Gentiles that the Jewish people had ever given.

This infant grew up to reveal to the world what God was like, and simultaneously to reveal to humans how they should live if they wanted to please their Creator.

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.  Luke 2:32 is quoting Isaiah 42:6; 49:6.)

Genesis 35:13

Genesis 35:13 Then God went up from him in the place where He had spoken with him.

As God went up from Jacob in the place where He had spoken to him, so Jesus went up from Jacob’s descendants from the place (Jerusalem) where He had spoken to them.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Genesis 25:5

Genesis 25:5 Now Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac;

As Abraham gave all that he had to his only begotten son Isaac, so God the Father gave all that He had to His only begotten Son.

Therefore, let us honor the Son with the Father’s glory.  That is, let us honor the Son as we would honor the Father (John 5:22-23).

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Genesis 24:58

Genesis 24:58 Then they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.”

What a vulnerable, poignant…and powerful moment!  As Rebekah was willing to “leave and cleave” so we who love Jesus have embraced Him for a whole new way of life.  We are leaving behind the futile way of life inherited from our earthly families (1 Peter 1:18) to embrace the altogether spiritual life that He offers us.

Let us go to him with the hope and the willingness and the vulnerability with which Rebekah went to Isaac.  Jesus will not disappoint us.  On the contrary, He will be “even more than we could ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Genesis 24:36

Genesis 24:36 “Now Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master in her old age, and he has given him all that he has.

As Sarah bore Isaac to Abraham in her old age, so ancient Israel bore Jesus of Nazareth to God in her old age.  And as Abraham gave Isaac all that he had, so God the Father gave Jesus all that He had.  As it is written:

Matthew 11:27 “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father…

The Son is indeed “heir of all things” (Hebrews 1:1-2).  Let us therefore worship and serve Him with all of our hearts!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Exodus 4:16

Exodus 4:16 “Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him.

In this verse, God is telling Moses to use his brother Aaron as a spokesman.  God is using the following analogy:  As God uses a prophet to speak for God, so Moses should use Aaron to speak for Moses.

I want to draw your attention to the word mouth, and how it is being used as figurative speech for spokesman.  Thus we may say that Jesus Christ is the ultimate spokesman for, or mouth of, God.

In this light, consider this verse (which is quoting Deuteronomy 8:3):

Matthew 4:4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'”

We, therefore, should heed “every word that proceeds out of…Jesus!”

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 Book of Hebrews

The epistle “to the Hebrews” is a “brief word of exhortation” (Hebrews 13:22).

What is being exhorted?  That we should listen to the voice of the Son of God (see specifically Hebrews 1:1-2; 2:3; 3:7-11, 14-15; 4:7; 5:11; 8:10; 12:25 for the recurrence of this theme).  For this reason, the letter can be regarded as an exposition of, or an elaboration on, this New Testament verse:

Matthew 17:5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”

For the same reason, the letter to the Hebrews can be regarded as reinforcing this Old Testament verse as well:

Deuteronomy 18:15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.

Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, all Scripture is revealed as pointers to Him…that we might listen to Him.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

When the Perfect Comes…

Paul stated as a principle in 1 Corinthians 13 that “when the perfect comes, the partial is done away.”  We see this principle manifest in different ways:  when the kingdom of God came, the church was done way; when the sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:2) came, the stars Moses and the prophets receded into relative obscurity.

Another manifestation of this principle is seen in the completion of the Scriptures.  One of the purposes for which God created the ancient nation of Israel was the preservation of the Scriptures He would create through Moses and the rest of the prophets.  However, once the Jews were dispersed (the Diaspora) and the Scriptures translated into the common language of the world at that time (Greek), and the testimony of the crucified and risen Messiah had been spread throughout the world (Romans 1:8; 16:26; Colossians 1:6), then neither the government of Israel nor the government of the church was necessary to God’s purposes any longer.

In this case, the Scriptures are “the perfect” and organized religion is “the partial.”  Here’s another way of stating what happened:  “extracting the precious from the worthless.”  Hear Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 15:19 Therefore, thus says the LORD,
“If you return, then I will restore you–
Before Me you will stand;
And if you extract the precious from the worthless,
You will become My spokesman.
They for their part may turn to you,
But as for you, you must not turn to them.

