BL002 – The Mechanics of Bibles

This episode describes all that is added to Bibles to get them from their original state to the way they appear to us in book stores.  By that, I mean the translation from an ancient language to a modern one, the addition of punctuation, the separation of letters into discrete words with upper and lower case letters, chapter and verse divisions, and more.  We also go through the Bible’s contents, section by section, and sometimes book by book.  The goal is to get you more comfortable with your Bible.

This recording is divided into three segments:

1. Starts at 00:00 – How and why the Bible’s contents are arranged as they are

2. Starts about 26:14 – What’s been added to the text as part of the translation process

3. Starts about 40:35 – The variety of translations and kinds of Bibles

The following notes refer to, or add to, material covered in the recording.

A sample of the variety of Bibles that are available today.  (And here’s the accompanying pdf that I mentioned.)

Here’s a brief post that will review for you some of what’s covered here:  Points to Remember When Reading an English Bible

 Since the terms “Bible,” “Old Testament,” and “New Testament” aren’t in the Bible, see how the Bible does refer to itself by reading this post: What the Bible Calls Itself.

Here are brief posts about my favorite translation (Why I Love the NASB) and favorite Bible study tool (Why I Love Strong’s Concordance).

See also:  Points to Remember When Reading an English Bible

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Jesus Used the Written Word to Defend the Spoken Word

People often disregard the Bible, thinking that a voice from heaven (or something similarly dramatic) would be a more sure way to hear from God.  Jesus demonstrates that this is not so.

When He was baptized, Jesus heard a voice say, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17).  This led, not to a period of uninterrupted bliss during which Jesus could meditate happily on these words, but rather to a period of temptation in which Satan always began with “If you are the Son of God, then…”

Jesus resisted Satan’s doubt-inducing temptations not by quoting the voice He had heard from heaven, but rather by quoting the Scripture.  Jesus was using the written record of God’s word to defend the personal voice He had heard from heaven.  We should take the Bible as seriously as Jesus did.

(Note that Eve did not have the benefit of a written record of God’s command for Adam and her.  Let us never underestimate the value of having a written record of God’s communications to mankind, nor disregard the vast amount of blood that has been spilled across the centuries to preserve it for us.)

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

Even Jesus Didn’t Come Until the Scriptures Were Written and Settled

As we saw in yesterday’s post – We Have Something Eve Didn’t Have – the written word of God is a welcome weapon in our fight against evil.  It gives us a resource for resisting temptation that Eve did not have.

Even the Messiah of Israel – Jesus our Lord – did not come until the Scriptures had been written and settled.  In fact, the 39 books we call the Old Testament were written over an approximately thousand-year span, with several centuries elapsing between completion of the last book and the birth of Christ.  For this reason, while we see debate in the New Testament about many things (such as resurrection, the Messiah’s identity, and Sabbath activity), we see no debate whatsoever about the Scriptures.  By this time, “the Law and the Prophets and the Writings” were settled and accepted by the Jews – whether they believed in Jesus or didn’t.

Jesus showed an acute consciousness of the Scriptures, tailoring His mission according to its contours (Matthew 26:54; Luke 22:37; Mark 14:49; John 5:46).  He could not have done this had He come before the Scriptures were written and known as such.  Since He came to demonstrate the faithfulness of God to His promises (Romans 15:8), it would have made no sense for Him to come before those promises had been fully documented and preserved for posterity.

Even Jesus had something Eve didn’t have – a written record of God’s commands.  If He needed them to guide His way, how much more do we!

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

“The Lord” in the Old Testament Is “the Lord Jesus Christ” to Us

“The Lord” in the Old Testament means to us today “the Lord Jesus Christ.”  This was not immediately in  view when the documents were written.  This is because their original context was the nation of ancient Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham.  “The Lord” to them was the One who had spoken to, and befriended, their ancestor Abraham.

However, Jesus of Nazareth, being a descendant of Abraham Himself, inherited all the promises of God and rose from the dead to become Lord of heaven.  As such, He inherits all the Old Testament promises and prophecies regarding “the Lord.”  From that time forward, He Himself would be “the Lord.”  For this reason, Peter on the day of Pentecost declared that Jesus was the name of “the Lord” (Acts 2:21, 38-40), and Paul called the coming day of the Lord “the day of Christ” (Phil 1:10; 2:16).

God became Jesus of Nazareth that He might personalize the Scriptures to us, that He might make Himself ever so much more understandable than He otherwise would have been.  For this reason let us look all the more for Jesus in the Scriptures, and truly let Him be Lord to us.

For more on this subject, see:

There Is No Trinity; There Is Christ

Posts to Date on the Trinity Versus Christ

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

Who Is the Lord?

When you read the Bible and you come across a verse that reads “the Lord,” to whom does it refer?  It refers to He who was raised from the dead (Romans 10:9; Micah 2:13), He who was the firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5).  This was anticipated by Jesus in Matthew 22:41-46, and declared as accomplished by Peter in Acts 2:34-36, though it had been a mystery hidden in God until that time (Romans 16:25-27).

We live in the day of Christ Jesus which was prophesied by Paul (Philippians 1:6).  Do not be like Pharaoh who claimed insufficient knowledge of the Lord to obey Him (Exodus 5:2).  Jesus is Lord!

See also Reading Psalm 1 in Light of Jesus and His Kingdom – Part 1 of 2.

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

Jesus Demonstrated the Dependability of the Scriptures

When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, a voice came from heaven and declared, “This is My Beloved Son in whom I’m well pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17).  Immediately thereafter Jesus went into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan.  Jesus knew He would be so tempted  because Satan always comes to take away any word of God which is sown (Mark 4:15) – how much more so profound a word as this!

The wilderness gave Jesus the opportunity to focus on resisting the temptation without distraction.  As His chief form of resistance, Jesus relied not on Himself, not on His memory of the voice from heaven, and certainly not on the testimony of His contemporaries – rather, He relied on the Scriptures, quoting specific, relevant passages in response to each tempting offer Satan made (Matthew 4:1-11).

Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus continued to rely upon the written word of God for His direction (Matthew 26:54).  Afterwards, even His disciples recognized that He had been following the paths carved out by the writings of Moses and all the prophets that followed (John 12:16).  Of course, His disciples had help in this regard because after He was raised from the dead, Jesus explained to them all the things concerning Himself in the sacred writings (Luke 24:25-27; 44-48).  The disciples then realized that Jesus had been following a predetermined plan (Acts 2:23) which had been written well in advance (Acts 3:22-24).

Given all the dependence Jesus showed on the Scriptures, should we entertain any doubts about trusting their relevance or reliability?

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

What Jesus Taught Peter About the Bible

When Jesus was crucified and buried, His disciples became distressed, downcast, and scattered.  Even those closest to Him – His apostles – had lost all hope.

Jesus’ resurrection changed all that.  Not only was hope profoundly renewed, but Jesus explained to His followers – including Peter – how everything that had happened, and that was happening, had been prophesied long ahead of time in the Scriptures.  Read Luke 24 to see how Jesus opened the their eyes (especially verses 25-27, 31-32, and 44-48).

Peter passed on this understanding in 1 Peter 1:10-12.  He also bore witness to it in Acts 3:22-24 and Acts 10:43.

