What Does the Bible Teach through Paradoxes? by Kile Baker
Paradoxes are a unique way of communicating.
Somehow, two things are put together that communicate something profound through their contradiction.
Take these for example: Socrates famously said: “I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”
Which is it? Does he know nothing or the one thing which is nothing?
You can’t know both nothing and something!
Or what about Vince Lombardi’s observation: “Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.”
You can only have a habit if you do something over and over, and quitters don’t do that!
These are head-scratchers, right?
And these are just everyday paradoxes.
The Bible is full of them, and they’re immensely important in helping us understand God, ourselves, and the world.
What Is a Paradox?
If you were to google “paradox,” you’d probably get something like: “A self-contradictory statement that when explained may be true.”
It’s not a bad definition, but since we’re talking Scripture here, and Scripture is ultimately from God, the truth will be what we’re after.
We don’t want to know what may be true about God; we want to know what is true about God.
So here’s my definition: “A paradox is Truth, held in the tension of contradiction.”
Notice the capital “T”? It’s the big truth stuff, not just that 2+2=4 but the Truth about God’s nature, power, and interaction in the world.
It’s the big stuff! And since you’ll probably want to know how it affects you, let’s say it this way:
“Paradoxes are how we discover the Truth about you and God, in the tension of contradiction.”
So let’s do that. Here are three huge paradoxes found in Scripture that communicate something significant about you and God.
Paradox #1: With Jesus, impossible is the new possible.
Early on in Jesus’ ministry, His credentials were questioned pretty regularly.
People thought they knew His parents, where He was really from, who He was (and wasn’t), and what He was about.
But that all changed in a very crowded room, in a small house outside of Jerusalem in the 1st century.
Many people had gathered to hear Jesus teach, including His disciples, the house owners, the neighbors, the religious ruling class, and anyone who happened to be in the area.
Jesus was known as a teacher and a healer by this point, so a brave group of friends brought their immobile friend to Jesus to see if He could give the man the ability to walk.
At one point during the encounter, he asked what appeared to be a very easy question in Luke 5:23: “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?”
They all knew the answer to this question.
It was “Your sins are forgiven” because you couldn’t see forgiveness — but you could tell if a once crippled man could suddenly walk!
Jesus had already told the man that his sins were forgiven, which highly bothered the religious folk, while the rest of the people probably just shrugged.
How could you tell if it was true or not?
They may have just been words. And then Jesus complicates the matter a bit, because to the surprise of everyone in the room, the crippled is told to get up, take his mat and go home — and he can.
Uh oh, this is a bit awkward. If Jesus could do that, guess what else they had realized was a real possibility?
That Jesus could actually forgive sins. But if only God could do that, then what did that say about this man named Jesus?
Surely He was more than a man, right?
The Truth about God:
The Truth about God is that He often works in ways we see as improbable and impossible.
As Christians, we seem to think God simply can’t work in some ways, situations, or through certain circumstances.
People in the 1st century thought that too.
And then Jesus just caused them to question everything they thought was possible with God.
Maybe you should too?
The Truth About You:
The Truth about you is, you sometimes think that just because you can’t see God at work in the world or in your life, that He isn’t doing anything.
Maybe like the forgiveness that couldn’t be seen in the story, God is working in powerful ways in your life, but you just can’t see it or haven’t realized it yet?
Paradox #2: Suffering is a blessing.
I don’t know anyone who prays for and seeks suffering.
That wouldn’t be just weird, but wildly unhealthy. And yet, somehow, suffering is unique in the sense that God does some of His best work through it.
Through suffering, God brings something meaningful from something terrible.
God isn’t the cause of the suffering, but He can bring good from it.
The writer of Hebrews draws a direct correlation:
“In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what He suffered.”
There was no other way. As Christians, we usually highlight that God died for us, and rightly so, but it can be easy to forget that He also suffered for us.
God didn’t have to do that; He chose to.
It’s what makes the life of Jesus and His selfless act on our behalf even more incredible.
God allowed Himself to be humiliated, tortured, and finally killed — terrible things that we should have experienced if we take the impact of our sin against God seriously.
He truly blessed us through His suffering.
Through the loss of His life, we could gain ours.
Because He suffered, we could be blessed.
The Truth about God:
The Truth about God is, He suffered for you and me willingly.
It was the plan.
From the moment sin entered the world, God intended to suffer and die on your behalf.
God blessed us through His own suffering. How crazy is that!
The Truth About You:
The Truth about you is, you don’t want to suffer.
Not even for a moment, but there are some things we can only get through suffering.
Some parts of our faith can only be built and grown through suffering.
