Was Jesus Late?

July 10, 2020 at 1:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Question: While everybody was singing along, I was reading the words to “Hark the Herald Angels” up on the screen, and one of the lines bothered me. It said, “Late in time, behold Him come, offspring of a virgin’s womb.” This is talking about Jesus’s birth, obviously, but why does it say, “Late in time?” What about the Bible verse that says God is always right on time?

Answer: “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is the most theologically-rich of the popular Christmas hymns, and we will miss out on one of the greatest purposes (Colossians 3:16) of these hymns if we just sing along mindlessly without focusing on the truths being expressed, so I want to commend you for paying close attention to the lyrics. Far too many Christian songs (including Christmas songs) these days have words that are simply vapid.

To answer your question, I agree that God was not “late” concerning the timing of the birth of Jesus in the way we use the word “late.” In other words, God was not tardy in the sense that He wanted, but failed, to accomplish the timing of Jesus’s birth at an earlier date. While “God is always right on time,” is not really a Bible verse, and is really more of a Christian cliche’ that is likely to be printed on a coffee mug or social media meme, it is a statement that does happen to be Biblically correct. God, Who is immutable, is not really subject to “time,” which is a measurement of change. Therefore, when He ordains, controls, decrees, orchestrates, and intervenes in the events of the world, He always does so in a way that is perfectly sovereign and impeccably timed.

What I think the author of the song (Charles Wesley) was probably trying to express, though, was the idea found in Galatians 4:4 and Ephesians 1:10. The incarnation of Christ occurred at a pivotal point in history, and it was an event for which God had been preparing the world since its foundation. Think of it like this: When we are waiting for a vessel to be filled with water, the very last thing that happens before it overflows is that it reaches its maximum “fullness;” it is “filled” only “late” in the time of filling.

glass filled to rim

The birth of the Savior happened many hundreds of years after its prophecies had been pronounced and its preparations had been planned, and in that sense, it was “late in time.”

Inherited Sin and Guilt?

July 8, 2020 at 10:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Question: Do Christians ask for forgiveness on a regular basis because Adam ate the forbidden fruit and they feel guilt about the inherited debt of sin?

Answer: Some Christians may do that, but if they do, they are contradicting the Bible and have a gross misunderstanding of what it teaches about sin, guilt, confession, and forgiveness. People have not inherited a “debt of sin” from Adam. All people have a sin NATURE, which is inherited from Adam. Adam was our “federal head.” He acted as our perfect representative in the Garden of Eden, accurately doing what each and every one of his descendants (including you and me) have done since then: rebel, disobey, and sin against God.

However, no person owes a debt to God because of someone else’s sin. Each of us have our own sins against God, which have incurred a debt that we could never repay. Thankfully, Jesus paid that debt for all who believe His Gospel and trust in Him. Christians confess and repent of their own sin, knowing they have already been forgiven in Christ, who died and rose from the grave for their justification.

You also have a fundamental misunderstanding about guilt. Christians who “feel” guilt over sins for which Christ atoned are sinning against God even more by disbelieving His promise that that their objective, forensic guilt has been washed away in the blood of Jesus. A non-Christian could spend his life fighting for “social justice” until he “felt” he had made up for the sins of his ancestors and still be thrown into the lake of fire for all eternity because his ACTUAL guilt, incurred by the HIS OWN sins, is still attibuted to his account, since he never trusted Christ or believed God’s Word.

Question: Shouldn’t Christians today take on some shame or responsibility for the enslavement or abuse of other human beings that occurred in the past?

Answer: No, of course not. Christians shouldn’t take on shame for what someone else did in the past. Confessing someone else’s sin is a sin itself. It’s called lying. All Christians should bear the responsibility of humbly obeying God and doing what is right, including exercising justice and mercy. When Christians boast about how willing they are to take on the shame of their ancestors or previous generations, or express guilt over forgiven sins, they are figuratively slapping God in the face and spitting on the Cross of Christ. What you are describing in your questions is pride, envy, and the Marxist tactic of guilt-farming disguised as virtue. It is not only unbiblical; it is ANTI-Biblical. It is not only ungospel; it is ANTIGospel. It is not only unchrist; it is ANTI-Christ.

