Who Is Jesus? Part II

YHWH

The apostle John emphasizes the Deity of Jesus in his gospel account. One way he does that is by demonstrating how often Jesus used the Divine name of I Am during his ministry. He is intentionally trying to make people think of when god spoke to Moses at the bush and used the same name for Himself. We examined quite a few of these in the last post here. If you wish to read that article, click here: https://myfathersworldsite.wordpress.com/2018/06/25/who-is-jesus-part-i/

Eternal One

Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am’” (John 8:58).

If the Pharisees were not already wound up by this temple discourse, Jesus finishes in grand style and for the second time within the same conversation they are ready to kill Him. What set them off badly is when He insisted that He is greater than Abraham, and the reason He is greater is because He is eternal. Jesus existed in Heaven, the above from whence He came down, long before Abraham was born. The reason this is so is because Jesus is God, the same I Am who spoke to Moses over 400 years before Abraham was called out from Ur.

The Door

Then Jesus said to them again, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, I Am the door of  the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I Am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture’(John 10:7-9).

The exclusive nature of Jesus is seen in almost all of these I Am passages. Here Jesus adds that He is the one and only access or point of entry into His flock as well as for His flock into Heaven. To be sure, the offer of Jesus and His atoning work is available for everybody. The gospel is for all. But not all will benefit from His sacrifice. Just the faithful few and the righteous remnant, a scarce number of the world’s population who will love God with all the heart and man as himself. The sheep only hear and follow Jesus. In a very real sense, Jesus is the door, but only for His sheep.

The Good Shepherd

I Am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep …. I Am the good shepherd, and I know My sheep, and am known by My own” (John 10:11,14).

As Jesus is the door of the sheep, He is also the Good Shepherd. As an elder in the church, Peter was a shepherd, as were all elders then and now (First Peter 5:1-2). But even Peter admits than only Jesus is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls (First Peter 2:25). Jesus alone is the Good Shepherd. That is because there is none Who is good, but God (Matthew 19:17). Only Jesus is the Son of God, and only Jesus could, and in fact did, lay down His life for His sheep. Jesus laid down His life, it was not taken from Him. Proof that He chose to lay it down is that He had the power to take it back again, which He did in victory over sin and death.

The Son of God

do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I Am the Son of God’?(John 10:36).

The Pharisees often reacted against Jesus’s claims of Deity. And they would be right except for the fact that He was Divine. They were so gainsayingly reactionary against any possible blasphemy that they never really considered if Jesus might have been Who He said He was all along.

The Resurrection and the Life

Jesus said to her, ‘I Am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.’” (John 11:25).

Jesus had close relationships outside of the twelve. Amongst these were the siblings Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany. Jesus got work that Lazarus was terribly sick. Some of His disciples thought He go to Bethany and heal him, but others warned Him it was too close to Jerusalem where He was wanted by the Pharisees.

Lazarus dies, but Jesus says he is merely asleep and will go to Bethany to awake him. Once in Bethany, Jesus is mildly scolded by the sisters for waiting too long to come. They had faith in Christ and knew He could heal Lazarus. This is exactly why He didn’t go earlier and heal him. It would be akin to turning stone into bread. It would be a selfish use of the miracles, instead of a device to confirm the truth. All of the seven signs in the book of John do just that in they point to or identify the deity of Jesus Christ.

The sisters, the disciples, as well as the Pharisees in Jerusalem, and by extension, all of us who read of this account, need to know more than Jesus can heal, but that He can raise the dead. If He could raise the dead then, it follows that He can raise all of the dead one day (John 5:28-29). Jesus allowed Lazarus to endure the pain and agony of death, as well as allow the sisters to grieve and morn, so that God can be glorified in Lazarus’s resurrection (John 11:4). Before Jesus raises Lazarus, He tells Martha that He is the resurrection. This is more than saying that He can raise the dead, but that He alone is the source and capacitor of the resurrection and judgement of all mankind, and this is tied into His divine nature, seen in His use of I Am.

The Lord and Master

You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I Am(John 13:13).