We do not need the traditions of men as promulgated by the organized religions of Judaism and Christianity.  What we do need are the Scriptures in which those traditions are rooted.  In these Scriptures we find the precious and the perfect, having no more need for that which was partial and worthless by comparison.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

The Inadequacy of the Scriptures

Normally, we would speak of the adequacy of the Scriptures for they are the word of God.  However, is there is sense in which they are inadequate?  Yes.

Here is the sense in which the Bible is inadequate:

John 5:39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;
John 5:40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.

The Scriptures are given to us as testimony – a faithful witness – to God.  If we do not then trust God based on what the Scriptures tell us, what good is that?

Jesus goes on to say to those Jews who professed loyalty to the Bible but rejected Jesus:

John 5:45 “Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope.
John 5:46 “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.
John 5:47 “But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

Likewise, today many profess as much loyalty to the Scriptures as those Jews did, but they reject Jesus in the Spirit just as those Jews rejected Him in the flesh.

The Spirit of Jesus is omnipresent in this world in which we live.  The purpose of the Scriptures is to make us knowledgeable of, and confident in, this reality.  If, however, we only pay lip service to that reality, then we have not allowed the Bible to fulfill its purpose in our lives…no matter how much we may claim our devotion to it.

Therefore, the Scriptures are inadequate to save us if merely profess loyalty to them rather than trust what they say.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Jesus Is the Bread for Us

John 6:31 “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.'”

John 6:51 “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven;

In the light of these two verses from John, consider now this verse from Matthew:

Matthew 4:4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'”

“Every word” from God is summed up in Jesus.  In Him we find sustenance.  He is our meditation every day…all day.

Therefore:

John 6:27 “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.”

The bread Jesus has given us is Himself:

Ezekiel 34:23 “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd.

This point is, of course, the thrust of John 6.  Jesus Himself is able to meet our daily need for spiritual nourishment.  (Our physical nourishment is supplied as a byproduct.)

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.)

If You Are Going to Meditate the Word, Meditate Jesus

If you are going to meditate the word of God each day, be sure to meditate “The Word.”  (John 1:1; Revelation 19:13).  That is, be sure that you are meditating the word that is Jesus.

No line of the Bible should be read or meditated out of context.  Christ is the context.  Christ is the living word.

The words in your Bible point to Him whom you cannot see but who is nonetheless there.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Luke 1:68

Luke 1:68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,

The Lord has indeed visited us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.  And through the life He lived, the death He died, and the resurrection He achieved, He has truly accomplished the redemption of the people He created.

The Lord established a new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13).  These new heavens give us a place to go when life on earth is over.  During Old Testament days, all the dead went below to Sheol (Hades), but in the new creation there is no more such underworld.  This is the import of Revelation 21:1.  In our day, the dead all rise to heaven (the place He made for us – John 14:2).  Do not be among those who refuse to believe this great accomplishment of His:

Acts 13:40 “Therefore take heed, so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon you:
Acts 13:41 ‘BEHOLD, YOU SCOFFERS, AND MARVEL, AND PERISH;
FOR I AM ACCOMPLISHING A WORK IN YOUR DAYS,
A WORK WHICH YOU WILL NEVER BELIEVE, THOUGH SOMEONE SHOULD DESCRIBE IT TO YOU.'”

(The capitalized words are a quotation of Habakkuk 1:5.)

Our redemption is accomplished!  Past tense.  Therefore, let us rejoice in this day that the Lord has made.  There is no need to be afraid of death.

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.)

Jeremiah 51:44

Jeremiah 51:44 “I will punish Bel in Babylon,
And I will make what he has swallowed come out of his mouth;
And the nations will no longer stream to him.
Even the wall of Babylon has fallen down!

These words were fulfilled at the Second Coming of Christ when the dead were raised to heaven.  Sheol (Hades) was emptied of its contents, never to have power over humanity again.

Satan was dethroned…and death lost its sting:

Romans 16:20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet…

1 Corinthians 15:55 “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?”

Revelation 18:2 And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!…

The close of the New Testament age marked the time when God brought in a new creation wherein death no longer reigned.  This is the eternal gospel.  This is the eternal age in which we live, and this is the eternal gospel which we believe.

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.)

Jeremiah 50:20

Jeremiah 50:20 ‘In those days and at that time,’ declares the LORD, ‘search will be made for the iniquity of Israel, but there will be none; and for the sins of Judah, but they will not be found; for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.’

