Why Do You Who Believe in Hell Not Try Harder to Keep People Out of It?

I occasionally hear from people who cling to the traditional and unbiblical theory of heaven and hell.  That is, they believe that at death some people go to heaven and others go to hell.  (For my belief and its biblical support, see Everyone Is Going to Heaven).  Such people are often vehement in their assertion that hell will last for eternity and that it is unmitigated in its physical and emotional pain.  What’s so strange – aside from the fact that their biblical support, once examined, is so weak – is that they spend hardly any of their lives warning people about this place!

I recently had an extended online debate with two friends who disagree with me strongly on this issue.  At the end, I checked their own web pages and there was not a single word of warning on either one about hell.  They posted their thoughts on politics, on sports, and other subjects.  They both even warned people about issues they should vote on or register an opinion on.  Yet not one word of warning about something they believed would  be of infinitely greater danger than anything that could happen in this life.

So, my challenge to you who believe in an eternal hell for some people is, why – if you love people as Jesus said we should – do you spend time talking to people about anything else?   How can we take you seriously on this subject if you don’t even take it seriously?

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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How Today’s Church Advertises Its Disobedience

Today’s churches declare that Jesus is Lord, but then demonstrate that they are not in submission to Him by how they are divided.

In New Testament days there was only one church.  Oh, they met in different places but it’s clear from the apostle’s writings that there was only one church in each city.  After all, there was the epistle to Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, and so on.  There were not letters to the Ephesian Baptists, the Ephesian Methodists, the Ephesian Presbyterians, and so on.  In fact, when the church in Corinth showed the initial signs of dividing along such lines, the apostle Paul rebuked it sharply (see 1 Corinthians chapters 1 through 3). 

Today’s churches exist in over 30,000 denominations, proving they they are no longer subject to a single Lord.  The first part of Ephesians 5:24 says that the church was subject to Christ.  Well, it has long since abandoned that subjection and gone off entirely in its own direction – or rather, directions. 

In the night before He was crucified, Jesus prayed that those who believed in Him would be one (John 17:22).  Earlier in His ministry, Jesus taught that any kingdom divided against itself would fall (Matthew 12:25).  How can today’s churches claim with a straight face that Jesus is their Lord?  Alas, when I was a pastor I used to claim that He was Lord of me and my church, too.  But He opened my eyes and I saw that I was serving myself more than I was serving Him.  Therefore, I repented.  That is, I changed.  I’m no longer a pastor.  I no longer have a church.  I no longer go to church.  Rather, I seek to obey the Lord.

The church doesn’t need reforming – it needs to be abandoned.  Instead of going to church, obey Jesus.  He said that we should turn from selfishness and love one another.  He also said that we should be humble.  Therefore, don’t associate with any group that thinks it’s holier than everyone else.  Instead, be holy in your behavior.  Husbands and wives, love each other and your children.  Children, honor your parents.  Live for morality, not for gain.  Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

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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Off-Center Christianity

How far off center does modern-day Christianity have to become before we who know the Bible declare it to be so? 

The center of Christianity is Jesus.  Yet where is He in today’s Christianity?  He is given a back seat to church and ministry building. 

When David spoke in Psalm 27 of wanting to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of His life, God foresaw a time when His people would do just that.  We today live in that age – the day of Christ, the eternal age of the kingdom of God.  Yet, instead of proclaiming Christ as that eternal dwelling place for those who will humble themselves and live righteously, we build churches and call them the houses of the Lord.  This is idolatry just as surely as Aaron’s golden calf was idolatry.

Let us return to center by forsaking churches, programs, clergy, and every other facet of organized Christianity.  In its place let us seek only the King and His Kingdom (Matthew 6:33) for this is what He has commanded us to do.

Cast aside off-center Christianity and return to Him from whom we have wandered so far (Isaiah 31:6).  Proclaim Christ and be done with lesser things.   

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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Is Leaderless Christianity Desirable?

Would it be desirable for the leaders of the over thirty thousand Christian denominations (and the untold number of churches that belong to them, as well as the untold number of nondenominational churches) to forsake their positions of leadership that Jesus Christ might fully reign over His people?  Absolutely!

Think of the glory if these leaders were to forsake lording over the Lord’s flock and instead simply began to praise His name!  Just imagine tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of these Christians singing His praise day by day, declaring the glory of our Lord!  What an advance Christianity as a movement would make!

The Lord does not need our institutions and our organizations but He will inhabit the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3).  Let us therefore proclaim Him with all our might.  Let us shout ‘Hosanna!” to the Son of David.  The world would be far more impacted by this sort of behavior than by all the church building that is going on in God’s name.  God doesn’t need us to build churches.  He wants us to love Him and live for Him.  He builds the one true church of those who trust in Him with their whole hearts.

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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Your House Is Left to You Desolate

In Matthew 23, Jesus made it abundantly clear that none of us should try to take His place as the leader of God’s people.  He denounced the Pharisees for taking the seat of Moses.  Then He instructed His disciples to avoid positions and titles of leadership.  Yet in spite of this clear warning we have thousands upon thousands of Christian denominations today, each with its own human leadership. 

The apostle Paul foresaw these divisions and spoke out against their first manifestations (1 Corinthians 1-3).  Yet he knew usurpers would come out of hiding after his departure (Acts 20:29-30).  It is upon the foundation of such self-appointed leaders that the institution of today’s Christian churches stand.  Yet Jesus is not ruling them.  Instead, He is ruling the kingdom of God which neither has nor needs any human leadership.

Thus, the houses of worship we see in the world today are left desolate by the Lord.  Be sure that when His word is preached and His name is glorified, He will be faithful.  But He is not being faithful to that institution; He is being faithful to His word, His name, and to those who believe in Him.  This faithfulness of His will be shown wherever His word is preached – whether in a church or not.  Churches have no bearing on the efficacy of His word.  As He said to the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem so He says to every leader of a church today, “Your house is being left to you desolate!”  (Matthew 23:37-30)

Repent of your loyalty to any person, group, or name other than Jesus Christ Himself.  He alone is worthy of our obedience, and His name alone is worthy of glory (Zechariah 14:9).

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.

His Name Is “The Lord Our Righteousness”

Yesterday’s post highlighted the importance of leading others to righteousness.  The only effective and faithful way to do this is to lead them to our Lord, for – as Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 23:16 and again in 33:16 – the Lord is our righteousness.  For this reason, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that we are made the righteousness of God in Him.

Only in Him do we find the true knowledge of the commandments of God, which can be summed up in the word love.  Only in Him do we find the strength to keep those commandments at all times, for in His eyes we find the inspiration and power to obey.

Be done with lesser things like church building and ministry building.  Acknowledge the Lord at all times for truly He is all that we need.

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 .

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 .

Beware of Today’s Pharisees

You have to wonder if today’s church leaders ever read Matthew 23.  If they did, it would give them pause.

The kingdom of God does not need human leaders.  Its power structure is entirely Divine, and therefore not subject to any form of corruption.  For this reason, Jesus cautioned against forming any sort of power structures in His name.  He said we should not allow ourselves to be called rabbi, teacher, father, or leader.  There was a time when God needed such leaders.  This included the time of ancient Israel, including the time of the church in the New Testament.  Since then, however, the kingdom of God has arrived (see The Kingdom of God is Here and Now in this Introduction) and God Himself is doing the leading of every human heart.

Who are today’s Pharisees?  Church leaders are the most common example.  They present themselves as being over the flock of God – or rather some portion thereof.  Thus they divide God’s flock.  God did use overseers in New Testament days but that was only until the kingdom of God came.  For this reason Peter told the shepherds to prepare for the coming of the Chief Shepherd who would assume oversight of His flock (1 Peter 5).  Some leaders, however, would be unwilling to yield the sheep to Him and for this reason Paul said some church leaders of that age would seek to draw away the disciples to themselves (Acts 20).  This spirit has animated church leadership ever since. 

If you read the apostles’ writings you see that they left no plan of succession (whether it be popes, bishops, or local pastors) because the only person to whom they planned to hand over the church was to the Lord Himself.  Woe to those who seek to take His place by trying to be a leader in the kingdom of God.  Rather, we should be servants to the King who is able to interact with each of His subjects individually.

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

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John the Baptist Was a Model for Jesus’ Apostles

John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for the Messiah as a man.  The apostles were sent to prepare the way for the Messiah as God.  (Luke 1:16-17)

John the Baptist preached repentance.  The apostles preached repentance.  (Luke 1:16)

John the Baptist was preparing a people for the Lord.  The apostles were preparing a people for the Lord.  (Luke 1:17; Titus 2:14)

Those who did not believe and act upon John’s message did not recognize the Messiah when He came as a man (i.e. Jesus of Nazareth).  Those who did not believe and act upon the apostles’ message did not recognize the Messiah when He came as God (the resurrected and glorified Jesus). 

Those who did believe and act upon John’s message were gathered by Jesus as His flock of disciples.  Those who did believe and act upon the apostles’ message were gathered by the glorified Jesus as His flock of disciples (the kingdom of God).  (Isaiah 40:10-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; 1 Peter 5:4)

John the Baptist showed no jealousy when his disciples left him to follow the Lord.  The apostles likewise were making disciples for the Lord, not for themselves. 

As John was martyred in the course of his ministry, so also the apostles were martyred in the course of their ministry (thus the apostles did not live quite long enough to demonstrate that they would not have been jealous because of disciples leaving the church for the Lord’s kingdom; on the contrary, they would only have been bothered by disciples who did not discern the Lord’s appearance).

As John downplayed his own role and magnified the Lord, so the apostles downplayed their own roles and magnified the Lord.

The Lord establishes patterns, and those who know His patterns follow Him.

Blessed be the God of John the Baptist and the apostles of Jesus!

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

Let Us Labor in Their Spirit

The prophets and the apostles are the foundation of all that we know of the Lord from the Scriptures, He Himself being the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20).

They and all who labored with them were of sterling spirit.  They were human beings of whom the world was not worthy (Hebrews 11:32-40). 

It was proverbial for a prophet to be persecuted, and the apostles fared no better.  Yet they never complained. 

Those of us who labor in the name of Christ should embrace the spirit of those who have labored before us.  If we do their work, in their spirit, we shall receive their persecutions, but, more importantly, their reward.

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

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We Have Entered into Their Labor

Those of us who labor for Christ benefit from all the labors of those before us.  There is so much for which we can be thankful.

First of all, the Scriptures themselves are available to us in abundance.  You can find them online, you can find them in bookstores, you can find them in libraries, you can find them almost anywhere.  The Scriptures are translated for us so that we don’t have to be able to read Hebrew or Greek.  Moreover, these translations come with an abundance of study tools.  Most notable among these are cross references of each verse to related verses and concordances which can list every word found in the Bible and its location.  But these are only the beginnings of our benefits.

Because others have labored before us, the word of God exists in more hearts.  Because others have labored before us, we have examples of ministry that achieves God’s blessing and ministry that does not.  Because others have labored before us, we can build on their knowledge and not have to plow again and again the same furrows.

Most of all, we can be thankful for those who have suffered loss to bring us the word of God.  Think of the persecutions of the prophets and apostles.  Think of the oppression of those who down through the ages since have stood up for God that we might also hear His word.

We must never think that we labor alone, and certainly never feel sorry for ourselves.  We have joined a great army of laborers and soldiers.  We benefit from all that they have been and all that they have done.  We stand on their shoulders and any victories we achieve should be shared with them.  We are part of something much larger than ourselves.

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

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Why Does the Church Preach a Diminished Gospel?

I wrote elsewhere that The Church Preaches a Diminished Gospel.  Why does the church do this?

Tradition is part of the answer.  The church as a structure has been handed down to us from generation to generation.  I myself used to accept it as God’s plan when I was a pastor.  If you search the Scriptures, however, you find that support for this institution in our day is not present in its pages.

The Scriptures speak of the kingdom of God in expectant terms, while churches were merely the means that believers used to prepare for that kingdom.  Jesus never said, “Seek ye first church.”  Rather, He said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.”  Search the Scriptures yourself and you’ll see what I mean.

Therefore, a likely reason for the church to preach a diminished gospel is self-preservation.  If the kingdom of God has come, as Jesus and His apostles said it would, then the church no longer has a reason for being. 

Why should we seek to preserve something God has discarded?  Do we want the temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem as well?  If we’ve been seeking to preserve the church then let us repent…and seek the kingdom of God.

Do not accept a diminished gospel.  Receive the good news of the Lord in all its fullness!

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

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Psalm 69 – A Psalm of Christ

In Acts 1, Peter quoted from Psalm 69 (and from Psalm 109 as well) as he spoke of Judas.  He said that “the Scripture had to be fulfilled that the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Jesus.”  If you read the psalm in its entirety, you see that its central subject is ostensibly David (the psalm’s author).  But, as with other psalms, David was looking ahead and prophesying of his descendant, the Messiah.  A reference to the enemies of the psalm’s central figure was where Peter made the connection to Judas.  Thus, the psalm “had to be fulfilled” regarding Judas because Judas had aligned himself against the Messiah.

The important point to see in Peter’s words is that Psalm 69 is being designated by his words as a “psalm of Christ.”  As you read the entire psalm, you will recognize other verses which are applied to Christ elsewhere in the New Testament.

Read this psalm for a greater appreciation of how Jesus constructed His interior thought patterns in His service to the Father.  This will enable you to similarly construct your thought patterns in your service to Christ.

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

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Psalm 2 – A Psalm of Christ

Psalm 2 was referenced as a psalm of Christ in Acts 4 by Peter, John, and the rest of the early Jerusalem church as they prayed to God with its words.  It was also referenced as such by Paul in Acts 13.

As you read this psalm, you may also recognize that a number of it phrases show up throughout the New Testament even when a whole verse may not quoted outright.  These include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Romans 1:4 where Jesus is said to have been declared the Son of God by virtue of the resurrection (the same point Paul made in Acts 13:39).
  • Hebrews 1:1-2 where Jesus is referred to as the heir of all things.
  • John 3:36 where the apostle John is quoting John the Baptist referring to the choice between obeying the Son and experiencing His wrath.
  • Hebrews 12:22 where the heavenly Mount Zion is mentioned.

As with the other “psalms of Christ,”  Psalm 2’s full meaning was not grasped prior to the resurrection of Jesus.  Even today, there is much more to be plumbed of its meaning for as the writer to the Hebrews says in 5:11, “As for Him, there is much more to say…”

Psalm 16 – A Psalm of Christ

In Acts 2:25-28, Peter quotes verses Psalm 16:8-11.  He makes the point that David was not speaking of himself, but rather prophesying the resurrection of the Messiah.

There are a total of 11 verses in this psalm.  Are we to assume that the first seven verses were about something else and only the last four refer to Christ?  Of course not.  Read the whole of Psalm 16:1-11 and see how the whole psalm speaks of Jesus and how He lived.