This is one passage that cannot be divorced from its context to be fully understood. On its surface, Jesus is declaring that He is the Lord, and this is based on His eternal deity. This is not difficult to understand, yet a profound layer is added when the context is taken into account.

Jesus had just washed the feet of His disciples on the last Passover. Jesus is Lord to be served in obedience and submission, but He is also the suffering servant. It is not coincidental that He washes their feet on the same day He is to be taken away and crucified, which is the highest example of servitude (Philippians 2:5-8). The Lordship of Jesus is based on His divine nature. And being fully divine, He is as much the God of love as is the Father.

Our Lord is the God of love, and by its very nature, love involves service. It takes into account the well-being of other people, even making it a priority to our own safety, health, and happiness (Philippians 2:1-4). God takes into measure our greatest need, which is salvation from our sins, and His great divine love moves Him to act by the sending of Jesus to die for all. The very thing that allows both God the Father and the Son to act with such compassion is the very thing that makes worthy of our life in service. God is the Great I Am, loving servant of mankind and mighty Lord of all.

The Way, Truth, and Life

Jesus said to him, ‘I Am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’(John 14:6).

Of all the world religions, only Christianity deals with man’s real problem. Christianity points out that al are under sin, not by birth but by choice. It also shows the only way out of sin is by Jesus, and He exclusively is the remedy of our sin problem. Jesus is not just a way out of sin, He is the one and only way out of sin. The uniqueness of Christ and of Christianity is one of the many means of proving it to be legitimate and truly from God. This is only true because of the deity of Jesus Christ.

The True Vine

I Am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser(John 15:1).

Jesus is the true vine, we are the branches, and the Father is the vinedresser who prunes us with His word. If we are apart from Christ and His word, we are apart from God altogether. Like a broken off branch, we cannot bear any fruit when separated from Jesus. His being the true vine is based on Jesus Himself being God, the same who spoke to Moses all those years ago.

 

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Who Is Jesus? Part I

bush

When God spoke to Moses through the burning bush, Moses asked who he could say sent him. God says, “‘I Am who I Am.’ And He said, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I Am has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14). God applies to Himself a name of timelessness. God is eternal, perfect is all divine attributes, and not subject to change. The apostle John records the words of Jesus in several passages where He uses the same designation for Himself.

Keep in mind that in the Koine Greek there is the simple I am and the emphatic I Am. The first is the word eimi, which is used for such sentences as “I am going to the store.” But the emphatic I am, the divine name, is ego eimi, which is closer to “I that I Am.” By the pen of John, we know Jesus uses this emphatic form of the phrase to designate to Himself the eternal deity that should be added to any consideration of Him. This is not in the synoptics because John’s account was written when Gnosticism was seeding the Roman empire. Gnosticism denied the deity of Christ, so John emphasizes it often in his gospel account. Jesus not only uses the name of God, but employs it to demonstrate the qualities about Him and His work that He wishes to emphasize, so we would do well to note them to know what Jesus was really like.

The Messiah

Jesus said to her, ‘I Who speak to you, I Am’” (John 4:26).

Jesus is traveling from the north down toward Judah and up to Jerusalem. Instead of passing the Jordan to avoid Samaria, Jesus moves straight through it. He is in Sycar and is tired and hungry. The disciples leave Him to buy food. He’s resting against a well, which happens to be Jacob’s well. A Samaritan woman comes for water at noon, not the normal time to draw water, which suggests she may be a social outcast, and her situation corroborates that.

Jesus asks for a drink, which offends her since Jews don’t talk to Samaritans and men don’t talk to women. He offers Her living water, and misunderstanding it, she mocks Him. Jesus asks her to fetch her husband and she says she’s not married. Jesus says this is true, that she’s been married five times and is living with a man now.

The conversation turns spiritual. She asks about who is right, Jews or Samaritans. Jesus says it’s the Jews, but moved on to the greater issue, how that soon it’ll be a matter of worshipping in spirit and truth and not in this town or on that mountain. She mentions the coming a prophet, which is likely prophet like Moses. So her reference to a prophet is a sideways way of getting at the Messiah. She asks Jesus if He might be the one. He replies, “I Who speak to you, I Am.”

