FIGHTING, WARING, “Contending” for the FAITH

HOW DID GOD DO THAT?

Exodus 14:16-31
Exodus 14:16-31

Most of you know of the crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus of the Bible, or do you? Here’s a borrowed version of that story:

It seems Moses had led the children of Israel out of Egypt–and now had Pharaoh and his armies in hot pursuit.

At their backs, certain annihilation– and, in front of them the Red Sea.  They were trapped. So Moses called his generals and other tribal leaders together and made a review of their desperate circumstances in what they might do.

“DID ANYONE HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS?” Moses asked.

One of the engineering types suggested the possibility of constructing a pontoon bridge–but as some pointed out, there was no time for that!

All kinds of crazy ideas popped-up in discussion–but none had any merit.

Finally, Moses asked,  “What if I were to pray to Jehovah Jireh (God will provide) and ask Him to send a mighty wind to sweep back the waters of the Red Sea so that dry land would appear?  We could then cross over the dry land and…when safely on the other side, wind could cease and the waters would rush back, drowning the Egyptian army.  What do you think of that idea?”

At this point Moses’ publicity man jumped up enthusiastically:  “Moses Baby, if you can pull that one-off, I guarantee I can get you two full pages in the Bible!”

We believe in the biblical record even though we don’t always understand the implications 

The LORD delivers people from their bondage, yet sometimes, people seem to fall back into that same old bondage (1 Timothy 1:7; Acts 8:23).

In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, he writes “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him (Jesus), that the body of sin might be done away with and that we should no longer be in bondage to sin”  (ASV bible).

JUDE was the brother of James, who presided at the Jerusalem council and wrote the epistle of James, and he was a half-brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3).  The LETTER OF JUDE was addressed to Jewish Christians in Palestine and in verse 3, Jude indicates that he planned to write to them concerning their salvation but now changes his appeal in light of certain immoral men circulating among them who were perverting the TRUTH–the message of the gospel of Christ.

“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend [“fight”, “war”] for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints”  (Jude 3 – NIV bible).

Jude’s list of the “fallen backs”, now begins in verse 4 – People who left MORALITY behind.

[4] For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you…godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality…

And just in case you have forgotten–JUDE 5 (NRSV bible):

[5] Now I desire to remind you, though you are fully informed that the LORD, who once for all saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.”

[READ Numbers, chapter 16]

The Pretenders and False Teachers –

Albert Barnes makes an excellent statement concerning men/women who come into churches and lead others astray:

“The apostle (Jude) gives a reason for defending the TRUTH for there were artful and wicked men who had crept into the church, pretending to be religious, but whose doctrines tended to sap the very foundations of TRUTH.”

The fact that false teachers were able to creep into a church setting, shows the pastor of the church and/or the people who let their guard down, they clearly were complacent and content as gate keepers and asleep on the job.

Churches today are rarely destroyed from the outside.  It is the Devil’s cunningest to send an uncalled man, poorly trained and equipped for the ministry.  These “hirelings”, having no calling from God, aspiring to the ministry as a profession, who are smooth talkers often well versed in modern psychology.  Ring a bell?

sugarTheir MESSAGE is weak and watery, containing no meat.  In order to hold the attendance numbers, they turn and rely on the music and emotion.  NOTE: I’m not against “contemporary music” and heartfelt “emotional responses.”  Just not the service’s whole emphasis.

Titus 1:9-11 (NIV):

[9] Hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrines and refute those who oppose it.  [10] For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group.  [11] They must be silenced because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not teach–and that for the sake of dishonest gain.

ANGELS WHO LEFT HOME BEHIND –

Just because we haven’t seen God or angels, doesn’t mean they aren’t real!

Augustine, an early Christian theologian and philosopher once said,  “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men angels.”

Someone changed that and said,  “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men acceptable before God.”

“Are not the angels all ministering spirits (servants) sent out in the service [of God for assistance] of those who are to inherit salvation?”  (Hebrews 1:14).

Apparently, God sends His angels to minister to us who are truly believing saints in life.

We may or may not know when this happens.  One writer put it this way:  “Angels are spiritual beings created by God to serve Him; though created higher than man.  Some (the good angels) have remained obedient to Him to carry out His will, while others (fallen angels), disobeyed, fell from their holy position and now stand in active opposition to the work and plan of God.”

Jude 1:6 (NRSV bible):

[6] And the angels who did not keep their own position, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains in deepest darkness for the judgment of the great day.

I think most of us realize the DEVIL is a fallen angel.  He was so filled with PRIDE and wanted to be god and God cast him out of heaven.  SATAN abandoned his position of Authority.

And guess what’s going to happen to him?

Revelation 20:10:

[10] Then the devil who had led them astray [deceiving and seducing them] was hurled into the fiery lake of burning brimstone, where the beast and false prophet were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (through the ages of the ages).

**NOTE: Were ALL the fallen angels bound eternally in chains for eventual judgment? The answer is another study.  [See Footnote [i] for a study choice.]

If angels who are higher than man in creation can sin and thrown in the lake of fire, what about man?

People who left MORALITY in the trash can (verse 7):

[7] In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire  (NIV bible).

What’s the deal with “Sodom and Gomorrah”?

[READ Genesis 19:1-5]

That sounded horrible after reading those verses.  And it was!  Sounds like today!

This Scripture (verse 7), makes things sound pretty dismal for some people and we should believe the Word of God.  The only HOPE for any SIN, sexual sin, sexual perversion, etc. is the LORD!