Remember: the apostles were with Him day and night.  If there had been discrepancies between what the Scriptures said and the way Jesus lived, they would not have been willing to lay down their lives for Him.  I am not speaking of their time with Him prior to His resurrection, for indeed they had their doubts on occasion.  However, once He was raised from the dead and showed them all that had been written about Him in the Scriptures – that’s the point at which they would have questioned any discrepancies.  No such questioning is reported.  Instead, they boldly declared that He was the One of whom the prophets had written.

There was no earthly glory for Jesus to grant His apostles – no riches, no honor, no spoils of war.  All He had to give was heavenly approval.  Therefore, we may know by their testimony that this psalm of Christ portrays Him accurately.

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

The Psalms of Christ

In the forty days He had on earth between His resurrection and ascension, Jesus showed His disciples the things written about Him throughout the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms (Luke 24).

Jesus had ready spoken to His disciples during His earthly ministry, for example, about the Messiah in Psalm 110 (Matthew 22, Mark 12, and Luke 20).  This forty-day teaching therefore was an elaboration, made possible by the resurrection, which cast an entirely unexpected light on these Scriptures for His disciples. 

Empowered with this knowledge, and with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the apostles began preaching on the day of Pentecost – and continually thereafter – constantly referring to these texts, which the revealed fullness of Jesus’ life had given grand new meaning. 

Do you think about Christ when you read the psalms?  If not,  you are not reading them as the apostles would have you read them. 

For example, in Acts 2 Peter says that it may indeed have appeared that David wrote Psalm 16 about himself.  However, it had now become clear that because David was a prophet, he had looked ahead and had been writing of the resurrection of his descendant – the Messiah.  (See also 1 Peter 1:10-12 which likely explains David thought processes as he wrote.)  Thus the apostles were taught by Jesus how to read the Scriptures in an entirely new light.  The “Psalms of David” could now be right called the “Psalms of Christ.”

We would do well to read the entire Old Testament through the eyes of the apostles, for it was the Lord Himself who gave sight to those eyes.

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

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The Similarities of David and Peter

The similarities between David in the Old Testament and Peter in the New Testament are striking.

David exhibited more zeal for God than anyone in his time.  Peter exhibited more zeal for Jesus than anyone in his time.

David was willing to take on the giant Goliath for the honor of God when everyone else was too afraid to fight.  Peter was willing to step out in the storm and walk on the water to Jesus merely on His command when everyone else was cowering in the boat.

David became the leader of the people of God because of the greatness of his heart for God.  Peter became the leading figure among the twelve apostles because of the greatness of his heart for Jesus.

David took up the sword for God.  Peter tried to take up the sword for Jesus.

When David sinned with Bathsheba it indicated his human frailty.  When Peter denied three times that he even knew the Lord it indicated his human frailty.

When David sinned, he repented and accepted his forgiveness…going on to serve his God.  When Peter sinned, he repented and accepted his forgiveness…going on to serve his Lord.

When David came to the end of his life, he made sure his entire legacy – both physical and spiritual – went toward furthering the cause of the Lord.  Consider, for example, how he laid out everything necessary for the temple’s construction before his son Solomon.  When Peter came to the end of his life, he made sure his entire legacy – it was entirely spiritual – went toward furthering the cause of the Lord (Read of the inheritance he left in 2 Peter 1).  Both men were determined that their service to God should survive them.

If David was a man after God’s own heart, and if David and Peter were this similar, what does it say about the identity of Jesus that He would bring into His inner circle someone so much like David?

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

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For Whom Is the Tithe?

When God cried out through Malachi for the tithe to be given so that there would be food in His house, whose interest was He seeking?

Pastors today love to quote Malachi, which they use to equate the withholding of tithes from them to the robbing of God.  They believe God intended this Scripture for the material sustenance of the church.  Yet, the New Testament does not support this view for there are no passages that use Malachi to make this point.  Neither for that matter are there any verses that make this point on any other basis.  There is a reference to tithing in the book of Hebrews but its point would be that the tithe belongs to Jesus as the high priest according to the order of Melchizedek – not to the church.

Jesus should indeed be the recipient of such giving.  We live in the time of the kingdom of God.  Therefore, the house that God wants to have plenty of food is His house, which is the human race.  Therefore, when we give to the hungry or the thirsty, when we clothe the naked, when we invite the stranger, when we serve the sick, or visit those in prison we are giving to those in Jesus’ house.  He said when we have given to the least of His brethren, we have given unto Him.  (He made no reference to the church.)

The time for church ended with the coming of the kingdom of God.  For man-made churches (which all of them are today) to take from God’s tithe is to rob from the least of Jesus’ brethren for whom this surplus of abundance was intended.

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

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Is Your House Doing Better Than God’s House?

If your family doing better than God’s family? 

By answering this question affirmatively , Moses left Pharoah’s palace to live with his fellow slaves, the Hebrews.  By answering this question affirmatively, Nehemiah forsook the comforts of life in the Persian capital and returned to Jerusalem to rebuild it.  By answering this question affirmatively, God Himself left the glory and honor of heaven to walk the earth as one of us.

God does not always ask us to do such dramatic things.  Perhaps He will simply ask us to share from our abundance with those who have need.

God’s house is the human race.  Is your family doing better than the human race? 

If you answered in the affirmative, do whatever He tells you.

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

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Whose House Will You Serve?

Do you exist to serve God’s house or does He exist to serve your house?

Many today who proclaim Christ do so seeking their own houses.  They seek the growth and betterment of their own churches, their own ministries, their own families, their own lives.  And often they seek all these things in material terms: more people and money for their churches and ministries, more material goods for their families and their lives. 

If you would seek the good of God’s house you must seek spiritual blessings and you must seek for them to accrue to others.  Material things are indeed necessary for this life but are always to be kept in a place of lesser importance than spiritual things.

What makes this issue all the more confusing for many people is that what they perceive as God’s house is, in actuality, their own house.  Thus they think of their church as God’s church, their ministry as God’s ministry.  They are blind.  They cannot see God’s house and God’s ministry.  God’s house is humanity.  His ministry is that which edifies human beings.  I am speaking of the entirety of the human race – that which only God can be over. 

So I ask again:  Are you seeking God’s blessing on your house or are you seeking to be a blessing to God’s house? 

Here is good news:  If you seek to be a blessing to God’s house, He will take care of your house.

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

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Do You Know What You Are Asking?

So often when we pray, we do not know what we are asking.

The mother of the sons of Zebedee (the apostles James and John) certainly did not know what she was asking when she asked Jesus if her sons could sit on His right and left when He came into His kingdom.  She thought she was asking for her sons to sit at a place of honor like that which was arrayed around King David in the earlier days of Israel.  She knew Jesus was the son of David and that He would reign over Israel.  What she did not know was that His path to the throne of glory led through the cross.  If she had known it, this mother may not have made this request for she was, in effect, requesting that her sons be persecuted to the point of cruel death.

Christ’s glory is the measure of underserved suffering He took upon Himself for the sake of God.  Similarly, to be close to Him in heaven James and John would have to take on considerable suffering beyond what they deserved as common sinners.

Earthly glory is one thing; heavenly glory is quite another.  Heavenly glory comes at a huge earthly price.  Those who love God, as James and John did, are willing to pay that price.  Let us try to be sure of what we are asking when we pray.  But neither let us shrink from suffering if it will bring Him glory.

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

The Breaker Goes Up Before Them

The prophet Micah prophesied Messiah as “the Breaker” – the one who would “break through” and make a path for all to follow (see Micah 2:13).

God did not call all mankind to repent until after the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  While there were times when He called for a repentance from sin (as when Jonah preached to Nineveh), He did not broadcast a call for worldwide repentance until He had fully established a path for repentant ones to walk.  After all, when the command is to repent, the obvious response is, to what?

Jesus is the example for all mankind to follow.  He loved God and He loved those around Him.  God was demonstrating to us through the life of Jesus Christ how He would have us live by living that way Himself before He asked any of us to do it.

As a child imitates his father so we should imitate Jesus.  He blazed a path for us.  He carved a way through the wilderness.  We are not, of course, to imitate Jesus outwardly. That is, we are not to wear 1st Century garb, live in the Middle East, speak Aramaic, and so on – unless all those circumstances are natural to us.  Rather, we are to imitate His inward motivations.  His selfless thinking is to be our mental model.

The Breaker has made a way for us when there was no way.  In fact, He has cut a wide path, making for us a “highway of holiness” (Isaiah 35:8).  You will not find this highway by accident – you must seek it.  The Breaker Himself will lead you there.

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

The Apostles’ Testimony

The opening chapters of the book of Acts reveal the transformation that had come over Jesus’ apostles.  At His crucifixion, they fled from Him lest they be punished with Him.  Yet, after His resurrection, they boldly faced the same sort of hostility that had previously cowered them.  What accounted for the change?  Two things.

First and foremost, they spent forty days experiencing Jesus as risen from the dead, never to die again.  Uncertain at first, they quickly adapted to the wondrous reality that death had no lasting power over Jesus as it had over every other human being who had ever lived.  Every day brought them more assurance that Jesus was indeed alive and would never die again.  This forty-day period was concluded with His ascension into heaven – capping off any residue of doubt that humanity was passing into an an entirely new phase of existence.

Second, during the forty days Jesus took pains to explain to the apostles all that had been written about Him in the Scriptures.  The apostles knew that the Scriptures foretold Messiah.  What they hadn’t known was how thoroughly it had foretold of Him.  Jesus revealed the many passages of Scripture where He had been taught, but that had previously escaped anyone’s notice.  Flush and fresh with this knowledge, the apostles quote Old Testament scripture passages in the opening chapters of Acts (as well as throughout their writings) with unmitigated confidence and excitement.  They had been brought to see an old book in an entirely new light and they were filled with energy to spread that enlightenment.

The apostles had a story to tell…and a script from which to tell it!  How astounding that the script had been written well in advance, yet no one but the Savior Himself had been able to follow it!  It was written in a mystery, but revealed in the outworkings of reality.  Jesus Himself explained the story Himself to His apostles.  They, in turn, boldly declared what they had seen and heard.  The world was the courtroom and the apostles were witnesses.  There was no need for a court stenographer, however, because all the testimony had been written before any of them were born.

In our day, we have lost sight of how much the Old Testament spoke of Christ.  Re-read the book of Acts noting every time that the Old Testament is being quoted.  You will be amazed at how much of it we have let fall back under darkness.  Let us bring it all out to the light of Christ.

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

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Who Is Worthy to Be Believed?

Being a prophet or apostle in Israel was a dangerous occupation.  They were always persecuted and often killed.  Yet they kept proclaiming their message.  And indeed it was one message for all of them.  They did not have different messages.  They may have spoken in many different portions and many different ways but they all spoke a consistent message: redemption through the Righteous One who would be sent with a kingdom which would never end – the prophets in the Old Testament beforehand, the apostles in the New Testament after Jesus walked the earth.

The prophets always spoke of the Righteous One in the future tense – until John the Baptist, who spoke of Him in future and present tense.  Then, after His resurrection, the apostles spoke of Him in past, present, and future tense. 

The prophets and apostles were motivated by love for Him and love for us (their fellow human beings).  No other motivation could account for the suffering they endured.  The power of the gospel is seen in them.  That is, they proved worthy of the gospel that they preached.  The gospel they preached transformed them into the likeness of Christ.  They who bore witness to Him, came to resemble Him. 

When it comes to life and death matters, could there be any more worthy witnesses for us to believe than the prophets and apostles of ancient Israel?

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

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Christ Is the Fact

All the prophets of Israel who wrote foretold of a coming Messiah (i.e. Christ).  All of these prophecies were written hundreds of years before Christ’s birth – some, over a thousand years before His birth.  And some were originally spoken over two thousand years before the first Scriptures were written.  Thus, by the time of Christ there was a substantial library of predictions about His life.  In fact, Jesus testified that the Scriptures were written primarily with Him in view (John 5:39-40; Luke 24:25-49). 

After Jesus was raised from the dead, He instructed His apostles to bear witness to His life, death, and resurrection – which they had all seen firsthand.  He revealed to them also the way that the Scriptures had previously testified of all that they had seen.  They, being devout Jews, already had a sense of how the Scriptures foretold Messiah and His coming kingdom.  However, they had only seen through a glass darkly.  Through Jesus’ explanations, the day dawned and the morning star arose in their hearts.  They began to see the fullness of what the Scriptures had said about Him. 

Thus, what the prophets wrote of Him was confirmed by what the apostles saw with their own eyes and heard with their own ears.  The central fact of history – the most important fact that will ever be known in all history that ever has been or ever will be recorded – is attested to by the prophets and the apostles in two very different, but mutually reinforcing ways:  the prophets by inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the apostles by their five physical senses.  We who look for assurance about what matters in this life could not be better served than by these two faithful streams of witness to Jesus Christ.

The prophets and the apostles are the witnesses – Christ is the fact.  Let us accept the indisputable Fact…and live our lives accordingly.

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

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The Testimony of Jesus Is the Spirit of Prophecy

All biblical prophecy is about a Person – the Person of Jesus Christ.  All biblical prophecy looked forward to Him and is fulfilled in Him. 

God Himself chose to come to earth and live as a human being – Jesus of Nazareth by name.  After being raised from the dead, He ascended back to heaven.  From there He orchestrated the coming of the kingdom of God by which the entire universe is now governed.  This all occurred on the biblical timeline, which means it was concluded around the latter part of the 1st Century A.D.

People who teach any Bible prophecy today by speaking of a yet future fulfillment have missed the main point of the Scriptures:  Jesus Christ.  I say it again:  all Bible prophecy has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  (For more, see All Bible Prophecy Has Been Fulfilled in the Introduction to A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus.) 

If you want to understand Bible prophecy, understand first that it speaks of Jesus Christ.  If you don’t understand how it speaks to you of Him, don’t worry about it.  One day you will.  Until you do, don’t attempt to apply any other interpretation to the verse.  No scripture is a matter of human interpretation; the Holy Spirit inspired its writing, therefore let the Holy Spirit inspire its understanding.

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

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Noah’s Ark Won’t Do Us Any Good Today

Noah’s ark would provide us no protection from the judgments of God today.  It wouldn’t matter if archaeologists found the original and refurbished it, or if we took the instructions in the Bible and built a new one.  The ark that Noah built was designed for salvation from a specific judgment at a specific time in the earth’s history.  Fortunately, hardly anyone today thinks that Noah’s ark would provide deliverance, so people are not wasting their time pursuing it.

Unfortunately, people are pursuing church today which is just as useless as an instrument of salvation for us as Noah’s ark.  The apostles’ church, that is, the church we read about in the New Testament was designed for salvation from a specific judgment (or set of judgments) at a a specific time in the earth’s history.  Attempting a reconstruction of that church will do no more good than an attempted reconstruction of Noah’s ark.  Each vessel was an instrument of God designed for a specific time.

Noah’s ark and the original church are useful to us as types of God’s deliverance for us who live in the days of the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 10:1-11; Romans 15:4).  Yet people are forever trying to imitate the forms of God’s prior salvations instead of their spirit (Hebrews 11:29).  It is the spirit that prevails; the flesh profits nothing (John 6:63).