Don’t seek to suffer, but if it comes, see how God may be using it to draw you closer to Him.
Paradox #3: Bad news is good news. There are a ton of other paradoxes in the Bible, but let me mention just one more, and it’s an important one:
It’s the idea that bad news actually gets us to the good news.
When someone goes to the doctor, they’ll usually be given three pieces of information: the diagnosis, the prognosis, and the cure.
The diagnosis tells us what’s wrong with us. It may be as simple as “your arm is broken” to “you have cancer.”
The prognosis is what will happen to you if you’re left untreated.
If you don’t put your arm in a cast, it will remain crooked and broken, or if you don’t kill the cancer, it will kill you.
The cure is the treatment that will make your arm usable again or help you continue to live by killing the cancer.
Christianity has its own set of these three pieces of information.
The diagnosis is, we’ve “all fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) because of our sin.
It’s the default human condition.
The prognosis is “death” is the natural and spiritual consequence of being in and remaining in our sin (Romans 5:12).
The cure is that through Jesus Christ, we can receive the gift of eternal life from God (Romans 6:23) and that sin no longer is our master — God is.
Here’s the thing: the offer from God, the “good news” of how God has rescued us from ourselves through Christ, is more generous than we thought when we realize how bad the bad news is.
Without Christ, the bad news is that we’re terrible people who will naturally separate ourselves from God in this life temporarily and in the next life eternally if left to ourselves.
When we realize that’s our default state, that we’ve been incredibly offensive and harmful to God, it softens our hearts to the point of surrender when we’re confronted with the fact that instead of God leaving us to our flawed selves, He gave us His good self.
He’s the reason that the bad news paradoxically leads us to the good news.
The Truth about God:
The Truth about God is, He could have given us exactly what we deserved: to live life for ourselves, apart from Him for now and throughout eternity. It wouldn’t have been His fault at all.
The Truth About You:
The Truth about you (and I) is that apart from God, we don’t have a shred of goodness in us.
Jesus was clear when He said, “no one is good but God alone.” He’s right.
You and I aren’t good, but God is. And He chose to be good to us.
These are just three of the pivotal paradoxes in the Bible, but if you open it up and poke around for 5 minutes, you’ll find a lot more, including how God is both one in essence and three in personhood.
You’ll discover that Jesus Himself is a walking paradox as He is both God and man, both limitless and finite.
Paradoxes may be hard to understand, but they’re one of the best ways to understand who God is and how He operates.
The power of paradoxes is understanding that something that can’t be true actually is.
[Kile Baker is a former Atheist who didn’t plan on becoming a Christian, let alone a Pastor, who now writes to try and make Christianity simple.] ____
Also Paul points out that even our Christian Life is paradoxical, and we have to learn to embrace It…
In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul insisted on this paradox of being human, which is to say, in one sense, that we’re both morally frail and also morally aspiring.
In Romans 7, he confesses his own tragic doubleness:
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
In this, we’re a mystery to ourselves: We fail the good that we will, and indulge the evil that we hate.”
The fact is, we each prove Paul’s point every day.
And most importantly, the Bible teaches us about the most important paradox in order for us to live our lives in complete dedication to God…
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20).
To save one’s life, he or she must lose it. “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it” (Luke 17:33).
To be wise, we must become fools. “If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise” (I Corinthians 3:18).
To reign, we must serve. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things” (Matthew 25:21).
To be exalted, we must become humble. “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:12).
To be first, we must be last. “So the last shall be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16).
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things) ____
Wed, June 22 Minute Meditations
ENGAGING THE POWER OF PARADOX
A paradox may be described as “a contradiction with meaning written underneath.”
On the surface, it makes little or no sense.
Only the discerning eye (or heart) can perceive the underlying meaning.
A familiar example occurs in the writings of St. Paul:
“When I am weak then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9–11).
At a rational level, the statement makes no sense, yet many among us can recall experiences within which the statement rings true.
It is the mystic more than anybody else that can entertain and embrace this paradoxical wisdom.
This alternative consciousness, with its capacity for deeper perception and understanding, is not merely a feature of human life but an evolutionary endowment that characterizes all creation at the cosmic and planetary levels alike.
Birth and death are not merely human experiences; they characterize the whole of God’s creation.
On the planetary scale, earthquakes serve as a good example.
Metaphorically, an earthquake can be described as the earth-body releasing its pent-up energies, so that it can continue to grow and flourish in a more creative way.
Without earthquakes, we would have no earth, nor would any of us be around even to speculate on this baffling paradox of birth-death-rebirth.