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

Romans 5:5-18

Behind the Scenes of Suffering

July 6, 2020 at 4:03 pm | Posted in Job | Leave a comment
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Lord, we ask You to protect new believers. Thank you for the ordinance of baptism.  Thank you for opportunities to disciple them.  Let these new Christians be inroads into unsaved families. Grant us patience and endurance. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

If you were asked to guess the most famous doctor in the whole Bible, would you guess Luke? Or would you guess Job, because he had the most “patients?” I know, it’s a bad joke, but I couldn’t resist.

The Book of Job may have been the first book of the Bible to be written down, and the human instrument that the Holy Spirit inspired to write it is not definitely known. While it may have been the first written book of the Bible, its events do not take place first, chronologically. They are believed to have occurred in what is known as the Patriarchal Age, well after the time of the events recorded in the first couple of chapters of Genesis.

As mentioned in the previous attempt at humor, Job is known for his “patience,” even though the word “patience” does not appear in the Book of Job, or even in the entire Old Testament. The word “patient” appears only once in the Old Testament.  The popular allusion to Job’s patience comes from this New Testament verse:

Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

James 5:11

More than a book of patience, the Book of Job is really a book about endurance, especially endurance in suffering.

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.

Job 1:1

Job was not “perfect” in the sense of being sinless, but there was something extraordinary about his character and his life.

Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.

Psalm 37:37

Job was perfect in the sense of being “complete:” totally committed to serving the Lord. A man who lives an upright life before the Lord will not necessarily have a life filled with nothing but peace, but the END thereof is peace.

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.

II Chronicles 16:9

Christians are miraculously and gloriously forgiven by the MERCY of God, and He does want us to be perfect in our commitment to Him. As the popular sermon poem goes, “There are only two choices on the shelf: pleasing my God, or pleasing myself.”

Job had a secret for being perfect and upright: he feared God. Do you fear God? We are often quick to proclaim that we love God, or even that have a healthy respect for Him, and the idea of correctly fearing God is not to have a panic-stricken, paralyzing fear of Him, but we should have a genuine fear of displeasing Him.

In addition to fearing God, Job eschewed evil. This was more than a mere, casual avoidance of evil. I generally try to avoid celery, but, here in South Louisiana, it is a main ingredient in so many delicious Cajun dishes that I would be seriously missing out if I truly eschewed it. The word eschew is from an ancient French word, eschiver, which looks like “shiver,” and meant to avoid something out of great fear. For Job, eschewing evil meant that he was terrified of it.

We might get the impression that Job was one scared dude. He was scared of God and he was scared of evil, but those two attitudes actually go together. If we don’t fear evil and sin – if we just have a vague idea of generally avoiding them – we may end up getting near enough to them to get tempted into participating, and this is an indication that we don’t fear God the way we should.

Job 1:3 tells us “that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.” This means that he was wealthy, influential, and powerful.

And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

Job 1:5

Job prioritized worshiping God, and he was concerned about his family. There is nothing more important that you can do for you family than honoring the Lord with your life. Job was consistent. He didn’t honor God once in while, or just on certain special occasions. He wouldn’t have been one of those Christians who only come to church on Easter and Christmas, or only after hunting season is over. He wouldn’t have used the excuse of being tired. He worshiped and intereceded for his family “continually.”

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.

Job 1:6

There is some debate as to whom “the sons of God” refer to here, but they were probably angels, and Satan was among them. Satan is not sitting on a throne in hell, getting a kick out of torturing lost souls who are imprisoned there. No, he is going to and fro like a roaring lion, and, at least on this occasion, and probably several others, he went into the presence of God.

And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

Job 1:7

Satan is subject to God’s commands. He is the liar of all liars, but when God commands, even the devil must tell the truth.

And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

Job 1:8

God actually bragged on Job. Some Bible commentators will say that, since all suffering is caused by sin, or at least unbelief (this is a favorite staple of the “Word-Faith/Prosperity” movement), Job must have had secret sins, but that is refuted by God’s statement and the suffering that is to follow. Not all suffering is caused specifically by the sins of the person suffering.

Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?

Job 1:9

I said earlier that God bragged on Job, but what must not be overlooked is not only what Satan did say when God asked Satan if he had considered Job, but what he didn’t say. He didn’t say, “Who??!” Satan knew Job’s name. Does Satan know your name? You can’t make a bargain with him, but if you’re not on Satan’s radar, you’re probably not doing anything significant for God. Revelation 12:10 tells us that Satan is the accuser of the brethren. That’s what he was doing here to Job. Satan goes before God and accuses you and me, as Christians. I’m afraid that’s one of the few times he tells the truth. He accused Job of having an ulterior motive for fearing God and doing right. He got permission from God to attack everything Job had, but not to touch Job himself.