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

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There Is No Longer Any Sea

Everything in the physical creation represents a spiritual reality.  The whole purpose of creation is to teach spiritual truth, so it is quite reasonable that every aspect of creation should be a teaching tool.

For example, the three-tiered arrangement of creation reflected the spiritual structure of the unseen realm.  There was the earth in which mankind would dwell, with the heavens above and the sea in which to descend.  This reflected the reality that above man were God and the angels.  Below man there was nothing, but the entrance of sin into the world altered that.  The depths now became the place to which the dead were consigned.  The Hebrews called it Sheol, the Greeks term was Hades.  The living at least had a fighting chance, if only they did not sin.  But once sin came, and it always did, one eventually had to go below…to the lowest place one could go in creation.

When Jesus Christ returned to earth in the kingdom of God at the close of the New Testament age, He brought in a new heavens and new earth.  The book of Revelation tells us that there was “no longer any sea.”  This is because the dead were all raised to heaven.  Therefore, the earth was now the lowest place in spiritual creation.  Satan was cast out of heaven.  Satan had thus gone from the highest place in creation to the lowest.  We, too, are in this lowest place with him as long as we live, but at death we rise above him!  Even on this earth, our authority is higher than his but our key to exercising that authority is righteousness.  If we do not walk in the spirit free from sin then our relationship with God is compromised and our authority in the earth is impaired.  But if we walk in the light, as Jesus Himself is the light, then Satan is bound. 

All of us on earth shall die, but none of us will descend.  There is no longer any sea.  You could also say that God has made us all to walk on water.

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

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Satan’s Fall

In the original order of creation, Satan and his host were above humanity.  For this reason, he controlled the abode of the dead as well as the abode of the living (he is “the god of this world” – 2 Corinthians 4:4).  In the kingdom of God, however, resurrected humanity is above Satan.  That is why Satan no longer controls the dead – they have a higher authority than he does.

God created this universe to demonstrate His righteousness to the entire angelic realm – both the obedient and disobedient.  Through this creation, God demonstrates the superiority of faith, hope, and love as governing values – especially love.  He demonstrates that through mercy and forgiveness, true righteousness can be achieved.  He demonstrates in the most powerful way imaginable that good overcomes evil.  There are many other things He demonstrates as well, including the idea that trust in God trumps any knowledge that one might have.  This creation is all about teaching the angelic realm about the nature of God.

You and I have important roles in this drama.  What qualifies us?  We are human beings!  We are able to trust God.  We are able to personally demonstrate the power of faith, hope, and love in this world.  We are able to triumph over any obstacle that faces us through trust in God.  And that trust protects us in any area about which we are ignorant of God.

Jesus Christ is the central figure in this drama.  Through Him the order of the universe was rearranged – a new heavens and new earth, you could call it (in fact, that’s exactly what the Scriptures do call it – Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1).  Many who were first are last (e.g. Satan), and many who were last are first (e.g. humanity).  All praise to Jesus Christ who has lifted us from the ash heap of earth…to an eternity in heaven. 

Satan began falling the moment God said “Let there be…”  You have no enemies in the human race, no matter what they or you may think.  Your only enemy is in the unseen realm, and it is Satan and his host.  Yet, he has fallen and you have more authority than he does.  Evil may triumph for a day, but mercy endures forever.

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

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What’s a Cocoon For?

Of course, a cocoon is the existence which a caterpillar takes on in order to become a butterfly.  The New Testament church was a cocoon.  That is, the structure of church that we see in the New Testament was the form through which God’s administration of the ancient nation of Israel was transformed into the kingdom of God.

God had used Moses to establish the multiplied descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob into the nation of Israel.  Once Israel’s greatest son, Jesus of Nazareth, was raised from the dead, God used the church as a transitional structure to give people time to adjust to the kingdom of God which the resurrected Jesus was bringing to earth when He returned as Almighty God (i.e. “in the glory of His Father”).

God always gives transition times.  It takes time for night to turn into day, and for day to become night.  There’s a transition between each of the four seasons.  God always gives us time to adjust.  Ancient Israel was a nation of sacrifice, ritual, and laws.  It dealt with matters of the flesh.  The kingdom of God was an entirely invisible kingdom of spiritual realities.  It would deal with matters of the heart.   Therefore, the brief church age was inserted between the much longer age of Israel and the eternal age of the kingdom of God.  Consider it a period of adjustment.

Since the kingdom of God arrived at the end of New Testament days, there is no longer any need for the cocoon.  Even so, we have pastors of empty cocoons all over the world today, presumably waiting on a Jesus who has already come into His glory!  They imitate the New Testament church only in its most superficial aspects.  When the butterfly comes, the cocoon should be abandoned.  

Ancient Israel was a caterpillar – it could only crawl.  The kingdom of God is a butterfly – it can fly!  Forget the caterpillar, forget the cocoon, seek the butterfly (Matthew 6:33)

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

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What Is This New Teaching?

The wise and intelligent of this world have never gotten over the offense that God might have entered the world without checking with them first.

Paul preached the resurrected Jesus to the intellectual elites at Athens, that great center of learning and culture in the ancient world.  They were at least willing to grant that his teaching had novelty: no one else had ever brought a doctrine calling for service to a resurrected man in heaven!  They readily admitted they’d never heard anything like it.  They asked at the time, “What is this new teaching?” (Acts 17:19).

Even today, almost two thousand years later, there is still nothing like it.  There are all sorts of perceptions of God, all sorts of religions, but only the Scriptures of ancient Israel present the history of God becoming man, living among us, dying at our hand, being raised from the dead, and then returned to heaven.  The elites of the world still don’t get it.  Thus, it is still a new teaching!

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

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The Last in a Long Line of Prophets

Jesus Christ was a prophet of Israel.  He was the last and the greatest in a long line.  That line had begun with Moses who had said God would raise up after him a prophet from among the people (Deuteronomy 18).  God indeed raised up prophet after prophet – including Elijah and Elisha – until, over a thousand years later, the great prophet Jesus was raised up…from the dead!

Jesus now rules as King of the kingdom of God, and we have no more need of prophets to predict the coming of that kingdom.  The long-awaited kingdom is here.  At the end of the New Testament age, it ceased to be future.  It became present, and it shall always be so for Isaiah (another of Israel’s long line of prophets) told us that “of the increase of His government…there shall be no end.”

Cease waiting on the kingdom of God as a future reality.  Seek it and God’s righteousness today…for it is near you.

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

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The Last Days

When the apostles wrote of “the last days,” it’s clear that they thought they were living in them.  Given that we are looking back on those days some two thousand years later, it is clear that they did not mean “the last days of the human race.”  What, then, did they mean?

They meant the last days of Israel.  The last days of the church.  And the last days of the human race as it had been known up to that time.  For in the twinkling of an eye, the kingdom of God would come and the New Covenant would be eternally established.  That new covenant would mean a new spirit deep in the heart of every human being (1 Corinthians 15:45).  God’s law would be written on every heart (Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 8:8-12).  Every person would  benefit from God’s law being instinctive to them (Romans 2:14-16).  There would no longer be any distinction between Jew and Gentile (Colossians 3:11).

Those last days are long since over.  We live in that eternal kingdom which prophets, apostles, and the Lord Himself all prophesied.  Let us seek the King in everything we do.  He is worthy!

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

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The Kingdom of God Is Not for Sinners

Everyone is going to heaven, but there is no place in the kingdom of God for sinners.

How can these things be?  Here’s how:  Everyone is going to heaven because as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22).  Sinners get to heaven because whoever does not become free of sin before he dies, becomes free of it when he dies (Romans 6:7).  Thus, everyone gets into the kingdom of God once they die.  God’s goal for us, however, is that we get into it before we die.

As for this life, God has chosen gladly to give us the kingdom but we must become free of sin if we are to enter it.  This is the thrust of all New Testament teaching: embrace the Lord Jesus Christ in faith so that He might bless you by turning you from your wicked ways.  The apostles knew that the unrighteous would not inherit the kingdom.  Therefore, they were zealous to see that everyone “cleansed their hands” and “purified their hearts.”  If we want to escape the wrath of God and enter into the sanctuary of His kingdom, we must take to heart what the prophets and the apostles wrote that we should do:  in a word, repent.

Calling Jesus “Lord” is not enough to gain access to the kingdom.  We must actually do what He says.

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

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Preparing Church for the Day of Judgment

The apostles had a great sense of urgency about their mission.  They were preparing disciples for the coming of the day of the Lord.  This impending event was also called the day of Yahweh, the coming of the kingdom of God, the coming of the kingdom of heaven, the Lord’s coming, and the new heavens and earth.  It has also been called the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

The apostles wanted to be sure that the disciples were prepared to live in the new order of creation that was coming.  Time was of the essence and the goal was to prepare each disciple for his or her relationship with God – the only thing that would protect the individual from the wrath to come in God’s judgment. 

Jesus had made clear that the kingdom would not be coming with signs to be observed.  No man would know the day or the hour.  And it would happen in the twinkling of an eye.  In that moment,  the spiritual composition of the universe would be radically changed.  The dead would all rise to heaven and every human being who died thereafter would ascend into heaven instead of descend into Sheol (as had been the case since Abel).

The apostles would soon be all gone and no longer able to give their unique witness to the Lord.  The church would cease to be God’s instrument for salvation because all power would reside in the kingdom.  If the disciples were to survive and thrive in the new order God was bringing, they would have to know how to live by faith in an unseen God. 

If church had any usefulness today it would be teaching people how to enter the kingdom.  Instead, they teach people how to come to church.  This offers no help to people who need deliverance from their sins and the judgments that are in the earth.

Go back and read the New Testament.  Embrace the values it teaches.  Seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  Seeking church in the age of the kingdom of God is missing the point entirely.

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

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Today’s Churches Are Potemkin Villages

A village is where people live.  A Potemkin Village is where people pretend to live.  Like Potemkin Villages, churches today are mere facades of the one that we see in the New Testament.

Churches today use New Testament vocabulary, but don’t produce the same outcomes.

Churches today try to simulate New Testament outcomes, but don’t have the same power.

Churches today claim to have New Testament power, but pretend more righteousness than they actually produce.

The solution is not for the churches to try to do better.  Rather, the solution is for them to quit trying to do church at all.  They should seek what the New Testament church sought: the kingdom of God.  The difference for us is that the kingdom of God is already here while the New Testament church had to wait on it to come.  (See The Kingdom of God Is Here and Now.)

The New Testament church prepared to enter something that was not yet present.  We prepare to enter something that is everywhere present.

Potemkin Villages are useless, except to try to fool people who don’t know any better.  The New Testament sought the kingdom of God with its very life.  They would be the first to stand up today and say that church is not the object and never was the object.  Let us repent and seek the kingdom of God!

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

 

The New Testament Church Was Unique

The church of the New Testament was different from all the churches which have followed it…in several important ways.

First of all, the church of the New Testament was a church.  That is, it was a single, undivided entity.  The apostles would have it no other way.  They were quick to condemn any divisions in the church.  The churches since that time are just that – churches.  They are not a single entity.  They are markedly factional., with innumerable denominational and non-denominational churches.

Another point of distinction is that the church of the New Testament focused on the righteous behavior of its participants.  Believers in Jesus were expected to imitate Him.  Today’s churches focus on having the right statement of faith.  Everyone is supposed to believe and say the same things.  Focus on righteous behavior is limited, primarily because it would cut down on attendance.

Yet another major difference is that the leaders of the New Testament church gave their lives for the church – literally.  Today, the churches exists for the support of their leaders.

The New Testament church expected the return of the Lord and the coming of the kingdom of God in their lifetimes.  Today’s churches think the New Testament church was wrong about that.  That is, today’s churches say that the return of the Lord and the coming of the kingdom of God still lies in the future.

If you would trust the church to tell the truth about Jesus, trust the original church – not the pretend-churches that have come after it.

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

The New Testament Is About Righteous and Holy Living

The New Testament is about righteous and holy living – not church administration or church growth. 

If you take the time to read the New Testament, you can’t help but be struck with its emphasis on righteousness.  It’s as if its writers believed the whole point of Jesus’ ministry, including the Old Testament scriptures that led up to it, was to inculcate godly living and eradicate sin among human beings. 

Righteousness, holiness, godliness, goodness – these are matters about which the New Testament is incessantly explicit.  Church government, church planting, church growth principles – all these concepts that guide church thinking today are not explicitly taught in the New Testament.

Why should we ignore what the New Testament makes explicit in pursuit of subjects about which it is relatively silent? 

The apostles told people to repent and the Lord added to the church.  Today’s church leaders add to the church and leave it for the Lord to make people repent. 

Church leaders today are more interested in growing their churches and ministries than they are in acting on and teaching what the New Testament teaches. 

If we would please God, let us repent, read the words of Scripture, and act on what they deem important.  Forget church.  Instead, give all the diligence of which you are capable to living righteously in the sight of God.

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

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Possessing the Gate of Your Enemies

In Genesis 22, after the Lord proved Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice the life of his only son, God spoke a promise to Abraham saying, “Your seed shall possess the gate of your enemies.”  In Genesis 24, as Rebekah was preparing to leave home in order to be married to Abraham’s only son, her family blessed her saying, “May your descendants possess the gate of those who hate them.”

In antiquity, possessing the gates of one’s enemies was a sure means to peace and tranquility in life.  In those days, cities were usually fortified, with its gates controlling entry and exit.  Therefore, whoever controlled the gates, controlled the city.  If you controlled the gates of your enemies, then their destiny was in your hands.

Up until the time of Jesus Christ, Satan controlled the gates of death.  All who passed through those gates belonged to him.  Jesus, before His suffering and crucifixion in Jerusalem, promised that these gates would not prevail over the following that He was building (“gates of Hades” was another name for “gates of death”).  Indeed, three days after Jesus died, He rose from the dead, breaking through those gates.  He was the first to have ever done so.  (His friend Lazarus had only been given a temporary reprieve from death.)  Jesus triumphed over death, for He went on to ascend into heaven.  Micah in 2:13 had prophesied that “the Breaker” would go through the gate, and before the rest.  Jesus was “the Breaker.”  Paul confirmed in 1 Corinthians 15 that there was an order to the resurrection, with Christ being first, and the rest to follow later.

In the coming of the kingdom, which occurred according to the biblical timetable around the late 1st Century A.D., the gates of death were, in effect, moved, such that death would no longer lead below to Hades but rather above to heaven.  Indeed, Abraham’s seed possesses the gates of His enemies – in a way far more grand, glorious, and eternal than anyone on earth had ever imagined!  Death is now merely a doorway into a greater life in heaven.

See also Everyone Is Going to Heaven.

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

Peter’s Keys to the Kingdom

In Matthew 16, Jesus famously told Peter, “Upon this rock, I will build My church.”  Yet people act as if Jesus had said, “You will build My church.”  Why do people take it upon themselves to build something that God says He will build?  I don’t know, but it’s been a recurring challenge for God. 

Unlike the aforementioned people, Peter did not misunderstand Jesus’ words and did not take it upon himself to become a church administrator.  Instead, he preached the gospel and let Jesus do the building. 

