God’s Specific Will for You

November 11, 2015 at 3:09 pm | Posted in Where There's a Way There's a Will | 1 Comment
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If you are a Christian, here is the specific will of God for you:

1. Respond to suffering.

For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

I Peter 3:17

God may allow you to suffer for sin or mistakes, or He may allow You to suffer despite your obedience. Our job as Christians is to accept suffering as coming from God – either in allowing or causing it – and to seek to do what is right.

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

I Peter 5:10

For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

II Corinthians 12:6-10

2. Give thanks.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I Thessalonians 5:18

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Ephesians 5:20

3. Obey the earthly God-ordained authorities when doing so would not violate God’s commandments.

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

I Peter 2:13-15

4. Be holy.

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

I Thessalonians 4:3-7

5. Use your time wisely.

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5:15-17

What will help me accomplish God’s will in my life?

1. His Spirit

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

I Corinthians 2:9-10

The Holy Spirit teaches us through the Bible and gives us wisdom through prayer.

2. His Word

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

II Timothy 3:16-17

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

3. His Body

Specifically, it is God’s will that we be involved in the local church.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Ephesians 4:11-12

The Invitation to Come Closer

August 31, 2015 at 9:17 am | Posted in Hebrews | 14 Comments
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It is a wonderful and amazing thought that God would invite us to draw near to Him. We are to draw near to Him with diligence, with focused and rapt attention. Of course, even as we draw near to Him, we are also sent out from Him. Just as we are to draw near – to come to God – without doubt, we are to likewise go forth as His ambassadors – those sent by God – not with sluggishness, but with zeal and boldness.

Among the Old Testament types of the offices of Christ, which He fulfills in superior ways under His New Covenant, we have discussed the prophets, the angels, Moses himself, and Aaron. Aaron was the High Priest in the time of Moses, but Christ is the Great High Priest. Generally speaking, the people couldn’t go to Aaron the High Priest with their problems. They could, in a sense, draw near to God through him and the other Levitical priests, but, in another sense, the Law required that a wall of separation be maintained between the priests and the common people. As New Testament believers we can go directly to the Great High Priest.

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:14-16

Christ is also superior because He is on the throne. We are allowed and encouraged and commanded to come before the throne of grace – to come boldly – but He’s still the One on the throne. Even Aaron couldn’t sit on the throne.

The Christians to whom the Book of Hebrews was originally written went through extreme persecution, but they were encouraged to confess their faith. When we fail to confess our allegiance to Christ, we don’t change His character, but we do bring reproach to His name. Hebrews 12:15 says, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God…” The grace of God will never fail us, but we must not fail the grace of God.

As we study Jesus’s role as the Great High Priest, we probably don’t see the depth of all the meaning that the 1st Century Hebrew Christians did. They understood the Levitical system of sacrifices and atonement and what the priests did in the temple better than we do. There must have been times when these saved Hebrews were really being tempted to go back to that old system, but the Holy Ghost was telling them, no, Christ is superior to that system, for the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did.

Jesus accomplished what the Law could not do in:

1. His propitiation. He satisfied and took upon Himself the wrath of God that was due to us for our sins against Him.

2. His expiation. He carried our condemnation away from us, and extinguished it in a way that was acceptable to God.

We were saved in a sense when Christ caused us to draw near enough to Him for Him to save us, not by standing aloof and trying to garner His favor or impress Him with our works. We drew near to Him by faith. When what saves you is effective, why would you want to try something else afterward? If drawing near led to salvation, then it stands to reason that the saved person can draw even nearer – that we can draw into confidence with God, into peace with God, into rest in God.

For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

Hebrews 4:8

Here the reference is mostly likely to Moses’s general and successor, Joseph, whose name looks like “Jesus” in the Greek, but, just as Joshua had a certain day to lead the people of God into Canaan, so Jesus is a better Joshua. He is the means to the rest that still remains for the children of God.

Close Enough to Whisper in God’s Ear

May 26, 2015 at 2:01 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 4 Comments
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Christ is greater than the prophets. He is greater than the angels. He is greater than any spiritual leader – even Moses, who had a special place in the hearts of Jewish believers.

Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

Hebrews 3:1

“Partakers” means that all Christians are in this together. The Holy Ghost reminded the Hebrew believers that they were partakers of the heavenly calling when He began to talk about Moses, their most beloved spiritual leader, because drawing nigh to God needs to be real. The Holy Ghost doesn’t want us to deceive ourselves by drawing close to a spiritual leader when we can go directly to God. Remember, Jesus isn’t just a faraway principle or an idea or a symbol. Jesus is also a “partaker” with us.

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

Hebrews 3:14

It is not that our salvation is dependent upon us holding on until the end with our own strength. No, the whole chapter is written explicitly to believers. Moses should be studied. For the most part, he’s a good example – a man of faith – greatly used of God.

And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;

Hebrews 3:5

But we are to “consider” Jesus – to study Him more carefully and closely than Moses. If you really want to consider something – to study it carefully – you get close to it. Moses was a prophet and a priest, but:

But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

Hebrews 3:6

“Confidence” means surety, hope, knowledge of how things are going to work out. If I tell someone something in “confidence,” it’s because I trust that person not to tell anyone else. I trust them with the information, and therefore, I can be bold.

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

We use that verse many times to encourage folks to be bold with God during prayer time, but remember, to speak with boldness, to speak with confidence, I must draw near. Coming boldly, with confidence, does not equal loud or proud. Can you imagine a petitioner shouting at a king from a distance?

He’s No Angel

April 27, 2015 at 2:50 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 6 Comments
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For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

Hebrews 2:2-3

The Word of God, prior to its cannonization in the Bible, was confirmed by signs and wonders. Many people today neglect the wonders of God’s Word, chasing after physical manifestations – visible signs and wonders – which is dangerous. Can God do today what He did in times past? No doubt about it. One of the messages of Hebrews is that Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). However, we must beware of a tendency to ignore the lessons taught in the Bible, while speculating about some kind of modern message that is touted as more “user-friendly.” Signs and wonders confirmed the Word, but the Word is perfect today. Don’t overlook the “miracle” of the Word of God, while vainly seeking some “new” miracle today. The Bible teaches that the angels are real, and they do minister according to the will of God, but, in the ranking of Heavenly beings, there is no doubt that God – the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost – holds the highest (and only truly unique) rank.

There is a warning in Hebrews 2:3 not to neglect the salvation granted to you by God.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Ephesians 6:17

Salvation is compared to a helmet, but a helmet is for wearing, not just having. The Hebrews to whom this book was originally written might have argued that Jesus had some authority, but He was human, and angels are above humans. Therefore, aren’t they above Jesus? The Bible clearly teaches that this is incorrect. Jesus, even in his humanity – incarnate – is still superior to the angels, in the following nonexclusive respects:

1. By His humanity He restored man’s dominion.

Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.

Hebrews 2:7-8

Since Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden, man no longer completely controls the the fish, the fowl, the wild beasts, or the domesticated beasts, but Christ did.

2. Even though He was God, He tasted death.

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Hebrews 2:9

No angel could conquer death, because no angel could die. Similarly, no angel could restore dominion or save lost sinners. Dominion was given to man, not angels, and Jesus did not die for fallen angels. He died for sinful men and women.

3. His humanity gave Him a unique priesthood.

Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Hebrews 2:17-18

Jesus experienced the dependency of infancy. He experienced growing pains. He experienced puberty. He experienced rejection. He got tired. He got hungry. He got thirsty. He got angry. People told lies told about Him. He was falsely accused.

The word tranlated as “succour” in Hebrews 2:18 refers to what happens when a baby cries for his mother, but it also has a connotation of sympathy or empathy. Jesus – even though He was God – experienced every temptation we have, and many we haven’t, and He remained without sin. The fact that He never sinned, though, does not keep Him from identifying with my sufferings, or my feelings or sincere emotions. It is exciting to know that we have access to our High Priest at any time, and that the need for for a priestly class of human beings no longer exists.