No one can be SAVED from eternal fire without the Lord’s grace!

In conclusion, MY STUDY’S REFLECTIONS –

Understand that APOSTASY is more than false teaching in the church today, it is FALSE LIVING.

It is the Christian form of HYPOCRISY–SAYING, YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN BUT IN TRUTH YOU ARE NOT.

Your ACTIONS, your ATTITUDES, are bearing the lies that come out of your mouth.

In VERSE 5:  I saw that the Lord delivers people out of their own EGYPTS, but sometimes people wander back into their sin and slavery.

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!

JUDE says to us here in VERSE 5, that JESUS (more accurately translated LORD), SAVED a people out of the Land of Egypt.  That is, the Hebrew people, the future nation of Israel.

Later, He destroyed those who didn’t believe (Numbers 16:32-33).  DESTROY literally means to abolish, to destroy completely.

Understand that God didn’t destroy the nation but destroyed many–(250 in verse 35–14,700 later, in verse 49)–ALL because of their UNBELIEF and DISOBEDIENCE to God’s Word given through Moses.  It wasn’t because of occasional doubt and disobedience, but continually doubting, continually disobeying.

There was an OUTWARD CIRCUMCISION, but not an INWARD CIRCUMCISION of the heart.

4-x4-camo-camouflage-heart-gas-cap-bumper-sticker-decal-window-stickers-decals
Ref: https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/camouflaged-hearts/ ]
You can go through all the hoops of Churchianity to identify you with Jesus, but only one thing really matters is your HEART!

Yes, God DELIVERS people from their bondage, even laziness.  Whatever it might be, God can deliver us!

BUT…

But we must not turn back.

Turning back to our old sinful ways get us in trouble every time.  And for some, it could mean ETERNAL TROUBLE.

GOD SAVE US!

If I understand this passage in Scripture rightly, that type of living is APOSTASY and it is to be JUDGED by God… just like the Hebrew people in the wilderness, just like the angels who denied their rightful place, just like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Is that you?

Is God calling you to repentance?

 

 


 

BLOG-STUDY CREDITS:

FOOTNOTE [i] –  Biblical Horizons Newsletter No. 1: Who Were the Angels of Jude 6? by James B. Jordan January, 1989.

Bible Translations used:  NRSV – New Revised Standard Version, NIV – New International Version; AMP – Amplified bible.

PHOTO CREDIT:  Google Images Search.

 

 

 

 

 

JESUS, a.k.a. ….

in-Zechariah-Christ-is-revealed-as-the-stone-with-seven-eyes

William Lyons Phelps, an American author, critic and scholar writes,

“We are all so vain that we love to have our names remembered by those who have met us but once.  We exaggerate the talents and virtues of those who can do this and we are ready to repay their power with lifelong devotion.  The ability to associate in the mind names and faces is a tremendous asset to a politician and it will prolong the pastorate of any clergyman.” 

BIBLE NAMES are significant because they indicate personal characteristics of LIFE.  

The meaning of Zechariah’s name for instance is “the LORD has remembered.”

In past conversations with my wife over the years, we have mentioned, “Wouldn’t it have been great if we had named our three children AFTER their personalities had developed based on their CHARACTER rather than what sounded good at the time of birth?”

NAMES ARE IMPORTANT –

BUT none are more important than the names given to the Son of God.  That is why the prophet said,

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace  (Isaiah 9:6 – NIV).

With the events leading up to, and including Resurrection Sunday (Easter), I wanted to look at some of the names and titles given to JESUS in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

He is our Day-Star (2 Peter 1:19 – NKJV):

[19] And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;

2009-10-03-the-morning-star-paradox

The MORNING STAR, or DayStar in the Greek comes from phos and phero (“phosphorus”); Strong reference #5459, light-bringing.  

The meaning denotes the manifestation of Christ to the soul, imparting to the listener light and comfort when things look dark in life.

JESUS IS…“the Morning Star” (Revelation 2:28)–the “brilliant Morning Star” (Revelation 22:16);

“A star (Star) shall come forth out of Jacob” (Numbers 24:17).  The wise men’s focus was from this verse in the Old Testament in searching for the Messiah–JESUS.

Jesus is characterized to the world as this “day-Star” or “morning star” that casts light to the darkened soul.  We were once in this DARKNESS OF SIN…BUT the morning-Star has dawned in our hearts as believers.

The Sun of Righteousness –

standing

Malachi 4:2 (AMP):

[2] But unto you who revere and worshipfully fear My name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings and His beams, and you shall go forth and gambol like calves [released] from the stall and leap for joy.

JESUS is called the Sun of Righteousness…

His LIGHT opens our eyes in a sometimes dim view in what is right.  And…His LIGHT brings healing into our lives spiritually and physically.

The LIGHT of the World –

[12] When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”  (John 8:12).

He is our Arbitrator (Job 9:33 NIV):

[33] If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both,

I love how the King James Version reads.  It uses the term “Daysman” and after doing a little investigation, I found“Daysman” especially appropriate in describing the mediation of Jesus. 

A “Daysman” was a mediator, or umpire, whose work was to settle disputes or grievances between two parties.  But more than that, the “Daysman” had exclusive authority in when and where the matter was to be handled.  This description reminded me of 2 Corinthians 6:2:

[2] For He says, “In the time of favor (of an assured welcome) I have listened to and heeded your call, and I have helped you on the day of deliverance (the day of salvation). Behold, now is truly the time for a gracious welcome and acceptance [of you from God]; behold, now is the day of salvation!”  (Amplified Bible).

