The Apostles Learned a Lot in the Time Covered by the Book of Acts

Even though Jesus gave His disciples an intensive and dramatic Bible study during the forty days between His resurrection from the dead and His ascension into heaven (see Luke 24 for a partial description, especially verses 25-27, 31-32, and 44-48), these disciples still had much to learn.  As He had told them on the eve of His crucifixion, “I have many more things to tell you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12).  And even the forty-day seminar wasn’t enough time to convey it all.

In Acts 1:6, just before His ascension, the disciples were still curious about the political administration of Israel.

In Acts 1:26, they realized they had to start asking Jesus questions in an entirely different way, given that He was now enthroned in the heavens.  This is, however, the first and last recorded incident we have of their resorting to casting lots.

In Acts 10:14, Peter is found still clinging to the notion of dietary restrictions – even though Jesus had previously taught that those restrictions were being made obsolete (Mark 7:19).  In Acts 11:1-18, Peter recounts the entire experience that led him to this understanding.

In Acts 15:1-33, the issue was circumcision.  Again, the answer was that the life of the spirit transcended the regulations of the flesh (see Romans 8 for an elegant and pithy summary of this principle).  The grace of Jesus Christ was a new – and entirely sufficient – expression of the Law of Moses (John 1:17).

Further, you can tell from the epistles that all these lessons were not immediately and comprehensively understood.  Questions about circumcision, food, and other Mosaic issues continued to arise (see especially Paul’s letter to the Galatians).

As it says in Proverbs 4:18, “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.”  We cannot take all of the Lord’s light at once.  It would blind us!  That’s why He lets His truth dawn on us.  (There’s a reason that we don’t go from the black of midnight to the brilliance of a noon-day sun in the physical realm, and this principle applies to the spiritual.)

If the Lord’s truth is not continually dawning on you, perhaps it is because you have closed yourself off from it.  We should  be learning every day from the Lord.  He wants to teach us more and more about Himself and His ways.

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

If You Work the Harvest, Be Sure the Wheat Goes into His Barn – Not Ours

Perhaps you are laboring in the harvest of souls for Jesus Christ.  If so, I hope you will remember to store the wheat in Jesus’ barn (Matthew 13:30) and not in one of ours.

That’s what’s wrong with church today – it’s an attempt to store the Lord’s harvest in human, earthly barns.  The Lord wants people to look to Him – not each other.

Remember: it’s the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of men.

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

The Elect Were Gathered to Him – That’s Why No One Saw It

When the kingdom of God came, the elect were gathered to Jesus – just as He promised (Matthew 24:30-31).  That’s why no one saw it happen.  This was a spiritual transaction between human hearts and God – not a transaction between human beings.

Disciples had been gathered to churches, to each other.  But the coming of the kingdom was the time to be gathered to the Lord – the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5).

To those whose hearts weren’t ready, His coming was like a thief in the night (Matthew 24:43-44).  That is, He escaped notice.

He is still escaping notice.  The churches can’t find Him.  Not that they’re seriously looking for Him anyway.  They’re too busy trying to grow their attendance or their offerings.  I know, I used to be one of them.

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

The New Testament Church was Shiloh – The Church Afterward Was Ichabod

Jeremiah warned the people of God about their laxity regarding sin by invoking the lesson of Shiloh (Jeremiah 7).

In earlier times, the ark of God rested in Shiloh but the people of Israel ignored the laws handed down to them by Moses.  They kept up a certain amount of ritual, but tolerated corruption in those who represented them before the Lord (1 Samuel 2:27-34).  God withdrew Israel’s protection and the ark of the covenant was taken from Shiloh by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:16-22).

This foreshadowed the experience of the New Testament church.  As the early church grew, it became lax in its zeal for righteousness.  Its leaders gave in to the corruption that so often comes with power.  By no means was everyone in the church corrupt.  When the Lord came, He plucked out those whose hearts were true to Him and gave them His light in their hearts to guide them.  The rest were left in their darkness to continue in the institutionalization of the church.  For this reason it is Ichabod (that is, “the glory has departed” – 1 Samuel 4:21-22).

Thus you may think of the church as Ichabod ever since.  Yes, the light of Jesus flickers here and their through church history whenever and wherever His word is preached.  However, it never takes long for the forces of corruption to infect such movements and siphon off their energy as they attempt to institutionalize that which cannot ever be put under the control of men: the Spirit of God.

What are we to do?  Seek the Kingdom of God Instead of Church!

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

The Apostles Were Mighty Men of David

If David was a type of Christ (and he surely was), then his “mighty men” were types of the apostles.

The mighty men of David, who made Him strong in His kingdom, were enumerated in 2 Samuel 23 and 1 Chronicles 11.  These stalwart men gave David strong support in his kingdom.

Certainly, the apostles gave strong support to Christ as He prepared for His kingdom.  Through the sacrifice of their lives we have the New Testament, in which (combined with the Old Testament) are the keys to that kingdom.

Christ is reigning as king now.  Will you be a mighty man to give Him strong support in that kingdom?  Or are you one of those who says there is no king in Israel and everyone should do what is right in His own eyes?  (Judges 21:25)

The Kingdom of God Is Here and Now

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

When Did Christ Leave the Church?

Christ left the church when He came in the glory of His kingdom (Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again).

The apostles saw the church as a means of preparing people for the coming of the kingdom of God.  Once the kingdom came, that time of preparation was over.  The perfect had come, the partial could be abandoned (1 Corinthians 13:10).

Jesus still attends the faithful preaching of His word – whether in a church or out of it.  Wherever and whenever someone believes, He sends His Holy Spirit.  But He is no longer adding believers to the church – He is seeking believers for His kingdom.  This means He is seeking those who will remain true to Him and Him alone.

Church Is Not the Answer; Christ Is

How to Be in the One True Church

P.S. When did Christ leave His word?  Christ never leaves His word.  His word endures forever.  That’s why whenever Christ is proclaimed – even in the church – people who believe it are saved.  Christ is true to His word, and His kingdom will never end.

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

The Tent…and Then the Temple Once Again

In yesterday’s post, I described how we see the earthly life of Jesus and the heavenly life of Jesus in Israel’s tent and temple respectively.  That is, the tent of meeting constructed by Moses in the desert and the grand temple constructed by Solomon gave us a type or pattern of Messiah who came to us first in the flesh and then forever in the spirit.

In this pattern we can also see Messiah as He was in the church (the tent) and as He is in the kingdom of God (the temple).  That is, the church we see in the New Testament was a temporary organization in which Christ dwelt in anticipation of the coming kingdom.  Actually, it was more of an organism or movement than it was an organization.  The leadership structure was very light (the apostles, other traveling ministers, and local leaders whom the apostles appointed), and the trappings of church we see today were practically non-existent (no buildings, no denominations, no seminaries).  And there was certainly no succession plan in place for a new generation of leadership of this church because it would quickly give way to the kingdom of God which every writer of a New Testament book expected in that generation.  For this reason, the temporary nature of Moses’ tent of meeting accurately pictures for us the temporary nature of the church.  Moreover, had the Israelites not been so rebellious they could have conquered Canaan and started construction on the temple hundreds of years before Sol0mon was born.  Similarly, today’s churches march around in the wilderness generation after generation because they do not seek the kingdom of God.

As for the kingdom of God, its permanence is illustrated by Jerusalem’s temple.  Jesus reigns as King in the spiritual Jerusalem (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22).  When Jesus came in the fullness of His Father’s glory (Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again), the kingdom came to earth (Revelation 21:2) and became permanent – that is, eternal!  It will never be shaken from without (Hebrews 12:29-30), nor can it be corrupted from within (Daniel 7:14).  This is because unlike Israel and the church before it, the kingdom relies on no one but the Lord Himself for leadership (Isaiah 2:11, 17).  Truly, the kingdom is His (Obadiah 1:21).

Therefore, forsake the tent and seek the Lord in His temple (Seeking the Kingdom of God Instead of Church).

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

“Woe to the Shepherds Who Scatter My Sheep”

The title of this post is a warning issued by the Lord, and recorded in Jeremiah 23:1.  To whom would it apply today?  Surely to the leaders of the over 30,000 Christian denominations that exist.  These leaders have scattered in at least 30,000 different directions the sheep for whom Christ died!  We could say that’s scattering to a maximum degree…but number keeps rising!

These leaders (whether they are popes, bishops, pastors, elders, deacons, overseers – whatever) would do well to release the sheep under them so that all might return to the one good Shepherd (John 10:11) – that is, the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4).  He is the Lord (Psalm 23).  Woe to those shepherds who do not.

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

The Kingdom of God Reigns!

The reason that God no longer works through Israel or the church is that the kingdom of God has come.  Everything He did through Israel and the church was preparation for His glorious kingdom.  Everything He did through Israel and the church was temporary.  Everything in the kingdom is eternal. 

During the days of Israel and the church, everyone went to Sheol (Hades) when they died.  Now, everyone goes to heaven.

During the days of Israel and the church, He appointed humans to represent Him.  Now, He represents Himself (Jesus Christ is God).

During the days of Israel and the church, humanity was divided: the Jews and the Gentiles, then the believers and the unbelievers.  Now, there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile, there is no distinction between believer and unbeliever.  This is not to say that faith is unimportant, for indeed without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).  In fact, the righteousness of faith is all the more important because judgment is upon us – the judgment promised in Acts 17:30-31 and referenced briefly in Acts 24:25.  This is the judgment long promised by Israel’s prophets and wherein Paul said God would judge the secrets of our hearts through Christ Jesus (Romans 2:14-16).  Therefore, we must repent!

How do we repent?  And how to we submit to the kingdom of God?  Follow the path of Matthew 11:28-30.  It’s just that simple: Come to Jesus.  He is the King.  His is the kingdom.

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

The New Testament Church Was Glorious, But Was Being Corrupted

The New Testament church was a glorious movement of people devoted to a resurrected Lord.  This movement arose from the public declarations of eyewitnesses to that resurrection.  These witnesses were called “apostles” – a word meaning “sent ones.”  They were so named because they were sent by Jesus of Nazareth, the One who had risen from the dead.  His instructions to them were that they were to tell the world what they had seen and heard of Him.

The apostles were persecuted for telling this truth.  So also were those who believed them – that is, the New Testament church.  This is the essence of their glory (both of the apostles and of the church they led), that they steadfastly confessed and served Jesus Christ in the face of constant and often murderous persecution.

As the movement grew, there was also, however, a creeping corruption.  Not a corruption of the apostles, for we see them being faithful to the end.  Peter, Paul, John continued to bear faithful witness to the Lord right up until their deaths, and we have their writings to prove it.  Nor did all their followers become corrupt.  However, as the movement gained more and more adherents, it naturally attracted those whose motives were not as pure (We see incipient examples in Acts 5 and Acts 8).  This is true of any movement of history, whether of God or man.

God was not surprised by this increasing corruption.  Jesus and the apostles all warned repeatedly of it.  To mention just a few examples of these warnings, see Matthew 24-25, 2 Timothy 3, 2 Peter 2, and Jude.  In Acts 20:29-30 Paul writes that false teachers would arise both from within and from without the church.  The entire book of Galatians is Paul’s defense of his own ministry in the face of competing false teachers.  You can’t read the New Testament and miss these warnings.

God would deal with the corruption.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the self-aggrandizing nature of some leaders was the corruption that made the church unsuitable as the permanent instrument of God, just as the nation of Israel was unworthy as a permanent instrument.  The only suitable and worthy instrument was a kingdom managed entirely by God without any help from us.  Therefore, when you go to God today you go directly to Him.  Organized religion – because it is organized by humans – is an environment that will always be subject to corruption.  God dealt with the corruption by the coming of His kingdom (called “The kingdom of God” or “The kingdom of heaven”).  Those with sincere faith experienced it, and the rest missed it like people miss a thief in the night (2 Thessalonians 1 and 2; see also 5:1-6).  This was the separation of sheep and goats that Jesus had described in Matthew 25.

Therefore, while you may admire what you see of the church in the New Testament, do not ever think you can replicate it – or even that you should replicate it.  It was a temporary structure which, while glorious for a time, would eventually give way to corruption…as all human institutions do.  God Himself rules us through His kingdom.  Serve Him now with a whole heart.  He will search your heart and will not be content until all evil is removed from it.  Human religious leaders, by contrast, cannot even see into your heart.  How could they – no matter how sincere their intentions – possibly offer a kingdom as good as God’s?

Here are some related posts:

There Will Never Be Another New Testament Church Just as There Will Never Be Another Ancient Israel

The New Testament Church Was Unique

The New Testament Church Gave Its Life To Birth the Kingdom of 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.

The Work of Our Eternal Salvation Is Accomplished, and We Have the Written Record of It

Everyone knows what humanity’s biggest problem is.  Even people who don’t read or believe the Bible know.  Humanity’s biggest problem is, of course, death.

The Bible tells the story of how death came to be.  It goes on to set the stage for what God would do about this greatest of all our problems.  The Old Testament view of the afterlife was that all people, whether righteous or unrighteous, went to Sheol when they died. (Sheol is a Hebrew term; Hades is the Greek name for the same place.)  No Hebrew figure ever descended into Sheol and returned, although an apparition of the recently deceased Samuel briefly appeared to Saul when summoned by the medium at Endor (1 Samuel 28; 1 Chronicles 10:13-14).  The New Testament, with a great deal of help from the Old Testament, described how God was using Jesus Christ to alter this state of affairs – in effect, closing up Sheol and opening up heaven.  Thus, everyone is going to heaven, just as surely as everyone used to go to Sheol.