Specifically, in Acts 2:25-28 where he is quoting Psalm 16:8-11, we see Peter passing on the understanding of how David had written Psalm 16 with an eye toward the coming Messiah.  Note especially Acts 2:30 which recalled 2 Samuel 7:12-13.   Then consider Acts 2:31 in light of 1 Peter 1:10-12 and 2 Samuel 7:19.  (Note also Peter’s specific reference to Samuel in Acts 3:24.)  David was one of those prophets to whom the Holy Spirit had revealed that what was being inspired to be written about the Messiah, was being inspired for distant and future generations (1 Corinthians 10:11; Romans 15:4).

Of course, even more prominent in 1st-century Jewish thought about the Messiah than Psalm 16 was Psalm 110.  Peter declared this prophecy to have been fulfilled in the resurrection and ascension of Jesus (Acts 2:24-32).  Then in Acts 2:33 Peter uses the phrase “right hand of God” which comes from Psalm 110 – widely considered in that day to be a messianic prophecy.  You may recall that Jesus had taught on Psalm 110 before His resurrection without giving the answer to the riddle (or mystery, if you prefer) He had raised by invoking it the way He did ( see Matthew 22:41-46; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44 for the story).  Peter learned after the resurrection – and we now know – that resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God was the answer to the riddle that the Pharisees could not give.  David could call Jesus both “son” and “Lord” because according to the flesh Jesus was David’s son, but according to the spirit Jesus would be David’s Lord (Romans 14:9; Acts 2:34-36; and When Jesus Became Lord).  Jesus so taught Peter and the others that it solved the riddle and removed all uncertainty for them.

Jesus also taught Peter and the other disciples that the Scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit, and that they testify about the Christ (John 5:39, 46 and 2 Timothy 3:14-17, in addition to the Luke 24 passages mentioned above).  Peter subsequently made clear to everyone in 2 Peter 1:17-21 that his eyewitness experience of Jesus was best understood through the Scriptures – and the same Holy Spirit who had inspired them.

If we’re not reading the Scriptures to learn about Christ…we’re missing the whole point.

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

When Jesus Became Christ

Jesus did not become the heavenly Son of God until He was raised from the dead (see the recent post When Jesus Became the Son of God).  And He did not become Lord of heaven and earth until after He was raised from the dead (see the recent post When Jesus Became Lord).  He had become Christ well before that.

Jesus became the Christ when He was conceived in His mother’s womb (Matthew 1:20).  The fullness of Christ’s role, as prophesied by the Scriptures, however, began with His suffering which culminated in His crucifixion.  This would be followed by His glorification.  The Scriptures taught that Messiah would experience sufferings, followed by glory (Luke 24:26; Acts 3:18; 1 Peter 1:10-11).  Thus, being declared “the Son of God” and “Lord” were part of the glory that followed the suffering of the cross.

The suffering of Christ is finished (John 19:30).  The only suffering that the Lord and the heavenly Son of God would suffer would be when He shared in the sufferings of His people (Acts 9:3-5).  Hallelujah!  His suffering is over; only His glory remains.

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

The Bible Was Not Written to Us, but Was Written for Us

We might wish for the Bible to be written so that we in the 21st Century could pick it up and find it immediately and directly answering all the questions we have – and to do so in a form that is easy for us to understand.  However, the Bible is simply not written in this way.

The Bible is a product of its times, just as our writings are a product of our times (centuries from now people will consider us antiquated and our writings out of fashion).  However, the Bible’s documents were inspired by the Holy Spirit who knew well that its truths needed to communicate to human beings of all eras.  Since the same Holy Spirit is available to us as we read, we can be confident that we can be led to glean understanding from these ancient documents.  Abundant understanding, in fact, for God is generous with His Holy Spirit.

Recall that Paul said in Romans 15:4 and also in 1 Corinthians 10:11 that the Scriptures were written for “instruction.”  And in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 he made clear that the instruction was about “righteousness” – what we in the 21st Century might call “morality” or “virtue.”

Do not stumble over the parts of the Bible that are relics of their age.  Instead, look past them to the truths that are timeless.  Human nature has always been the same…and God is still the answer for its shortcomings.

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

Remember the Jar of Manna

Exodus 16 tells the story of how God “rained bread from heaven” upon the children of Israel in the desert.  This bread was called “manna” and it fed the Israelites daily for forty years, its provision was only withdrawn when they departed from the desert and entered the promised land which “flowed with milk and honey” (that is, a better and more abundant provision).

The Scriptures also tell of how a sample of this manna was stored in a jar and kept in the ark of the covenant which resided in the heart of Israel’s temple (Exodus 16:33; Hebrews 9:4).  This jar of manna symbolized the sacred Scriptures – that is, the Bible (Old and New Testaments) which we have today.  The  Bible is the written word of God.  It confirms to us that God indeed does speak to mankind.  It also provides a standard by which we may compare any word of God we think we hear.  That is, since God cannot contradict Himself, we know that any words we hear from God today in our hearts cannot contradict what the Bible says.

We live in the day of the Lord (that is, the day of Christ Jesus – Philippians 1:6,10).  The heavens and earth are themselves the temple of the Lord (Isaiah 66:1).  The Lord Jesus Christ Himself fills the heavens and the earth (Jeremiah 23:24).  The “jar of manna” described above – that is, the Scriptures – sits before Him, testifying about His willingness to rain bread down from heaven on all those who hunger for His righteousness – and testifying about the kingdom of God which is in our midst, and which flows with milk and honey for all those who find His righteousness.

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

The Bible Is the Book of Jesus

The Bible is the book of Jesus.  It is by Jesus and it is about Jesus – from beginning to end.  This was not known initially.  It was, however, made clear when the New Testament documents were being written.  Therefore, to talk about any part of the Bible without reference to Jesus is to miss its point.

The Bible is “by Jesus” because the Holy Spirit was motivating all those who wrote its words.  The many different authors over many different generations had a common inspiration: the Holy Spirit of God.  See 2 Timothy 3:14-17 and 2 Peter 1:20-21.  The Holy Spirit of God is, of course, the Holy Spirit of Jesus (see Jesus Christ Is God).

The Bible is “about Jesus” because He is its constant reference point.  This point is unquestioned when it comes to the New Testament documents, which talk about Him explicitly and continually.  That He is equally the focal point of the Old Testament documents is a point made more subtly.  It was not apparent at all at the time they were written, except for those prophecies of Messiah which were unmistakable.   That the rest of the Old Testament also spoke of Him was made clear by the Lord Himself after He rose from the dead (Luke 24:25-27, 31-32, 44-48; John 5:39, 46).  This revelation is implicit in all the writings of the apostles as they constantly quote the Old Testament with reference to Him.

Therefore, the Bible cannot be read left to right as you would normally read an English document, for the New Testament gives the Old Testament a particular meaning which was not apparent to its original readers.  To be specific about it, the Old Testament was originally understood according to the flesh and through Christ is now to be understood in the spirit (Walking in the Spirit and Not in the Flesh).  Earthly to heavenly is another way of characterizing this change in interpretation.  It’s as if the entire Old Testament was a collection of illustrations (a vast library of conceptual audio-visual aids, if you will) which needed the reality of Christ’s life, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension to make clear what was being illustrated.

