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The Sources of Wisdom

James 3:17, 18
“17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”


What Am I Missing?

What Am I Missing?

© Chet Bishop, April 2012 (THCF 4/1/12)

Luke 19:1-44 (whole Passage)

Luke 19: 1-10 (read it)

1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Introduction:

In the parallel passages in the other gospels, we have read how Jesus traveled through Jericho, headed for Jerusalem. We read about the blind men who were healed before and after Jericho…but what happened in Jericho?  A mob of people followed Jesus. They had heard of him, and had seen him heal people. Funny, though, these people were not encouraging those blind men to be healed, but rather were telling them to be quiet. They saw them as a nuisance. Jesus saw them as people—souls whom he created and for whom he was about to die as a life-purchasing sacrifice.

As Jesus passed through Jericho, a man named Zacchaeus saw the mob of people surrounding Jesus as he passed, but could not see Jesus, because he himself was very short, and evidently didn’t even know who he was. He was gripped by curiosity, though, enough to run ahead of the pack and climb a tall tree, because he “…sought to see Jesus who he was…”. This is an odd phrase, and perhaps it is just the King James language for “wanted to see who it was” but it specifically says he wanted to “see Jesus, who he was”. He could have simply asked, as the blind man had asked…but he really wanted to see Jesus, who he was.  I don’t know of anyone else of whom this peculiar statement is made. He had a God-given hunger…I will assume he had heard something of God’s word, simply because he was a Jew….

Remember that there was a whole crowd of people “seeing Jesus” as he walked along. They had seen the healings. But they were missing something.

What about Zacchaeus? Who was he? He was chief among the publicans…a Jewish born tax-collector for the Romans…a collaborator with the enemy. But he wasn’t born that way. He had his training in the synagogue school, his “bar mitzvah”, etc.  It is just that at some point he wandered from the God of Israel, and followed the God of money…he was a rich man as a result. And he had been paying the price for that sin. He was rejected by all his neighbors, so he had no fellowship with them, and no fellowship with his Creator either.

Perhaps the old prophecies that he had memorized in his youth echoed in his mind from time to time, and he wondered if the Messiah would ever come—and whether he himself would even be worthy to own him as his Lord. And then Jesus came to town…. But I don’t want to guess:

Whatever the true background, Zacchaeus climbed that tree because he desperately wanted to see Jesus, “Who he was”. And Jesus saw him “who he was”…and called him by name. Jesus said “Zacchaeus! Hurry down from there…I must stay at your house today!”

What a transformation! Zacchaeus hurried down and received him joyfully. The neighbors (ALL those who saw the transaction) grumbled, saying that Jesus had gone to be a guest with a man that is a sinner. (I’ll bet that made Zacchaeus feel great…he was right there…he knew what they were all saying.) But Zacchaeus responded with works fit for repentance. He stood, during dinner, and told Jesus that he would give half of all he owned to the poor, and that if he had wrongly exacted money from anyone he would restore it fourfold. (That made him the best investment in town. 300% return. J)

I don’t know how the neighbors felt about that. I’m not sure Zacchaeus really cared—he was concerned with a relationship with Jesus. And Jesus saw his heart, because He responded in these words: “This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham.”

That might have raised some eyebrows too. Paul had to explain the concept later, pointing out that those who were physically the offspring of Abraham were not necessarily the children of Abraham, but that the children of faithful Abraham became so by faith. This man had just demonstrated that he believed in Jesus. Jesus said he had become a son of Abraham. Then (evidently for the benefit of those listening) he stated his purpose in coming. “…the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Zacchaeus had great joy, because his Messiah had come, had called him by name, had eaten at his table, and forgiven him of his sins. As far as we know, he did not see any of the healings. The others did see them, and had walked across town with Jesus. But when Jesus healed the life of “nasty little old Zacchaeus”, they were not filled with joy—they grumbled about the Grace that was extended to Zacchaeus. They missed the joy that was there amongst them—but Zacchaeus did not miss it. He received it. Am I missing the joy that is around me because I am grieved at God’s plans? Do I even have the right to question His wisdom, let alone whether I have the intelligence and wisdom to understand what it is He is doing?

Jesus turned to those who followed and issued the following parable:

A Warning

Luke 19:11-27 (read it)

11 And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. 12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. 13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. 15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. 16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. 17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. 18 And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. 19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. 20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: 21 For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. 22 And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: 23 Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? 24 And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. 25 (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) 26 For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. 27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.


This is a warning to all that were following. Most were not believers, even though they were going along with him as he went. Jesus told a parable of a ruler, a nobleman, who went to a far country to receive a kingdom. I am of the opinion that the man in this parable is Jesus Himself. He is going to his Father to receive the Kingdom. Consider the following…the servants are not in danger—the rebellious “citizens” are in serious danger. Even the least faithful of the servants is in far better shape than those enemies who did not want his reign in their lives.

From a human perspective, I understand the feelings of the people. They wanted autonomy. And, from a human perspective there is not much wrong with that plan. However, remember that Jesus is GOD, the Creator, and that he literally owns every atom of which we are made. He literally owns us body and soul—and that was true before we were saved…much more afterward. But he owns the whole world by creation. Now he owns it again by purchase, at the cross. There is no one who can accurately claim to be exempt from his claim on their life. Remember from whence comes this desire for self-will and self-rule: Isaiah 14:12-15.

The servants were each given a responsibility to discharge—some did it well, some did less well, one didn’t try. He lost his reward and the responsibility. The others gained further responsibility as a reward. The only punishment listed here is upon those who were not his servants. So what about that Servant? Since (in this particular parable) he was not in danger of death, what was the cost? He missed his opportunity.

He was given an opportunity to serve, even if in a rather humble way. He chose to reject that opportunity based on his judgment of the Master’s character, and he lost the only opportunity he would have to be rewarded for faithful service. Some of the people there were servants of God. Some were his enemies. Jesus spoke to the whole crowd. All had an opportunity of one sort or another. All had the opportunity to repent, if nothing else. Some had the opportunity for repentance and service, others the opportunity for salvation. Am I missing the opportunities for service? The opportunities to lead others to Christ? The opportunity to draw near to God and be blessed in this life?

Fulfilled Prophecy

Luke 19:28-40 (read it)

28 And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem. 29 And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, 30 Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. 31 And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him. 32 And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them. 33 And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? 34 And they said, The Lord hath need of him. 35 And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. 36 And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. 37 And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; 38 Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. 39 And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.

40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.


The colt: Much has been made of this situation, but we really aren’t told enough to know how much was miracle, and how much simply the narrative of what happened. I see two apparent miracles… one is that a never-ridden animal usually has a disagreement to work out before becoming a docile beast of burden. It is fitting, though, that none was seen here, because it fits the general pattern: People—humans—and fallen angels are the only things that have ever disobeyed God. The young male donkey was acting exactly as a creature is supposed to act under the hand of its Creator.

The other issue is the fact that the owners let the animal go without an argument. J. Vernon McGee suggests that there had been a prior arrangement made by Jesus, and this was just the outworking of it, and that he had given the phrase “the Lord has need of it” to let the owners know that it was he who sent the disciples. That is sheer supposition. All we are told is that they consented. Both of the above seem highly unusual, and if a person wants to find a natural explanation, that is their privilege. But I really think if one wants to do that, they at least should try to stick to what is actually written, and try not to wander astray. Once a person feels free to inject supposition, then anything is possible.

Further, many have supposed that the same individuals that cried out “Hosanna” in the other Gospels, and “Blessed be the King!” in this chapter, are those who cried out “Crucify!”, a few chapters later. But if you will read verse 37, it says that the disciples were the ones who cried out “Hosanna” and other things, while the Pharisees were disturbed by it. The other gospels say that the whole city was stirred up over it. The Pharisees knew that the disciples were publicly recognizing Jesus as the king. They demanded that Jesus shut them up. Essentially they demanded that He deny the truth of what they were shouting. Far from denying it, Jesus strengthened it, saying that if the disciples were silenced, the stones would cry out. The disciples were rejoicing and being blessed. The Multitudes (folks from Jerusalem) were stirred up and disturbed. The Pharisees were angry. They were all missing the point:

Something was happening! Prophecy was being fulfilled in (at least somewhat) miraculous ways! The particular Psalm that was being quoted here is Psalm 118:25, 26. It is nearly an exact quote, even in English. The word “Hosanna”, in the New Testament, does NOT mean “praise the Lord” or anything like it. It means “Save us now”. That is why Psalm 118:25 says “save NOW, Lord…” That is exactly what Jesus came to do. They were all missing the point; probably even those who quoted the Psalm.

Am I missing the point? Am I out of tune with what God wants to accomplish, so that I can’t be walking in step with Him, and rejoicing at the victories He brings? Amos 3:3 asks the rhetorical question, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (The implied answer being “No!”)

1st John 1:7 states that “if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin”. I want to be in constant enough fellowship with God that I can have some sense of where He is going with things. There is a lot of peace and joy in simply watching God at work. I don’t have to “understand everything.”

A Lament

Luke 19:41-44 (read it)

41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. 43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, 44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

Jesus’ lament for Jerusalem stated that because they had “missed the boat” as it were, having failed to recognize their Messiah, they would face destruction from their enemies. This was fulfilled, of course, in AD 70, with the invasion and destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman General Titus. They missed out on the blessing of the promise of God through their willful blindness and pride, and faced destruction as a result.

Don’t Miss Out

You who have trusted Jesus Christ as your savior, who have placed your faith in Hs finished work at the Cross are not in danger of “Missing the Boat”, as those in Jerusalem did. According to Jesus’ promise (John 5:24), if you have heard his word, and believed on Him who sent him, you HAVE eternal life, and can never lose it.

But you can still miss the point of God’s work in your life. You can miss the opportunities for service, blessing and reward. And perhaps saddest of all; you can miss the Joy He offers in the daily relationship with Him.

Choose the path of Zacchaeus and the other disciples. Enter into the Joy of your Lord today— now—not waiting until you die to experience his presence.

The Lord bless you all as you choose to walk with Him.


Circumventing the Cross

Circumventing the Cross

© C. O. Bishop 2013

Introduction:

I re-read an old novel a few weeks ago, one that is widely known and appreciated, in which the heroine goes to a tiny Appalachian community (setting in 1912), and is mentored by a Quaker missionary, who has tirelessly worked to gain the confidence of the people, and to bring the love of God into their homes and hearts. (All sounds good so far, right?)

The two women and the various others in the story demonstrate the grace and love of God in their lives, and gradually people are won over, hearts soften, people desire to learn literacy, begin to read their Bibles, and God’s character miraculously begins to show up in people’s lives. That all sounds great, too, right? And it really does…except that, after I had finished the book, and actually began to think about it, I realized there was something missing. The writer had preached the love and grace of God, and had seen transformed lives, and visions of Heaven, even, all without a single mention of Christ! There was no blood sacrifice—nothing offensive about this Gospel, because it left out the Cross, and left out Jesus Christ, entirely. Even the vision of Heaven was without Christ—just a bunch of happy people wandering around playing with babies.

