“If the foundation be destroyed…”

Scripture:  Psalm 11:3; Isaiah 58:12

A Christian college professor asked his doctoral students to complete a theological survey of congregations – They learned that many churches, over 56%, don’t know their church’s basic theological positions.  They can neither summarize nor explain their church’s doctrine.  There are many reasons why, and that brings me to this week’s blog.  

Many people have asked me over the last few years, what “denomination” am I member of”.  They are somewhat taken back when I answer, “I’m a fundamentalist!  I don’t ‘belong’ to any “denomination”.

So what is a “fundamentalist”?

GOING BACK TO THE “BASICS” 

The Huffington Post revealed its ignorance in an article that attempted to portray the President’s nominee for Army Secretary as some sort of Christion fundamentalist weirdo:

“Trump’s Army Pick:  Looking at Victoria’s Secret Catalogs Can Turn

Men Into Saddam Hussein,” 

…read a headline that was published.

RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM –

Over the past several years I’ve heard and read about attacks on the fundamentals of the Christian faith:

It was suggested in a recent television program that Mary, Jesus’ earthly mother, that Mary’s conception was the result of being raped by a Roman soldier.  Such attacks aren’t new:

John 6:42 (NIV)

The said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we knew?  How can He now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

Years ago it was reported that a certain Anglican priest expressed his view that Jesus didn’t die on the cross, rather, he merely ‘swooned’ or passed out then regained consciousness a few days later.  After showing Himself to the apostles, he moved to Egypt and lived to a ripe old age.

Mark 15:44-45


Such attacks against the FUNDAMENTALS OF OUR FAITH must not be swept under the carpet.

Galatians 1:6 (NIV)

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in  the grace of Christ and is turning to a different gospel–“

“Those who take pride in their steadfastness shall fall the hardest”  (Quotes & Things, D. Collins ).

1 Corinthians 10:12 (AMP)

“Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands [who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm], take heed lest he falls [into sin].

Manufacturers Know 3 Secrets of Increasing Sales:  Advertise, advertise, advertise.

A carefully crafted advertisement, frequently repeated during primetime viewing to increase sales.

Someone once laid down two guidelines for selling a LIE:

  • Keep repeating it to yourself until you believe it, then…
  • Tell it again and again to as many people as possible.

WE NEED TO BE SELECTIVE IN REGARDS TO THAT WHICH WE EXPOSE OURSELVES…

Or we’ll end up believing a LIE.

But more than that, we need to ‘repeat to ourselves’ over and over again the fundamental truths of the gospel so that we might remain fully convince and firmly established in the TRUTH.

Read carefully the instruction that God gave to the Israelites:

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (NIV)

[6]  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  [7]  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  [8]  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  [9]  Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NIV)

[18]  Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.   [19] Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

NOTE too, what the Apostle Peter wrote to Christians:

[Also read 2 Peter 3:1-2, 17; Proverbs 3:3]

FUNDAMENTAL TRUTHS OF THE GOSPEL THAT NEED TO BE UNDERSTOOD:

Isaiah 58:12 (AMP)

[12] And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of [buildings that have laid waste for] many generations; you shall be called Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of Streets to Dwell in.

#1.  The Virgin Birth.

The record concerning Jesus’ birth:

What does the record say concerning the Birth of Jesus?

Luke 1:26-55

 

AND, in Matthew 1:18-25 (NIV)

The facts presented by Luke and Matthew are clearly to the point.  Mary was a virgin.

In case there might be any doubt, what is meant by the word ‘virgin,’ (some say it just means ‘young woman’), it’s clear from the text that it means ‘one who hasn’t had sexual intercourse’.

Mary says, “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  (Luke 1:34)

Matthew states that This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about:  His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.  (Matthew 1:18)

To deny the fact of the virgin birth is to deny that Jesus is the eternal Word of God who “was made flesh, and dwelt among us” as the Scriptures affirm.

AND…

AND…

“The first man [was] from out of earth, made of dust (earthly-minded); the second Man [is] the Lord from out of heaven”  (1 Corinthians 15:47 – Amplified version).

DENY that Jesus is God’s one and only Son as the Scriptures affirm:

[Romans 8:3; Galatians 4:4; 1 John 4:9]

The Word of God says of those who DENY the fact of the Virgin Birth and that Jesus came in the flesh is plain:

  • They are not of God (1 John 4:2-3).
  • There are deceivers and an antichrist:  2 John 1:7 (NIV)

[7]  I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world.  Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.

THE DEATH ON THE CROSS

The record of Jesus’ death on the cross:

What does the Bible say concerning Jesus’ CRUCIFIXION?

Acts 2:23 (AMP)

“This Jesus, when delivered up according to the definite and fixed purpose and settled plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and put out of the way [killing Him] by the hands of lawless and wicked men.”

The evidence presented by the evangelists are quite clear:

  • JESUS “gave up His spirit” (Matthew 27:50)
  • When the soldiers came to Jesus, they “saw that He was dead already” (John 19:33)
  • John also notes the fact of the soldier who pierced Jesus’ side with a spear (John 19:34)

To deny that Jesus died on the cross is to deny that Jesus has died for all our sins.

[Also READ: 1 Corinthians 15:3; Romans 5:8; 1 Peter 3:18; Romans 5:6]

To DENY that we have been RECONCILED. JUSTIFIED, then we are still alienated; separated from God’s mercy and grace.

Romans 5:10 (NIV)

“For if,  while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

To DENY that Jesus tasted death for everyone, it means we must pay the price for our sins after all (Romans 6:23; Hebrews 2:9).

To DENY that the Devil has been rendered powerless!  (Hebrews 2:14)

THE RESURRECTION

The record stated of the resurrection:  (Matthew 28:1-10; John 20:1-31)

The RECORD clearly states that Jesus was raised from the dead (Matthew 28:5), and He appeared to His disciples (Matthew 28:8-9; John 20:14, 10).

The disciples saw and touched His wounds  (John 20:20, 26-28)

To DENY the RESURRECTION is to…

Regarding Jesus:

Say that His soul was left in Hades and that death has dominion over Him, and the pains of death haven’t been loosed.