Jesus declares that He is both the Messiah and promised Prophet. She shares her experience with her townsfolk, who then come out to see Jesus for themselves. He stays for a bit, and then they say that they believe, not just because of what she said, but based on what they have seen and heard for themselves. In time, Jesus leaves, but the believing do not lose faith. In fact, there were probably more true believers in Samaria than Jerusalem. Later Philip the evangelist comes to Samaria and preaches the gospel and there is a great response. This is the gospel harvest of the seeds sown by Jesus Christ. It all begin with a request for a drink and ended in many being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of Peter’s hands, the very living water Jesus spoke to her about.

The Bread of Life

And Jesus said to them, ‘I Am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst’(John 6:35).

Jesus preaches His bread of Life sermon following the feeding of the multitudes. They continue to follow Him, but only for free food. Jesus preaches on the importance of spiritual bread over physical. He says, “I Am the bread of life,” which confuses the multitudes. They think He’s somehow talking about eating Him. Jesus concludes by saying, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). Jesus’s teachings are the bread of life, the spiritual nourishment for the soul. Consider everything you’ve ever learned about the nature of Scripture and how it is described as bread (Matthew 4:4; Amos 8:11), and now think of those things as they also apply to Jesus, the Master Teacher and True Prophet of God.

Light Of The World

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I Am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life’” (John 8:12).

Jesus was teaching in the temple. He had just sent the hypocritical Pharisees packing with the incident regarding the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). He resumes His teaching by saying that He is the light of the world. As with bread, light is also a common symbol for the word of God (Psalm 119:105,130; Proverbs 6:23). As the Scriptures are the spiritual illumination itself, it is Jesus who is the source of that light. By the teachings of Jesus and His apostles, man can see what God wants of Him.

This is all reaffirmed in the next chapter when Jesus heals a man born blind. On that occasion He says, As long as I am in the world, I Am the light of the world(John 9:5). Another layer is added to the basic teaching about Christ as light. Just as Jesus healed the physically blind, He cures the spiritually blind, but only if they want to be cured. There are some who cannot see, and others who will not see. Paul talks about Moses and his veil, and to this day the same veil is worn by Jews who read the prophecies of the Messiah, yet do not think they apply to Jesus of Nazareth. But this veil of blindness is removed by Christ (Second Corinthians 3:13-16). In the next chapter, Paul adds that this veil is the cause of condemnation (4:3). More specifically, sin causes condemnation and the desire to remain spiritually blind keeps one lost.

From Above

And He said to them, ‘You are from beneath, I Am from above. You are of this world, I Am not of this world. Therefore, I said to you that you will die in your sins, for if you do not believe that I Am, you will die in your sins’(John 8:23-24).

Within the same temple discourse from the previous text, Jesus addresses His death and how they would never comprehend its significance. The reason is because He is from above and they are of the world. The reason He I from above is because He is the Great I Am. Unless they believe this fact, they will die in their sins. This holds true for all those who likewise deny Jesus. But those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God may then be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 8:35-39).

Speaks as the Father

I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true, and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him.” They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father. Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I Am, and that I do nothing of Myself, but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things (John 8:26-28).

As the Emmanuel, God in the flesh, Jesus not only comes from above, but His message is from above. This is not some incidental point. Regarding the baptism of John, the Baptist, Jesus asks the Pharisees if it was from Heaven or men (Matthew 21:25). This makes it clear that all teachings are from Heaven or not from Heaven. This is the difference between any teaching being authorized or not. Whatever we say or do needs to be by the authority of, or in the name of, Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:17; cf. Acts 4:7). The difference between what is authorized, taught in the name of Christ, and from Heaven, and everything else comes down to what the Bible affirms. What the Bible does not authorize is not authorized and in sinful to practice or teach.

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How To Understand The Bible

a-ha

Paul encourages us all to “understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). That comes from properly understanding the Bible. If two people understand the Bible correctly, then they understand it alike. In truth, all who understand the Bible understand it alike. The fact that there is so much diversity of ideas and denominations shows that people do not know what the Bible teaches.