This verse speaks of the New Testament saints who were faithful to the end.  The angel of the Lord had promised Joseph that Mary’s child would save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).  Paul wrote that Jesus was indeed purifying a people for His own possession (Titus 2:14).  Paul also wrote that it would be “the remnant” that was saved (Rom 9:27).

The New Testament period was a time of calling faithful Jews and God-fearing Gentiles to the Savior whom God had sent.  Many were called, but few would be chosen (Matthew 22:14; 7:13-14).  For this reason, the apostles’ letters are filled with exhortations to moral rectitude (e.g. 1 Corinthians 15:34; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 12:14; 2 Peter 1:2-11).  Paul said that “in the last days difficult times would come” (2 Timothy 3:1).

This is why Jesus warned His disciples to be faithful to the end:

Matthew 24:12 “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.
Matthew 24:13 “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

The very last of the last days were particularly difficult (Matthew 24:21).  That’s why those who were faithful through it deserved the special commendation implied by prophecies like Jeremiah 50:20.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Jeremiah 50:6

Jeremiah 50:6 “My people have become lost sheep;
Their shepherds have led them astray.
They have made them turn aside on the mountains;
They have gone along from mountain to hill
And have forgotten their resting place.

Jeremiah was prophesying of New Testament times.  God’s sheep had become lost and Jesus was sent to search for them, saying:

Matthew15:24 …”I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

This also Ezekiel prophesied:

Ezekiel 34:11 For thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.

As for a resting place for the sheep, Ezekiel also said:

Ezekiel 34:15 “I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest,” declares the Lord GOD.

Thus God took upon Himself human flesh and became the Good Shepherd who would seek the lost sheep.

The 23rd chapter of the Gospel of Matthew is Jesus’ indictment of the shepherds who “led them astray.”  In the 11th chapter of that same Gospel, Jesus spoke of the rest He would give the lost sheep:

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 capitalized portion of Matthew 11:29 above is a quotation of Jeremiah 6:16.  True and false shepherds is a prophetic theme of both Jeremiah and Ezekiel.  Of course, Jesus is the true Shepherd…and those two men looked forward to His day.)

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.)

Jeremiah 50:5

Jeremiah 50:5 “They will ask for the way to Zion, turning their faces in its direction; they will come that they may join themselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten.

This is just as Isaiah had prophesied:

Isaiah 2:3 And many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
That He may teach us concerning His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For the law will go forth from Zion
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Thus, both Jeremiah and Isaiah were prophesying what would happen in the New Testament times.  New Testament days were “the last days.”  We live in the new age, which began after that.  This age in which we live is eternal.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Jeremiah 50:4

Jeremiah 50:4 “In those days and at that time,” declares the LORD, “the sons of Israel will come, both they and the sons of Judah as well; they will go along weeping as they go, and it will be the LORD their God they will seek.

This prophecy of Jeremiah’s was fulfilled in New Testament days.  That is, when we see Jews following the prophet from Nazareth, it reveals that they were seeking the one true God and living for Him.  Remember that Jesus said:

John 6:44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…

And He also said:

John 6:37 “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.

The God of Israel was drawing His true devotees to His Son.  In pursuing the Son, these saints were coming home to the Father.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Hosea 6:7

Hosea 6:7 But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant;
There they have dealt treacherously against Me.

The Old Testament could be described as a history of human beings breaking covenants with God.  This covenant-breaking begins with Adam and is manifested on the broadest scale as described in Israel’s experience in the promised land.  Their apostasies finally led to God vanquishing them from the very land that He had vanquished other sinning nations to originally make room for Israel.

Because of these broken covenants, God took on human flesh that He might establish a perfect covenant between a perfect man and a perfect God.  God thus established both sides of the agreement.  Therefore, Jesus could say on the night before He was to give up His life in sacrifice:

Luke 22:20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.

This is the eternal covenant about which we read in the book of Hebrews:

Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord,

Because God has established both sides of this covenant, it can never be broken.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Isaiah 30:30

Isaiah 30:30 And the LORD will cause His voice of authority to be heard…

Consider the connection between the words above from the Old Testament and the words just below from the New Testament:

Matthew 7:28 …the crowds were amazed at His teaching;
Matthew 7:29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

He who had authority in heaven had it also on earth.  And, after His resurrection, inherited all authority that ever was or would be:

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

Let us therefore give attention to the One who speaks with this authority!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Isaiah 30:20

Isaiah 30:20 …He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher.