Another great source of misunderstanding has been the very next verse where Jesus says to Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”  Note that Jesus did not say He would give to Peter the keys to the church, but rather to the kingdom.  The church lived in anticipation of the kingdom.  It, of course, was not the kingdom.  It was God’s means of preparing people for the kingdom. 

Peter was not going to be able to use those keys himself because John 21 prophesied that he would not live until the coming of the kingdom and he affirmed this in 2 Peter 1.  This was all the more reason, however, for him to make sure that he handed off those keys properly lest they be lost.  The handoff had nothing to do with church administration.  It had to do with the practice of moral excellence.  He explained that this meant that individuals needed to grow in knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.  Practicing these things, Peter assured his readers, would guarantee entrance into the kingdom.  Therefore, in Peter’s mind, the keys of the kingdom were qualities we associate with the nature of Jesus.  Becoming like the Savior opened access to the kingdom.

The keys remain for us to use today because the kingdom came not too long after Peter’s death.  It’s been here ever since.  If we want to be inside the kingdom instead of outside it, we must practice those qualities that Peter counseled.

Let the church administrators argue among themselves about what these verses mean for governing the churches that they manage.  (In other words, let the dead bury the dead.)  You can see clearly that these verses show a path to the kingdom.  Seek first the kingdom and His righteousness.  Seek, and ye shall find.

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

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Our Nehemiah

Nehemiah is a type of Christ.  The Scriptures are full of types of Christ.  This is because the primary purpose of the Scriptures is to testify of Christ, to describe His work, and to lead every reader to Him.

Nehemiah was a Jew who lived in the comfort of the king’s palace in Persia.  He became greatly distressed when he heard of the hardship that had fallen upon his homeland and the city of Jerusalem.  He sought permission to go to Jerusalem with supplies to rebuild the city and its walls.  He was granted favor, and greatly helped the people of God restore the city of God.  Afterward, he returned to the king’s palace.

Jesus, too, enjoyed the splendor of life in the King’s palace of heaven.  However, His distress over the condition of His people caused him to forsake His comforts and prepare for a trip to earth.  He arranged all the resources necessary to rebuild the fallen tabernacle of David.  He brought together the people of God through His work and, afterward, returned to heaven from whence He had come.

On the day of the great feast in Nehemiah’s rebuilt Jerusalem, the people wept when they heard the words of the Law of Moses which they knew they had disobeyed.  Nehemiah comforted them, saying, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  Similarly, Jesus, when He was crucified for our sins, comforted His followers with many words of encouragement for He knew that His death was the means to a great victory for the people of God.  Indeed, the joy of the Lord is our strength.

Our Nehemiah – Jesus Christ our Lord – has saved us!

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

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Jesus Is Our Ezra

Ezra is a type of Christ.  According to Ezra 7:10, the priest Ezra set his heart to study the Law of Moses, to practice it, and to teach God’s statutes and ordinances in Israel.

Jesus grew up studying the Law of the Lord.  From this lifelong study He knew that the whole of the Law hung on the words, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and your neighbor as yourself.”  He also practiced it – all the way through to the pain of unwarranted conviction and undeserved crucifixion.  Lastly, He set His heart to teach the God’s statutes and ordinances in Israel.  This teaching effort was cut short by the crucifixion.

Though the crucifixion cut short Jesus’ teaching ministry, yet it was resumed upon His resurrection and ascension into heaven.  From there He teaches all who will listen.  And though He was not a priest when He was on earth, He took up the priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek once He resumed His place in heaven.

Thanks be to God that our Ezra reigns in heaven forever!

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

Our Esther

Esther was a type of Christ.

Esther was a replacement monarch.  Her predecessor as queen had failed.  A wide search was made to find the best candidate to take the crown.  Esther was groomed especially for the task.  She was humble and chaste, and followed the instructions of her relative Mordecai.  She won the king’s favor as the best of all the candidates and became queen.  She then risked everything to save her people from destruction.  In doing so, she saved herself and her people.

Adam had been made to rule the earth.  However, Adam failed and Jesus was chosen to be his replacement.  God searched through all humanity and saw that all had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Jesus was the only sinless one.  He was groomed for His role.  He was humble and chaste.  He followed the instructions of the earthly family to whom He had been entrusted as well as to the heavenly Father who had watched over Him.  Jesus won the favor of God, as this utterance was made from heaven:  “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”  He then risked everything to save His people from destruction by sin.  In doing so, He saved all of humanity for Himself.

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

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Our Job

Job was a type of Christ.  He therefore gives us a means of seeing Christ more clearly.

Job was righteous man, blessed by God.  He was struck down with calamity for no apparent reason.  In fact, there was no earthly reason for Job to have suffered his difficult fate.  The reason for his trial was decided in heaven.  In the end, Job remained faithful and passed the test.  He was rewarded by God who restored to him all that had been lost…and more.

Jesus was a righteous man, blessed by God.  He was crucified for no sin of His own.  In fact, there was no reason on earth for Jesus to have suffered this terrible fate.  The reason for the crucifixion, of course, was decided in heaven – to save us from our sins.  Jesus remained faithful to the end and thus passed the test.  He was raised from the dead, never to die again.  His reward was the human race:  the pearl of great price He had been after all along.

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

 

 

Our Zerubbabel

Zerubbabel is a type of Christ.  We can thus learn about Christ in him.

Zerubbabel was of the tribe of Judah.  So was Jesus.

Zerubbabel was in the line of David and thus entitled to kingly rule.  So was Jesus.

Because of Israel’s state of decline, Zerubbabel did not reign with David’s earthly glory.  Neither did Jesus.

Nonetheless, Zerubbabel became governor of the people of God.  As did Jesus.

Zerubbabel had to deal with serious contention from God’s enemies.  Jesus encountered even greater opposition.

Zerubbabel laid the foundation of a new temple.  Jesus laid the foundation of a temple in the spirit that would last for all eternity.

Zerubbabel lived to celebrate the completion of his work.  Jesus lives forever to celebrate the completion of His eternal work.

It was a matter for rejoicing when the plumb line was in the hand of Zerubbabel.  It is a matter of unspeakable glory that the measuring stick for all humanity is in the hand of Jesus.

If the day of small things was not to be despised when Zerubbabel began his work, how much more so when Jesus laid the foundation for an entire new universe by planting Himself in the ground as a single seed.

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

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Our Solomon

Solomon is a type of Christ.  Therefore, Jesus is our Solomon.

Solomon was the son of David.  Jesus was the Son of David.

Solomon built the temple of Israel.  Jesus built the temple of the people of God.

Solomon built a great legacy out of the inheritance his father left him.  Jesus established an eternal legacy out of His Father’s inheritance.

The Queen of Sheba came to Solomon based on the reports she’d heard of his wisdom.  Magi came from the east to Jesus merely on the reports of His birth.

Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived.  Jesus was wiser.

Solomon was the richest man who ever lived.  Jesus’ spiritual riches will feed all the universe beyond eternity.

Yes, Solomon was a type of Christ.  But as with all types of Christ, Christ was greater, as Jesus made explicit in Matthew 12:42.

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

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Our David

David is one of the more well-known types of Christ.  Thus Jesus is our greater David.

David was a man after God’s heart.  Jesus was God’s heart.

David was anointed by Samuel.  Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit.

David was king of Israel.  Jesus is King of the Universe.

David’s throne was in Mount Zion, in Jerusalem.  Jesus’ throne is in Mount Zion, in the heavenly Jerusalem.

David was zealous for God.  Jesus’ zeal for God consumed Him.

David sought to build God a house.  Jesus built God a house.

There were challenges to David’s rule.  Such challenges always failed.  There are challenges to Jesus’ rule.  Such challenges will always fail.

David took his lineage from Abraham seriously.  Jesus took His lineage from David seriously.  And from Abraham as well.

Messiah was descended from David but also would be David’s lord – a riddle which Jesus loved to pose to His rabbinical antagonists.

David was not just a type of Christ, he was a physical ancestor of Christ.  Everyone expected Israel’s Messiah to be reminiscent of David.  The crucifixion was thus a stumbling block, but the resurrection surpassed all expectations – and solved the riddle.

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

Our Joshua

Joshua was a type of Christ.  They even share the same name, as Jesus is simply the Hellenized form of Hebrew name Joshua.

Joshua was the leader appointed by God who followed Moses immediately.  Jesus was the leader appointed by God who followed Moses eventually and eternally.

Joshua led Israel into battle against its enemies.  Jesus leads the people of God into battle against spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places.

Joshua brought Israel into the promised land.  Jesus brings God’s people into the kingdom of God.

God could have chosen any personal name to give the Messiah.  Of all the names He could have given, He chose Joshua.  We should study Joshua to learn more of Jesus.

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

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Our Moses

Moses is one of the most obvious types of Jesus in the Old Testament.  Moses himself even says in Deuteronomy 18, “God will raise up for you a prophet like me.”

Moses lived a quiet life before God called him to public ministry.  So did Jesus.

The Scripture says Moses was remarkably humble.  It also says Jesus was humble.

Moses led his people out of slavery in Egypt.  Jesus leads His people out of slavery to sin.

Moses was a mediator between God and Israel.  Jesus is the mediator between God and the whole human race.

As mediator, Moses went up to Mount Sinai to meet God on behalf of the people.  Jesus went up to heaven to the right hand of God on behalf of the people.

The Law was given through Moses.  Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

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

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Our Joseph

Joseph was a type of Christ.  Therefore we can think of Jesus as “our Joseph.”

Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him.  They could see that their father favored him.  As a result, they ostracized Joseph.  Their pique did not subside, however, and they eventually cast him down into a pit…and left him for dead.

Jesus likewise encountered jealousy from his fellow human beings.  They could see that God favored Jesus, doing things for Him that He didn’t do for anyone else.  Religious leaders ostracized Jesus, but it did not do any good for He was not disheartened by this nor did it discourage Him from continuing His ministry of kindness to people.  Finally, Jesus’ jealous contemporaries had him cruelly murdered.

Though left for dead, Joseph survived the pit and, after more trials and some considerable time, ended up second in command of all of Egypt.  When Joseph’s brothers came to him seeking food (for famine had struck their land), Joseph forgave them and gave them food.  They had thought Joseph was dead and didn’t recognize him at first.  Eventually, Joseph brought his entire family to Egypt for their well-being and safety.  He never retaliated against his brothers for their meanness toward him.  In fact, it’s hard to see how he could have treated them any better had they been kind to him in his early years.

Jesus, of course, demonstrates this same generosity of spirit to all of us.  He does not hold grudges about His crucifixion.  Rather, He sees it as the way He could bring His blessings on humanity.  We meant it for evil, but He meant it for good.  Though “left for dead,” He rose from the dead – never to die again.

Thanks be to God that Joseph helps us understand Jesus.

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

Not the Hearers, But the Doers

Romans 2:13 makes clear that it is the doers of God’s word, not its hearers, who are just in God’s sight.  James 1:23-25 makes a similar point. 

The world today is filled with a lot more hearing of God’s word than it is with the doing of it.

If you read the Bible, be sure that you act on what you understand.  Otherwise, you will be like churches.  They constantly seek to get more people to hear the word, but to do the word is of less interest to them.

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

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Holier Than Thou Society

Would you join a society of holier-than-thou people?  No one in their right mind would, but people in their wrong mind do it all the time.

A church is a “holier than thou” society.  It’s a group of people who mutually agree to approve of each other in the name of God.  God, however, has not delegated to us His right to approve of people.  He retains that for Himself.  And He is well able to make an individual aware of when He approves of him without intervention from another human.

Read God’s indictment of the holier-than-thou people in Isaiah 65.

My challenge here is not so much to people in the pews as it is to the people in the pulpits.  Many people get involved in church because respected Christian leaders tell them that this is God’s will.  Those of us who speak in the name of Christ should be preaching Christ, not our parochial society of like-minded people that we’ve given His name – even if we call it church.  There is only one Christian leader deserving of respect and His name is Jesus (Matthew 23:10).

If we want holiness, we should be joining God – not some human society or organization.  Chuch is something He builds from those who believe in Him, and this church needs no human leadership. 

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

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If the Lord Were Their Shepherd, They Would Not Be Scattered

If the Lord were truly the head of today’s churches, they would not be scattered into tens of thousands of denominations.  Jesus made it clear in John 10 that the flock is only scattered when hired hands are in charge.  Those who hear His voice, He said by way of contrast, would be “one flock with one shepherd.”

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

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The Great Commandment?

When Jesus was asked, “What is the great commandment?”  He answered, of course, that we should love God with all that we are.  He followed up by saying that the second greatest commandment was like it: that we should love our neighbors as ourselves.  He then further emphasized these two commandments by saying that the entire Law and Prophets hang on them.  It’s hard to imagine how He could have declared them any more important than this.

Though many Christians today might be able to quote this teaching of Jesus, they have a very different view of the great commandment.  To them, the great commandment is, “Go to church.”  I say this because if they find out that you believe in Jesus but do not attend church, they want to talk about nothing else.  “You need the fellowship, brother.”  “How can you say you believe in Jesus if you don’t assemble as part of His body?”  “The church is the bride of Christ: how can you belong to Him if you don’t belong to it?”  They don’t always insist that you attend their church, but they do want you to attend someone’s.  They do not show a similar interest in whether or not you love God or love your neighbor.  In fact, their commandments seems almost to be:  “You need new neighbors!”  (Neighbors, of course, means “near ones.”)

At this point, you have a choice: you can either accept Jesus as your authority and follow His commandments, or you can accept these churchgoers as your authority and follow their commandments.  As for me, I’ll follow Him.

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

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The One Pastor Who Won’t Fall to Sin

Unfortunately, it has become commonplace to hear of some pastor who has gone astray morally.  Such downfalls are often financial or sexual, but pastoral failings are not limited to these.  The shepherd’s flock is usually devastated by such revelations.  Some wounds take a long time to heal.  How many more such debacles have to occur before people realize that church is no longer a divine institution as it was in New Testament days?  The kingdom of God has come but today’s churches go on as man-made and, literally, godforsaken institutions.  They should put “Ichabod” on their doors (1 Samuel 4:16-22).  At least that way, the sheep would be warned.

There is one Shepherd who will never fall to sin.  His flock will never be scattered, or depressed, or devastated.  His name is Jesus and He lives today to pastor all who will submit to His loving care.  If you can have His care, why would you seek anyone else’s?

Jesus was struck down once – not for His own sin, but because of the sins of others.  He was raised from the dead, however, never to die again.  As He is lifted up, He draws all men to Himself.  He shepherds the one true flock of God. 

Stop putting your trust in human pastors – trust the One Pastor who will never fall to sin.

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

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The Church Is of No Value Against Fleshly Indulgence

If a person is going to live for God, he must have a way of overcoming fleshly indulgence.  The lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh have been sources of temptation since the time of Eve.  How are we to overcome them?  By beholding the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  That is, by looking unto Him who is unseen and seeking His approval at all times, we can be empowered to resist such temptation. 