Acts 2:31 (NIV)

“Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that He was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did His body see decay…”

Romans 6:9 (NIV)

“For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him.”

Acts 2:24 (NIV)

“But God raised him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.”

DENY THAT JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD:

Romans 1:4 (AMP)

“And [as to His divine nature] according to the Spirit of holiness was openly designated the Son of God in power [in a striking triumphant and miraculous manner] by His resurrection from the dead, even Jesus Christ our Lord (the Messiah, the Anointed One).”

DEMY THAT JESUS ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN and sat down at the right hand of the Father, and ruling from His throne:

Ephesians 1:20-21; Acts 2:30; Philippians 2:5-11

To say that Jesus will not return:

1 Thessalonians 1:10 (AMP)

And [how you] look forward to and await the coming of His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead–Jesus, Who personally rescues and delivers us out of and from the wrath [bringing punishment] which is coming [upon the impenitent] and draws us to Himself [investing us with all the privileges and rewards of the new life in Christ, the Messiah].”

Regarding Us.

Say that everything we believe and hope is in vain and meaningless:  “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith”  (1 Corinthians 15:14).

We will not be resurrected:

Romans 8:11 (NIV)

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in  you.”

And, we are not SAVED and still in our sins:

  • 1 Peter 3:21.
  • Romans 10:9.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:17.
  • Romans 4:25.

We have no hope:

  • 1 Peter 1:3.
  • 1 Peter 1:21.

The fundamentals of our faith are under attack from the very beginning to the present day, and they will, without a doubt, continue relentlessly until the end of time.

Philippians 3:1

Three of the fundamental doctrines that constantly come under attack are…

  1. ‘the virgin birth’
  2. ‘the death of Jesus on the cross’
  3. And ‘the resurrection.’

To deny, modify these fundamental truths (the HEART of the Gospel) means denying the whole body of teaching surrounding the heart.

We need to constantly remind (READ) ourselves the FUNDAMENTALS of our Faith…the FOUNDATIONS of our Belief, and defend the faith delivered to the saints with the sword of the Spirit.

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CREDITS:

Christian fundamentalism AMERICAN PROTESTANT MOVEMENT written by J. Gordon Melton, Ernest R. Sandeen – Encyclopedia Britannica.

PHOTO/IMAGES:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP), and other translations used in the photos and images.

Up From The Graves [THEY] Arose!

Scripture Study:  Matthew 27:51-53

As the Easter season approaches, I wanted to look at some of the strange and unusual events that are recorded in connection with the death and resurrection of Jesus.  These events are only recorded in one or two verses of Scripture and they have a real significance for understanding the power of the death and resurrection of Christ.  The specific passage I want to focus on in this study is this one:

Matthew 27:51b-53 (NIV)

[51b]  The earth shook, the rocks split  [52] and the tombs broke open.  The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.  [53] They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

WHO ARE THE “HOLY PEOPLE”?

It’s possible that this refers to the great saints like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  It’s possible but quite unlikely.  The fact that the tombs are empty causes enough of a commotion–had it been that it was Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob–well that would have caused an uproar in the city.

I get the impression that the ones who showed up were instantly recognized.  It’s like a homecoming with many people in the city welcoming back loved ones who have recently passed away.  The “holy people” we should have in mind are those who have died more recently who now go back to a city where they are recognized without introduction.

In John Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible, it is said that they were some later saints, Zechariah the father of John the Baptist, John the Baptist himself, good old Simeon, Joseph the husband of Mary, and others, well-known to persons now alive.  If ever you needed a good plot for a movie–this would be it!

Passages like this are easy to speculate about especially because it’s such a brief account.

But this passage wasn’t written to make us open Pandora’s box of speculation.  These verses were written to tell us something about the nature of Jesus’ death.  To see the significance, let’s have a closer look at the process because it happens in TWO STAGES.

The FIRST STAGE happens immediately at the death of Jesus.

You can guarantee that this event caused a big stir on Friday.

The people back then were not buried in the ground like we do today.  People were buried in caves with rocks rolled in front…that’s how Jesus was buried.  It would be easy to see open and empty tombs.  With a little detective work of doing a missing body count, a trend would develop.  Not all tombs are empty–not everyone has come to life.  This was a difficult trend for the Jews to deal with because an event like this shouldn’t happen.  Common belief by most Jews that there would be a resurrection.  However, when that RESURRECTION did take place the Jews expected ALL Jews to rise, not a limited number.

The breaking open of these tombs has created a crisis.

For certain everyone would be asking, “Where are the bodies?”

They will have that answer on the day Jesus rises from the dead!

But the bigger crisis is a FAITH CRISIS–why is it that some were raised and others were not?

This brings us to the SECOND STAGE of the process. 

After Jesus was raised from death, those people went into the holy city (Jerusalem), and many people saw them.  (Matthew 27:53b. – NLT) 

When Jesus died on the cross, everyone thought it was all over.

But looks can be deceiving.

That’s because DEATH isn’t a natural occurrence.  It’s a result of SIN.

  • The grave has every right to hold us unless our sin can be covered.
  • Death has every right to keep us unless payment can be made.
  • Satan has every right to make a claim on us unless a ransom has been given.

And when Jesus breathed His last that’s exactly what happened.  SIN is covered.  Payment is made.  A ransom is given.  And DEATH watches helplessly as Jesus claims what is rightfully His.

It’s the DEATH of Jesus that VICTORY is secured. 

The RESURRECTION of Jesus is more like a victory lap.  SIN has been covered.  The payment has been fulfilled.

When these recently risen holy ones enter the city they do so as participants in the “victory lap” of Jesus.  And that’s the reason why ALL weren’t raised.

All weren’t raised because, in their lifetime, they had their eyes focused on the wrong spot.

  • The holy people were the ones who trusted that God had set them apart, not because they were Jewish, but because He was faithful!
  • The holy people didn’t presume that they had a place in heaven just because they were born in Jerusalem, they trusted in the GRACE of God to bring them into His family.
  • The holy people weren’t those who sacrificed at the Temple and went on with life as they pleased, they sacrificed their hearts as well.
  • The holy people understood they couldn’t do it on their own and they needed God.