God had taught His people from heaven.  Nevertheless, He gave up the privileges and comforts of heaven to live as one of us – Jesus of Nazareth by name.

Thus the one who spoke the words of Isaiah 30:20 from heaven, spoke these words from earth:

John 13:13 “You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.

The One who spoke from heaven was the One who spoke from earth and who now, – because of His resurrection from the dead – speaks from heaven once again.

The Old Testament and New Testament are thus inexticably intertwined.

(Keep in mind always that The Old Testament (that is, the Hebrew Bible) Is About Jesus Christ.)

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Isaiah 25:9

Isaiah 25:9 And it will be said in that day,
“Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us.
This is the LORD for whom we have waited;
Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”

This is “that day.”  That is, the descendants of Abraham may now say (and have been able to say ever since Jesus Christ accomplished the promised redemption), “This is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us.”

The promises of redemption were made

  • some 700 years before Christ to Isaiah (including this verse),
  • some 1,000 years before Christ to David, some 1,500 years before Christ to Moses,
  • some 2,000 years before Christ to Abraham,
  • and some 4,000 years before Christ to Adam and Eve.

God is patient.  And He is faithful.

The wait for the accomplishment of God’s promises was a long wait…but well worth it.  His people can truly “rejoice and be glad in His salvation” – forever.  And “forever” will be infinitely longer than the wait.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Isaiah 25:8

Isaiah 25:8 He will swallow up death for all time,
And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces,
And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;
For the LORD has spoken.

Through Jesus Christ, God “swallowed up death for all time.”  This swallowing occurred in the Second Coming of Christ when he brought in the new heavens and new earth.  The dead were raised to heaven and Sheol (Hades) was done away (Revelation 21:1).

For this reason we can all say, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21) meaning that there is no way to go but up when we die.

Having done away with death, we can now be free from the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Humans need no longer bear the reproach of death, for our Maker has redeemed us from it.  Let us therefore live for Him!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Deuteronomy 31:8

Deuteronomy 31:8 “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

If we follow Christ it stands to reason that He goes before us.  Indeed, He was the forerunner (Hebrews 6:20) and we run the race that He pioneered for us (Hebrews 12:1-2).  He truly never fails us nor forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5-6).

When following Him, we are walking in His love.  Therefore, we need not “fear or be dismayed” because “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).

Thus the key is to keep the Lord Jesus at our head:

Micah 2:13 “The breaker goes up before them;
They break out, pass through the gate and go out by it.
So their king goes on before them,
And the LORD at their head.”

Truly, The Old Testament (that is, the Hebrew Bible) Is About Jesus Christ.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Deuteronomy 31:7

Deuteronomy 31:7 Then Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land which the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance.

When Jesus was growing up in Nazareth we can imagine His hearing “the call of Moses” as He learned the Scriptures from His earthly parents and from the townsfolk at the synagogue.  (Remember that “Jesus” in Hebrew was “Joshua.”)  As a young Jew, He would have been taught to study and revere the Law of Moses.  For this reason, when He was asked what was the greatest commandment in the Law, He did not hesitate to give an answer.  He had spent the requisite time meditating that Law.  Therefore also He was strong and courageous when it came time to expound it.

The land to which Jesus would lead God’s people was into the new heavens and new earth.  The dead would be raised to heaven and the believing would be raised to resurrection life on earth.  This would be the fulfillment of what God had promised through Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15-18 and elsewhere.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Deuteronomy 21:22-23

Deuteronomy 21:22 “If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree,
Deuteronomy 21:23 his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.

This passage is a somber foreshadowing of what would happen to the Messiah.  Even though Jesus was crucified by the Romans rather than the Jews, nevertheless this ordinance was followed when Jesus was buried on the day of His crucifixion (i.e. His being “hung on a tree”).  And even though Jesus was a man of honor and not a man of shame, yet He was shamed in His death.  That He bore this shame and did not utter threats against those who treated Him so unfairly is to the eternal glory of God.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Ezekiel 34:24

Ezekiel 34:24 “And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I the LORD have spoken.

The days were dark in Israel when God made this promise through Ezekiel.  He was looking forward to the time when He would reign over and in His people as the descendant of David whom He promised.  This that time.  We are those people.

God became man in Jesus of Nazareth that He might lead us out of our sins into His righteousness.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Isaiah 40:8

Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.