As the “Daysman” who alone can reconcile God to man, His day is today!  No appointment necessary!  No waiting for a court docket to be set!

Our Advocate (1 John 2:1-2 AMP):

[1] But if anyone should sin, we have an Advocate (One Who will intercede for us) with the Father–[it is] Jesus Christ…  [2] And He [that same Jesus Himself] is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours alone but also for [the sins of] the whole world.

ADVOCATE – (Greek. parakletos, one who pleads another’s cause, who helps another in defending or comforting him.)

It is a name given by Jews three times to the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7) where the Greek word is rendered “Comforter”).  It is applied to JESUS in 1 John 2:1, where the same Greek word is rendered “Advocate”.

Jesus not only stands in the gap for us as an arbitrator…He also is an advocate for us in speaking to the Father pleading our case.

Our Reconciliation (Colossians 1:21-22 NLT):

images[21] This includes you who are once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.  [22] Yet now he has RECONCILED you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

BANK RECONCILIATION, most of us know: The analyses and adjustment of differences between the cash balance shown on a bank statement, and the account holder’s records.

My wife has been reconciling our bank statement now for over 50 years now.  When the account doesn’t balance, and that seldom occurs, it is usually because of a mathematical mistake on our part and not the banks.  But since we are both human, mistakes will happen, and it never seems to be a “deposit” error.  Go figure!

When it comes to reconciling our spiritual account with God however, the “bank” is never wrong!

God’s Reconciliation is a change from enmity to friendship.  It is mutual, i.e. , it is a change in relationship where both parties have been at enmity.

In verses 21-22, the word used there refers to a change in the character of the sinner who ceases to be an enemy to God and yields to Him with his fullest confidence, trust and love.

In 2 Corinthians 5:20, the apostle Paul appeals to the Corinthians to be “reconciled to God”.

Jesus stands in the gap as an ARBITRATOR…He is and ADVOCATE pleading our case…And He is our RECONCILIATION so we can be joined together in our relationship with God.

He is other things too!

Zechariah 6:12:  Judah’s BRANCH

“Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord’ (NIV).

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Jesus is the BRANCH of God and extends from the house of Judah and to all the peoples of the earth.

The BRANCH represents humility: “branching out from His place” – that the true Messiah will be a Jew reaching out to the peoples of the earth and not a foreigner reaching into assist the Jewish people.

The Gate–the DOOR (John 10:7-11):

The only way to enter the kingdom of God in the present or in eternity is through Door #! only–JESUS!

[9] “I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved”

Also, all true earthly SHEPHERDS (pastors, teachers, etc.) must enter through the Gate–anyone who teaches what is contrary to Jesus’ teaching is a “crook or robber, who climbed over the wall” (verse 10)–and not a shepherd.

False teachers can be identified by their way of entry into the flock.  Anyone, any “religion” who denies Jesus has not entered the kingdom of God:

  • false shepherd
  • false sheep

And the A.K.A. List goes on in the bible!

The Son of God, called IMMANUEL – God with us (Isaiah 7:14) –

“God with us,” what does that really mean to people today?

The Latin verb, INCARNATE means, “to make flesh.”

When we say that Jesus Christ is God, “incarnate,” we mean the Son of God took on a fleshly, bodily form (John 1:14).  However, when this happened in the womb of Mary, Jesus’ earthly mother, He didn’t stop being deity.

Although Jesus is able to be both man and God at the same time, one of the great mysteries of Christianity, nevertheless a test of accepted orthodoxy (1 John 4:2; 2 John 1:7).

Jesus has TWO distinct natures…DIVINE and HUMAN (John 14:11).

When Jesus took on the form of a human, His nature did not change, but His position did!

Jesus in His original nature of God in spirit form, humbled Himself by laying aside His glory and privileges (Philippians 2:6-8).  

God can never stop being God (Hebrews 13:8).

If Jesus stopped being fully God for even a split second, ALL LIFE would cease (see Acts 17:28).

He’s Our REDEEMER (Ephesians 1:7-8) –

He’s Our SACRIFICIAL LAMB (John 1:29) –

He’s Our AUTHORITY over the Enemy (Luke 10:19; Acts 16:18) –

Luke 10:19 – AMP. bible:  Behold! I have given you AUTHORITY and POWER to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.

The apostle Paul is confronted by a demonic spirit and in Acts 16:18 he demonstrates his given authority:  “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!”  Notice that the word used is not “ask” but “command”.  That is the authority that Jesus’ name can bring.

If we are connected with Jesus…our relationship with Him gives us the AUTHORITY over Satan!

What I have presented in this study, is but a taste of the characteristics of JESUS as described in the Bible.  Writers, Poets, Artists, Songwriters, and all Believers who have experienced the love of God, have always tried to express who Jesus is…all the names, titles and expressions in the world still fall short in describing the matchless CHARACTER of the man called JESUS.

He possesses the name above all names–which all human words fall short to describe Him!

Philippians 2:9-11 (AMP):

[9] Therefore [because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him and has freely bestowed on Him the name that is above every name.  [10] That in (at) the name of Jesus every knee should (must) bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.  [11] And every tongue [frankly and openly] confess and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father.

What an honor that we bear His name! – CHRISTIAN.