Each of those empty tombs represents a person who understands that real spiritual victory can’t be earned…but rather that spiritual victory can be found when we put our trust in God’s incredible GRACE!

So where does all of this leave us today?

I believe it leaves us with a challenge.  What we are seeing here is a preview of what is going to happen in the future.

There will be a day when a RESURRECTION will happen–and it’s going to be a selective event.

Some will end up in the second death, to be banished from God’s grace forever.  And like the people in the city of Jerusalem, none of us should presume which group we’re in.

Looking at the situation from one side of the fence.

  • You may have been baptized in the church–but your baptism doesn’t save you.
  • You may be one of the foundational members–but that doesn’t save you either.
  • You could be a longstanding member–but that’s not what saves.
  • You Mom & Dad, your spouse are believers–but that doesn’t make you any more saved.

And here’s looking from the other side of the fence.

  • You may feel you have nothing to offer the King of Kings–that won’t stop you from being saved.
  • You may be having doubts and questions–they can’t stop you from being saved.
  • You may be carrying guilt, hurt, hidden secrets, regrets–they’re not stoppages.

Salvation is totally and solely linked to the Cross.

If we come on the basis of our own merits we are being presumptuous.

If we disqualify ourselves on the basis of something we’ve done in the past, we are presumptuous.

But if we come to the Cross trusting the GRACE OF GOD then we will never be presumptuous.

That is the challenge…but there is also much comfort.  You see, at the end of the day, the HOLY PEOPLE are just like us.

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CREDITS:

Commentary:  Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary – Matthew 27:53; Studylight.org.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); New Living Testament (NLT).

Photo Images:  Google Image Search.

 

 

 

 

Caught Up to Heaven [TWO-PART SERIES]

PART TWO – LEADING UP TO OUR FINAL DESTINATION

PAUL’S BURDEN OF PROOF – 2 Corinthians 12:1-6

Paul speaks from experience that there are events that follow our physical death.  The burden is to prepare us, not for DEATH, but for the events that occur between your dying and your final destination.

WHAT DOES THE WORD OF GOD SAY ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE OF DEATH AND WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

2 Corinthians 12:2-4 (NIV)

[2] I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven.  Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know–God knows.

[3] And I know that this man–whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows– [4] was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

At death, we sometimes expect great pain, but Jesus says there is none.

When we die we suddenly find ourselves somewhere else (2 Corinthians 12:4).

One of God’s best spokesmen said, knowing that the home we live in on earth is like a “tent” and is destroyed or dissolved at death, and we have a building, a house, that God is building, an eternal house not made with hands. [2 Corinthians 5:1]

So you won’t stay around and “haunt” anything after death!

We are conscious after death (2 Corinthians 12:2 (b). ).

Although Paul’s related experience isn’t from his DEATH, most probably from a near-death experience fourteen years earlier.  In Acts 7:55-56, we read of Stephen’s reaction to his soon to be death from stoning:

[55] But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. [56] “Look.” he said, “I see haven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”  [NIV]

I want you to know that not only are we conscious after we die, but we are even more conscious!

Here are some arguments from Paul as to why we are more conscious than before.

  1. He saw, heard and experienced amazing things.
  2. His mental ability was so acute that he was able to compare this new life with what he just left.
  3. His new consciousness knew things from his former one that he couldn’t communicate.

Something in this place of existence in the third heaven forbade him to tell what he saw.

We stand before God and face judgment

Hebrews 9:27 says we are ALL “appointed once to die and after that the [certain] judgment (AMP),

There are several judgments mentioned in the Bible and I don’t want to take a detour here, so I’ll leave it at that.  When you die, you are judged,  The names of all the judgments I’ll leave for another blog study.

When you die your eternal fate is forever sealed (Luke 16:19-31). 

 

In this parable told by Jesus, two men died and already at their eternal destinations.  One was in a bad place and one in a good place.  The one in the bad place prayed and asked God to let him leave from the bad place and go to the good one.  God informed him that it was impossible for a great wall had been fixed.

Those who have placed their FAITH & TRUST in Jesus will never be away from His presence.

Romans 8:38, 39 (NIV) – “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

UNIQUELY TOUCHED

Paul has told us this incident he describes in 2 Corinthians 12, shows that he had been uniquely touched by God.  Through his vision, we learned that PARADISE isn’t a shadowy waiting-room, but the euphoric place of unspeakable glory!  Its GLORY is that of the ultimate heavenly glory, which is the glory of the Presence of the Son of God (Rev. 1:9 ff, 22:1 ff).  

Therein PARADISE, the Third Heaven, the souls of the saints (Christians) are home with Christ, the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45), where they’re beyond the reach of sin.  Without fear of being driven out as happened in the first Paradise.  There they await the crowning consummation of their redemption, the union of souls and their resurrection body when the New Heaven and the New Earth will be introduced and all of God’s purposes in creation complete and eternally fulfilled.

In this TWO PART SERIES, there’s something I want to leave with my readers:

The LAST ENEMY to be destroyed is DEATH (1 Corinthians 15:26).

The 23rd Psalm

THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.  [2] He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. [Rev. 7:17.]  [3] He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness  [uprightness and right standing with Him–not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.  [4] Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me;  Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide],  they comfort me.  [5] You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over.  [6] Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days, the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place. [AMP]

There’s also something I want you to do:

Never again FEAR DEATH if you’re a committed Christ follower.  If you are not yet a follower make it ASAP.

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CREDITS:

PHOTO/IMAGES:  Google Image Search.

Bible Dictionary:  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary by W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV), Amplified Bible (AMP), Contemporary English Version (CEV), New King James Version (NKJV).

 

Are “Sanctuary Cities” Supported By the Bible?

TEXT:  THE BOOK OF NUMBERS 35:2, 6, 11-29, 31-34; Joshua 20

By now, I think most of us are familiar with the term “Sanctuary Cities”, in communities which openly pledged a place where undocumented immigrants may be safe without fear of apprehension and deportation by federal officers.  There are even “Sanctuary Churches” that have been established in our communities.

I’ve listened to Christians and non-Christians alike, who claim that they were inspired by or heard from others that the ancient “cities of refuge” found in the Bible substantiate their support.  Supporters argue biblical precedent for sanctuary cities.  As Vogue magazine puts it, “Now approximately 300 American cities are carrying the torch first lit by those sacred altars.”