To go to church, or be a part of a church, does not protect you from fleshly indulgence.  This is because no set of eyes there – no matter how many sets are there – are able to see into your heart where temptation operates.  Only Jesus Christ can see into your heart.  In fact, He can see more of it than you can.  As you relate to Him, and try to live uprightly before Him, He can give you the strength to resist every temptation.  There is no human being who can be with you all of the time.  And if you could find one who could, that person would not be able to see into your heart. 

Not only is it logically true that church is no value against fleshly indulgence, it is also empirically true.  That is, all the sins that beset society beset the church as well: adultery, sexual promiscuity of all kinds, even child abuse.  This fact is confirmed by the news on a regular basis. 

There is only one Person who can protect you from fleshly indulgence.  Your relationship with Jesus Christ – which includes staying conscious of His loving, righteous eyes at all times – is all the protection you will need from temptations of the flesh.  I am not saying that you won’t ever give in to temptation.  I am saying that you won’t ever give in to temptation while you have your eyes on Him.  If you fall to temptation, it will be because you lost sight of Him.  Stay strong and do not lose sight of Him.

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

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Our Isaac

Hebrews 11:17-19 explicitly describes Isaac as a type of Christ.  There are other parallels not mentioned in this passage (such as Isaac carrying the wood for his sacrifice while Christ carried His wooden cross), but this much will get you started.

Also, Paul mentions Isaac as a pattern in Galatians 4 when Paul alludes to the persecution Isaac received from his half-brother Ishmael.  Paul then likens the persecution of the Judaizers against the Gentile believers in Christ as being of the same pattern.

Isaac was the long-awaited son of Abraham, the heir upon whom all the hopes and promises would depend.  Nations were to come forth from Abraham, and they would have to come through Isaac.  It is not hard to see Christ in this outline.  Jesus came after several thousand years of waiting and preparation by God.  All the nations of the earth were to be blessed through Him – and through no one else, for He was the way, the truth, and the life.

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

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Our Melchizedek

Melchizedek is mentioned in Genesis 14 and Psalm 110.  He is then discussed at length in chapters five through seven of the book of Hebrews.  Because Hebrews describes this type of Christ so thoroughly I only want to call your attention to it (which I have now done)…and emphasize one of its key points.

The name Melchizedek was a combination of the Hebrew word for king and the Hebrew word for righteousness.  Therefore, the name meant “King of Righteousness” and the letter to the Hebrews makes this point in 7:2.  My question is this: are we thinking of Jesus as the King of Righteousness?  Are we seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33)?  Are we leading the many to righteousness (Daniel 12:3)?  Are we accustomed to the word of righteousness (Hebrews 5:13)?  Does our righteousness surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5:20)?  Are we hungering and thirsting for righteousness (Matthew 5:6)?   I could go on.

I do not hear many people speaking in the name of Christ talking about righteousness.  They are talking about many things, but righteousness doesn’t seem to be at the top of the list.  How can those who say they know God not be talking about His main concern?

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

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Our Seth

Not much is said about Seth in the Scriptures.  But we see enough to appreciate his likeness to Him who was to come; that is, Jesus.

Seth was born to Adam and Eve after Cain had killed Abel.  Take a moment to think through how awful that murder must have been, and the devastating effect it would have had on Adam, Eve, and God.  Of course, any murder is awful.  However, this was the first murder – no one had even heard of one before.  The family of man was so small at the point that such a loss decimated it.  Consider also how the ultimate estrangement of Cain combined with the loss of Abel would have impacted the parents.  The emotional devastation brought by this murder must have been beyond anything we can easily imagine.

In the aftermath of this ordeal, Adam and Eve conceived another child.  They named him Seth.  Eve commented that God had given her this offspring to replace Abel who had been killed by Cain.  As a type, Seth represents Jesus who was given as a child to replace fallen humanity.  Through Jesus, fallen humanity would be made to stand again – not on earth, but in heaven!

Adam and Eve, and all the patriarchs saw the bearing of children as a more profound phenomenon than people see it today.  People today do see childbirth as profound, but the patriarchs more so.  The reason?  The patriarchs knew that they were going to die and that children offered the only hope of redemption from that destiny – and all the more so since God had told Satan that it was the seed of woman who would triumph over him.  The patriarchs, and especially Adam and Eve, knew that they would not be achieving their own salvation from death.   Each child therefore not only brought joy into the world, it brought hope for an ultimate victory over death.

In Seth, the replacement child, we can foresee Jesus to come.  When Isaiah would many years later say, “For unto us a son is given,” he would be echoing this same hope, only in more specific form.

Seth also foreshadows Jesus in that he was the life given in place of the death of Abel.  Even so, Jesus’ resurrected life was given to replace the earthly life that He had lost.  The Hebrew name Seth is a play on the word “appointed” that shows up in many English translations of Genesis 4:25.  The meaning being that God had “appointed,” or “placed,” or “put” this child as Abel’s replacement.  Certainly God appointed, placed, or put the resurrection of Jesus.  That is, He replaced the fragile  life that Jesus had lost with an indestructible life that could never be taken away.

Seth gives us a picture, in very few words, of the way God would accomplish redemption for the people whom He had created:  Out of grief, hope.  Out of a child, redemption.  Out of death, life.

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

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Our Abel

Abel was a type, a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ.  Abel was great, but Jesus is greater.

Abel pleased God; his brother Cain did not.  Jesus pleased God, His fellow leaders in Israel, as well as the Roman rulers, did not.

There was no good reason for Cain to dislike Abel except jealousy over Abel’s favor with God.  There was no good reason for the rulers to strike down Jesus except for their jealousy over His favor with God and man.

Cain struck down Abel.  The rulers struck down Jesus.

The blood of Abel cried out from the ground.  The blood of Jesus cried out from the ground with a shout that obtained forgiveness for all mankind.

Abel was innocent.  He led a quiet life, and pleased God.  For this reason he was killed.  Jesus was innocent.  He led a quiet life of service to others, and pleased God.  For this reason He was scourged, reviled, and killed.  Thanks be to God for Abel who helps us to see Jesus!

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

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Our Samson

Samson foreshadowed Jesus for us.

Samson’s birth was announced to his mother by an angel (Judges 13:3).  Jesus’ birth was announced to His mother by an angel.

Samson was born to a previously barren wife and was designated for a lifetime of special service to God (Judges 13:5).  Jesus was born to a virgin and designated for a lifetime of special service to God.

The Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson mightily (Judges 13:25).  The Spirit of the Lord was poured out upon Jesus without measure.

Samson moved the gates of a desert city to a mountaintop (Judges 16:3).  Jesus moved the gates of death so that they no longer led below but rather above.  (See more at The Gates of Gaza.)

Samson killed more Philistines in his death than in his life (Judges 16:30).  Jesus caused more demons to flee in His death than He had in His life.

As Samson was endowed with supernatural strength so that he could deliver God’s people from their enemies, so Jesus was endowed to be able to deliver us from any and all evil.  Thanks be to God for our Samson!

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

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Our Noah

Jesus is our Noah.  What Noah was and did, Jesus was and did greater.

Like Noah, only greater, Jesus has given us rest from our labor from what God had cursed (Genesis 5:29).

Like Noah, only greater, Jesus prepared an ark for the salvation of His household from the judgments that the world had brought on itself (Hebrews 11:7).

Like Noah, only greater, Jesus was a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5).

Noah did great things for God, providing a foreshadowing of the even greater things God would do through His Son the Messiah.

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

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Psalm 97:6

The verse had rich meaning as it was written under the Old Covenant.  The heavens, whether viewed at night or during the day, are glorious beyond description.  Their predictability and reliability only add to that glory.  Truly these works of God have been seen and admired by all peoples.

Though we could rest content with this understanding, God would have us see this verse in light of His great redemptive work through Christ.  That is, Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended into the heavens.  At the last trumpet, He brought up all the dead to be with Him.  The angels of God marveled at this feat!

All heaven had witnessed the righteous life He had lived on earth – not reviling when reviled, not threatening when suffering abuse.  He was indeed the sinless, spotless, worthy Lamb of God, given for the sins of the world.  The angels rejoiced without measure when He was restored to His heavenly home in stupendous glory.  Just as the prophets had written in the Scriptures: the Christ was to suffer, and then would enter into His glory.  H was revealed in the flesh; He was vindicated in the spirit.  He suffered on earth; He was glorified in heaven.

The heavens spoken of here under the New Covenant understanding, as you can see, are the spiritual heavens.  Thus this verse, as so many did, foretold the Messiah to come.  Beginning from this Scripture – reminiscent of Philip in Acts 8 – you can preach Jesus to anyone.

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

The Revelation of Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ was revealed progressively.  Like the sun which makes its gradual entrance at dawn, Malachi’s sun of righteousness could not be revealed all at once lest His light blind every eye.

There were prophecies mentioned at the birth of Jesus of Nazareth but not much more until His baptism by John.  Even then, Jesus told no one He was the Messiah.  He simply did the things that Israel’s prophets had done (though to a greater degree) and was content with people’s description of Him as a “man of God.”  Even when His closest disciples realized (through Divine revelation) that He was the Messiah, He instructed them to tell no one.  Only after He was raised from the dead did the fact that He was the Messiah become a part of the kingdom gospel message He was preaching.

Throughout the apostolic age, more was revealed about Him.  The apostle Paul talked about the revelations he had received.  The apostle John began the last book of the Bible, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.”  The full revelation of Jesus, however, was not to be given until the coming of the kingdom – that event which all the apostles said was imminent in that age. 

Looking back on this time from a two-thousand-year perspective, we can see what they were talking about.  Jesus of Nazareth hadn’t just been the Messiah, He had been God Himself.  The apostles had often come close to saying this in their writings, but they kept separate Father-Son construct because of its importance to our instruction.  Jesus fully demonstrated the role of the Son so that when He assumed the role of the Father, we could imitate before Him what He had done as a son.

Of course, Jesus Christ is still being revealed to us today as He will be for all eternity, for there is no end to the glories of our God.  The great sun of righteousness, however, has indeed dawned on humanity – that is, the truth that Messiah was God.  When you become aware that Jesus was God, you are having an experience like Peter did at Caesarea Philippi.  That is, something is being divinely revealed to you.  And you are not far from the kingdom.

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

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Church Worship Is Idolatry

Some people worship church, thinking that they are worshiping God.  Worship of anything other than God Himself is idolatry.   

The woman at the well in Sychar brought up to Jesus a discrepancy between Samaritan worship and Jewish worship:  The Samaritans worshiped at their mountain and the Jews worshiped at Mount Zion.  Jesus replied that the time had come for the issue of worship’s place to be rendered obsolete.  Thus He said that “neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem shall you worship.”  How then do people today say that having a place of worship is important?

Jesus did not die so that Old Testament rituals could be replaced with New Testament rituals.  What would be the point of that?  Rather, Old Testament worship rituals were to be replaced with sacrificial living (Romans 12:1), doing good, and sharing (Hebrews 13:16).  Worship that had previously been focused on festivals and events would now be expressed through all our waking hours as we lived before the invisible Savior God.

By making worship something we do when we go to a designated place, we commit the sin of idolatry for we have reduced God to a time and place.  All idolatry creates idols or relics that become the objects of our devotion.  God wants to be the constant object of our devotion and it demeans Him to relegate our worship to representations of Him.

To say, as some do, that one cannot live a life of worship pleasing to God outside of a church context is to instruct people to place church on a level with God.  Idol worship always makes people forget about the omnipresent God.  This is why God always condemns it.  It is contrary to truth.  God allowed the Israelites to have a tabernacle, a temple, and related furniture and utensils of worship, but only on a temporary basis until an eternal and spiritual administration could be put in place.  Now that the eternal administration of the kingdom of God has been established, all that temporary equipment is obsolete.  It memory is useful as types and shadows of Christ and His kingdom, but to set up our own houses of worship, furniture, and utensils in its place is as much idolatry as if the Jews were to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and start sacrificing animals again.

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The Messiah Is God and That’s Why He’s Not Coming Back in the Flesh Anymore

Yesterday’s post, The Messiah Is God, described how God designed ahead of time a human identity He would use to walk among us.  This design was revealed over several thousand years of human history and recorded in the Scriptures which were written before Jesus’ birth.  This identity described how Messiah would live on earth (His sufferings) but also how He would reign in heaven after His resurrection (His glories).

Only after God had lived through the sufferings of Messiah, did He focus the attention of his followers on the glories of Messiah.  Those glories would bring in the kingdom of heaven, the day of the Lord, the new heavens and new earth, and incorporate all those events usually called the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  Once the glories were completed at the end of the apostolic generation (which could also be called the New Testament age), God was free to remove the veil and reveal that He Himself had been Messiah. It is a wondrous thought that enters the human heart – the realization that Jesus Christ was none other than God Himself in the flesh.

Because Messiah was an identity that God assumed for a period of time in order to accomplish His purposes, and because He has now revealed that He Himself was Messiah, there would be no reason for Him to assume human form again.  Therefore, the hopes of those who expect to see a Second Coming of Jesus in the flesh will continue to go unfulfilled.  They should have listened to Paul who said in 2 Corinthians 5:16 that while “we did know Christ in the flesh, we know Him thus no longer.”  (Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again)

Just as it was not possible for the prophecies of Messiah to be fully understood apart from the resurrection, so it is not possible to understand the fullness and finality of Christ’s work apart from acknowledging that He was, and is, God.  The whole thrust of Jesus’ work through His apostles was to convert believing Jews and Gentiles from a fleshly orientation in the Law of Moses to a spiritual orientation.  To bring back Jesus in the flesh would run entirely counter to this thrust.

“God is spirit,” Jesus told the woman at the well in Sychar, “and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.”  He came into a world where people focused myopically on earthly things with a goal to shift their gaze heavenward.  It is high time we took His words seriously, stop looking for flesh, and start worshiping in spirit and truth the one and only God, our Messiah.

God doesn’t want a relationship with you in the flesh.  He wants one in the spirit, because that is far more intimate.  In the flesh, He could be close to you – but still always outside you.  In the spirit, He can dwell inside you.  Thus, He stands at the door and knocks (Revelation 3:20).

For more on this subject, see:

There Is No Trinity; There Is Christ

Posts to Date on the Trinity Versus Christ

The Messiah Is God

Before the creation of the world, God created an identity for Himself that He would use to enter human history.  The first mention of this identity was at the judgment for sin in the garden of Eden.  God told the serpent that the seed of woman would overcome him.  This “seed of woman” was the Messiah.  God used many other names for Messiah besides Messiah itself:  the seed of Abraham (Genesis 22:18), the Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15), the Son of David (2 Sam 7:12-14), Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14), the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), the Branch (Jeremiah 33:15), the Breaker (Micah 2:13), and many more.   Thus the identity of Messiah was revealed piece by piece throughout the ages until the time of Jesus.

By the time of Jesus, expectations for the Messiah were high.  However, the specifics of expectation were all over the map.  No one had been able to piece together all the various prophecies about Messiah into one cohesive picture.  Most people were looking for an earthly king like David, only greater.  There were many pieces of the Messianic jigsaw puzzle, though, that just didn’t fit their perceptions (e.g. “He was despised and forsake of men” in Isaiah 53:3).