Desire for Knowledge

In order to know the word of God you have to want to know the word of God. Solomon writes, “whoever loves instruction loves knowledge” (Proverbs 12:1). In any subject, a knowledge of it requires instruction in it. If you want to learn how to fly a plane, you taking flying lessons. If you want to become an expert chef, you go to cooking school. And if you want to become knowledgeable in the word of God, then you need to be instructed what it teaches. If you want to know your Bible, you will study it.

One thing that can make you want to have more knowledge of the Bible is to know enough about God to understand that His revelation needs to be studied. That is why the heart with understanding seek knowledge (Proverbs 15:14). The more you know of God, the more you want to know, and understanding the great nature of God compels one to have a greater knowledge of His word. Indeed, “the prudent heart gets knowledge” (Proverbs 18:15).

Can Be Rejected

Just as one can willfully seek out a knowledge of God through the knowledge of the Bible, one may also choose to be ignorant. The consequences of this rejection is dire, as God notes through Hosea, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos 4:6). This lack of knowledge need not appear only within the completely irreligious. Paul points out that the Jews who refuse to obey the gospel are lost. This lost condition exists even though they contain great amount of religious zeal, but that it is not based upon true knowledge of God (Romans 10:1-3).

These Jews without the gospel need to learn what the Bible says, but that means much more than reading the Bible. If someone reads the Bible but with a preconception about what it teaches, then they will not learn what the Bible says. This is the condition of these Jews. Elsewhere, Paul references the veil worn by Moses. While it was worn to hide the shine of his face from being in the presence of God on the mountain, here we also learn that it was to hide the almost instantaneous diminishment in the shine. This is symbolic of the fading glory of the old law.

Following this, Paul says a metaphoric veil is still worn over the hearts of Jews when they read the prophets yet deny they speak of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:14). In other words, one must by open and honest with the scriptures or read the text is worthless. Paul follows this up by stating that all of the lost, Jew and Gentile, have a veil that keeps the gospel from shining in their heart, but this veil is removed in learning about Christ (2 Corinthians 4:1-6).

Requires The Right Attitude

But there were plenty of Jews in the first century who became Christians because they had the right attitude towards the Bible and were in a place to learn it and understand it. One example is the Jews in Berea. They “received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11). Usually, an emphasis is placed on the daily study portion of this verse, but notice that it is preceded with the attitude we should all have, one where they received the word with all readiness of mind. They told themselves that they would accept what the Bible said regardless of what they previously may have thought.

James describes this mindset when he says that the word must be accepted with meekness (James 1:21). The Greek word for this is used outside of the Bible to describe the ability to break horse. Imagine a large steed being controlled by a small bit in his mouth. That is how the Bible is to the true believer. Some have described meekness as self-control, but here it’s more like allowing yourself to be controlled by someone else, and this other party is God.

In the book of Romans, Paul pleads with the saints that they once and for all present their bodies as a living sacrifice. Having done that, they move on the being shaped by things from Heaven and not from the earth. Having done thus, we are in a place to examine the word of God and accept it (Romans 12:1-2). This is similar to the removal of all filth James mentions so that we can meekly accept the word just addressed priorly.

Peter recalls the occasion when he witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus. He then makes the point that we have a word of prophecy that is more sure than if God were to open the cloud and speak to us directly as He did on that mount with Jesus (2 Peter 1:15-21). Because we have this word that is definite, sure, and objectively verifiable, no prophecy of scripture is subject to any private interpretation (v.20). If the Bible were somehow the product of men’s thinking and human words, then one interpretation is as good as another, as it may be great literature like Shakespeare. But with the Bible, one interpretation is not as good as another. The only interpretation that is worthwhile is the one God intends for us to reach by careful and honest study.

Our View Of God

All notions of religion begin with how one views God. When it comes from our openness to the Bible, it is no different. Solomon writes that it is a fear of God that is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). Further, he adds that it is by a fear of God that men depart from evil (Proverbs 6:16). When one is truly in awe of God, they will do whatever they can to know the will of God. Further, applying the knowledge of this will leads one to depart from evil as part of their service to God.