Who is the one who stands forever but our Lord Jesus Christ. And for this reason He is called “the word of God,” by John (John 1), by Paul (Romans 10 and Titus 1), and by Peter (1 Peter 1 and 2) – but even before all of them by Isaiah (Isaiah 40 and 55).

We are like the grass that withers and the flowers that fade (James 1:10-11).  He is the One who stands forever.  And He stands forever for us!

Truly our God reigns!

Isaiah 52:7 How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

The One who was crucifed reigns supreme!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

2 Samuel 3:17-18

2 Samuel 3:17 Now Abner had consultation with the elders of Israel, saying, “In times past you were seeking for David to be king over you.
2 Samuel 3:18 “Now then, do it! For the LORD has spoken of David, saying, ‘By the hand of My servant David I will save My people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies.'”

O Christian, you have cried out so often for Jesus to be head, for Him to be truly king of the kingdom of God – not in name only, but in actuality.  So now do it!  Make Him king.  Do away with earthly potentates; that is, set aside human spiritual leaders.  Make Jesus alone the authority.

Pastors, drop your authority and simply preach Him who is the only necessary Shepherd.  Only Jesus can save His people.  We cannot.  Therefore, let us stop standing between Him and His people.  Let the people see Him!

Let the cry of Paul and Timothy become yours:

2 Corinthians 4:5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The Occupational Hazard of a Christian Preacher

The occupational hazard of a Christian preacher is to read the Bible looking for something to say rather than for something to do.

He who reads the Bible looking for something to do, and does it, will, from that life experience, know what he should say (i.e. preach).

Ezra 7:10 gives the proper sequence: study, practice, teach.  Don’t skip steps and don’t leave out a step.

He who reads the Bible looking for something to say ends up like the Pharisees (Matthew 23:3):  saying things that he is not doing.  Such a man short-circuits Ezra 7:10.  And where there is a short circuit, there is often a shock.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Reading the Bible Is Not a Purely Intellectual Exercise

If reading the Bible were a purely intellectual exercise then all PhD’s would be better able to understand the Bible than all high school graduates.  It’s obvious that this is not the case.

There’s more to reading the Bible than intelligence and education.  There’s a spiritual dimension to it.  Specifically, if your heart is closed off to God, if you’re protective of your earthly pleasures and resistant to authority and discipline, then you’re not going to get as much out of reading the Bible as someone who is the opposite of you in all these ways.

Better to read the Bible with a humble heart – even a childlike heart – than with the great education the world has to offer.  The wisdom of the world does not lead to God.  Understanding of the Scriptures comes not by academic degrees but by fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

It is the Holy Spirit of God who inspired the Scriptures in the first place.  If you are not on speaking terms with Him, how can you expect to rightly understand what He has written?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The New Testament Is Jewish as the Old Testament

The New Testament documents are as Jewish as the Old Testament documents that preceded them.  Jesus was Jewish.  The Gospels take place in Israel.  The apostles were Jewish.  Yes, the New Testament shows Gentiles being brought into the fold, but it was a fold where the leadership was predominantly Jewish.

We cannot therefore read the New Testament through Gentile eyes and expect to understand it correctly.  The apostles responsible for the New Testament were not trying to write something to replace the Old Testament.  On the contrary, it was to the Old Testament they were constantly referring to, and appealing to, for authority.  The vocabulary of the New Testament writers comes from the Old Testament writers.  The more one studies both testaments the more evidence one finds of this reality.

Sadly and erroneously, many people, whether wittingly or not, approach the Old Testament as if it were for Jews and the New Testament as if it were for Gentiles.  This misses the point of both testaments as taught by Jesus Christ.

The New Testament is a collection of 1st-century documents written by leaders of a newly-spawned Jewish sect to their followers. These documents were written by various leaders, at various times, from various locations, to various locations, in various styles, and for various reasons. The central conviction shared by both the senders and receivers of these documents (i.e. everyone in the social movement of which they were a part) was that a Jewish contemporary of theirs – Jesus of Nazareth – was the Messiah who had been promised by prophets who wrote the Jewish Scriptures (what is also called the Old Testament). More specifically, this conviction was that this Jesus had been crucified by the Romans and raised from the dead by God according to those Scriptures, and that He would soon be coming in the kingdom of God according to those same Scriptures.

