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. 

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. 

What God Did Through Christ He Had Promised Long Before Through the Prophets

What God did through Jesus Christ, He had promised long beforehand.  Consider how Paul refers to this fact in the opening of his letter to Titus:

Titus 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness,
Titus 1:2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,
Titus 1:3 but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior,
Titus 1:4 To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

This is the way of God – to announce His intentions to His prophets.  This is so that His prophets might proclaim His intentions – that is, His promises – to His people.  Those promises would be written down, and then once they were fulfilled, all the generations that followed could glorify God for His faithfulness to His word.

Blessed be God, who revealed to His prophets what He was going to do.  As Amos said:

Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD does nothing
Unless He reveals His secret counsel
To His servants the prophets.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Specific Instances of the Great Transfer

A few days ago I posted about The Great Transfer.  This was the handing off of all things – most notably the saints – from the Father to the Son.  Here are a couple of examples:

Acts 16:14 A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.

Lydia’s heart already belonged to God.  That’s how God could open it to respond to the things spoken by Paul about the Son.  In this way, Lydia was transferred – handed over, bequeathed – from the Father to the Son.  The Son “inherited” Lydia from the Father.

Acts 18:9 And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent;
Acts 18:10 for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.”
Acts 18:11 And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

In this case, many saints were involved.  The city referenced was Corinth.  There were people in Corinth who genuinely feared the one true God, but it was the preaching of Paul that would reveal them.  That is, when Paul preached Jesus, those whose hearts truly belonged to God would believe him.  And thus the Son received that which had been the Father’s in Corinth.

Lastly, consider Paul’s preaching in Pisidian Antioch:

Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

The truly God-fearing Gentiles had been appointed to eternal life and their hearing of the preaching about Jesus was the catalyst to bring it to them.

By many such “hand-off’s” from the Father to the Son was this “Great Transfer” accomplished in New Testament times.

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.)

How Can Shame Be Honorable?

Shame can be honorable when it’s shame incurred as a result of obedience to the Lord.  Thus to be shamed before men can be glorifying to the Lord.  Consider how happy it made the disciples to suffer shame in this way:

Acts 5:41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

Of course, the memory of our Lord suffering the shame of crucifixion was fresh in their minds.

Jesus turned the other cheek.  He did not return insult for insult.  He was quiet as a lamb led to slaughter.  In this, He glorified God who had taught Him to act this way in the face of such provocation. Thus Jesus glorified God by bearing up under unjust suffering.

Therefore, when shame in the eyes of men is incurred as the result of doing what is right in the sight of God, then shame is honorable.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

From the Branch Come the Branches

One of the well-known references to Messiah in Old Testament prophecy regards “the Branch.”  For example,

Jeremiah 23:5 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD,
“When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch;
And He will reign as king and act wisely
And do justice and righteousness in the land.

And Jeremiah is not the only prophet to use this term:

Zechariah 6:12 “Then say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the LORD.

Isaiah chimes in as well:

Isaiah 4:2 In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel.

Nor are these the only occasions where these three prophets used this messianic title.

Therefore, when Jesus comes along in John 15 describing how His disciples are branches, it would have been a mind-stretching moment for that room full of Jews.  All their lives they had heard about the coming of God’s Branch.  And here before them, the one they have been following for three years, the one they had come to believe was, in fact, that Branch, was telling them that through Him they would all be branches!  It surely must have staggered their imaginations – but then there were so many things Christ did and said that staggered their imaginations.  No wonder He said to them that night:

John 16:12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

Should we be surprised that the Branch begets branches?  Not if we know that in this creation, everything reproduces after its own kind – just as it says in Genesis.  And even the apostle Paul said that Christ was “the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29).

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

God Plans Ways That the Banished One Might Be Restored to Him.

2 Samuel 14:14 “For we will surely die and are like water spilled on the ground which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away life, but plans ways so that the banished one will not be cast out from him.

If it was not clear before, it certainly has been clear since the advent of Jesus Christ that God has never intended to take anything away from us.  On the contrary, He plans ways that we who do wrong might be restored to Him.  And He has done this since the beginning.

That everyone is going to heaven is His idea, not ours.  That anyone is going to heaven is His idea, not ours.  We would not have had enough nerve to ask such a thing.

While we were thinking that God didn’t care, He was busy planning and acting for our redemption.  

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

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

I Will Bring You Back to the Place from Where I Sent You into Exile

Jeremiah 29:14 ‘I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’

While Jeremiah’s words had a particular meaning to the Jews of that time, God’s promise has broader fulfillment in the restoration of humanity to Himself through Jesus Christ.

Mankind was exiled from the presence of God because of sin.  Only through Jesus Christ was sin ultimately and perfectly addressed.  Therefore, through Jesus Christ we have our way back to the Creator against whom we’ve sinned and from whom we’ve wandered.

For this reason, the tree of life first mentioned in Genesis 2 is addressed in Revelation 22, the last chapter of the Bible.  That is, as humankind was denied access to the tree of life because of the sin of Adam and Eve, so humankind was invited back to the tree of life through Jesus Christ our Redeemer.

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

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

The Scriptures Tell the Story of the Faithfulness of God

The Old Testament tells of promises made, while the New Testament tells of promises kept.

God made promises concerning Messiah throughout Old Testament times.  In the 1st Century, these promises were kept in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.  What we call the New Testament is simply a collection of documents written by and for that community of disciples who knew Him – a community which grew by leaps and bounds as the good news of God’s manifest faithfulness to His people spread.

On a much smaller time scale, the book of Joshua tells how God fulfilled His promises regarding the land of Canaan (Joshua 21:45).   This foreshadowed the more complete fulfillment of all His promises in the greater Joshua – the Messiah.  Thus both on a smaller and larger scale, the Bible testifies to the faithfulness of God to keep His promises.

Therefore, if the Bible tells us anything at all, it tell us that God is faithful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For example,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acts 23:1-5 – The Limitations of Conscience

Assuming you read yesterday’s post, you know how walking according to the spirit leads to a very different view than does walking according to the flesh.  Yesterday’s post also reveals the limitations of human conscience.

Paul’s conscience was clear.  It told him that he was in the right.  His accusers’ consciences, by contrast, told them that Paul was in the wrong.  If conscience was always a dependable guide, everyone’s conscience would have been saying the same thing.

For this reason the book of Proverbs says:

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

This does not mean that we should ignore conscience.  It does mean that we should live in the fear of God that our consciences may continually be calibrated to His.  Here are some posts on calibrating our consciences.

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

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

Acts 23:1-5 – The Flesh v. the Spirit

Acts 23:1-5 illustrates the difference between walking in the spirit and walking in the flesh.

In verse Acts 23:5, Paul defends himself by saying that he wasn’t aware that had reviled Israel’s high priest.  That is because, by this time, Paul recognized the resurrected Christ as the high priest of God’s people (Hebrews 5:1-14, especially Hebrews 5:10).  Paul was “walking according to the spirit,” just as he had instructed the believers in Rome (Romans 8:3-4).  He was setting his mind on things above, as he had instructed the believers in Colossae (Colossians 3:2).  For Paul, Jesus Christ – not the man in fancy clothes standing before him – was the high priest of Israel.

Notice the stark contrast of the two different mindsets.

THE MIND SET ON THE FLESH:  Paul’s accusers had their minds set on the flesh.  They were Israel according to the flesh.  They had a high priest according to the flesh, and in their minds Paul had insulted him.  Since Moses had said it was wrong for a citizen to speak evil of such a leader, they condemned Paul.

THE MIND SET ON THE SPIRIT:  Paul’s mind was set on the spirit, things above.  For him, Jesus was the “ruler of the people” to whom Moses’ admonition would apply.  Therefore, all of Paul’s accusers were violating Moses’ admonition by speaking evil of Jesus and those who served Him.

Thus, whether one walks according to the flesh or the spirit can cause one to have a dramatically different view of a situation.

For a chart of Bible verses that lay collectively describe and delineate these two viewpoints see Flesh Versus Spirit.

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

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.)

Proverbs 25:2 – Christ Was Hidden in the Old Testament and Revealed in the New Testament

Proverbs 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

God hid the glory of Christ in what we call the Old Testament.  Jesus of Nazareth sought it out and taught it to others.  As a result, we have the New Testament.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The Lord’s Will for You Is Strength of Heart

God does not want you to be weak in heart.  Rather, His will is that you be strong in heart.  Consider and meditate upon the following verses:

1 Corinthians 16:13

Ephesians 6:10

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

2 Timothy 2:1

Hebrews 12:12; 13:9

James 5:8

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 and the Power of Grace

 

2 Thessalonians 2:16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace,
2 Thessalonians 2:17 comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.

Note the power of grace.  It is able to give us eternal – not merely temporal – comfort.  And it is able to give us good hope for the future.  Therefore, our hearts can be both comforted and strengthened in all our activities.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

“The Glory of His Inheritance in the Saints”

Ephesians 1:18 mentions “the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”  The Messiah inherited the saints from the Father.  They were a pledge (or down payment or early installment, if you prefer) of the inheritance that the Father was giving the Son.  (Regarding this inheritance, see yesterday’s post.)