It comes down to one simple thing: do you love the truth or not (2 Thessalonians 1:9-10). If you love the truth more than all things, including your own mind and way of life, then you will do anything to learn the will of God so that you may perform it. Jesus clearly has this in mind when He speaks to those who were already believing in Him, and He says, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). Knowing the truth and continuing in the truth is indispensable for discipleship and spiritual freedom from the rule of sin. And nearing His crucifixion, Jesus says in prayer that eternal life is knowing God and the One He sent (John 17:3). Putting all of this together, we fear God and study our Bible with an open mind. This same fear spurs us to live out what we have learned. By so doing, we achieve eternal life.

A knowledge of scripture is often considered a type of illumination. Consider the following:

  • Through Your precepts I get understanding, therefore I hate every false way. Your word isa lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:104-105)
  • The entrance of Your words gives light. It gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130)
  • For the commandment isa lamp, and the law a light, reproofs of instruction are the way of life” (Proverbs 6:23)
  • And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19)

Counterwise, living is ignorance and sin is constantly rendered as living in darkness. We have to choose between light and dark, knowledge and ignorance, serving God or following sin. God has given us all a word that can be understood, and therefore it can be understood alike by all.

 

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The Establishment Of The Church: Part II – The Kingdom, When?

dan2

As mentioned priorly, the church in prophecy is sometimes with the name “kingdom.” There are a pair found in Daniel’s book that parallel each other and provide information as to when the kingdom would come. In chapter two, Nebuchadnezzar has a dream and it troubles him. He gathers his wise men to get a reading of the dream. But since he knew he was surrounded by yes-men, he said he would only believe an interpretation if the person first told him what he dreamed. They all agreed none of them could do it, but Daniel’s name comes us as one of the Jewish slaves who might be able to do this. Of course, he can, with the help of God.

Daniel says the dream is of a statue, head of gold, shoulders of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, and legs of iron with clay and iron mingled in the feet. Also, a rock is cut out without hands and it rolls and strikes the statue and destroys it. When all the dust settles, all that is left is the mountain of the Lord that fills the whole world.

Daniel tells the king that the statue are four successive world empires. Babylon is the head of gold, Daniel comes out and says so much. The rest he calls a second, a third, and a fourth kingdom. We know from history what they are. Following Babylon was the second empire, one of silver, which was the Persians. The Greeks are the third kingdom of bronze. Finally, the iron kingdom is Rome. Some have tied to make the feet into a fifth kingdom, but the iron and clay simply describe the true nature of Rome. Like iron, it has the appearance of strength, but like iron welded to clay, its foundation is weak.

Daniel says regarding the time of Rome, “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44). This is what is meant by the remainder of the vision. A rock cut away without hands is a reference to the virgin birth of Jesus. In the days of the roman Empire, He will establish His eternal kingdom, which is the church of Christ, the mountain of the Lord.

The second vision in Daniel is for the prophet himself. It’s in the seventh chapter. Instead of four parts of a statue, we have four different creatures. The lion represents Babylon, the bear is Persia, and leopard stands for Greece. The fourth creature is some grotesque I don’t know what it is, but it’s unpleasant, to put it mildly. I’ve heard it called the strong beast or the iron beast.

The first three creatures are no longer around by the time of the iron beast. Regarding this fourth creature, Daniel’s book reads “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14). The Ancient of Days is the Father and the Son of Man is Jesus. In the time Rome, this iron beast, the Father will give Jesus an eternal kingdom, just like we read of in chapter two.

Without contradiction, it has been established that the kingdom would come during the time of the Roman Empire. But that still leaves a long period of time, several centuries. Jesus was baptized by John in the fifteenth year of emperor Tiberius, which would be about 29 A.D. (Luke 3:1,21-22). This is almost smack-dab right in the middle of the time of Rome. Both john and Jesus preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2, 4:17). While “at hand” is not a specific time period like decade or century, it does let us know it is a time sooner than not.

Now the details line up from here on. Jesus said in Mark, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power” (Mark 9:1). We learn to very important things from this verse. First, the kingdom is coming within the lifetime of people present. Second, when the kingdom comes, it will come with power. The nature of this power is unclear, which will manifest itself soon.