That the adherents of Judaism would want to read the Old Testament without reference to Christ is understandable (albeit misguided and self-defeating) since they are trying to preserve their religious/cultural way of life.  What’s more mystifying is why anyone who claims to be a Christian would want to read the Old Testament without reference to Christ.

Therefore, if anyone is talking about any portion of the Bible without referring to Christ they are wasting your time as well as their own.

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

GICNAT

The Apostles Said False Teachers Would Succeed Them

Yesterday’s post outlined the corruption of false teaching that afflicted the New Testament church, and how the coming of the kingdom of God solved the problem by replacing the church as God’s instrument (For more explanation of how the kingdom came, see Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again).  Note that the kingdom of God did not eliminate the church because we still have the church with us today.  The difference is that with the coming of the kingdom, Christ abandoned the church to rule His kingdom.  Therefore, the church has been a man-made institution ever since. 

Here’s the irony: Today’s churches claim their legitimacy either from the apostles or the Scriptures (which were written by the apostles).  Either way, today’s church leaders condemn themselves because the apostles said they would be succeeded in the church by false teachers.  Had the apostles laid out some succession plan, whereby they designated certain people or certain kinds of people to inherit their authority over the church, then today’s church leaders would have some claim to legitimacy.  As it is, however, the apostles were very clear that people should seek the kingdom of God and not follow the false teachers who would seek to perpetuate the church as an institution for the sake of their own interests.

There was to be only one true successor to the apostles – and that was the Lord Himself!  (“And when the Chief Shepherd appears…” 1 Peter 5:4)

For more explanation, see Seeking the Kingdom of God Instead of Church.

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

God Destroyed Jerusalem for the Same Reason He Abandoned the Church

History records that Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D.  This destruction was prophesied by Jesus and His apostles in the New Testament just as Isaiah and Jeremiah had prophesied its earlier destruction which occurred in 586 B.C.

Actually, it was the Babylonians who did the destroying in the earlier conquest and the Romans who performed the later one.  Nevertheless, neither the Romans nor the Babylonians could have succeeded unless God had removed His protective hedge from around Israel.  And for what reason did God remove it?  The sinfulness of Jerusalem and Israel.

For this same reason, God abandoned the New Testament church in its last days because it had become corrupt in the same way that Jerusalem had become corrupt.  Its leaders were more interested in self-aggrandizing than in serving God.  This, too, had been prophesied by Jesus and the apostles (Matthew 24:10-12; Acts 20:29-30; 2 Timothy 3:1-17).

If God is no longer using Israel and no longer using the church to represent Him in the world today, how then is He presenting Himself?  Through the resurrected, ascended, and crowned Jesus Christ!  As He says through Isaiah (Isaiah 59:16), when He saw that there was no man to intercede, He brought salvation by “His own arm.”  This speaks of the kingdom of God which reigns supreme in our midst (Luke 17:20-21).

There is not, there never has been, and there never will be, a human being who is pure enough, strong enough, and wise enough to be a completely reliable intermediary between God and man – except for Jesus of Nazareth.

If you would seek the kingdom of God, seek Jesus…for He is its King!  You know His name – that’s all you need to know.  Look to heaven and call on Him.  His thoughts will come to your heart – especially as you trust Him and do good to those around you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is written.  Amen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stop Trying to Become the People of God!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Apostles Learned How to Read the Scriptures from Jesus

In yesterday’s post, I wrote that the apostles teach us how to read the Scriptures.  The point I want to emphasize today is that it was the Lord Himself who first taught the apostles how to read the Scriptures.

Although the apostles were all Jews and therefore raised by their families and friends to know the Scriptures, they did not understand them nearly as well as Jesus did.  (Of course, that’s  not a fair comparison; maybe I should have said “they did not understand them nearly as well as He eventually would lead them to understand them.”)  In fact, after Jesus’ crucifixion, the apostles were completely demoralized.  They had no expectation of the Messiah being resurrected on the third day because they had no expectation of the Messiah being crucified.  In this regard they were no different from any other 1st Century Jew (except one, of course – Jesus of Nazareth).

Once Jesus was raised from the dead, He began to explain to the apostles how everything that had happened to Him had been prophesied in the Scriptures (Luke 24:25-27, 44-48).  This sort of instruction continued for forty days (Acts 1:1-3)…until Jesus ascended into heaven.  These apostles had been common folks before Jesus chose them  – fishermen, tax collectors, and the like.  They were not trained rabbis and were not considered theologically literate.  Once their Teacher showed them the true meaning of the Scriptures, they had every reason to embrace it wholeheartedly.  And so they did.

How wonderful it is that the Lord who spoke the Scriptures in the first place, came to earth to teach us how to understand them!

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

Why I Believe the Bible Is the Word of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

Distinguishing the Scriptures from the Bible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let Nothing Obscure the Preeminence of Christ

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

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

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

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

To learn more about Christ versus the Trinity, see:

There Is No Trinity; There Is Christ

Posts to Date on the Trinity Versus Christ

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

GICNAT

The Redeemer God Replaces the Creator God in Our Consciousness

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

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

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

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

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

The Bible Must Be Spiritually Discerned

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

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

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

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

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

The Bible Was Written for the People of God

The Bible was written for the people of God.

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

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

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

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

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

The Bible Is a Book of Truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Have the Mind of Christ

In 1 Corinthians 2:16, the apostle Paul declares that we have the mind of Christ.

A mind, of course, is a collection of thoughts.  In 2 Corinthians 10:5 Paul said that we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

If we have Christ’s mind, if we have His thoughts, how then do we appropriate them?  How do we apprehend them, dwell upon them, and act in concert with them?

The Holy Spirit gives us Christ’s thoughts.   If, however, we need a steadying guide – a standard by which we may measure our thoughts to see if they are indeed from God, we may turn to the Scriptures.

The most obvious examples of the mind of Christ (that is, His thought patterns) are found in psalms like Psalm 22 and Psalm 69, which the gospels quote.  These psalms give us a picture of Christ’s thought life, the inner workings of His mind as He showed us His kindness and then experienced our ingratitude.

These psalms are merely a starting place.  The Scriptures capture and retain for us thousands upon thousands of thoughts that inhabited the mind of Jesus as He lived His earthly life.  They are all there for our imitation.

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

The Bible Was First Written to Jews, But Now Speaks to Every Human

The Bible was written by Jews (both testaments).  However, the intent all along was that its words would have their ultimate meaning and fulfillment through Jesus Christ who would become Lord of all humanity.

Note that I said “Lord of all humanity” and not merely “Lord of Christians.”  Indeed He was Lord of Christians in New Testament times but that brief age was merely an earnest, a down payment, a deposit on the time when He would be Lord of all humanity.  His dominion over all humanity was accomplished at His Second Coming which occurred in the latter part of the 1st Century A.D.  (For more explanation, see Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again.)

Jesus Christ now reigns supreme as Lord and God.  He is not the God of Christians only, He is the God of all of us.  And through Him, the truths of the Bible are ours.  You do not have to become a Christian to appropriate its benefits, you only have to trust in Jesus.