“Saints” means “holy ones” – those set apart for God.  Prior to the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, God had known those Israelites whose hearts were truly His.  However, only with the ministry of the Nazarene were those holy ones revealed to others.  That is, people like John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, and others had been true Jews at heart.  That’s why they were drawn to the carpenter from Galilee.  These holy ones were drawn to the light of Christ according to John 3:19-21.  That is, they were people who were unafraid of the light because they sought to live their lives for the approval of God and not the approval of men.

The Messiah was a polarizer of people.  A more precise way of seeing this, however, is to recognize that it is fundamentally God who polarizes people and the Messiah merely brought that polarization to light (Luke 2:34-35).  That is, the people who loved God loved the one sent by God.  Those who rejected God rejected the one sent by God.

Therefore, those Jews who loved Jesus loved God before they loved Jesus.  You can also say that they loved Jesus because they loved God.  For this reason, God’s saints were passed to Jesus.  Jesus inherited those saints…and it was a glorious thing that He did.  This is just one aspect of “the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Psalm 145:4 – Let This Generation Praise the Mighty Acts of God in Christ!

Psalm 145:4 One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.

Each generation has the responsibility and the privilege of declaring the works of the Lord to the generations that follow.  What generation has done this better than the truly greatest generation?

Let us imitate therefore them, that our voice might be added to theirs – to the end that all the generations to come will have heard collectively from us about the glorious works of the Lord.

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

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

Setting Your Mind on the Spirit

Romans 8:6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
Romans 8:7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,
Romans 8:8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

When you set your mind on the flesh, you are seeing only the world that science can see.  You are ignoring the world that built the world that science can see (Hebrews 11:3).

When we ignore the spiritual dimension then we – humanity – are the highest authority there is.  We have ignored God as supreme and made ourselves supreme in His place.  This is why “the mind set on the flesh is death.”  It accepts as true something that is plainly false.  It is living a lie.  Human beings are not supreme.  If they were, they wouldn’t die.

We must rather set our minds on the spirit.  In this view, human beings are sub-regents to God in the earth, and accountable to Him.  To set our minds on the spirit is to walk in the fear of God.  This is life.

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

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

Matthew 5:1-2 – Jesus “Sat Down” to Teach

Matthew 5:1 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.
Matthew 5:2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,

As I described in yesterday’s post about Luke 19:28, Matthew is similarly giving a mundane account of something Jesus did while simultaneously portraying grander movements.  Consider:

“When Jesus saw the crowds”  –  That is, when Jesus saw the multitudes swelling, He took it as a sign that His destined end was near.  In this regard, see John 12:19-23.

“He went up on the mountains”  – That is, He went up to the mountain of heaven.  In this regard, see the prophecy in Isaiah 2:1-4.

“and after He sat down”  –  That is, after He sat down at the right hand of the throne of God according to the prophecy of Psalm 110:1.

“His disciples came to Him”  –  This is what we see happening in the book of Acts.  The apostles preached Him risen from the dead and reigning in heaven.  Those who believed – thousands  of them – came to Him by faith.

“He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying”  – In these words, we can see Jesus’ pouring out of the Holy Spirit on His disciples.  By the Holy Spirit, Jesus speaks to and teaches His disciples even to this day.

If we want to learn Scripture, the Holy Spirit has much to teach us.  And He is all the teacher we need.  In this regard, see 1 John 2:20, 27

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Luke 19:28 – Jesus “Went Up”

Luke 19:28 After He had said these things, He was going on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

In this verse, Luke straightforwardly describes what happened as Jesus approached Jerusalem for what would be the last week of His earthly life.  Even so, the verse also provides the outline for a grander unfolding of events.  Consider:

“After He said these things” – that is, “after Jesus taught all that we read in the four Gospels.”

“He was going on ahead”  –  Jesus was going to rendezvous with death in a way that no other human being had ever approached it – sinlessly.

“going up to Jerusalem”  – Jesus would be literally “going up” to the heavenly Jerusalem that is heaven.

Luke is portraying a pattern here that Jesus followed.  What Jesus did on earth foreshadowed what He would do in heaven.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Are We Even Aware of God’s Comings and Goings?

Jacob says he didn’t know the Lord was present:

Genesis 28:16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.”

By contrast, Samson thought the Lord was present when He wasn’t:

Judges 16:20 She said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.

We should seek the Lord for discernment so that we might not be so oblivious to His comings and goings.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

God Expects Us to Reason

God expects us to use the reasoning powers He’s given us – especially where He’s concerned.  After all, He gave us reasoning powers that He did not give to animals.  Therefore, it seems quite strange to Him when animals exhibit more reason than human beings.  As He said through Isaiah:

Isaiah 1:3 “An ox knows its owner,
And a donkey its master’s manger,
But Israel does not know,
My people do not understand.”

Consider also that He wants us to come to Him freely and not because He’s applying some external tool (like a bit or bridle) to draw us:

Psalm 32:9 Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding,
Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check,
Otherwise they will not come near to you.

Think.

If you do think, and think properly, you are likely to conclude that it’s reasonable to draw near to God.

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

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.)

How Does the Bible Define Success?

God has no regard for worldly success.  This has been true from the beginning, for we see that the Tower of Babel did not impress Him in the least (Genesis 11:1-9).

In Psalm 1:1-6, God speaks of the righteous man as succeeding (see especially the last line of verse 3).  Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled this psalm.  Of course, Jesus was not considered a success in the world’s eyes.  They publicly executed Him.  Still, He succeeded in God’s eyes because He did God’s will in spite of great resistance.

Here then is what God considers success for a human being:

Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?

If, when you finish your life, you can say that you did justice, loved mercy, and walked humbly with God, then you can consider yourself a success.  This is a success with which the world is not familiar.

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

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

Can You Learn Boxing from a Book?

Suppose you spent twenty years reading all the books you could find on the sport of boxing.  Let’s also assume that you took copious notes, and even gave lectures on the subject to others.  Lastly, however, let’s assume that during those twenty years you never laced up a pair of gloves, entered the ring, and fought someone.  Could you really be an expert on boxing?

Thus the Scripture says:

Ps 111:10 …A good understanding have all those who do His commandments…  [emphasis added]

And we might add for further emphasis, “Only those who do His commandments have a good understanding of them!”

Reading the Bible only brings you genuine knowledge to the degree that you are putting into practice what you are learning from your reading.  Only those who have read a book on boxing and actually boxed with someone in a ring can actually have any expertise on the subject.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

“Walk Before Me and Be Blameless”

“Walk before Me and be blameless” is the charge God gave to Abram when He changed his name to Abraham in Genesis 17:1ff.

Abraham walked before God as he understood Him.  Abraham’s descendants were to do the same.  Of course, that understanding grew enormously with the coming of Jesus Christ.  As the apostle John said:

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.

Therefore, the charge to “walk before God and be blameless” carries significantly greater meaning for those living after Jesus than it did for those living before.  This is, of course, because we can see the “Me” so much more clearly in Jesus.

Even pious Jews were at first shocked by the idea that the Messiah could be crucified, because they could not see God putting up with that sort of treatment.  To put it another way, the psalmist could write “His mercy endureth forever” but wouldn’t have had the chutzah to say, “Well, sure, God would be willing to have Himself crucified by evil men” – even though, when you stop and think about it, that’s just what a “forever enduring mercy” would do.  God redefined mercy beyond limits that most human beings would consider appropriate.

Therefore, to walk before Jesus and be blameless requires much more of us than walking before a Creator God whose character and response to evil is something we have not yet fully tested.

Let us therefore walk before Jesus Christ and be blameless.  We have seen for ourselves through the pages of the Gospels just what sort of behavior He considers blameless.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

God Speaks into Chaos…and Forms Life in Its Place

In Genesis 1:2, the earth is described as “formless and void” (“waste and emptiness” in the NASB margin).  The remainder of the first two chapters of Genesis are taken up with describing how God spoke form and life into that darkness.

This is the same pattern God follows as we let His word come into our individual lives.   Our hearts are dark without Him – “formless and void,” “waste and emptiness.”  His word brings light, life, and shape to the chaos of our hearts.

Therefore, continue to hold fast His word in your heart.  Let it shape your mind and your life. Let His word performs its creative work in you.  Let it be said of you what Paul was able to say to the Thessalonians:

1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.

Let His word perform its creative work in you by holding it fast in your heart.  A seed must stay in the ground if it is to germinate and sprout.  In every other location it will stay dormant.

The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3ff, Mark 4:3ff, and Luke 8:5ff) makes clear that Satan comes immediately to take out the word of God that is sown.  Failing that, Satan resists the word of God with persecution and affliction, and competes with it through worries, riches, and pleasures of this life.  Recognize that the word of God can overpower all these things – but we must keep it in the ground – that is, in our hearts. That’s where it grows.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

“Israel” in the Book of Romans

In Romans 11:26, Paul wrote that “all Israel” would be saved in the coming judgment.  To appreciate what he meant, you have to remember that he wrote previously:

 Romans 9:6 …they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;

And to appreciate what Paul meant in Romans 9:6, you have to go back even earlier in his letter, to where he wrote:

Romans 2:28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.
Romans 2:29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

The central idea here for Paul, of course, is that Christ has made the Bible a spiritual book about spiritual concepts.  To understand better this distinction, study Romans 8.  It may also help you to read this post on the critical biblical distinction between flesh and spirit.  It’s an incredibly simple, yet profoundly important distinction.