A Bloodless Sacrifice for Sins

You recall the story of Cain and Abel. Most people may primarily remember that Cain killed Abel, which is true, of course. But they forget the root cause: Abel had correctly approached God with a blood-sacrifice for sin, as had been demonstrated in Genesis 3, but Cain had brought a bloodless sacrifice—a worship offering, perhaps, but one that ignored the fact of sin. The sin issue has to be addressed, one way or another, before worship and interaction with a Holy God can begin. God rejected Cain’s offering quite gently, reasoning with him that he (Cain) knew what was required, and that if he did what was right, He (God) would certainly receive him (Cain) as well; there was no respect of persons here.

Cain rejected the plan of God, and, in anger, went and murdered Abel.

Why would he reject God’s plan? Apparently he did not want to confess that he needed a savior. He did not want to bring a blood sacrifice, confessing his own sin…he apparently thought he should be able to address God as an equal. (We are most certainly not God’s equals. We are not the creator; we are the created beings, and sinners, besides.)

But taking it a step further; what if he simply confessed his sin, and threw himself on God’s mercy and Grace, but still brought a bloodless sacrifice? Would that be OK?

No! The Holiness of God must be satisfied, or fellowship can never occur. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”  What do you think he was talking about? By acting like Him? By seeing him as a great teacher, and trying to obey his teaching, and follow his lifestyle? Or by admitting that only His blood can save, and that I, personally, need a savior, or I cannot be saved?

Why do we reject the Cross?

Today people reject the cross for a variety of reasons, but all can be traced to two fundamental reasons: They consider it offensive, one way or another, or they consider it utter foolishness, and will not consider the possibility that God’s Wisdom is so far beyond their own that it seems to be foolishness, simply because they can’t begin to understand it.

They either think it offensive: (a) that a Holy God should require a blood sacrifice for sin (such a heathen-sounding thing!) or (b) that He should consider them a sinner, and that everything they do is tainted by their sin.

They think it foolishness for a host of reasons: I read a newspaper comment by a man who said that he was not about to take seriously “…the world-view of a ragged band of goat-herds from 3,000 years ago!” Hmm. There are a lot of misconceptions, there!

Interesting that those are the two grounds for rejecting the Gospel, today— those are also the reasons that were mentioned in 1st Corinthians 1:23. Paul said “We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block (an offense) and unto the Greeks foolishness”. But he went on to say that Christ is the Power of God, and the Wisdom of God. In another passage (Romans 1:16), referring specifically to the Gospel of Christ, Paul stated that “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto Salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” The Power of God! The Gospel is Christ, in a nutshell. And he is the only way given for us to be saved (“…neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12)

Has it ever occurred to you that when the book of Romans states that the Gospel of Christ is the Power of God to save those who believe, it is stating an “exclusive” truth? There is no other thing in the scriptures, described as being the “power of God” to save believers; Just the Gospel. There is no other way given by which we may approach God; Just Christ. And yet, as the human race, we continue to reject God’s only plan of salvation. There is no “Plan B”. This is it, folks! If you are not specifically preaching the Cross, you are not telling people how to be saved. If you are not specifically dependent upon the Cross, yourself, then You are not saved. There is no other way.

What about the religions (or preachers) that ignore the cross?

When a religion (or preacher) circumvents the Cross, regardless of how nicely they teach the rest of the scripture, what must we conclude? Surely such nice people must have a right standing with God, mustn’t they? Surely if I follow their teachings, I will also have a right standing with God…right? All those nice, pious, gentle, pleasant people can’t be wrong, can they? (Read Galatians 1:6-9)

Then what about sin? How do they deal with sin?

What do we do with Sin?

There are only three ways that human religions deal with the issue of Sin:

  1. Deny that it exists at all. Nothing is intrinsically good or bad.
  2. Admit that it exists, but deny that it ultimately matters… God is too loving and kind to condemn anyone. Just do your best to live right, and God will accept you.
  3. Admit that it exists, and that it matters (God hates sin!) and demand that the sinner do many good works to expiate all the bad works (penance, alms, service). God will accept you if you do enough good to overbalance all the bad.

Any of those three will result in the eternal loss of the adherent. Your faith will not save you if the object of your faith cannot save you. It matters who you trust and what you believe. If you trust in a crook, you lose your money; If you trust in a failing bridge, you lose your life. If you place your faith in a false God, or a false religion, or a false creed, or false principle, you lose your soul…you are eternally separated from God, in eternal punishment.

Truth is not dependent upon what people believe.

Truth is a fact, regardless of what anyone thinks:

  • Either God is Holy, or He is not.
  • Either He created all things, or He did not.
  • Either Man is a sinner, or he is not.
  • Either sin requires a blood-sacrifice for forgiveness, or it does not. (Doesn’t that sound primitive and gory? Surely we have progressed beyond such savagery… Doesn’t that argument sound familiar? “Ye shall not surely die…” Satan can sound pretty persuasive!) It doesn’t matter what I think about it—it either is true or it isn’t.

There is no middle ground. These are black-and-white issues. Truth does not depend upon public opinion. God addresses each of these questions numerous times in the Bible.

  • He clearly states, numerous times, that He is Holy. He cannot abide Sin.
  • He gives a fairly detailed account of the creation, with many later references to that historical fact, all pointing to the fact that He is the Creator, and has full authority over His creation.
  • He gives a detailed account of how man fell into sin, and many references to that historical fact, all agreeing that Man is a fallen creature, lost, apart from God’s Grace.
  • He demonstrated the blood sacrifice in Genesis chapter 3, accepted a blood sacrifice (and rejected a non-blood sacrifice) in Genesis 4, demanded a specific blood sacrifice in Exodus 12, and ultimately declared Jesus Christ to be the fulfillment of all the Old Testament sacrifices, in John 1:29, and many other New Testament references. He concludes (Hebrews 9:22) that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness”…and that only the blood of Christ can achieve the satisfaction of the Holiness of God. (1st John 2:2, cp. John 1:29)

Now: you can believe whatever you want to about these things. Only you can choose. But if you reject these truths, no one else can take the blame, either. You are fully responsible for your own choice.

Assuming that you have chosen to believe God, and have placed your trust in the shed Blood of Jesus Christ as full payment for your sins, then you have become a child of God, by the new birth. You are responsible to Him, personally. He has assigned you the job of being His ambassador to the lost world. You have been given a message to deliver. Two questions, then, remain:

  1. Do you know what that message is?
  2. Are you willing to deliver it?

Both are a yes-or-no issue, but we recognize that even if our answer is “yes” to both, there are degrees of practical competence involved. How well do I know the message? How willing am I to deliver it? There is always room for growth. We grow stronger with study and practice.

What is the Gospel? 1st Corinthians 15:3, 4 states the portions of the message that must be there:

  1. The death of Christ for our sins
  2. His burial (demonstrating that he was really dead, ) and
  3. His resurrection, demonstrating that he really is the savior.

If we leave out this message, or selected parts of it, then we are not delivering the message, period. When one claims to be “Preaching the Gospel”, but is circumventing the cross, they are NOT preaching the Gospel, and may be inviting people to avoid eternal life.

The whole message of salvation is wrapped up in the preaching of the Cross.

Paul’s message:

At Athens, though Paul had been preaching Christ faithfully in the Synagogue and in the marketplace, when he was called upon to speak publicly, he gave a “slick” sermon that has appealed to human reasoning down through the ages, ever since. It was NOT effective then, nor has it been effective when people have emulated it to any degree, since then. People do not come to Christ because of reasoning—they come to Christ because they believe the Gospel; they choose to place their trust in the Blood of Christ. “The door to the truth is the will, not the intellect.”

Paul left Athens immediately after delivering that sermon (no church was established there), and went to Corinth with a new resolve to “know nothing but Christ and Him Crucified”. He was resolved to “…preach the Gospel; not with wisdom of words, lest the preaching of the Cross be made of none effect.” Has it occurred to you that we can “muddy the water” by our meddling with the truth, adding our arguments, our persuasion, etc.?

Paul delivered the message he was given. We need to do the same: Preach the cross of Christ! Do not attempt to make the Gospel more “palatable” by excluding the part people don’t want to hear. That is the part they most desperately need.

What would the Passover be without the Passover lamb? Just a skimpy meal? The real Passover saved the believers because of the scarcely dry blood of that lamb, on the lintel and the two doorposts. The Cross was the salvation God prescribed, even 1500 years before Christ. Do we like that idea? Not really, perhaps, but it is the simple truth. We cannot save ourselves, and God only offers one way whereby He, himself, can save us.

We either believe it, and are saved, or reject it and are lost. It’s a black-and-white choice.

And, as His emissaries, we either

  • echo that message, offering that salvation to others; or
  • we dampen and water down the message, and condemn our listeners.

Again, it is a clear choice.

When we deliver a “comfortable” message, only preaching the goodness and grace of a loving God (which we all want to hear), then we ignore the holiness and judgment of a righteous God, and thus circumvent the Cross. The result is eternal loss. We have made people comfortable in their lost state, and convinced them that there is no need for a savior. Remember that John 3:16 states that “how” God loved the world was that he gave his only begotten son. (“…God so loved, that he gave…” The means of loving was the giving of Christ) Yes, we preach the love and grace of God—but we preach the Cross as the means of receiving that Love and Grace.

In Galatians 2:21, Paul said, regarding this very matter, “I do not frustrate the Grace of God, for, if righteousness come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain.” If you can approach God just by “being good”, then Jesus died for nothing…he wasted his life, and his death was pointless.

If you preach a message that circumvents the cross, then you declare that Jesus died for nothing; that his death was pointless. And if a church approaches God in that way, it is a false church, and leading its people to Hell. This sounds harsh…but it is the simple truth.

We don’t want to be accused of any such thing. We preach the Cross, and encourage our listeners to place their trust in the blood of Jesus as full payment for their sins. If you desire to be the ambassador God has called you to be, then learn the message, and start learning to deliver it.

God help us all to be the Men and Women of God that he has called us to be.


In Light of our Destination

Living in Light of our Destination

Colossians 3:1-11; compared to Genesis 24

© C. O. Bishop 10/18/18 Cornell Estates 10/21/18

Introduction:

We have been working our way through the book of Colossians, and we have arrived in a precious passage where Paul is encouraging the believers to allow God to change their lives. He has already established their position in Christ, so he poses the logical result: living in light of our position, and our destination.

1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

All of what we are to experience and put into practice, now, is predicated upon the truth of this passage: either we really are dead with Christ, and risen with Him, and our real life truly is now hidden with Christ in God, or we are not dead with Christ, not risen with Him, and we are still in our sins.

We cannot have it both ways: either my sins were purged at the Cross, by the Blood of Jesus, and I am already seated with Christ in the heavenlies, or His blood did not purge my sins, and I am still guilty before God, and lost.

On the strength of that truth, we are told to set our affections upon the things of Christ—the things above, not the passing things of this world. Jesus said a fair amount about laying up treasures in Heaven: he also said that where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also—not the other way around. If we are really dead to sin, and dead to the World, then our affections should be upon the things above. We are to set our priorities according to this truth. And the more we see our treasures as being with God, the more we will see our hearts directed that way as well. Remember that Daniel yearned toward Jerusalem, and several times a day, he opened his windows toward Jerusalem, and prayed toward the demolished temple there. That is where his treasure was, and that is where his heart was. His actions demonstrated the fact.