Before Jesus ascends back into Heaven, He says, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8). They were also told to stay in Jerusalem and wait for this coming power (Acts 1:4). So, if we can identify when the Spirit came on the apostles in Jerusalem, we will also know it was the promised power that would signify the coming kingdom. Chapter to of Acts begins: “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from Heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4). The promised and prophesied kingdom came on the day of Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus was crucified. This was also the day the church was established (Acts 2:47). That is because the kingdom is the church and the church is the kingdom.

This is important because the Premillennialists believe that Jesus came to establish his kingdom, an earthly one, but failed. So He gave us the church instead as a stopgap measure. Someday He’ll return after tribulations and Armageddon and such and establish an earthly kingdom which shall last for a thousand years. There’s only one problem with this – there’s not a word of truth to it. Christians have already been translated into the kingdom of Christ (Colossians 1:13). Church and kingdom are perfectly equivalent and fully functioning synonyms in the Bible along with terms like body, household, and temple.

 

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The Establishment Of The Church: Part I – The Reality Of The Church

church1

The first time we find the word “church” in the Bible, it’s when Jesus says, “Upon this rock I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18). From this, we know Jesus plans on establishing a church. If someone is a part of something that calls itself church, but it’s not the one Jesus built, then their church is counterfeit and their faith is in human error and not the truth of Christ.

No man has the right to start a new branch of Christianity, whether his name is Luther, Wesley, or King Henry VIII. If the saved are added to the church, and one is a member of something not built by Christ, that person is not saved. We need to learn the truth of the church. Anyone can do that by reading the New Testament for themselves honestly.

There is no Old Testament word for “church,” but that doesn’t it isn’t mentioned in prophecy. Most often, the images of a mountain or a kingdom are used to describe the coming church. Our English word “church” comes from the German word kirche. Originally, it meant all the faithful, but when all those thought faithful were Catholic. With Luther, the word took a new use. It was used to distinguish between the two bodies, the Catholic kirche or the Lutheran or Reformed kirche. Reformed would take another use later to refer to any reformation not Luther’s, and in time became the name for what we today call Calvinism.

It was not long before kirche came to refer to the places of assembly, both Catholic and Lutheran. This is similar to our English phrase “go to church.” I know some members of the church who lose their minds if they hear someone today say that (since the church is the people and not a building). In the Bible, people go into and come out of the synagogue in Antioch (Acts 13:14,42), which refers to a building. In Corinth, Justus lived next door to the synagogue (Acts 18:7), which obviously is a building. Seeing that the same Greek word for a Jewish synagogue is also used for assembly in the Christian sense, it stands to reason that if there is place that is primarily used as a meeting place for Christians, it could also be called church in the same way synagogue is used for the Jews, even though the word in the Greek merely means “assembly.” We don’t see the word church referring to a building in the New Testament because they met in places primarily used for other functions. Christians met in houses, catacombs, school houses, down by the river, and even in the Jerusalem Temple. In the end, to get upset because someone says, “go to church,” shows an ignorance of language and ultimately is majoring in minors.

The Greek word for the church is ekklesia, which means “the called out.” It refers to any group of people set apart for a particular call or purpose. Ours is to make known the wisdom of God in the world (Ephesians 3:8). The Greek word is not an inherently holy word. It is simply the word God in His wisdom chose to describe His saved people. By inspiration, the unholy mob in Ephesus is also called an ekklesia and they were trying to stop the work of the true church. The people of God are called the church, as well as the body, kingdom, and household of God. Our English word “church” is as much of an accommodation and social construct as any other English word.

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The Resurrection of Jesus

tomb

Resurrection from the dead is itself materially impossible. It could only occur as a miracle (First Corinthians 6:14). Jesus not only died, but was buried. The tomb adds circumstances that make it more impossible. The tomb was guarded by Romans soldiers. Also, the cover stone was mortared shut (Matthew 27:64-66). When the women arrived on the following first day of the week morning, the soldiers were gone and the stone was moved (Matthew 28:1-4). The stone was moved by the angel of the Lord. The Bible says it was rolled back by the angel. That is not because Jesus could not have moved the stone. This allowed the women and later the apostles to see inside, even go inside. It also disrupted the Roman soldiers and scared them away. Because of this, all can see that it was not only an opened tomb, but also an empty tomb. It wasn’t opened to let Jesus out, but to let us in.