Simply put, Israel according to the flesh is what mankind sees while Israel according to the spirit is what God sees.  We should, by the way, live our lives according to what God sees (Matthew 6:1).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible.

For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The “Law of Moses” Became the “Law of Christ”

The New American Standard Bible has 23 verses using the expression “law of Moses,” and 2 that use the expression “law of Christ.”  These latter two occurrences refer to the transition that took place during New Testament times, in which Jesus used the Scriptures to proclaim His teaching.

The words had always been there, but Jesus brought the dimension of spirituality to Moses words and thus altered the focus of the sacred texts.  Thus five times in the first chapter of the Sermon on the Mount we hear Jesus, quoting the Old Testament in each case, say, “You have heard…but I say to you…” (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28, 33-34, 38-39, 43-44).  He was using Moses’ words to make a far more spiritual point.  Thus we also see verses like these in the New Testament:

Mark 7:18 And He *said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him,
Mark 7:19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.)

1 Corinthians 9:9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He?
1 Corinthians 9:10 Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops.

By such passages we see that the Law of Moses had a focus on physical aspects of life that would ultimately be translated into a spiritual focus through Jesus Christ.  Thus the Law of Moses became the Law of Christ.  And here then is how that Law of Christ can be summarized:

Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
Romans 13:9 For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”
Rom 13:10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

and

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Galatians 5:14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

The Law of Moses was intended to regulate the nation of Israel until Messiah came, at which time it was converted to Messiah’s royal law (i.e., “the law of Christ”), which is…to love.  None of the words of Moses changed – just the meaning.  And the new meaning did not violate the initial meaning.  Rather, the meaning was elevated and intensified.  That is, the moral requirement was raised.  For example, under Moses murder was wrong.  Under Christ, even nursing anger in your heart is wrong.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible.

For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Luke 15 and Jeremiah 17 – The Lost Inheritance

In the story of the Prodigal Son, the younger son of a wealthy man sought his share of the estate, and subsequently lost it through “loose living”  (Luke 15:12, 13).  Things got even worse when, because of a severe famine, the prodigal was forced to become a servant to a stranger, feeding pigs.

In Jeremiah 17, God had said through the prophet:

Jeremiah 17:4 And you will, even of yourself, let go of your inheritance
That I gave you;
And I will make you serve your enemies
In the land which you do not know…

Note the similarity.  The prodigal son had “let go of his inheritance,” and was “serving his enemies in a land which he did not know.”

Now…ponder how we ourselves squander the inheritance God gives us through Jesus Christ.  And – if we’ve wandered – let us “get up and go to the father!” (Luke 15:18) that we might be restored to Him.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

An Upward Call or a Sideward Call?

Paul wrote in his letter to the believers in Philippi:

Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

If Paul considered the call of Christ upward, why do so many today make a big deal about belonging to a local church?  Wouldn’t that be a lateral or sideward focus?

Christ is above – let us worship Him there.  There is no street address on earth given where He is to be worshiped.

As the apostle John records:

John 4:21 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
John 4:22 “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
John 4:23 “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.
John 4:24 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Let us therefore be done with the worship of an earthly nature and instead worship Him who is in heaven.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The Bible Is a Covenant Book for Covenant People

The Scriptures were written by Jews and for Jews.  Of course, this does not mean that there was anything secret about them.  God intended for Israel to be a light to the world, so He placed them at the crossroads of three continents that everyone might know about them.  Nevertheless, the Bible’s documents were for Israel – to instruct it and guide it as it bore witness for God to the rest of the nations.

Many skeptics tacitly complain that the Bible was not written to them.  You can notice this complaint when you realize that such skeptics criticize the Bible for not addressing their skeptical concerns.  The Bible’s authors are far more interested in explaining the ways of God to believers than they are in defending the existence of God.  In fact, the existence of God is taken for granted in these texts.

Beginning with the Law of Moses, the Scriptures were addressed to the descendants of Abraham – a man who had a covenant with God.  Even the New Testment centered on the long-promised descendant of Abraham who fashioned a new covenant that was eternal in nature.

A covenant is an agreement that forms a relationship.  Therefore, the Bible is written for those in relationship with God – or at least those who are giving consideration to entering a relationship with God.  To try to understand it outside this context leads to confusion.

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

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

Matthew 11:28-30 and 1 John 5:3

Note the similar point being made by these two passages, one from Matthew and the other from John:

Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  [quoting Jeremiah 6:16]
Matthew 11:30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

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1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

Know then what a mistake we make when we mutter to ourselves that the way of the Lord is too hard.

Let us not dishonor Him with such wholly inappropriate complaining.  His commandment are not burdensome.

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

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

The Greatest Commandment Cannot Be Understood Apart from the Second Greatest

When Jesus was asked in Mark 11:28 “What commandment is foremost of all?” He answered with not one, but two commandments:

Mark 12:28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”
Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;
Mark 12:30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’
Mark 12:31 “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:32 The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that HE IS ONE, AND THERE IS NO ONE ELSE BESIDES HIM;
Mark 12:33 AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE’S NEIGHBOR AS HIMSELF, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
Mark 12:34 When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.

(The all capital letters refer to the fact that Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-5 as the great commandment and Leviticus 19:18 as the second.)  Note that the questioner did not ask “What are the two greatest commandments?”  Rather, he simply asked, “What is the greatest commandment?”

The other synoptic gospels convey a similar pattern in reporting this exchange (or similar exchanges).  In Matthew 22:36 the question comes as “Teacher, what is the great commandment in the Law?”  Again, Jesus’ response comes in twofold fashion and He adds this coda:  “On these two commandment depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”  In Luke’s version (Luke 10:25ff), the answer is also given in dual form.

Jesus seems to be saying that the greatest commandment cannot be properly understood without including the second greatest along with it.

Thus the apostle John could write:

1 John 4:21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

We should be certain therefore, that we cannot be truly and properly loving God if we are not loving each other.  Thus John also said:

1 John 4:20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.

Thus the greatest commandment cannot be understood apart from the second greatest.

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

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

Peter Learned the Hard Way About God’s Impartiality

Peter famously stumbled in his faith by denying that he even knew the Lord the night before the crucifixion.  Peter failed…because he didn’t think he could fail.  That is, he thought his reputation as the most devoted (“greatest” some would say) of Christ’s followers meant that even if all the others fell away, he would not (Matthew 26:33).  Peter would have to learn the hard way that there are no privileged positions with God.  We are all judged by the same standard.

Peter was poignantly reminded of his mistake after Jesus’ resurrection:

John 21:15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus *said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”…

Peter had learned that he was wrong to measure something he had no way to measure.  His responsibility was to love Jesus with all his heart and soul and mind and strength – not love Jesus “more than the next guy” as if that would get him some special place of privilege with the Lord.  Peter shows that he had learned this lesson by responding that he loved the Lord and not that he loved the Lord more than anyone else:

John 21:15 …[Peter] said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

Note that Peter left off “…more than…”

Peter had learned the hard way that there is no point in trying to achieve a privileged status with the Lord because there is no partiality with Him.

Later on, Peter would say:

Acts 10:34 …”I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,

And later still, he wrote:

1 Peter 1:17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;

Peter also shows his consciousness of our egalitarian status before this Lord in this passage:

1 Peter 5:1 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed,
1 Peter 5:2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;
1 Peter 5:3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.

Peter was one of the “fellows” and was glad to be so.  We should be, too.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The Apostles Kept It Simple; They Didn’t Try to Get Fancy

The first statement below comes from Paul.  The second comes from Peter.  Notice the similarity.

1 Corinthians 2:1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.

*****

2 Peter 1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

The apostles did not put on airs, or turn the gospel into an academic endeavor.

Sad to say, many who preach Christ today do not follow this apostolic example of humility and simplicity.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Ecclesiastes 4:8 – Love Knows Those for Whom It Labors

Ecclesiastes 4:8 There was a certain man without a dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, “And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?” This too is vanity and it is a grievous task.

Jesus commanded us to love (Mark 11:28-34).  A person who loves “knows for whom he is laboring and depriving himself of pleasure.”  He is laboring and depriving himself of pleasure for the sake of those he loves.  No one has to tell him who they are.  Neither does he have to stop and remind himself.  The man who lives for love – by definition – knows for whom he is living, else he couldn’t be living by love.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Psalm 111:10 – The Understanding That Comes from Doing the Commandments

Psalm 111:10 …A good understanding have all those who do His commandments…

If understanding the Bible were a matter of academics, this scripture would not hold true.  For if academics were key, then it’s the PhD.’s who would have the greatest understanding of the Scriptures.  The reality is, however, that it’s those who do God’s commandments who receive the understanding He wants to give.