It is good to confess our faults to one another. The Bible says to do that, but that must never take the place of a sincere time of confession with our One True High Priest.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

Catechism Question 15

December 22, 2014 at 1:20 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism | 4 Comments
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Question 14: What has God done for you so you can have eternal life?
Answer: He sent his Son.
Prove it.

John 3:16

Question 15: What did Jesus do while He was here on earth?
Answer: He lived a perfect, sinless life.
Prove it.

And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.

John 8:29

Jesus’s sinless life even included His childhood. It is difficult for us to imagine going a day or even part of a day without sinning egregiously. Jesus, unlike us, lived every moment of every second of every minute of every hour of every day of His entire earthly life without ever committing even a single solitary act of sinful omission or commission in thought, word, or deed!

This is true in spite of the fact that Jesus was fully human, and was tempted in every respect just like we are. It means, though, that He never gave in to any temptation.

Depending upon the age and maturity of your child, you can get into the somewhat controversial doctrine known as the “impeccability of Christ,” which deals with the question of whether or not it was possible for Christ, in His humanity, to sin. The virgin birth, as it relates to Christ’s full humanity without the inheritance of Adam’s fallen nature, can be touched upon here, as well, depending on age and discretion.

Other verses to consider:

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?

John 8:46

Rest / Repentance

October 2, 2014 at 11:17 am | Posted in Hebrews, Two Sides to Every Comfort | 7 Comments
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Rest

“Rest” can have different meanings. It can mean to take it easy – sort of the opposite of hard work. It can also mean to cease from activity. On the seventh day God “rested” – not because He was tired, but because He was finished with the original work of creation. When a lawyer has finished putting on all his evidence and calling all his witnesses, he says, “I rest my case.” But in this lesson I am talking about a specialized kind of “rest” that we find in the Bible.

For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.

Hebrews 3:16

To set the scene, Hebrews Chapter 3 is discussing the exodus out of Egypt, when God’s people were on their way to the Promised Land and they provoked God with their lack of faith.

But with whom was he grieved forty years? [was it] not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?

Hebrews 3:17

The people left Egypt, but they did not reach their “rest” at that time because of their disobedience and lack of faith.

And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?

Hebrews 3:18

Notice the Holy Spirit’s logic here. God responded to their unbelief by giving them the logical outworking of failing to trust the God Who had miraculously set them free pursuant to prior fulfilled promises.

So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

Hebrews 3:19

If you are truly a Christian, then you were saved by grace through faith, but you also receive the assurance of salvation by faith.

Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

Hebrews 4:1 (emphasis added)

This is the kind of rest I’m talking about it in this lesson – the kind of rest that is truly “comforting” now – but not the precise kind of rest that we’re going to have when we reach Heaven.

A mistake that many Bible teachers have made – even some of the hymn writers – is equating the crossing of the Jordan River (the crossing over into Canaan, the Promised Land) with going to Heaven. The entering into Canaan is not an Old Testament picture of believers entering into Heaven, because in Canaan there were still enemies to fight, still giants to drive out, still mountains to conquer, still idol-worshipers and sinful tribes all around to tempt God’s people. None of that will be in Heaven.

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

Hebrews 4:9 (emphasis added)

The Greek word translated as “rest” in Hebrews 4:10 has a connotation of the calming of the wind after a storm. It reminds us of Jesus commanding the wind and the waves and telling the storm, “Peace, be still.

Biblical rest comes with inner peace. It is the comforting peace of God that goes beyond even knowing that our sins are forgiven. God could have saved us and locked us away in a dark place other than hell. He could have made us servants like the angels. But instead, God has given us His presence, so we do not have to wait to get to Heaven to experience the peaceful soul-calming rest of knowing God. You can abide in His presence right now – by faith. You are not a slave to sin – and you are not a slave to any laws or rules – if you are in Christ Jesus. You are a child of the Father.

But remember, I said that this rest is not the opposite of work. In fact, if we turn this comfort over and we examine the other side, some of us will be completely surprised with what we find there. Others will not be surprised at all. When you turn over the comfort of “rest,” you see:

Repentance

Repentance is an ongoing part of resting in Christ, and it is not – as some might imagine – antithetical to rest. It is the other side of the same pancake along with rest. In Psalm 38 we can see an extreme example. David was a man who went after God with wild abandon, and he was a man who, when he turned from God and went after sin, he went after it with the same wild abandon.