So are today’s “sanctuary cities” a modern biblical expression of the Bible’s “cities of refuge?”  No, not even close!

HISTORY (Numbers 35)

Just before Israel entered the land of Canaan, God told Moses to choose 48 cities for the Levites’ priestly tribe (Num. 35:7), since they would have no land while all the other tribes did have land, but each of the tribes would supply a place for them.

Though the TEMPLE be in Jerusalem only, the LEVITES would be everywhere to minister the Word of God to the people.

SIX OF THOSE DESIGNATED CITIES would be CITIES of REFUGE.  Three on the east side of the Jordan River and three on the west side of the Jordan River.  They were designed for the people who accidentally MURDERED someone–to save them from being killed by kin of the murdered victim.  They would then live in the city of refuge until the trial where they would stand and be judged.  If a man intentionally killed another, he then could reside in the city, but at trial be charged “GUILTY” and worthy of death by the avenger.

But if a man unintentionally killed a person, after the trial, when he was proclaimed innocent, the man could live in the city of refuge and remain there.  If he went out of the city of refuge, he would risk being killed by the avenger.  The avenger wouldn’t be judged because the “murderer”, though innocent, should have stayed in the city of refuge.  And he would have to live in that city of refuge until the High Priest died.  When the High Priest died, he was free to leave the city and was free of his GUILT.  The AVENGER had to respect the fact that the man was innocent of all that he committed.

REASONING FOR LAW – BLOOD defiles the land.

The KILLER, even though innocent, couldn’t return to his land UNLESS the DEBT of Murder was paid even though it was a mistake that the DEATH occurred.  There could be no “satisfaction”, or ransom money paid from some kind of ‘trust fund’, to free the man from guilt.  The only thing that could free the man from GUILT was the death of the murderer.  The BLOOD of the murderer alone cleansed the land of the BLOOD of the victim.  But when the High Priest died, the man could return to the land.

The DEATH of the High Priest REDEEMED  a man from guilt, freed him from the debt to pay for by his own blood.

The Picture of the High Priest Dying is Significant –

Instead of the unintentional murderer, a perfect picture of JESUS, the Great High Priest dying on the Cross instead of us.

The wonderful thing is all of this is that our own High Priest died and then rose again from the dead.  And the unintentional murderer could return to the land where his home is.

And the Bible said that this land where his home was, is also the land where the LORD dwelt.  [Come on!]

Notice the idea presented here of returning to the place of home, or his possession – Numbers 35:28 (AMP)

[28] Because the manslayer should have remained in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest.  But after the high priest’s death, the manslayer shall return to the land of his possession.

God gave the Garden of Eden in the Book of Genesis for the land of our possession.  But our SIN drove out, and the only thing that would pay for the crime is our own blood.  That meant our own deaths.

No other means would PAY for our SIN other than our own blood.  But what good would that do for us?  We couldn’t enjoy the land again for we would be dead!

Numbers 35:31 (AMP)

[31] Moreover, you shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer guilty of death; but he shall surely be put to death.

Numbers 35:33 (NIV)

[33] “Do not pollute the land where you are.  Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on  which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it.”

No other “satisfaction” (KJV) or ransom money or ransom payment of any kind would do.  The only other recourse was death by the high priest (Numbers 35:22).  That meant if no other payment besides his death could remove the GUILT OF BLOOD IN THE LAND, and…the high priest’s death accomplished the same thing, then the BLOOD of the high priest was as good as the BLOOD of the slayer.

A Time for Notable Comparisons–

The Cities of Refuge references in our Bible, first of all, were LEGAL–Sanctuary Cities are not!  

Cities of Refuge were authorized under the Mosaic code to serve as part of Israel’s justice system–Sanctuary Cities, in contrast, are ILLEGAL and outside the justice system altogether and do not exist to protect due process.  They exist to enable the GUILTY to escape punishment altogether.  The mere presence of an illegal alien on American soil is an illegal, criminal act subject to proper law enforcement.

Those, no matter how well-meaning they are, who help others avoiding the LEGAL consequences of criminal conduct, are subverting the system of justice by not cooperating with it.

  • A City of Refuge worked with law enforcement.
  • A Sanctuary City works against it.
  • A City of Refuge served to guarantee that a man had his day in court.
  • A Sanctuary City works to prevent the accused from ever facing a day in court.
  • A City of Refuge existed to ensure that every man received a fair trial.
  • A Sanctuary City exists to enable a man to avoid a fair trial altogether.

As you can clearly see by the above comparison there is no similarity supported by the Bible.

BIBLE APPLICATION:  Hebrews 6:18-20 (ESV)

HEBREWS 6, in the New Testament, mentions the fleeing for refuge, which brings us back into the picture the LAW of the City of Refuge has for the manslayer. 

But it mentions something else–the elements from a totally separate LAW in the above verses (Heb. 6:18-20).

The Law of Atonement and the Law of the Cities of Refuge.

ASPECT OF THE VEIL (“curtain”)

The Day of Atonement had a High Priest enter the holiest; the VEIL, where God’s presence dwelt, so long as he had the BLOOD of a spotless LAMB.

Now putting both aspects together, you have a man out of his home where God dwells, but meeting DEATH should he try due to his SIN not having been paid for.  And the only way he can return is when the high priest dies removing his SIN and cleanses the land.

And we have THE HIGH PRIEST, carrying BLOOD past the VEIL into the holiest where God dwells, removing SIN.

Put the two together and you have a picture of returning to the Garden of Eden where Man and God dwelt together in the Garden.

But Man’s sin DEFILED the land and he was driven out (Genesis 3:24).

So the Garden Story brings together the elements of the CITY OF REFUGE LAW AND THE VEIL ASPECT OF THE DAY OF ATONEMENT.

  • MAN became a prisoner outside of his true home, and one who is confined from his home is a PRISONER.

BUT GOD HAD A PLAN!

And that PLAN provided MAN, not just any prisoner, but a prisoner of HOPE!

A man couldn’t return, for he would have died to try.  There standing at the entrance to the Garden was a flaming sword.  Just like the avenger of blood, the flaming sword was there to kill him should he return home.