Paul reiterates this point:

1 Corinthians 7:19 …what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.

Biblical scholarship has its place, but that place is not central in the life of God.  What is central is to trust and obey what God has said:

1 John 3:23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

1 Kings 3:9 – What Solomon Answered God, and What You Will Answer God

Here is Solomon’s reply to God when offered, “Ask whatever you wish:”

1 Kings 3:9 “So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil.

If you are as wise as Solomon, you will ask Christ for wisdom.  But when you do, be sure to use the wisdom He gives you.  Otherwise, these words from the book of Hebrews might come to apply to you:

Hebrews 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
Hebrews 5:13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.
Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

You must practice discerning good from evil.  It does no good to receive wisdom if you don’t practice it.

And remember:  As simplistic, naive, and foolish as it sounds to the world around us, the wisest wisdom around is simply to turn away from evil:

Proverbs 14:16 A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil…

The wisdom of the world means trying to be smarter than the next guy.  The wisdom of God means trying to do what’s right.

Worldly people are greedy for gain.  Godly people are eager to please the Lord; they know, and don’t care, that it will cost them to do so.  This is beause they love their Lord even more than life itself.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

1 Kings 3:5 – What God Offered Solomon and What God Offers You

Here is what God offered Solomon:

1 Kings 3:5 In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night; and God said, “Ask what you wish me to give you.”

And here is what Christ offers you:

John 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

What will you do with what Christ is offering you?

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

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

Spiritual Time – Part 2 of 2

Do you know what (spiritual) time it is?

If someone is lacking food or clothing, it’s time to give them food and clothes.

If you’re sinning, it’s time for you to repent.

If you’ve been wronged by someone else, it’s time for you to not take into account a wrong suffered.

Spiritual time is therefore determined by the circumstances in which you find yourself, and that might have nothing to do with what the nearest clock or calendar says.

Paul wrote:

Ephesians 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

You need to have some sense of “the need of the moment” in order to know what words would be good for edification.  When someone  around you is doing right, they need encouragement; when they are doing wrong, they need discouragement.

Spiritual maturity means having a sense of spiritual timing.  This comes with practice.

They say that a sense of timing is very important in comedy.  It’s even more important in spirituality.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Spiritual Time – Part 1 of 2

The book of Ecclesiastes famously tells us that “there is a time for every event under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).  There’s a time to do this and a time to do that, a season for this and a season for that.

Elisha reprimanded his servant Gehazi for being insensitive to the face that it was not the time for accumulating earthly goods (2 Kings 5:26).

In the book of Esther, the contrast was stark between the time when Mordecai instructed Esther to keep her ethnicity a secret (Esther 2:10, 20) and the time when he told her that she must disclose it (Esther 4:13-14).  This was clearly a case of there being “a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7).

In Habakkuk 2, the prophet describes how God tells him that the vision being given is not for the present but rather for a future time (verses 1-3).  David had similarly noticed a “distant” aspect to the promises God was making to Him (2 Samuel 7:19).  The apostle Peter made reference to this when he wrote that the prophets of old had inquired and learned from God that their prophecies of messianic grace were for the future – what we would call “New Testament times.”

In this regard also, Daniel said that the words he was given were “concealed and sealed up until the end time” (Daniel 12:9), while the apostle John concluded the book of Revelation with the admonition “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near” (22:10).  Thus there was “a time to say the prophecy was not soon and there was a time to say it was soon.”

Spiritual time is not like clock time or calendar time…but it is every bit as practical and important, if not more so.

Little children are too young to be able to tell time.  But the time comes when they should.  Similarly, our spiritual childhood begins without the ability to tell time, but the time comes when we should learn.

There are occasions where clock/calendar time and spiritual time come together in a biblical statement:

Hebrews 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

What is it past time for you to be doing?

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Genesis 11:4 – We Gather to God but Scatter to the World

Genesis 11:4 They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

Every time a new church starts today, this describes the underlying motivation.  And it’s not a good one.

We should be trusting in the name of the Lord instead.  And we should not be afraid of being scattered, because this is just what the Lord commanded we should do:

Genesis 1:28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth…

God reiterated this command as Noah and his family came off the ark, not too many years before the Tower of Babel was built (Genesis 9:1).  Thus the very building of the tower was in defiance of God’s command.

From the beginning, God’s plan was that we would “go into all the world” (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19).  That’s where we can act as salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16).  We gather to God but scatter to the world.  This is God’s way.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Genesis 11:5 – The Lord Came Down to See the Tower of Men

Genesis 11:5 The LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.

Here is a foreshadowing of the Lord coming down from heaven to earth.  When the Lord saw the city and the tower than the sons of men had built, here’s what happened:

Matthew 24:1 Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him.
Matthew 24:2 And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”

When will men realize that the things that impress men do not impress God?

Thus Babel was a type of Jerusalem.

It was also a type of the apostate church of the late first century AD, the same man-made church that speaks as a cacophony today and that is a tower of babble instead of a single voice for Christ.  There is a true church in the world, but its only pastor is the Lord.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Esther 1:19 and Matthew 21:43

The first verse below would have been found in the Bible Jesus read while living on the earth.  The second verse came later.  Notice the similarity in the two:

Esther 1:19 “If it pleases the king, let a royal edict be issued by him and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media so that it cannot be repealed, that Vashti may no longer come into the presence of King Ahasuerus, and let the king give her royal position to another who is more worthy than she.

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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.

If you think Jesus learned the plan of salvation through the Hebrew Scriptures, you’d be right.  Of course, He was relying on the Holy Spirit for understanding of those Scriptures…but through Him you and I can come to understand the things He did.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Nehemiah 13:2 – The Curse of Death Was Turned into a Blessing

Nehemiah 13:2 …However, our God turned the curse into a blessing.

We know that humanity was cursed with death because of sin.

Through the work of Jesus Christ, however, that curse was turned into a blessing.  As Paul put it:

Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Paul could say “to me” because he believed.  To an unbeliever, the notion that dying is “gaining” is irrational.  But to the believer it makes all the sense in the world.  Of course, both unbelievers and believers alike are going to heaven.  But since the unbelievers don’t believe it, they can’t be blessed by the thought.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Genesis 4:10 – Abel’s Blood Spoke, but Jesus’ Blood Spoke Better

In this scripture, we hear God speaking to Cain just after he had killed his brother Abel:

Genesis 4:10 [The Lord] said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground.”

It was comforting to know that God did not forget justice just because Abel died.  After all, it is the lot of all humans to die.  Yet God was provoked by the memory of Abel to do justice with regard to Cain.  And thus, although Cain could remove Abel from the earth, Abel’s voice was still crying out to God from the ground.

Something even greater (Matthew 12:6, 41, 42; Luke 11:31-32) was at work with Jesus, for the New Testament speaks of Him in this way:

Hebrews 12:24 …to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

Thus the blood of Jesus crying from the ground brought God to the point of raising Jesus from the ground – a point He had never come to with Abel.  And, through Jesus, all the dead would rise – including Abel.  This is why the writer to the Hebrews could say that the blood of Jesus “spoke better” than the blood of Abel.

The murders of Abel and Jesus both brought earthly judgment on the murderers, but the murder of Jesus also brought eternal redemption through the spirit with all the dead going to heaven.  Mercy would get them all to heaven, and judgment would determine what sort of status in heaven each would deserve.

Thus the blood of Jesus speaks very, very well.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Exodus 8:1 – Jesus Overcame the Pharaoh of Death

Exodus 8:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.

This is the pattern God followed with Jesus.  That is, Jesus came to deliver the dead.  (Death was the curse that afflicted all mankind.)  Therefore, Jesus died and descended where they were.  That is, He became one of them and therefore one with them.  From there, He spoke on behalf of God to Satan, who had the power of death (Hebrew 2:14), saying, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.”  And thus God led out the dead from Sheol (Hades) as He had led out the children of Israel from Egypt.

Jesus thus led capivity captive.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

1 Samuel 14:6 – The Lord Is Not Restrained to Save by Many or by Few

1 Samuel 14:6 Then Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the LORD will work for us, for the LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few.

Jonathan knew from the Hebrew Scriptures that the Lord’s ability to save was by no means constrained by the number of human beings who put themselves at His disposal.  In fact, to make precisely that point, God had told Gideon to reduce the number of Israelite warriors (See Judges 7:1-8 for the story of that reduction in force).  And just think about the fact that long before either of these situations, God needed only one elderly couple, past the time of childbearing at that, to produce a nation over half a million men strong by the time of the Exodus from Egypt.  The Hebrew Scriptures thus made abundantly clear that God did not need any certain number of human beings in order to achieve His purposes.

Jonathan knew his Scriptures.  And, because of it, he knew his God.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Scriptures on Principles, Pronouncements, and Examples of Judgment

The Lord executes His judgments in a variety of ways.  (For more on His judgments see Scriptures on Judgment.)  Here are some examples [emphasis, and occasional comments, added]:

1 Samuel 25:39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the LORD, who has pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal and has kept back His servant from evil. The LORD has also returned the evildoing of Nabal on his own head.” …

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1 Samuel 26:9 But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can stretch out his hand against the LORD’S anointed and be without guilt?”
1 Samuel 26:10 David also said, “As the LORD lives, surely the LORD will strike him, or his day will come that he dies, or he will go down into battle and perish.