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

If Jesus Didn’t Go to Hades, How Was He RAISED from the Dead?

Proponents of the heaven-hell theory of afterlife have a hard time explaining why the Bible speaks of the dead being raised, but never lowered.

Just think, if good people go up to heaven and bad people go down to hell then good people would have to lowered from the dead if they came back to life.  The Bible says, however, that even Jesus was raised from the dead.

Throughout Bible times, everyone who died went down.  Everyone.  Since then, and because of Jesus Christ, everyone goes up.  Everyone.  Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 15:22 that just as everyone died because of Adam, everyone will live again because of Jesus.  If you’re not sure about this and want to study more than that one verse, see The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven.

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

The Lord Promised to Bring Up Jacob

In Genesis 46:3-4 the Lord assures Jacob that it will be alright for him to go down to Egypt because God would make from him a great nation there.  Moreover, God promised “I will surely bring you up again.”

This passage is a type (or foreshadowing) of the resurrection.  Since the first sin, Adam and his descendants knew that they must die.  In Hebrew thought, they descended to Sheol (the Greek term is Hades) – which in this context is analogous to Egypt.

That Jacob would become a great nation was analogous to Sheol receiving more and more immigrants as life on earth progressed.  Eventually there would be a great number and at that time God would “go down with them.”   This foreshadows Jesus dying and going to Sheol.  Of course, God promises Jacob, “I will surely bring you up again” which is the foreshadowing of resurrection.

Jesus brought up all the dead subsequent to His own resurrection as is prophesied in Psalm 68 (see Jesus Led Captivity Captive).

(The redemption of Sheol is discussed in much more detail at The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven.)

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

The Lord Went Down to Sodom and Gomorrah

In Genesis 18:20-21 the Lord said that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah made a clamor that arose to heaven.  He then said He would go down there Himself to see if things were really that bad.  Either way, He said, He would know.

This passage is a type (or foreshadowing) of God taking on human flesh, coming to earth, and living as Jesus of Nazareth.  Sodom and Gomorrah, of course, is analogous to the world.  God found out firsthand that things in the world were indeed – and unfortunately – worthy of the sinful reputation it had earned in heaven.  By firsthand, I mean, of course, that He Himself was cruelly rejected and violently murdered.

Yet Jesus rose from the dead to forgive the world of its sins.  In doing so, He has shown us the right way to live.  Let us repent, therefore, forsaking the pursuit of our own desires.  Let us live instead for the love of God and our fellow man.  Praise be to the name of the Lord our God who has led us in His gentleness to live His way.

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

The Kingdom of God Versus the Kingdom of Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Apostles and the Prophets Witness Christ’s Sufferings…in Dramatically Different Ways

Jesus chose his twelve apostles from among His disciples.  They would be eyewitnesses to the world of what they had seen, heard, and touched of Jesus of Nazareth.  It is impossible to overestimate the importance of their role.  Had they been silent, the world might never have learned about the greatest life ever lived.

Even so, the Lord had provided Himself another set of witnesses hundreds of years beforehand.  The prophets of Israel were inspired to write of the Messiah to come.  They wrote about Him in many diverse ways.

When the apostles went out into the world to give their testimony about Jesus there were no gospels.  There was no New Testament.  Nevertheless, the apostles had an authoritative written record to which they could refer people.  It was the written testimony of the prophets that we call the Old Testament.

One of the many amazing juxtapositions of these two different sets of testimony is found in 1 Peter 2 where the apostle Peter paints a picture of Jesus’ suffering by quoting the words of Isaiah 53.  If you will go to Isaiah 53 and read it, you might think the description came from an apostle who was present.  Instead, it was written by the prophet Isaiah hundreds of years before Christ was even born.

Such stunning collaboration of writing, directed across the centuries by the hand of God Himself, bears witness to the uniqueness of Jesus’ story.  His story is true…and it is indeed the greatest ever told.

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

The Old Testament Provides the Vocabulary of the New Testament

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

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

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

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

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

The New Testament Is the Headline and the Old Testament is the Story

If the Bible were a newspaper then the New Testament would be the headline and the Old Testament would be the story.

For this reason it would probably make more sense for the New Testament to precede the Old Testament in our Bibles.  You can’t fully appreciate this point unless and until you read carefully all the references the apostles made to the Old Testament.  It was their Bible – all the Bible they had!  And it was more than enough for them.  They never expressed any discontent with its sufficiency.

If you’ve read the headline, you have the gist of the story.  But if you want the richness of detail which brings full understanding…read the story.  Just be sure to read it with the headline in mind.  Otherwise, you’ll become distracted with the issues of ancient Israel.  Your interest is in spiritual truth which transcends the ages because it is eternally valid.

You don’t buy a newspaper just to read the headline.  Read the headline and the story.

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

The New Testament Quotes the Old Testament but Not the New Testament

The New Testament writers frequently cite the Old Testament as authoritative, but very rarely make a similar appeal to other New Testament books.  Why?

The New Testament writers considered what we call the Old Testament to be the Holy Scriptures of God.  If they considered their own writings as fitting into that category, they did not build any extended case for themselves.  We certainly consider their writings in the category of Holy Scripture, but not because the apostles took any glory to themselves.  Rather, we regard the New Testament as the word of God because these documents are consistent with each other and utterly faithful to the Old Testament.  Furthermore, the New Testament bears witness to the experience of Jesus of Nazareth – the only reasonable, fitting, and credible explanation ever given to the Old Testament.  More than an explanation, the New Testament is the continuation, completion, and consummation of the Old Testament.  The New Testament provides the only appropriate answers to the questions raised by the Old Testament.

The testimony of the apostles in the New Testament is this: “Here’s what we saw and heard of Jesus of Nazareth; He’s the Messiah of Israel, as all these scriptures we’re quoting will attest.”  Of course, these “scriptures” come from the Old Testament.

The New Testament makes very little reference to itself.  It makes constant reference to the Old Testament.  This lack of self-consciousness coupled with its preoccupation with the Old Testament makes the interdependency of these two sets of documents all the more credible…and awe-inspiring.

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

The New Testament Cannot Stand on Its Own

The New Testament cannot be understood independently of the Old Testament.  All the roots of New Testament thinking reach deep throughout Old Testament soil.

Without having the Old Testament as context, the New Testament would merely be the witness to a man raised from the dead and ascended into heaven.  As astounding as it is, this resurrection is insufficient for our edification, exhortation, and comfort without the explanation that the Old Testament gives to this event.

Through the New Testament’s explanation of the Old Testament, we understand that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the signature and inaugurating event which determines that humanity’s ultimate destination after this life will be in heaven (Everyone Is Going to Heaven).

To think that the New Testament is superior to the Old Testament, or somehow independent of the Old Testament, is therefore to greatly misunderstand it.  The New Testament and the Old Testament are two sides of the same coin – each depending on the other and utterly inseparable from each other.

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

Since the Old Testament Is Not in Chronological Order, Why Does the New Testament Have to Follow It?

In ordering its individual books, the Old Testament does not follow a strict chronological order.  Rather, the books are grouped first by genre (e.g. law, poetry, prophecy), and then generally, though not always, in chronological order.  This categorization of books was deemed more helpful than a pure chronological ordering.