[from the book Paschal Paradox: Reflections on a Life of Spiritual EVOLUTION, by Diarmuid O’Murchu, page 61-62] ____
25-26 “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion.
There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body.
Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
27-29 “Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch?
All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference?
Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers.
They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it?
The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?
What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.
People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works.
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions.
Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.
God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. ____
Seek Your Reward from God, Not from People
John chapter 6 starts out by instructing us, as Jesus’ followers, to live for God’s approval, and not the praise of man.
Jesus continued to indict the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy and lack of true righteousness, while instructing His followers in the way of righteousness
(v. 20). The Pharisees had missed the point about how a person becomes righteous.
They thought it was by works of law-keeping. Because the Pharisees had sought to establish their own righteousness, their self-righteousness could only produce hypocrisy.
They were masquerading as something they were not.
Jesus made it clear in 6:33 when He insisted that we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness from which all of life’s resources flow.
Hypocrisy is, of course, true of all of us from time to time, but Jesus was encouraging genuineness and true spirituality as opposed to hypocritical self-righteousness.
God despises appearance that is not reality (e.g., Ananias and Sapphira; Acts 5:1-10).
Don’t Worry (v. 25) In this passage Jesus strikes at the tendency to center our lives around food and clothing, thus missing life’s real meaning.
The problem is not so much what we eat and wear today, but what we shall eat and wear ten, twenty, or thirty years from now.
Such worry about the future is sin because it denies the love, wisdom, and power of God.
It denies the love of God by implying that He doesn’t care for us.
It denies His wisdom by implying that He doesn’t know what He is doing.
And it denies His power by implying that He isn’t able to provide for our needs.
This type of worry causes us to devote our finest energies to making sure we will have enough to live on.
Then before we know it, our lives have passed, and we have missed the central purpose for which we were made.
God did not create us in His image with no higher destiny than that we should consume food.
We are here to love, worship, and serve Him and to represent His interests on earth.
Our bodies are intended to be our servants, not our masters.
Because of the ill effects of worry, Jesus tells us not to worry about the needs that God promises to supply.
(1) Damage your health,
(2) Disrupt your productivity,
(3) Negatively affect the way you treat others,
(4) Rob your day of joy, and
(5) Reduce your ability to trust in God.
How many ill effects of worry are you experiencing?
Here is the difference between worry and genuine concern: Worry immobilizes you, but concern moves you to action.
SEVEN REASONS NOT TO WORRY
The same God who created life in you can be trusted with the details of your life.
6:26 Worrying about the future can make us so focused on work that we fail to attend to what is most important.
6:27 Worrying is more harmful than helpful.
6:28-30 God does not ignore those who depend on Him.
6:31-32 Worrying shows a lack of faith in and understanding of God.
6:33 Worrying keeps us from what God wants us to pursue.
6:34 Living one day at a time keeps us from being consumed with worry.
To “seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously” means to put God first in your life, to fill your thoughts with His desires, to use His character as your life’s pattern, and to keep on implementing His Kingdom values on earth.
What is really important to you?
People, objects, goals, and other desires all compete for priority.
Any of these can quickly become most important to you if you don’t actively choose to give God first place in every area of your life.
In Jesus’ Kingdom, worrying about daily needs leaves us empty.
But maintaining a good relationship with Him and loving others give us all these benefits as by-products.
Time devoted to planning for tomorrow is time well spent; time devoted to worrying about tomorrow is time wasted.
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference.
Careful planning is thinking ahead about goals, steps, and schedules, and trusting in God’s guidance.
When done well, planning helps alleviate worry.
Worrying, by contrast, consumes us with anxiety and makes it difficult for us to trust God.
Worriers let their obsession with plans and outcomes interfere with their relationship with God.
Don’t let worries about tomorrow affect your relationship with God today.
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things) ____
Tuesday, June 21 God At Eventide by Two Listeners
Appeal to Me often. Do not implore so much as claim My Help as your right.
It is yours in Friendship’s name. Claim it with a mighty, impelling insistence. It is yours.
Not so much Mine to give you, as yours; but yours because it is included in the Great Gift of Myself that I gave you.
An All-embracing Gift, a Wonder Gift. Claim, accept, use it. All is well.
Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:24-25) ____
God the Father has revealed His message and person through His only begotten Son, whom the Bible calls the Lamb of God…
An introduction to John’s gospel:
The words “Read This First” have taken an important role in the packaging of modern consumer products.
Most consumers think life is too short for instruction manuals, so the packagers state it plainly:
If you cannot read the manual, at least read this very important part.
“Read This First”—it is for your own good.
