Tuesday, March 31, 2015

THE BELIEVER'S PRIORITY

When a born again believer shares his faith with an unbeliever (atheist, agnostic, or member of a religion rather than one who trusts solely in Jesus), we so often forget why we are witnessing to them.  We care about them, and their eternal destiny.  We are over-joyed with our relationship with Him and desire to share Him with others.  We feel obligated to work for Him.  All those are good reasons, but they pale in comparison to the most important reason:  in doing so, we glorify God!

"I am the LORD: that is MY NAME: and MY GLORY will I not give to another, neither MY PRAISE to graven images….Let them give GLORY unto the LORD, and declare HIS PRAISE in the islands" (Isa. 42:8, 12).

"But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and HE that formed thee, 0 Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art MINE…. Even every one that is called by MY NAME: for I have created him for MY GLORY, I have formed him; yea, I have made him" (Isa. 43:1, 7).

"Ye are My witnesses, saith the LORD, and MY servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe ME, and understand that I am HE: before ME there was no God formed, neither shall there be after ME. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside ME there is no Savior. I have declared, and have saved, and I have showed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are MY witnesses, saith the LORD, THAT I AM GOD" (Isa. 43:10-12).

"This people have I formed FOR MYSELF; they shall show forth MY PRAISE" (Isa. 43:21).

"For MINE OWN SAKE, even for MINE OWN SAKE, will I do it: for how should MY NAME be polluted? and I will not give MY GLORY unto another" (Isa. 48:11).

Why am I here? What is the purpose of my existence? Why did I wake up this morning to face another day? Why did God save me? When He saved me, why didn't He take me immediately to Heaven to be with Himself? Why did God leave me here upon the earth for a time? For what purpose did God create me and for what purpose did God save me?  To proclaim HIS GLORY!

"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power:
for Thou hast created all things,
and FOR THY PLEASURE, they are and were created" (Rev. 4:11).

Monday, March 30, 2015

JESUS DIED ON PASSOVER

The Feasts of the Lord were special Sabbaths, Holy Convocations, on which no work was to be done.  The day prior, therefore, was known as the Day of Preparation, when all the work necessary to celebrate the Feast was done.  Jesus died on Passover; it was the day the Passover Lamb was to be slain and prepared for the meal that would be consumed after sunset, the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Compare these verses, especially the last one!

"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be Holy Convocations, even these are My feasts.  Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, an Holy Convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.  These are the feasts of the LORD, even Holy Convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.  In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD's Passover" (Lev. 23:1-5).

"Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate" (Mt. 27:62).

"And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath" (Mk. 15:42).

"And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on" (Lk. 23:54).

"Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the Passover" (Jn. 18:28).

"And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King" (Jn. 19:14)!

"The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, for that Sabbath day was an high day, besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away" (Jn. 19:31).

"There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand" (Jn. 19:42).

"Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.  For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us" (1 Cor. 5:7).

Sunday, March 29, 2015

GOD COMPLETES WHAT HE HAS STARTED

Moses wrote:  "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.  And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness" (Gen. 1:1-4).

John wrote:  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.  In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not" (Jn. 1:1-5).

The writer of Hebrews wrote:  "...let all the angels of God worship Him.  And of the angels He saith, Who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire.  But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom.  Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.  And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of Thine hands" (Heb. 1:6-10).

The vision of John:  "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.  And He said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.  I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last" (Rev. 1:8; 21:6; 22:13).

Two disheartened disciples told Jesus:  "And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and have crucified Him.  But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.  Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; and when they found not His body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that He was alive.  And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said:  but Him they saw not.  Then He said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:  Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?  And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Lk. 24:20-27).

Saturday, March 28, 2015

SALVATION IS OFFERED TO ALL PEOPLE

"I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles" (Isa. 42:6).

"And He said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be My salvation unto the end of the earth" (Isa. 49:6).

"And the Gentiles shall come to Thy light, and kings to the brightness of Thy rising" (Isa. 60:3).

"For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same My name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto My name, and a pure offering: for My name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts" (Mal. 1:11).

"Behold My Servant, whom I have chosen; My Beloved, in whom My soul is well pleased: I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.  And in His name shall the Gentiles trust" (Mt. 12:18, 21).

"For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel" (Lk. 2:30-32).

"But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel" (Acts 9:15).

"For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth" (Acts 13:47).

"Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it" (Acts 28:28).

 
JESUS' DEATH, BURIAL, AND RESURRECTION WAS FOR ALL OF US!

Friday, March 27, 2015

THE PARABLES OF JESUS

Anyone who has been to church, or who has read the Gospels of the New Testament, has encountered the word "parable," where it appears in 32 verses.  All 32 refer to the teachings of Jesus.  According to Webster's New World Dictionary, a parable is "an allegorical relation, a comparison, an analogy; a short, simple story usually of an occurrence of a familiar kind, from which a moral or religious lesson can be learned."  I have heard many preachers describe parables as "an earthly story having a heavenly meaning." 