If Jesus was not raised, then what happened to His body remains a mystery. Some say the disciples stole the body. Keep in mind they were skeptical of the women’s claims. Also, this was during the time between Passover and Pentecost when Jerusalem is overcrowded with people from all over the world. The disciples had no place to hide a rotting corpse will so many people there. Some say the Romans stole his body. This is absurd because their lives were put to risk by the resurrection. Others say the Pharisees stole his body. If that were so, all they had to do on Pentecost or any time after would be to produce the dead body and that would have shut up the apostles once and for all and Christianity would have died.

My favorite of all the crackpot false options is that Jesus never really died on the cross, He merely passed out. Later He revived and walked away. This is called the Swoon Theory. Imagine Jesus survived a Roman scourging and crucifixion, also had a spear shoved in His side and into His heart. Here he passes out and is thought to be dead. He is wrapped in about a hundred pounds of linen and spices and placed inside a tomb with a cover stone that weighs about a ton and it is cemented airtight to the opening. Jesus waked from this, moves the stone, and wanders off never to be seen. Believe it if you can, but the best evidence is in support of the Bible claim that Jesus was raised from the dead.

Paul writes that the death, burial, and resurrection is the basis for the gospel and His raised body was witnessed by many (First Corinthians 15:1-8).

  • Peter
  • The Twelve
  • Over Five-Hundred
  • James
  • The Apostles
  • Paul

The twelve is a reference to the apostles, which means Jesus appeared to them twice that Paul has in mind. He uses different references to distinguish the two occasions of meeting. Also, it seems James is the brother of our Lord and not the apostle and brother of John.

There are vital consequences to the Resurrection of Jesus worth evaluating. First and foremost, we have forgiveness of sins because of the Resurrection (Romans 5:10). Also, it proves that Jesus is indeed the Son of God (Romans 1:4). Because of the forgiveness of sins, we can look forward to going to Heaven, which is our hope. And because Jesus lives, our hope is a lively hope (First Peter 1:3). And having been raise from the dead, Jesus wears this indelible mark that serves as the Father’s stamp of approval, particularly to show He is qualified to Judge all of mankind at the end of time (Acts 17:31).

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The Role of the Holy Spirit

HS

The sufficiency of the Scriptures proves there is no semi-Calvinistic direct help by the Holy Spirit to either save us or enable us to live the Christian life. When I speak of sufficiency, I mean it is sufficient informationally and it is sufficient in the manner that it communicates. Keep in mind that as a divine person, the Holy Spirit is a parsimonious being. This means He will not directly operate unless there is an absolute need for Him to do so.

Direct & Indirect

The Holy Spirit did indeed operate directly in the times of miracles. Men unaided could not do the things they did without this supernatural help. The Holy Spirit directly operated on the first century apostles and prophets to reveal and confirm the truth. They revealed the truth through the gift of inspiration and confirmed this by the signs, wonders, and miracles that they did.

Since all direct operations of the Spirit had to do with the word of God, either in revealing it or confirming it, it stands to reason that all latent works of the Spirit would be through this same word. Some people read in the Bible about the Spirit does this or that, and they assume it’s by an immediate and direct act. They do not take into account figurative language and mediated action. For example, Paul writes about being led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14), but this is not the Holy Spirit directly leading anyone about. He leads through the word He inspired, as even the context of that passage proves (Romans 8:1-2).

Power Of Scripture

Paul tells Timothy that, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (Second Timothy 3:16). What he has to say is regarding “all Scripture,” as opposed to the “holy Scriptures” that refer to the Old Testament seen prior (v.15). Thus, all Scripture, including the New Testament, is inspired by God. The word for “inspired” means God breathed, as if God actually said the words that are written.

Because all Scripture is inspired, all Scripture is profitable. The ultimate ends of this is that Christians may have everything informationally they need to serve and follow God. You do not need the word of God plus other information from the Holy Spirit. It then follows undeniably that the direct operation of the Holy Spirit is not necessary to know the will of God, and since it is unnecessary, it does not happen.