This is eternal salvation, because it deals with what affects us for eternity.  It solves the problem of death…permanently.  In this earth, there are many situations in which we require salvation or deliverance – and God is pleased to grant it.  But we should not allow our need for temporal help to obscure the importance of what God has already accomplished for all of us with regard to the ultimate “situation.”  How we get to heaven may vary.  It may be a long path or a short one.  It may be a crooked one or a straight one.  No matter the route, our destination is assured – for we were predestined for heaven (1 Corinthians 2:7 and elsewhere).  In biblical times, people had to wait in Sheol for the ultimate trip.  But we who live since biblical times go straight to heaven when we die for there is no longer a Sheol below.

The Bible records all of this for us.  It is so awe-inspiring and so satisfying to know that our eternal redemption has been fully achieved, and that the Bible sits as a clear, trustworthy, and eternal witness to that most wonderful fact!

It is written.  Amen.

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.

Don’t Try to Be the People of God; Instead, Act Like It!

In yesterday’s post, I explained why we shouldn’t try to be the people of God – because we already are.  Since we are the people of God, however, we ought to act like it!

We have the “people” part down; it’s the “of God” part that is giving us trouble.  That’s where we need to repent. 

If we are “of God” we ought to trust Him, pray to Him, and walk with Him.  We ought to treat others the way He treated them…and the way He treats us. 

What’s the point of being the people of God if our behavior bears no resemblance to His?

 See Luke 6:46-49 and Romans 2:24.  By the way, reading the Bible doesn’t make us anymore the people of God than anyone else, but it certainly gives us less excuse to act ungodly.

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.

Stop Trying to Become the People of God!

Would you try to become a human being?  Of course not!  You can’t become what you already are.

Similarly, it is foolish for people to try to become the people of God…because they already are!  (This was the point of yesterday’s post.)

Nevertheless, people everywhere are trying to be the people of God.  Churches are forming and splitting all the time with the purpose of trying to be the true people of God.  Such a waste!

Have you noticed that whenever people try to be the people of God, they usually end up acting poorly?  Jesus chastised the Pharisees for this very reason, saying that they would go to the ends of the earth in order to make a convert – and, in so doing, simply produced another hypocrite (Matthew 23:15).

Why is this so?  Because when you try to become the people of God you are, in effect, depriving some other human beings of that identity.  In other words, you would be downgrading other human beings as not being the people of God.

Someone will protest my point by saying that the New Testament commends those who sought to be the people of God.  The answer to that objection is that New Testament times were unique in that regard.  Remember that Old Testament times were unique as well – you could only be the people of God if you were a physical descendant of a man named Abraham.  In New Testament times, Gentiles were brought in to the flock of Israel in order to bear witness to what God had done through Jesus Christ.  As the apostles bore witness to Jesus, so the New Testament church bore witness to the apostles.  Since the day of the Lord has come, and history has established adequate witness, we have no more need of a special people of God.  Instead, all people are the people of God.

Therefore, be done with asking which people are the people of God.  If they’re people, they’re the people of God.

And as for yourself, rest in the truth of who you are – one of God’s people.

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

The Lord Has Chosen a People for His Name…and It Is the Human Race

Yesterday’s post was about how we are living in “the day of the Lord.”  This is the day when the whole human race has been reclaimed from Satan and belongs entirely to God.  Jesus Christ purchased this redemption with His own precious blood.  In this day, as Jeremiah prophesied (Jeremiah 31:31-34), humanity lives in covenant with God whereby everyone knows Him through conscience (Romans 2:14-16).  There is no need for a separate “people of God” in this day because all are “the people of God” – even those who have never been called His people (Hosea 1:10).

When God chose the Jews in Old Testament times to be “His people” it was not that He might exclude the rest of humanity from His blessings, but rather that everyone might ultimately receive His blessings.  And, again, when He chose the church in New Testament times, it was not that unbelievers might be excluded from His eternal dwelling, but rather that all might ultimately be incorporated.  Through Jesus Christ, God has established a new order in the heavens whereby all people now belong to Him.  We are no longer to make divisions among ourselves because we all have the same Lord and Father.

Think of Joseph.  Did God choose Joseph that He might exclude the rest of Jacob’s children?  On the contrary, He chose Joseph that He might feed all of Jacob’s children in a time of famine.  This is the principle.

The kingdom of God has come (yet another way of saying that we live in the day of the Lord) and God is done choosing people.  He has made His final choice…and it is the human race.  Do not consider any human being as less than your brother or sister in the Lord.

Since Everyone Is Going to Heaven, there is no further excuse to divide ourselves on earth.

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

Why Is Jesus Called Son, God, and Father?

In Isaiah 9:6, the Messiah of Israel is prophesied to be “Son,” “God,” and “Father.”  Not just the “Son,” but the “Father” also.  Amazing!

This verse is usually spoken or sung with reference to Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, the home of His ancestor David.  Yet its implications obviously extend well beyond that moment – both backward and forward!

Jesus was the Son of God by virtue of His resurrection from the dead (Acts 13:33; Romans 1:4).  He was God by virtue of His installation at the right hand of God (Hebrews 1:8-9; Psalm 2:6).  He is Father by virtue of His inheritance of the promise to Abraham to be a “father of many nations,” a promise fulfilled when He came in glory (Matthew 16:27; Isaiah 22:24) on the clouds of heaven (Mark 14:62; Daniel 7:13).

Jesus Christ is our God and our Father.  When you cry out to your Father in heaven…He is the one who answers.  There is no other.

God is not a Trinity; God is not triune.  This is a man-made misunderstanding.  There is one God who created and redeemed us, and we know Him best as Jesus.  (If it were not so, Isaiah would not have spoken as He did about Him.)

He who was God from all eternity past became one of us that He might be raised to His former glory…taking us* with Him!

(*In case you haven’t heard, Everyone Is Going to Heaven.)

To learn more about Christ versus the Trinity, see:

There Is No Trinity; There Is Christ

Posts to Date on the Trinity Versus Christ

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

GICNAT

The Apostles Teach Us How to Read the Scriptures

When the apostles wrote the New Testament, they frequently quoted the Old Testament.  In doing so, they taught us how to read the Bible.

The prophets who wrote the Old Testament reported on patterns that occurred in God’s dealings with humanity.  As it says in Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun and there is a time for everything.  That is to say, human history does not unfold in some random sequence of events.  Rather, there are recurring patterns.  This is not to say that we are doomed to cycles we cannot control.  On the contrary, the Scriptures argue against a fatalistic view of life and instead exhort us to repent so that we might enjoy the blessings of God.  Alas, humanity often fails to listen.

For example, Isaiah the prophet was commissioned by God to warn that Jerusalem and surrounding Judah were going to be destroyed by an invading army.  Isaiah gave the warning – repeatedly over a lifetime of faithful service.  Yet the Israelites did not heed the message and thus Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 A.D.  Fast forward to New Testament times and you see Jesus reminding His listeners of the pattern they saw in Isaiah (Matthew 13:14-15; see also John 12:37-43) because they were going to see the same sequence of events.  As Isaiah had done before Him, Jesus warned the Israelites of His day to repent.  The political leadership of the nation rejected His message and Jerusalem was subsequently destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.  Alas, there was nothing new under the sun – but those who listened to Isaiah and Jesus were blessed and protected by God like Noah riding out the storm in an ark (2 Peter 2:5 – see the pattern again?).

Thus the apostles, in their writings, demonstrate for us how to read and understand the Old Testament.  This largely has to do with recognizing patterns (that is, types, shadows, foreshadowings, examples, and the like) in the Scriptures that are most fully demonstrated through Jesus Christ Himself.

Therefore, if you want to read the Bible…and understand it…read it the way the apostles 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.

Why I Believe the Bible Is the Word of God

I believe the Bible is the word of God because Jesus did.  In fact, His attitude toward the Scriptures was one of absolute trust (John 10:35), in lesser as well as in greater matters (Matthew 5:17-19).  If that was His attitude, it’s going to be mine, too.

Of course, you may say, this only begs the question, “Why do you believe Jesus?”  Fair question.  I believe Him because His story is too good not to be true.  It’s a story that’s amazing and yet plausible at the same time.  In short, He’s eminently believable.  His story is the only adequate answer I have ever heard to humanity’s biggest problem: death.

“Ah, but,” you say, “you wouldn’t know about Jesus if it weren’t for the New Testament and Jesus’ attitude you described above would have only applied to the Old Testament since the New Testament wasn’t in existence while He lived.  Therefore, you’ve only explained why you believe the Old Testament is the word of God.  Why then do you believe that the New Testament is the word of God?”

First, I believe the New Testament is also the word of God because it matches the pattern of the Old Testament in that God spoke by His Holy Spirit through holy men; in the Old Testament it was through prophets, in the New Testament it was through apostles.  Second, in its description of Jesus it tells the only possible story that could have fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of Messiah – and yet it could not possibly have been fabricated.  It could not have been contrived because it involved too many people to engage in a conspiracy (including the governments of Israel and Rome), and because no Jew would have made up a story that had the Messiah being crucified.  Third, since the apostles were bearing witness with their lives to what they had seen and heard, they had a simple, if arduous, task.  Therefore, there wasn’t much opportunity for error.  The truth to which they testified was too wonderful to bear embellishment.   Fourth and last, everything about Jesus to which the New Testament testifies is corroborated in the Old Testament (Luke 24:25-27, 44-48).  The entire Bible – Old Testament and New Testament, Genesis to Revelation – together tells a story of Jesus that is coherent, consistent, and cohesive.

In the end, it all comes back to Jesus.  It always does.  He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.  And the word of God is…His word.

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.

Distinguishing the Scriptures from the Bible

Most people, including me, use the terms “Scripture” and “Bible” synonymously.  Nothing I’m going to say in this post seeks to change that.  I do, however, want to draw your attention to something every Bible reader should keep in mind: that is, the differences between what was originally written by a Bible author and what we see when we read an English Bible today.

  1. The Scriptures were written by many different authors over more than a thousand years.  Therefore, the Bible was not written as a single book but rather is a collection of many writings.
  2. None of the original Scriptures were written in English.  Therefore, what we read is a translation from the original languages.
  3. The original Scriptures contained no chapter numberings, no verse numberings, no punctuation, no capitalization, and no footnotes.  All these have been added to help us read the text.

None of these facts should discourage you from believing that the Bible is the word of God and therefore true.  It should, however, discourage us from getting too hung up on any one sentence or wording or point.

There’s a reason God gave us a Bible with over half a million words.  The volume allows Him to repeat themes that are most important to Him.  The more important something is, the more the Bible repeats it – decreasing the chance that we miss the point because a particular word or sentence wasn’t passed on to us correctly.

The voluminous nature of the Bible also allows us to let one part of the Bible interpret another part.  That is, the documents in the Bible are constantly referring to each other.  For example, we can read Moses or Isaiah in the Bible but we can also read what others in the Bible said about Moses and Isaiah – deepening our understanding in the process.  This is especially valuable when we use the New Testament to better understand the Old Testament, and use the Old Testament to better understand the New Testament.

Therefore, while we rightly use the terms “Bible” and “Scriptures” interchangeably, we also rightly appreciate the “Bible” apparatus through which our “Scriptures” come to us.  In this way, the truth of the word of God has the best chance of shining through..so  that we can understand it, believe it, and act upon it.

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

Our Amen to the Apostles’ Creed

Here is a text of the Apostles’ Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.  I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended into hell.  On the third day He rose again; He ascended into heaven, He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and He will come to judge the living and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  Amen.

This version may vary here and there from whatever version with which you are familiar.  Nevertheless, all versions are fairly uniform.  While history generally does not ascribe these words directly to the apostles, they are consistent with the apostles’ teaching we find in the New Testament.  Therefore, we may accept the truths laid out in this creed and shout a hearty “Amen” – with one condition.  That one condition is that we acknowledge that what was future and imminent for the apostles must be past tense for us.  That is to say, the coming of Jesus Christ in judgment of which they spoke occurred in the imminent time frame that the apostles gave.  To say otherwise is not to say “Amen” to them at all.  It is to say that they were right about the idea, but completely off about the timing.  The New Testament is emphatic – from one end to the other – that Jesus’ return would occur in the lifetimes of the generation in which He lived.  It is foolish to accept the idea while rejecting the timing.

In fact, it is the folly of churches today that they recite this creed but then maintain that the coming in judgment prophesied by the Lord Jesus and the apostles has still not occurred – two thousand years later.  In other words, they say “Amen,” but don’t mean it!

If you truly trust the Lord Jesus and His apostles, however, you may say “Amen” in sincerity and in truth, for Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again and Judgment Is Upon Us.  For this reason The Kingdom of God Has Come and we should be Seeking the Kingdom of God Instead of Church.

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

What Should We Take from Abraham?

In yesterday’s post, I wrote of the three great Abrahamic religions.  (I say “great” not in the sense that religion is great, for it isn’t; but rather in the sense that each of these religions has large numbers of adherents in the world.)  I made the point that all three are off-base – though to varying degrees – about Jesus Christ.  One ignores Him altogether.  Another subordinates Him in importance to another human being.  The third pays Him lip service while promoting its own man-made rituals as if He had ordained them; fortunately, however, this one has preserved for us the Old and New Testaments wherein we may read the truth about Him for ourselves.

The full truth about Jesus is that He was God in the flesh.  Though God is spirit, He visited us for a time…as one of us.  Upon His resurrection from the dead, He ascended in heaven to resume His reign over heaven and earth.  Thus He shall always be our one and only God.  To misunderstand Jesus Christ, therefore, is to misunderstand God’s visitation to the human race. In short, Jesus Christ is God.