But one day, in the future, since Adam was driven from home, there was going to be a High Priest that was to die.  And that DEATH allows the SINNER to return to home.

ADAM=MAN

So ADAM waited as a PRISONER OF HOPE for centuries, UNTIL…THE HIGH PRIEST JESUS CHRIST CAME AND DIED…AND MAN COULD RETURN HOME AGAIN.

EDEN means PARADISE or HEAVEN in English.

The Apostle John saw HEAVEN opened and he saw what occurs in Heaven, the true Holiest of Holies:

Revelation 5:6 (KJV) –

And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a LAMB as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

Revelation 5:8-9 (KJV) –

[8] And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints.

[9] And they sang a new song, saying,  Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.

THE LAMB is the HIGH PRIEST, as well.  His death REDEEMED us ALL to God.

Why Are Two Old Testament Stories Involved In This Story?

The only flaw I see with the Old Testament picture of the HIGH PRIEST was that you couldn’t find a man who could be killed and bring his BLOOD into the Holiest of Holies showing that the SINNER’S BLOOD could be paid for by the High Priest’s own blood.

And in another picture, the DEATH of the High Priest allows the slayer to return home.

Put them together, the High Priest, JESUS, dies, and takes His own BLOOD into Heaven to pay for our SIN, and allows us to go to our eternal home into HEAVEN, behind Him.

And that’s what Hebrews 6 said.

Isn’t it wonderful when all is said and done, God looks at us as PRISONERS away from home, but not only PRISONERS BUT PRISONERS OF HOPE!

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CREDITS & SOURCES –

The American Family Radio (AFA);  “Sanctuary Cities…Cities of Refuge” – March 27, 2017.

Photos:  Google Image Search – Settings, Advance search…

Bible Translations used:  Amplified Bible (AMP); English Standard Version (ESV); New International Version (NIV); King James Bible (KJV).

Bible Dictionary:  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

 

Is It Time For A New Wardrobe?

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE – Colossians 3:1-17

There seems to be trending on cable television several SELF-IMPROVEMENT shows. Some of the appeal I think is the DESIRE to make some changes in our own lives.   Also, some of the appeal is seeing others being able to make the needed changes.

There’s a show called What Not To Wear on TLC.  It’s interesting to watch friends and family rat out a loved one as one who has no style and then the show secretly films the offender.  Then the offender is confronted by the hosts of the show with the chance to change what they wear and given a $5000 pre-paid Visa Card to get a new wardrobe.

I’m certainly NOT a fashionista, but really, you should see some folks sense of style. Almost always it’s a lady who needs to make a change.  I guess us men have an instinctive sense of style  (NOT!).

I’m thinking that most who are reading this have something you would like to change about yourself.  I would like to lose 10-15 pounds myself.

Let’s consider our life with Christ for a moment,

How many of us are totally happy with where we are in our RELATIONSHIP with Jesus?

When we give our lives to Christ, we hear about this NEW LIFE God wants us to have.

John 10:10, Jesus tells us that “I came that they [you] may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”  

But it doesn’t seem to be happening the way we think it should be.

You’re going to have to realize that in order to be able to make those changes about yourself, you actually have to change some things in your life!

For instance, if I want to lose weight, I have to change my eating habits, my exercise habits (currently, no habits here!), along with my attitudes concerning food.

Without CHANGING these specific areas of my life, the weight is not coming off.  No miracle cure is going to change my weight without me changing some things.

THERE IS NO NEED FOR “WHAT NOT TO WEAR” POLICE…the truth is, what we WEAR daily will have an effect on our lives.  

What we WEAR can help us or hinder us.

For one to grow in Christ we need to realize there are some things we ought NOT to WEAR in a figurative sense.  We all need to rid ourselves of some or our entire current wardrobe so that we can really TRANSFORM our image of Christ.

Colossians 3:5-7 (PHILLIPS):

On so far, then, as you have to live upon this earth, consider yourselves dead to worldly contacts: have nothing to do with sexual immorality, dirty mindedness, uncontrolled passion, evil desire, and the lust for other peoples’ goods, which last, remember, is as serious a sin as idolatry.  It is because of these very things that the holy anger of God falls upon those who refuse to obey him.  And, never forget that you had your part in those dreadful things when you lived that old life.

FIRST, WE NEED TO CLOSELY EXAMINE WHAT’S IN OUR CLOSET

One of the most difficult things for people on the TV show to do is get rid of the old wardrobe…snake skin tights and pink boots.  They gotta go!

They need a wakeup call, and the wakeup call on the show is a 360-degree mirror, a truth teller.  It helps make the fashion offender realize that they need to look at changing what they wear.

After the view in the mirror, the hosts of the show go through their closet and throws almost everything in a nearby trash can.

Well, the Apostle Paul gives us a list of items that need to be taken out of our closet and throw in the trash can.

  • WE NEED to throw out the old clothing that no longer fits
  • WE NEED to realize that we are DEAD to the old life; we’ve outgrown many of the items hanging in our closet.

In VERSE 5, we are told literally “put to death” these things.

To consider DEAD means we’re to hold these items in check, restrain them.  Left unrestrained, they will lead us in the wrong direction.

If you look at VERSE 3 casually, we are told that we have DIED with Christ Jesus…BUT here we are told to consider our members of our earthly body as DEAD!  Remember, someone who is DEAD is no longer aroused by the world around them.

This VERSE should remind us that WE have a part to play in our WALK with God.

We need to toss out the clothing that no longer reflects who we are in Christ.

In VERSE 5 we are given a LIST of things that we are to consider ourselves DEAD too.

IMMORALITY deals predominantly with sexual sin.  The word is the same word we get “pornography” from.

1 Thessalonians 4:3 (GNT)

[3] “God wants you to be holy and completely free from sexual immorality.”

This list includes impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed.  All of these deal with getting what we want.

The list is actually in reverse order…the root of all these issues is GREED!

GREED is the overmastering desire for what belongs to another; it includes the breaking of the laws of right and justice in order to obtain them for oneself. 

It’s the relentless urge to get more.  This is really the ROOT of the rest.