The Gospel of John makes a similar claim. It is the only book in the Bible that states its purpose clearly and succinctly:
It was written to tell individuals how to find eternal life (20:31).
Jesus is the Lamb of God…
“Veiled in flesh the godhead see; Hail the incarnate Deity, Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.” — Charles Wesley
John wastes no time in introducing Jesus to his readers as the Word of God, the Son of God, and the Lamb of God.
Unlike the writers of the three Synoptic Gospels, John introduces Jesus at the age of thirty and includes no information about His birth.
In the first eighteen verses of his book, John introduces the Lord. He begins by proclaiming that Jesus reveals God the Father and tells us that when He came to earth, God’s Son showed the human race what the Father was like—eternal, personal, and the Source of all life.
The word life appears no fewer than thirty-six times in this Gospel along with several other key words.
We could say that life establishes the central theme for the book.
We need only read the first verse of the Bible (Gen. 1:1) to understand the central issue of life, and it centers on the reality of God.
If there is a God (and there is), and if that God has spoken in history (and he has), then the most important thing in the world is to find out what He has said.
The Gospel of John is a loved and familiar book, but many who can quote important verses from its pages have a less-than-satisfactory grasp of its important theology.
Yet John wasted no time in introducing the key question:
“Who is Jesus Christ?”
In his presentation of Jesus as the Son of God, John started out with creation.
Everything that was ever made was made through Him; and without Him, nothing has ever been created.
Jesus was the Source of power in the original physical creation and in the spiritual creation by which people are brought to new life in Christ.
Do not forget that key word life.
John used it frequently in his Gospel, and he also used it thirteen times in his first epistle and seventeen more times in Revelation.
Here in this Gospel we have more than twenty-five percent of all New Testament references to life.
John wanted to make sure that everyone knew life is possible only through the Son of God.
Jesus Christ is the heart and core of the gospel.
Christianity is not a philosophy of life; it centers in a person who is the core of everything Christians believe.
Like His heavenly Father, Jesus reveals eternality, personality, deity, creativity, life, and light.
Some interpreters have translated the opening phrase of this Gospel,
“Before there was a beginning, the Word had been.”
Indeed, the familiar repetition of Genesis 1:1 almost looks as if John wrote a Gospel of two beginnings—a creation account that parallels physical birth and spiritual rebirth.
But it is important to notice that we are dealing with two beginnings, not creations.
The central focus of this verse is eternality.
Like His heavenly Father, Jesus always was and therefore existed at the beginning of time.
It is interesting that John should call Jesus the Word rather than some other name to introduce his book—interesting, but not surprising since the Jews often referred to God in such terminology.
The doctrine at stake here is the deity of Christ.
Jesus is God, and John wanted to make that point immediately.
In fact, this prologue (vv. 1-18) begins and ends with a strong statement of this doctrine.
The term Word (logos) would have been familiar to the Greeks as well.
Their understanding centered on ultimate reason or the rationale of the universe rather than the personal God revealed to Abraham and his descendants.
John claimed that the God of creation, the ultimate mind of the universe, had taken on human form; He had become incarnate.
The Bible allows no place for atheism and no room for doubt about how God has spoken—through the Word.
Before there was a beginning, the Word had been coequal with God throughout all eternity.
But what did the apostle mean by with God?
The Greek word is pros which literally means “toward,” implying a face-to-face relationship.
John would have neither atheism nor unitarianism (which is a form of Christianity that denies the doctrine of the Trinity) .
He told us later in his Gospel that the Godhead consists of a trinity, but here in verse 1 we learn plurality.
So Jesus, the Word, is eternal and personal.
Nothing can separate the heavenly Father from His Son.
Verse 2 merely emphasizes verse 1.
Gary Vanderet puts it this way:
“John intends that the entire book be read in light of this verse. The deeds and the words of Jesus are the deeds and words of God” (Vanderet, Prelude to Deity).
(1:3) Unlike the Gospel writers before him, John tells us that Jesus participated in creation and again states his case twice for emphasis.
Surely this is a deliberate link with Genesis, and it sets the stage for other New Testament Scriptures which show us Jesus’ involvement in creation:
“For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him” (Col. 1:16).
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe” (Heb. 1:1-2).
Creation is a foundational doctrine of the Christian faith.
Virtually every other aspect of theology rests upon our understanding of God as the origin of all life and of the role Jesus Christ, the Word, in creation.
John could hardly say it more clearly: without Him nothing was made that has been made— everything from subatomic particles to galaxies.
Only God who created all things can redeem them.
Creation is the foundation stone of the gospel.
Christ could not have been created, for He created all things.