David knows that it’s wrong to judgment into his own hands.  That’s why he declares that Saul’s evildoing will be judged by the Lord in due time, and with appropriate justice.

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2 Samuel 3:39 “I am weak today, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah are too difficult for me. May the LORD repay the evildoer according to his evil.”

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2 Samuel 6:23 Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.

To appreciate the meaning of this judgment, you really need to read the whole chapter and not just this closing sentence.

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2 Samuel 12:9 ‘Why have you despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon.
2 Samuel 12:10 ‘Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’
2 Samuel 12:11 “Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight.
2 Samuel 12:12 ‘Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.'”

This is God’s judgment against David for his sin with Bathsheba.

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Jeremiah 50:29 “Summon many against Babylon,
All those who bend the bow:
Encamp against her on every side,
Let there be no escape.
Repay her according to her work;
According to all that she has done, so do to her;
For she has become arrogant against the LORD,
Against the Holy One of Israel.

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Jeremiah 51:56 For the destroyer is coming against her, against Babylon,
And her mighty men will be captured,
Their bows are shattered;
For the LORD is a God of recompense,
He will fully repay.

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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.

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Habakkuk 2:8 “Because you have looted many nations,
All the remainder of the peoples will loot you
Because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land,
To the town and all its inhabitants.

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Related post:  Scriptures on Judgment

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

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.)

Scriptures on the New Creation

We know that God is the Creator of heaven and earth (see Scriptures on God as Creator).  We also know that the first humans – Adam and Eve – spoiled the creation by their sin.  And we also know that God promised to redeem and renew His creation.  Here are some verses which speak to this promise which was fulfilled in Jesus Christ our Lord [emphasis, and occasional comments, added]:

Isaiah 43:18 “Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
Isaiah 43:19 “Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.

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Isaiah 65:17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.

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Isaiah 66:22 “For just as the new heavens and the new earth
Which I make will endure before Me,” declares the LORD,
“So your offspring and your name will endure.

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Acts 3:19 “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;
Acts 3:20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you,
Acts 3:21 whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.

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Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

The “Adam to come” is, of course, the beginning of the new creation.

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1 Corinthians 15:45 So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

That Jesus is “Adam” speaks of a new creation; that He is the “last” Adam speaks of the eternal nature of that new creation.

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2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

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2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

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Galatians 6:15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

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Ephesians 2:14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,
Ephesians 2:15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,
Ephesians 2:16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

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Ephesians 4:20 But you did not learn Christ in this way,
Ephesians 4:21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus,
Ephesians 4:22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,
Ephesians 4:23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,
Ephesians 4:24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

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2 Peter 3:13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

Peter surely would have been thinking about the promises through Isaiah (listed above) when he wrote this line.

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Revelation 3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:

Whether it’s the original creation or the new one, it is true that Messiah was the beginning of it.

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Revelation 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
Revelation 21:2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
Revelation 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,
Revelation 21:4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
Revelation 21:5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

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Related post:  Scriptures on God as Creator

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

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

Scriptures on God as Creator

Of course, the Scriptures give an account of God as Creator in the first two chapters of Genesis.  Nonetheless, there are many other places in the Scriptures where the prophets and apostles reference this important truth, even if only fleetingly.  This idea would not be mentioned repeatedly in the Scriptures unless it were important, and the fact that it is therefore challenged often in the world today is no surprise.  Here then are some of the verses which reinforce the truth of creation [emphasis added]:

Exodus 20:11 “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

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Deuteronomy 4:32 “Indeed, ask now concerning the former days which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and inquire from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything been done like this great thing, or has anything been heard like it?

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2 Kings 19:15 Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said, “O LORD, the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.

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1 Chronicles 16:26 For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the LORD made the heavens.

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Nehemiah 9:6 “You alone are the LORD.
You have made the heavens,
The heaven of heavens with all their host,
The earth and all that is on it,
The seas and all that is in them.
You give life to all of them
And the heavenly host bows down before You.

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Psalm 24:1 The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains,
The world, and those who dwell in it.
Psalm 24:2 For He has founded it upon the seas
And established it upon the rivers.

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Psalm 90:1 Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Psalm 90:2 Before the mountains were born
Or You gave birth to the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

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Psalm 95:5 The sea is His, for it was He who made it,
And His hands formed the dry land.

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Psalm 96:4 For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised;
He is to be feared above all gods.
Psalm 96:5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the LORD made the heavens.

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Psalm 102:25 “Of old You founded the earth,
And the heavens are the work of Your hands.

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Psalm 115:15 May you be blessed of the LORD,
Maker of heaven and earth.

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Psalm 121:2 My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

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Psalm 124:8 Our help is in the name of the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

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Psalm 134:3 May the LORD bless you from Zion,
He who made heaven and earth.

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Psalm 136:5 To Him who made the heavens with skill,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting;
Psalm 136:6 To Him who spread out the earth above the waters,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting;
Psalm 136:7 To Him who made the great lights,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting:
Psalm 136:8 The sun to rule by day,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
Psalm 136:9 The moon and stars to rule by night,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

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Psalm 146:5 How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
Whose hope is in the LORD his God,
Psalm 146:6 Who made heaven and earth,
The sea and all that is in them;
Who keeps faith forever;

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Proverbs 3:19 The LORD by wisdom founded the earth,
By understanding He established the heavens.

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Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them”;

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Isaiah 40:28 Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.

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Isaiah 44:24 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb,
“I, the LORD, am the maker of all things,
Stretching out the heavens by Myself
And spreading out the earth all alone,

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Isaiah 45:11 Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker:
“Ask Me about the things to come concerning My sons,
And you shall commit to Me the work of My hands.
Isaiah 45:12 “It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it.
I stretched out the heavens with My hands
And I ordained all their host.

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Isaiah 51:13 That you have forgotten the LORD your Maker,
Who stretched out the heavens
And laid the foundations of the earth,
That you fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor,
As he makes ready to destroy?
But where is the fury of the oppressor?

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Isaiah 66:1 Thus says the LORD,
“Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool.
Where then is a house you could build for Me?
And where is a place that I may rest?
Isaiah 66:2 “For My hand made all these things,
Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD.
“But to this one I will look,
To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.

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Jeremiah 10:12 It is He who made the earth by His power,
Who established the world by His wisdom;
And by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens.

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Jeremiah 32:17 ‘Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You,

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Jeremiah 33:2 “Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it, the LORD is His name,

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Jonah 1:9 He [Jonah] said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.

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Matthew 19:4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE,

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Mark 13:19 “For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will.

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Acts 4:24 And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is You who MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA, AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM,

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Acts 14:14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out
Acts 14:15 and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM.

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Acts 17:23 “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.
Acts 17:24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands;
Acts 17:25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;
Acts 17:26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,
Acts 17:27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;
Acts 17:28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’

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Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
Romans 1:21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Romans 1:22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
Romans 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Romans 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
Romans 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

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Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him.
Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

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Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

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1 Peter 4:19 Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

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2 Peter 3:5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water,

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Revelation 10:5 Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven,
Revelation 10:6 and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, WHO CREATED HEAVEN AND THE THINGS IN IT, AND THE EARTH AND THE THINGS IN IT, AND THE SEA AND THE THINGS IN IT, that there will be delay no longer,

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Revelation 14:6 And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people;
Revelation 14:7 and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.

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Related post:  Scriptures on the New Creation

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

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

Scriptures on Judgment

The concept of judgment is prominent in the Scriptures.  However, people recognize it more readily in the Old Testament than they do in the New Testament teaching.  Yet judgment is portrayed just as prominent in the kingdom of God as in all the administrations of God prior to it.  For example, consider this admonition of Peter:

1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

Consider also that Jesus coming to judge the living and the dead was a prominent theme of apostolic preaching.  Therefore, need to see a continuity between the judgments of God in the Old Testament and those that would come with the kingdom of God.  The list of verses that follow should help you do that [emphasis added]:

Genesis 18:25 “Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”

This is Abraham speaking to God at the time of Sodom and Gomorrah’s judgment.

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Psalm 19:9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.

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Matthew 10:28 “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

The Greek word translated as “hell” in this verse is “Gehenna” which was a valley outside of Jerusalem which symbolized judgment.  Therefore, it is not talking about afterlife but rather the judgment upon those outside the kingdom of God.  For more on this see Chapter 10 of The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven, titled “But What About Hell?”

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Matthew 16:27 “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.

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Acts 10:40 “God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible,
Acts 10:41 not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.
Acts 10:42 “And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.

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Acts 17:30 “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,
Acts 17:31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

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Romans 2:14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves,
Romans 2:15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,
Romans 2:16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

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1 Corinthians 5:13 But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.

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Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

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James 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.