We are to place our trust in the finished work of Jesus at the Cross, and recognize that everything of eternal value is there, with Him, in Heaven.

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

We can’t see these things, now. We walk by faith: we are trusting in that which is to come. We are not even told what the rewards are like: in fact, he clearly states that “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things the Father hath in store for them that love him.” (1st Corinthians 2:9) That certainly calls into question the truth of the many books available today where the authors expound on all the details of heaven. We are actually given very little to go on, and it is fitting that it should be so: God says it is completely beyond our comprehension, and beyond our imagination. Don’t believe the false prophets! They really have not seen heaven, nor can they tell you what eternity holds!

Compare an Old Testament bride to the New Testament Bride

Remember, back in Genesis 24, when Abraham sent his servant back to Ur of the Chaldees, to find a wife for Isaac. When Rebekah left home with her female servants, all of them were in the care of Abraham’s servants, and she herself was betrothed to become the Bride of Isaac. But, once her home town was out of sight, behind them, she and her companions were utterly committed to the mercy and the faithfulness of the One keeping them for the end of that journey. They could not run away and go back, even if they wanted to: the desert was utterly merciless to inexperienced or unprepared travelers. They would never again see their old home.

The main comfort they could hold to, in their hearts, was the fact that a huge price had already been paid for the Bride (Rebekah), and there was nothing that could ever persuade the Servant of the Father, to fail to bring home the Bride, to the glory of the Father and of the Son.

Give that some thought: That is what we have, too! The unimaginable price paid for our sins, and for the sins of the entire World, has already been paid on our behalf, at the Cross; and, when we completed the transaction by faith, we were sealed for the glory of the Son: we are part of the Bride. We were sealed in Him until the redemption of the purchased possession. (Ephesians 1:13, 14) Our life is hid with Christ in God! So, now: what are we supposed to do about it?

Consider the Old life truly Dead

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.

Some things need to completely drop away: they are part of the old dead self that still plagues us, but to whom we owe no further obedience. My old sin nature is still there, but I am to treat it as if it is dead: permanently separated from the “real me,” because the real “Me” is already seated with Christ, in the heavenlies!  (How’s that for mind-boggling?)

Remember, too, that regardless of how Rebekah behaved on the trip to meet the Bridegroom, she was sealed for Him, and she was the Bride! If she behaved in a “proper” fashion as the Bride, it was to her honor, and to the Father’s glory; but that is not what made her the Bride. Two facts bound her to Isaac as his Bride:

  1. The fact that the Bride-price was paid, and
  2. The fact that she agreed to go.

Those were what betrothed her to Isaac, though she had never met him. She behaved as the Bride should, because she was the Bride, not the other way around. She was genuinely looking forward to meeting her groom. I would surmise that, along the way, the Servant had been telling her all about Isaac: his miraculous birth, his utter faithfulness and perfect relationship to his Father, Abraham.

I surely hope this is sounding familiar to you. This is such a tender picture of the Christian experience, as the Word and the Spirit tell us all about Jesus long before we ever get to meet him face to face. We are already betrothed, and already sealed, and we have only this long and sometimes difficult journey to endure before we meet Him. But we are carried along by the indwelling Holy Spirit, whose only desire is to glorify the Father and the Son, and who, personally, is our guarantee of redemption: the Earnest of our inheritance. He will bring home the Bride! But along that journey, while we travel, we are learning to walk with God, too.

God says that His wrath still burns against the children of disobedience (unregenerate sinners) for the things listed in verse 5 (and elsewhere): But, notice that he says (in verse 7) that you are no longer part of that group: He says that you once were part of that group, but that you have been taken out, and you are dead with Christ (verse 3).

As a result of our being dead with Christ, we are to lay aside the works which were associated with our old position in the World: all the behaviors that once marked us as being just plain, ordinary, “run-of-the-mill sinners” are to be left behind. Think again of Rebekah: except for her maids, and whatever personal belongings she brought with her, everything of her old life was abandoned! She left the old life behind, in favor of the new life with her bridegroom, Isaac!

We, too, need to leave the Old life behind!

But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

Notice how many of these things have to do either with the heart, or with speech—the mouth! Jesus said that a good man brings out of the good treasure of his heart things that are good; and an evil man brings forth out of the evil treasures of his heart things that are evil; because “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh!” The old sin nature is still there, but we need to starve it, and guard against it! Our mouths are supposed to be filled with good things, now…so the change has to begin with a cleansed heart.

God says we can only cleanse our hearts through the application of His Word. He says that through His Word, we are to become partakers of the Divine Nature! When we feed on God’s Word, and meditate upon His promises, we begin to see the character of God working itself out in our lives. The Fragrance of Christ will begin to permeate our lives, so that anyone who knows us can see the changes brought about by the Word of God and the Spirit of God. We begin to be a blessing to those around us.

Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

We have a new nature: He says it has been renewed in knowledge, in the image of the Creator. What does that mean? Over in Ephesians 4:24, he says that the new man has been created in the likeness of God, in Righteousness and true Holiness. Speaking for myself, if it were not for the knowledge that God has given me that new nature, I could not at all grasp the notion that God has imputed to me the righteousness of Christ. It simply would not fit the natural “reality” that I see in my flesh. Notice that it is all past-tense, too. This is not something that we are to “strive toward:” it is a current reality based upon a completed past event, and it is for us to lay hold of by faith, so as to experience the reality of it, today.

Why does God “spell out” the prohibition against lying? Remember what Jesus said (in John 8:44) about our old spiritual father: He said “Ye are of your father the Devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it.” So it makes sense that one of the things God really wants laid aside is lying. That is the earmark of Satan’s brood. We all began there, whether we know it or not. We all were called the Children of wrath, in Ephesians 2:3.

Lying is the most common human reaction to circumstances we wish were otherwise. People lie on their tax-returns because they don’t want to pay the taxes they owe. People lie to one another for reasons ranging from heartbreaking to ridiculous. And some people just lie for the fun of fooling people. But we are told to stop it, specifically because our “old man” has been set aside. We are separated from it to the degree that we can speak honestly, and we can worship from a clean heart. But we are not free from its influence. We are in an ongoing, daily battle to walk with God, and to not follow our old sin nature. This is true for every Christian, regardless of his or her background. Now we are called to “Speak the truth in Love!”

The Jewish Apostles pointed out in Acts chapter 15, that no Jew had ever been able to follow the Law, so they said it was wrong to burden the Gentile believers with it. Paul said that we have been set free from the Law. What a happy, blessed freedom that gives us all! All believers, Jews and Gentiles, together, were freed by the same sacrifice, and we are now free to fellowship and worship as one body of Christ!

11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Whatever you were before you were born again is of zero importance. In Christ, the old divisions no longer exist. The ground is truly level at the foot of the cross. Where the Jews were once separated from the Gentiles, slaves were once shunned by free men, and commoners shunned by noblemen, they all have been “leveled” by the Cross. None of those “differences” are of any significance when compared to the Majesty of the Messiah; nor could any of those “differences” alleviate to any degree the total lostness of the human race, apart from the Cross.

All of us are called to lift up our eyes and see the Savior! We are called to set our affections on Him, and the things He has for us. We are to let our old life drop away as a freed slave lets his chains drop away. We have truly been set free in Christ. We are dead with Him at the Cross, buried with Him, resurrected with Him, and ascended to sit with Him. We believers are all part of the Bride of Christ. The Holy Spirit indwells us, and He will bring home the Bride!

Lord Jesus, allow us to see ourselves clearly, so as to know that we have died with you, so that we may lift up our eyes above this world, and fix our hearts on our treasures with you. Free us to serve you with gladness, in Jesus’ name!


Thirteen Reasons for Believers’ Suffering

Thirteen Reasons for Believers’ Suffering

© C.O. Bishop 02/2018

 

Thirteen Biblical reasons for suffering (there may be more):

In the first place, let’s remember that God is Sovereign… He does not require our approval. His ways are just, even when we don’t like them. He defines righteousness. The evil that is in the world came there as a result of Human sin, not Divine caprice.

So, We Can Begin With “Consequences” (The first four points):

  • Consequences of Original Sin. There are bad things happening in the world, and the world got that way when Adam sinned. Romans 5:12—“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.”
  • Consequences of Personal (past) Sin (or simply error, etc).—there can be (and usually are) consequences for sin, folly or error. This is not punishment per se, but simple consequences. Sometimes the natural consequences for an error are seen as punishment—but punishment implies wrongdoing, and some error is not wrongdoing, but just bad judgment, or clumsiness, or ignorance—all can have terrible consequences.
    I have a cousin who is missing an arm. He lost it because he fell out of a tree and broke it…and the attending physician did not realize the bone had pierced the skin, and plunged into the soil before pulling back into the flesh—thus infecting the flesh with bacteria that nearly killed him. They had to amputate the arm to save his life, and even so, they nearly lost him. Punishment? No—partly original sin—there are terrible bacteria out there; infections can kill. Partly error on my cousin’s part—he fell out of a tree. Partly error on the physician’s part—he was not careful enough in his diagnosis. But possibly, even had they known exactly what they were up against, they may have lost the arm anyway. No matter how you look at it, it is not punishment.
  • Consequences of Personal Sin. (current) In a believer’s life, God may institute chastening to turn us away from error. It is still not the same as punishment. God says the wages of sin is death—eternal separation from God in the lake of fire. That is punishment. Jesus said (John 3:18) “He that believeth in Him is not condemned; He that believeth not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten son of God.” We who are believers have placed our trust in Jesus’ shed blood at the Cross—where is our Judgment? At the Cross. Where is our sin? At the Cross. Where is our punishment, our condemnation? At the Cross. But God DOES chasten believers, to straighten them out. Do you think Jonah’s trip back to the beach was fun?
  • Consequences of Personal Righteousness. This is an odd one—we think that if we are doing right, everything ought to go well…and sometimes it does.
    There is a verse, (Proverbs 16:7) that states, “When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him”. That is a general truth—in general, that is something we can expect. But if our enemies are God’s enemies, then at some point, we will be attacked for being good. 1st Peter 2:19 “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.”
  • Training, or testing, in the sense of an athlete, or soldier, or student. God still refers to this as “chastening,”  (Hebrews 12:3-15) but it is not punishment, nor even as a result of wrongdoing. It is a “workout” given so that we may profit thereby. Sometimes God allows us to go through hard times to develop our faith. See James 1:2-4 “Count it all Joy, my beloved Brethren when ye fall into divers temptations, knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” God loves us and subjects us to stresses to make us better able to serve, and better able to stand against the evil of the world.
    Another way to look at the same concept is “pruning”. John 15:2(b) states that a genuine, healthy, live, fruit-bearing branch of a vine may still be pruned to make it more fruitful.
  • Because it is simply God’s will for us at the time. Job did NOT know what was going on in his life, nor why he suffered the loss of all his possessions, and all his children in a single day. We were given a little peek into what was going on. God did have a purpose, and it had nothing to do with any error on Job’s part, nor, apparently, any need for correction, testing or training (though perhaps we could read that into the result.) God had his own purpose in Job’s life, and was not required to explain it all to Job. (And he didn’t, as far as we know, unless Job was the author of the book (it doesn’t say), and God gave him the revelation to know what all had happened behind the scenes.)
  • Suffering for Faith. Being subjected to threat from around us, and suffering rather than renouncing faith (this is closely related to #4: consequences of personal righteousness, but is a little different.) Under genuine persecution, a believer may be offered a chance to recant his faith in order to escape persecution. Refusing to recant, and accepting the suffering, is part of the believer’s lot. During the early days of the church, many lost their lives for that very cause. Philippians 1:29 “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake”
  • So that we may be a comfort to others. 2nd Corinthians 1:3-11 (read it) Verse 4. That we may comfort others with the same comfort wherewith we were comforted by God.
  • So that our consolation in Christ may abound. Verse 5. As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so may the consolation of Christ abound. We are called to join Him in the fellowship of his sufferings (Philippians 3:10). But we are to experience the reality of His consolation, as well. (Habakkuk 3:18)
  • So that others’ consolation may abound through us. Verses 6-7. We can learn from the experiences of those around us. We will not experience everything ourselves.
  • So that we will learn to trust God, and not ourselves (could be tied to #5). Verse 9. This is an important one.
  • So that we as Christians may learn to pray for each other. Verse 11.
  • So that Thanksgiving may be offered on our behalf. Verse 11.