The problem with these definitions is that they do not explain why Jesus often taught in parables.  They give the impression Jesus wanted to simplify complex truths so that His audience could comprehend what He was saying.  In part, that is correct; He did want some of His listeners to understand, but He also wanted the greater part of His listeners to "remain in the dark."  Jesus explained this to His disciples:

"And the disciples came, and said unto Him, Why speakest Thou unto them in parables?  He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.  For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.  Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.  And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:  for this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.  But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.  For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them" (Mt. 13:10-17).

The word "parable" appears in 49 verses in the King James Bible.  Surprising to me, 17 of them are found in the Old Testament [Num. (7x); Job (2x); Ps. (2x); Pro. (2x); Ezra (2x); Mic. (1x); and Hab. (1x)].  The Hebrew word is מָשָׁל (mashal), which is also translated "proverb" (19x); "byword" (1x); and "like" (1x).  Of the 17 Old Testament appearances, only four actually use the word in the same sense as it is used in the New Testament (Ps. 49:4; 78:2; Ezek. 17:2; 24:3); there, it is a teaching about spiritual truths using common, everyday parallels. 

The word "parable" appears in just four books of the New Testament:  Matthew (9x), Mark (6x), Luke (16x), and John (1x).  There, the Greek word is παραβολή (parabolē) in the Synoptic Gospels, and παροιμία (paroimia) in John's Gospel.  While παροιμία (paroimia) is translated "proverb" in John 16:25, 29, and in 2 Peter 2:22, only in 2 Peter does the word actually mean a proverb.  John's three uses of the word should have all been translated "parable."

I believe the reason there are no parables in the rest of the New Testament, is because Jesus had already died for the sins of the world; He had already been buried in a borrowed tomb; He had risen from the grave, just as the Scriptures had said He would; so now, the "mystery" has been revealed.  God commands His children to proclaim the Gospel, the truth, the whole truth, about Jesus Christ, our Creator, our Savior, and our soon-coming Lord!

I am so glad the Holy Spirit has enabled me to know Jesus!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

THEY KNEW JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD

"Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped Him, saying, Of a truth Thou art the Son of God."  Mt. 14:33

"Now when the Centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God."  Mt. 27:54

Mark wrote, "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."  Mk. 1:1

"And unclean spirits, when they saw Him, fell down before Him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God."  Mk. 3:11

"And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that Holy (One) which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."  Lk. 1:35

"And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And He rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that He was Christ."  Lk. 4:41

John the Baptist said, "And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God."  Jn. 1:34

"Nathanael answered and saith unto Him, Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel."  Jn. 1:49

"Say ye of Him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I (Jesus) said, I am the Son of God?"  Jn. 10:36

"She (Martha) saith unto Him, Yea, Lord: I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world."  Jn. 11:27

John wrote, "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name."  Jn. 20:31

"And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he (the Ethiopian eunuch) answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."  Acts 8:37

"And straightway he (Paul) preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God."  Acts 9:20

"And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, (and) by the resurrection from the dead."  Rom. 1:4

The writer of Hebrews wrote, "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession."  Heb. 4:14

"

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

IN ADAM, ALL DIE!

I have received a great deal of response to my blog on the Rapture being both a death and a resurrection.  Unfortunately, not all of it has been civil.  It seems that many minds (an hearts) are opposed to any discussion of Bible doctrines that they have determined to be "off limits."  Oddly, they seem okay with discussing the Rapture with those who are Pre-Tribulation Rapturists, Post-Tribulation Rapturists, Mid-Tribulation Rapturists, and even No-Rapturists, but I have somehow stepped over the line.  Nevertheless, I will try, once again, to show why I believe the Rapture is a combination of a death and a resurrection.

"But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept.  For since by man (Adam) came death, by man (Jesus) came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam ALL DIE, even so in Christ shall ALL be made alive (one cannot be "made alive" unless one was not alive).  But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming" (1 Cor. 15:20-23).

"But some man will say, How are the dead raised up?  And with what body do they come?  Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:  and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:  but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body....So also is the resurrection of the dead.  It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:  it is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:  it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.  There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body" (1 Cor. 15:35-38; 42-44).

Some suggested that my quoting Hebrews 9:27 as being all-encompassing, is wrong.  They pointed out that some died more than once (Jairus' daughter; the widow's son; Lazarus; etc.).  However, they only died once and are remained dead.  Perhaps we should understand "it is appointed unto men once to die" as "all men die at least once."  Then too, some pointed out that Enoch and Elijah did not die.  To that, my response is that in order for the teaching that ALL DIE to be true, the "two witnesses" of Revelation 11:3-12 are Enoch and Elijah.  We know the Jews still believe that Elijah will return, and they set a place for him at table every Passover (Mal. 4:5; Mt. 11:14).

One's salvation is not determined by any of this.  Salvation is by believing that Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures; that He was buried; and that He was raised from the dead as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rom. 10:9-10; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Eph. 2:8-9)!