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1 Peter 4:15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler;
1 Peter 4:16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.
1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
1 Peter 4:18 AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER?
1 Peter 4:19 Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

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For more on God’s judgments, see Scriptures on Examples and Pronouncements of Judgment.

God’s kindness leads us to repentance that we might avoid His severity.  (See Scriptures on Kindness and Severity.)

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

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

Scriptures on God’s Activities

Do we think God is idle?  Of course not!  His work, however, is done in hiddenness.  Therefore, we need to trust in His workings, knowing that the evidence of His acts will inevitably become manifest.  Therefore, let us remind ourselves of His doings, and the conditions under which they take place [emphasis, and occasional comments, added]:

Psalm 126:5 Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
Psalm 126:6 He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed,
Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

Whether a farmer sows his seed with sorrow or with joy, God causes the seed to grow.  See also Mark 4:26-27 below.

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Matthew 1:21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

He saves us from our sins by leading us, by His Holy Spirit, away from them.  He also saves us from our sins at death by taking us to heaven.

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Mark 4:26 And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil;
Mark 4:27 and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows–how, he himself does not know.

Man’s work is to sow the seed.  While he rests, God works.  This is consistent with the picture painted above in Psalm 126:5-6.

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John 5:17 But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”

Jesus is reminding His fellow Jews that God was thinking and acting on behalf of His plan for them.

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1 Corinthians 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.
1 Corinthians 3:7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.

Paul outlines the division of labor, familiar to anyone who understood agriculture – and, of course, consistent with Psalm 126:5-6 and Mark 4:26-27 above.

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2 Corinthians 6:1 And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain–

This “working together” that Paul references is of that nature described a little more specifically in his earlier letter to these folks (1 Corinthians 3:6-7, which see above).  God gives the growth – but we have to be sure to plant the seed and water it!

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Philippians 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

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Philippians 2:12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;
Philippians 2:13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

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Philippians 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;

God reveals things to us; that is, He makes things known to us.

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Colossians 2:12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

It is right that we should believe in the working of God, and, for this reason, we believe that Jesus’ resurrection was God’s work.  Let us never lose faith in the working of God, because, even when we sow in sadness, He works (see Psalm 126:5-6 above), and even when we sleep, He works (see Mark 4:26:27 above).  God is faithful; He “watches over His word to perform it” (Jeremiah 1:12).

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1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.

This allusion to the seed of the word of God in the heart is consistent with the imagery of 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (see above).

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2 Timothy 2:7 Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

The Lord reveals things to us, He makes us to understand them. See 1 John 2:27 below.

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

The Lord has a teaching ministry even today.  He will teach you all things.  Have faith in this work of His.  By this work of His – that is, He teaching ministry – you have received understanding (see 2 Timothy 2:7 above).

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

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

Scriptures on the Poor

God wants us to care about the poor.  Here are some scriptures which confirm this [emphasis added]:

Deuteronomy 15:11 “For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.’

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1 Samuel 2:8 “He raises the poor from the dust,
He lifts the needy from the ash heap
To make them sit with nobles,
And inherit a seat of honor;
For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S,
And He set the world on them.

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Psalm 34:6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.

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Psalm 37:25 I have been young and now I am old,
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
Or his descendants begging bread.

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Psalm 113:7 He raises the poor from the dust
And lifts the needy from the ash heap,

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Daniel 4:27 ‘Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.’

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Amos 4:1 Hear this word, you cows of Bashan who are on the mountain of Samaria,
Who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,
Who say to your husbands, “Bring now, that we may drink!”

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Matthew 6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 6:2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
Matthew 6:3 “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
Matthew 6:4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

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Matthew 11:5 the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM.

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Matthew 19:21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

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Mark 12:41 And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums.
Mark 12:42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.
Mark 12:43 Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury;
Mark 12:44 for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”

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Mark 14:7 “For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me.

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Luke 4:18 “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME,
BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR.
HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES,
AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND,
TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,

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Luke 6:20 And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

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Luke 7:22 And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM.

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John 12:3 Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
John 12:4 But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, *said,
John 12:5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?”
John 12:6 Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.
John 12:7 Therefore Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial.
John 12:8 “For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.”

And the story of Judas Isacariot and the issue of the poor continues:

John 13:26 Jesus then *answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He *took and *gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.
John 13:27 After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus *said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”
John 13:28 Now no one of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him.
John 13:29 For some were supposing, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus was saying to him, “Buy the things we have need of for the feast”; or else, that he should give something to the poor.

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Galatians 2:10 They only asked us to remember the poor–the very thing I also was eager to do.

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Romans 15:26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.
Romans 15:27 Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things.

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2 Corinthians 8:13 For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality–
2 Corinthians 8:14 at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality;
2 Corinthians 8:15 as it is written, “HE WHO gathered MUCH DID NOT HAVE TOO MUCH, AND HE WHO gathered LITTLE HAD NO LACK.”

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James 2:2 For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes,
James 2:3 and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,”
James 2:4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?
James 2:5 Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

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James 2:15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,
James 2:16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?

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1 John 3:16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
1 John 3:17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?
1 John 3:18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

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Other posts related to the poor:

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

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

Scriptures on the Radically Different Way that Jesus Thought

Jesus said things that were stunning to His disciples – and stunning to us as well.  It’s obvious that He thought in a way different from the way most of us think.  Of course, the point of His sharing His way of thinking is so that we can adopt it.  Therefore, let us medidate these kinds of statements from Jesus that we might practice them…until they no longer seem strange to us.

Here’s as good a place as any to start:

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
Matthew 6:25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
Matthew 6:27 “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?
Matthew 6:28 “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin,
Matthew 6:29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.
Matthew 6:30 “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!
Matthew 6:31 “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’
Matthew 6:32 “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

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Matthew 18:21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
Matthew 18:22 Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

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

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

The Fruit of the Spirit Are the Root of Christ

The fruit of the Spirit could always be picked from Christ’s tree – for He was, and is, the tree of life.  That is, the fruit of the Spirit are the character traits of Jesus Christ.  Consider the nine fruit of the Spirit now, and consider them in comparison with the deeds of the flesh, which are far more characteristic of humanity.

Galatians 5:19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
Galatians 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,
Galatians 5:21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Galatians  5:23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Let us therefore follow Christ so that this fruit of the Spirit might be brought forth in us.

For more study of specific virtues of Jesus Christ, see this post.

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

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

The Path Christ Paved to the Kingdom of God

In the following passage, the apostle Peter explains how one prepares for, and gains access to, the kingdom of God.  Of course, he was writing in the days just before the kingdom came.  It has since come, and is in our midst.  But entrance to the kingdom of God is still gained only by those willing to let the Lord’s grace make them worthy of it.  Peter observed Jesus’ life and ministry firsthand for three years.  He describes here the path Christ paved that we might walk it.

2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;
2 Peter 1:3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
2 Peter 1:4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
2 Peter 1:5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
2 Peter 1:6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
2 Peter 1:7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
2 Peter  1:8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
2 Peter  1:10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
2 Peter 1:11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

Note especially the “qualities” (to use Peter’s word from verse 8) listed in verses 5 through 7.  The practice of these virtues, according to verses 10 and 11 make entrance to the kingdom available…to whoever is practicing them!  This is the path Christ paved with His own behavior.  Let us walk it!

For more on some of the specific virtues of Christ, see this post.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The World of Vegetation Provides Many Comparisons to Spiritual Realities

Consider what happened on the third day of creation:

Genesis 1:9 Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so.
Genesis 1:10 God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:11 Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them”; and it was so.
Genesis 1:12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:13 There was evening and there was morning, a third day.

Over and over, the Bible’s authors return to this aspect of creation to teach us about God and the spirit world.  These include sowing and reaping, seed and fruit, growth, and so on.  By meditating on the way God manages the physical creation, we can better understand how He manages the spiritual creation.  This is how we learn the ways of God – for the God of nature is spirit.  That is, one and the same God rules all.  It stands to reason that His ways would be consistent in both physical and spiritual dimensions.

Such expanded comparisons, or extended metaphors, can show up as parables – such as the important one we read in Mark 4 (Matthew 13 and Luke 8).  I say “important” because regarding it Jesus said:

Mark 4:13 And He *said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables?

God is not trying to teach us agricutural principles.  Rather, He’s teaching us spiritual principles and using well-known and simple agricultural principles (that even a child can understand) to do so.  Even when the Bible seems to be talking about agricultural principles, it is actually signaling spiritual realities.