Jesus never proclaimed Himself to be the Messiah during His earthly life (though He did not deny it at His trial).  Only when He was raised from the dead did He give permission to His disciples to make the fact known.  Only when He was raised from the dead and seated in heaven could the combined prophecies begin to make sense.  For the remainder of that generation, the apostles proclaimed Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, using all the Old Testament prophecies of His coming to tell the story.  This much the apostles told in past tense.  There were aspects of the Messianic prophecies, however, that were still in future tense at that time:  how Messiah would rule the whole world, how the kingdom of God fit into this rule, what judgment would be like, and so on.

As the apostolic age was drawing to a close, it had become apparent that Messiah was an even greater Personage than anyone seems to have foreseen.  So great, that some explanation was going to be needed about how the Messiah and God would relate in the final order.  That time was coming soon, so no one would have to wait long for the answer.  The answer, when it came, was stunning beyond description.

Messiah was an identity that God had used to live as a man on the earth, with all the limitations of a man.  Messiah was not a separate being from God.  Messiah was not even a separate person of God, for God is one.  Rather, Messiah was God.

God had created the identity of Messiah ahead of time so that He could live as a man without detection.  His purposes would have been compromised had people realized He was God while He was still on earth.  Only once He had returned to heaven, and the gospel had been preached in the whole world throughout that generation, was it time to reveal the secret He had kept to Himself all those ages: He did not send anyone to do His work – He came and did it Himself.

For more on this subject, see:

There Is No Trinity; There Is Christ

Posts to Date on the Trinity Versus Christ

Types of Christ in Acts 7 and Hebrews 11

Stephen’s message before Jerusalem’s Council in Acts 7 constitutes a great history of Israel.  Similarly, Hebrews 11 lists individuals who acted in specific expressions of faith throughout Bible history.  Both of these histories are fascinating, instructive, and inspiring.  However, there is more to them than just this, for each contains many types of Christ.

For example, in the beginning of Stephens’ speech he recalls God’s words to Abraham, “Leave your country and your relatives and come into the land that I will show you.”  This was a type of God calling Jesus to come out from His family and nation according to the flesh, and go to the cross which would take Him to “a new land.”  If Abraham’s journey required his faith, how much more did Jesus’ journey require His faith.  And this is how types of Christ work – the actuality of Christ is always greater than the type that preceded it.

At the beginning of Hebrews 11, mention is made of Abel who was killed by Cain.  This typifies Jesus because He, too, was killed by His own brethren – and for the same reason: His deeds were righteous and His brethren’s were not.  Thus Jesus has obtained a greater testimony than Abel.

By the way, one other quick example is Hebrews 11:17-19 which explicitly states that the story being told is a type of Christ.

See how many types of Christ you can find in both these passages.  Don’t strain.  The Holy Spirit will make them know to you as you consider each story in which they occur.  The more patterns we see of Christ in the Scripture, the more inspired we become to imitate Him because they enable us to see Him better.  It took thousands of years of Bible history to produce the biographies required to fashion a composite photograph worthy of Jesus Christ.  We’ll be studying the facets of that portrait forever.

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Acts 13:22 (A Man After My Own Heart Who Will Do All My Will)

This passage explicitly describes King David, but it is clearly a type of Jesus Christ.

David’s great passion for God foreshadowed the heart of Jesus.  We see David’s enthusiasm for God in every phase of his life.  He was devoted to God as a shepherd boy, fending off lions and bears to protect his father’s flock.  He was devoted to God as soldier, slaying Goliath with a minimum of weaponry and a maximum of courage.  He was devoted to God as a king, putting Israel on the map with military victories and wise alliances.  He was devoted to God as a poet and musician, being the major figure behind the book of Psalms.  He was devoted to God as a benefactor, enabling Solomon to reign in unparalleled glory and peace.  But David was just a foreshadowing of Jesus, whose devotion greatly exceeded David’s.

We see Jesus as the person who is the ultimate fulfillment of these words: “A man after My own heart, who will do all My will.”  He who knew no sin was made to die on a cross for our sins, yet while suffering He uttered no threats and while being reviled He did not revile in return.  He didn’t surpass David’s example, however, that we might merely admire Him.  He did so that we might imitate Him.

As Jesus inspired this accolade from His Father (in typified form), let us see what kind of accolade our behavior might elicit from Jesus.  Oh, thanks be to God and praise be to God for His awe-inspiring example to us!

2 Chronicles 15:3

Hard times came on Israel when they went without the true God, teaching priests, and the law.  We face similar hard times today.

The true God – There are many false gods today:  gods of worldly success and gods of false worship.

Teaching priests – There are many faithless priests today: priests loyal to their own finances and not to the living God.

The law – There are many alternatives to the law of Jesus taught today: every sermon topic imaginable except Christ and Him crucified.

Things ought not to be this way.  We live in the kingdom of God.  The one true God reigns over it.  His name is Jesus and those of us who know it ought to be able to praise His name clearly enough for others to follow.  As for the law, He could not have been clearer:  we are to love one another as He loved us.

Let us cast aside our church and Christian identities and return in humility to our respective places in the family of man.  Let us live for the invisible King and thus demonstrate to all those around us that there is one true God, that we are faithful priests, that His law is love, and that all humanity is His kingdom.  That will be the beginning of the end of hard times.

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Judges 21:25

These days are like the days when there was no king in Israel: everyone does what is right in their own eyes.

Jesus is the one person worthy to be king over all the earth.  His moral character and selfless nature make Him the obvious choice.  Moreover, He is the one person capable of being king over all the earth.  His omniscience and omnipresence give Him the ability to be everywhere He needs to be and know everything He needs to know.  So why don’t make Him king?  Actually, He already is.  He is “King of the Universe” – that is, over all the earth and every other planet as well. 

What then is the problem?  We are not obeying Him as king.  Even those who profess His name, as a general rule, do not obey His rule even in their organizations they call by His name: churches.  If churches were treating Him as king, there would only be one church for how could the One who said “No kingdom divided against itself can stand” presided over a divided kingdom?  Thus churches call Him Lord, but do not treat Him as Lord.  Unless our righteousness surpasses theirs, we shall not know what it’s like to be obedient in the kingdom of God.

There is only one thing left for us as individuals to do: sanctify Him as Lord in our hearts being ready always to give an account for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15).  I cannot control whether anyone else obeys His commands.  I can only control myself, and so that I must do.  Perhaps my reverence for Him will inspire someone else.  And perhaps that someone else’s behavior may inspire yet someone else.

Maybe if someone did act like there was a King in Israel, Israel would come around to that truth.

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The Apostles’ Lexicon

During the forty days between Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and His ascension into heaven, He held the most amazing Bible school imaginable.

The Teacher:  None other than the newly-risen Lord Himself.

The students:  The same disciples who had followed Him through His roughly three-year itinerant ministry in Palestine.

The text:  What Christians call the Old Testament; what Jews call the Tanakh (i.e. The Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings).

The lesson  plan: Jesus showed the disciples how the Bible testified of Him and His righteousness.  More specifically, He showed them how to interpret it.  Growing up in Israel, they had only heard it interpreted according to the flesh.  Jesus would show them its meaning in the spirit.  He had been doing this for the three previous years but only when He was raised from the dead did they begin to get it.  Even so, the book of Acts reveals that their understanding continued to progress in the years that followed.  It was simply too much to take in at once.

Circumcision, Passover, the Sabbath, worship, the temple – all these words came to have different meanings as they were interpreted in the spirit and not the flesh.  Circumcision was now of the heart.  Passover and Unleavened Bread portrayed Messiah.  Worship was to be unseen.  The temple was no longer a physical building.   And this is just a fraction of the new lexicon they had to learn.  Everything that used to apply to something physical now applied to something spiritual.  Jerusalem and Zion were no longer on earth, but now were considered heavenly places.  Warfare was not to be with surrounding nations but with spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places.  Jews were no longer physical descendants of Abraham, but rather those who walked in the kind of faith he had.

It is time to return to the lexicon that Jesus taught His apostles.  Some of those understandings have made their way down to us but many of them have been lost or overlooked.  Jesus had come to give the Bible the spiritual meaning God had sought for it all along.  Its usage for religion and ritual was only temporary until the Savior Himself could come and break the seals of the book to fully reveal its eternal purpose: the teaching of righteousness.  The Lord Jesus is here now to continue His teaching, if we will only sit at His feet and listen.

He Is Our Manna

God gave His people bread out of heaven when they were in the wilderness.  This foreshadowed the giving of Jesus from heaven in the wilderness of our wandering from God.  God gave that bread of Jesus’ earthly life, death, and resurrection… and it is still feeding the multitudes.

While on earth, Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”  Manna was a daily provision.  Jesus said that we should not worry about tomorrow.  Today, today, today.  Jesus wants us to reach out to Him and embrace Him daily – embrace Him like the very bread we need to survive.  Even on the night before His crucifixion, a day for which He had been preparing His entire life, He still expressed the need to pray.  Could there be any more profound demonstration of the need for daily bread?  If this is what He required, how much more do we need such manna.

This daily bread comes down from heaven like the rain and snow.  If we give Him the time, He will be sure we receive what we need.  Most importantly, that manna will be more of Him.  That’s what we need every day – more of Him.

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He Is Our Sabbath

Many Christians say that Sunday is the Sabbath.  Is that why Jesus died – so that the Sabbath could be moved from Saturday to Sunday?  God forbid that Jesus’ life should be so trivialized!

The Sabbath was intended to signify something.  Like all the rest of the Law of Moses with its feasts, rituals, and laws, it was intended to signify the coming Messiah.  The Sabbath would be God’s rest from all His redemptive work just as the seventh day had been His rest from the original creation.  When challenged about doing what the Pharisees considered unlawful on the Sabbath, Jesus replied that the Son of Man was Lord of the Sabbath.  This emphasized the Messianic foreshadowing for which the Sabbath was designed – and that on the eve of it fulfillment.

Isaiah 58 speaks of a Sabbath in which one stops doing things his own way, stops pursuing his own pleasures, and stops speaking his own words.  This is the life Jesus lived, and the life He calls us to imitate.  We are to be ceasing from our own ways and pursuing the ways of God (Is 55), forsaking our own interests to look our for the interests of others (1 Cor 10), and speaking as one who speaks the utterances of God (1 Pet 4).  This way of living, of course, is not to be a one-day-a-week affair.  It is a lifestyle we are to wholly embrace.  This is the Sabbath God intended.

Jesus Christ is our Sabbath.  Therefore, let us celebrate the Sabbath seven days a week.

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What Is Eternal Life?

Some people think that eternal life is what you get after you die.  Jesus made it clear, however, that eternal life is something meant to help on this side of death.  Yes, eternal life extends through death into all eternity.  And for that we shall be eternally grateful (appropriately so).  Yet eternal life is meant to be manifested on the earth and we are the ones who are meant to manifest it and benefit from it.  Who are we?  Human beings.  There are no other qualifications required – Jesus died for the whole world.

Jesus defined eternal life very simply in John 17:3:   “knowing God.”  He didn’t mean just “knowing about” God.  Lots of people know about God but aren’t experiencing eternal life.  Neither did He mean “praying the sinner’s prayer.”  Lots of people have engaged in that exercise, too.  But even if it was completely heartfelt, it is one transaction with God and doesn’t constitute the “knowing” that Jesus has in mind here.  It is only the beginning of knowing. 

The “knowing God” that Jesus is talking about is knowing in the sense of “being aware of.”  Jesus himself had eternal life – He was eternal life (1 John 1:2).  As we know Jesus – that is, as we stay aware of His surrounding presence through all of creation – we experience eternal life.  This includes being aware of His true nature: love, righteousness, peace, joy, gentleness, discipline, and more.  Eternal life is a way of life.  Some people only attempt to be aware of God at certain times and places.  God, however, longs to be experienced continually – that is, eternally.  That’s why it’s called eternal life. 

Are you aware of Him now? 

If you experience eternal life, your days of reading this blog will diminish and end.  Let this blog decrease, let Him increase.

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We Are the Sons of Men

The biblical expression “sons of men” can simply be a synonym for “men” or “people” or “human beings.”  But it can also refer to the new creatures we have become in the work of Christ.  In this sense, the sons of men are the sons of God.  These are the seed of the last Adam, Jesus Christ.  The sons of “the Son of Man.”  This is a new humanity, a new breed, and new human race.  Birthed in the new heavens and new earth of Messiah, we have a better covenant based on better promises than those who proceeded only from Adam.

God expects us, as these sons of men, to live up to our powers and privilege.  We have benefit of knowing about the life of Jesus.  We have benefit of living in a world that He shaped by His life, death, resurrection, and second coming.

Jesus came to demonstrate what a “new man” should act like.  In short, he should act like God. 

Be alert to scriptural references to the “sons of men” or even to the “Son of Man.”  Let’s see what God expects to do through us because of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit – two unlimited resources inaccessible to the fullness of humanity prior to the 1st Century A.D.  They are ours today!  Let us partake.

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Who Is Your Brother?

Jesus died and rose from the dead so that He could be Lord of both the dead and the living.  Until the Second Coming, He sat at the right hand of the Father waiting for all His enemies to be made a footstool for His feet.  Once that happened, He became (once again) King of the Universe, Lord of all humanity, and Father of the brotherhood of man.  Therefore every man is your brother; every man is my brother.

Do you remember the story of the Good Samaritan and what provoked Jesus to tell it?  A lawyer had challenged Him by asking what was necessary to inherit eternal life.  In response, Jesus asked him what his reading of the law seemed to say.  The lawyer answered with the commandments to love God and neighbor.  Jesus commended his answer but the lawyer went to on ask, “And who is my neighbor?”  You can almost hear Christians asking today, “And who is my brother?”  Both questions attempt to diminish the scope of God’s commandments.   

Jesus is not Lord of some – He is Lord of all.  Every knee shall bow; every tongue shall confess.  It is not our business to know when and how that happens for each of our brothers.  It is our job to love them.  And honor them.  All of them.

Let us repent of all spiritual arrogance and not waste any more time wondering if someone is our brother.  He is.

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Evidence That Demands a Lifestyle

You have heard that the evidence for the truth claims of Jesus Christ are so abundant that they demand a verdict. Indeed, they do…but they demand so much more than just a verdict.

Many people have rendered a verdict for Christ as if they think that this is the main thing Christ wants from us.  Is this “the big question” of life – who Jesus is?  And does He judge each of us primarily on the  basis of our answer to this question, rendering to secondary status how we lived, how we treated others, how we responded to His commandments?

If the only thing Christ wanted from us was a verdict, He would be making us judges and not doers.  He would be the doer of life and we would be the judges of life.  This idea is repugnant.

Jesus Christ is indeed the Doer and Judge of all life.  We, however, are also to be doers – not mere judges of His doing. 