To the Ephesian church, Paul says that when we read what he was given by revelation, we will understand what he has written by inspiration (Ephesians 3:3-4). The Bible is understandable. To say otherwise contradicts the propositional nature of Scripture. The fact that so many people misunderstand it does not mean it cannot be understood. It actually proves how willful and stubborn people are when they approach the Bible. Peter warns of Scripture twisters (Second Peter 2:1-2). They twist the easy stuff as well as the hard verses.

Propositional Nature Of Scripture

There are hard passages and difficult concepts in the Bible. One would expect that in a book that comes from the mind of God. Simply put, what God has revealed to us, He expects us to understand. Anyone who is willing to approach the Scriptures like a blank slate can understand the Bible just by honestly reading it (Acts 17:11; James 1:21). Seeing this is so, no one needs any direct aid from the Spirit in order to understand what the Bible says.

Consider how ridiculous it is to claim one needs the Spirit to understand and interpret the Bible. Imagine someone opening their Bible and they read “He that believes and is baptized will be saved.” That person says to themselves, I don’t get it, and then the Holy Spirit comes down and whispers in their ear, “It means that if someone were to believe and then be baptized, then that person will be saved.” And only following this does the reader say, Now I get it! This is foolishness. Since no one needs any direct operation of the Spirit to understand the Bible, no such direct operation occurs.

The Bible is good enough to convict someone (John 16:8). The Scriptures are sufficient to convert a sinner (Psalm 19:7). And the word of God is all you need to be sanctified (John 17:17). We don’t need the Bible plus anything else, much less any direct act of the Spirit. Since we don’t need it, we don’t’ get it. People who insist they have this unScriptural advantage are looking for justification to believe what they want to believe, and not what God intended. This is the acme of foolishness (Jeremiah 17:9; Proverbs 16:25).

Walk According To The Spirit

The work of the Spirit through the word He inspired is made clear in the first few verses of Romans 8, but are willfully misunderstood by poor study that begins with a conclusion and then seeks verification on behalf of the pneumafile. Paul uses a writing style common to his epistles where he explains something fully and refers to it in part later and it is expected to be understood in its fullest sense. He begins by stating that “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (v.1a). Those uncondemned are so because they “do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (v.1b).

The explanation for this is “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (v.2). The use of the Holy Spirit in the first verse and the several that follow are given a context here that cannot be escaped. These passages refer to the work of inspiration. There is a law, not the law of Moses (mentioned in contrast in verse 3), but a New Testament gospel law (Romans 3:27; First Corinthians 9:21; Galatians 6:2). This law inspired by the Holy Spirit provides eternal life for those who are in Christ. So to walk after the Spirit is to live in accordance with the law of the Spirit.

Christians are in the Spirit just as much as the Spirit is in us (v.9). This is something never really explained by the advocates of a literal and personal indwelling. This is followed by a reference to Christ being in us, which is something no one holds to be literal. Christ dwells in us to the degree that we have faith, which still comes from the word of God (Ephesians 3:17; Romans 10:17). Christ dwells in us through His word, as does the Spirit. Because the word of God directs our life, we are promised a bright future resurrection, which is another way of saying there is no condemnation.

We are led by the Spirit to put to death the lifestyle of the flesh (v.13-14). This again is the law of the Spirit that does this. The Spirit by the law of the Spirit bears joined testimony alongside our own spirit that we are the children of God. In other words, the Holy Spirit describes a faithful person and our own conscience declares we are faithful to the system and therefore obedient.

When one lives in accordance to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ, that person is in a state of non-condemnation. This submission to the law of the Spirit, the New Testament gospel system, is how one dwells in the Spirit and the Spirit dwells in that one. It is how one is led by the Spirit and allows one to offer their life as testimony that agrees with the testimony of the Spirit regarding adoption. All of this feeds into the temperament of being spiritually minded (v.6).

This article is a select reading from my book, Biblical Teachings Regarding The Holy Spirit. It is available on Amazon and Kindle. To order, click here.

 

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