Here are some of the words used.  In every case, the agrigcultural term is being used in a spiritual sense.  It would be too much to try to list every biblical word used from this broad analogy.  Consider this but a representative sample. The verses given are occasions where that physical reality is used to explain some spiritual reality relevant to us because of the good news of Jesus Christ.

branch  –  Zechariah 3:8

bread  –  2 Corinthians 9:10

bush  –  Jeremiah 17:5-8  (compare and contrast with “tree”)

crops  –  Mark 4:28

desert  –  Jeremiah 17:5-8 (contrast with locales which have streams of water or sufficient rainfall)

farmer  –  James 5:7

field  –  John 4:35; 1 Corinthians 3:6-9

flower  –  James 1:10-11; 1 Peter 1:24-25

fruit  –  Romans 1:13; Colossians 1:6

fruitless  –  1 Timothy 1:6

grain  –  John 12:4; 1 Corinthians 15:36-37

grass  –  James 1:10-11; 1 Peter 1:24-25

ground  –  Ephesians 3:17; Hebrews 6:7-8 (see also “field,” “land,” and “soil”)

grow  –  Mark 4:26-29  (see also “sprout”)

harvest  –  Matthew 21:34; Luke 10:2 (see also “reap”)

implant  –  James 1:21  (see also “plant” or “sow”)

laborers  –  Luke 10:2

land  –  Luke 12:16  (see also “field,” “ground,” and “soil”)

leaf, leaves  –  Psalm 1; Jeremiah 17:5-8;

plant  – Matthew 15:13; 1 Corinthians 3:6-9 (see also “implant”)

produce  –  Matthew 21:34; James 5:7

rain  –  Hebrews 6:7-8; James 5:7

reap  –  Matthew 25:34 (see also “harvest”; also contrast and compare with “sow”)

river(s)  –  Revelation 22:2

rod  –  Hebrews 9:4  (a rod, of course, is a dead and severed “branch”)

root  –  Isaiah 6:13; Daniel 4:26; Mark 4:17; Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 2:7

season  –  Matthew 21:41; 2 Timothy 4:2

seed  –  Luke 8:11

soil  –  James 5:7  (see also “field,” “ground,” and “land”)

sprout  –  Mark 4:26-29  (see also “grow”)

sun  –  Mark 4:6

sow  –  Galatians 6:7 (see also “plant” or “implant”; also contrast and compare with “reap”)

sower  –  Mark 4:3, 14; 2 Corinthians 9:10

stream(s)  –  Psalm 1; Jeremiah 17:5-8

stump  –  Isaiah 6:13; Daniel 4:26

thorns and thistles  –  Hebrews 6:7-8

till  –  Hebrews 6:7-8

tree  –  See Scriptures on Trees  (see also “plant”; also compare and contrast with “bush”).

unfruitful  –  Titus 3:14; 2 Peter 1:8

uprooted  –  Matthew 15:13; Jude 1:12

vegetation  –  Matthew 7:16

vine  –  John 15:5

vineyard  –  Matthew 21:33

water  –  1 Corinthians 3:6-9

without fruit  –  Jude 1:12

Of course, I have only given a sampling of the chapter-and-verse references.  You can find many more for most of these words.  And by searching for them you will probably be engaging in fruitful study of the Bible.

A similar “expanded comparison” (i.e. complex of linked metaphors, into, as it were, a parable) is the world of animals.

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

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Scriptures on Faith in Christ

Here are some Scriptures on faith in Christ [emphasis added].  Note how the Bible directs our faith to Christ.  That is, faith in God is faith in Christ.  Be aware also that while “faith” and “believe” or “believing” may not look like cognates in English, they certainly are in Greek.

Matthew 18:6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

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John 1:11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.
John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

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John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

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John 8:30 As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him.
John 8:31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;
John 8:32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

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John 14:1 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.

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John 17:20 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;

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John 20:29 Jesus *said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.
John 20:30 Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;
John 20:31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

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Acts 3:16 “And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.

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Acts 16:31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

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Acts 19:4 Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”

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Acts 20:21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Acts 24:24 But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus.

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Acts 26:18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’

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Romans 3:21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
Romans 3:22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 3:24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
Romans 3:25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;
Romans 3:26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

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Galatians 2:16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.

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Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

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Galatians 3:22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
Galatians 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.
Galatians 3:24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.
Galatians 3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
Galatians 3:26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

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Ephesians 1:15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints,

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Ephesians 3:11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,
Ephesians 3:12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.

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Philippians 3:9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,

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Colossians 1:4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints;

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Colossians 2:5 For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.

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1 Timothy 1:16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

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1 Timothy 3:13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

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2 Timothy 3:14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
2 Timothy 3:15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

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Philemon 1:4 I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers,
Philemon 1:5 because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints;
Philemon 1:6 and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake.

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James 2:1 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.

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1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1 Peter 1:4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
1 Peter 1:5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
1 Peter 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,
1 Peter 1:7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
1 Peter 1:8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
1 Peter 1:9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

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1 John 3:23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.

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1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

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Revelation 14:12 Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

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The apostles sometimes spoke of faith in Christ as “the faith” – you can find some scriptures with this phrasing listed here.

Here are some other important biblical concepts.

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

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

Scriptures on Obedience to Christ

We who call on the name of Christ should be found obeying Christ.  Here are some scriptures that speak to that, some directly and some indirectly [emphasis added]:

Genesis 49:10 “The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes,
And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

Luke 1:17 “It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Luke 6:46 “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

Luke 9:35 Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!”

Acts 3:22 “Moses said, ‘THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you.

Acts 7:39 “Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt,

1 Corinthians 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.

2 Corinthians 10:5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

Philippians 2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
Philippians 2:6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
Philippians 2:7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
Philippians 2:8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Hebrews 5:9 And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,

1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen
1 Peter 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

Obedience to Christ is an important biblical concept.  Here are some others.

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

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.)

Some Promises from God by Which We May Live

Here are some promises that God has made to us through Jesus Christ our Lord.  They are the grace of God to us, and we can live by them.

Psalm 25:14 The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him,
And He will make them know His covenant.

Psalm 34:11 Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

Proverbs 1:23 “Turn to my reproof,
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.

Jeremiah 33:3 ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

John 6:37 “…the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”

John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

Ephesians 6:2 HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise),
Ephesians 6:3 SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.

These are but a few of the many promises God has made to us through Jesus Christ our Lord.

For more explanation of God’s promises, see this post.

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

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

It’s Better to Have a Unified Heart Than a Divided Heart

Here are scriptures that speak of whole-hearted devotion as well as divided loyalties and half-hearted service [bold added to focus the point]:

Deuteronomy 6:5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

1 Chronicles 12:33 Of Zebulun, there were 50,000 who went out in the army, who could draw up in battle formation with all kinds of weapons of war and helped David with an undivided heart.

2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His

2 Chronicles 25:2 He did right in the sight of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart.

Psalm 12:2 They speak falsehood to one another;
With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.

Psalm 103:1 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.

Ps 119:113 I hate those who are double-minded,
But I love Your law.

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Matthew 12:25 And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.

1 Corinthians 7:34 and his interests are divided

James 1:8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Revelation 3:15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.
Revelation 3:16 ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

Give your whole heart – not just some portion of it – to serving the Lord.

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

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

Scriptures on Salvation

In this age, God has given us a complete salvation.  It is a salvation not of our circumstances, but rather of our souls.  Through this salvation, our hearts are blessed beyond measure – no matter what is going on around us.

The Scriptures speak of this salvation in many ways.  Here are some of those ways, with commentary following each:

Hebrews 9:28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

The Second Coming of Christ in the late 1st Century marked the moment at which the eternal age of Christ began.  Even today, those who look to Him can receive His fullness in their hearts (Ephesians 3:16-17), just as it came to 1st-century hearts.

Psalm 50:23 “…to him who orders his way aright
I shall show the salvation of God.”

The salvation of God is for those who are worthy of it (Ephesians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:12).  That is, we must walk the straight and narrow path to the kingdom of God if we are to find it at all (Matthew 7:13-14).  God promises to make the entrance clear to us if we indeed walk that path (see also 2 Peter 1:5-11).

Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation…

If we sin, we must stop and cry out for God to restore our sick souls.  We should not try to live without the salvation of God, which is the blessing of God on our hearts.

James 1:21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

“Save” is a cognate of “salvation.”  Thus, it is the word of God in our hearts that is the agent of restoration in our souls.  Never stop listening for God.  When you cease to hear him, stop…and ask Him to restore your soul., which means that He will be on speaking terms with you once again.  Your soul cannot live without His voice.  Always seek it.  And speaking of having our souls restored…

Psalm 23:3 He restores my soul…

There is, however, something even better than God restoring our souls.

Hebrews 10:39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

By holding fast our faith, we preserve our souls – which is even better than restoration.  That is, the goal is to always possess our souls, not lose them so that they can be restored.  It’s wonderful that God will restore our souls when we’ve lost them, but even better not to lose them.  Here are some scriptures on possessing, losing, and reclaiming our souls:

Luke 21:19 “In your patience possess ye your souls.”  (King James Version)

Mark 8:36 “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?

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

Let us strive to possess our souls at all time.  When and if we do lose them, let us seek God immediately for restoration.  And even then let us have our hearts set on maturing.

Because this salvation is independent of circumstances, Paul could write:

Philippians 4:12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.

Paul had learned this lesson, at least in part, through this circumstance:

2 Corinthians 12:7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me–to keep me from exalting myself!
2 Corinthians 12:8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

Thus there is to be a flow of grace to us…and through us…in any and every circmstance:

2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;

Here then is a promise of salvation to everyone who truly loves the Lord:

Psalm 91:14 “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
Psalm 91:15 “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
Psalm 91:16 “With a long life I will satisfy him
And let him see My salvation.”