[There is] no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither [is there any] rest in my bones because of my sin. For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink [and] are corrupt because of my foolishness. I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are filled with a loathsome [disease]: and [there is] no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.

Psalm 38:3-8 (emphasis added)

The first step in repentance is admitting that I have sinned and that my sin is against God. Have you ever felt like David in these verses? So distraught and devastated and downcast that you thought couldn’t stand it? Perhaps when you lost your job? When one of your kids got into serious trouble? When the medical tests came back positive? When somebody close to you betrayed you or ignored you or mistreated you?

But what about when we sin? Don’t make the mistake of thinking that sin has separated you from God’s two-sided comforts. David didn’t.

For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God.

Psalm 38:15

For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.

Pslam 38:18

Forsake me not, O LORD: O my God, be not far from me. Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation.

Psalm 38:21-22

David was resting in God, but his rest was the flip side of his repentance. They were inextricably linked together. David knew the paradox of the rest/repentance principle. He knew that the man of God, and God’s people, must labor to enter into rest.

Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Hebrews 4:11

That’s why, so often at the end of a “hard sermon” on sin, you will see the older saints weeping in repentance: not because they are doubting God’s assurance, but because they find rest in Godly repentance.

Standing before the Throne: Power

May 4, 2012 at 11:52 am | Posted in The Great White Throne | 3 Comments
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Last time we looked at:

I. The Throne’s Possessor

Now let’s look at:

II.
The Throne’s Power

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

Revelation 20:11 (emphasis added)

The Greek word for “great” in that Verse is “mega.” A device which makes your voice sound loud and important is called a “megaphone.” A department store which is the biggest store we can imagine is called a “mega-store.” A big city is a called a metropolis, but a city which is almost too big to comprehend – a city made up of several big cities – is called a megalopolis. If an atomic warhead could explode with the power of one million pounds of dynamite, we would call it a “megaton” bomb. This throne – this GREAT White Throne – is the greatest, the most magnificent, the most powerful throne that you will ever see. It makes King Solomon’s throne look like a child’s plastic toy throne. If you could take the greatest thrones of all the greatest men in the history of the world – the thrones of Pharaoh, the kings of Babylon, Ghengis Kahn, Alexander the Great, Caesar, George III, all the Kings of England and Europe, the gold thrones of the Aztec empire – if you could combine them all together into one magnificent, giant throne – it would be nothing – it would be like a cardboard cut-out of a throne – compared to the Throne upon which this King sits: the Great White Throne of the King of Kings.

https://i1.wp.com/www.restoringisrael.org/Great_White_Throne.jpg

The kings of all the thrones and kingdoms of this world will tremble and fall before this Throne – before this King – with Whom we have to deal. This throne is so high, and the King who sits upon this Throne is so powerful, that…

Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Hebrews 4:13

He is watching you now. He sees you, yet you do not see Him. Are you living in submission to His power? Or in defiance of it?

Next time: The Throne’s Purity

How Tall Was Jesus?

October 21, 2011 at 10:20 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Biblical Teaching | 14 Comments
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When I first became the teacher of an adult Sunday School class my biggest worry was that somebody in class would ask a question for which I didn’t have an answer. So I would tend to “over-study” in preparation for class. Even if we were going to be covering something really simple (Does Jesus say you should love your neighbor?) I would be prepared to do a complete exegesis on the Olivet Discourse and to defend my position on infralapsarianism versus supralapsarianism – just in case. Well, after a few weeks, I stopped worrying about that. I came to realize that I had more pressing concerns than somebody asking a difficult question and putting me on the spot. My bigger concerns had to do with just trying to keep everybody awake for 35 minutes – or trying to make sure the people who preferred the chairs to be arranged in a circle didn’t physically attack the people who preferred to sit classroom-style. Instead of being afraid that someone would ask a difficult question, I actually began to hope that anyone would ask anything – which would at least indicate that someone was listening or had read the lesson. Finally, it happened.

