Seeing, Touching, Hearing, Reading, and Believing

March 17, 2020 at 10:23 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, John | 2 Comments
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Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

John 20:19

Jesus’s Resurrection happened on the first day of the week, which is why Christians meet for assembled worship services on Sunday rather than Saturday. Regardless of what you believe about the New Testament Lord’s Day replacing the Old Testament Sabbath, it is clear that Jesus fulfilled the work of God and instituted a new covenant/pattern/dispensation. God finished the initial work of creation after six days and commemorated it with a special holy day of “rest.” Jesus finished the work of redemption after six hours on the Cross, and commemorated it with a special holy day of new life.

A week later, despite having information strongly indicating that Jesus had risen, the Disciples were still in hiding, but also meeting together on Sunday. The resurrected, glorified body of Jesus had the power to appear suddenly inside a room with locked doors. Of course, as God, Jesus could do what He wanted with time and space and material objects, but this is often taken as a sign that our glorified, resurrected bodies will share this ability to move freely through space and objects.

The greeting of “peace” is important, as we remember Jesus’s promise in John 14. He did not condemn their fear; He comforted them with His presence.

And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

John 20:20-21

This is John’s version of the Great Commission.

And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

John 20:22

Some Bible scholars see this as a temporary filling for ministry until the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Others see it as an object lesson or illustrated sermon, indicating that they should go forth with the God-breathed “inspired” Word and with the Holy Spirit once they were indwelt.

Ten Disciples had seen and touched Jesus personally after the Resurrection. Judas and Thomas had not been present to this point, and obviously Judas was no longer part of the team. Thomas needed definite confirmation before he would be convinced.

The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.

John 20:25-28

This is seen by many commentators as the climax of the Gospel of John. Thomas’s confession seems obvious to us today, but, remember, John was writing primarily for an audience he was hoping to convince of Jesus’s Deity.

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

John 20:29

When we read about those who have not seen Jesus personally with our physical eyes, yet believe the Truth about Him, we can rejoice and say, “That’s us!”

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

John 20:30-31

The somewhat limited scope of John’s Gospel is revealed and clarified. Its purpose is to invoke belief, yes, but not mere academic conviction. It is the kind of belief that is the means of eternal life.

Getting a Hand, Giving a Hand, and Handing it On

October 11, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Posted in Ezra | 3 Comments
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It is interesting to note what Ezra himself saw as the reason for his success.

This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.

Ezra 7:6

For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him.

Ezra 7:9

And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellors, and before all the king’s mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.

Ezra 7:28

And by the good hand of our God upon us they brought us a man of understanding, of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel; and Sherebiah, with his sons and his brethren, eighteen;

Ezra 8:18

For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him.

Ezra 8:22

Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way.

Ezra 8:31

Ezra recognized that “the good hand of the Lord was upon [him].”

Artaxerxes was called Artaxerxes “the Long-Handed,” and we are reminded of the far-reaching consequences of breaking the laws under our own system of criminal justice when we use the phrase, “the long arm of the law.” Artaxerxes’s influence was certainly widespread, but he was really being used as God’s “long hand.” God’s hand moved Artaxerxes’s hand to sign the decree which granted the authority that Ezra needed.

Ezra Chapter 7 takes place 60 years after the dedication of the temple in Chapter 6. The Jewish remnant was having a difficult time when God raised up Ezra to lead the second group of refugees from Babylon to Judah. Ezra came from a Godly line of priests, and he knew who they were, and he sought to honor their memory. It’s one thing to be left a great material inheritance by your ancestors, but it’s even better to be left a spiritual inheritance. What a waste it would be if your grandparents and their parents deposited spiritual wealth into your account, and you are now squandering it.

Ezra was a student of the Scriptures.

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

Ezra 7:10

He read the Word, he obeyed the Word, and he taught the Word. All Christians should be teachers. You may not have an official “classroom of students,” but if you think you don’t have anybody to teach, let me introduce you to your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your co-workers, etc. Find some children whose parents don’t come to church, or some single parent who could use some help, and share what God has shown you in His Word.

Insincerity, Inaccuracy, or Incompletion?

October 12, 2009 at 8:51 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Acts | 5 Comments
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In Acts Chapter 18 Paul goes from Athens to Corinth. Corinth was a very unlikely place to start a church. Since Paul went to Corinth alone, it was clear that, if he was to be successful there, God would have to intervene. Corinth was the Las Vegas or New Orleans of its day. It was a place of vice, greed, and wicked spiritualism.

God knew that many of those in Corinth who pretended to be involved in spiritual pursuits were actually trying to manipulate people out of greed. So He allowed Paul to be distinct by earning his living making tents.

And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

Acts 18:3

God took care of the problem of Paul being alone in Corinth by providing Aquila and Priscilla, a married couple. Paul worked during the week and preached on the Sabbath. Then God sent financial help with Timothy and Silas, which allowed Paul to preach full-time.

When Paul encountered opposition in the synagogue, God sent Titus Justus to open a place for him to preach right next to the synagogue.

And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.

Acts 18:7-8

The chief ruler of the synagogue was saved!

Paul carried out the Great Commission, and he received the assurance from Jesus that is attached to it.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20

And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:

Acts 18:8-9

Paul never quit; opposition only strengthened his commitment. The blessing of the Old Testament is prosperity; the blessing of the New Testament is persecution.

When the Jews tried to take the Christians to court, God intervened, and caused Gallio, the Roman proconsul, to declare the preaching of Christianity a Jewish religious matter, and not a matter of Roman law.

Paul was in Corinth for about 18 months. Then he went back to report at Antioch, and then back to Ephesus. This would be his third missionary journey.

Ephesus did not have Corinth’s reputation for wickedness, but it had a population of about 300,000 people, compared to Corinth’s 200,000. Ephesus was steeped in idolatry. It was the capital of Asia. The temple of Diana there was one of the “seven wonders of the world.” Paul stayed in Ephesus about three years.

In Acts Chapter 19 we see a historical oddity: people who sincerely professed to be Christian disciples, but who were lacking the Holy Spirit. Their testimony was not insincere, but it was probably inaccurate, and it was it was definitely incomplete.

The ministry of John the Baptist – probably through Apollos – had a big influence in Alexandria and Ephesus, so these men were disciples of the teaching of John the Baptist.

Here is what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit in connection with salvation:

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Romans 8:9

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Ephesians 1:13

The requirement today for Holy Spirit baptism is not water baptism. It is not the laying on of hands. It is salvation. These men in Acts 19 knew that John the Baptist had prophesied about the giving of the Holy Spirit, but they did not know at first that it had already happened.


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