Job suffered a tremendous loss, but he did not lose everything. Thank God for His restraining power. Satan can cause some serious destruction in a short period of time. Job lost his wealth, his children, all his livestock, but he did not lose his wife. She’s still around in Chapter 2 to prove it.

Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.

Job 2:9

Satan didn’t kill Job’s wife, even though God had not specifically forbidden it. This may have been because Job and his wife were “one flesh.” God didn’t even have to say it.

Job’s reaction was truly astounding and admirable:

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. 

Job 1:20-22

Heavenly Father, please help us to worship You when You give, and to worship You when you allow what You’ve given to be taken away. Blessed is Your Name, Lord. We know there is purification and sanctification in suffering, in adversity.  The wicked have no peace, but, Lord, if we’re righteousness – made righteous by faith in Christ and the Cross – then we know the end of our suffering is peace. In His holy name I pray. Amen.

Jeremiah: A Prophetic Heart Attack

June 29, 2020 at 4:03 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | Leave a comment
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Bible scholars and preachers often point to Jeremiah as an example of someone who didn’t see a great deal of earthly “results” in his ministry. By some calculations, despite preaching for over 40 years, we are hard-pressed to find even a single person converted in direct response to his ministry. Yet he remained faithful, laboring out of love, fear, and obedience to his mighty God to call God’s people to repentance, all the while going deeper than mere surface renovation, seeking rather to attack their sinful hearts.

Jeremiah

Although there are many things we can and should emulate from Jeremiah’s life and calling, one thing that I would like to especially emphasize was his refusal to gin up some gimmicky solutions. Jeremiah was no shallow pragmatist. He wanted real transformation and revival, but he knew that the raw unadulterated power of God was the only real hope for that transformation. Perhaps this study of the Book of Jeremiah will help you make and keep a commitment to stay faithful and see what mighty things God will do in your life, your family’s life, the life of your fellow church members, and the even the lives of the people you know whose hearts seem so far from God.

The theme of the “heart” is prevalent in Jeremiah. Here are some examples:

I. Evil hearts (3:17): Very early in the Book of Jeremiah, the prophet, who felt as if he was HAVING a heart attack when God called him from the priesthood to the office of prophet, was used by God to attack the hearts of God’s people, and he did not pull any punches, but he ministered the cure as well as the diagnosis. God (and only God) can change an evil heart.

II. Unclean hearts and heart pains (4:14-19): When the hearts of God’s people get dirty, it should cause pain in their hearts – the pain of grief and of fear.

III. Rebellious hearts (5:23-24): The attack was not an unprovoked attack. Those with rebellious hearts are rebelling against their rightful king.

IV. Faint-hearted (8:18): We will not find the cure for our sorrowing hearts within our hearts themselves.

V. Imaginative hearts (9:14): Our hearts are very creative and imaginative. However, what they create and imagine are idols.

VI. Reined hearts (11:20): What is in our hearts controls the direction of our lives. We should want God to hold those reins. Like a spooked stallion, we will gallop into destruction if we are given control over our own reins.

VII. Deceived hearts (14:14): False teachers are deceivers, and are often themselves deceived. Our hearts have a weak spot for deceptive messages that appeal to our comfort or prosperity.

VIII. Joyful hearts (15:16): Lies might make us temporarily happy, but only God’s Word brings real (and contagious) rejoicing into our hearts.

IX. Departing hearts (17:5): There is a curse imbedded in departing from the Lord. First, we trust someone other than God. Then, we feel strong in and of ourselves. Finally, before we realize, our heart is far away from its true King.

X. Wicked, deceitful, and unknown hearts (17:9): This is one of the keys to understanding the ministry of Jeremiah, and the Book of Jeremiah as a whole. It is a stinging rebuke to the “follow your heart,” “trust your heart,” and “listen to your heart” movements. It leaves no wiggle room (“ALL THINGS”) for self-justification.

XI. Burning hearts (20:9): No pep talk, promise of rewards, shaming tactic, or 12-step program will motivate you to speak passionately about the Lord, but getting His Word down into your heart will overcome all embarrassment, shame, shyness, and fear, and make it impossible for you to keep silent about our wonderful Savior.