The New Testament, in its subdivisions, is likewise first ordered by genre (i.e., gospels, then epistles).  Moreover, the ordering within genres shows no consistent guideline of chronology.  Of course, this might be expected since the New Testament documents were all written by contemporaries and they did not include precise dates in what they wrote in the way that we do today.

Therefore, since date of writing is not fully governing the ordering of Bible writings, why then couldn’t the New Testament precede the Old Testament?  This would certainly lead to greater understanding for those who chose to read the Bible themselves in order to better understand God.

I am not suggesting that the interior order of either testament be rearranged.  Jews already order the Old Testament (what they call the Tanakh) differently from how Christians order it and this causes no insurmountable confusion.

I am only suggesting that reading the Bible beginning to end, as it is currently arranged, is inconsistent with the understanding that the New Testament gives to the Old Testament.  To read the New Testament first would allow the reader to better understand what the Old Testament says to us.

Specifically, the New Testament says that the Old Testament is about Jesus.  Reading the Old Testament without guidance on that point would be comparatively unproductive.

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.

Why Does the New Testament Follow the Old Testament in our Bibles?

The first New Testament documents were written a few hundred years after the Old Testament was completed – the Old Testament itself having taken over a thousand years to produce.  Thus the New Testament documents were simply appended to the Scriptures of that day (that is, what we call the Old Testament) thus giving us the Bible we have today (that is, Old and New Testaments).  Therefore, the New Testament documents come last only because they were written last.

The New Testament does not present itself, however, as an addendum to the Old Testament.  Rather, these documents present themselves as a new way to read the Old Testament.  What new way, you ask?  As being fulfilled through the life, death, resurrection, and second coming of Jesus of Nazareth, Messiah of Israel.

Before Jesus, the Old Testament was a forward-looking document of hope.  Through Jesus, and the New Testament produced by the apostles He had chosen, taught, and commissioned, the Old Testament became of document of faith (that is, hope realized).  What the prophets of the Old Testament had promised, the apostles of the New Testament were reporting as being fulfilled.

The Old Testament was therefore no longer to be read as unrealized, but rather as realized.  This can produce enormous differences in the meaning of its words, as the apostles’ quotations of the Old Testament amply demonstrate.  (For example, the Old Testament’s instructions about circumcision were now understood to refer to a spiritual reality performed by God on human hearts –  a huge difference for those intent on not merely reading, but also doing the word of God.)

Therefore, to read the Old Testament before reading the New Testament (in the way a conventional book is read) is to read the Old Testament in an old, obsolete, and inappropriate way.  The only proper way to read the Old Testament is in the way the apostles of the New Testament prescribed.  Otherwise, a reader would have to unlearn much of his Old Testament understanding once he got to the New Testament.  Therefore, it might make more sense to put the New Testament first in our Bibles.

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

The New Testament as Introduction to the Old Testament

If the New Testament were positioned before the Old Testament in our Bibles it would serve as a wonderful introduction to the Old Testament. 

The New Testament was written by the apostles.  The Old Testament was the only Bible that the apostles had.  They were not writing the New Testament to replace the Old Testament, but rather to explain it.  What better introduction of the Old Testament to read, therefore, than its explanation by the apostles of our Lord?

It is not necessary for our understanding that the New Testament sit before the Old Testament in our Bibles, but it would be more consistent with the Bible’s message if it did. 

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.

Why Not Put the New Testament Before the Old Testament in the Bible?

It is correct to view the Bible as a single book with a single author (God).  But it is also right to acknowledge that this book is a “library” – a collection of scores of writings which God inspired through many different individuals over a 1,500-year span of time.  These writings therefore reflect varied genres, styles, time periods, and personalities even though all the writers were associated with the nation of ancient Israel and shared its culture and values.   

Because most people are used to reading a book by beginning at the front and continuing to the back, and because they sometimes don’t fully appreciate the diverse library between the Bible’s covers, they start off in Genesis.  This is not a problem right away because Genesis contains some fascinating stories.  The same is true of the first half of Exodus.  The second half of Exodus, however, contains instructions to ancient Israel that don’t have any apparent bearing on life today.  Therefore, the reading gets sluggish.  Somewhere in Leviticus, readers hit a full stall…and some never recover. 

An interesting and valuable solution would be to put the New Testament first.  That way, the first document read would be the Gospel of Matthew.  The reader would be confronted immediately with Jesus Christ – the focal point of the Bible.  If the reader continued to read left to right, he would be thoroughly imbued with the importance of Jesus before tackling the Old Testament books.  Moreover, the New Testament books are constantly referencing Old Testament books so a context is created for reading the Old Testament properly.

What do I mean by “reading the Old Testament properly”?  The superficial meaning of the Old Testament documents gave way to their ultimate spiritual meaning through Jesus Christ.  For example, Isaac was a type of Jesus (Genesis), Passover was a picture of how Jesus saves humanity from its sins (Exodus), and the lambs offered in Leviticus typified Jesus’ unblemished sacrifice for us.  It wasn’t that the initial superficial meanings of those texts weren’t valid.  They were.  It’s just that such meanings were temporary until the One to whom all those writings pointed arrived.  Now, we look to the Old Testament to tell us about the same One the New Testament tells us about.

Some will complain that putting the New Testament first would put the Bible out of chronological order.  But the current order itself is not fully chronological.  Rather, the writings are grouped by genre within testament, and then only chronological order within genre.  And, even then, there are exceptions to strict chronological order within genre.   

The point here is that Jesus Christ is the subject of the Bible – all of the Bible.  Putting the New Testament first would serve to emphasize that point.  But it’s just a suggestion.

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

Challenge from a Churchgoer – Part 4

If you want to read the earlier parts of this conversation, click on Challenge from a ChurchgoerChallenge from a Churchgoer – Part 2, or Challenge from a Churchgoer Part 3.

Churchgoer:  Well, at one point you said I did not use Scripture, but then cited verses that I alluded to. I was assuming you would know, and you did know the passages what I said was based on.

I guess I have a unique viewpoint having worked with churches of different varieties over many, many years.  Right now, I am in contact with about fourteen hundred churches. I have spoken in hundreds of fellowships and have had associations with hundreds of pastors and when all is said….there is not much difference. We are united by Scripture and a love of Jesus. I see how much we are alike rather than how much we differ. Isn’t it a contradiction to believe that all are saved, but then be so harsh on churches. If everyone is right and going to heaven then all churches are right too. In fact, it would not be possible to do wrong.

My response:  Yes, you mentioned two verses, but, as I showed, neither one justifies your position.  Thus your exaltation of churchgoing is rooted in tradition (or something else) and not Scripture.

Indeed, there must be something that unites you to these churches besides “Scripture and a love of Jesus,” because you and I both exalt Scripture and love Jesus…and you don’t seem to feel similarly united to me.

As for being harsh, I have not been more so with churches than Jesus was with the Pharisees or the moneychangers. Those groups, too, exalted their traditions over Scripture.

I do say that everyone is going to heaven; I do not say that everyone is right. Unfortunately, it is more than possible for all of us to do wrong. For this reason, God tells us to repent, and indeed repentance must be our lifestyle if we are to enjoy the fullness of His blessings in this life and the fullness of His honor in the next.