See also:

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The New Testament Is Not a Polemic Treatise for Christianity

Skeptics will attack the New Testament as if it were designed to be a polemic treatise for the case of Christianity.  This is holding these documents to an inappropriate standard.  Certainly, the New Testament provides more than adequate reason for faith in Jesus Christ, but it does not do so as an explicit argument against its critics.  On the contrary, these are documents written by various leaders of a movement to various followers in the movement -and at various times and places for various reasons.  We can amass a case for Jesus Christ from these documents, but the documents were not written expressly for this purpose.

Many of the supposed inadequacies that skeptics find in the New Testament are only inadequacies when measured against an expectation of a polemic treatise…or a modern document, or a single document, or a time-capsule document, or as if they were written to a single set of readers.  If we are to properly understand the New Testament documents we must accept these texts on their own terms.  We cannot make them into something they are not.

The New Testament is a collection of 1st-century documents written by leaders of a newly-spawned Jewish sect to their followers. These documents were written by various leaders, at various times, from various locations, to various locations, in various styles, and for various reasons. The central conviction shared by both the senders and receivers of these documents (i.e. everyone in the social movement of which they were a part) was that a Jewish contemporary of theirs – Jesus of Nazareth – was the Messiah who had been promised by prophets who wrote the Jewish Scriptures (what is also called the Old Testament). More specifically, this conviction was that this Jesus had been crucified by the Romans and raised from the dead by God according to those Scriptures, and that He would soon be coming in the kingdom of God according to those same Scriptures.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The New Testament Documents Were Not Written for a Time Capsule

Some skeptics unknowingly approach the New Testament documents as if they had been written to be stored in a time capsule scheduled to be opened in the early 21st Century.  I say this because such readers stumble over aspects of the documents that are intrinsic to there having been written in a 1st-century Greco-Roman world.

We have no right to expect the New Testament documents to be written in a style with which we’re familiar or to answer every question we modern folks think important.  Rather, we should look for answers to timeless questions in the New Testament documents.  That is, we should look for answers to our questions about life, death, and our ultimately destiny.

The documents of the New Testament and their contents are settled.  They are not going to change.  It is we the readers who are going to have to change if we are to gain the best possible understanding of them.

The New Testament is a collection of 1st-century documents written by leaders of a newly-spawned Jewish sect to their followers. These documents were written by various leaders, at various times, from various locations, to various locations, in various styles, and for various reasons. The central conviction shared by both the senders and receivers of these documents (i.e. everyone in the social movement of which they were a part) was that a Jewish contemporary of theirs – Jesus of Nazareth – was the Messiah who had been promised by prophets who wrote the Jewish Scriptures (what is also called the Old Testament). More specifically, this conviction was that this Jesus had been crucified by the Romans and raised from the dead by God according to those Scriptures, and that He would soon be coming in the kingdom of God according to those same Scriptures.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The New Testament Is Not Modern

The New Testament is not comprised of modern writings, nor was it written by modern writers.  The documents therein are rightly called “ancient literature,” coming from the period that historians call “Greco-Roman.”  I say this because many skeptics will reject the New Testament for not being written according to modern conventions, even though they’ll hardly ever frame their objections in such terms because to do so would demonstrate the baselessness of the criticisms.  If such skeptical attitudes were applied to all ancient literature, hardly any of it would pass muster.

The New Testament documents were written in ancient times.  To understand them properly requires that we try, as much as possible, to read them in the context of those ancient times.  The ancients frequently wrote about aspects of a story we don’t care about and didn’t write about aspects of a story we do care about.  More broadly, they wrote history differently than we do.  They didn’t have printing presses and computers; therefore, we shouldn’t expect their writings to follow the writing patterns of our age.

Modern sensibilities and ancient sensibilities are sometimes the same because being human is, well, being human.  Were it not for this, the Bible could hardly have any meaning for us.  Sometimes, however, modern and ancient sensibilities can differ widely.  For this reason, we need to bring this consciousness to our reading of the New Testament.  Otherwise, we won’t appreciate it as we should.  Nor will we receive its grace as we should.