If we can accept the suffering in our lives, and respond in faith, it will glorify God, and bring eternal blessing to us. 2nd Corinthians 12:1-10


One Sacrifice for All Time

One Sacrifice for All Time

© C. O. Bishop 8/24/17 THCF 8/27/17

Hebrews 10:1-18; Isaiah 1:11-17

Introduction:

We have spent several months going through the first nine chapters of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Last time we saw that Jesus is superior to the Old Testament Sacrifices, and that because of that, he is a Superior Redeemer: He has provided for us Eternal Redemption and Eternal Security in Himself. We are no longer living year-to-year, hoping that we will be able to keep walking in God’s light. We belong to Him eternally, and we are kept by His power.

But the writer is not finished with his topic: He wants us to see that the one sacrifice Jesus brought (His own blood—His own life) not only ended our fear of judgment from God, as lost sinners, deserving His wrath, but it also ended the Old Testament sacrificial system! It was truly One Sacrifice for all time, and it supersedes all that went before. Let’s start reading chapter ten:

The Shadow Show

Chapter 10

1For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

Remember that the Law, with all its sacrifices, was only a picture—a shadow, even, of what was to come. When we watch a “shadow-puppet” show, we are amazed at how realistic the figures on the screen can appear, even though we know that the reality is just the hands of the entertainer, arranged to make shadows of animals, people, or whatever. In the case of the Law, however, it was impossible for the Old Testament believers to know all the reality behind the “shadow-show” they were given. But they had been told a great deal about that reality, so they did know enough that when the reality (Messiah) appeared in person they could have (and should have) recognized Him. But, as a nation, they not only failed to recognize him, but, even with his repeated proofs and explanations, they rejected Him.

So, the shadows were not the reality…and the shadows could not do what the real Messiah could do. They could not give life, nor could they cleanse the heart from sin. They could not make those who brought the sacrifices any better than they had been before. The best they could ever do is cover sins.

The writer points out that the proof of the ineffectiveness of the Old Testament sacrifices was in the need for continual repetition. The believer could never be rid of his burden of sin. One of the passages where Jesus’s birth is predicted (Matthew 1:21) says “…thou shalt call his name Jesus, for He shall save his people from their sins.” That is a thrilling idea. But how will it play out?

How to Remove Sins

For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.

But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.

The repetition itself continually reminded the believers that they were not truly cleansed, but only pardoned, as it were. They were saved by Grace, through faith, but the Law required that they continually bring the same sacrifice to maintain a walk with God. Ironically, those who were conscious of this fact, were positionally just as secure as are the believers today. And yet they feared the rejection of God. Why?

For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

This is a good verse to keep in mind: I remember being told by a pastor, long ago, that the Old Testament believers had a “…different way to be saved.” That is impossible, according to this verse: it is not possible that the blood of animals can take away the sins of humans. So what was really happening, there? In every single case, the blood sacrifices of the Old Testament, even though they were offered in ignorance, were looking forward by faith, to the one perfect sacrifice Jesus would make at the Cross. Sometimes the picture was quite vague, but it was always there.

Please consider, in your mind’s eye, the physical motions necessary to “dip a bundle of hyssop in the basin of blood and strike it on the lintel and the two door-posts.”  This command is given twice, (in Exodus 12:7, 22); that the believer was to “strike” the blood onto the lintel and two door-posts. Obedience to that command, inescapably, was making a “sign of the cross”, behind which they waited, hoping and believing that God would honor His promise and save their lives, when he destroyed Egypt. They were in no way “smug” about their safety. They were trembling. We should have the same consciousness of coming judgment when we consider the Cross. That sacrifice, like all the others, looked forward to the Cross. Remember that this first Passover occurred about 1,490 years before the Crucifixion of Christ. 1300 years, roughly, before the Romans invented Crucifixion. This was the plan from the beginning. This is why Jesus came into this world, as the true offering, and died— specifically—the death of the Cross. There were many forms of execution. But it had to be that one (Philippians 2:8).

Had he died by the sword, or by hanging, he would not have been the Messiah. Had he died by stoning, which was the ordinary form of execution under Israel, then he would not have been the Messiah. The Cross was absolutely necessary, which makes it interesting that some cults try to deny that it was a cross at all.

Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:

The Old Testament sacrifices, ultimately, did not and could not satisfy the righteousness of God. The body given to Jesus at the incarnation (the “in-flesh-ment”—that is what the word “incarnation” means) was the specific sacrifice, planned from the foundation of the World (Revelation 13:8), and regarding which John the Baptist said “Behold the Lamb of God!

What was Wrong with the Old Testament Sacrifices?

In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

It is interesting, to me, and puzzling, to read that the Lord “has had no pleasure in” burnt offerings and sacrifices. In the Old Testament, we often read that the sacrifices produced a “sweet-smelling savor (aroma)” to God. I can only guess that the obedience in bringing the required sacrifice, and the faith that motivated the obedience, was what really was pleasing to Him…or, perhaps, the fact that the sacrifices always looked forward to the Cross. Otherwise there would seem to be a contradiction, here, and my personal conviction is that God does not contradict Himself.

This passage (verses 5-7) is mostly quoting Psalm 40:6-8 (read it), a prayer of David, and a Messianic psalm. Even at the time of David, he recognized that the sacrifices could be offered with an insincere heart, and they often were just a show. Isaiah 1:11-17 says,

11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.

12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?

13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.

14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.

15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.

16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;

17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

God said that He was literally sick of their religious posturing, even including the entire sacrificial system. The sacrifices were just a bunch of poor, dead, charred carcasses. What He really wanted was for the people to change their hearts, and learn to do well.

Jeremiah 17:9 confirms that the heart was the problem, saying “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” So, even though the people were bringing the required blood sacrifice, it was not the obedience of faith, anymore, but just religious posturing. It meant less than nothing at that point. Can we do the same with the blood of Jesus? Can we take it for granted?

What more could be done to heal the relationship between God and Man? We obviously are incapable of changing. The Law and the prophets did not change us…they only condemned us, and allowed us to get a glimpse of the awful holiness of God. But they could not produce that holiness in us.

Jesus is God’s Solution for Sin…and always has been!

Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

Jesus came in complete submission to the Father, from the fact of conception to the final death under torture. Every step of the way was in perfect obedience to the Father, and in fulfillment of the hundreds of prophecies concerning the Messiah, all of which had to be fulfilled in Him.

Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;

Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

In contrast to the Old Testament sacrifices, we see that Jesus said, “but a body thou hast prepared me” This specific body, born by miraculous intervention, was the only acceptable sacrifice. The others, from our perspective and that of God, were tragic victims of our sin, only temporarily acceptable, as witnesses to the coming Christ, who could say, “I come to do thy will, O God.”

11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:

12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

The writer reiterates, here, the fact that the Messiah sat down after completing his sacrificial work as High Priest, and yet continues as High Priest. He has never stopped serving, but the sacrificial part is all done.

He also gives a “time-clause,” here: how long will He stay seated? Answer: “until his enemies be made his footstool.” So, He stood up once, at least, to greet Stephen, the first Martyr, and, in a sense, he stands before God continually, to intercede for us; but, his official position, until the second coming, is “seated at the right hand of God.”

15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,

16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;

17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 

This is quoting a promise made to Israel regarding the Millennial Kingdom, of course. The New Covenant with Israel has not yet begun. But the portion of the New Covenant that involves the church has been in full swing for almost 2000 years; ever since the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two.

18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 

This is a super-important concept: if our sins have been forgiven, and “taken away” by the blood of Jesus, then there is no more offering for sin. The Old Testament system of blood sacrifices is completely over—it’s obsolete! And we cannot go back to it.

People in Israel probably think they will finally be at peace when they can rebuild the temple and re-establish their sacrifices. But they are not reading the book of Daniel carefully enough. There we can see that, when the temple is rebuilt, in troublesome times, under the protection of a peace-treaty, then they will be dealing with the antichrist. They cannot go back to the Old Testament Sacrifices, and neither can we.

In this passage, the writer simply points out the obsolescence of the Old Covenant. In other passages, he says that one who attempts to abandon the Messiah in favor of the old covenant, will only face judgment, not a covering for sin. In reflecting on this concept, it seems to me that such a person is much like those Israelites who were attempting to go back to Egypt, after God had brought them out…all they will find is judgment.

So, there is no more offering for sin. Jesus was and is “Plan A”…there is no “plan B.” If you choose to reject the salvation offered by means of the Cross, then you can have no other reasonable expectation except judgment.

Conclusion: What do I do with this information?

Well…if I were still an unbeliever, I would have to seriously consider the dangerous position I am hanging onto. As an atheist, I had concluded that there was no God, and I smugly proclaimed myself to be without a fear of Judgment. The problem with that stance is that every one of us is aware, even at a human level, that judgment must come! A desire for vengeance for a wrong endured is a common passion in every culture. We know instinctively that right and wrong exist. And it follows, that, if judgment is required for others for the wrongs they have committed, then Judgment must be coming for my sins as well. And Jesus died in my place to avert that Eternal Judgment from an eternally righteous God. And all He asks me to do is accept it by faith.

As a believer, I need to consciously cast my hope and faith on the shed blood of Jesus, both for the eternal life He has provided, and for Grace to daily live for Him. But I can rejoice daily, too, knowing that my position in Him is secure. I have already been made eternally acceptable to God, through the Blood Sacrifice that Jesus offered. I have been invited to serve Him, working with Him in this life. All of us have received that invitation. I don’t want to miss out!

Lord Jesus, fill us with a sense of Godly urgency, so that we do not squander our lives, wasting our efforts on things that have no eternal importance. Help us to see the World around us through your eyes, and to share your priorities in all things.


No Condemnation (Part Three)

The Spirit of Adoption

© C. O. Bishop 1/21/16 THCF 1/24/16

Romans 8:14-27

Introduction:

We have studied the book of Romans over the last several months and we are currently in the middle of the eighth chapter. The key point in Romans eight is that “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus….”