If the evidence of Christ has compelled you to a verdict, fine.  But recognize that your verdict is to be the beginning of something not the end of something.  God is not looking for your approval.  He’s looking for a relationship whereby you may walk in a way that honors Him…and thereby add even more evidence to what has already been accumulated.

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Galatian 3:3 (Perfected in the Flesh?)

Paul asked the believers in Galatia why they were seeking to perfect in the flesh something that they had begun in the spirit.  Even today, many seek to perfect in the flesh something they began in the spirit.

A man begins, or resumes, his intimacy with God by turning his eyes and heart toward heaven – toward the Jesus he cannot see with his physical eyes, but whom he trusts is there – and asks for forgiveness.  He also promises obedience to the Lord he cannot see.  Then, however, he turns his attention to a group of people who call themselves by the name of the Lord for the purpose of growth and improvement (i.e. the perfecting process).  This group of people cannot look into his heart where the roots of sin exist.  They do not have “eyes like a flame of fire” (Revelation 1:14) which can “disperse all evil as a king who sits on a throne of judgment” (Proverbs 20:8).

How odd – this man looks to God for the beginning and foundation of salvation but to other people for the completion and capstone of that salvation. 

As Paul said elsewhere in Galatians, if we have begun by the spirit we ought also to live by the spirit.  As he said in Colossians, as we have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so we ought to walk in Him.

Turn your eyes to the invisible dimension where God dwells and forget about seeking approval in the eyes of mankind.  If you obey the unseen God, humble people will rejoice while the proud will criticize you.  Love and serve them all without making distinctions. 

He who birthed you is able to mature you.  He who began a good work in you is able to perfect it.  Don’t look to anyone else for the completion of your salvation.

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Conviction Before Man or God?

In Romans 14:22-23 Paul says that faith is a conviction.  Moreover, he says, it is a conviction one has before God.  In our day and age, faith in common evangelical parlance has become perverted to a profession before men.  That is, if a person tells others, “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior,” or “I am a born-again Christian,” or some other such phrase – and can make the statement credible to listeners – then that posture is considered faith.  This does not meet Paul’s standard.

It does not meet the standard, first of all, because it can hardly be called a conviction because it is hardly ever tested.  We can only be sure something is a conviction if it holds up against challenge.  Professing Christians generally receive acceptance from other professing Christians and yawns or groans from everyone else.  There’s no challenge.  By contrast, Satan always challenges faith. 

The second, and more important, failure to meet Paul’s standard is that such professions are not before God but rather before men.  True faith toward God produces signs which others can see, but its primary focus is God, not the signs.  Faith is the conviction of things not seen (Heb 11:6).

If we would have true faith before God, let us look to Jesus Christ with an open heart…and let Him see it.  And let us continue in this posture day after day because when we lose this posture, we lose faith.

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The Gates of Gaza

Samson had come to the city of Gaza.  The Gazites had decided to gather near the city gate and spend the night there so as to attack Samson in the light of morning.  Yet Samson arose at midnight and, with his great strength, lifted the gates of the city, transporting them on his shoulders to the top of the mountain opposite Hebron.  Thus he not only foiled the plan of his enemies to kill him, he made a mockery of them by removing their city gates and placing them prominently on a mountaintop far away.

Similarly, Satan and his host had planned to hold Jesus in death after His crucifixion.  Yet Jesus rose from that darkest of pits in the greatness of His strength and moved the gates of Sheol below to the mountain of heaven above.  Thus He triumphed over His foes, removing the sting of death by causing death to become a gateway to heaven.  Thus Jesus is our Samson.

When I Read the Bible, I Sometimes Understand Parts of It

When I read the Bible, I sometimes understand parts of it.

Since this is the case, what shall I do?  I shall obey those parts.  As I do, I will come to better understand those parts.  I will also come to understand other parts. 

Will I ever come to understand all of the Bible?  I don’t know.  If I do come to understand all of the Bible, what will happen then?  I don’t know.

Obeying the parts of the Bible that we understand – even if it is only one sentence – is the very best we can do for God and for ourselves.

If you were to summarize everything you know from all the parts of the Bible that you understand, what would it say?  Jesus Christ is our Lord.

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Bethel

As you probably know, “Bethel” means “house of God.”  Jacob had a dream in a city named Luz.  Through that dream he realized God’s presence in that place and so renamed it Bethel. 

Through the blood of His cross, Jesus Christ has marked all humanity as His own.  The heavens and the earth are now His house.  We live, therefore, in the house of God.

Do you know God is present?  We say He is omnipresent, but do you really believe that?  If you do, it changes your life like no other single thought can.

He is with you when you stand up and when you sit down.  He is with you when you go out and come in.  Once we have awakened like Jacob from our dreamlike state, we must rename the place in which we dwell as Bethel, for surely the Lord is in this place. 

Regarding the renaming of the place in which we dwell, I am speaking figuratively, of course.  It is the interior of our minds that must be re-mapped to acknowledge the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ at all times and in all places.  Jacob lived under the old covenant and made an outward declaration to remind himself.  We live under the new covenant and pursue a constant inward awareness of the One Jacob longed to know.  That for which he wrestled has been given to us freely.  And much more.

If you are not living in Bethel, you are not yet awake.

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Immanuel

As you probably know, Immanuel (sometimes rendered Emmanuel) means “God with us.”  Matthew’s gospel quotes this prophecy from Isaiah 7:14, noting it as being fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ.  Of course, Matthew did not mean that Mary literally named her baby “Immanuel,” but rather that the meaning of his birth was that God was with us.

We know that God has always been “with us” in the sense that He supports us.  His desire for intimacy “with us,” however, goes much deeper.  Jesus walking the earth as one of humanity was a profound expression of that desire.  God in our flesh, dealing with our limitations, experiencing our life…and our death.  This, however, was just the first installment of His intense intimacy with us.  “Immanuel” meant much more.

Through the new covenant He has made with mankind, God now dwells in us and walks among us.  He is our God and we are His people.  Under the old covenant, it was Satan who freely walked the earth as we saw in the book of Job.  Now, however, the evil one is under our feet (Rom 16:20).

God’s is the voice we hear whispering in our hearts (1 Kings 19:12).  From there He judges the secrets of our heart (Romans 2:16) so that we may live for His approval and not the approval of others (1 Corinthians 4:5; Galatians 1:10; Romans 2:28-29).

We come to realize, therefore, that God’s desire to be with us is so great that He will pursue this end until the two become one (Mark 10:8).

Let us therefore repent of this hardness of heart and stop resisting Him who desires to be with us all the days and moments of our lives.  Let us answer the knocking He makes at our door (Revelation 3:20).

All the Families of the Earth

God promised Abraham, “In your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”  Paul makes it clear in Galatians that because the promise speaks of “seed” and not “seeds” that it assuredly applies to the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  We know that after being raised from the dead, all authority in heaven and on earth was given to Him.

If in Jesus Christ, “all the families of the earth shall be blessed,” how do some say that only some go to heaven?

(For more on this subject, see the post Everyone Is Going to Heaven  or the book The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven.)

John 3:6 (Flesh Births Flesh, Spirit Births Spirit)

Jesus told Nicodemus, “That which is born of flesh is flesh; that which is born of spirit is spirit.”  Jesus seemed surprised that He had to clarify something so simple and basic for a learned rabbi like Nicodemus. 

It is clear that the spiritual world gives life to the physical world.  Take away the spirit from a person and the body begins decaying immediately.  Spirit is like the wind: we don’t know where it comes from and we don’t know where it’s going.  You can see the effect of the wind (such as leaves moving) but you can’t see the wind itself.  Neither can you put the wind in a bottle, for it would then cease to be wind.  So it is with the spirit.

Jesus is reminding Nicodemus of what he knows: flesh is impermanent.  The kingdom of God therefore cannot be based on flesh, it must be based on spirit.  That which is seen is impermanent; that which is unseen (not seen, invisible) is eternal.  The kingdom of God must therefore be of an unseen nature – like the wind.

God Himself is spirit – that is, unseen.  All the instructions of the Old Testament were written initially for the flesh.  This perspective would last only until Messiah would come and reveal its permanent and more important meaning.  Thus the Zion that the Lord would inhabit was not a hill in Jerusalem but the “hill”of heaven.  The unleavened bread that would nourish the Israelites for their journey would not be wafers but rather sincerity and truth.  The manna that would feed them daily would not come from the desert floor but be picked up from the surface of their barren hearts.  Thus is the transition of the entire Old Testament, even though we may still be  blind to parts of it.

Nicodemus, like most Israelites of his day, was looking for the coming of the kingdom of God.  Jesus was trying to wake him up to the fact that this kingdom could not possibly be of the flesh, for if it had, it would subject to the same sort of eventual corruption that had been seen throughout Old Testament history.  The kingdom of God, as contrasted from the kingdom of flesh, would come from above and be invisible. 

People who serve the church today and hope for its glorification are no different from the contemporaries of Nicodemus who served the temple and hoped for its glorification.  That which is born of flesh is flesh.

Since we have all been born of the spirit, let us live by the spirit (Gal 5:25).  We were all born of the spirit, not of our own will (John 1:13) but even before we were conceived in our mothers’ wombs (Ps 139).  If Jesus warned Nicodemus, who lived on the eve of the kingdom’s coming, not to build on flesh, how much more does He warn us who live in the eternal aftermath of its coming.

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In the Twinkling of an Eye Everyone Was Born Again

Paul was letting us know that it would happen in an instant and few would even notice.  He was speaking, of course, of the last trumpet, the coming of the Lord with His host of holy ones, the coming of the kingdom of God, establishment of the kingdom of heaven, the dawn of the day of the Lord, the fulfillment of the new covenant – that day of all days when the time of Israel will have been fulfilled and God’s Messiah would rule over all the nations.

Precisely when is the moment that night turns into day?  Only God can know because it happens in the twinkling of an eye.  Yet in that instant of which Paul wrote, the night of Adam became the day of Christ.  The night of Satan’s dominion became the day of Christ’s kingdom.  The night of stars in a dark sky became the day of the sun of righteousness – Jesus Christ our Lord.  From that instant, He became not just the King of the Jews, and not just the head of the church, but the King and Head of every single human being.  Every single one.

In that twinking of an eye, everyone was born again.  God gave a new heart to every person in the human race, for all generations to come (Jer 31:31-34; Heb 8:8-12).  From that instant forward, God would be judging the secrets of men through Christ Jesus (Rom 2:16).  That moment was rapidly approaching in the waning days of the apostles.  The book of Hebrews says that what was obsolete and able to be shaken was about to be discarded (Heb 8:13; Heb 12:27) and with this the words of the prophet(Hag 2:6), the psalmist (Ps 102:26), and even the Lord Himself (Mark 13:25) agree.  So much happened in that instant!

It happened sometime in the late 1st Century A.D., invisible to human eyes but perceptible to pure human hearts.  This was according to the timetable that the Lord, His prophets, and His apostles had laid down.  That was the dawn and we have been living in the day of Christ ever since.

Oh, yes – and the eye that twinkled was God’s.

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Do You Struggle with the Invisibility of His Kingdom?

Since apostolic times, we are to seek Jesus Christ in His kingdom, not in the church.  Does it cause you to struggle that the kingdom is invisible and that there’s no physical place to go to find it?

It is entirely to your benefit that the kingdom is this way.  If the kingdom were accessed in a physical location then its power would be limited.  It invisibility means it is universally accessible.  You can reach it from wherever you are.

Your keys to the kingdom are the name of Jesus and your faithful obedience to His commands.  You both know His name and know His commands, and His commands are not burdensome. 

This should help you: when you sought God in church, you were a watcher of God.  But true faith is constant acknowledgement that you are being watched by God.  Therefore, transition yourself from being the watcher to being the watched.  As the watcher, you could never see God anyway because He can’t be perceived through sight or any of the other four physical senses.  As you stay aware that you are being watched by a righteous and loving God, you are “seeing” Him in a different sense.  You are “seeing Him who is unseen” – which is how Moses saw Him (Heb 11).

In the church you are watched by people (which is really no different from the world at large).  In the kingdom, however, you are watched by God.  In other words, the best way to come to know God is to start by being known by God (Gal 4:9).  Are you willing to stay conscious of the fact that every thought you have is passing before His eyes?  If so, you are not far from the kingdom.

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Samson’s Riddle

Samson’s riddle spoke of Jesus Christ in a number of ways.

You recall the riddle:  “Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet.”  Certainly what came out of the great and awesome Creator of the universe was the Bread of Life Himself.  And what came out the Almighty King of the universe was Someone sweet: gentle and humble in heart.  You could even say that it was from the carcass of the Lion of the tribe of Judah that the nations will feed themselves for eternity for He is their salvation.

The story in Judges says that Samson’s companions could not tell the riddle in three days.  Neither did anyone know of Jesus’ resurrection until it happened after three days.  Neither the riddle of Samson nor the riddle of Christ was solved by anyone who heard it – they had to be told the answer by the only one who knew it.

Consider also that Samson’s riddle itself was a type of the mystery of the gospel.  Both gave clues, both had only one solution, both were eventually revealed.  Of course, the gospel was a far more extensive and intricate riddle, woven throughout the Old Testament scriptures, but Samson’s riddle paved the way.  And Samson’s story itself was part of the Old Testament’s foreshadowing for he likewise killed more of God’s enemies in his death than he had in his life.

In our relationship with God, we sometimes face a paradox, a riddle, a mystery in life.  It is okay for us to be perplexed at such times, but we should never despair.  In due time we shall reap an understanding and God will reveal Himself strong…and sweet.

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The Gospel Was Hidden in Plain View

The good news of Jesus Christ was chronicled well in advance.  What we now call the Old Testament testifies abundantly about Him.  In fact, through John 5 and Luke 24 we know that Jesus taught that He Himself was the primary subject of these Scriptures.

So thoroughly did the Old Testament proclaim the gospel that the apostles had no need of a New Testament.  Yes, we have one, and need it, for it contains the apostles’ testimony.  But the apostles themselves did not have it because it was only assembled after they had all died, and they did not need it because the Old Testament Scriptures were sufficient for them.

Thus the story of Jesus was written in advance but in such a way that no one could fully understand it until He had been crucified and resurrected.  Similarly, the story of His Second Coming was written in advance – through the Old and New Testaments – but only understood once someone recognizes that the Messiah…was God!

The contrast between what the Scriptures say before Jesus and what they say after – and through the prism of – Jesus is staggering.  The more we repent in humility before Him the more light we can see emanating from its pages.  If you don’t see Jesus all over the Old Testament, you are not seeing it rightly.  Turn to the Lord that the veil  described in 2 Cor 3 may be taken away.

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He Will Feed Them Himself

In Ezekiel 34, God says that the day will come when He set one shepherd over His people, and that this shepherd will “feed them himself.” 

We live in that day.  Jesus is the one shepherd set over all humanity.  How does He feed us Himself? 

Jesus gave us His life.  We consumed Him, and He was no more…on the earth.  However, and more importantly, we continue to feed on His life for inspiration and direction for our own lives.  This is just what He spoke of when He said at the Last Supper that we should eat His flesh and drink His blood.