Surely you don’t mean to suggest that because everyone is going to heaven, we should feel free to sin – though it sounds like you do.

That everyone is going to heaven is an even better reason to repent than the possibility of going to hell, because the latter calls on a motive of self-interest (even self-preservation) while the former calls on a motive of loving Him who first loved us.

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

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The Kingdom Is the Lord’s

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

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

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

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

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

The kingdom is the Lord’s!

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

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The Sense in Which Predestination Is False

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

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

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

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

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The Bible Is God’s Explanation of Christ

What is the Bible?  Can you summarize its contents?  Yes.  The Bible is God’s explanation of Christ – which is to say God’s explanation of Himself.

The Bible’s first books were written by Moses who established the pattern of writing through God’s inspiration.  All of the prophets who wrote subsequent books which were added to the Bible wrote by this same inspiration.  The commonality of inspiration of all the Scriptures led to the common theme – God would one day triumph over every evil deed through the work of a Holy One He called Messiah, or Christ. 

The apostles of the New Testament recorded the manifestation of this Christ.  They also wrote by inspiration – the same inspiration: the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, the Bible is about Christ – from beginning to end.  If you want to understand the Bible, accept this fact: it is about Christ – from beginning to end. 

That is it about Christ from beginning to end is more apparent in some places than others, to be sure.  But if you remember that its theme is always Christ, you are far less likely to distort the Scriptures. 

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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God Explains Himself by Explaining Christ

God explains Himself in the Bible by explaining Christ (that is, Messiah – meaning “the Anointed One”). 

The Old Testament prophesies of Messiah’s coming.  The New Testament reports how He came.  Both testaments are rich with insights still waiting to be unveiled to human eyes.  All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ (Colossians 2:3).  All of them.

The reason that God explains Himself by explaining Christ is that God was – and is – Christ.  Therefore, to explain Christ is to explain Himself.

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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Through the Bible God Explains Himself

The purpose of the Bible is that God might explain Himself to us. 

God wants to be understood.  The existence of the Bible affirms this.  God wants very much to be understood.  The history of how the Bible came to be affirms this.

The Bible was virtually written in blood.  The prophets who wrote it were subject to persecution, even to the point of death.  After their lifetimes, they were honored.  But during their lifetimes, they were vilified.  Never was this more apparent than in the life of the Bible’s greatest prophet – Jesus of Nazareth. 

If God went to this much trouble to explain Himself, we who read this book should do our very best to understand it properly.  God forbid that an instrument He has given for revealing Himself become a means of our misunderstanding Him.  Alas, this has happened time and time again in human history.  Let us therefore cleanse ourselves of the sins that cause us to pervert and misunderstand the words of this book.

The Bible does not belong to Jews or Christians.  It is not an advertisement for Judaism or Christianity.  It belongs to all mankind.  Any person who can read is welcome to drink from this well.  It teaches righteous, which  begins in faith and which is what God expects from every human being regardless of religious affiliation.

Remember this:  The Bible testifies of Jesus Christ – the one true God.

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

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Consider the Old Testament Your Bible and the New Testament Its Commentary

What we call the Old Testament, Jesus and His apostles never called the Old Testament.  They called this collection “the Scriptures.”  Sometimes they’d call it “the Law and the Prophets,” sometimes just “the Law” and sometimes just “the Prophets.”  There were other synonyms, too, but most often this set of documents was simply called “the Scriptures.” 

The New Testament documents were not written to create a new set of Scriptures.  Rather they were written in the process of testifying about how the Scriptures (that is, the Old Testament) were being fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth.  Thus you can think of the New Testament as a sort of commentary on the Old Testament.  In this sense, the Old Testament should be the focus of our Scriptural study, with the New Testament being our guiding light for doing so. 

Many scholars have written commentaries on the Old Testament.  Also, many scholars have written commentaries on the New Testament.  If you really want to understand the Bible, dispense with all these human commentaries.  Instead, let the New Testament be your commentary on the Old Testament (that is, the Scriptures) and you will see Jesus (the Bible’s subject) much more clearly.

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

The Bible: Its Subject Is Jesus, Its Author Is the Holy Spirit

In a literary sense, the Bible is actually a library of many books with many authors.  In a spiritual sense, however, it is one book with the single subject (Jesus) and a single author (the Holy Spirit).

Jesus made clear in John 5:39-40 that to study the Bible and miss Him was to miss the point entirely.  The Bible points to Jesus – from beginning to end (Luke 24:25-27 and 44-45).  The New Testament speaks of Him explicitly and historically, while the Old Testament speaks of Him hopefully and prophetically.  If you think the Bible is about the creation of the world, animal sacrifice, the nation of Israel, and any other subject besides the Messiah, then you are missing the point.  All of these things are pointers to Christ; therefore, don’t let them be distractions.

As for the Bible’s author, it is claimed to be the Holy Spirit over and over and over (2 Timothy 3:14-17 and 2 Peter 1:20-21 summarize this point).  That is, human beings were not writing according to their own understanding – even when their own understanding was strong.  They were writing at the inspiration of the Spirit.  This was necessary to retain emphasis on the Bible’s subject (Jesus).  For how else could a biography be written in advance of the life that was to be lived?  How else could dozens of diverse human authors collaborate so effectively to paint a portrait of a single figure none of them had ever seen?

When you read the Bible, do not get trapped in the weeds.  When necessary, remind yourself that Jesus is the subject and the Holy Spirit is the author.  This won’t guarantee that you will understand everything you read, but it will guarantee that you don’t misunderstand what you read – and that protection can be very valuable. 

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

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If Some Go to Heaven and Some Go to Hell, Why Isn’t This Teaching in the Bible?

The heaven-or-hell theory of life after death has been around so long that no one ever questions whether or not the Bible actually teaches it.  People just assume it’s in the Bible.  It’s not.  You don’t have to take my word for it; you can search for yourself.  However, you won’t find it.

If you faithfully search the Scriptures, here is what you will find:  Everyone Is Going to Heaven.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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If You Can’t See Him at the Right Hand of God, How Will You See Him Coming on the Clouds?

At the trial before His crucifixion, Jesus was asked by the leadership of Israel if He was the Messiah.  He said that He was, and that thereafter they would see Him sitting at the right hand of God and coming on the clouds of heaven (Matthew 26:64 and Mark 14:62).  After Jesus was raised from the dead, He ascended into heaven.  Although none of the apostles testify to seeing Him take a seat at the right hand of God, they believed it…because Psalm 110:1 states that to be His destination upon ascending. 

If therefore no one physically saw Jesus sit down at the right hand of God, why do some insist that we will physically see His coming again?  The reality is that neither statement can be physically verified and both statements must be accepted on faith.  See Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again

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

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A Vision Like Isaiah’s

If you’ve read the gospels of the New Testament, or even if you’ve had the essentials of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus related to you, then you’ve had a greater vision of God than Isaiah or any of the prophets. 

Isaiah’s vision of God, described in Isaiah 6, is often longingly viewed as an experience to which we should aspire.  On the contrary, we should remember the life of Jesus and imitate it.  Jesus’ life and death are the glory of God.  We glorify God when we model our lives after it.