But there are various ramifications to the fact that there is no condemnation awaiting us. One is that, as believers, we are all indwelt by the Spirit of God. Another is the fact that we still have our old sin nature, and a constant battle of vigilance, as we learn to walk steadfastly with Christ.

But a third aspect of our new life in Christ is a subject that sounds familiar (because we use the same word in our culture) but which actually is much more profound than seems immediately obvious. This is the subject of Adoption, and along with it, the Spirit of Adoption.

There are numerous points made in verses 14-27. I am going to touch on just 15 of them:

  1. We are already the Sons (Greek huios… “heirs”) of God.
  2. We have …present tense… the Spirit of Adoption.
  3. The Spirit assures us that we are the children, (Greek tekna: born-ones) of God.
  4. Because we are the offspring of God, we are his heirs, but specifically “joint-heirs” (as opposed to co-heirs; which we will discuss later.)
  5. We believers will all inherit in Christ; but how much we inherit is conditional upon how we serve and “suffer” with Him. (This is not asceticism, by the way. The word “suffering” is associated with the concept of submission, not specifically pain.)
  6. There is Glory coming for all re-born believers, to one degree or another.
  7. That Glory will be revealed when the Sons of God are announced and presented publicly.
  8. The whole creation is waiting for that moment, because the whole creation labors and groans under the curse of God, and cannot escape it until the time appointed by God.
  9. The World will enjoy freedom from the curse after the “Adoption” (Greek huiothesis: the placement of sons) which will occur at the redemption of our physical bodies.
  10. We live and suffer through the indignities of this life in hope of the coming release.
  11. That release is NOT yet seen …we live by faith, hoping in the promise to come.
  12. The Holy Spirit indwells us, helping us to bear the infirmities of this life, and its trials.
  13. We don’t even know how to pray, or what to ask, in prayer.
  14. The Spirit prays for us, speaking the true needs of our hearts before the throne of God
  15. God calls us Saints!

Now! That is a lot of information! Let’s break it down, idea by idea:

Who or What is the “Spirit of Adoption?”

The “Spirit” of whom Paul speaks, in the context of Romans chapter eight, is the indwelling Holy Spirit, not the human spirit (compare verse 16), nor our modern usage of, say, “getting into the spirit of things”. He says, in verses 14 and 15;

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

He is talking about the same thing that he said in Ephesians 1:13, 14, where he says that we have been sealed in Christ by the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest, (or “down-payment”) of our inheritance until (there’s the “time clause”) the redemption of the purchased possession…” There in Ephesians, we can see that we are not yet in full possession of our inheritance, in the most practical sense; but we have the indwelling Holy Spirit as a continuing token of the coming fulfillment. Here in Romans, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit as a promise of our coming “placement as sons”. It is the same idea, but in a different context.

Galatians 4:6 echoes this concept, too, stating that “…because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father.’” Here in Romans 8:16, 17 it says,

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

We are sons, and heirs, but we are not yet in a position to use all of our prerogatives as sons. Galatians 4:1 says that “the heir, so long as he is a child, differs nothing from a servant.” Until the day when God places us in full authority and honor, with Himself, we’re going to struggle along in this flesh, looking and feeling just like all the other people in the world.

The Holy Spirit keeps us safe until that day, and He reminds us constantly of who we are in Christ. So, then; why is he called the Spirit of “Adoption?”  I thought we were to be born again as the children of God, not adopted, as if we were homeless puppies at an animal shelter. Well, unfortunately, we haven’t got an appropriate word in English to serve as the equivalent of the Greek word that is translated “adoption.”

What’s Hard to Understand about Adoption?

Let me preface my answer with the fact that “It isn’t what we might have expected it to be!”

Remember that, from God’s perspective, we are the Sons of God now (Greek huios) …already heirs, and already in perfect standing with Him. But we have very little authority, with good reason. We are too immature to safely use the authority of God, so He measures it out carefully, in small doses, and we live by faith, relying on His Wisdom, His provision, and His Grace.

Notice, too, (verse 16) that we are the “children” (“tekna”: off-spring…born-ones) of God. We are not waifs whom He has graciously rescued off the street, bathed, fed and clothed, and accepted as simply being his wards. “Offspring” (born-ones) means that we are his own progeny. That is what the new birth is all about. We are His legitimate children, not someone else’s kids for whom He has simply accepted responsibility.

Adoption, Then and Now:

In our culture, “adoption” virtually always means “legally taking charge of someone who is NOT your offspring, and accepting all future responsibility for their well-being, as well as (usually) affixing your name to them.” That is all great, and a wonderful, honorable thing, but, in most cases, a simple glance makes it obvious to anyone that the adopted child is not your “offspring.” (They don’t look like you!) But here’s the contrast: anyone who has been “born from above” is literally the offspring of God, whether they are really cognizant of that fact or not. To one degree or another, we will look like, act like, and smell like Jesus!

The New Testament word translated “adoption”, here, is the Greek word “huiothesis”. It means the “placement of Sons.” It is a reflection on the Greek and Roman practice of publicly recognizing one’s heir, so that all the people would know that that particular Son held the authority (and riches) of the Father. There was usually only one “heir”. All the others were “sons,” in the usual sense, but this one was the head of the family. With very rare exceptions, the heir was a natural son of the father. Adoption, as a rule, was only applied to one’s own offspring. And, in fact, in the Biblical sense, God only “adopts”, or, “recognizes as heirs”, those who have already been born as his children. No one else is eligible. (Remember, back in verse 9, he said if you do not have the Holy Spirit, you are simply not his.)

No “Universal Fatherhood of God”

Here’s something else to consider: we were not children of God before being born of God. (How can I say such a thing? Aren’t all people the children of God? Everyone assures us that this is the case.) Well…not everyone! Jesus told the Jews of His time (who called themselves the children of God) that they were not the children of God, but of Satan! He said (John 8:44) “Ye are of your father, the Devil!” That is pretty strong language! But Paul echoes it in Ephesians 2:2, 3, saying that we were “the children of disobedience”, and that we were “by nature the children of wrath, even as others”. The Bible does not teach the “universal brotherhood of man”, nor, most emphatically, the “Universal Fatherhood of God” Those are pious-sounding falsehoods taught by false teachers, to blur the perception of our need for redemption. Jesus said “Ye must be born again!” and “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” We have a terrible need, with terrible consequences for failure to meet that need.

All the “predestination” passages we can read are only true of us because we have been born again. We are now predestined to become like God. We are now predestined to be glorified as the heirs of God. We are literally His children, and (though it is not always readily apparent in this life) we are joint-heirs with Jesus. I am told that the word “joint-heir” is a legal specification, and is different than “co-heir.” I was a “co-heir” with my brother and sister. All the inheritance from my Mother was divided equally between us. But being a joint-heir means that all the inheritance in Christ is equally mine…not to be divided. All that the Father has given to Jesus is mine in Him. That is the advantage of being a “joint-heir.”

In terms of “glory” and “rewards,” though, it is apparent that equality is not the norm. When “awards ceremonies” occur in school sports programs, not every player gets the same awards. But: every player has the recognition of having participated. They were on the team.

1st Corinthians 3:10-15 makes it clear that not everything we build into our lives will stand the test of the “refiner’s fire.” Much of what we count valuable will simply burn away, leaving only what was done in us by the Holy Spirit as having lasting value. There is a bit of a rhyme, saying:

            Only one life; ‘twill soon be past! Only what’s done for Christ will last!

Our salvation is never at risk: That is definitely something the Holy Spirit has done in us. But our reward and eternal honor may very well be endangered by sloppy living as servants of God.

What About Suffering?

“…We suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

The Biblical word “suffering” does not mean “pain”, necessarily: it means “allowing Jesus to do in us the work He needs to do.” When Jesus came to John the Baptist, and John hesitated to baptize Him, Jesus said “Suffer it to be so for now…” The meaning, of course, was “submit to this: allow it to be the way I say.” We are to allow in our lives the things God decrees, and accept them as a way of glorifying The Savior…willingly accepting the burdens He assigns, and glorifying Him in them. Paul says,

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

We do already have the first-fruits of the Spirit (because He lives in us), but we are waiting for the “Placement of Sons”—the “adoption”—which will only occur when we get our new bodies.

19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creature
[creation] itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body
.

The reason the whole earth is waiting for that day, is because, from earthly perspective, it will occur at the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom: When Jesus finally reigns on Earth the curse will be lifted. Peace will reign for the first time since the fall of man. Predators will become herbivores. That’s what we will see the “leopard lying down with the calf,” and the “lion eating straw like an ox,” etc. We will receive our new bodies at the beginning of the tribulation, or thereabouts, actually, as far as I can tell, but the tribulation is anything but peaceful. The world will see the heirs of God for the first time at the beginning of the Millennium.

Therefore, in this life, we go ahead and suffer, to varying degrees. Philippians 1:29 says “for unto you it is given on the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on His name, but also to suffer for His sake.” In this country we have had a pretty easy time, whether we recognize it or not. But all believers, wherever we live, are looking forward to the same Blessed Hope. We are hoping to see the return of the Bridegroom, and we lift our heads expectantly, trusting in His Word, as opposed to our own eyes or public opinion. We see the increasing ruin around us as a symptom of the approaching Day of the Lord, and we hope more strongly in His imminent return.

24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

And we don’t wait alone: we are not left to our own devices: we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead. We can count on Him to know what is really best, and to pray for us and with us as we struggle to walk with God. Paul says,

26 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.
27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Notice that it does not say “groanings which cannot be uttered in English”. It says “…cannot be uttered!” There are people who attempt to use this passage as a justification for “tongues” being used as a prayer language: Sorry, but, that is not what it says. The Holy Spirit knows the real needs in our lives, and He prays accordingly. I am honest enough with myself to admit that I frequently don’t even know what to pray. This passage confirms it, and tells me that it’s OK: God the Holy Spirit does know, and He takes over and gets the message across. I don’t hear it, or see it, and it does not result in my speaking in some other language. It is the Spirit of God, interceding before the Throne of God, on behalf of a Child of God. And he identifies those children—all of them—as Saints. That’s pretty deep stuff. God declares that you are Holy before Him, and set apart for His Service. Take that seriously, please! It is a precious truth.

Conclusion

What can we do with all this? Perhaps the only result of this teaching is that, as believers, we may accept the truth that we have each individually been “born from above” as the literal children of God, through faith in His shed blood. We have been created anew in His likeness, and we should expect to begin seeing His attributes in our lives. We should expect to resemble our Father. He says we are already holy to Him, and we are each, individually, called to His service.

We are frustrated, as was Paul, by the sin that still so easily besets us, but we can recognize that God has made a separation between ourselves and that old “Sin nature”: He is no longer concerned with it. He wants our new nature to come walk with Him, and learn His ways.

We can trust in God’s Holy Spirit to continue to lead us, and comfort us as we struggle and learn, and as we are grieved by the sin in ourselves and in the World. But we can also live in Hope, looking forward to our final release, relief and reward, in Him.

Lord Jesus, make real in our hearts the truth of Your Word, and teach us to live by faith. We look to You, moment by moment, for our strength and sustenance, as we live by faith in Your Name.