 

 


CREDITS;

got Questions?org  “What does incarnate mean?” gotquestions.org Home

Photo Credits:  Google Search IMAGES

 

 

 

 

Waiting to Inhale God’s Exhale

TEXT: John 20:21-22; Acts 2:1-4slide_12

After the RESURRECTION, John’s gospel account seemed to me at first glance, that the Spirit’s coming is connected with Jesus’ ascending to the Father.  

But then the next thought that came to my mind, how about when the Church was first initiated in Luke’s account, Acts chapter 2?

holy-spirit-2-728

Looking at John’s version of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the verses in Luke’s description in Acts 2, we see that John is emphasizing some different things, maybe wanting to improve on or support Luke’s idea.

So I want to explore some ideas in this blog, not from a doctrinal viewpoint but from a personal one concerning John’s version of our Christian experience of the Holy Spirit. 

The FIRST AND MAJOR DIFFERENCE I found between John and Luke’s story in Acts is one of timing.  In John, the giving of the Spirit occurs on the evening of Resurrection Day (EASTER).

By contrast, Luke records that the Holy Spirit came upon a group of gathered believers, “about a hundred and twenty” (Acts 1:15), for the feast of Pentecost 50 days after Passover and the resurrection of Christ Jesus.

QUESTION:  So did the church begin in John 20:22 or at Pentecost in Acts 2:4?

It’s worth mentioning here, that the Church’s liturgical calendar has followed Luke’s version, which probably dominates our thinking and reflection of how the Spirit came on the church and what it means.

So how do we make sense of this different timing?

JESUS BREATHED (exhaled) the Holy Spirit into the disciples the evening of Resurrection Day, AND…also sent the Holy Spirit in a different way 50 days later.  

That solves all our problems! 

I have learned over the years in bible study, it is not a good idea to try to harmonise variations of different writers because it doesn’t do justice to their particular emphases.

Clearly John in this passage of Scripture is describing the event of the Holy Spirit coming into the disciples, just as Luke is doing in the Book of Acts.

An interesting note here concerning one word “in” or “into.”  Jesus appears in the locked room, declares His peace, commissions them and then BREATHES into them. declaring “RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT.”

Many translations use “on” rather than “into”, but the same word used in Genesis 2:7 where God BREATHES into the clay-body of man He has formed to  create a living being – [ [i] In the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures used in Jesus’ time].

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Genesis 2:7 {NIV):

“–the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

This verse found in Genesis is but one verse that gives the application of the beautiful picture of a person and the work of the Holy Spirit.

The emblem, under which God’s Spirit is represented to us is the BREATH and AIR, the atmosphere in which you and I live daily and the act by which we INHALE or EXHALE are the GIFTS and manifested POWER.

We can live for days without food, for a lifetime without sight or hearing, but we cannot live for an hour without breath–without breathing in and out.  We cannot see it, we can scarcely feel it, and yet all around us is an ocean of air without which we could not exist, and without which all of our senses we would be blind, deaf, and vain.

I believe John deliberately wants to make those connections, when a new creation comes to life in giving the Holy Spirit–something new is coming into existence and being released into the world.

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What we have to remember, in study of biblical writers, is that they are less concerned with historical facts and more with theological truths.  And it’s the theological truths we want to discern.  So let’s focus first on John’s account.

Notice that his version links the Holy Spirit far more closely with Jesus himself and His ministry.

After declaring PEACE to the fearful disciples, Jesus says,

“As the Father has sent Me forth, so I am sending you.”  (verse 21)

 

The Holy Spirit is not a “force” or “a thing”– He is a PERSON!

Perhaps one of the most important yet least understood truths of the Bible is the infilling and baptism of the Holy Spirit.

I have come to realize that this is an unchanging truth but as God has led me to a deeper knowledge and experience over the years is my understanding of the TRUTH.

When I was first converted, “born again,” in 1972, I was taught that I was FILLED at the moment of salvation and I assumed that this was true.  I didn’t realize that Jesus gave His disciples the Holy Spirit and then promised that the Holy Spirit would baptize them.

The Bible states that we RECEIVE the SPIRIT at the moment we SURRENDER our hearts to Christ Jesus (1 John 3:9; Romans 8:9-10; 1 Corinthians 6:19).

God puts His Spirit within us and we are born as a child of God, BUT…the real POWER to come later at Pentecost is when the power of the Holy Spirit would change the fearful disciples into men that God would use to bring His message WITH…POWER and AUTHORITY! –  (Acts 1:8)

Jesus said, “in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit”  (Acts 1:5)

THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT AND SALVATION CONNECTION –

I have been asked he question on different occasions, “Is every Christian, those who are “born again”, also baptized in the Holy Spirit, that is, is BAPTISM in the Holy Spirit automatically received with SALVATION?”

Baptism of the Holy Spirit Banner

John 20:22 (NIRV):

[22] He then breathed on them. He said “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Here, Jesus breathes into the apostle’s nostrils and they RECEIVE (“inhale”) Holy Spirit, (that is, they are “born-again,” i.e. “saved”) and the Holy Spirit comes to live in the heart of the believer.

However, the BAPTISM in the Holy Spirit is where the living Spirit of God comes on the believer, occurring on Pentecost 50 days later.

Luke 24:49 (AMP):

[49] And behold, I will send forth upon you what My Father has promised; but remain in the city [Jerusalem] until you are clothed (endued) with power from on high.