As for how salvation correlates with truth, see this post.

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

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

God Is Able

I have made bold some of the things God is able to do:

Daniel 4:37 “…He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”

Matthew 3:9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.

Romans 4:21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.

Romans 14:4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Romans 16:25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past,

2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;

Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,

2 Timothy 1:12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

Hebrews 2:18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

Hebrews 11:19 He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead

Jude 1:24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,

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

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

Covenant

In biblical terms, a covenant is an agreement that establishes a relationship.  The covenant relationship takes shape based on the exchanged promises that constitute it.  Thus God did not make an isolated promise or two to Abraham, but rather made various promises (e.g. numerous descendants and abundant blessings) in the context of the relationship He would have with Abraham and his descendants.

God expanded the covenant with Abraham’s descendants through Moses.  He gave the Law (the Jewish word was “Torah”) which entailed commandments which Israel was to follow as a sovereign nation under God’s personal dominion.  While God’s covenant with Abraham was oriented to family interests, His covenant through Moses was oriented to national interests.  This expansion was fitting, given how God’s promise to multiply Abraham’s descendants had been abundantly fulfilled.  The covenant governed God’s interactions with His people.  The ninth chapter of the book of Nehemiah outlines the history of that covenant relationship – its ups and downs.  It was a rocky relationship, but God was always faithful to hold up His end of the bargain.

Jesus came to establish a new covenant:

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 covenant that had been explicitly promised by the prophets Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 31:31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,

This new covenant would last forever, never needing to be replaced.  Thus is was called a “better covenant” in Hebrews 7:22 and 8:6, and an “eternal covenant” in Hebrews 13:20.

“Covenant” is an important biblical concept because it demonstrates, and helps us better understand, God’s desire to live in relationship with us.  That is, His fondest desire is not to live at a distance from us, but rather in close and defined relationship with us.  This concept of covenant relationship is present throughout the Bible.  Both God’s promises and commandments are best understood as components of it.

Here are some more posts referencing “covenant.”

For more on how the word “covenant” relates to the word “promise,” see here.

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

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

The Will of God

When you hear modern Christians discuss “the will of God,” it sounds like something unknown, waiting to be discovered.  When you read the Bible, however, “the will of God” sounds more like something revealed, waiting to be followed.  For this reason, “the will of God” is all the more an important biblical concept worth understanding well.

Here are some examples of how the Bible typically speaks of the will of God [emphasis added]:

Ezra 10:11 “Now therefore, make confession to the LORD God of your fathers and do His will

Psalm 40:8 I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your Law is within my heart.”

Matthew 6:10 …Your will be done

Mark 3:35 “For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

John 9:31 “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.

Acts 13:22 “After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will do all My will.’

Romans 2:17 But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely upon the Law and boast in God,
Romans 2:18 and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law,

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Ephesians 5:17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 6:5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ;
Ephesians 6:6 not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.

1 Thessalonians 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;

1 Thessalonians 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 10:36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

1 Peter 2:15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.

1 Peter 4:2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

1 John 2:17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

None of this is meant to say that any of us has full and complete understanding of God’s will.  Surely we discover its finer points as we pray daily for His direction.  However, such praying can only be effective if we begin it with the understanding that God has already revealed His will to a signficant degree in the Scriptures and that to ignore this is counterproductive.  As the proverb says:

Proverbs 28:9 He who turns away his ear from listening to the law,
Even his prayer is an abomination.

We should also remember what Jesus said:

Matthew 13:12 “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.

That is, if you think and act according to the will of God as you understand it, you will receive yet more understanding.  But if you ignore the understanding you already have, you not only will not receive more understanding, you will eventually lose the understanding you have.

Thus we should seek to understand the will of God and do it, then pray to understand it better…day by day by day.

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

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

Truth

“Truth” is a key biblical concept.

The Scriptures presume the concept of objective truth, even though there have always been those who question it:

John 18:37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
John 18:38 Pilate *said to Him, “What is truth?”…

As to truth, both testaments claim that God’s words are expressions of it:

Psalm 119:160 The sum of Your word is truth…

John 17:17 “…Your word is truth.

And, specifically, that Scripture, as a record of God’s words, is utterly reliable:

John 10:35 “…the Scripture cannot be broken),

The apostle Paul even makes explicit the point that if the New Testament’s central historical claim – that Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures – was false, then the entirety of the apostolic message about Christ fell with it in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19.

The Bible even personifies truth in Jesus Christ:

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

John 14:6 Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth…

Many voices in our modern age proclaim that truth is relative and subjective, but the Bible sees truth as something sure, certain, and independent of what any individual may think about it.  Truth is not determined by majority vote.  In fact, truth is truth even if no one votes for it.

Here’s another post with various scriptures on truth.  And here’s another on truth versus lies (true versus false).

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

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

Promises

“Promise” is an important biblical concept.

The Old Testament is that set of documents associated with the prophets of ancient Israel.  The New Testament is that set of documents associated with the apostles of Jesus Christ.  The apostles claimed that promises made on behalf of God by Israel’s prophets were fulfilled in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Old Testament is replete with these promises, but the most obvious examples of them were addressed to Abraham and, later, to a his descendant David.  These promises focused on an heir to whom, and through whom, would come extraordinary achievement and blessing.  This promised heir was called by many names, but most obviously by the name “Messiah” (i.e., “Christ”).  Thus to call Jesus of Nazareth by the name Jesus Christ is to claim that he is the fulfillment of those promises from God.

In this way, the two testaments are tied inextricably to each other.  The Old Testament is promise; the New Testament is fulfillment.  Implicit in all this is God’s nature as one who promises and then is faithful to make good on what He has promised.

Scripture passages relevant to this concept of promise and fulfillment, specifically of the Messiah (the Christ):

Acts 13:22-24

Romans 1:1-4; 9:3-5; 16:25-27

1 Corinthians 15:3-4

2 Corinthians 1:19-20

Titus 1:2

The apostles also claim that those who belong to Jesus Christ are heirs to the great and gracious promises that were his.  See 2 Peter 1:4.  Thus even though God has fulfilled all His promises in Jesus Christ, He continues to be true to those promises today for all those who live faithful to Christ.

Here is a listing of some of God’s specific promises to us.

The word “promise” is closely related in the Bible to the word “covenant.”  And here is a post showing how the two words relate to each other.

For yet more on the promises of God, see these posts.

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

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

Don’t Hate Who and What You Should Love

If you would love God, you must learn to love what He loves and hate what He hates.  That includes being sure you don’t love the wrong things, and also that you don’t hate things you should love – some examples of which are included below [Emphasis added]:

Micah 3:2 “You who hate good and love evil, 

John 15:18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.

John 15:23 “He who hates Me hates My Father also.
John 15:24 “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well.
John 15:25 “But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE.’

Romans 1:30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,

2 Timothy 3:3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,

Titus 3:3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.

(The all capitals at the end of John 15:25 are indication that he is quoting the Old Testament.)

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

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.)

Loving the Wrong Things

People often choose to love the wrong things.  Make wise choices!  Don’t love the wrong things [which are indicated below in bold print]:

Micah 3:2 “You who hate good and love evil,

Matthew 23:6 “They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues,
Matthew 23:7 and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men.

Luke 16:14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him.

John 3:19 “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

John 12:43 for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

2 Timothy 3:2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,

2 Timothy 3:4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

2 Timothy 4:10 for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica;

Hebrews 13:5 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,”

2 Peter 2:15 forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

3 John 1:9 I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.

Revelation 12:11 “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

Revelation 22:15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.

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

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

What to Love and What to Hate

The Scriptures instruct those who would love God to love certain things, and hate other things.  This is because God loves certain things and hates other things.  We please God when we love whatHe loves and hate what He hates.  Conversely, we displease God when we hate the things He loves and love the things.  Here are some samples.  Actually reading the referenced Scriptures will bring additional light on the subject addressed.

If we love God, we should love and not hate:

God’s appearing  –  2 Timothy 4:8

God’s commandments  –  Psalm 119:47, 48, 127

God’s law  –  Psalm 119:97, 113, 163, 165

God’s name  –  Psalm 5:11; 69:36; 119:132; Isaiah 56:6; Hebrews 6:10

God’s salvation  –  Psalm 40:16; 70:4

Good  –  Amos 5:15; Titus 1:8

Light  –  John 3:19-21

Other people  –  1 John 4:20-21

Peace  –  Zechariah 8:19

Righteousness  –  Hebrews 1:9; Psalm 45:7

Truth  –  Zechariah 8:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:10

If we love God, we should hate and not love:

Apostasy  –  Psalm 101:3

Arrogance  –  Proverbs 8:13

Darkness  –  John 3:19-21

Double-mindedness  –  Psalm 119:113

Evil  –  Psalm 97:10; Proverbs 8:13; Amos 5:15; Romans 12:9

Falsehood  –  Psalm 119:163

Lawlessness  –  Hebrews 1:9

Perverted mouth  –  Proverbs 8:13

Pride  –  Proverbs 8:13

Wickedness  –  Psalm 45:7

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

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