Jesus said that many desired to see and hear the things that we see and hear through the gospels.  The prophets looked forward a day when God would fully reveal His righteousness.  Every one of them would have traded every vision they had for the sight of Jesus going about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil (Matthew 13:17; Acts 10:38).

Let us not regard lightly what they treasured so greatly.

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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Whoever Denies the Son Does Not Have the Father

You cannot properly understand God if you resist the idea that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.  On the other hand, if you acknowledge Jesus then you will have the right conception of God (1 John 2:23).

God was in Christ (Colossians 2:9), revealing Himself to the world (John 14:9) and reconciling the world to Himself, not counting our sins against us (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Anyone who strays from preaching and teaching Jesus Christ as the centerpiece of God’s self-revelation, misunderstands God (2 John 9).

If you would understand God, never waver from seeking Jesus Christ.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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The Linchpin of the Testaments

Jesus of Nazareth (as described in the 27 books of the New Testament) and the Messiah of Israel (as prophesied in the 39 books of the Old Testament) are indeed one and the same Person: Jesus Christ.  He is the linchpin of the two testaments. 

Jesus Christ is the unifying principle of the Bible by virtue of His being its unifying personality.  He is the focal point of “the Scriptures of the prophets” (Matthew 26:56 and Romans 16:26) as well as the focal point of “the apostle’s teaching” (Acts 2:42).  Of course, “the Scriptures of the prophets” is a term synonymous with the Old Testament just as “the apostles’ teaching” is a term synonymous with the New Testament.

“This is that,” so to speak, says the Bible – with “this” being the New Testament and “that” being the Old Testament.  In other words, this New Testament is that which the Old Testament promised. 

To reverently call Him “Jesus Christ” is to testify to the unity of the two testaments, which are really not two at all.  They are one testament of Him.  The terms “Old” and “New” are merely labels we have applied to distinguish them.  They both speak of our Savior – one in the future tense, one in the past.  Each confirms the other. 

Without the New Testament, the Old Testament is merely a record of unkept promises.  Without the Old Testament, the New Testament is merely the record of an event without meaning.  Through the name Jesus Christ, these two volumes come together in spectacular unity. 

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

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Why Was Jesus Named Jesus?

Of course, God appointed an angel to make sure that the firstborn of Joseph and Mary would be named “Jesus.”  But why might God have instructed that?

The curse of Babel forces us to do extra work to answer a question like this.  The Hebrew form of Jesus is “Joshua.”  Therefore, “Joshua” (or its Aramaic equivalent) is the name Jesus’ contemporaries would have heard, and it certainly would have brought to their minds memories of Moses and the Joshua who followed him as leader of the children of Israel.  Moses was the first great leader of the people of God.  Because of his sin, Moses was not allowed to lead those people into the promised land of Canaan.  That task and honor fell to his successor Joshua.  In this typology we see the outline of Jesus’ great mission.

It is interesting to note that it was Moses who gave Joshua his name for Joshua’s birth name had been “Hoshea.”  In Hebrew Hoshea means “salvation” while Joshua means “the Lord is salvation.”  Ponder the depths of what Moses was saying.  He knew that Joshua, great as he was, was merely a type of the far greater leader of God’s people who would one day come.  Of him, Moses said, “God will raise up a prophet like me from among your brethren; to him you shall give heed in everything he says to you” (Deuteronomy 18:15 and Acts 3:22).

The first Joshua saved God’s people from their enemies.  The last Joshua saved God’s people from their true enemies – their own sins.  For this reason the angel had told Joseph that Jesus would “save His people from their sins.”  Of course, “save” means to “provide salvation.”

Through Moses, God was prophesying when Hoshea was renamed Joshua – that He Himself would be the great leader!  The Lord would be salvation.  That is, the Lord does not merely bring us salvation.  He is the salvation that He brings.  For this reason, your relationship with Him is your salvation.  Cherish it!  That is, cherish Him!

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

Christ Our Life

Christ did not come to enter into your life.  He came to be your life.

Jesus said, “I am the life.”  (John 14:6)

Paul embraced this idea and stated it this way, “For me to live is Christ.”  (Philippians 1:21)

Paul also wrote that “Christ is our life.”  (Colossians 3:4)

In Galatians 2:20 Paul declared himself to be dead and that Christ was now living in Him.  In Galatians 6:14 Paul reiterated that he had been crucified to this world.

The point is that we should cease living by ourselves and for ourselves – the way of life we inherited from having been born into this world (1 Peter 1:17-19).  Instead, we should live life for Christ and with Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

The death we die through Christ is a death to sin, and the life we live is life to God (Romans 6:10).  Repent of trying to get God to help you live your life.  He has already promised to help you live His.

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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Open the Eyes of Our Hearts, Lord

Jesus said Isaiah was right when he criticized those who worshiped God with the right words but whose hearts were far removed (Matthew 15:1-20).  This criticism applies to  all the churches today, for they pay only lip service to God while what they really seek is devoted church members.

One of the most popular choruses sung in today’s churches that sing contemporary music (I could have chosen the hymn “All to Jesus I Surrender” for the other churches), is the chorus “Open the Eyes of Our Hearts, Lord.”  What an irony!  The very thing the singers of these words are praying for is the very thing God wants to do for them…but they won’t receive it. 

God would open the eyes of our hearts so that we would worship Him from our hearts all the time.  That is, not only on certain days at certain times with certain instruments and a powerful sound system.  It is precisely because the eyes of our hearts are closed to Him that we have reduced worship to a musical exercise.  When people say, “Wasn’t worship wonderful this morning?” have they not made themselves judges of a musical performance?

True worship is enthrallment of the heart.  It may on occasion lead to expression on a musical instrument, but even that would be minor.  What’s major is the heart devoted fully to its Creator and expressing itself through every word and deed of every day:  Acts of kindness to those less fortunate, performed by a heart enthralled with God.

Open the eyes of your heart and see that God wants your heart, not your guitar. 

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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Come, Now Is the Time to Worship

Jesus said that the problem with the Pharisees was that they said things but did not do them (Matthew 23:1-3).  This, of course,. defines a hypocrite.  And Jesus was not afraid to call them by this name (no less than eight times in Matthew 23!).

This does not mean that the Pharisees did not know the truth – it means they did.  Jesus went so far as to say that salvation was from the Jews (John 4:20-24), just as today He would also say it is from the Christians.  The problem with the Jews, Pharisees, and Christians is not that they don’t have the truth but that they don’t practice it.  Remember: hypocrites are long on truth and short on behavior.

Another way of defining their problem is to say that they pay lip service to the truth, but little else.  As Isaiah put it (Isaiah 29:13) and Jesus quoted him in Matthew 15 and Mark 7, their lips are close to God but their hearts are far way.

For example, one of the most popular songs in many churches today begins with the exhortation that we should come and worship because “now is the time.”  The words echo Jesus’ words in John 4:23.  Those who sing the words are paying them beautiful lip service but their hearts don’t grasp the meaning.  For while Jesus was talking about worship as a way of living that is for all times and all places, today’s singers make the song about singing at select times and places (that is, at a “worship service”) – as if “now” was not always “now.”