Since Jesus – from a human standpoint – was a descendant of Abraham, and spoke highly of him, what would He have us take from Abraham?  Certainly not organized religion.  Rather, He would have us take Abraham’s faith.  That is, Abraham lived in world of polytheism and idolatry…yet he worshiped the one and only invisible God.  We live today in a world of many religions and many godless ideologies.  Therefore, each one of us can imitate the faith of Abraham by walking in the sight of the one true  God – Jesus Christ.

Thus the greatest honor we can show to Abraham is to trust the same God that he trusted.  And it is right to do so for this God has revealed so much more about Himself to us than He did to Abraham.  Jesus was not even born until some two thousand years after Abraham died.  If Abraham could trust the God that he knew, how much more we can trust his God that we know even better.

The irony of Abraham’s legacy is that he would not participate in the organized religions of his day.  He stood alone…and worshiped God.  Don’t be like the “great” organized religionists who claim his legacy – be like 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.

What’s Right and Wrong with All Three Abrahamic Religions

What Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all got right was that indeed God had spoken to Abraham.  From there on, they each lost their way (though to varying degrees).

Islam got the identity of the last and greatest prophet wrong.  It wasn’t Muhammad, it was Jesus.  That’s a fundamental error, and has led to much misery.

Judaism refused to accept that Jesus was the fulfillment of all that Moses and the their prophets had promised.  That’s a fundamental error, and has led to many dashed hopes for the Jewish people.

Christianity got the truth of Jesus’ identity right, except that they have refused to believe what He said about His Second Coming.  That is, they don’t recognize that Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again.  As a result, they have built a human institution called church which has led to much misery and many dashed hopes.

Here’s the baby that should be saved from all this bath water:  Abraham had a descendant, Jesus of Nazareth, who was God visiting us in human form.  This God reigns supreme and He would like us to pay attention to what He taught us through Jesus Christ.  Thank God we have the Bible to preserve the truth about Him for 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.

Aaron’s Rod That Budded

Hebrews 9:4 speaks of Aaron’s rod which was kept as a reminder in the tabernacle – a reminder of God’s minor miracle (I say minor only in the sense of comparison with, say, parting the Red Sea).  The story is told in Numbers 17 of how the twelve tribes of Israel had been complaining about Moses’ and Aaron’s leadership.  God told Moses to have each leader deposit his rod in the tabernacle, Aaron’s included.  The next morning, lo and behold, Aaron’s rod had sprouted blossoms while the rest of the rods remained as they were.  The other leaders got the message.

Of course, all these rods used to be tree branches.  No one would have been surprised if they had sprouted blossoms while still connected to their respective trees.  However, having blossoms spring forth from a dead branch was obviously a sign that God indeed had chosen Aaron for his leadership role and the other tribes might just as well get used to it.

This experience foreshadowed Jesus Christ.  He is called “Branch” in several Old Testament prophecies.  In this case, He is the branch who bore fruit even after He had been broken off from the tree!

One of the great hopes of every Hebrew was to marry and have children – that is, to be a father.  Jesus was never married and was crucified, yet He has become the Father of many nations!  Abraham, at age 100, was too old to have children, and yet he had one.  Jesus was too dead to have children and yet He had many!  It is the branch broken off that has produced more fruit than all the others put together!

With God, nothing is impossible.

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

The Jar of Manna

Hebrews 9:4 mentions the jar of manna which had been kept as a reminder in the tabernacle – a reminder of the time that God had fed the Israelites in the desert with bread from heaven.

Of course, bread from heaven is a type of Christ – a foreshadowing of He who would come from heaven to give His flesh as nourishment to the world.  His flesh was the human life He lived – perfectly moral in the midst of an immoral world.  Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness continue to be sustained by it to this day – as we will for all eternity.

The jar of manna also can speak of the Holy Scriptures written by the prophets.  They were God’s manna as well because they were the word of God – a precursor to Him who would be the embodiment of those words (Revelation 19:13).  Thus the jar is a reminder of that which fed us in the wilderness, before we came to the promised land flowing with the milk and honey of His presence.  You can also think of it this way: the jar of manna is a type of Jesus the written Word (Luke 24: 25-27, 44-48) which points to Jesus the Word made flesh (John 1:14), and who is now the Word made spirit (2 Corinthians 5:16; 3:17).

As Jesus said in John 5:39-40, we may study the Scriptures in search of eternal life but the Scriptures testify of Him – and He is the One who gives eternal life.  Jesus Christ is eternal life and we experience eternal life as we experience Him.  Thank God for the manna in the wilderness which leads us to trust in 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.

Let Nothing Obscure the Preeminence of Christ

The New Testament makes abundantly clear, in practically every one of its books, that Christ is the preeminent work of God, the preeminent focal point of God, and the preeminent purpose of God.

Christ is to be the object of our love, the focus of our faith, and the standard of our obedience.  He is the Lord our God whom we are to love with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds, and all our strength.

Why then does the church today promote the Trinity, which obscures and confuses our allegiance to Christ?  The New Testament doesn’t proclaim the Trinity.  In fact, this word is absent from its pages.  Moreover, why does the church promote itself instead of Christ?  The New Testament never promoted church.  In the New Testament, it was the church that promoted Christ.  Today’s church promotes itself.  It says, “If you want to serve Christ, serve us.”  This is idolatry.

When you read the Bible recognize that the New Testament makes Christ supreme in its own pages.  The New Testament also draws Christ out of the Old Testament and makes Him supreme in its pages as well.  As a result, the whole Bible – from beginning to end and throughout both testaments – proclaims Christ.  Let all humanity serve Him and no one else.  Religious labels don’t matter.  Jesus is the God of every human being.

To learn more about Christ versus the Trinity, see:

There Is No Trinity; There Is Christ

Posts to Date on the Trinity Versus Christ

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

GICNAT

The Redeemer God Replaces the Creator God in Our Consciousness

The God of the Old Testament was the Creator God.  That is, He was the one true God who had created heaven and earth and all that is in them.  After mankind turned against Him and sinned, God sought a way to permanently bring humanity back to Himself.  This initiative was one that took great patience and effort, for it spanned many generations.  It began in earnest when God chose a man named Abram (Abraham) to be His representative in the earth.  From the descendants of this man, God established the nation Israel and situated them at the crossroads of three continents – that is, in the Middle East.

Some two thousand years after choosing Abraham, God brought forth from the nation of his descendants a Savior named Jesus.  After Jesus was rejected by His generation, crucified, and buried, God raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand.  The message was then sent forth throughout the earth that all humanity – not just the descendants of Abraham – should turn to this Redeemer.

This Redeemer, being at the right hand of God, possessed all the powers and characteristics of God – invisible to the human eye, all-powerful, and all-knowing.  This Redeemer God was to replace the Creator God in man’s conscience.  Of course, the Creator God and the Redeemer God are one – there is only one God.  But in our consciousness we needed to think of Him primarily as a Redeemer rather than primarily as a Creator.  This is because we intuitively recoil from a creating God because we know we have sinned against Him, but we are attracted to a redeeming God because He has died to redeem us from our sins.

Therefore, let us maintain a constant consciousness of our great Redeemer God.  In His kindness, our Creator God knew He needed an identity which we could more easily approach, and therefore He became our Redeemer God.  Christ is 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.

The Bible Must Be Spiritually Discerned

You have heard the Bible misquoted and misused enough to know that it can be misunderstood.  How can you properly understand the Bible?  First of all, it must be spiritually discerned.  That is, it was not originally written to us even though it was written for us.

Since it was addressed, in the case of the Old Testament, to the ancient Israelites, we must spiritually discern its meaning for us today for we certainly have no warrant to take its words at face value.  (Do you really want to sacrifice an ox?)  The New Testament, too, was written to a generation which lived almost two thousand years before us – people who lived in a culture and time before the kingdom of God had come.  Again, it takes spiritual discernment to apply its truths to our age.

How can you acquire the requisite spiritual discernment?  Simple.  Trust God who gives His Holy Spirit to any human being who looks to Him in sincere faith.  He will guide you into all the truth and make you to know the paths of righteousness.

This doesn’t mean you’ll always understand everything you read in the Bible, but it does mean you’ll understand enough to obey that day.  When God’s Holy Spirit gives you such understanding, be sure to act on it.  If you do, you will not only be blessed in what you do, but you will also understand more of the Bible the next time you read it.

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

Something Greater Than Church Is Here

In Matthew 12, Jesus said that “something greater than the temple is here.”  He went on to say that “something greater than Jonah is here.”  He then said, “something greater than Solomon is here.”  Of course, He was speaking of Himself and the kingdom of God which was in Him. 

When the kingdom of God came in glory (Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again), Jesus came in the spirit as King of the kingdom of God.  In the days of His flesh, He had been a subject of the kingdom of God.  In the day of Christ (also called “the day of the Lord”), however, He reigns as King of that kingdom.  Therefore, He can say by the Spirit, that something greater than the church is here: that is, the kingdom of God reigning over the whole earth.

Read the New Testament and you will see that the apostles looked forward with great anticipation to the imminent coming of the kingdom of God.  Once the kingdom came, they would forsake church in the same way that they forsook the temple – because the kingdom of God was greater.  In fact, the kingdom of God through Jesus Christ is the greatest of all the gifts God has ever given mankind in the earth.

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

The Bible Was Written for the People of God

The Bible was written for the people of God.

In Old Testament times, the people of God were the physical descendants of Abraham.

In New Testament times, the people of God were the spiritual descendants of Abraham (that is, those who had faith in God as Abraham had).

In our time, the people of God consists of all humanity.  This is because Jesus Christ died for the sins of the whole world.  When He came in His kingdom, all people became His.  God no longer makes distinctions between Jew and Gentile or even between Christians and Non-Christians.  All nations are His.  Every human being can trust the promises of God.

Therefore, the Bible has always been addressed to the people of God.  It’s just that the identity of the people of God has been expanding…until it now includes everyone!

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

The Bible Is a Book of Truth

 For the ancient Hebrews, the Bible was the governing document for their nation.  For the New Testament church, the Bible was the sustenance of their hope that the kingdom of God would soon arrive.  In both cases, those purposes were served long ago.  What then is the Bible to us today?

The Bible is a book of truth.  Because it wisely guided the nation Israel, and because it accurately prophesied the coming of a Savior in a kingdom, we may trust what it says without reservation.  The Bible has been vindicated and we thus have ample reason to trust it on all issues to which it speaks.

We look to the Bible for spiritual principles which we might individually obey.  We do not use the Bible as a club to beat others.  We humble ourselves to read and obey.  We will not always understand everything we read in the Bible.  In fact, there might be many more Bible passages we don’t understand than there are passages which we do understand.  Yet we needn’t fret, because God will only hold us accountable for obeying those parts that we do understand.

Most of all, we must view the Scriptures in the context of Jesus Christ, Lord of heaven and earth (that is to say, the God of every human being whether that human being knows it or not).  We are to understand the Bible as Jesus did.  He did not seek to build an organization.  Rather, He sought first to obey the Scriptures.  And, along the way, He taught others who wanted to learn from the way He was living.  Therefore, I should never look at the Bible as a way to get other people to do what I want them to do.  Instead, I should view it as a way God can get me to do what He wants me to do.

We need truth in our day.  The Bible provides that truth.  It does this most powerfully – and practically – when it proclaims Jesus Christ our Lord.  We should let it.

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

Jesus’ Blood Cleansed the Earth

Hebrews 9:22 makes the point that the Old Testament sacrificial system was intended to convey the necessity of blood for cleansing.  The writer then goes on to explain how Christ’s blood thus cleansed the heavenly places.  But let us not forget that His blood fell to the earth – and therefore cleansed the earth, too.  As it says in Acts 10:15, “No longer consider unholy what God has cleansed.”

Wherever we walk on the earth, therefore, let us consider it holy ground.  He has cleansed the altar of the earth with His own blood that we might lay down our lives as holy sacrifices to Him (Romans 12:1-2).  There is no part of the earth that the cleansing power of His blood did not reach.  Therefore, wherever you walk – no matter how mundane it may seem to you or others – is special to Him.  Indeed, His blood has cleansed the earth on which we walk. 

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

The Christians Can’t Practice the New Testament Anymore Than the Jews Can Practice the Old Testament

I don’t mean that the Christians can’t practice the principles of the New Testament or that the Jews cannot practice the principles of the Old Testament.  For indeed, Jews, Christians, and everyone else can – and should – practice the principles of both testaments.  But I’ll get back to this point at the end of this post.  First, let me establish the point of the headline.

Everyone knows that Jews cannot practice the Old Testament, at least the way it was practiced in biblical times.  This is because, of course, Jerusalem’s temple has been in ruins ever since it was destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Romans.  That temple was the place for the worship of God through animal sacrifice.  This was the heart of Jewish worship, having been established through Moses originally in a mobile structure (called a tent or tabernacle).  Without that sacrificial system, large portions of the Jewish Scriptures are rendered “un-obeyable,” if we may coin a word.

Similarly, Christians today are unable to practice the New Testament, at least the way it was practiced in New Testament times.  This is because the Holy Spirit is no longer building a single church through apostles who were eyewitnesses of the resurrected Lord.  Therefore, the only verse in the New Testament which even comes remotely close to commanding church attendance (Hebrews 10:25) cannot be obeyed because it calls for believers to assemble together – the one thing Christians cannot, or will not, do.  For with over 30,o00 different Christian denominations, Christians dramatically demonstrate their inability to do what was natural to church of the New Testament – get together.

So, the Jews cannot sacrifice animals in Jerusalem and the Christians cannot be one flock with one Shepherd in any city.  Neither Jews nor Christians live in accord with the very Scriptures to which they appeal as their authorizing documents.  Astounding!