No Condemnation (Part Two)

The Enemy Within

© C. O. Bishop 1/6/16 THCF 1/10/16

Romans 8:4-13

Introduction:

Last time, we noted that, due to our new position in Christ, there is no condemnation awaiting us. This is “Positional Truth”: entirely dependent upon the fact that we are in Christ, and not at all dependent upon “how we are doing” in our walk with Him. This is an important distinction, because we tend to be far more conscious of how we feel or how we are acting at the moment—our condition—and we assume that God sees us the same way. Nothing could be further from reality…that is exactly the reverse of the truth. We see ourselves inaccurately, while God sees us clearly, and we need to adjust our thinking to match His, not the other way around.

The Christian has three major enemies. We frequently list them as

  1. The World,
  2. The Flesh, and
  3. The Devil.

That is true, but it doesn’t give any information by which we may defend against those enemies.

“The World” (Greek kosmon), as used in scripture, can refer to the people, but in this context, it is the system of thinking and behavior that influences us all from outside our bodies. It may include peer pressure, advertising, propaganda, philosophy, human reasoning and entertainment of all sorts, none of which are evil in themselves, but all of which can be used to feed our natural bent to turn away from God and pursue our own interests and desires. It is mostly visible, though sometimes very subtle, and it is outside the gate, so to speak. It is all around us, some good and some bad; we are immersed in it, to one degree or another, and we are heavily influenced by it; but it is still outside us. It is the Enemy without the gate, so to speak.

The Devil, or Satan, is the Spirit controlling the pattern of the World’s thinking; he who desires to destroy all the works of God in us. He is the unseen hand behind the evil of the World. We can see the result of his influence, but we cannot see him. He will play along with us, and lure us to destruction through the World and the Flesh. But we don’t see him. He is the Invisible Enemy.

The Flesh (Greek sarka) is the Enemy within. Today we will focus on this enemy, and try to shape our thinking to match what God says.

Defining the “Flesh”

To begin with, I think it is appropriate to remind ourselves that the “flesh” in this case, is not the physical body. At other times in history, people have referred to this entity as their “lower nature”, as if it were some link to the animal world, but that is not appropriate, either, because, ironically, animals do not suffer from this affliction of sin. Animals (with the exception of the serpent, who was under Satan’s personal control) were not involved in the fall. They did not sin; they have never been given a free will with which to rebel against God.

In the Old Testament, Jeremiah 17:9 refers to the flesh, the Adamic nature, as “the heart”. It says that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Do you think that the scripture means the “central circulatory pump”, when it says “the heart is wicked, and deceitful?”  Of course not…but neither is it speaking of the new creation which God describes, when He promises, “I will take away your stony heart and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26) The heart God proposes to give is a new creation—the same as the New Testament promises. Language being what it is, then, with all the possible ambiguities, it is important that we carefully read the rest of scripture, and carefully consider the intent, before we jump to conclusions that may wrongly use the Word of God.

The scripture consistently calls the Sin Nature the “flesh”, but contrasts it with “our bodies”. In this chapter, we are told that the “flesh” cannot be subject to God. The body certainly can be, however—it does exactly what we choose to do with it, and, in Romans six we were told that we are to yield our “members” (physical bodies) as “instruments of righteousness” for God to use to His own glory. That would be impossible if the physical body cannot be subject to God.

In Romans five we are informed that we were once “enemies” of God. Now why would that be? How could we become God’s enemies? Ephesians 2:3 says we “were by nature, the children of wrath”: We were born that way! But God intervened and provided a substitute, so, instead of every sinner dying for his or her own sins, one perfect sacrifice forever satisfied the righteousness of God, and allows us access to God through faith in that blood sacrifice. Believers were each given a new nature, created by God at the moment of saving faith, and that is our “new identity”. God no longer deals with the identity of our old nature (our Adamic nature; our Sin nature) though it is still there. He calls it the “Old Man” in Ephesians 4:22, and confirms that, even in a believer’s life, it can neither be redeemed nor repaired. It is irreparably corrupt, and just continues to get worse, if we feed it. What a hopeless situation it would be if we were left to fight this battle alone, like a toddler left alone to fend off the attack of a rabid skunk.

But We Are Not Alone!

No such thing has been suggested: Jesus promised, “I will not leave you comfortless.” (We are not alone!) He promised that he and the Father would make their abode with the believer, and that the Holy Spirit would indwell each believer personally. (John 14:16-23read it!)

One may wonder, then, why the believer ever has a problem with sin: the answer is: In terms of day by day choices, the Lord has not reneged on His gift of a free will. He longs for our fellowship, but will not force himself upon us.

With all the above information as the backdrop for the message of Paul, we are invited to examine the source of our struggles in detail: We are told that Jesus condemned Sin in the Flesh by living a perfect life, and dying a perfect sacrifice, and we are told why:

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

So, the result of our being set free from our enslavement to sin is that the righteousness reflected in the Law of God (not the condemnation, and guilt) could be showcased and fulfilled in us. We are free to serve; but we can only do so via the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Why is it so Hard to Live for God?

Because the old nature is actively sabotaging our efforts! And it always will!


For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

 

I don’t like to keep hammering on this point, but: in case anyone has missed it; the concept of “death” in the Bible is a little different than how we think of it in our culture. We have been taught to believe that “when you’re dead, you’re dead!” …which doesn’t really explain much… but the fact is, when we are physically dead, our spirit and soul have been (usually permanently) separated from our physical body. When Adam ate the fruit of the forbidden tree, he and Eve died instantly, as promised, but it was not physical death. There we saw the first example of spiritual death—the spirit and soul of Adam and Eve were separated from God. Were they happy about it? No; they could no longer even stand to be in the presence of God. They fled from Him because they were guilty sinners; no longer the innocent creatures they had been. Not happy!

So…which kind of death is warned of, here in verse 6? Is Paul warning that if you sin, you will lose your physical life?  Obviously not, because he just finished telling us of his own struggle against sin, in chapter seven. He did not die, physically, but he begged to know how he could be delivered from “the body of this death!” (What body? What death?)

As long as we live in these mortal bodies there exists the possibility of sin, and, with it, the repeated separation from fellowship with the living God; so that, far from loving His presence, we flee from Him, either in fear or resentment. That is separation from God, though it is a temporary condition, and, here in Romans Chapters 7 and 8, as well as other places, it is called “death”. And notice that in verse 5, he states that those who are living in the flesh focus their minds on the things of the flesh—they pursue their old carnal concerns and desires. Many of those old ways seem no different than the new; for instance, I still go to work when I am in the flesh, as well as when I am walking with God. But my motives are not the same. I am blind to the opportunities to honor God when I am “minding the things of the flesh.”

What’s the Problem?

In Romans 8:7, 8 we see why this is true:
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

The old nature has not changed its allegiance! Remember, it was an enemy of God by birth: that is where we got our old nature: Being born of Adam, we received the Adamic, fallen nature. Being born from above (born of God, born again), by Grace, we have received a new nature. But the old nature remains unchanged and unrepentant. The result is that as an unbeliever still “in the flesh” (positionally, that is—still unsaved) I cannot please God…period.

And, when I revert to sin, even as a saved man, I am functionally “in the flesh” again, though I already have been permanently transferred to the kingdom of God’s Son. Remember, God no longer sees me in Adam! He sees me only in Christ. He says that the Adamic nature is no longer the person He will deal with. The old nature has been separated from me as far as identity and authority, but not residency; just as Adam and Eve were separated from God in terms of fellowship, but not physical presence. They wanted out of His presence, because of their sin. I want to be separated from my old sin nature, just as Paul wanted to, and for the same reason. But God says it is already a “done deal”.

How Can We Escape our Bondage to the Flesh?

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.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Here again is the issue of “positional truth:” If you have the Holy Spirit, then you have a new nature; and that new nature is the only one God chooses to address: He says that you (the new creation) are under the guidance and control of the Holy Spirit.  Paul addresses this issue a little differently over in 1st Corinthians 3:3. There he is speaking to immature Christians who are allowing the old nature to control their lives and their decision-making: he says they are “carnal”—fleshly. (The NIV translates this to say “worldly”, but the Greek word is “sarkikoi”, from the same root as “flesh”—“sarka”. “The world” is a different enemy, though it is certainly in partnership with the flesh and the Devil.)

He goes on to state that if you do not have the Holy Spirit, then you are not saved…you do not belong to Jesus. Every believer has been baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit, and has become a permanent part of the Body of Christ; the Church universal. Corresponding to that position, every believer has also been indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and Jesus says He will be with us forever. (John 14:16) Our gifts are often different, but our position is the same: in Christ.

Finally, he says, since Jesus Christ is in you (via the Holy Spirit, you are actually indwelt by the entire Trinity), then the body alone is subject to death: you (the new creation) have eternal life, and your spirit is alive with the Holy Spirit, and is forever separated from the death of the old sin nature. He also reiterates that the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to your account. He says that the “Spirit is life because of righteousness.” (Whose righteousness? That of Christ!)

Again, Paul is quick to let us know that the “flesh”—the old sin nature—is not the same as our physical bodies, as we noted in the introduction. He says:
11 
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

The word “quicken” means to “bring to life”. What would be the point of condemning the body, only to bring it to life again? It is the physical “mortal body” to which God will again grant life. The old Adamic nature is lost and cannot be redeemed. It remains the enemy of God.

12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

You don’t owe your old self anything. You can’t improve it in any way, though it can temporarily look as though you did. The core issue remains the same: the old nature is not subject to God, and it cannot be made subject to God, no matter who does the re-training. Also, you cannot hope to “get it out of your system” by succumbing to its demands. That is like “eating all the brownies so they won’t tempt you.” That really doesn’t help! Don’t give in!

13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

When I am living according to the desires of the enemy within, in terms of fellowship, I am currently separated from God. 1st John 1:5-7 says I cannot walk in darkness and simultaneously have fellowship with God. That is the “body of death” from which Paul begged to be freed.

But notice how he says we are to be freed: He says “Through the Spirit” we are to mortify the deeds of the body…the “body of this death” from which Paul sought freedom.

And that is the key to Romans chapters 6-8: Faith in the indwelling Holy Spirit! Please notice that we were not admonished to “change our ways”, “get right or get left”, “turn or burn”, or any other such tripe. People have smugly quoted these and other pious warnings for centuries, and such thoughts define the heart of religiosity; but they have nothing to do with either salvation or sanctification. It is only the self-satisfied prattling of the self-righteous religionists…not the voice of God. It is based on works, not faith; Law, not Grace.

What Shall We Do, Then?

Jesus originally called us to place our faith in Him for Salvation, by Grace. Now He calls us to confess that we cannot produce righteousness on our own, any more than we could save ourselves from sin. John 15:5 says, “…without me ye can do nothing.” He didn’t say “without me you can’t do as much.” He said “…without me ye can do nothing!

We are called to allow the Holy Spirit to live through us, by faith…and He will produce the Fruit of the Spirit. In Galatians 5:16, God says “Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.” Remember, it’s a blanket promise: if the Holy Spirit is in control of your life, then the old sin nature will have no say at all… you will do the things God has called you to do.

Lord Jesus, by your Holy Spirit, enable us to do the things you have called us to do, and to be the men and women of God you have called us to be.