A particular fellow stayed after class one Sunday morning and came up to me as I was shuffling my notes back into my folder. Oh boy, I thought, maybe he wants to know about modalism or the Sabellian controversy! But instead he said in a gruff voice, “Hey you’re one of them Christians – one of them ‘church people.’ How tall do you think Jesus was?”

Of course, I had no idea. And although I don’t think Jesus’s height bears a tremendous significance on the essentials of the Christian faith, I did promise to study the matter and get back to him.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52 (emphasis added)

From the time Jesus was 12 years old He “increased in stature.” Presumably, this means that He “grew up” physically. So, however tall He was at 12, we can assume He got taller as He got older. The last part of that Verse, which says “with God and man” appears to apply to the part about Him growing “in favor,” but I suppose it might also apply to “increased in stature.” If Jesus grew “in stature with other men,” that would not tell us definitively how tall He was, but it would lead us to suppose that He reached an “average” height – similar to other men.

And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

Matthew 27:35 (emphasis added)

The Roman soldiers cast lots (gambled) for Jesus’s clothing after He was stripped and crucified. They did this partly to fulfill Old Testament prophecy, but it is unlikely that the soldiers in their own minds even knew this prophecy, much less that they knew the Divine hand of God was causing them to fulfill it. It is also unlikely that they cast lots hoping to win a valuable souvenir or a Roman Catholic “relic.” More likely, they were hoping to obtain some free clothing. (Clothing was relatively expensive back in those days.) From this, we might infer that Jesus was physically around the same size as the average Roman soldier.

In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.

Matthew 26:55

When Jesus was arrested, He pointed out to His persecutors that He had been among them openly, and the fact that He referred to His teaching as the means by which they might have recognized Him and arrested Him sooner, rather than by His physical appearance, may mean that there was nothing especially noteworthy about the way He looked.

Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

John 8:59

It is possible that when Jesus escaped being stoned in the Temple He supernaturally camouflaged Himself, but it is also possible that, during the confusion, He simply blended in with the crowd and got away, which, if He was of average height and appearance, would not have been terribly difficult to do.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

If Jesus, during His earthly life, was tempted in all the ways in which we are tempted, might not that have included the temptation that comes with being made fun of for how we look? This does not really tell us anything about His height, but it does tend to support the idea that Jesus was not especially physically attractive. We know from the Gospel records that He was not a wimp, but He was gentle. Great stature (height or size) is usually associated in the Bible – especially in the Old Testament – with sin or great wickedness. (See Genesis 6:4-5; Numbers 13:30-32; I Samuel 17:4.)

These are only clues at best, but it seems that there was nothing glaring or especially attractive about Jesus’s physical appearance.

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Isaiah 53:2-3 (emphasis added)

Regardless of whether Jesus was tall or short according to the standards of His day, we know that God looks at men’s hearts more than their outward appearance. Jesus was a giant when it came to righteousness and love. He did not intimidate people with His physical size. He was “tall enough” to bear our sorrows, griefs, and sins and to nail them to His Cross.

While we don’t have a detailed description of the physical appearance of Jesus during His days on earth, we do have something of a description of how He will look when He returns to set things right once and for all:

His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

Revelation 1:14-15

By the way, that explanation did not satisfy my friend who stayed after class to ask me about it, and I suppose he went down the road to another church where the preacher got “a rhema word from God” and told him without a doubt that Jesus was five foot eleven and a half. Oh well, you can’t win ’em all.

A Timely Word

June 13, 2011 at 11:37 am | Posted in Hebrews | 9 Comments
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In the New Testament, there are different Greek terms for “word,” which are translated into English. Two of these are “logos” and “rhema.” The Greek word “logos” is used 330 times in the New Testament. The Greek word “rhema” is used a paltry 70 times. However, so-called “televangelists” absolutely love to use the term “rhema word” to refer to specific instructions spoken by God today. They contrast this with the “logos word,” which they take to mean the Words of God written down in the Bible. The implication is that “rhema words” are somehow fresher than “logos words.” This implication is simply wrong.