XII. Covetous hearts (22:17): If we do not heed the warning of “be careful little eyes what you see,” we will have a problem with “be careful little heart what you love.”

XIII. Broken hearts (23:9): A broken heart is not pleasant, but it is necessary. When we see the real Words of God held up against the lies we have believed, it should break our hearts.

XIV. Whole hearts (24:7): True repentance and true restoration and true revival come about when we turn away from idols and sin, and turn TO God with our WHOLE hearts.

XV. Searching hearts (29:13): Looking for God half-heartedly is only pretending to look for God. Unrepentant sinners can’t find God for the same reason bank robbers can’t find the cops.

XVI. Unified hearts (32:39-41): Divided hearts will be made into one heart. Man-fearing and circumstances-fearing hearts will be made into made God-fearing hearts. Unified God-fearing hearts get the blessing of seeing God rejoice in His own heart.

XVII. Haughty hearts (48:29): Haughtiness is trying to look big for others; it is a species of pride.

XVIII. Proud hearts (49:16): This is the kind of pride that not only attempts to impress others, but deceives the proud person himself.

Here are the links to the lessons on Jeremiah:

1. Open Up and Say “Ah” (1:1-6)
2. Throw Down (1:4-10)
3. God’s Sugar-Free Calling (1:5-10)
4. Blooming and Boiling (1:11-14)
5. Loud and Clear (1:17-2:5)
6. Don’t Baal on God (2:5)
7. The Last but Not the Least – Part 1 (2:5)
8. Idolaters in Heat (2:13-24)
9. Won’t Hold Water (2:13)
10. How Could We Forget? (2:31-32)
11. Forget-Me-Nots (2:32)
12. Turning, Not Burning (3:1-11)
13. The Only Cure for Evil Hearts (3:14-23)
14. Heart Conditions: Cut and Clean, or Corrupted and Conquered (4)
15. Beware the Freedom of the Foremost (5:3-5)
16. Revolting Hearts (5:5-25)
17. A Wonderful and Horrible Thing (5:15-29)
18. Designer Disaster and Divine Destruction (6:1-5)
19. Gleaned Grapes and Scrapped Silver (6:9-30)
20. A Pre-Church Sermon (7)
21. Abortion: The Torture and Murder of God’s Children (7:31-32)
22. Jeremiah and the Blackhearts (8)
23. Imaginations of the Heart (9)
24. Why I’m Not Proud to be an American (9:23-24)
25. Obedience Matters (10:6-10)
26. The Insidiousness of Idolatry (11:1-10)
27. Jeremiah (and God) Contra Mundum (11:11-20)
28. Pulling on the Reins (12)
29. The Dirty Girdle (13)
30. Light Measures Time (13:15-16)
31. Lift up Your Eyes (13:20)
32. A Leopard Can’t Change His Spots (13:23)*
33. When God’s Patience Dries Up (14)
34. When Things Get Real (15)
35. Going Mad vs. Getting Mad (15)
36. For What Are You Hungry? (15:16)
37. Walking the Wrong Way (15-16)
38. The Heart of the Problem Is the Problem of the Heart (16:2-17:11)
39. Not What We Deserve (16:17-18)
40. The Lord’s Day (17:27)
41. Depraved Clay (18:1-4)
42. Pottery and Prayer Time (18:6-21)
43. That Ringing in Your Ears (19:1-5)
44. Experiencing, and Overcoming, Emotions in Ministry (19-20)
45. Surrender or Die (21)
46. The Lord Our Righteousness (22:11-23:6)
47. The Danger of Presuming to Speak for God (23:30-34)
48. Very Naughty Figs (24:1-7)
49. RIsing Early (25:3-15)
50. The Prophet’s Reprieve (26)
51. The Yoke’s on You! (27)
52. The Woke Bloke Who Broke the Yoke (28)
53. Don’t be Duped or Deceived by the Diviners and Dreamers (29)
54. The Days Will Come (30)
55. The Addict (His Characteristics) (30:15-17)
56. Reunion, Restoration, Regeneration, Reconciliation, and Rejoicing (31)
57. Sovereign Realty (32)
58. Answering the Call (33)
59. Fake Loyalty vs. Real Loyalty (34-35)
60. Going Under the Knife (36)
61. The Fireproof Truth (36-37)
62. Stuck in the Mud (38)
63. A Final and Unforgettable Sight (39:4-8)
64. Dissembling Hearts (40-42)
65. Idolatrous Wife, Unhappy Life (43-44)
66. God Hurts Those Who Help Themselves (45-49)
67. The Last but Not the Least – Part 3 (46:20-21)
68. Camels as Booty (49:32)
69. A Reminder of Recompense (50-51)
70. The Consequences of Evil (52)

*most-viewed post in category

Itself or Himself?