The New Testament is a collection of 1st-century documents written by leaders of a newly-spawned Jewish sect to their followers. These documents were written by various leaders, at various times, from various locations, to various locations, in various styles, and for various reasons. The central conviction shared by both the senders and receivers of these documents (i.e. everyone in the social movement of which they were a part) was that a Jewish contemporary of theirs – Jesus of Nazareth – was the Messiah who had been promised by prophets who wrote the Jewish Scriptures (what is also called the Old Testament). More specifically, this conviction was that this Jesus had been crucified by the Romans and raised from the dead by God according to those Scriptures, and that He would soon be coming in the kingdom of God according to those same Scriptures.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The New Testament Is Not Written to a Single Set of Readers

The 27 documents which comprise the New Testament are not all written to the same person or persons.  While they were all written, and apply to, the believing community, some were written to gatherings of believers in different locations.  Some were written to individuals.  Some were written to be circulated among various churches.  Some don’t precisely specify the audience.

Reading the New Testament without allowing for the fact that different documents had different recipients will inhibit understanding of those documents.

The New Testament is a collection of 1st-century documents written by leaders of a newly-spawned Jewish sect to their followers. These documents were written by various leaders, at various times, from various locations, to various locations, in various styles, and for various reasons. The central conviction shared by both the senders and receivers of these documents (i.e. everyone in the social movement of which they were a part) was that a Jewish contemporary of theirs – Jesus of Nazareth – was the Messiah who had been promised by prophets who wrote the Jewish Scriptures (what is also called the Old Testament). More specifically, this conviction was that this Jesus had been crucified by the Romans and raised from the dead by God according to those Scriptures, and that He would soon be coming in the kingdom of God according to those same Scriptures.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The New Testament Is Not a Single Document

The New Testament is not a single document.  It is a collection of 27 different documents.  Four of them are “gospels,” telling the story of Jesus of Nazareth.  The rest of them are letters, but not all letters of the same kind.  Trying to understand the New Testament as if it were a single document is a way to misunderstand it.

Here’s how I described the New Testament in yesterday’s post:

The New Testament is a collection of 1st-century documents written by leaders of a newly-spawned Jewish sect to their followers. These documents were written by various leaders, at various times, from various locations, to various locations, in various styles, and for various reasons. The central conviction shared by both the senders and receivers of these documents (i.e. everyone in the social movement of which they were a part) was that a Jewish contemporary of theirs – Jesus of Nazareth – was the Messiah who had been promised by prophets who wrote the Jewish Scriptures (what is also called the Old Testament). More specifically, this conviction was that this Jesus had been crucified by the Romans and raised from the dead by God according to those Scriptures, and that He would soon be coming in the kingdom of God according to those same Scriptures.

Thus there is a unifying theme to this collection of diverse documents.  That theme is the Lordship of Jesus Christ over all creation.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

What Is the New Testament?

What is the New Testament?

The New Testament is a collection of 1st-century documents written by leaders of a newly-spawned Jewish sect to their followers. These documents were written by various leaders, at various times, from various locations, to various locations, in various styles, and for various reasons.  The central conviction shared by both the senders and receivers of these documents (i.e. everyone in the social movement of which they were a part) was that a Jewish contemporary of theirs – Jesus of Nazareth – was the Messiah who had been promised by prophets who wrote the Jewish Scriptures (what is also called the Old Testament).  More specifically, this conviction was that this Jesus had been crucified by the Romans and raised from the dead by God according to those Scriptures, and that He would soon be coming in the kingdom of God according to those same Scriptures.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Deuteronomy 14:1 – We Are Sons of the Lord

Deuteronomy 14:1 “You are the sons of the LORD your God…

Who is the Lord?  Jesus.

How did He become God?  He was God before His incarnation, and He returned to that place when He was raised from the dead, taken to heaven, and installed as the king of the kingdom of God.

Is He then our Father?  Yes.

Do the Scriptures support this?  Yes.  Isaiah, for example, says that the Son will be called “Eternal Father.”

Isaiah 9:6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

And, as we’ve seen above, Moses writes that the children of Israel are the sons of the Lord.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Deuteronomy 1:37-38

Deuteronomy 1:37 “The LORD was angry with me also on your account, saying, ‘Not even you shall enter there.
Deuteronomy 1:38 ‘Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall enter there; encourage him, for he will cause Israel to inherit it.

Moses could not get the people of God into the promised land.  Another would have to take on that task.  In the flesh, it was Joshua, son of Nun.  In the spirit, it was Joshua, son of Joseph and Mary.

Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, causes true Israel to inherit the true promised land – which is the entire new creation.

Jesus is our Joshua.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.