We must move in the direction of pleasing our heavenly Father rather than ourselves.

God isn’t against SEX, but SEX outside of MARRIAGE is wrong, no exceptions!

As long as we live in a fallen world, we’ll struggle with these issues.  The last part of VERSE 5 tells us that these things amount to IDOLATRY.

When we REJECT the true and living God of the Bible, we make up one of our own imagination, and we make our desires, appetites, and lusts our god by the deification of them.

WE NEED TO THROW OUT THE OLD CLOTHING that hampers our growth!

The THINGS listed in VERSE 5 are to be a part of the OLD LIFE.  This is the reason for us to put SIN to death in our lives.

We now walk with God and what WE WEAR should reflect that!

Colossians 3:8-9 (NIV)

WE NEED TO DEVELOP A NEW ATTITUDE ABOUT WHO WE ARE IN JESUS.

VERSES 8-9 really deal with issues that have their roots placed in our attitudes.

We are told that we are in need of putting some old attitudes in the “trash can.” And don’t worry, there’s plenty of room in the can!

To put aside, or rid yourselves means to take off–like taking off clothing.

Each of these ATTITUDES if left unchecked will build upon one another.

ANGER is a deep smoldering bitterness…leads to REVENGE by which being bent on causing injury to another either physically or to their reputation.

ALL these things can lead to SLANDER and FILTHY SPEECH.  We need to rid ourselves of these things.

There are many Christians who still to this day struggle with these attitudes.

Ephesians 4:29 The Message (MSG)

“Watch the way you talk.  Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth.  Say only what helps, each word a gift.”

It’s easy to focus on the EVILS of verse 5 and then forget about the EVILS in verse 8.  It may be more difficult for us to deal with BECAUSE…WE can always rationalize our corresponding actions.  “THEY MADE ME MAD!”

Bad ATTITUDES lead to bad actions!

VERSE 9 encourages us not to LIE to one another.

When we harbor bad things in the heart, they will come out in our actions.

If you find yourself struggling with ANGER issues, don’t just sweep them under the carpet.  Don’t rationalize your ANGER.

Our ATTITUDE towards others needs to reflect who we are in Christ Jesus.

We are called and obligated to treat others in a Christ-like manner, even if they don’t deserve it!

Colossians 3:9-11 New International Version (NIV)

 

We need to rid our closets of things that don’t line up with who we are in Christ.

If you go from digging ditches to being a salesman, be wise to get rid of the work clothing that you used to wear daily as a ditch digger and replace it with clothing that matches up with the new job.

I remember when I went from driving a plumbing supply truck to working in the sales office and I had to do the same thing.

Our new purpose in Christ is to be RENEWED to the true knowledge of Christ.

We can’t be RENEWED to the true knowledge of Him if we don’t know anything about Him.

We need to rid ourselves of the CLOTHING that doesn’t reflect our RENEWED PURPOSE.  By obtaining knowledge of Christ and His will through His Word found in the Bible, our spiritual being is being changed into the likeness of Jesus.

We learn to feel, act and think like Christ!

Romans 12:2 (NIV)

[2] Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.  [Capitalization for emphasis by the Word Detective]

Our ultimate purpose in life is to be TRANSFORMED into the IMAGE of Jesus!

2 Corinthians 3:18 (AMP)

And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being TRANSFORMED into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.

That is our calling!  Anything that we figuratively WEAR that hinders, THAT needs to be thrown out!

The way some of the people on the TV Show would dress often hindered their advancement chances at their job.  IF we choose to WEAR the STUFF from our old life as described in our passage of Scripture; we will be severely hindered in our TRANSFORMATION.

TACKY IS IN THE EYES OF THE BEHOLDER.

It amazes me what some people will wear and thinks looks great.  It seems as though they are the ONLY ones in the room who cannot see it.

Are you one of those TACKY DRESSERS who wear things such as:

  • Sexual immorality,
  • Impurity,
  • Passion,
  • Evil desire,
  • Covetousness.

DO you wear things such as…

  • Anger,
  • Wrath,
  • Malice,
  • Slander,
  • Obscene talk (dirty talk) coming from your mouth?

IF you do, others can see and hear it and it’s time to put on some NEW clothing.

 

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CREDITS –

Wikipedia What Not to Wear (U.S. TV series); http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/what-not-to-wear

Photos:  Google Image Search/Advance settings.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) except where noted.

HEAVEN’S LAST CALL!

Scripture:  Hebrews 9:27-28

You’ve probably heard the old saying– “The only things guaranteed in life are death and taxes.”  I’m not so sure that statement is absolutely true, however.  With enough deductions, loopholes, and “creative” accounting [one man I know, deducted his “dog” as a dependent], some people avoid paying most, if not all, of their taxes.

So, there’s NO GUARANTEE there, about taxes.  But that still leaves with DEATH to deal with.

God Doesn’t Give Guided Tours to Heaven or Hell.

There have been many who claim to have been to Hell and Heaven. They came back or were sent back to tell us all about it.  

  • Atheists have been to Hell and Heaven.
  • Professing Christians also have been to Heaven or Hell.

Are these valid experiences or things to distract people from the real Gospel and look to second chances or adopt an attitude of FATALISM?

The only sure word concerning “life after death” is the Word of God.

The Apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:15:

[15] For this we declare to you by the Lord’s [own] word, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall in no way precede [into His presence] or have any advantage at all over those who have previously fallen asleep [in Him in death].”  (Amplified Bible)

Now obviously the term “fallen asleep” is softened term to refer to those who have already died.  Paul is concerned for the church at Thessalonica not to be misinformed about what happens after death.

I’ve had discussions about DEATH with people who think when you die, you simply cease to exist.  But that isn’t true according to the Bible.

The Bible says in Genesis 2:7 “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”  This implies an existence after death.

Yet that this body is a temporary dwelling place is a universal truth, instinctively understood by all, until as Ray Stedman says, “They are educated beyond their intelligence and they start denying it.”

Some folks say that when a person dies, they are “reincarnated” into something or someone else.

If you ever see reincarnation in its rawest form such as in India where Hinduism has a firm hold, you will understand that they see reincarnation as a hopeless cycle of endless misery.  Reincarnation, as it is presented today, has been “Americanized”; that means changed to suit the needs of the American culture.