Acts 1:5 (NIV):

[5] For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Again, the same PROMISE and we realize that THIS Baptism will come upon the believer.

Acts 2:3-4 (AMP):

[3] And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each one of them.  [4] And they were all filled (diffused throughout their souls) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages (tongues), as the Spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression [in each tongue in appropriate words].

This is the point where the apostles received the BAPTISM IN the Holy Spirit; when the Holy Spirit comes UPON the believer.

However, as we’ve seen, there existed a period of time where they RECEIVED the Holy Spirit and were BAPTIZED IN the Spirit.  My belief is these were separated acts, each having a different reason.

SALVATION comes by receiving the Holy Spirit, that is we are SAVED from the penalty of sin.  We become sons and daughters of the King; we RECEIVE the AUTHORITY to act (Luke 10:19 – Believer’s Authority) as sons and daughters of God.

Jesus doesn’t say, “Wait in Jerusalem until you are

born again or converted or put into the body of Christ.”

He says, “Wait until you are clothed with power.”

He doesn’t say, “You shall receive membership in the body

of Christ when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”

  • – John Piper –

Sadly, because many people don’t understand there is a difference between the two events (SALVATION & BAPTISM) and don’t, or won’t, seek the greater POWER of God transforming their lives and ministries.  I call it “ineffectiveness” in the Spirit.

Every person who truly REPENTS and invites Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior receives the Holy Spirit.  

1 John 3 calls this God’s SEED in which teaches us, this is when we are born of God, His Seed remains in us.

When the Holy Spirit fills someone, the BLESSING is not for them alone but to EQUIP & EMPOWER them to do God’s will.

The apostles were FILLED immediately and demonstrated that HOLY SPIRIT POWER to preach with boldness, stand before their enemies and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.  The focus is on God’s will and…HIS WILL ALWAYS produces Fruit.

If a person is NOT producing fruit, they are not FILLED!

The lack of POWER in the modern church as I see it, isn’t because GOD’S POWER is diminished but because we no longer SEEK God with all of our hearts.

To be FILLED by the Spirit, you must be hungry and thirsty for God.

Matthew 5:6 (NIV):

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

A TRUE BELIEVER, one who is born again, is serious and truly hungry and thirsty for God, and will never be satisfied until FILLED.

“SO, WHERE’S THE POWER?”

“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free.”

I used to just assume that Paul and Luke were talking about the same thing when they used the word “BAPTISM” and connected it to the Holy Spirit–in other words, the Baptism by the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 13 is the same as the Baptism with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. Many scholars and bible teachers make this connection.

My view is not the only orthodox one, nor is it one you have to agree with.  But it is one I have increasingly come to believe is correct and is needed in the church.

Jesus said, “But you [the ‘inhalers’] shall receive POWER (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My WITNESSES…”  (Acts 1:8 – AMP).

And the RESULTS of the Baptism of the Spirit?

[40] And [Peter] solemnly and earnestly witnessed and admonished with much more continuous speaking and warned them, saying,  Be SAVED from this crooked generation.  [41] Therefore those who accepted and welcome his message were baptized (in water), and there were added 3,000 souls.


CREDITS:

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search.

Commentaries:  John Piper: Topic, The Holy Spirit.  John Piper is the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org. and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible except where noted–the NIRV: the New International Reader’s Version.

 

 

Easter Egg Hunts

Before you form a preconceived opinion from my title–this is not about my condemnation of family traditions; the ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s of the Easter season.

After reading a full-page in my local newspaper the other day, I couldn’t help notice our local area churches’ upcoming Easter activities advertised, and it made me question…

“Why does the Easter bunny and egg hunts seem to be more exciting than news about Christ’s death and resurrection?”  So here we are.110424-the-resurrection-of-jesus-widescreen-1-728

I simply believe we haven’t grasped the significance of the DEATH & RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ.  Oh, most of us know the ‘story,’ of what happened over 2,000 years ago, but it didn’t stop at the Cross.

POST’S Scripture Focus:  1 Corinthians 15:1 – 15:25

Manuel Gonzales was the first rescue worker to reach 33 miners trapped or 69 days in a Chilean mine explosion in 2010.  At great risk to his own life, he voluntarily went underground more than 2000 feet, to bring the trapped men back to the surface.  We all watched in amazement as one by one, each miner was rescued and transported to freedom [See Footnote [i] ].

We need to come to a conclusion today that the RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ is…

–more than a fairytale,

–more than a legend,

–and more than some religious symbol.

It is a historical fact that is indisputable.

Billy Graham once said,  “There is more evidence that Jesus rose from the dead then there is that Julius Caesar ever lived or that Alexander the Great died at the age of thirty-three.”  [See Footnote [ii] ].

How can Billy Graham make such a statement?  Is there evidence that makes believing in the Resurrection more than a leap of ‘blind faith’?

“For the RESURRECTION to have any significance, JESUS had to be dead first”  (Dr. Norman Geisler – When Skeptics Ask;  p. 120.)

Some have said that Jesus just passed out and was revived later in his tomb.  HELLO!!  Christ suffered horribly and eventually died with the beginning at the Garden of Gethsemane, where “His sweat was like drops of blood” (Luke 22:44).

His suffering continued throughout His interrogations by Annas and Caiaphas, hitting him in the face, spit upon and beaten, and continued when taken to Pilate, flogged, given a crown of thorns, spit upon and struck repeatedly on the head.  The flogging alone was so brutal that it was amazing He lasted until His crucifixion.