There was a “historical Jesus,” but this terminology refers only to His thirty-three years on earth.
His life had no beginning, and it will have no end.
In verse 4 we find the first appearance of our key word—life.
The revelation of the Lamb was also the revelation of life.
No fewer than thirty-six times in John, we find the word zoe.
Jesus Christ the Creator provides physical life; Jesus Christ the Redeemer provides spiritual life; and Jesus Christ the Savior provides eternal life.
In this verse John also introduced another key word— light.
The Life becomes the Light of men.
Notice these positive terms. What a wonderful contrast to death and darkness.
In the Word, God’s person and power were revealed to humanity.
Here again we see a reference to creation since, in the Genesis account, light was the first evidence of God’s creative work.
God is always the Source of light and life.
Christ the Son, the Creator, provides life and light to humanity.
He alone is the life-giver and the light-bearer.
John is getting ready to write new lyrics to an old melody,
“With you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light” (Ps. 36:9).
(1:5) In this verse John picked up a common first-century theme, the symbols of light and darkness representing good and evil.
The word understood might be rendered “overcome.”
All the forces of Satan tried to prevent life and extinguish the light—but they could not.
These five verses tell us that Jesus came to the world with a message of hope, and He came from heaven where He had lived eternally with the Father.
The word rendered “understood” in the NIV is translated “seizes” in Mark 9:18 and “overtakes” in John 12:35.
God sent His light into the world, but mankind did not understand it, could not grasp it. But the world will never be able to defeat it.
So what does all of this mean for you and me?
Do you ever feel as though your life is too complex and your problems too profound for God to understand?
Remember, God created the entire universe, and nothing is too difficult for Him.
God also created you, He is alive today, and His love is bigger than any problem you may face.
When God created, He made something from nothing.
Because God created you from nothing, you have no basis for pride.
Remember that you exist only because God made you, and you have special gifts only because God gave them to you.
With God you are something valuable and unique; apart from God you are nothing.
If you try to live without Him, you will be abandoning the purpose for which you were made.
Why does Jesus’ life bring light to everyone?
Because physical death brings eternal darkness and only Jesus’ eternal life (His light) planted in us will keep us alive in His new Kingdom for eternity.
Jesus is eternally alive because He is God.
He came to earth to offer humankind the hope and light of His eternal life.
It can’t be purchased, only received as a gift. But Jesus gives it only to those who want it—those who want to live the way God’s citizens will live in His future eternal Kingdom.
“The darkness can never extinguish it” means that the darkness of evil never has and never will overcome God’s light.
Jesus Christ is the creator of life, and His life brings light to humankind (1:9).
In His light, we see ourselves as we really are—sinners in need of a Savior.
When we follow Jesus, the true Light, we can avoid walking blindly through the spiritual darkness that sin brings.
Jesus lights the path ahead of us, illuminating the truth and clarifying our thoughts so we can see how to live.
He removes the darkness of sin from our lives.
In what ways have you allowed the light of Jesus Christ to shine into your life?
Let Him guide you, and you’ll never need to stumble in darkness.
(1:8) We, like John the Baptist, are not sources of God’s light; we merely reflect that light.
Jesus Christ is the true Light; He helps us see our way to God and shows us how to walk along that way.
But Jesus has chosen to reflect His light through His followers to an unbelieving world, perhaps because unbelievers are not able to bear the full blazing glory of His light firsthand.
The word witness indicates our role as reflectors of Christ’s light.
We are never to present our own ideas as the light to others, but we are always to point them to the true Light, Jesus.
(vv. 10-11) Although Jesus created the world, the people He created didn’t recognize Him (1:10).
Even the people chosen by God to prepare the rest of the world for the Messiah rejected Him (1:11), although the entire Old Testament pointed to His coming.
(vv. 12-13) All who welcome Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives are reborn spiritually, receiving new life from God.
Through faith in Jesus, this new birth changes us from the inside out—rearranging our attitudes, desires, and motives.
Being born makes you physically alive and places you in your parents’ family (1:13).
Being born of God makes you spiritually alive and puts you in God’s family (1:12).
Have you asked Jesus to make you a new person?
This fresh start in life is available to all who believe in Him.
“The Word became human.” By doing this, Jesus became…
(1) The perfect teacher—in His life we see how God thinks and therefore how we should think (Philippians 2:5-11);
(2) The perfect example—as a model of what we are to become, He shows us how to live and gives us the power to live that way (1 Peter 2:21);
(3) The perfect sacrifice—Jesus came as a sacrifice for all sins, and His death satisfied God’s requirements for the removal of sin (Colossians 1:15-23).
Jesus became a human when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb.