Reincarnation, as it is presented today, has been “Americanized”; that means changed to suit the needs of the American culture.

East Indians understand reincarnation to be an endless cycle whose only HOPE is to finally enter into Nirvana–the place of nothingness.  Now isn’t THAT encouraging.

But looking closely at the words in Scripture, (Hebrews 9:27) you get just one run in life and that’s it!

Some folks think they will “get their life together before they die” or somehow there is a “second chance” given after death.

Although it may sound feasible to “get our life together” first–wouldn’t it be great if we were given a 30-minute warning buzzer, but unfortunately we are not.

DEATH almost always catches us by surprise.  Sometimes death comes when it’s generally expected–after we have lived a long and full life.  My dad died two years ago at the age of 100.  His constant reminder to the family of his 100th birthday celebration was “I’m ready to go!”

But at other times death comes abruptly–far too soon in our way of viewing things.

And by the same token, the person who says “NO” to Jesus in this life, thinking that they’ll be given another chance in the life to come, banking on nothing more than wishful thinking.

The Story of The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).

Both men died as the story is told by Jesus; Lazarus was carried away by angels to Abraham’s bosom [paradise, heaven] and the Rich Man was buried and finds himself in Hades, a place of torment [Hell] – (verse 24).

When the Rich Man is told there are no second chances and he pleads that Lazarus be sent to his father’s house with five brothers residing, to warn them.

The Chasm Between the rich man and Lazarus

The answer is given in VERSE 31:  “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

One day we will die and unless we have accepted Christ as our personal Savior we will face JUDGMENT after we die.

The only opportunity we will ever have to get right with God is the opportunity God gives us in this life.  As the Rich Man learned, there is NO second chance after DEATH.

After dealing with a few misconceptions about DEATH, I want to point to what will occur when we die.

FIRST, Death is A Certainty!!!

Medical science has dome wonders in extending our lives.  New medical procedures–bi-pass clogged arteries, as I personally found out several years ago.  New procedures to filter impurities from our blood, to fight cancer cells and to replace worn out joints.  Vaccines that have eliminated diseases such as Polio and other dreaded diseases of the past.

But no one has discovered a CURE for DEATH.

Despite all the advances that have been made in medical science, it is still true that the DEATH RATE remains exactly as it always has been:  a flat 100%.  Everyone will die.

In Hebrews 9:27 we are told, “Just as people are destined to die once…”, and in Ecclesiastes 7:2 Solomon wrote, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.”

The question is not HOW can we remain but WHAT AWAITS US when we die.

Death Is Permanent.

A Clipping in Newsweek magazine:  From a letter to a dead person from Greenville County (S.C.), Department of Social Services…

“Your food stamps will be stopped effective March 1992, because we have received notice that you passed away.  May God bless you.  You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances.”  [See Footnote [i] ]

The fact is, that DEATH when it comes, is irreversible.  When you cross over, there is no coming back.

Not only is DEATH a certainty but…

SECOND, Judgment Is A Reality.

The Word of God tells us that after DEATH each one of us will certainly face JUDGMENT.

God’s word speaks of TWO entirely different Judgments.

The first is for BELIEVERS – The Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10 – Amplified Bible):

“For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing].”

This doesn’t concern salvation, for this judgment is for BELIEVERS, that has already been settled.

This JUDGMENT determines REWARDS [“pay”] for service given to the Lord.

THE SECOND judgment is for UNBELIEVERS – The Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15):

It is obvious that NO ONE would wish to be a part of that JUDGMENT, but all those who have REJECTED Christ Jesus in this life on earth, will face Him as Judge in the next life.

It will be a horror beyond description standing before Jesus and hear him say,  “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels”  (Matthew 25:41).  But on that day it will be too late! Decision-making time has passed!!

Not only is JUDGMENT real but thank the Lord…

THIRD, Salvation Is A Possibility (9:28).

[28] So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

The DEATH OF CHRIST on the Cross, according to this verse applied to “many.”  I underlined “many” in my Bible.

You see Christ’s death doesn’t take away the SIN if everyone.  Not everyone receives the SALVATION that is available through Jesus’ death on the Cross.  Not everyone BELIEVES and RECEIVES, and that’s why ETERNAL SALVATION is only a possibility.  But if we have never done so, there is still time.

HEAVEN IS CALLING!!

TODAY CAN BE THE DAY OF SALVATION!!!

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Footnotes & Credits –

Footnote [i] :  Food Stamps – Parrix.

Additional Commentary:  “Does God Give Tours of Heaven and Hell?” by Dr. Ronald Shultz.

Photo Credit:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) and the Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

I’m Dying

Bible Study verses:  John 12:24-25  (NIV & The Message bible)

john12-24
King James Version

New International Version –

[24]  “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.  [25] The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

The MESSAGE –

24-25  “Listen carefully:  Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat.  But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over.  In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys life.  But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.

THE SEED PRINCIPLE –

“If you keep the SEED out of the ground, all you have is the SEED.  But when that SEED is planted and then it grows…end of story.  Bury it and it rises.”  [“Are You Dead Yet?” by Michael Walker]

Sounds a lot like RESURRECTION to me!

1 Corinthians 15:36-37 (NIV):

1 Corinthians 15:36
1 Corinthians 15:36

“What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed…”

DEATH CAN PRODUCE LIFE!

JESUS knows at this point this is His last week on earth.  He knows He is going to be betrayed, beaten, crucified and will die by weeks end.

Since JESUS knows this will be His final week through His preaching, teaching and example, JESUS decides He will take His disciples into some deeper water; make them dive into the deep end of the pool.

JESUS presents not ONE, not TWO, but THREE examples of a Dichotomy for us all as Disciples, followers of Christ Jesus to examine.  So lets all ‘jump in the pool.’

So what is a “DICHOTOMY”?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary,  [4] : something with seemingly contradictory qualities; a paradox (synonym) is a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses the truth.

In verses 24-26, Jesus shares three important principles of “dichotomy’s” pertaining to our lives.

John 12:24 (AMP):

I assure you, most solemnly I tell you. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest.

THE FIRST DICHOTOMY is introduced to the crowd.