Do we for this reason discard the Scriptures?  God forbid!  Rather, we worship the God of the Bible and practice its principles.  When I say “we” I mean all humanity – Jews, Christians, and everyone else.  In other words, every human being.  For the Bible is for all of us.  God spoke through His holy servants in times past that we might have His wisdom in permanent written form.  His wisdom comes to us in abundance (there are over half a million words in the Bible) and they were settled long ago.  Therefore, we don’t have to worry about having too little information from God; nor do we have to worry about recent writings overturning anything from the past (the New Testament affirms the Old Testament).

Therefore, look to the Bible to guide your heart in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.  Jesus came to replace a fleshly perspective on the Scriptures with a spiritual perspective.  Through His Holy Spirit you can understand enough of the Bible each day…to believe and obey it.  That’s the whole point anyway.  Don’t worry about whether you’re a Jew or a Christian or something else because none of those labels matter.  What matters is that we seek the kingdom of 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.

Follow the Steps of Jesus

In the days of His flesh, Jesus trusted the words of Scripture so much that they mapped His life.

For example, He could read Psalm 23 and see His Heavenly Father as His Shepherd.  If you have time, read through that psalm, line by line, visualizing Jesus and how He might have applied each line to Himself and His situation.  Especially consider “the valley of the shadow of death” in the light of His suffering and crucifixion, and “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” as hope for His own resurrection.

Now, picture Jesus exalted in heaven as your Lord.  Read through the psalm again, line by line.  Only this time, put yourself in the place of the sheep and see Jesus as the Shepherd Lord.  Apply each line to yourself and to your own life situation.  And don’t forget to focus on the last line as hope (and, because of Jesus, assurance) of your own resurrection.

This process is how you can “follow in Jesus’ steps.”  You will notice that this is just the process Peter was suggesting in 1 Peter 2:21-25 to his readers when he counseled them to apply Isaiah 53 to themselves.  That is, Peter was saying, “Just as Jesus followed the steps laid out for Him in Isaiah’s prophecy, so you can look to Jesus as Lord and yourself as the servant suffering for Him – if indeed you find yourself in a situation where you are suffering for Him.

Any place in the Scriptures (and you will find lots of them in the Old Testament, especially the Psalms) that you can see Jesus relating to His Father, you can then substitute Jesus for the Father and you for Jesus.  Through this process,  you can let the Scriptures map your life, too!  (By the way, the more you do this the more patterns you will find; and the more of these patterns you find, the more you will begin to recognize them in the way Jesus behaved in the four Gospels – for He was living His life according to the Scriptures).

For reinforcement in this process, go to See Jesus in the Scriptures, and Follow 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.

If You Don’t Have Time to Read the Whole Bible, Start at the End and Not the Beginning

If you don’t have time to read the whole Bible, start with the New Testament.  That’s what I mean by starting at the end and not the beginning.

The Old Testament was written as a mystery…in hope of one day being revealed.  The New Testament was that hoped-for revelation.

Even the disciples of Jesus who knew the Old Testament could not comprehend the revelation until after Jesus had been raised from the dead.  How much less will we understand it if we don’t understand Jesus Christ first.

The Old Testament should be read in the light of the New Testament.

For more on reading the Bible when you’re short on time see If You Don’t Have Time to Read the Whole Bible, Read…

For more on how the two testaments relate to each other see The Old Testament Is a Mystery Which Only the New Testament Can Explain.

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

The Kingdom of Heaven Versus the Kingdom of Earth

When John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth came preaching the kingdom of heaven, they were announcing the end of religious hierarchy.

Since the time of Moses, the Israelites had been governed by priests, judges, kings, and governors whom God used to oversee the people of God. Even in the run-up to the kingdom of heaven (that is, the time of the New Testament), He used apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, elders, bishops, and such to oversee His people.

In the kingdom of heaven, however, the Lord alone would be exalted (Isaiah 2:11, 17). When the kingdom came, all human authority between God and man was forever abolished (1 Corinthians 15:23-24). This is why you can relate directly to God and do not need a church, a pastor, a priest, or any other earthly intermediary. (As to the fact that the kingdom of heaven has indeed come see Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again or The Kingdom of Heaven Is Here and Now.)

Those today who say they have authority to stand between you and God are simply building a kingdom of earth. You don’t have to concerned with them. In other words, there is no official church of God today. No churches are sanctioned by God, and certainly no other religions are sanctioned by God. Every human being is a child of God and “the people of God” refers to the whole human race. Jesus died and rose again from the dead that all people might belong to Him.  The Lord will know if you pay attention to Him (2 Timothy 2:19)!

Jesus Christ our Lord is present everywhere and you are encouraged to trust Him in faith and live righteously. This is the kingdom of heaven and has nothing to do with human intermediaries. Yes, there are those of us who proclaim the name of Jesus Christ (Would that every human being proclaimed His name!), but we have no authority, no title, and no place of honor. We are just like you: subjects of the kingdom of heaven.

[You may have noticed that today’s post was identical to yesterday’s (The Kingdom of God Versus the Kingdom of Man), except that I substituted the word “heaven” for “God,” and the word “earth” for “man.”  My purpose, in addition to reinforcing the original point, was to demonstrate that the terms “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven” are synonymous.  Whenever you read either of them in the Bible, they are referring to the same reality.  Thus “kingdom of heaven” speaks to a reality of this life, not just the next one.]

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

The Kingdom of God Versus the Kingdom of Man

When John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth came preaching the kingdom of God, they were announcing the end of religious hierarchy.

Since the time of Moses, the Israelites had been governed by priests, judges, kings, and governors whom God used to oversee the people of God.  Even in the run-up to the kingdom of God (that is, the time of the New Testament), He used apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, elders, bishops, and such to oversee His people.

In the kingdom of God, however, the Lord alone would be exalted (Isaiah 2:11, 17).  When the kingdom came, all human authority between God and man was forever abolished (1 Corinthians 15:23-24).  This is why you can relate directly to God and do not need a church, a pastor, a priest, or any other human intermediary.  (As to the fact that the kingdom of God has indeed come see Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again or The Kingdom of God Is Here and Now.)

Those today who say they have authority to stand between you and God are simply building a kingdom of man.  You don’t have to concerned with them.  In other words, there is no official church of God today.  No churches are sanctioned by God, and certainly no other religions are sanctioned by God.  Every human being is a child of God and “the people of God” refers to the whole human race. Jesus died and rose again from the dead that all people might belong to Him.  The Lord will know if you pay attention to Him (2 Timothy 2:19)!

Jesus Christ our Lord is present everywhere and you are encouraged to trust Him in faith and live righteously.  This is the kingdom of God and has nothing to do with human intermediaries.  Yes, there are those of us who proclaim the name of Jesus Christ (Would that every human being proclaimed His name!), but we have no authority, no title, and no place of honor.  We are just like you: subjects of the kingdom of 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.

The Old Testament Provides the Vocabulary of the New Testament

The apostles who wrote the New Testament used the terms and concepts they learned from the prophets who wrote the Old Testament.

Therefore, if you want to understand the New Testament better, study the Old Testament.  You will find that this enriches your understanding of the New Testament because so many phrases and points of view come directly from the Old Testament.

For example, the New Testament says over 20 times that when Jesus ascended into heaven He sat “at the right hand of God.”  Where did the apostles get this idea?  The Old Testament.  Specifically, Psalm 110.  After He was raised from the dead and before He ascended into heaven, Jesus taught His disciples how the Scriptures had spoken of Him in ways they had not previously understood (Luke 24:25-27).  This was not just a matter of pointing to a few verses.  Rather, it was a way of understanding the Scriptures that would serve them going forward (Luke 24:44-45).  The Lord Himself gave the apostles this way of understanding the Old Testament.  It is this way of thinking that guided their writing of the New Testament.

Not everyone has all the time they’d like to study the Bible, but when you read the New Testament always remember that there is richness of explanation and insight waiting in 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.

The Life Cycle of a Modern Church

Every church begins in hope.  Whether it is a new denomination or new local church, the common attitude among the founders is that God is going to be pleased with this effort because it constitutes either an extension of His realm of authority or a purification of it.  The former refers to the planting of churches in new locations for the purpose of gathering “unchurched” (or “dechurched”) people.  The latter refers to those who come out of an existing denomination or local church because of the perception of error or apostasy in the existing environment.  In either case, spirits are high and founders are expectant of God’s blessing.

The next stage is growth as the founders reach out to others to share their excitement.  Regardless of theological issues, sociological and organizational dynamics usually combine to foster growth.  Newcomers join and hopes remain high…as long as the growth continues.

Sooner or later, the last stage of church life is reached either when growth subsides and the congregation cannot financially sustain itself or when perceived error or apostasy arises and some within feel called to step out and start another denomination or church.  And thus another cycle begins.

It’s a dismal cycle because it always ends up the same place it started.  (For this reason, it’s a circle as well as a cycle.)  Moreover, it does not advance the realm of God’s authority – it merely avoids that authority while paying lip service to it.  I say this because God’s authority is advanced when people obey Jesus and there no record in the Bible of Jesus commanding anyone to start denominations or churches.

To avoid this cycle, the Lord brought in the kingdom of God at the close of the New Testament age so that church life would no longer be necessary.  You see, the New Testament church itself started in great hope but was eventually plagued with error and apostasy, as the letters of the New Testament amply testify (both prospectively and contemporaneously).  For this reason, God designed that the church age should last just one generation, succeeded by the eternal kingdom age – that is, the age of eternity in which we live.

People who choose to pursue church instead of the kingdom of God are doomed to the negative cycle described above.  It has never been avoided and never can be avoided.  If you are happy with your church right now, just give things time.

The only solution to this vain pursuit is to do what the Lord said to do: seek the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33; Luke 12:31).  This kingdom can be found by following the person and teachings of Jesus Christ, who speaks in our consciences.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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.

There Will Never Be Another New Testament Church Just as There Will Never Be Another Ancient Israel

The New Testament church was unique.  It cannot be duplicated.  It existed at a crucial juncture in history just as Jesus Christ Himself existed at that juncture.  In fact, that church’s most important task was to bear witness to Him and His resurrection.  That we now have the New Testament is evidence of their success in this regard.

Ancient Israel was also unique.  It was a nation chosen to bear witness to the Creator God in a world of many competing deities.  Ancient Israel was raised up by God from the descendants of Abraham to establish monotheism and destroy polytheism in the world – among other purposes.  That monotheism dominates the world today is evidence of their success in this regard.

We live today in what the Old Testament and New Testament called “the day of the Lord.”  In this day, it is the kingdom of God (sometimes called the kingdom of heaven) which is God’s instrument just as Israel and the church had been His instruments in days past.  Israel and the church were both subject to corruption which is why they were only temporary vehicles until God could establish His eternal kingdom through Jesus Christ (that is, the Messiah of Israel).

The kingdom of God is invisible, indivisible, and incorruptible.  You enter it by living righteously in the sight of God which is founded upon faith in Jesus Christ.  It has nothing to do with church and nothing to do with modern Israel.  As I said above, there will never be another church like the one in the New Testament.  The churches of our day are futile attempts to imitate the New Testament church.  It is as vain today to build churches as it would be to sacrifice animals in Jerusalem.  (See Seeking the Kingdom of God Instead of Church.)

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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.

Challenge from a Churchgoer – Part 2

If you have not seen the first part of this conversation, click on Challenge from a Churchgoer.

Churchgoer:  Perhaps my view of the church is open and filled with grace and mercy the way Jesus would do.  My view of the church is not as an institutional organization, but rather failed human people who have a heart for God.  We have Jesus in common.  We have been led astray by mistaken teachers and we develop mistaken ideas outside of Scripture.  However, Jesus as God’s only begotten son who showed us how to live, died on the cross for us and rose from the grave is central.

My response:  Would that your view of those who do not go to church were as “open and filled with grace and mercy” as is your view of those who do.

Moreover, keep in mind that not all churchgoers are honoring Jesus and His word; neither all are nonchurchgoers dishonoring Him and His word.

Your acknowledgment of the failings of church merely confirm that it is no longer a divinely-led organism as it was in New Testament times. It is a man-made organization, with all the good and bad that go with being man-made. At best, it is as well-intentioned as Peter offering to build a tabernacle for Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration – and just as misguided and useless.  At worst, it’s as self-serving and defiant of God as was Pharaoh or Jezebel.

Nonetheless, I have not forsaken church to pursue the kingdom of God because of church’s failings, but rather because of Scripture which tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God” – said kingdom promised to come by the end of the New Testament age (Matt 16:28).  Hence, the kingdom of God is the legitimate heir of the New Testament church – said kingdom not coming with signs to be observed (Luke 17:20-21).

When you exalt today’s church, you are obscuring the kingdom of God – just as I used to obscure the kingdom of God when I insisted that people to go to church. I thought that one served Jesus by serving church, but Scripture eventually taught me that church was a distraction from an omnipresent Jesus.

In New Testament times, Jesus sat at the right hand of God while the church prepared for His coming, but since then He has come in His kingdom to fill the heavens and the earth as Almighty God (Isaiah 9:6-7).

And, yes, Jesus showing us how to live, dying on the cross for us, and rising from the grave is central to all of this. May His name be exalted more and more!

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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.

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The Book of Hebrews – Gateway Between the Testaments

Every New Testament book provides linkage to the Old Testament because the apostles and their colleagues who wrote the New Testament documents viewed the Old Testament as the word of God.  They never called it the “Old Testament.”  Rather they called it “the Scriptures” or “the Law of Moses and the Prophets” or other such terms.  And they constantly appealed to its authority.

The book of Hebrews provides a particularly wide gateway between the two testaments.  In fact, to study the book of Hebrews is to engage in a study of the Old Testament because the arguments of Hebrews are built entirely on quotes, references, and allusions to the Old Testament.