He was not part human and part God; He was completely human and completely divine (Colossians 2:9).
Before Jesus came, people could know God only partially.
After Jesus came, people could know God more fully because He became visible and tangible in Jesus.
The two most common errors people make about Jesus are,
(1) To minimize His humanity by disregarding how He identifies with us in our human bodies and
(2) To minimize His deity by rejecting what He has single-handedly done for us in His death and resurrection.
But Jesus is both God and man.
(v. 14) “The Father’s one and only Son” emphasizes the uniqueness of Jesus.
All believers are called “children of God,” but Jesus is one of a kind and enjoys a perfect relationship with God the Father.
God’s law in the Old Testament revealed His nature and showed people how to live His way.
God’s unfailing love and faithfulness also reveal His nature to us.
Moses emphasized God’s law and justice, while Jesus Christ came to highlight God’s mercy, love, faithfulness, and forgiveness.
Moses could only be the giver of the law, while Christ came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17).
Previously, the law revealed God’s nature and His will; now Jesus Christ reveals the nature and will of God.
Rather than coming through impersonal stone tablets, God’s revelation now comes through a dynamic, living person.
As we get to know Jesus better in John’s Gospel, our understanding of God will greatly increase.
God communicated through various people in the Old Testament, usually prophets who were told to give specific messages (Hebrews 1:1-2).
But no one ever saw God.
They saw His glory but not His form.
Jesus is both God and the Father’s unique Son.
In Him God revealed His nature and essence in a way that could be seen and touched.
In Jesus, God became a man who lived on earth. ____
From Max Lucado’s Life Lessons:
The Greeks and the Jews were familiar with the concept of the word. For the Jews it was an expression of God’s wisdom, and for the Greeks it meant reason and intellect.
Leaving His heavenly home, Jesus put on human flesh to bring us God’s Good News.
For John and Andrew, it wasn’t enough to listen to John the Baptist.
Most would have been content to serve in the shadow of the world’s most famous evangelist.
Could there be a better teacher?
Only one. And when John and Andrew saw Him, they left John the Baptist and followed Jesus.
Note the request they made. “Rabbi,” they asked, “where are You staying?” (John 1:38).
Pretty bold request. They didn’t ask Jesus to give them a minute or an opinion or a message or a miracle.
They asked for His address.
They wanted to hang out with Him. They wanted to know Him. They wanted to know what caused His head to turn and His heart to burn and His soul to yearn.
They wanted to study His eyes and follow His steps.
They wanted to see Him. They wanted to know what made Him laugh and if He ever got tired.
And most of all, they wanted to know, Could Jesus be who John said He was—and if He is, what on earth is God doing on the earth?
You can’t answer such a question by talking to His cousin; you’ve got to talk to the man Himself.
Jesus’ answer to the disciples? “Come and see” (v. 39).
He didn’t say, “Come and glance” or “Come and peek.”
He said, “Come and see.” Bring your bifocals and binoculars.
There is no time for side-glances or occasional peeks.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
The disciple fixes his eyes on the Savior. (From 3:16 by Max Lucado)
If people want to know what God is like, they can look at Jesus.
If they want to know what Jesus is like, they should be able to look at His followers.
Can people see Christ in you?
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things) ____
Tuesday, June 21 The Berean Daily Verse and Comment
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” — John 1:12
The word right means “authority” or “power.”
This right applies to us, the called of God.
Jesus came to give us abundant life and ultimately to save us.
We cannot let ourselves feel as though we were behind the door when the gifts of God’s Holy Spirit were handed out.
He has given all whom He has called—all who have received Him—the power to become a son of God.
We have that authority.
God is faithful and true to what Paul writes in I Corinthians 10:13, that He never gives us a trial that is too great for us.
He has granted us the power to overcome.
We have it, but most of the time, we do not use the gifts He has given.
We perhaps lack the patience or the faith, and we back away from the challenge that He has put before us.
But He remains faithful to His promise; the power is there.
After all, we have the Holy Spirit, the very power that created the earth. Though we do not have it in the measure that we will eventually have it, we have enough to do the job that God has given us to do.
John 1:12 also mentions “those who believe in His name.”
“Name” to a Hebrew person indicates what the person is, and not the phonetic sound that is attached to this particular person.
My name is John; that name identifies me.
But to a Hebrew, the name of “Yahshua” or “Jesus” would not just identify the Person of Jesus, but he or she would take the name to indicate what He is—His character.
This principle carries over into English.
When someone mentions another individual to us, we immediately think about that person’s personality, the way he does things, the way he speaks, his mannerisms, his reputation, etc.