DEATH can produce LIFE!

Jesus is trying to let the listeners know that His time is short; He is not going to be the type of Messiah they were expecting.

In the following verses of John chapter 12, verses 27-34, Jesus speaks of His impending departure and when you drop down to verse 34, the crowd seems obviously confused.

“We have learned from the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; how then can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up on the cross’?”

The DICHOTOMY presented in this verse is the FACT that DEATH CAN PRODUCE LIFE.

JESUS uses the example of a grain of wheat.  For it to produce fruit, it has to be put in the ground–then has to DIE in order for it to produce visible fruit.

In context, Jesus is speaking of Himself; how His impending DEATH and subsequent resurrection will be a fruitful event for ALL who will follow Him.

Jesus must DIE giving His life to bring LIFE to us today.

  • When a SEED dies, it produces fruit.  
  • LIFE comes by DEATH.

This principle is true not only in nature but also true spiritually.  When you take a moment and meditate on Jesus’ words, it is directed to our spiritual life.

We must DIE in Christ in order for us to become FRUITFUL spiritually.

Certain changes occur when seed is planted underground.

  • The HARD dry shell softens.

the_seed_by_paweljoncaWhen we are separated from God because of our sin, we need to be born again. The old self (the ‘outer hard shell’) needs to DIE.

Romans 6:5-7 (NIV):

If we have been united with Him like this in death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.  For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin–because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

This is spoken in context of one who has been BAPTIZED in to Christ Jesus.

When we are immersed into Christ, our old body of SIN is crucified and DEATH frees us from SIN.

The apostle Paul struggled with this principle in his life as many do today as well.

Philippians 1:20-25 (NIV):

[20] I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. [21] For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. [22] If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! [23] I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; [24] but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. [25] Convinced of this, I know I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,…

PAUL was well aware that the end of his physical life was not the end of his existence,  He also knew that he was here on earth for a purpose.

Our life isn’t about getting through it as shortly or quickly as possible, it is about savoring every moment along the way, making sure that we maximize our life for Christ.

VERSE 25 is our next Paradox –

“In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is, destroys life.  But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal”  (The Message).

We have a tendency to think that if we hold on to something really tight we’ll not lose our grip or… that we will do better by holding on tightly.  We do this with our possessions at times, and our relationships.  We can hold on so tight…that we smother the other person, even driving them off.

Jesus tells the crowd that whoever loves their life will lose it.  Now that sounds a bit awkward at first reading. 

This phrase reflects the ‘hard coating of the seed’ and denotes someone who lives only to serve themselves.

Jesus is not telling us not to enjoy life, but He is calling us to a high calling.  Think about that for a moment.  The one who loves his life is the one who only lives to serve themselves.  The presented issues here is…

  • WHO IS FIRST IN MY LIFE?
  • WHAT IS MY PRIORITY?

Your priorities reveal who you really love.  When we live for self, we risk the danger of losing the very thing we are trying to hold on to.

When we LOVE SELF more than we LOVE GOD, we will come up very short in the end.

LOVE is SACRIFICIAL–

Many people look at the word SACRIFICE as being a four-letter word.  When you look at the other end of the bible verse (v. 25), you see Jesus speaking of hating (King James Version) their life and how that will gain them life.

When you LOVE God and willing to lose your life, then the things of this world are hated in contrast to the things of God.  JESUS doesn’t mean we are to HATE our life, but rather OUR LOVE for God is so great…our LOVE of life pales in comparison!

This VERSE is a play on the Greek term psyche, which refers to the essence of a human’s personality or life force (Matthew 10:39; 16:25).   [see FOOTNOTE [i].]

Once someone TRUSTS CHRIST, they are given a NEW Life.  And this NEW LIFE is a gift from God for service, not for personal use.

BELIEVERS are STEWARDS of this new life.

We are freed from slavery to sin and to become SERVANTS of God.

“If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me…”  (Luke 9:23 AMP).

PAUL goes even deeper.

“I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me  (Galatians 2:20 AMP).

THIS LEADS RIGHT INTO VERSE 26 –

John 12:26 The MESSAGE:

“If any of you wants to serve me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moments notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.”

Being a SERVANT in this life gives you the highest honor.

The DICHOTOMY is this:  When you look around, it seems those who are being served have made it in this world.  Who doesn’t want an entourage around them to take care of all their needs.  Those are the folks who seem to get the highest honor.  In this life that may be true.

But in ETERNITY…

JESUS is telling us the one who will be honored is the one who serves.  

Look at Matthew 23:11-12:

[11] “The greatest among you will be your servant.  [12] For whoever exalts himself will be humbles, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted”  (NIV Bible).

John 12:26 gives us some insight on how we can tell if we LOVE self more than Jesus.

JESUS equates SERVING Him with following Him with our words, and our physical bodies in continuance.  Jesus’ words in verse 26 speaks to our ongoing RELATIONSHIP that leads us to follow!

We FOLLOW Jesus by serving Him, and by SERVING…we maintain our relationship with Him.

The issue of SERVING comes down to our commitment, love and priorities.  When these line up we are in good shape.

When we live for SELF, we are living with an empty existence which eventually leads you to a dead-end! 

dead end sign

THE PARADOXES OF LIFE

JESUS shares the Paradoxes with us, now we have to decide what to do with them.

IGNORE them or EMBRACE them.

In verses 35-36, Jesus is calling the crowd gathered to BELIEVE in Him:

[35] “You will have the Light only a little while longer.  Walk while you have the Light [keep on living by it], so that darkness may not overtake and overcome you. He who walks about in the dark does not know where he goes [he is drifting].  

[36] While you have the Light, BELIEVE in the Light [have faith in it, hold to it, rely on it]. that you may become sons of the Light and be filled with Light…” (AMP).

WILL YOU ANSWER THE CALL?

 

 


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS –

Footnote [i]:  Bible Hub/Strong’s Concordance #5590, ‘psuche’; psyche.

Commentary:  Tony Abram Abundant Life Crusades 11 Jan. 1996 notes on “CORN”

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations as noted:  NIV- New International Version; AMP – Amplified bible; MESSAGE – the Message Bible; KJV – King James Version