If you would understand the Old Testament the way Jesus understood it, study the book of Hebrews. 

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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.

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As David Was to Solomon, So God the Father Was to Jesus the Son

King David had wanted to build a house (temple) for the name of the Lord.  However, he had shed so much blood that God determined it should be David’s son Solomon who would build the house instead.  David’s successful wars on behalf of the Lord enabled him to bequeath to his son a kingdom of peace.  Indeed, God promised David that He would give rest and quiet in Solomon’s reign.  In fact, the root of Solomon’s name is connected to Shalom (peace) and Salem (peace) or Jerusalem (foundation of peace).  Therefore, David was the warrior king who yielded the privilege of building the Lord’s house to his son, the king of peace.

Similarly, the God of the Old Testament (called “Father” by Jesus) was involved in wars and bloodshed because of His redemption of Israel from the bondage of slavery in Egypt and because of his conquest and defense of the land of Canaan on Israel’s behalf.  Thus He yield to His Son – the Prince of Peace – the task of building a house for God’s name.  And indeed some people struggle to see the connection between the God of the Old Testament and Jesus of the New Testament.  Yet it is the same God operating in different circumstances and for different purposes.

The Old Testament age was God’s way of preparing for the New Testament age.  In the Old Testament, God planted His plan of salvation.  In the New Testament, He harvested it.  In the Old Testament, God operated through a nation of people to build an visible earthly kingdom.  In the New Testament, God operates through a single Man to build an invisible heavenly kingdom – in which we may all participate day by day through faith.

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

The Kingdom Is the Lord’s

The last line of the last verse in the very short book of Obadiah says, “the kingdom will be the Lord’s.”

This describes the age in which we live…and in which we will always live.  The kingdom is the Lord’s, and the Lord is the Lord Jesus Christ.  If you would relate to God, relate to Him.  If you would seek the kingdom of God, seek Him.  If you would serve the kingdom of God, serve Him.

You see, the kingdom of God is a very personal thing.  It is the most personal of things.  God relating to you.  God relating to me.  God relating to everyone through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The kingdom of God has no human intermediaries.  You need no pastor, bishop, or other spiritual leader.  You need no group of brothers and sisters upon whom to rely.  You may relate directly to the Lord Jesus Himself and rely entirely upon Him.  For this reason God became a person, so that you could relate to Him on that basis.  He – the Lord Jesus Christ – has revealed Himself to you.

Do not think of the kingdom of God as an impersonal or ethereal thing.  It is personal.  Obey the king – it’s as simple and straightforward as that.

The kingdom is the Lord’s!

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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.

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Predestination Guarantees You a Place in Heaven, but Which Place Is Up to You

You may have read the posts from the previous two days: The Sense in Which Predestination Is True and The Sense in Which Predestination Is False.  If so, you know that Everyone Is Going to Heaven, but that we still have many choices to make in this life…and that those choices are important.  Let me be more specific.

Upon hearing that everyone is going to heaven, some people assume that it doesn’t matter how we live on earth.  On the contrary, it matters a great deal.   For one thing, the more morally we live here on earth the more protected we are from the evil consequences of sin.    For more on this, see Judgment Is Upon Us.

As for heaven, though our inclusion is insured, there can be a great deal of variation in what happens to us there.  As Jesus said, “Many who are last [here] will be first [there], and many who are first [here] will be last [there].”  There are many people who have lived lives that the world considers inconsequential, yet God takes great delight in them.  The One who sees every sparrow fall also sees every act of kindness even if no human eye ever took notice.  And, conversely, be assured that importance or celebrity status on earth is no guarantee whatsoever of the same in heaven.

Therefore, know that your eternal destiny is heaven – but that how you live here will impact the quality of experience you have there…significantly.

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

The Sense in Which Predestination Is False

Perhaps you read yesterday’s post The Sense in Which Predestination Is True.  As for the sense in which it is false, there are those who teach a doctrine of predestination which says that only some people are  going to heaven.  (Of course, the “some” usually includes the people who are teaching this doctrine – how convenient for them!)  This doctrine is false, of course, because Everyone Is Going to Heaven.

This doctrine is also false because it is a form of fatalism.  That is, the supporters of this false doctrine believe that God has determined every aspect of a person’s life so that human beings are powerless to alter their direction.  God’s fundamental message to mankind is “Repent!”  This would be futile for Him to command if He’s the one controlling who can and can’t obey it.  Fatalism saps life and hope.  God, on the other hand, gives us life and hope.

Do not buy in to a doctrine of predestination that limits heaven to a few and renders every human being nothing more than a robot controlled by God.  Instead, believe that all of us are destined to heaven but that we have millions of choices to make that will determine how we get there…and what our experience there will be like once we arrive.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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.

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The Sense in Which Predestination Is True

Some form of the word “predestine” occurs in the Bible six times (Acts 4:28; Romans 8:29,30; 1 Corinthians 1:7; Ephesians 1:5, 11).  It speaks of God’s ability to make things happen for us independent of our decisions.  It does not mean that we have no choices to make.  On the contrary, just because the parent can control the environment in which a small child lives does not mean that the child has no ability to choose.  On the contrary, a small child in a playpen can make a great many choices even though he may not leave the playpen.  Thus, God sets the boundaries of our environment and takes certain actions of His own in it without removing our ability to make choices which improve or detract from our well being.  Let’s be more specific.

Prior to creating the heavens and the earth and everything that is in them, God determined that we would all go to heaven.  Thus our destination (heaven)…was pre-determined.  Thus, predestination – or, to remove the hyphen, predestination.  In other words, God determined from the beginning that though human beings would be born on earth, they would live ultimately and eternally in heaven.  (For more, see Everyone Is Going to Heaven.)

So, the first aspect in which predestination is true is that all of us have the same destination in eternity.

The second way in which it is true is that it is only the destination that is predetermined.  The route to that destination varies by our choices.  That is, how we get to heaven and how soon we get to heaven is something that varies by every individual person.  Therefore, do not live under the falsehood of fatalism.  Your life is yet to be fully created and lived.  We have choices today.  Let’s make them wisely.  Your destination is secure, but you are choosing the route by which you get there.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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.

Would the Apostle Paul Be Building Churches Today?

The apostle Paul would no more be building churches today than King David would be slaying Philistines.  God works in context and now is not the time for building churches or for slaying Philistines.  It’s time for the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God is what Paul sought, and what he taught people to wait for.  “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain!”  (Philippians 1:21), he cried.  That kingdom has since come (The Kingdom of God Is Here and Now).  Paul would not continue seeking the partial once the perfect had come (1 Corinthians 13:10).

There is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3).  Jesus had to admonish James and John about this when they wanted to call fire down from heaven on their enemies like Elijah had done (Luke 9).  What was right in Elijah’s time, however, was out of place in James’ and John’s.  Similarly, Jesus rebuked Peter about timing when he wielded a sword like David would have against those who were trying to arrest Jesus (Matthew 26 and John 18).  What was right for David to do against Goliath was inappropriate in the day of Messiah.  Likewise, churches were established in the New Testament to wait for the kingdom of God.  Since the kingdom God has come, church building is a distraction – out of place in the time of the kingdom.

Do today what Paul would do if he were here today:  seek first the kingdom of God (Seeking the Kingdom of God Instead of Church).

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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.

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Paul or Paul’s Christ?

Are you following the apostle Paul or Paul’s Christ?  

Acts 14 describes how on his first missionary journey, Paul was momentarily worshiped as a Greek god.  Therefore, it’s not unheard of for people to become more enamored with Paul than with the One He preached. 

Even today, there are people who show more allegiance to Paul than they do to Paul’s Lord.  How so?  Well, Paul preached that Jesus would soon be coming back to earth in His kingdom.  Yet there are followers of Paul today that do not believe that Jesus did what Paul said He would do.  Thus, these people follow Paul…but not the Lord that Paul preached.

The Christ that Paul preached is here among us today.  He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  He came again, just as promised (Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again).  Don’t seek Paul – seek Paul’s Christ.  If you do, no one will be more pleased than Paul.

 The purpose of this blog is to praise 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.

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Why Do Churches Contradict the Bible to Which They Profess Allegiance?

Churches claim the apostles and the New Testament as their authorization.  Yet the apostles and the New Testament said that Christ would come again in that age while today’s churches say that He did not. 

Rest assured, however, that today’s churches are wrong.  Jesus did come again just as He said He would.  See any of these three posts:

Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again 

All Bible Prophecy Has Been Fulfilled 

The Kingdom of God Is Here and Now 

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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.

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If a False Timeline for the Second Coming Is a Sign of a Cult, Then Aren’t All Churches Cults?

Churches and leaders are routinely labeled as cults if they predict Christ’s return in a timeframe that has expired – and especially when they continue to push out the return after the expiration date.  Yet all churches who proclaim that Christ’s return is in the future are pushing out the date beyond the period when the Lord and His apostles said it would occur. 

Read the New Testament, from the Gospels to Revelation, and see that its writers expected Christ’s return in that age – before the generation of Jesus’ contemporaries completely died out.  Thus, when churches today push to the future the date of Christ’s return they are behaving just like those they label cults.

Be assured, however, that our Lord is entirely faithful and true.  See  Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again and All Bible Prophecy Has Been Fulfilled.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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.

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When the King of Israel Became King of the Nations

When Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead He was installed as king of Israel in the heavenly Jerusalem (Psalm 2:6-7; Hebrews 12:22-24).  From the right hand of God, He reigned as King of Israel (Psalm 110; Galatians 6:16) throughout the church age (that is, the days during which the New Testament was written). 

At the “Second Coming,” He was made King of all nations (Revelation 11:15; 15:3-4; Psalm 2:8), for He came up to throne of God itself (Daniel 7:13-14).  As to the fact that Jesus’ Second Coming is past tense, see Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again.  Jesus reigns forever as the King of Israel and King of the Universe (Hebrews 13:8; Isaiah 9:6-7). 

Jesus Christ Is God!

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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.

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If the New Heavens and New Earth Have Not Yet Come, Then Everyone Is Still Descending to Hades (Sheol) at Death

Some say that the new heavens and new earth are yet to come.  However, they have already come and we are living in them.  For more explanation, see Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again

More to the point of this post, if the new heavens and new earth have not yet come then everyone is still descending to Hades (Sheol) when they die.  If you do not know this, then you are unaware of the Bible’s teaching on afterlife and have accepted a man-made doctrine in its place. 

Search the Scriptures and you will see that Sheol (Hades), below the earth, was the abode for everyone who died.  (Sheol is the Hebrew word; Hades is the Greek word for the same place.)  You will need one of the more literal translations and a concordance to check this out because less literal translations tend not to preserve these words.  Rather, they tend to regard Sheol/Hades as a mere idioms for death and therefore translate them as “the grave” or “death” or “dying” or something similar.

According the book of Revelation, Hades would not give up its dead until the new heavens and earth came (Revelation 21-22).  Therefore, if you were to claim that the book of Revelation’s prophecies were still future then you would be stuck having to believe that no one other than Jesus has ascended into heaven (John 3:13; Acts 2:34). 

But the new heavens and earth have come, and everyone is no longer descending.  Rather, all ascend at death into heaven. 

Just as all of us die because of Adam, all of us will live after death because of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:22).  For Jesus is the Savior of the entire world, not some portion of it; believing does not make it so, but it does make you enjoy that it is so (1 Timothy 4:10).  When Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead, He put Himself in a position to draw all the dead out of Sheol (Hades) by creating a new heavens and earth around Himself (John 12:32-33).

Be zealous for God, therefore, and repent of your sins.  Live for righteousness’ sake.  Seek our Savior’s kingdom!

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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.

It’s Time to Come Out of the Catacombs

Jesus told Paul that He was bringing the world out of the darkness of its ignorance.  Prior to that time, the world had been worshiping Satan – in ignorance, of course (Acts 26:18)  Jesus was bringing the light of the knowledge of God to the world through Paul and others.  As a result, people would be able to turn from darkness to light, from ignorance to knowledge, from Satan to God.  As they turned, people would receive the forgiveness of their sins and an inheritance of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding through their faith in Jesus Christ.

All this is still true today.  Yet there needs to be more people like Paul and the other Christians of his day who bring this light to the darkened world.  This is easier said than done because it takes courage to bring that light.  The world today is prepared to heap immediate and abundant scorn on anyone who brings up Christ in everyday conversation.  The only people who are prepared to live with this rejection are those who have determined to love God more than life itself. 

The world has no problem with your faith as long as you practice it out of their sight.  They will let you sing all the worship songs you want to sing and pray all the prayers you want to pray as long as you do it somewhere else.  That’s why they don’t object to churches.  Churches give you a place away from general society where, from society’s point of view, you can get all those urges out of your system.  Then when you come to work on Monday you can act like they do – that is, keeping mum about God, His glory, and His commandments. 

It’s time to come out of the catacombs.  It’s time to let the light of God shine through us who believe in Him who died for the sins of the whole world.  When the light is in the churches, it’s covered and hidden from the world.  The light of God was not meant to be hidden.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

How Can So Many Defy the Lord’s Instruction…and in His Name No Less!

Jesus instructed His disciples that none of them should be called leaders because He Himself was the leader (Matthew 23:10).  Why then do we have over 30,000 Christian denominations each with its own leader or leaders?

The answer is that they have defied the Lord they proclaim to serve.  Let’s be sure we do not make the same mistake.  Jesus is the Leader.  Follow Him!

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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Why Do We Say Things and Not Do Them?

Jesus famously said in the Sermon on the Mount that unless our righteousness exceeded that of the scribes and Pharisees we would not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20). 