If we hear the President’s name, we instantly mentally conjure some of his characteristics. They flash before our minds.
Those who believe in Christ’s name will be saved.
Those who will become sons of God in the fullest sense are those who trust in, rely upon, and conduct their lives according to what God is—what Jesus Christ is.
He is Lord. He is Master. He is Savior. He is Healer. He is Creator. He is Shepherd. He is Lawgiver. He is faithful to His promises.
Everything that Jesus Christ reveals to us about His personality and character is wrapped up in His name.
So, we have to conduct our lives within the framework of trusting in that name.
That is what will lead to eternal life. Because we trust and rely on His name, we will obey. We will have certain godly attitudes. We will submit.
Not everyone who comes to Jesus and says Lord Lord shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven…
Jesus said, “Only those will enter who do the will of my Father in Heaven.”
Matthew 7:21-29 The Message
21-23 Jesus speaking: “Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me.
What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills.
I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our super-spiritual projects had everyone talking.’
And do you know what I am going to say?
‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’
24-25 “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living.
They are foundational words, words to build a life on.
If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock.
Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.
26-27 “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach.
When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”
28-29 When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause.
They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying—quite a contrast to their religion teachers!
This was the best teaching they had ever heard. ____
Build your house on rock and not sand:
(v. 21) The Lord Jesus warns against people who falsely profess to acknowledge Him as Savior, but have never been converted.
Not everyone who calls Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven.
Only those who do the will of God enter the kingdom.
The first step in doing the will of God is to believe on the Lord Jesus (John 6:29).
On judgment day when unbelievers stand before Christ (Rev. 20:11–15), many will remind Him that they prophesied, or cast out demons, or performed many wonders—all in His name.
But their protestation will be in vain. Jesus will declare to them that He never knew them or acknowledged them as His own.
Judgment Day is the final day of reckoning when God will settle all accounts, judging sin and rewarding faith.
(vv. 24-27) The two people Jesus compares at the end of the Sermon on the Mount have several points in common: they both build, they both hear Jesus’ teaching, and they both experience the same set of circumstances in life.
The difference between them isn’t lack of knowledge but that one ignores Jesus’ words.
Externally their lives may look similar, but the lasting, structural differences will be revealed by the storms of life.
When you follow Jesus, the immediate differences between your life and the lives of others may not be obvious at first, but the benefits will eventually affect your eternal destiny.
Are you a wise builder, practicing the powerful teachings and promises Jesus gave in this sermon?
To build “on solid rock” means to be a hearing, responding disciple, not a phony, superficial one.
Practicing obedience forms the solid foundation, enabling us to weather the storms of life.
We learn how to do this by following God’s Word as He intended.
(See James 1:22-27 for more on putting into practice what we hear.)
Like a house of cards, the fool’s life crumbles. Most people do not deliberately seek to build on a false or inferior foundation; instead, they just don’t think about their life’s purpose.
Many people are headed for destruction—not always out of stubbornness, but sometimes out of thoughtlessness or ignorance.
Can you help others stop and think about where their lives are headed?
What can you do to point out the consequences of ignoring Jesus’ message and help people see the benefits of following him?
The teachers of religious law (religious scholars) often cited traditions and quoted authorities to support their arguments and interpretations.
But Jesus spoke with a new authority—His own. He didn’t need to quote anyone because He is the original Word (John 1:1).
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things) ____
Monday, June 20 cFaith Pursuit of His Presence
A WORD TO THE WISE by Gloria Copeland
“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock” (Matt. 7:24-25).
For years now I’ve been telling people to spend time in the Word. Almost everywhere I preach, no matter what topic I’m talking about, it seems I always get back to the importance of putting the Word first place in my life.
You may have heard me say it a hundred times. But you know, hearing it isn’t enough. It’s doing it that will give you success.
Jesus taught us that principle in Matthew 7. There He told about two men. Both of them had heard the Word, yet Jesus said one of the men was foolish and the other wise.
What made the difference between the two?
The wise man acted on what he heard and the foolish man didn’t.
You may know full well that you need to spend time in the Word. But unless you act on that knowledge, it won’t do you any good when the storms of life come.
So take action! Begin now to set aside time for the Word each day.
Begin now making it the number one priority on your schedule. Don’t wait until you’re faced with some terrible situation or some storm of life to do it.
Have you ever tried to build a house in a storm?
Ken has been through several hurricanes, and he has seen the wind blow so hard that coconuts shot through the air like cannonballs.
Just think about some poor fellow out there trying to build his house with the wind blowing at 120 mph!