June 26, 2020 at 9:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Question: On the whiteboard left in our Sunday School classroom from children’s church someone had written out Romans 8:26, but over the word “itself” had written “Himself.” Does this mean that the Bible has the wrong word there?

Answer: Let me copy and paste the verse here, so we can see the context:

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Romans 8:26

The “itself” refers to the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is a Person (which we often call “Him”) as opposed to an object or thing (which we usually refer to as an “it”), so I’m guessing that a children’s church teacher was trying to make the point that the Holy Spirit is the third “Person” of the Trinity, and, as such, is a personal being, not a force or an inanimate substance. But I’m just guessing. I don’t know who wrote it or why.

As to your question, though, my understanding is that the Greek word for “Spirit” in Romans 8:26 is pnuema, which in the Greek is a “neuter” noun (as opposed to a “masculine” or “feminine” noun). The word translated as “itself” is autos, and it is there not to determine the gender or personhood of the Holy Spirit, but to emphasize that the VERY SPIRIT OF GOD!, as opposed to something lesser, intercedes for us with God the Father in prayer. Sort of the way we would say, “I know that Louisiana mosquitoes really CAN ruin a picnic – I have seen it ‘MYSELF‘ with my own eyes!” “Myself” in that statement is not necessary for the sentence to make sense, but it’s there for emphasis.

So, I don’t think the KJV translators were denying, or were mistaken, about the personhood of the Holy Spirit. I think they were just matching up a neuter emphasis word (“itself”) with a neuter noun (pnuema). Most of the other translations translate it “Himself,” and I can’t fault them for being theologically accurate, but neither can I fault the KJV translators for trying to be grammatically accurate.

For comparison, look at John 4:22. Jesus said to the woman at the well: “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.” Jesus knew that the true God is a “Who” and not a “what,” but He used a figure of speech as if to say, “You worship a you-don’t-know-what. At least the Jews worship a they-DO-know-what.” The Holy Spirit probably had the Apostle Paul use a similar technique in writing Romans 8 just to anticipate or overcome the objection that other intercessors might be available for us in prayer, when we already have the greatest intercessor possible in the Holy Spirit.

That’s probably more information than you wanted, but the “TL/DR” version is: Yes, the Holy Spirit is a “He” and not an “it,” but, no, the KJV translation of Romans 8:26 is not wrong.

The Open Tomb, Eyes, Hearts, Minds, and Mouths

June 24, 2020 at 11:18 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Luke | 2 Comments
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Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

I Corinthians 15:12-19

If the tomb is not empty… if Christ is not alive today… if the Resurrection didn’t happen, we are of all men – all people – most miserable. But the tomb is empty. Christ Jesus lives today. He lives forever. The Resurrection is not a myth, a fable, a mere belief, or even a spiritual illustration. It is a TRUTH, a FACT. Have you ever suffered and longed to see mercy? To see grace? There would have been no Resurrection without the Crucifixion. Therefore, we are of all men – of all people – most joyful.

There is much to say about the power of the Resurrection, about the power and meaning of the empty tomb, but there is also much to learn about the OPENING of the tomb. First, the opening of the tomb opened the eyes of the disciples. In Luke 24 we see that even Jesus used the Word of God.

And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.

Luke 24:13

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:27

He taught about Himself. What a Sunday School class that must have been! Jesus showed how all the Scriptures applied to Him.

Once we see Him in the Word, we can feel Him in our hearts.

And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

Luke 24:32

Then we can see Him in everyday things – even a common meal.

And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.

Luke 24:35

First, the opening of the tomb opened the eyes of the disciples. Second, the opening of the tomb opened the minds of the disciples.

But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.

Luke 24:37

They were terrified, even though He had spoken to them to calm their fears.

And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

Luke 24:36

He showed them His hands and feet.

Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

Luke 24:39

He ate physical food.

And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them.

Luke 24:42-43

But they were not really assured until He opened the Scriptures.

Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Luke 24:45-47

This gave them understanding of how His suffering and death were necessary for the promises to be fulfilled.

Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

I Peter 1:10-12

First, the opening of the tomb opened the eyes of the disciples. Second, the opening of the tomb opened the minds of the disciples. Third, the opening of the tomb opened the mouths of the disciples.

And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

Luke 24:48-49

Witnesses need power to be convincing. They are simply telling what happened, not really making an argument. So while we don’t witness FOR the Lord as much as His power witnesses THROUGH us, the motivation for our witnessing is HIM, as much as, or maybe even more so than, a loving desire to rescue lost sinners.

The Prayer for the Chosen

June 22, 2020 at 3:11 pm | Posted in John | Leave a comment
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The prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4 is commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer,” but it is really a model prayer which Jesus taught to His disciples as an example of how THEY ought to pray. He would not have prayed this prayer for Himself. However, John Chapter 17 is a prayer that Jesus DID in fact pray for Himself and His disciples. As far back as the mid- to late-1500s this prayer (possibly given the name by theologian David Chytraeus) has been known as “The High Priestly Prayer.” If anyone asked me (and they haven’t!), I would call John 17 “The Lord’s Prayer,” and give the other one a different name. I hope that you appreicate the awesome privilege of being able to permissively eavesdrop on this amazing moment of loving intimacy, intercession, and insight between the eternal Son and the eternal Father.

John 17 is a chapter of the Bible which inspires special solemnity and humility and worship.

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

John 17:1

This possibly took place while Jesus and the Disciples were still in the upper room, or they might have already started making their way to the Garden of Gethsemane. The word “glory” or “glorified” is used eight times in the prayer, and eight of them are in the first five verses. Was it egocentric for Jesus to ask God to glorify Him? No, the Father and Son share the glory that the Son receives in His Incarnation, His Crucifixion, His Resurrection, His Ascension, and His Exaltation.

As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

John 17:2

In the opening verses He prayed for Himself. He spoke directly to the Father, but He spoke of Himself in the third person. This indicates that Jesus was praying personally, but still formally, and with an awareness that this was a semi-public prayer, and that the Disciples were listening and were supposed to be listening, and that this would become inspired Scripture – to be read by us even today.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

John 17:3-5

Here eternal life is defined as “knowing” God, so it can’t mean a mere intellectual grasp that the Biblical God is the correct God. It is a personal, intimate knowledge. Those who are in Christ, as shown in I Corinthians, are the “Knows,” and no one can really know God in a saving way without knowing Christ.

Jesus’s love for the Father is tied to His obedience, just as our love for Jesus is tied to our obedience.

The Word had been with God, and the Word had laid aside His glory (not His Deity).

He prayed in preparation for what He was about to go through, and He prayed (not selfishly) that God would glorify Him for the glory of the Father. He asked for the return of His preincarnate glory. Then He went on to pray for His Disciples – the capital D Disciples, the ones who were with Him at the time.

I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

John 17:9-11

The “world” is another major concept in this prayer, along with “glory.” If you are a Christian you were “of the world” at one time. If you are not a Christian you are still “of the world.” If you are a Christian, even though you were “of the world” before trusting Jesus, you actually secretly belonged to God. He gave you to Jesus, and Jesus prayed for you in this prayer before you were ever born. In a very real sense you were chosen by Jesus, knowing that you already belonged to God, so that Jesus could present you back to God in Him, and He would be glorified for rescuing you from a system in which you had been captive. Yet you remain “in the world,” although you are no longer “of the world,” and Jesus has prayed for your protection, that you would be kept in God’s name, and we share in the love of the Father and the Son and in their eternal covenant, not as gods ourselves, but as redeemed children eternally united to God and Christ.

This was a prayer for the Disciples’ protection and their continuance in the faith, as well as for their sanctification.

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

John 17:14-17

He ultimately prayed also for you and me – all future Christians.

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

John 17:20-21

He prayed for our unity in the faith, and, coming back full circle to the idea of glory, that even we may be glorified with the Son and the Father.

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

John 17:22-26

Revolting Hearts

June 18, 2020 at 9:49 am | Posted in Jeremiah | 1 Comment
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I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the Lord, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.

Jeremiah 5:5

If oxen are so stubborn, so rebellious, as to break out of their yoke, what sort of “freedom” will they find?

Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased.