We should ask then: “How much righteousness did the scribes and Pharisees have?”  The answer is that they had enough to know the right answers but not enough to do them (Matthew 23:1-3).

Have you noticed that this is the same degree of righteousness that churches have today?  This is even true of the churches who are the most faithful to the Scriptures.  That is, even in the best of churches people are professing truth that they are not practicing. 

Why is this?  Why do we say things and not do them?  It is because we are unwilling to give up the secret sins of our hearts (John 3:19-21).  If anyone in the churches were to begin to practice the truth that they preach, they would realize that God is everywhere and cannot be contained by a place or time of worship designated by human beings.  Practicing the truth that the churches preach would mean for an individual coming out of the churches (2 Corinthians 6:16-18) and experiencing the rejection that Jesus experienced (Hebrews 13:12-14). 

Again, why do we say things and not do them?  Because we’ve deemed it too costly. 

But I beg of you:  Reconsider!  Give up your relationship with the self-proclaimed people of God in order to have a relationship with the living God Himself.  If you do so, you will by that act be joining the true people of God.  For the people of God are indeed…of God.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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The God of Correction

The early chapters of the book of Revelation are filled with scathing criticisms of Christian disciples.  Jesus was the one who was dishing out those rebukes.  He didn’t speak this way because He didn’t love those people.  Quite the contrary.  He spoke harshly because He loved them and their behavior demanded this kind of response (Revelation 3:19).

Discipline is an essential part of parental love, as Hebrews 12:1-11 makes clear. 

The whole God-loves-you-and-has-a-wonderful-plan-for-your-life message is only accurate to the extent that you understand that the foremost part of that plan is that you live a lifestyle of repentance.

Indeed, God does intend to give you a great future and hope (Jeremiah 29:11), but you can only experience them if you turn from living for yourself to living for Him (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). 

Living for Him means loving God above all and our neighbor as God loves us (1 John 3:23).  It doesn’t mean having God make all our dreams come true.  Rather, it means making God’s dreams for us come true to by being obedient to His instruction (James 4:13-17). 

This means God’s overarching message to us must be one of correction because selfless love is not the way most of us have been living.  The good news is, that if we will bear His reproof, we will be filled with His Spirit (Proverbs 1:23) which results in righteousness, peace, and (yes) joy for us (Romans 14:17).   

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Do You Walk in the Same Manner as Jesus Walked?

Jesus went about doing good for everyone (Acts 10:38).

If you say that you know Jesus, you should live the same way that He did (1 John 2:3-6).  That is, you should walk in the same manner that He walked.  He walked by love.  Everything He did was motivated by a love for God and a love for the people around Him – even for the whole human race.

If we’re going to walk as He walked, we’re going to have to keep His commandments.  He kept His own commandments and that’s what caused His life to be a life of love.  His commandments are that we love God above all else, and our neighbors as ourselves.  Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t the first person to formulate those commandments – they had been written by Moses over a thousand years before Jesus was born.  Jesus was just the first person to obey them to the limit.  He does not expect to be the last.  For this reason, He left us steps in which we should walk (1 Peter 2:21-25).

How can we say we’re following Him if we’re not living the way He said (that is, the way He lived)?

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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His Name Is Enough

There is no other name by which we may be saved from our sins (Acts 4:12), and make no mistake that it is from our sins that we need saving.

You do not have to have physically seen Jesus of Nazareth in order to benefit from His saving ability – just believe in His name.  His name is sufficient (John 1:12; 20:29-31).  In fact, you are more blessed for believing the story you’ve heard than the apostles were for witnessing it first hand.

You do not need a local church.  You do not need a pastor.  You do not need a spiritual mentor.  You need the name of Jesus – that’s all.  Believe in that name and listen to His whisperings in your heart.  He wants you to do right.

Be like Zaccheus.  That is, let the mere encounter of Jesus inspire you to repent.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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Have You Stopped Repenting?

We can’t think we’re having fellowship with God if we keep living the same self-centered way we have been.  We must live as if every thought we have is on display for heaven (because it is).  When we do have evil thoughts, we should confess them (1 John 1:5-10) – and long before they ripen into evil actions.  This repentance brings the joy of heaven (Luke 15:7).

God came to earth and lived as Jesus of Nazareth so that He could be rejected and crucified by us.  Why did He do this?  So that we could have irrefutable proof that He loves us.  Thus, we would from then on look to Him in heaven knowing that we could be forgiven for any sin.  For this reason we fear Him, because He is approachable (Psalm 130:4).  If we thought He was unwilling to forgive sin, we would never go to Him.  He wanted to demonstrate His approachability.

That Jesus forgives our sins does not mean that our sins are not judged.  Certainly, Israel was judged for its crucifixion of Jesus in the destruction of its temple, its capital, and its sovereignty in 70 A.D.  Yet all the individuals who repented of their participation in that event were forgiven and were protected and delivered through that terrible time.

We can only afford to stop repenting when we have stopped sinning.  If, therefore, you have stopped repenting, have you stopped sinning?  Are you even making an effort to repent – or have you given up, saying to yourself that you’re living okay compared to others?  Do not go the way of the world.

Do not stop repenting until you have stopped sinning.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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Why Do We Have to Look to Jesus?

Paul said that the One who didn’t know sin became sin for us that we could become righteous like Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). 

This matches what Jesus said when He likened His coming crucifixion to the serpent Moses put on a pole for the Israelites (John 3:14-15 and Numbers 21:8-9).  Those who looked at the serpent lived.  Even so, those of us who look to Jesus (that is, see Him by faith, lifted up in heaven) live eternally in doing so.

Jesus reveals the awful evil of which we humans are capable.  We murdered Him!  We killed the kindest, most gentle person who ever walked the earth.  We did not build Him a shrine, we did not humble ourselves to sit at His feet.  We killed Him.  Or we betrayed Him.  Or we denied Him.  Or we just stood by when the crucifixion was taking place. 

Jesus’ death defiled even the land, for it was Moses who said that he who is hanged on a tree is cursed (Deuteronomy 21:23). 

To find out that all this evil was part of God’s plan, and that therefore He intended to forgive it, begins to reveal just how good God’s goodness really is.  He wanted to demonstrate how much He loved us.  Therefore, He used the fullness of our wickedness to demonstrate the fullness of His kindness.

Where else are you going to look to find such goodness?  Nowhere but Jesus.  That’s why we have to look to Him.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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How Much Progress Have You Made in Righteousness?

Paul said that Christ would make us into the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).  That’s as righteous as it gets!

This matches what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: that our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees (Matthew 5:20) and that the goal was that we become perfected as God Himself (Matthew 5:48).  When we hear things from Jesus this hard to believe, we have to remind ourselves that He also said that the things impossible with humans are possible with God (Luke 18:27).

As for the Pharisees, the closest representation we have of them today are churchgoers.  Therefore, He’s saying that unless your righteousness exceeds that of churchgoer’s, it isn’t good enough.  The righteousness God desires from us must be lived every hour of the day, every day of the week.  Churchgoing is a ritual that doesn’t have anything to do with righteousness.  It’s a lot of talk about righteousness, but churchgoer’s behavior is not noticeably different from that of the general population.

Ask yourself today, and every day, how much progress you have made from your sinful ways.  It’s an affront to God’s honor if we are not making appropriate progress toward the ultimate goal (1 Timothy 4:15 and Philippians 1:6).

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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Salvation from Sin Is a Process

Salvation from sin is a process, not a transaction.  Far too often I have heard Jesus’ promise to redeem us from our sins reduced to a single prayer or a response to an altar call.  It is then said that our sins are wiped away as if a legal accounting transaction has taken place.  The exchange seems to be “If you pray the sinner’s prayer, He will make you white as snow.”  While there may be grains of truth in this formulation, it has become so perverted as to render meaningless the true promise of Jesus.

Jesus means to make us righteous.  That is, He means to lead us away from sinning and into acting righteously in all we do.  This glorifies Him.  Let us not deny Him His power or glory by refusing to participate in the process that actually cleanses our lives of sin – that makes us into much better people.

The process of salvation consists of looking by faith to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).  He is the Holy One of Israel, the only One to whom we can look and be saved (Isaiah 45:22).  In so “seeing” Him, we are energized with His love.  When we look away from Him, the process of salvation is interrupted and we begin to sink back into our sinful attitudes (Matthew 14:26-31).  Let us therefore keep our eyes fixed on Him, even in difficult times (Hebrews 12:1-2).  In that looking by faith, we are empowered to live in a way that is always pleasing to Him. 

A glance at Jesus makes the moment.  An steady and uninterrupted gaze at Jesus makes a life. 

Walk by this faith (2 Corinthians 5:7) for there is no other way to please Him (Hebrews 11:6).  And there is certainly no other way to be saved from sin. 

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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Sin Is the Problem

We must never forget that the root of every problem in the world is sin.  Therefore, to deal with the world’s problems without dealing with sin is to hack away at the branches of a tree that will just grow more branches.  To deal with sin is to deal with the root.

The name of Christ is proclaimed all over the world today, but how often is He proclaimed as the one who has come to deal with the root of all that is wrong?  Instead, His name is used to promote church building, entertainment, and all sorts of other extraneous enterprises.  If you would speak of Christ, speak of His power to turn us from our sinful ways (James 5:19-20).  Speak of Him as the One who brings us out of our slavery to sin (John 8:34). 

The Bible makes perfectly clear in its earliest chapters that everything in the creation was good until humanity sinned.  Has the word “sin” become too old-fashioned to invoke?  It certainly is vogue in terms of practice!

Sin is the problem.  Righteousness is the solution.  And Jesus is the way to move from the one to the other. 

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom .

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The Centerpiece of All God’s Workings

When Paul was preaching the gospel to the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13), he closed with a warning that God was accomplishing a work in their days which some would not believe even if it was described to them.  That warning is eternal and therefore applies today as well.

The stone which the builders rejected is the chief cornerstone (1 Peter 2:4-8).  The builders rejected it then and the builders are still rejecting it today.  Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it (Psalm 127).  The Lord is building His house.  If you are building one for Him you are wasting your time – and His, too (read Stephen’s address to the Sanhedrin in Acts 7).  Rise up, you people of God, and be done with lesser things.  With all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, serve the King of kings – Jesus Christ our Lord.

Many people will say that the church is the centerpiece of God’s workings, but they are wrong.  Do not join that error.  Serve the omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent King Jesus!  Only He can cleanse you from your sins.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom .

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Christ the Heir

The writer to the Hebrews begins the letter by declaring that the Son of God is “heir of all things.”  This leaves nothing out.

No doubt the writer was mindful of Psalm 2 and especially verse 8.  The Son was to inherit the nations and the earth upon which they dwelt.

Of course, the very reason Jesus had died and risen again is so that He might be Lord of the dead and the living (Romans 14:7-9).  He never intended to leave anything out.

For this reason we who live today should cease living for ourselves and instead live for Him who died and rose again on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).  He is the heir and we are the prize of His inheritance (Matthew 13:44).

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom .

Who Will Be the Mighty Men of David in This Generation?

When you read of David’s mighty men chronicled in 2 Samuel 23, do you think about Jesus in His kingdom today?  David was the king of Israel about a thousand years before Christ.  Jesus, however, is the eternal king of Israel and the king of the universe as well.  Are you His servant?

If you would be a mighty one of this David, our king, then be of Him and of no one else.  Do you not know how to do this?  Then go to Him and to no one else for your marching orders.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom .

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Daniel 12:3 – Leading the Many to the Lord of Righteousness

To whom or what do you lead people?

I hope you lead them to righteousness.  That means I hope you lead them to our King and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Many today lead people in the name of Christ to vanity.  That is, they lead them to churchgoing, or ministry following.  This is not righteousness.  Our God is our righteousness.

Look always to Him in your own life and you will, by the very fact, be leading them to righteousness.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom .

In Christ Alone

“In Christ Alone” is a common battle cry among Christians – and it is a good one.  Only problem is, most everyone who uses this phrase trusts in things in addition to Christ.  If, for example, you tell them that you trust in Christ alone and therefore do not go to church, they will say, “Oh no, you must go to church.” 

If you would trust in Christ alone, then trust in Christ alone.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom .

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This Is the Day of Christ

In the first chapter of Philippians, Paul makes reference to the coming “day of Christ Jesus.”  In the same chapter, he refers to it again calling it “the day of Christ.”  Elsewhere (including the Old Testament) it is called “the day of the Lord.”

This is the day that the Lord has made.  It is the Lord’s day.  It is the day in which the Lord is king over all the earth, in which He is the only one, and His name is the only one (Zechariah 14:9). 

This is the day of which Isaiah prophesied saying that the Lord alone would be exalted (Isaiah 2:11, 17). 

Why do we exalt churches, and denominations, and traditions?  Is His name insufficient for us to glory in?  Do we not believe that He came again just as He promised?  (Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again.) 

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom .

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Jesus Rules the Heavens and Earth According to the Scriptures

According to Deuteronomy 17:18-20, Jesus is ruling the heavens and earth by the very words of our Bibles.  That is, the words of Moses and the Prophets and the Writings are His guiding light.

In this portion of Deuteronomy, Moses declares that when a king is set over Israel he shall write a copy of the Law for himself so that he may read and follow it all the days of his life.  From this we know that God does everything He tells us to do.  That is, He practices what He preaches.  From this we also know that the written word of God supplies all that we need for life and godliness.  That is, there is no situation we can face for which the Scriptures do not provide the answer – both for God’s part and for our part.

God does not rule the earth and make His decisions regarding us according to mysterious counsels which are completely hidden from us.  Instead, He has laid out for us the very principles of government which He follows.  How blessed we are that our King has given us His heart on paper!

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom .

Study the Prophets

The prophets took steps, and Jesus walked in them.  (Luke 13:33)

What they experienced, He experienced.  (Acts 8:34-35)

They told His story, long before He lived it.   (Romans 1:1-5; 16:25-27)

If we obey Him, our experiences will be like those of the prophets.  (Matthew 5:11-12)

If we obey Him, our ministry will be greater than theirs for he who is the least in the kingdom of God is greater than they.  (Matthew 11:7-11)

It is not that we are greater than they of whom the world was not worthy, but that the revelation of the Lord which we have been granted to give is greater than what they had.  God is fully revealed through Jesus Christ.  (1 Peter 1:10-13)

Study the prophets.  Their path is our path.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom .

A True Jew

Twice in the book of Revelation (2:9; 3:9), Jesus complains about those “who say they are Jews but are not.”  He took this matter very seriously.  While the term “Jew” may be an epithet to some, it is a badge of honor to Him.

In the consummate example of this dichotomy, Jesus was derided at His crucifixion as “The King of the Jews.”  He wears this badge proudly.  He rejoiced that He was able to suffer shame for the name of His Father, just as the apostles rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer shame for Jesus’ name (Acts 5:41).

Since He is King of the Jews, then don’t we all want to be Jews?  Of course!

Know then that through the resurrection of Christ and the opening of the heavens that occurred as a result, he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.  He is a Jew who is one inwardly and whose circumcision is of the heart (Romans 2:28-29).  That is, it is not the physical descendants of Abraham who are his seed but those who walk in the faith that he had (Romans 4).  Therefore, whether you are a Jew or Gentile in the flesh is irrelevant.  What counts with God is what you are in the spirit. 

If when you die, someone at your grave says, “Here lies a true Jew,” then nothing finer could be said about your life.  It is approaching what Jesus heard when He died (“King of the Jews”).

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom .

The Church of the Flesh Supports Israel of the Flesh

Much of today’s organized church (I’m speaking, of course, of the humanly organized church) politically supports the nation Israel in the Middle East.  They do so because they believe that Israel in the Middle East is fulfillment of biblical prophecy.  It is not.  All biblical prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus Christ (for more on this, see the post All Bible Prophecy Has Been Fulfilled).  Neither today’s nation of Israel nor today’s church are creations of God, as was ancient Israel and the New Testament church.  Today’s entities are both creations of men. 

I do not have a position on the politics of the Middle East.  I am neither pro-Israel nor anti-Israel.  I am just saying it’s a mistake to assume that God is any more involved in that nation than He is any other nation.  God governs the affairs of all nations.  They rise and fall according to His will and their degree of adherence to it.  There was a time when Israel was God’s unique holy nation, but that time is past.

The organized religion of Christianity is the church of the flesh.  That is, it is the visible church.  This is distinguished from the true church which has the Lord only as its leader.  It is comprised of all those who hear and obey Him.  They do not have a building, a meeting time, or a tax-exempt status.  You and I can not even know all its members – but the Lord does, and that’s the membership that counts.

It is only natural that the church of the flesh would support the Israel of the flesh.  I don’t think this bothers the Israelis because they generally do not claim to have have a divinely inspired government as did the ancient Israelites.  This idea does bother today’s church because it does think it is divinely inspired as was the church in the apostles’ day.  They err to think so, and everyone but them knows it.

If you desire to be subject to a divinely-inspired, spiritually-governed church then acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and live for Him all the days and hours and minutes of your life.  He sees in secret, and He is the only one you need to please.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom .

Organized Christianity? It Depends on Who Is Doing the Organizing.

When people speak of organized religion or organized Christianity, they are almost always speaking about organization that is supplied by humans.  That is, there are pastors, or bishops, or a pope, or overseers, or any number of other titles for the church’s rulers or leaders.  This form of Christianity is disconnected from God.  It does not have God as its head.  Rather it has human beings as its heads.

 If, however, you speak of a Christianity organized by Christ, now then you are talking about something worthwhile…something directly connected to God. 

Jesus Christ sees and speaks to all humanity.  Those who respond to His call are noticed by Him.  He gives them more direction for their lives.  They listen to His voice and do His will.  You will find them doing good works to help people with pressing needs.  You will find them praising His name liberally.  You will find them bearing up while suffering persecution.  They love the Lord.  And they are organized by Him and Him alone.

Therefore, organized Christianity is acceptable to God…if it is organized by Him and not human beings.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom .

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The New Testament Church Was Preparing for the Government of God

If you have read the New Testament, you know that it offers hardly anything in the way of church governance that is useful today.  That’s one reason why we have over 30,000 Christian denominations.  Almost all of them claim to have arrived at their governmental structure either from the pages of the New Testament or from the authors of the New Testament.  If that’s the case, why isn’t there one church and not 30,000?  The answer is that the apostles left no direction for how the church was to be run after their departure because they expected the Lord to run it.  The coming of the Lord was promised and expected in that generation.  For this reason, we know that it occurred (Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again).

Isaiah 9:6 had promised that the government would be upon the Son’s shoulders.  The apostle Peter said to the elders who were reading his first letter that they should shepherd in anticipation of the coming of the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5) who would reward them if they were faithful.  Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 3, the apostle Paul told the believers in Corinth that they should labor toward the end that their work would remain and not be burned up with the coming of the Lord (read on to 1 Corinthians 4:5).

The apostles were preparing believers for the government of the Lord and nothing less.  The very reason that you see organized Christianity divided into 30,000 pieces is that it is not governed by the Lord, for a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. 

If your spiritual government is of human origin, it will fail.  And you will, too.  Submit to God’s government.  You do so by your sincere faith in Jesus Christ…and no one else.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom .

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There Is a Mighty Church in the Earth Today!

There is indeed a mighty church in the earth today.  However, it has no human pastors, owns no buildings, has no programs, and does not meet on Sundays.

The mighty church in the earth today is the church of the living God.  He Himself is its pastor and angels are His staff.  He knows the sheep and does not confuse them with goats.

This church meets not with each other but with the Lord.  These parishioners gather to the Chief Shepherd.  They are a house of prayer.  They take no human direction for all their guidance is from above.

Is the Lord your pastor?  Then you belong to His church.  But if you call the Lord pastor, do not call anyone on earth your pastor for no one can submit to two pastors. 

The Lord’s sheep know His voice and a stranger’s they will not follow.

If you want to please the Lord, be part of this church and no other.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom .

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1 Samuel 10:26-27

When Jesus ascended to His home in heaven, from where He had come, there were valiant men and women whose hearts God had touched – those hearts stayed true to Him who had risen.

There were, however, certain worthless men and women who said, some publicly and some just privately in their own hearts, “How can this one deliver us?”  They thus thought little of the salvation that this heavenly Messiah could bring.  They did not live for Him.  But He said nothing…at that time.

Rest assured that the Lord’s anointed is well able to deliver us.  In fact, do not neglect so great a salvation.  Those who do not grow weary in well-doing will receive a great reward!

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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The Two Great Events Upon Which the New Testament Hangs

The two great events upon which the entire New Testament hangs are the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the return of the Lord.

The resurrection launched the ministry of the disciples on earth under the direction of the Messiah from heaven.  The sense of urgency they had was to prepare the world for the coming judgment of the return of the Lord.  This sense of urgency is apparent everywhere in the New Testament.  The disciples had been told by the Lord that they had less than a generation to accomplish their mission and thus they were wasting no time in pursuing it.

Because the disciples were faithful to their mission, the world heard the message and the return of the Lord occurred exactly as promised.  If you have doubts, read the post Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again, or the book Whatever Became of Jesus Christ?

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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Messiah Reigning From Heaven Changed Everything – Part 3

Luke 24 tells the story of how the disciples had their understanding of the Scriptures turned upside down once Jesus was raised from the dead.  Perhaps we should say that their understanding was turned right side up, for the understanding they gained is the one that will govern spiritual thinking for all eternity.

Jesus first chided the men for being slow to believe the women who had seen Him after He had risen.  He said they were “foolish and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets had spoken.”  Thus He made clear, as He had in the Sermon on the Mount, that He had not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets but rather to fulfill them.  Luke goes on to tell how the Lord then explained all the things concerned Himself in “all the Scriptures.”  What a Bible study that must have have been! 

The Old Testament (as we would call it; they said simply “the Scriptures”) appeared to be a collection of laws, customs, genealogies, histories, prophecies, and such.  As it turns out, the disciples learned that the entire collection was a testimony to Jesus Christ!

As Jesus had said to those who were religious but unbelieving in John 5, “You study the Scriptures because you think they hold eternal life for you and it is these very Scriptures that testify of Me – but you’re unwilling to come to Me!”  Let us not be like them.

This is the understanding that Messiah’s resurrection to heaven gave us – let us not forsake it.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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Messiah Reigning From Heaven Changed Everything – Part 2

When Jesus was raised from the dead, the Scriptures quite literally became a different book.  People had been viewing the coming of Messiah’s kingdom in the traditional, conventional, and wrong way.  The resurrection opened up another dimension of understanding that had been previously sealed off to them. 

Now when they read of Messiah’s enemies they would no longer think of those rotten Romans, but of themselves.  The would remember that Messiah said, “Love your enemies.”  They would then know how much He loved “them.”  They would repent of their sins, having been conquered by His love. 

We are not talking about mere word play.  This is the new meaning they found in Scripture.  It had been there all along but it took the resurrection of Messiah to bring it to their minds.  What we call the Old Testament became a new testament.  The apostles set about devouring it and their newfound understanding permeates the pages of what we today call the New Testament.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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Messiah Reigning From Heaven Changed Everything – Part 1

The Jews had long looked forward to the coming of their Messiah King.  Once they found Him, the big surprise was that He would reign not from the earthly Jerusalem that they had known, but from heaven – a new, heavenly Jerusalem.  Because their king was spiritual (heavenly) and not fleshly (or earthly or physical), then so also…

…the kingdom was spiritual (so they should quit playing politics)

…the glory was spiritual (so they should seek God’s approval and not men’s)

…the power was spiritual (so they should seek strong hearts and not strong fists)

…the wealth and treasures of the kingdom were spiritual (so they should not trust money)

…the weapons of their warfare were spiritual (so they would conquer the nations by love and not brute force)

…the leadership and direction Messiah would give His people would be spiritual (so they should not expect a deliverance through Him along traditional and conventional lines)

That Messiah would reign from heaven changed almost everything about the way they had perceived life would be under Messiah.  And it was all for the better.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom .

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Why You Can Understand the Bible

There is a reason you can understand the Bible.  It is that the same Holy Spirit of God who inspired its writing works with you as you read it.

One of the doctrines that runs through the Scriptures is that those who wrote the various documents that comprise it were led by the Holy Spirit to do so.  The prophets of Israel who wrote the Old Testament documents made clear that they were speaking the thoughts of the Holy Spirit that God had sent to them.  Similarly, the New Testament documents were penned by Israel’s apostles who had been commissioned personally by the Messiah Himself – along with His personal promise that the Holy Spirit would give them the words they needed.

God sends this same Holy Spirit to every person today who humbly turns to the Bible for understanding.  Let Him inspire your reading just as the prophets and apostles let Him inspire their writing.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog: A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom which does not require you to be familiar with the Bible.

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You Can Understand the Bible

When I began reading the Bible for myself, I found that it was written by people like us, people who knew the joys and pains of life.  They had things to say and they wrote those things down.  Like people who write for a newspaper, they wanted to be understood.  I didn’t understand all of their customs because I did not live in their times.  I did, however, quickly begin to appreciate their feelings, struggles, fears, and hopes.  The Bible turned out to be not a forbidding fortress but rather an inviting oasis.  It was approachable because it was so human.

All the richness of its humanity, however, could not hide its divine nature.  I quickly concluded that is was, as had been claimed, the word of God.  It told too much truth that I could not deny.  Many years of reading, studying, and re-reading have only confirmed that initial conclusion.  It is unique among books for its Author watches while you read it.

The purpose of this blog is to praise 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, look to the blog: A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom which does not presume familiarity with the Bible.

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The Word of God Is the Lifeblood of the Kingdom of God

God upholds all things by His word, which is powerful beyond measure (Hebrews 1:3).

By His word, the heavens and earth were formed and by His word they have been sustained ever since.

Since all things are governed by His word, and since the earth was to be governed by humanity, can you not see how devastating it is that we human beings have not submitted to His word?  Because of us, creation is out of order.  Because of our rebellion, there is chaos. 

The good news is that He forgives us in Jesus Christ and longs for us to return to Him.  To the degree that we submit to His word, the restoration of creation proceeds.

Listen to the word of God and obey it.  In this way we extend His kingdom until all things have come into full subjection to Him.

The kingdom of God is not advanced by building, societies, organizations, or pledges.  It is advanced as we human beings hear His word and do it.

The word of God is the word of the kingdom (Matthew 13:19).  If you would regard the kingdom, regard His word (Isaiah 66:2).

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.  For those unfamiliar with the Bible, look to the blog: A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Day of the Lord

The Old Testament prophets told of a coming day of the Lord.  We live in that day.

The day of the Lord was to be a time of judgment and glory.  The glory was of God.  The judgment was for sin.  The day of the Lord would mean goodness and glory for the righteous, but terror and devastation for the unrighteous.  (See Malachi 4 for a picture of the contrast.)

Search the Scriptures for other references to the day of the Lord.  There are at least two dozen of them. 

Jesus made clear that He came to bring a sword that would divide (Matthew 10:34).

There are those longing for the day of the Lord who do not know that it has already come upon them (Amos 5:18).