And then there was the CRUCIFIXION itself!

Hanegraaff writes,

“The Roman system of crucifixion had been fine tuned to produce maximum pain. In fact, the word excruciating (literally “out of the cross”) had to be invented to fully codify its horror.”

They used 5 to 7 inch spikes to hammer him to the wooden beams of the cross.

$_1

And there is more!

John 19:31-37 gives the account of the guards breaking the legs of the thieves to hasten their death by asphyxiation.  But when they came to JESUS, He was already dead and they speared His side instead.

If he wasn’t DEAD…he would be dead now!

– EMPTY TOMB

Matthew 27:51-61 gives an account of Jesus’ BURIAL.

Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the religious right, the Sanhedrin, placed Jesus’ body in his tomb.  This account also says that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting opposite the tomb, so they knew where it was.

The next day, the Sanhedrin came up with a plan…just in case the disciples might have plans in stealing Jesus’ body, faking a resurrection–getting Pilate’s order to post a guard and seal the tomb.  [Read Matthew 27:62-66]

The tomb was discovered EMPTY because it was EMPTY!

Nobody got the tombs mixed up.

Nobody stole the body.

It was, EMPTY, period!

– APPEARANCES

One of the greatest PROOFS of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was His post-resurrection appearances.

1 Corinthians 15:5b-6 ~ NIV bible

[5b]…He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  [6] After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

More than 500 people!

500 saw Jesus

There were surely many people who could testify to the trustworthiness of this statement. Several hundred.  Paul’s statement had plenty of eyewitness testimony to back it up or disprove it if false.

– TRANSFORMATION REALITY

The reality is that a TRANSFORMATION of Jesus’ followers took place.

This is evidence of the reality of the RESURRECTION–

This small group of disciples went from hiding to preaching in a very short time.  And, they were willing to go through pain, suffering and even death.

“Nobody willingly dies for something that they know is false”  (Lee Strobel, “Case for Easter”.)

They knew Jesus had died, knew there was an empty tomb, and they had seen Him.

And the REALITY of the Resurrection’s transforming POWER didn’t stop with the eyewitnesses, but within weeks of the Resurrection, not just one, but an entire community of at least ten thousand Jews were willing to give up the very sociological and theological TRADITIONS that had given them their national identity.  [The Case for the Resurrection! – He is risen! –He is risen…www.chiptape.com]

The Relevance of the Resurrection –

Christ’s Resurrection proves He was God, and not an imposter.  In John 2, Jesus chased out the money changers in the Temple because they’d turned God’s Temple into a marketing venture.

The Jews asked Him,  “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”  This is what Jesus told them:

“Destroy the temple, and I will raise it again in three days”  (John 2:19 NIV).

They thought he was referring to the Temple building they were in.  But verse 21 tells that He was referring to His body.  He delivered on the miraculous sign, proving who He was.

The Resurrection proves Jesus to be the Son of God; brings us face to face with the FACT that He is who He claimed to be.  God in the flesh!

The founders of every other religion DIED and stayed DEAD!

JESUS ROSE AGAIN!

This is important to all pf mankind.  It forces people to make a decision in life.  Since Christ Jesus IS who He claimed to be, how will the world respond to Him?

The Resurrection makes your Salvation possible –

Without the Resurrection of Jesus, every person is still DEAD in their sins  (Romans 4:25).

If Jesus died and was never raised, then His death did nothing to accomplish JUSTIFICATION.

God raising him from the dead showed acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice.  If God left Jesus in the grave, then the SACRIFICE was not accepted and no one has received cleansing from sin.  The condemnation for sin is death (Rom. 6:23).  To still be under condemnation means that ALL people will be given the ultimate penalty for their sins.”  [Life Application Bible Commentary]

Paul writes “And if Christ has not risen, then our preaching is in vain  [it amounts to nothing]  and your faith is devoid of truth and is fruitless  (without effect, empty, imaginary, and unfounded)…And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is mere delusion, and you are still in your sins [under the control and penalty of sin].  And further, those who have died in [spiritual fellowship and union with] Christ have perished (are lost)!”  [1 Corinthians 15:14, 17-18 AMP).

If JESUS didn’t rise then you are still dead in your sins and your Christian faith is worthless, and anyone you’ve known who died a believer is just as damned as an unbeliever.

– The RESURRECTION makes YOUR Resurrection possible

You and I are spirit and body.  Unlike the beliefs of the great Greek philosophers, who thought the body was evil and something we should want to be released from.

God made our bodies as part of who we are and they complete us.

Right now our bodies are affected by SIN and the body dies, BUT…God has a plan to RESURRECT our bodies to perfection.

These resurrected bodies, our current bodies will be TRANSFORMED (When I look in the mirror in the mornings, I say Hallelujah!) and will be bodies completely perfect and dominated by the Spirit rather than the sinful nature.

I especially like what the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8 (NIV):

[23] Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  [24] For in this hope we were saved.  But hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what he already has?

Our spirits have been SAVED, BUT…we are awaiting the day for our bodies that are made completely new that frees us from the ugliness of SIN and totally be dominated by the Holy Spirit.

Resurrection is our HOPE, our GUARANTEE!  