 

 

 


No Condemnation (Part One)

No Condemnation (Part One)

© C. O. Bishop 12/25/15 THCF 12/27/15

Romans 8:1-4

Introduction:

We have taken a bit of a guided tour through Romans over the last several months: We saw in the first five chapters the utter bankruptcy and lostness of the human race, contrasted against the Grace of God freely offered through the person of Christ. We saw that we are to enter into that Grace through faith in the shed blood of Jesus as being the full payment for our sins.

We saw that upon our placing our faith in His shed blood, his complete righteousness was posted to our account as a believer, so that we are no longer seen as bankrupt, but as fully solvent in Christ, and completely righteous in Him.

We saw that because of that transaction at the Cross, we are no longer seen as enemies, but rather that we are at Peace with God, and, more importantly, He is at peace with us.

In chapters six and seven we saw that we no longer have to sin…we have a genuine choice available to us because we have a genuine new nature. The old nature is still present, but no longer holds any authority. It has not only lost its authority, but it has lost its identity, as God no longer sees our old sin nature (frequently called the “flesh” in scripture, but not to be confused with tone’s physical body) as the “real” person. He will only address Himself to the new nature, sometimes called the New Man, and sometimes the “mind” or the “spirit”, (not to be confused with the Holy Spirit.) We finally saw the results (chapter 7) when a genuine believer earnestly attempts to live the Christian life in His own strength.

The trilogy of Romans 6, 7 and 8, then, is completed with 12 “layers” of truths in chapter eight:

  1. There is no condemnation to those in Christ.
  2. Those in Christ are free from the Law of Sin and Death.
  3. Those in Christ are responsible to walk in Him.
  4. Only those in Him can walk in Him.
  5. Only the Holy Spirit can do the walking.
  6. Only saved people have the Holy Spirit…and, conversely, if you do not have the Spirit, you aren’t
  7. The Flesh cannot be subject to God, so it cannot please God.
  8. The Flesh is always an agent of death, whether physical or spiritual…always remembering that “death”, in scripture, is always some sort of separation, whether spiritual or physical, and whether temporary or eternal.
  9. Those who are indwelt by the Spirit of God are already the Sons of God, and, because of that we are joint-heirs (not co-heirs) with Christ.
  10. At the “adoption” (Greek “huiothesis”) we will be recognized (publicly) as the heirs of God, and, at that point, too, the Earth will be freed from its bondage…when we receive our new bodies.
  11. We cannot be separated from God, because we cannot be separated from the love of God which is in Christ.
  12. We cannot separate ourselves from His love, because He specifies that “no created thing” can separate us from Him…and we are, by definition, a “created thing”.

I don’t think it would be profitable to try to cover all of these twelve layers of teaching in one service; partly because we would have to rush, and partly because it does not give the hearer the necessary time to think things over. There is a great deal here upon.which to meditate

So, let’s see how far we can get:

No Condemnation:

This is one of the most important foundational truths for the believer in terms of confidence, peace, and functionality. If you do not grasp the central truth of your security in Christ then you cannot serve effectively because you will be constantly looking back to see if your salvation is still safe.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

This comment alone has generated more arguments among evangelical Christians than most of the rest of the Bible. Some see it as a dangerous teaching that will be misused to produce licentiousness. And that is true. Any valuable tool or privilege can be misused. A hammer (or a pair of scissors, etc.) can be used as a weapon; that does not mean that people should not have hammers or scissors. It means that we have to use responsibly the gifts and tools that God has given us. That same principle applies across all levels of truth. The fact that truth can be misused does not negate its truth…it simply means that responsibility goes along with truth.

Let’s examine both the truth and the responsibility that accompanies it.

How sure am I (and why am I so sure) that I am secure in Christ? It is clearly stated in many passages that offer no qualifiers. It is the key theme of this particular chapter, and is stated by Jesus personally, in passages where no conditions were added to modify the promise.

John 10:27, 28 is a fairly important passage. He says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish.” Notice that he did not say, “IF they follow me, I will give them eternal life”…he said “…they follow me, and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” I have many times heard someone protest, “well, yes, but you can jump out!” No…because, in the first place, if you could “jump out”, then the central promise to this passage (“They shall never perish!”) would be untrue.

Also (again Jesus is speaking), in John 6:37-39, Jesus promised “all that the Father hath given me shall come to me, and him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out. For I came not down from heaven to do my own will but the will of Him that sent me, And this is my Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which He hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” Let’s think that one through:

  • All that the Father has given to Jesus will come to him. He won’t fail to find them.
  • No one who comes to Jesus will ever be cast out…ever.
  • God’s specific will regarding all those given to Jesus is that Jesus will never lose one of them, but that
  • They will be raised up at the last day.

That is pretty specific. There are no honest ways to refute the promise. Sometimes people try to bring up counter-examples:

  • Judas Iscariot (He was never saved to begin with—Jesus himself said so. John 13:10, 11)
  • Ananias and Sapphira (they lost their physical lives—there is no evidence that their eternal destiny was involved.)
  • Samson seems a “poster-child” for an unfaithful believer, if you only read his history. But when we read God’s commentary on him, we find him in Hebrews 11:32, listed by name under God’s “hall of fame” for faith. Many other such examples exist, but the point is that we need to believe God’s promise, not keep trying to find loopholes.

One thing we don’t want to overlook is the second half of verse one: “…who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit”. There are those who argue that this half of the verse is a copyist error, and that it is only supposed to be in verse four, not verse one. But let’s set that argument aside: What would it say if we knew for sure that it should be in both places?

Looking back at Chapter seven we see that Paul concluded that a “disconnect” had occurred between his old sin nature and his new righteous nature: that the old man, the flesh, was no longer him.  Does that shed any light on the subject? Who is it that verse one promises will not be condemned? The old man or the new? The old man is already condemned, and irrevocably so: even God couldn’t save it or change it. The new man is created in the likeness of God to the extent that it is completely righteous and holy, just like Him (Ephesians 4:22, 24).

Do you suppose he may be simply reiterating the separation between old and new, here? God does judge sins…and he judges sinners, if they cling to their sins. The moment you trusted Jesus as your savior, your sins were judged at the Cross, and you gained a new nature, so that the Lord will never again see you as a sinner. Will you see yourself as a sinner? Actually, I rather hope that you do—Paul saw himself that way.

Paul said (1st Timothy 1:15), “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; among whom I am chief.”  (Greek protos eimi ego: Not “was”, but “am!” Jesus used nearly the same construction when he said [John 14:6] “I am the way, the Truth, and the Life…”, and Paul used exactly the same construction when he said [Romans 11:13] “I am the apostle to the Gentiles.”) It is interesting, too, to realize that of all the apostles, and all the potential people who might say such a thing about themselves, Paul is the only one through whom the Holy Spirit elected to say such a thing…and he said it three times, in so many words. (“To me, who am less than the least of all saints…”; “not worthy to be called an apostle…”—these words are not just Paul’s “emotional outlook”.

Peter might have possibly said such a thing in his own private grief at having denied the Lord, but in his epistles there is not a trace of that. Paul, who arguably is the one who laid the foundation of the entire Gentile church, is the one through whom the Holy Spirit made all three of those statements… about Paul, no one else. So, while I think it is fine for me to soberly look at myself and say, “I am a sinner, saved by grace!”, it is not OK for me to declare myself the “worst of sinners” or anything similar, because Paul already holds that title. That is what it says. I do not claim to understand it, but there is no question that it is what it says.

So, those who “walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit” includes all believers. God has permanently separated you from your sins.

Set Free from the Law of Sin and Death

The next thing Paul states is that he has been made free from the Law of Sin and Death.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Notice the tense in this verse: does he say that the Spirit will make him free? No, he says that the law of the Spirit has made him free from the Law of sin and Death… past tense! So, what does that mean? What is the Law of Sin and Death, anyway? Is it the same as the Law of Moses?

I think that the Law of Moses could certainly be included, because, as you recall, the Law of Moses certainly called for death to the disobedient. But the “Law of sin and death” goes back even further: In Genesis 2:17, God warned Adam, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; thou shall not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” There is the first iteration of the Law of sin and death. “If you break the Law you will die”. That is the central theme of Law. Notice that there were no “safeguards” set up—no invisible fences or anything similar. They broke the Law, and died spiritually the moment Adam ate that fruit. 3,500 years later, God re-stated the principle: Ezekiel 18:4 says “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

So, in what way have I (past tense) been set free from this ancient principle? I can see that the Law of sin and death recognized me as someone who should be put to death. But, according to Galatians 2:19, “I, through the Law, am dead to the Law, that I might live unto God.” Jesus fulfilled the Law for Himself by living it perfectly. He fulfilled the Law for me by dying in my place. Now I am free, not because the Law has changed, but because it is satisfied regarding my sin. I am dead!

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

That is what Jesus accomplished through His perfect life and substitutionary death. He deposited His righteousness to our accounts by His perfect life, and took our sin in his vicarious, substitutionary death. The Law made no provision for such a thing. The Law of the substitute was there, to be sure, but in very limited form. The Kinsman redeemer was there, but only to a certain extent. Jesus fulfilled all the promises of God for a redeemer and a savior, and a perfect sacrifice that takes away sin, rather than temporarily covering it.

What Should be the Result in Our Lives?


That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

We are alive to God, and He wants us to respond to His Grace by allowing Him to live through us, and demonstrate His righteousness in us. For what cause? To keep us from going to hell? No, to glorify God in our bodies, and to keep others out of hell. Jesus said that we were to let our light shine in such a way that others will see our good works and not glorify us, but glorify our Father in Heaven! Our good works are part of the Christian life, but they are not part of how we are saved, nor part of how we are kept safe. They are part of our testimony and part of our worship: part of how we honor God with our lives. All the saving and keeping is done by Jesus.

But, What if We Fail?

Are there consequences for disobedience? Of course there are…but they still do not negate the promises we just read. My salvation and my security in Christ are entirely His responsibility, not mine. I could do nothing to save myself, and I can do nothing to stay saved. But I want my life to count for eternity: I want to honor God with my life. I do not always succeed in that. Many times I fail: If you don’t believe me, just ask my family.

But we are told to confess that we have failed, and get up and walk again. We are just as secure when we are wallowing in sin and self-pity or self-righteousness, as when we are soberly, joyfully, honestly walking with God…but we will not be aware of it, nor happy about it. 1st John 1:9 is not just a statement of fact, or even a command, it is a precious promise. We can be restored to fellowship and joyful service!

Make it a priority in your life to go back over chapters 6, 7 and 8 until the lesson sinks in and you can apply it to yourself. That is what I am having to do as I teach through these passages.

Lord Jesus,  make us able ministers of your Word, and teach us to place our faith in your divine safekeeping, so that we are not constantly working to make ourselves better, but to make your name shine before those who don’t know you. Shape us into the Men and Women of God that you have chosen us to be.

Amen!


About the Resurrection

The Resurrection:

© C. O. Bishop 2010

Introduction:

We are here to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We come with a sense of reverence, and joy. That is as it should be. But let us also consider why we feel that way.

Why is the resurrection so important? Do we just want to feel good, believing that somewhere, somehow, Jesus is still alive today, and that he will come back? Or is there more at stake? And when we talk about resurrection, are we talking about a physical resurrection, or just the “going to heaven when you die” type of idea?