Jeremiah 5:6

It’s not a safe place out there for those who have “broken free” of God. Like a domesticated parakeet set free from its cage, we won’t survive on our own. Lions and wolves (both images for Satan and his followers), and leopards (a reference to our spotted sinful flesh) are just lying in wait to rip us to shreds.

Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?

Jeremiah 5:22

They were not afraid of the Lord, despite the fact that He is the One Who can order the chaos and destruction of nature and the elements.

But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone.

Jeremiah 5:23

We say that someone is “revolting” when they do something that shocks or sickens us, and I don’t think the pun is intended here, but in fact these people had revolting hearts in both senses of the word. They were rebelliously trying to get loose from their rightful authority, and were treasonously plotting and scheming to take over the throne for themselves with violence.

Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.

Jeremiah 5:24

Note the blatant and callous ingratitude after all the Lord had done for them.

Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.

Jeremiah 5:25

How many times have our own wickedness and our sins taken away the good things – the blessings – that God wants to give us?

Grace Negated by Anger?

June 15, 2020 at 10:19 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Question: Since, as a Christian, I am supposed to show grace to others, the best opportunities to do that, it seems, will happen when I encounter people who don’t “deserve” the kindness or love I am commanded to show them. If I am kind or loving to someone even though I don’t like them, or even if I feel anger toward them, does it even still count as “grace?”

Answer: Let me start by stating that I don’t believe the Bible teaches that ill will toward the people we choose to try to help negates the concept of grace, although unjust anger or hatred or even frustration toward a person, depending upon what is causing us to have those feelings, could be sins in and of themselves.

Certainly, being irritated by someone and choosing to help him or her could result in only one sin, whereas being irritated and refusing to help, out of spite, would be two sins instead of one, so there is at least a measure of grace involved any time we show undeserved kindness to someone else.

If I am angry at someone because they have personally offended me by intruding on my personal sensibilities or selfishness, that is sinful in and of itself. However, there are times when our feelings of frustration and anger are justified and not sinful, but to withhold kindness or love would be the sin. The Bible acknowledges our anger, but admonishes us not to let it cause us to sin (Ephesians 4:26). We also see Jesus (Mark 8:12-18) expressing something akin to frustration (maybe “holy grief” would be a better term for it), and we know He never sinned in thought, word, or deed (John 8:29; Hebrews 4:15).

Our sanctification (becoming like Jesus) is a lifelong process, and it may be that the ability to control our attitudes toward people who make us mad or frustrated is further down the road than we would like, at a stage of our sanctification that we haven’t yet reached. However, don’t exacerbate your tendency to let your emotions get the best of you by refusing to show the love of Christ to the people who seem the hardest to love.

A Secret at Supper

June 12, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake.

John 13:21-22

The Disciples honestly didn’t know who Jesus meant, and to their credit they were probably not only troubled by the presence of a traitor in their midst, but by the very real possibility that “could it be ME?!” We should not ever boast of our own valour in never betraying Jesus. Few of us have faced much harsh persecution or the confusion and threat of danger that fell upon those who publicly followed Jesus.

Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.

John 13:23

This is an odd scene to us. The Jewish custom at that time was to sit on chairs at a table to eat, but the ancient Greek and Roman custom was to recline on the floor, leaning on the left elbow and eating with the right hand, feet extended out to the side and away from the table, placing those gathered for the meal in very close proximity. Also, we must keep in mind that the taboo about men expressing pure non-sinful friendship through physical touch going beyond handshakes, high fives, back slaps, and brief hugs is fairly recent, so nothing strange should be read into the fact that John (most likely the Disciple “whom Jesus loved”) leaned his head back against Jesus’s chest to be in a whispering position.

Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake.

John 13:24

Peter didn’t like the not knowing (which may be part of the rationale behind Da Vinci’s decision to paint him holding a dagger in his painting of this scene in “The Last Supper), and prompted John to ask Jesus who it was.

He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?

John 13:25

This, as I said, was obviously whispered or at least spoken sotto voce:

Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.

John 13:26

He may have meant a piece of bread dipped in wine or olive oil, or a morsel of meat from a common platter or bowl. The emphasis is not on the culinary details, but on Judas. Perhaps it was a last opportunity for Judas to repent and ask forgiveness, but, if so, it was rejected, and Judas willingly turned the reins of his will completely over to Satan, which means that Jesus addressed Satan directly, although no one else realized it at the time.

And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.

John 13:27-30

The refernce to the night is both literal as to the chronology, and figurative as to the hour of the power of darkness.

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