Repent and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ for there is salvation in no one and nothing else (Acts 4:12).  All who seek Him will find Him and all who believe in Him will experience refreshment of their souls (John 7:37-38; Matthew 11:28-30)

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.  For those unfamiliar with the Bible, look to the blog: A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

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Zechariah 14:9

We live in the day of the fulfillment of this verse.

The Lord Jesus Christ is king over all the earth.  He is the only one, and His name is the only one.

This is the day of Christ to which Paul looked forward in Philippians 1:6, 10.

Do not look to a church, an organization, a group, an individual – do not look to anything or anyone other than the Lord Himself (Isaiah 45:22).

This is the day to which Isaiah looked – that is, the day when the Lord alone would be exalted (Isaiah 2:11, 17).

Do not think Him a strange deity (Acts 17:18) for it is through Him that our life flows (1 Peter 1:3) and in Him that all things are summed up (Eph 1:10).

This is His day – the day of the Lord (Isaiah 58:13-14).

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.  For those unfamiliar with the Bible, look to the blog: A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Biblical Language Without a Biblical Spirit

Beware of those who quote the Bible but do not have the Bible’s spirit.

The Bible’s spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Not everyone who uses biblical language is of this spirit.  You know this. 

Do not listen to those who speak Scripture with anger, bitterness, strife, malice, or any other ungodly spirit.

Biblical language without a biblical spirit is as a noisy bell or clanging cymbal.  God is love.

Whenever you refer to the Bible, be sure you are doing so in God’s spirit.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible. For a list of verses relevant to this post, see this post on related blog.

Isaiah 26:19

In this verse, Isaiah portrays how the tomb of the earth would become the womb of the earth.

Sheol was the nether region which housed all human beings who had died.  In Greek, its name was Hades.  Jesus descended to this region through death that He might be raised from it for the sake of its inhabitants.  In the coming of the kingdom of God, all the dead were raised and this lower world exists no more.  For an exposition of this truth, see the online book The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

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The Purpose of the Apostles and the Church Was to Bear Witness to Jesus and His Kingdom

The New Testament is sworn testimony of the apostles and their church regarding the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Now having their testimony (i.e. the New Testament), our responsibility is to believe it and act upon it.

Believing it and acting upon it does not mean establishing and adhering to the religious rituals of churchgoing.  Rather, it means believing in Jesus and keeping His commandments.  His commandments are that we love God above all and our neighbor as ourselves.  In fact, we ought to be laying down our lives for each other.  Churchgoing is not a fulfillment of this way of living, but rather a diversion from it.

We are to be imitating the faith of the apostles and their church.  That is the way to honor their service, and to honor the Lord who they honored.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

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1 Chronicles 11:2

Even though Saul was king of Israel, it was through David – the anointed one – that God delivered the people of Israel.

Even though church exists as an institution and claims authority from God, it is through Jesus that God grants deliverance for us today.  As Saul did not faithfully keep the charge of Samuel and was replaced by David, so the church did not faithfully keep the charge of the apostles and was replaced by the coming of the kingdom of God (Romans 14:17).

You can find grace in church today, but only because Jesus is preached there – and only for as long as He is preached there.

Like a honeycomb in the carcass of a dead lion is Jesus in the church today.  But just as you needn’t go to the carcass of a dead lion to find a honeycomb, so you do not have to venture into a church to find Jesus.  He is everywhere.  Entrance to His kingdom is found wherever His name is called and His word is declared.

Do not be confused about the source of your salvation.  It is the Spirit of Jesus –  and none other.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

The Church Was Preparation for the Kingdom of God

As you read the New Testament, you can see that those who wrote it and those who read it were preparing for the coming kingdom of God. 

The church was a school for the apostles to pass one what they had learned of, and from, Jesus Christ.

It is clear from the reading that the purpose of the church in the New Testament was not to become the institution of church that we see today.  The apostles made no provision for their authority to be transferred to anyone except the Lord Himself.  They were not seeking to establish a permanent church, but rather to prepare for an eternal kingdom.

If anyone would seek to imitate the New Testament church today, he will not seek anything except to lead others to Jesus and His kingdom.  God is not seeking churchgoers today.  He is seeking persons of faith.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

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Psalm 119:28

Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1; Luke 1:1-4; Revelation 19:13).  When we ask what the psalmist asked in Psalm 119:28, we ask with greater clarity and therefore greater power.

We ask for God to strengthen us according to Jesus Christ.  This is whose flesh we eat and whose blood we drink (John 6).  Do you think that this is too difficult a statement?  Are you still fleshly?  (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)

Paul wrote that this was the One who strengthened him (Philippians 4:13).

When we ask for God to strengthen us according to Jesus Christ, we are asking to be made like Him.  Though we may be weak in ourselves, through Him we are strong.

O God, strengthen us through Jesus who was sent for us to show us how to live in any and every circumstance.  O God, we do not ask that You change our circumstances; we ask that You change our hearts.

(For elaboration, see It’s a Salvation of the Soul…Not Circumstances )

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

Why Does God Call Us Gods?

In John 10, Jesus responded to a challenge by referring to Psalm 82 wherein God refers to human beings as “gods.”  Jesus’ point was that if the Scripture, which can never been in error, called humans gods, how could He be wrong by calling Himself “the son of God.”

Why did Psalm 82 refer to us as gods in the first place?  Because it was anticipating the resurrection in which Jesus says we will be like angels in heaven.  That is, the resurrection of the dead brings humanity to the heavens, in a place higher than angels.  For this reason also Psalm 8 extols God for the power and privilege He has given humanity.  He goes so far as to say that all things have been put under the feet of mankind.  The writer of Hebrews picks up on this theme and rejoices in it.

Mankind had authority over everything on earth in the original creation, but Psalm 8 is speaking prophetically of the resurrection which Jesus Christ has brought about.  In this resurrection, deceased humanity has been seated in heavenly places higher than angels.  Angels are under our feet.

For this reason we should not think that anything can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39).  Satan once stood between us and God.  No longer.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

 

 

The Word of the Lord Came Unto Me Saying…

In the Old Testament, Israel’s prophets would make this claim.  In our day (that is, the days of the kingdom of God) every human being who has heard of Jesus of Nazareth can make this claim.

Jesus Christ is the word of God to each and every one of us.  Through Jesus, God gives us light.  Through Jesus, God sets an example for us to follow.  Through Jesus Christ, God governs the universe.

What is Jesus saying to you?  He speaks afresh each day.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

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The Closer You Get, the Better Jesus Looks

If all you know of Jesus’ life is the rough outline, it’s still pretty impressive.  With the power of the Holy Spirit, He went about doing good things for people, healing those who were oppressed by the devil.  (Acts 10:38)

As you listen more to His words, you recognize that you have never heard a human being speak the way that He spoke (John 7:46).

A Roman centurion, having seen the abuse that Jesus had taken through His crucifixion, exclaimed as Jesus breathed His last that he had never been so impressed by anyone in his entire life.  (Mark 15:39)

Reading His words in the Bible for yourself allows you to come to your own conviction – that is, your own faith – that He is indeed the Savior of the world, and the God of all creation.  (John 4:39-42; John 1:1)

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible. For a list of verses relevant to this post, see this post on related blog.

Why Are People Looking for the Kingdom of God To Come with Observable Signs?

Jesus could not have been more clear.  In Luke 17:20-21 He told the Pharisees that the kingdom of God would not be coming with signs to be observed.  Why then do so many people still look for Jesus to come in His kingdom with signs to be observed?  It’s folly!

The kingdom is in our midst now for surely it came just when Jesus said it would.  (For elaboration, see The Kingdom of God Is Here and Now .)

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible. For a list of verses relevant to this post, see this post on related blog.

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He Turns the Curse into a Blessing

Balak hired Balaam to curse Israel, but God made the curse into a blessing (Deuteronomy 23:5).  By acts like this, God made a name for Himself as the One who could turn a curse into a blessing.  Never did He do this on a grander scale than when He raised Jesus from the dead and thereby made a path for all humanity to enter heaven.  Death, which previously had been man’s biggest curse, now became life’s biggest blessing!  (Philippians 1:21)

Even before the Balak-Balaam episode, God had demonstrated His ability in this regard when he transformed the trials of Joseph into the triumphs of Joseph.  Joseph was able at the end of it all to look his brothers in the eye and tell them, in effect, “Don’t feel bad about any of this; you may have meant evil to me, but God meant it to be good for all of us.”

For this reason Paul could say that all things work together for good to those who love God and who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  He could also exhort his disciples to give up dissensions, disputes, and any desire for revenge.  In fact, he asked  them, “Why not rather be wronged?” (1 Corinthians 6:7) knowing that God was able to turn any difficulty into a triumph.

Through Christ our Lord, we are able to go from one triumph to another (2 Corinthians 2:14) in  life. 

So much did Paul embrace this way of thinking that he was able to rejoice whenever he was weak, because then he was actually strong through the Lord (2 Corinthians 12:10).

This way of thinking is completely incompatible with the world’s way of thinking, for your defeats in the flesh are vindicated in the spirit (1 Timothy 3:16), as Jesus’ was.  Your mind must be set on the spirit and not on the flesh to understand and act on this principle (Romans 8:6-8).  Once you digest this principle, however, you cannot be defeated in life.  Ever!

This is the love of God, both for us and through us (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

What Have You Done with the Keys to the Kingdom?

Remember how Jesus chastised the spiritual leadership of His day with the indictment that they had withheld the key of knowledge from the people?  (See Luke 11:52.)  What about us who claim to speak in His name today – what are we doing with the keys to the kingdom?

Jesus left us the keys of the kingdom through His apostles.  The most prominent of the original twelve, Peter, gave a complete set of them in the opening of his second epistle.  You know the list – what are we doing with those keys?

Are we using these keys ourselves, and thereby leading others into the kingdom through our example?  Or do we completely divert our own attention (and that of others as well) by focusing on building church instead of entering the kingdom?

Church is about attendance and offerings – the kingdom of God is about righteousness.  Let us seek His keys and enter His kingdom.  In other words, let’s stop constructing things and instead enter what He has constructed!

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

The Stone Which the Builders Rejected

As the Pharisees and Sadducees rejected Jesus the King in the flesh, so today’s church leaders reject Jesus the King in the spirit.  The builders always reject God, preferring their own structures to obeying God’s commands (see The Tower of Babel for an elaboration on this point).

The point in this post, however, is the rejection itself that Jesus faced, and continues to face, in the world.  What kind of king is this who refuses to stop loving those who reject Him?

Read the gospel accounts of His trial and crucifixion and consider the mountain of scorn that was heaped upon Him.  Earthly kings are crowned in pomp and ceremony; Jesus was spat upon.  Yet this was all according to the plan of God which was based on His love.  He would demonstrate to us beyond all reasonable doubt the indestructible nature of His love for humanity.

Psalm 2 tells of how earthly leaders are forever wanting to throw off God’s restraints.  It also shows how foolish these leaders are in this regard.  They only bring wrath on themselves.  Though God loves us, He still must judge the world and so there are consequences for all our sins and rebellion against Him (even though Everyone Is Going to Heaven).

If, however, you come to this rejected One, and stand with Him, you will be exalted with Him to the degree you suffer with Him.  How much rejection can you take before you stop loving?  If you are His, if you are seeking His kingdom, there is no amount of rejection that will stop you from loving – for He is the vine and we are but the branches.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

The Kingdom of God Is Spiritual and Present

Jesus told us that the kingdom of God coming, but not with signs to be observed (Luke 17:20-21).  We should not be surprised therefore that history does not record the coming of the kingdom.  The kingdom indeed has come (see Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again) and is in our midst, just as Jesus promised.

If this seems hard for you to accept, go to the third chapter of 1 Corinthians and see what Paul said to his readers in Corinth.  He said that they were “babes in Christ” because they were not spiritual, but fleshly.  Spiritual people relate to unseen things (most notably, God).  Fleshly people relate to things they can see and touch and understand.  This is why so many people are seeking church instead of the kingdom of God (the former being visible, the latter being invisible).    

Church is something you can see – just like the kingdom of Israel was.  But earthly kingdoms can always be shaken or corrupted.  Therefore, God’s ultimate plan was to put a spiritual kingdom in our midst to which we could each submit day after day.  Jesus Christ is the King of this kingdom, and He Himself is invisible.  We knew Him according to the flesh, but we know Him thus no longer.  This kingdom cannot be shaken or corrupted, and spiritually-minded people are willing to seek it.

All over the world there are people who believe that Jesus will come again some day in the future in a fleshly kingdom.  Do not join with such people for they are fleshly minded.  Instead, join with your Lord for a kingdom that is not future but present, not fleshly but spiritual.   If you do, then the life you live in the flesh will bring glory to Him.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible.

Jeremiah 29:11 (A Future and a Hope)

As human beings, we had no future beyond death.  We put death off as long as we could, but in the end…there it was.  Blackness.  No future.  No hope. 

Then God revealed His plan through His chosen people, the seed of Abraham, the nation of Israel.  Specifically, He revealed it through the most noble person that great people ever produced: Jesus of Nazareth.  That plan was that Jesus would die, but then be born again from the dead.  He would be born the Son of God.  He would be the firstborn Son of God who would open the womb of death.  Thus, He would be the firstborn of many brethren.  And the entire family of God would live forever in heaven.  What a future!  What a hope!

Do you wonder what people first thought when God promised through Jeremiah hundreds of years before Christ that He had plans to give them a future and a hope?  Could their expectations have been anywhere near as wonderful as what God ultimately revealed through Jesus Christ?  I can’t see how.  God has done exceeding abundantly beyond all that we could ask or think!

Humanity had no future and no hope beyond death.  It now has the hope of heaven with each other and with God.  If life on earth is interesting (and it was created by God), how much more interesting must heaven be!

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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