If “now is the time to worship,” and if “now is always now” then let us worship Him now – from our hearts.  If worship is abundant in our hearts, it will permeate our entire being.  It will also overflow into our lips, but those expressions won’t be reserved for certain days and times at certain places with certain other people.  It will be at all times and in all places, for our hearts will not be able to help themselves (Romans 12:1-2; Colossians 3:17).

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

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

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

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

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

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Why Do We Say Things and Not Do Them?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Do You Walk in the Same Manner as Jesus Walked?

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

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

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

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

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

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His Name Is Enough

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

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

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

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

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

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Have You Stopped Repenting?

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

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

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

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

Do not stop repenting until you have stopped sinning.

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

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Why Do We Have to Look to Jesus?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How Much Progress Have You Made in Righteousness?

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

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

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

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

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

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Do You Self-Identify as Righteous or Sinner?

We know that Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but rather sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32).

Even the great apostle Paul identified himself as a sinner being saved and not as a righteous person – at least once he came into the saving graces of Jesus (1 Timothy 1:15).  Prior to that, he was a typical Pharisee – self-righteous and proud of it (Philippians 3:1-7), even when he was persecuting the Lord’s people (Acts 22:19-20). 

Jesus told a parable to make clear the attitude he was looking for in those who prayed to Him (Luke 18:9-14).  You can either trust in yourself, which makes you think you are righteous because you are comparing yourself to other people.  Or you can trust in God, which is righteous because you recognize that you are a sinner when compared with Him.

One of the problems with churchgoing is that it sets up in the churchgoer’s mind a division between those who are honoring God (that is, those who attend church) and those who don’t honor Him (because they don’t go to a church).  Jesus never commanded anyone to go to church.  What honors Him is obedience to what He has commanded.   

If you would honor God, then acknowledge your sinfulness to Him and let Him lead you into His righteousness by faith in His glorious redemption (2 Corinthians 4:1-6).  Your faith in Him will distinguish you in His eyes (Acts 26:18) and give you the light necessary to navigate this darkened world in which we live (John 12:46).

Even Jesus, who was without a single sin of His own (Hebrews 4:15), identified with sinners when He submitted to the ministry of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13-17).  Note that it was immediately after He had done this that the Father spoke from heaven about the love He had for this Son.  Thus, acknowledging our sin does not alienate us from God – instead it endears us to Him. 

Be assured that repentance is becoming in God’s sight.

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

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Salvation from Sin Is a Process

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sin Is the Problem

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

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

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

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

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

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The Centerpiece of All God’s Workings

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

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

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

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

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Christ the Heir

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To whom or what do you lead people?

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

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

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

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

In Christ Alone

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

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

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

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This Is the Day of Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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Jesus Ministered as a Prophet

During the days of His flesh, Jesus did not minister as the Messiah.  Rather, He ministered as a prophet of God, in the manner of the long line of Israel’s prophets who had ministered before Him.  These included Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.  (See Luke 7:16 and 24:19.)

This is an important point because it makes clear that Jesus sought no special privilege as God in the flesh, or even as Messiah of Israel (that is, Israel’s king).  Even though some people recognized that He was the Messiah, He always played down this fact.  Only when He was resurrected, did He command that His identity as Messiah be made known.

Know, therefore, that Jesus’ life can be imitated.  He lived with our limitations that we might know how to live with His limitless power.

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

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Jesus Rules the Heavens and Earth According to the Scriptures

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

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

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

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

A True Jew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The New Testament Church Was Preparing for the Government of God

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

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

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

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

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

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There Is a Mighty Church in the Earth Today!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1 Samuel 10:26-27

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

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

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

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

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The Two Great Events Upon Which the New Testament Hangs

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

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

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

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

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Messiah Reigning From Heaven Changed Everything – Part 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Messiah Reigning From Heaven Changed Everything – Part 2

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

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

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

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

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Messiah Reigning From Heaven Changed Everything – Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Will You Master the Bible or Will the Bible Master You?

As I read the Bible, I learn about God.  And about myself.  The Bible speaks of life, creation, and people.  The Bible showcases the ideas of God.  It reveals His thinking.  It enlightens me, encourages me, humbles me, lifts me, and, yes, often thrills me.  The more of it I understand, the more of it I want to understand.  Re-reading it never ceases to yield new fruit.  I know I will never master it, but I hope it will one day master me.

May the Bible yield all its treasures to you and may you forever bless the day you began to read it for yourself.

Nevertheless, be sure of this:  the Bible testifies of Jesus Christ.  If you have the Bible, but do not have Him, you have missed the Bible’s point.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, look to the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom which does not require you to be familiar with the Bible.

Those Who Wrote the Bible Were Possessed of a Particular Interest

In a previous post, I wrote that the Bible was written by human beings like us.  Indeed this is true, but they were unique from the mass of humanity in that doing righteousness and pleasing God was their defining interest.

The Bible was not written by people seeking fame and fortune.  Nor was it written by people who were worn down with the worries of the world.  Rather they were people whose hearts were constantly seeking God.  (For more about them, see the post Why the Bible Can Be Trusted.)

To the degree that we embrace their spirit, we can better understand what they wrote.  To the degree, however, that our interests move in different directions, we have a much harder time understanding what they wrote.

If we would understand them, let us be like them.  Fear God…as they did.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, look to the blog  A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom which does not require you to be familiar with the Bible.

Why You Can Understand the Bible

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

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

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

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, look to the blog: A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom which does not require you to be familiar with the Bible.

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You Can Understand the Bible

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

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

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, look to the blog: A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom which does not presume familiarity with the Bible.

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You Can Read the Bible

Before I began to read the Bible, I avoided it.  Its size intimidated me.  Further, people were in such disagreement about what it said, I reasoned that its message must be unclear – and subject to each reader’s personal interpretation.  All this changed once I began to read the Bible for myself. 

As to its size, I found that it did not have to be read from beginning to end…like a novel.  Rather, like a newspaper, I could go straight to the sports section…or wherever my interest and comprehension was the greatest.

As to its interpretation, again it was like a newspaper.  People can argue about things in the paper and perhaps some parts of it are unclear, but that doesn’t mean that reading a newspaper is a hopelessly confusing experience or that one cannot come away from it with some clear and unmistakable facts.

Therefore, I commend the Bible to you on the basis of its readability.  Some parts of it are indeed harder to read than others.  But if you can read a newspaper, you can read the Bible.  Just stick with the parts you can understand, for you can only obey what you can understand.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible.  For those unfamiliar with the Bible, look to the blog: A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom which does not presume familiarity with the Bible.

The Sum of the Bible Is Love

The Scriptures are about love.  They are about the love God has shown toward us, and the love He would have us show toward each other.

The apostle Paul said the sum of all his teaching was love (1 Timothy 1:5).

The apostle John said that God Himself is love (1 John 4:8, 16).

Jesus Himself said that love would be the hallmark of His disciples (John 13:35).  As you learn from the One who is love, you naturally become more loving.

If you hear someone quote from the Bible in any other spirit than love, you know that such teaching is in error and is a distortion of the Bible (2 Peter 3:14-18).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Day of the Lord

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Zechariah 14:9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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