Did Jesus’ wrecked, mortal shell that was taken down from the cross, carefully wrapped in cloth and spices, for embalming, and laid in a solid rock tomb really come back to life, fully healthy, and leave the tomb, without disturbing the stone at the door? Was the tomb really already empty, before the angelic messenger rolled the stone back to reveal the empty tomb to the women who came to complete the embalming process? Or was it all a hoax? A nicely-told, religious myth? And, finally, does it really matter? Let’s see what God says about the resurrection.

 Prophetic History:

The theme of the resurrection begins in Genesis 22, where it is hinted at, in Abraham’s obedience, attempting to sacrifice Isaac. We find, later in the scripture (Hebrews 11), that he assumed God would bring him back from the dead. The subject is broached over and over, throughout the Old and New Testaments, and runs all the way through to the Revelation. It is stated clearly, as in Job 19:25, where Job states that “I know that my redeemer liveth, and shall stand upon the earth at the last day, and, though, after my skin, worms shall devour my flesh, yet will I see him, with my eye, and not another.” How did Job know? The books of Moses were not even written yet…so either the revelation was given to him as a prophet, or it had been given to others and handed down as an oral tradition, to be confirmed in the book of Job.

Later prophets, including King David, were used to pen the scriptures telling us specifically that the Messiah would not be left to rot…that his body would be resurrected. “Thou wilt not suffer thy Holy one to see corruption…thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (sheol/hades)” (Psalm 16:10) It would be good to remember that the Hebrew word “sheol”, translated “hell” only meant the place of the dead, and included the place then called paradise. Either way, the fact is, he was not going to stay dead, and his physical body would not be allowed to rot.

Isaiah 53:8-12 states that after his death and burial, he would live to see his “offspring”, and that after his death he would be rewarded richly. Both would be patently impossible, without a literal, physical resurrection. Jonah 1:17-2:10 tells us of Jonah’s experience with the great fish (or whale, as some translations say). This was intended as a Messianic Prophecy—the prophet did not die: but Jesus did. Jonah spoke from the belly of the fish—not from Sheol. The prophet was not raised from the dead, any more than David was, who said similar things. David was not pierced (Psalm 22); But Jesus was. And, in Mathew 12:39,40, Jesus laid hold of that particular prophecy of Jonah as the sign for unbelieving Israel—saying that just as Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the fish (not in Sheol), so he himself would spend three days and three nights in the heart of the earth: not in the tomb, but in Sheol/Hades…specifically, in Paradise, as he promised the thief on the cross. The companion idea was that it was ONLY three days and three nights. The resurrection was not only guaranteed to happen, but it was guaranteed to happen in a specific way and at a very specific time.

In Zechariah 12:10, the Lord Jehovah—the Creator God—states that the day would come when he would return, and Israel would see him. He specified that “they shall see me whom they have pierced, and mourn for him as one mourns for his only begotten son…” In that passage we see that Jesus is

  • the almighty God,
  • in the flesh;
  • eternal by nature, but who
  • became flesh for the purpose of His work at the Cross (seen in the fact that he was pierced by them).

We see Jesus, in fact: the resurrected Messiah, confronting those He came to save—unbelieving Israel—after they crucified him. What an uncomfortable situation that will be! And yet, in that moment, he will be confronting a finally repentant nation. This still necessitates the resurrection: the future of Israel depends entirely upon the truth of the resurrection.

The Personal Teachings of Jesus…also Prophetic

All the above prophecies (except the reference in Matthew) were put in place long before Jesus walked the earth; but Jesus didn’t leave it at that. He reminded them, and underscored the resurrection truth. He told the Jewish rulers who demanded a sign, “Destroy this temple and I will raise it up in three days!” (John 2:19-21) The Jews thought he meant the temple of Herod, but, as the scripture explains, he was referring to his physical body.

When Jesus spoke to the thief on the cross (Luke 23:43), he comforted him, saying “…today thou shalt be with me in paradise.” (Incidentally, notice that he did not say “in the tomb”, but “in Paradise”.) That doesn’t specifically promise the resurrection, but it does promise a blessed life after death. But the physical resurrection of Jesus and the physical, bodily resurrection of his followers is as necessary to the Gospel as the truth of the crucifixion. The point is this:

  • If Jesus was not resurrected, then he was not the Messiah, since the Messiah, it was promised, was to be resurrected.
  • If he was not the Messiah, then he was not the Son of God.
  • If he was not the Son of God, literally God in the Flesh, then he was not the Savior, sent into the world by God,
  • And his blood could not wash away sin,
  • And his death was a simple miscarriage of justice, and one more tragedy to add to an already overburdened world.

Jesus told his disciples (John 10:17,18) that he had the authority to lay down his life, and to take it up again…that no one would take it from him, but He would lay it down, and take it up again. Now, either that was true, or it was not true! If it is true, then the resurrection happened, as He said it would. If it was not true, then he was either a liar, or a poor deluded fool who was about to get himself killed. Jesus demonstrated his power over death several times, raising the dead—some who were only minutes or hours dead, some on their way to their grave, and one who had been in the grave four days. There may have been more…but he gave ample evidence that he was not exaggerating.

He further states (John 10:28) that he gives his followers eternal life, and that they shall never perish. Again: either it is so, or it is not so…that is a very powerful promise. If Jesus has the authority he claims to have…and keeps his promises, then the resurrection of his followers is sure to come, as well. Job’s faith would find fulfillment in the person of Christ. Abraham would find the promise complete in his risen master. And we have something to hope for as well.

 Apostolic Confirmation…and That of God the Father

Romans 1:1-4 states, concerning Gods Son, Jesus Christ, that he was “Declared to be the Son of God, with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” That means that the resurrection was God’s stamp of approval… God’s signature on the contract… God’s seal; saying “YES! This is my Son!”

The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 1:8-12) states that He is the creator God, that he remains the same throughout the ages, and that his years shall not fail. He later points out (Hebrews 10:21) that Jesus has entered into the Holy of Holies through the veil, which is his flesh. And that he has made the way for us to follow.

In 1st John 5:11-13, the writer states that God wants us to know that we have eternal life. He says that that life is in the Son of God. He says whoever “has the Son, has the life”…and that those who do not have Him do not have the eternal life he offers.

Can you see why the resurrection is vital to the message of the Gospel? The simple fact is that: if Jesus was NOT resurrected, we are in deeper trouble than anyone has ever thought we were in. It would mean that the person we thought was the savior was NOT the savior, but either a liar, or a self-deluded fool. That is why, in 1st Corinthians 15:14-19, Paul points out that if Christ has not been raised:

  • Our preaching amounts to nothing
  • Your faith is futile
  • We are found to be false witnesses of God, because we have testified that God did raise Jesus from the dead,
  • You are still in your sins (no saving sacrifice—no forgiveness)
  • Those who have died, believing in Christ, are forever lost.

He concludes that “If we have hope in Christ for this life only (no resurrection, in other words), then we are of all men most miserable…most to be pitied. Some of the world sees us that way. Most either mock us for fools, or hate us because they first hated Christ.

But the truth still stands: the resurrection either did happen, or did not happen. There is really no middle ground. We believe it did happen, just as God says. If it did not, then all the rest of our beliefs fade into insignificance, because upon the resurrection rests the entirety of the Christian faith.

 Conclusion:

What shall we do with these things, then? If I already believe in the resurrection, does it make me believe more? Or make me more emphatic in arguing with others? That is not my purpose in offering these thoughts. We frequently wonder whether it is really necessary to believe all the accounts of miracles in the Bible. We wonder, perhaps, whether at least some of them might be pious-sounding forgeries, added after the fact.

The problem with that, in this particular case, is that the forgers would have had to be able to go back and change all the prophetic writings of thousands of years of history. If that has been the reality, then the fact is, we simply do not have God’s Word. There is no evidence that this has happened; indeed quite the opposite. There is more evidence to the truth of the Bible than any other document in history.

An even larger issue, provided we are satisfied with the pedigree of God’s Word, is that this particular miracle was predicted thousands of years in advance, affirmed many times throughout history, and restated in further prophetic writings. If this one isn’t for real, we do not have a Savior. This is a miracle to stand fast upon, with no doubts.

So What Really Happened?

In accordance with prophecy, and according to the written record, Jesus arose from the dead, physically, hours before daylight, by the simple expedience of passing through the winding cloths they had wrapped him in; he folded the napkin from his face, and set it aside, and then transported himself away, by passing through the solid rock. He then waited for the women who would be the first to discover the empty tomb.

There were still sixteen Roman soldiers guarding the sealed but now-empty tomb. An angel appeared, bright, and fiercely shining, and they all fell— apparently unconscious—then, after they awakened, fled. The angel rolled the stone back from the door, and sat on it.

The women arrived, wondering how they would get in to complete the embalming process, knowing that the massive doorway stone was beyond their best efforts. They found the empty tomb with a new guard—the angel—who said “why do you seek the Living One among the dead? He is not here!”

Then Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, and comforted her: He sent her, as the first resurrection witness, to tell his disciples to meet Him in Galilee.

Sometime during that day, he met with Peter, who had some special issues to deal with. Later that evening, he met two of the apostles on the road to Emmaus, and they hurried back to Jerusalem to tell the others. Jesus showed up as they were telling about the meeting on the road, and greeted the eleven remaining apostles as a group, especially dealing with the doubts that Thomas had suffered. After that, during the next forty days, he revealed himself to a large number of disciples—once to over five hundred at a time. He later met with James, then again the whole group of apostles, just before he ascended back to Heaven. Later, still, he met with Paul, whom he had chosen to be an apostle as well.

We have the historical witness of these changed lives, the witness of the epistles they wrote, and the voice of two thousand years of martyrs to persuade us. Those of us who have placed our faith in the shed blood of Jesus as full payment for our sins have another witness—the indwelling Holy Spirit. We encourage one another, as well as all who will listen, saying “He is risen! He is risen indeed!”

Of course, if He is actually dead, and his corpse is simply gone, then, as Paul said, we are of all men most miserable… most to be pitied.

But, He’s Alive! We can see His Glory in the lives around us. We look to His coming with unspeakable Hope and Joy.

And we confirm: “He is risen, indeed!

 

 

 

 

 

Scripture reference list:

 

 

Genesis 22 Isaac

(compare to Hebrews 11:17-19)

Job 19:25 My Redeemer lives

Psalms 16:10 Not left to rot

Isaiah 53:8-12 After death, shall see his offspring, and be rewarded

Zechariah 12:10 Look upon me whom they have pierced

John 2:19-21  “Destroy this temple…”

Matthew 12:40 3 days, 3 nights

(Referring to Jonah’s prophecy)

Luke 23:43 Thief on the cross…Paradise

Romans 1:4 God raised him from the dead, declared, by that fact, to be his son.

John 10:17, 18 I have the authority to lay down my life and take it up again

Revelation 1:18 he that liveth, and was dead, and, behold, I am alive forevermore

Hebrews 1:8-12 “Thou art the same and thy years shall not fail

Hebrews 10:21 entered in through the veil

John 10:29 they shall never perish

1st John 5:11-13 Know you have eternal life

1st Corinthians 15:19  we are of all men most miserable…