And, 2 Corinthians 5:5 says…

Now He Who has fashioned us [preparing and making us fit] for this very thing is God,  Who also has given us the [Holy] Spirit as a guarantee [of the fulfillment of His promise]. (Amplified Bible)

Our resurrection is only made possible by the resurrection of Christ Jesus.  Christ’s RESURRECTION guarantees our own bodily resurrection.

The Bible refers to Him as being the ‘firstfruits,’ guaranteeing the whole harvest of which you and I are a part…IF…we are in Christ.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes through man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in his own turn; Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him  (1 Corinthians 15:20-23 NIV).

“Is it EASTER yet?”

LIVING IN THE “EGG KINGDOM” –

Humpty Dumpty, A NURSERY RHYME of old, most of us know by heart.  I find that there is an analogy to be found in this classic tale that lines up with this Blog-post.

Google Images
Google Images

I remember that egg-shaped character sitting on a wall and fell and all the king’s horses and the king’s men couldn’t put him back again.

You and I are broken because of SIN.

There is nothing anyone can do to fix us.  We are utterly helpless and hopeless to stand in judgment before God in our sin.

The Story of “PHILIP’S EGG”  [See Footnote [iii] ] –

Little Philip, born with Down’s syndrome, attended a third-grade Sunday School class with several eight-year-old boys and girls.  Typical of that age, children didn’t readily accept Philip with his differences.  But because of a creative teacher, they began to care about Philip and accept him as part of the group, though not fully.

The Sunday after Easter, the teacher brought Leggs pantyhose containers, the kind that look like large EGGS.

Each receiving one, the children were told to go outside on that spring day, find some symbol of new life, and put it in the egg-like container.

Back in the classroom, they shared their new-life symbols, opening the containers one by one in a surprise fashion and after running about the church property in wild confusion, the students returned to the classroom, placing the containers on the table.

Surrounded by the children, the teacher began to open them one by one.  After each one, whether flower, butterfly or leaf, the class would ooh and aah.

Then one was opened, revealing nothing inside.  The children exclaimed, “That’s stupid. That’s not fair! Somebody didn’t do their assignment.”

Philip spoke up, “That’s mine.”  “Philip, you don’t ever do things right!” the student points out.  “There’s nothing there!”  “I did so do it,” Philip insisted.  “I did do it. It’s empty; the tomb was empty!”  Silence followed.  From then on, Philip became a full member of the class.

Philip died not long after that from an infection most normal children would have shrugged off.  At the funeral this class of eight-year-olds marched up to the altar, not with flowers, but with their Sunday school teacher, each to lay on it an empty pantyhose EGG.

The JOY of Resurrection Sunday Morning!

While you may be broken like Humpty Dumpty because of sin, unfixable by anyone in the world, and because that tomb is genuinely empty and Jesus is alive and well…what He did on the cross for you and I, paying for our sins, we’ve been given an opportunity.  Not only to be fixed, but to become a NEW CREATION and to have fellowship with God.

That’s the Joy of Resurrection morning.  

God can fix you spiritually and you can have the HOPE that He will one day complete your redemption by redeeming your body to be like Jesus’ body.  There is no JOY without the relevancy of the Resurrection and without it, you have no life! 

 


 

Credits & Footnotes:

Footnote [i] :  Our Daily Bread REDEEMED, Pg. Devotion: Day Nine.

Footnote [ii]:  Hank Hanegraaff Resurrection – Publisher: W. Publishing Group.

Footnote [iii]:  Christianity Today.com – Philip’s Egg by Harry Pritchett Jr. in the Leadership Journal Magazine.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV), except where noted in the text.

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search.

 

 

 

IGNORANCE Is No Excuse!

Scripture verses: John 19:1-3:

[1] Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.  [2] The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head.  They clothed him in a purple robe  [3] and went up to him again and again, saying,  “Hail, king of the Jews!”  And they struck him in the face.  (NIV – New International Version Bible.)

EASTER START –

I have always enjoyed movies around Easter time that depict the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Some, I enjoyed before becoming a born-again, as a spectacle; Roman guards, crowd scenes in chaos, background music…”WOW!” I thought after leaving the theater, then immediately headed to the record store to buy the Soundtrack to the movie.

Knowing what I know now, and after becoming a true believer in Christ Jesus, and… what He did for me on the cross, my viewpoint has changed on the impact the events, so long ago, have played out in my Christian life today.

It is interesting to contrast how the suffering of Jesus is portrayed in the movies of the past.

1927 King of Kings CrucifixionThe King of Kings, a Cecil B. Demille’s 1927 spectacular.  The movie was such a big hit that no Hollywood studio would make another life of Jesus movie until after DeMille had passed away.  In 1961, a re-make of the movie was made, and I was first in line at the box offices to get my tickets.

Most of the movies made would have been rated “PG” if there had been “ratings” at the time.  There’s hardly any blood; and JESUS looks more annoyed than in pain.  And I also noticed that there seemed to be a heavenly glow around His head, as He gazes into heaven.

Then there are depictions that more accurately portray Jesus’ suffering, like Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of the Christ; rated “R” for violence.

Yeshuah and the Kingdom of Heaven
Yeshuah and the Kingdom of Heaven

But Gibson really didn’t go far enough…

To understand the physical impact of the scourging had on Jesus and the unfolding events ahead as He went with His disciples to the Mount of Olives in the garden of Gethsemane.

And being in agony [of mind] He prayed and intently, and His sweat became like great clots of blood dropping down upon the ground  (Luke 22:44 AMP).