A quick glance at Ephesians 6:17 and 6:19 may help clarify the matter. 6:17 says: “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” Traditional Christian doctrine holds that “the sword of the Spirit -” the offensive weapon wielded by believers who wear the armor of God – is the Holy Bible. Yet the Greek word used here is “rhema.”

6:19 says: “And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,” The “utterance” given to the Apostle Paul in this verse is the Spirit-controlled speech which the Lord will grant him as he boldly preaches the Gospel. Yet the Greek word for “utterance” is “logos.”

The desire for a private revelation from God may be very tempting. All true Christians want to be guided in an immediate way by God. However, it is always a mistake to denigrate the Bible by making it seem stale. I do not know who may or may not claim to have a “word from God” for you, but I do know that God’s Holy Book is alive and well, and is as fresh and powerful as it has ever been.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

Strange Weapons Lesson 3: The Pitcher (spiritual application)

April 29, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Posted in Strange Weapons | 3 Comments
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The factual summary of the account of Gideon highlighted the use of some of the strangest weapons in any Biblical battle: pitchers. In the spiritual warfare which Christians are called to wage, we have a corollary for Gideon’s pitchers: our bodies. The Christian’s body sounds like more of a physical than a spiritual weapon, but the key is in how God works in us.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

II Corinthians 10:3-4

1. Pitchers can contain.

The purpose of a pitcher is to hold something. Just as Gideon’s pitchers were used to contain something, our bodies also serve as containers.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

The bodies of born-again believers are the containers of God’s Holy Spirit.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:19

Is God’s Spirit directing your body, and controlling it? Are you an obedient container? Do your feet go where God wants them to go? Do your hands touch only what God wants them to touch? Are you placing in your mouth and your stomach those things which help, instead of hurt, your body? Are your eyes looking at what God wants you to see? Are your ears listening to what God wants you to hear? Is your tongue saying what God wants you to say? Pitchers don’t decide for themselves what goes into them. The owner of a pitcher puts into it what he thinks is best.

When Gideon’s army brought their pitchers to the battle, God had a plan for them. In the spiritual battles we fight every day, we have our armor to protect us. We also have have prayer, the Bible, and love to help us fight. But don’t forget, your physical body is a part of the spiritual battle, too.

2. Pitchers can conceal.

Gideon’s pitchers concealed lamps. As Christians, we are to be light in a dark world, so we do not want to conceal the light of Christ, but there are times when the container of your body must be used to conceal things.

Nothing can be concealed from God. He looks on the inside, at the secret things. He knows the thoughts and intents of the heart. The pitchers of Gideon’s army concealed their lights from the enemy until the time was right. The devil can’t read your mind, but he is watching you. There is a principle in the Bible of controlling yourself so that your weaknesses are not exposed.

And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

I Corinthians 9:25-27

We are to bring our bodies under self-control. Gideon’s pitchers contained nothing but light.

3. Pitchers can crumble.

Gideon’s army had to use pitchers that were breakable.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

I Corinthians 1:26-29

God has given us a great treasure – greater than wealth, health, fame, or influence. It is the Gospel message. He could have entrusted it to an angel. He could have given it only to powerful, wealthy, or influential men.

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

II Corinthians 4:4-7

This way, God gets the glory, not men. Pitchers are fragile, but there is power even in a broken pitcher.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

II Corinthians 12:10

When we are broken, empty, and weak, then His glorious light shines forth and frightens and confounds the enemy, and causes him to flee.

Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.

II Corinthians 13:3-4

When we look meek to men, we are strong in Christ. His power is strong in us. When Jesus was going toward the Cross He emptied Himself out of everything we tend to rely on for strength – He had no wealth, no reputation, no family, no friends, not even any clothes! On the Cross He was the emptiest Man Who ever lived. He even lay His Own life down when no man could take it from Him.

Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.

Psalm 31:5

I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.

Psalm 31:12

Pitchers can contain. Does God’s Spirit live within you? Pitchers can conceal. Are you able to surrender to His Spirit and be controlled in your body? Pitchers can crumble. Have you ever been broken before God? Does His light shine through your brokenness? Will you make noise for the Lord in the midst of His enemies, even if it means you have to be broken into pieces to do it?

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