Something even greater was at work here, however.  It was that God was in Christ giving Himself.  That is, when God sent Jesus He was sending Himself.  God donned flesh and became to us Jesus of Nazareth.  We did not know who He was.  We knew this prophet from Galilee was anointed by God.  We had no idea that He was God Himself.  But looking back we can feed on that life, even feast on it, because of the unlimited glory it held, and holds, for us. 

God Himself became the bread of our life.  In the strength that this bread brings, we shall live forever.

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The Kingdom of God Means Victory Over Our Enemies

Through the kingdom of God, we have victory over all our enemies.  Our enemies are not anyone we can see.  Our enemies are entirely unseen.  Every person we can see is on our side – even if they don’t realize it.  Jesus bought the entire human race; we all now belong to Him.  For this reason He died, that He might be Lord of both the living and the dead.  That doesn’t leave out a single human being.

When God delivered the Jews through Esther and Mordecai, He provided a decree from the king and weapons with which they could fight and defeat those who hated them.  Some people thought the Second Coming would be a time when God would vanquish all our enemies.  He has vanquished them in heaven.  Satan has fallen to earth like lightning.  It is we, however, who are to vanquish Satan and his host on earth.  The decrees of a king cannot be changed and so Satan and his kingdom operate with the authority they were originally given.  We, however, have been given even greater authority.  Satan is under our feet.  We have a salvation into which angels long to look.  If the rulers of this world had known what they were unleashing upon themselves by crucifying Jesus, they would not have done it. 

Thanks be to God who always gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  There is no victory without a fight.  Be at peace with all men, but be at war with the host of darkness.  In heaven we will rest from such battles for the war in heaven is over.  Satan was thrown down. 

Keep your relationship with God close, for from that He will supply all you need for victory on earth.

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The Kingdom of Satan Has Become the Kingdom of our Lord

As Revelation 11 heralded, the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.  As Jesus had prophesied, the ruler of the world has been judged and cast out.  We are no longer to walk according to the kingdom of ignorance.  Instead, we are to walk according to the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).  Our Lord sees us!

Satan ruled the world from the beginning in cunning and darkness.  Whereas the Lord has always been willing to reveal Himself, and has done so repeatedly and in many various ways – most of all in His Son Jesus Christ – Satan continues to veil himself Acts 26:18).  The only power he wields in the world today is through that which our sins give him (Proverbs 5:22).  But that can be a lot.

Nevertheless, the Lord’s kingdom prevailed in the great war of the heavens at the Second Coming which occurred on schedule at the close of the apostolic (i.e. the New Testament) age.  (See Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again.)  Therefore, we are no longer to make distinctions among humanity as if this one belongs to the Lord and that one doesn’t.  Before Jesus, we all belonged to Satan.  That’s why death had a sting.  That’s why everyone who died went below to Sheol (Hades).  Since Jesus, we all belong to God.  Death no longer has a sting.  Everyone who dies goes up to heaven.  (See Everyone Is Going to Heaven .)

Satan is weak.  Each human being is a son of God, and creation had long waited for the revealing of the sons of God.  Yes, many of us are blind and many are weak – but these are conditions which can be changed through the grace of the Lord.  Call to Him.  Let Him equip us with every spiritual weapon by which we might resist all temptations and do what is right in our daily lives.  This crushes Satan under our feet like powder for the Lord has already made him subject to us. 

Stop seeing the world (i.e., the kingdom of Satan) as dominant.  Indeed, it once was.  But it is now subject to the kingdom of God which is in our midst.  Let us repent of our sluggishness and take the world like the promised land, with Joshua of Nazareth at our head.

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The Apostles’ Teaching

You’ve read in Acts 2 how new disciples of Jesus were devoted to the apostles’ teaching.  And so it was throughout the New Testament: true believers were devoted to the apostles’ teaching.  The apostles were not unopposed in the church, but they were never opposed by true believers – only by the rebellious.

We today are beneficiaries of the New Testament which the apostles left.  Therefore, we, too, can be devoted to the apostles’ teaching.  I trust that you are.

When the apostles look forward in their writing, it is always to the Lord’s kingdom (The Second Coming, the day of the Lord, the new heavens and new earth, and so on).  They never look forward to the formalization of the church in order to wait on an ever-delaying Lord.  When they do look forward to the Lord’s coming, they often warn against false teachers who will seek to draw away disciples after themselves.

Where is there anything in the apostles’ teaching that would constitute the church administration we see in our day?  You cannot find it.  In fact, verses that could be applied to the administration of churches and denominations is so scant and conflicting that churches cannot even agree on a single form of church government.

A very important issue to the apostles was that the church be kept as one body of Christ.  Why then did they not leave in their teaching a means by which we could avoid having thousands upon thousands of denominations?

If there is no manual of church administration in the apostles’ teaching, why should anyone be administering churches?  If, in the apostles’ teaching, there are warnings of teachers who will seek to draw away the disciples after themselves, why should anyone follow any teacher who seeks the Lord’s disciples?  If the apostles’ teaching is filled with hope in the Lord’s soon coming, why should anyone – almost two thousand years later – say that He didn’t come?

The apostles’ teaching is worthy of our devotion.  They knew our God and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh and in the spirit.  Let those of us who know their teaching cease paying it lip service, and dedicate our lives to acting on all it teaches.

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From Christian Leaders to Christlike Followers

God does not need Christian leaders in this day.  Instead, He wishes to have followers who seek to imitate Him. 

He does not need you to watch over His people because He Himself is watching over His people.

He does not need you to be a shepherd for He Himself is Shepherd of His people.

It is an act of pride to say you are a Christian leader.  It is an act of humility to seek to be a Christlike follower.

Why would we call ourselves, or even allow ourselves to be called, leaders when He said in Matthew 23 that we should not be called leaders because He was the Leader?  How much more explicit could He possibly be on this issue?

Let us throw down our shepherd’s staff and bow in order that we might be His sheep.  If we do, others may follow us to Him and then we will have led in a productive way.

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The Stone Which the Builders Rejected

You must be familiar with the words of this post’s title which come from Psalm 118.  The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone.  Alas, in this fallen world, this is the way it seems to happen.

God had chosen Joseph to prepare a salvation for all of his father’s family – yet his brothers rejected him.  God had chosen David because the king that all the people thought perfect for the role, wasn’t.  David’s older brothers mocked him for approaching the battle lines and expressing curiosity about a big thug who was taunting the armies of God.  And, of course, you are well familiar with how the leaders of Israel rejected Jesus who was the ultimate example of this verse.  They did not think Jesus a worthy stone, yet He turned out to be the chief corner stone of the final and eternal dwelling that God was building.

Builders are always rejecting God’s choice because they prefer building to obeying God.  As it was in the days of the Tower of Babel, so it was in the days of Jesus.  In that sense, it is not at all strange that we see today those who are building churches rejecting Jesus in the process.  Oh, they will pay Jesus lip service.  It’s all done in His name.  Yet the building is not for Him to inhabit.  Church builders today are attempting to build for God buildings He has not requested.  As Stephen would say, they are resisting the Holy Spirit just as their fathers had done.  I myself was one of those builders but in His mercy, God showed me where I erred. 

The corner stone of life is the invisible God.  In our age, that means the Lord Jesus Christ who needs no earthly temple, for He Himself fills the heavens and the earth.  Those who reject Him and build on any other foundation are building on a foundation of sand that will not withstand the floods that inevitably come.   

Repent and return to the Lord from whom you have deeply defected.  He will be merciful.  He waits with loving arms.  Stop building things for your purposes while saying that they are for His.  He has no need of a house, but He does knock on your door that He might come in and sup with you.

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Earthly Things and Heavenly Things

Jesus said to Nicodemus, “If you don’t believe Me when I tell you about things that occur on earth, how will you believe Me when I tell you about things that occur in heaven?”  Nicodemus had lived a while on the earth; he was a mature man.  He was also a wise man.  He knew how things worked, and was wise to the ways of the world.  Therefore, when Jesus would tell him about earthly things, he had some basis for testing (at least in his mind) what Jesus said before accepting it.  When it came to heavenly things, however, Nicodemus had never been there and had no understanding of how the place operated.  Therefore, he would have to take entirely on faith anything Jesus said to him about it.  Summarizing Jesus’ point to Nicodemus, believe the earthly things and it will give you a basis for believing the heavenly things; disbelieve the earthly things and you will never trust (and therefore never “see”)  the heavenly things.

The apostles demonstrate a positive response to what Jesus described.  They believed Jesus about the earthly things.  Therefore, they had the faith to accept Him on the heavenly things.  For example, the fact that Jesus ascended into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God is a heavenly thing that the apostles had no way of corroborating from their own experience.  How would they know whether He sat on the left, right, behind, or somewhere else altogether?  Because Jesus had proven Himself faithful, however, on so many earthly things, they had no problem accepting that final piece of testimony about His destination.  Specifically, because they had seen for themselves that He had been born from the dead according to Psalm 2, it was quite natural for them to accept the testimony from Psalm 110 about where Jesus went once back in heaven.

We ourselves encounter the same dynamic when it comes to understanding the heavenly aspects of  the coming of the kingdom of God (which can also be called the coming of the kingdom of heaven, Jesus’ Second Coming, the day of the Lord, Judgment Day, and so on).  These heavenly things are described throughout the Scriptures, including the Old Testament prophets, the prophecies of our Lord, the references by the apostles, and the descriptions in the book of Revelation.  If we don’t accept the earthly aspects of Jesus’ salvation by faith, we will have no basis to accept all these testimonies of heavenly things. 

If someone does not truly walk by faith with Christ in the earth, they have a hard time believing that the kingdom has already come.  They are fleshly minded and are looking for fulfillment of these scriptures in physical form.  There are many such fleshly people in the earth today.  They do not walk by faith; they walk by sight.  Their trust is not in an invisible Lord but rather in a visible church of people.  They are on the wrong side of the classic dichotomy of fearing man versus fearing God.

We have ample reason to believe all the earthly aspects of our salvation.  Therefore, we should find it easy to take on faith the heavenly realities, such as the new heavens and new earth described in Isaiah and Revelation.  Yes, we in fact live in what the book of Hebrews called “the age to come” that was at that time “drawing near.”  Because we believe the prophets, the Lord, and the apostles about the when (which is an earthly thing we can understand), we can believe them about the what (which are heavenly things we have to take entirely on faith).

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“The Last Days” of the New Testament

It’s strange how people can lift scriptural phrases out of context and imbue them with an entirely different meaning.  Take, for example, the phrase “last days” (including synonymous terms like “the end”).  Most people today, including churchgoers, hear this phrase from the Bible out of context.  As a result, they assume it means something future to us.  It’s doesn’t.  It did indeed mean “something future” to those in the New Testament.  But future to them could very well be past to us.  In this case, that’s exactly what it is.

The “last days” were the last days of ancient Israel, the last days of the world as they knew it.  It was the last days of polytheism.  The monotheism that ancient Israel had stood for since the days when Abraham shunned idols and Moses had given the Israelites the Shema – and stood against the entire ancient world in doing so – would come to be practically universal.  It was the last days of the temple, as it was completely destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.  It was the last days of the distinction between Jews and Gentiles from God’s point of view.  The New Testament church was spiritual Israel, and it still had largely the face of Israel as the Lord and His apostles were all Jewish to the core – even as it was bringing Gentiles in.  This was the transitional structure God was using to bridge to the new world of the kingdom of God when there would be no distinction at all between peoples.  Thus it would be the last days of the church as well – at least the last days of the church God was tending.  The kingdom of God would soon be coming and that was what the New Testament church was waiting for.

If you will, go back and read the New Testament, noting carefully every reference it makes to the end, the last days, the last hour, the coming kingdom, the coming day of the Lord, or any such phrase.  You will find that these references are consistent in expecting something that is imminent – at most, only decades away, and, more likely, only years away.  The book of Revelation almost screams at its beginning and end that the time is “soon.” 

Therefore, “the last days” in the New Testament is ancient history to us, not looming future.  Once you understand this, your faith in the New Testament will grow. 

On the other hand, if you insist on believing the prophecies of end times are yet to be fulfilled, you have created a credibility problem for the New Testament authors.  For how can you believe them on other points, if you think they were mistaken on this point about which they were so clear, so consistent, and so emphatic?

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Jezebel

Jezebel – she who used her identity as the king’s wife to wield power over God’s people, steal from the defenseless, and live in disobedience and defiance of God’s commandments.  She trusted in worldly cosmetics instead of inner moral beauty.  The name Jezebel is universally considered despicable today, but in her time people were intimidated by her power and yielded to her persuasion.

Likewise, the post-apostolic church (that is, the church as it has existed after New Testament times and still exists today) presents herself as the bride of Christ.  Yet, she is not faithful.  She serves her own needs.  She dominates the people of God, putting them into service for her own purposes.  Most church leaders don’t realize that they are caught up in this antichrist spirit.  Nonetheless, they are.  Their naive intentions are used by the church to enhance its reputation and authority.

The Lord asks, “Who is on my side?’  His next words are a command: “Throw her down!”

Live for the Lord Jesus Christ and throw down the harlot who devours God’s people (Revelation 2:20).

Satan’s World Turned Upside Down

One of the most stunning aspects of our salvation through Jesus Christ is that He literally turned creation upside down to save us.

In the original order, angels were over mankind.  Through the resurrection, God was going to raise the human dead to angelic status (Matt 22).  There was a precursor to this when Jesus’ disciples were treading over all the power of the enemy and Jesus saw Satan falling from heaven like lightning (Luke 10).  This was quite a change from the days when Satan walked wherever He wished on the earth and foisted havoc on God’s favored ones such as Job (Job 1:7; 2:2).

Even those who had expected God to raise the dead had not had the nerve to hope that resurrection would be all the way to heaven and over angels!  Thus angels went from lords to being ministering spirits for all those who would inherit salvation (Heb 1).  Angels themselves had no advance warnings of this plan and longed to learn of it as they heard the gospel being preached by humanity (1 Peter 1).  Thus this eternal purpose was made known to rulers in heavenly places through the New Testament church (Eph 3).   

As the day of Christ was drawing near (Heb 10), the saints contemplated their coming elevation into the angelic realm (Heb 2).  Paul even wrote that Satan would soon be crushed under their feet ( Rom 16).  Had he understood the ultimate outcome of Jesus’s crucifixion, Satan might not have inspired it (1 Cor 2).   On the basis of this astounding turn of events, people were turning from Satan’s dominion to trust the Son of God (Acts 26). 

At the last trumpet, at the coming of the Lord, when the new heavens and new earth were brought in, Satan was thrown down to earth and the dead were raised from Sheol to heaven – never to return again.  All this took place away from fleshly eyes, but we may know that it did by testimony of the word of God.

Satan’s world is upside down and ours is now right-side up.  The Jewish Thessalonians who protested that the gospel of Jesus was turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6) had little idea how profoundly accurate they were! 

For a longer post on this subject, see Everyone Is Going to Heaven 

For those who would like a fuller explanation from the Bible that everyone is going to heaven, I am posting online a book:  The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven.

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