The drops of blood Luke (a doctor) refers to, is the result of a medical condition called Hematidrosis.  Severe anxiety breaks the capillaries in the sweat glands, resulting in “bloody sweat.”  [SEE Footnote [i]

People often think JESUS got 39 lashes, but that was a Jewish limitation.  ROMAN scourging (9:1) was more severe.

The Objective:

The Roman objective was to shred the muscles of the back, buttocks, and legs. Historians say that six of ten would die from this beating [Third-century historian Eusebius].

What I find amazing, is this “scourging” that takes place, is not just the extreme nature of it, but that it was allowed to happen in the first place.

1 Peter 3:18 (NLT – New Living Translation):

[18] Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

John 10:18 (a) (Amplified Bible):

[17]  …because I lay down My [own] life–to take it back again.  [18] No one takes it away from Me. On the contrary, I lay it down voluntarily…”

No one was doing this to JESUS against His will, for at any second He could have put a stop to it!

One reason I gave you this vivid backdrop, I wanted you to understand that the Romans were also faced with the ultimate question,

“What will we do with Jesus?”

WHY?

IGNORANCE –

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Ignorance is a favorite defense of ours.  “Don’t blame me; I didn’t know!”

We often want to justify our guilt by pleading ignorance.

“Did you take out the trash?” – “I didn’t know it was trash day.”

“Did you eat the last Popsicle?” – “I didn’t know it was the last one.”

“Are you aware there is a dress code in the office?” – “I didn’t know that.”

“Did you know the blood splattered on your face is payment for your sins?”

“Did you know that the bruises you give Him are for you transgressions–that by His wounds you are healed?” 

“I didn’t know…”

When it comes down to our RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, we can’t plead ignorance.

While IGNORANCE might be an explanation, it is not an acceptable defense.  Attorneys will tell you that ignorance is not an allowable defense in a criminal case; it’s not a legitimate excuse.

Imagine you get a new job and you are given an employee manual, and you never look at it.  On the first day of work you come in after 9 AM.  You are wearing ratty jeans, a pair of flip-flops, a bleached-stained old sweatshirt, and a cap.  After a two-hour lunch break, you come back and find a note on your desk from the boss.  After your offenses are laid out, you say,  “I didn’t know.”  But it’s your responsibility to know.  The book was given to you.

Even if you ignored it and didn’t read it, you are still accountable for its guidelines.

This same principle of responsibility applies to our Godly Relationship.  We will all one day have to give an account to God; pleading IGNORANCE will not be an option.

IGNORANCE WILL NOT REMOVE YOUR GUILT!

Acts 3:13b-15 (MSG):

“The very One that Pilate called innocent, you repudiated. You repudiated the Holy One, the Just One, and asked for a murderer in his place. You no sooner called the Author of Life than God raised him from the dead–and we’re the witnesses.”

Peter then goes on to say in verse 17,

“And now brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance [not aware of what you were doing], as did your rulers…”  (AMP)

Then in verse 19, he gives the appropriate response in their ignorance of killing Jesus:

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord”  (NIV Bible).

Though they acted in ignorance, that didn’t get them off the hook.

REPENTANCE was still needed…IGNORANCE was no excuse.

WHY?

Because man’s IGNORANCE is willful.

Romans 1:20 (NIV):

For since creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Donnas-sunset-cropped

What Paul refers to here, is “general revelation.”  If a person seeks to know the God who revealed Himself in CREATION, God’s promise is, He will give that person whatever other revelation is needed that they might know Him personally and intimately.

“But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul”  (Deuteronomy 4:29 NIV).

God’s REVELATION can be like CAR HEADLIGHTS.

If I were to leave the church parking light at night after choir practice, my car’s headlights don’t shine down the Nooksack Road, Tom Road, Hampton Road and up my driveway.

No, they shine out so far, and when I have traveled that distance, they shine out further.

And just like I can put on the brakes when driving my car, we can put on the brakes to GOD’S REVELATION.  In fact, that’s the way mankind at large, is described in Romans 3: 11b:

“no one seeks out God”

But for those who do respond to GOD’S REVELATION, more will be given so that they might come to know God in a personal relationship through Jesus.

One example of this in Scripture is Cornelius in Acts 10, of a God-fearing man who sought the Lord.  Holy Spirit sent Peter to explain the Good News to him, so he might know Christ personally.

On the FIRST EASTER, though most Romans remained IGNORANT, one did not.  He didn’t ignore what God had made known to him that day.  HE BELIEVED! (Mark 15:39).

The same happened with one of the THIEVES who was crucified beside Jesus (Luke 23:39-43).

Maybe if you are reading this right now, God’s revelation has drawn you to Him this day.

KEEP ASKING QUESTIONS, there ARE ANSWERS.

Perhaps there is a need for you to commit to knowing God.  God has brought you to this place where you have had enough questions answered–that you recognize that JESUS IS THE ANSWER and you are ready to give your life to Him.

OTHERS need to COMMIT to showing God.

You may know Christ and you recognize the need to used like Peter was.

Be a willing WITNESS who tells a ‘seeking soul’ about our Gracious God!  

Remember, IGNORANCE is no excuse!

 


CREDITS & FOOTNOTES –

Footnote [i] : Medical Dictionary at medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/hermatidrosis.

Photo Images: Google Images Search; Photobucket.

Bible Translations:  New Living Translation (NLT); The MESSAGE bible (MSG); The AMPLIFIED bible (AMP).