Don’t do that. Don’t wait until you’re desperate to make time for the Word. Make the decision and start today.
Then, when the storms of life come against your house, you’ll be sitting inside in front of the fireplace just rocking and praising God.
You’ll be glad that you didn’t let the devil talk you into being too busy for the Word.
Speak the Word: I am a wise man because I hear God’s words and I do them. (Matt. 7:24)
Paul wrote this letter to the church in Corinth while he was visiting Ephesus during his third missionary journey (Acts 19:1–20:1).
Corinth and Ephesus faced each other across the Aegean Sea.
Paul knew the Corinthian church well because he had spent 18 months in Corinth during his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-18).
While in Ephesus, he had heard about problems in Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:11).
Around the same time, a delegation from the Corinthian church had visited Paul to ask his advice about their conflicts (16:17).
Paul’s purpose for writing was to correct those problems and to answer questions church members had asked in a previous letter (7:1).
Corinth had a sordid history.
Strabo (a Greek geographer, philosopher, Archaeologists, who lived between 64 or 63 BC to 24 AD) claimed the city had one thousand temple prostitutes servicing the temple of Aphrodite on the Acrocorinth.
Archaeologists have discovered many clay models of human genitalia offered to Asclepius, the god of healing, presumably to petition him to heal venereal disease. But that perverse city was destroyed by Rome in 146 B.C.
The Corinth Paul knew had been rebuilt on the site of the ancient city by the Roman emperor Julius Caesar in 44 B.C.
It was populated largely by freemen whose status was barely above that of slave.
It was a center for international trade, attracting people from all over the world.
It followed Roman laws and culture and Greek philosophy and art.
Corinth’s religious composition varied greatly, including worship of the Roman and Greek gods, the mystery cults from Asia and Egypt, and Judaism.
Because of its commercial strength, the city possessed wealth.
These riches brought all kinds of people to populate the area: the educated and sophisticated; people seeking their fortunes; prostitutes and criminals.
The Corinthian church itself contained people who had been sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals offenders, thieves, greedy, drunkards, slanderers, and swindlers (see 6:9-11).
Not many were “wise by human standards,” “influential,” or “of noble birth” (1:26).
Rather, they were “foolish,” “weak,” and “despised” (1:27-28), and some were certainly “slaves” (7:21-22; 12:13).
Given the nature of Corinth and its people, and of the Corinthian church itself, it is no wonder that Paul reminded the church that it had been “sanctified” or set apart as God’s people, and was “called to be holy” (1:2).
“Holy” referred to the fact that the church was to remain dedicated to God as His people, and that it was to be pure.
It may have been a remembrance of the church’s formerly deplorable members that caused Paul to be so thankful for the “grace” given to the Corinthian church (1:4), and for their spiritual gifting which “confirmed” that they had believed the gospel (1:5-6).
Paul reminded them that Christ would keep them strong until the end because their past lifestyles tugged strongly at them through the influence of the Corinthian society and culture (1:8; cf. 12:2).
Central to Paul’s thinking in all his letters was the concept of being “in Christ” (1:2, 4).
He used this exact phrase seventy-three times and frequently employed related phrases and concepts.
This complex idea incorporates both a legal and an experiential aspect.
On the one hand, “in Christ” refers to the fact that believers are covered by Christ’s imputed righteousness (Rom. 5:15-19; Gal. 2:17).
Because Christ has died for them and imputed His righteousness to them, believers stand before God’s judgment throne with Christ’s own status.
They are accounted righteous because Christ stands in their place as their representative.
On the other hand, “in Christ” is also much like John’s term “abide” (John 15:1-7, NASB), meaning that Christ lives within believers, and they live in Him (Rom. 6:23; Gal. 3:28).
It refers to an intimate union that affects believers on the level of their very being.
(1:4) Having concluded his salutation, the apostle now turns to thanksgiving for the Corinthians and for the wonderful work of God in their lives (vv. 4–9).
It was a noble trait in Paul’s life that always sought to find something thankworthy in the lives of his fellow believers.
If their practical lives were not very commendable, then he would at least thank his God for what He had done for them.
This is exactly the case here.
The Corinthians were not what we would call spiritual Christians. But Paul can at least give thanks for the grace of God which was given to them by Christ Jesus.
(1:5) The particular way in which God’s grace was manifested to the Corinthians was in their being richly endowed with gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Paul specifies gifts of utterance and all knowledge, presumably meaning that the Corinthians had been given the gifts of tongues, interpretation of tongues, and knowledge to an extraordinary degree.
Utterance has to do with outward expression and knowledge with inward comprehension.
(1:6) The fact that they had these gifts was a confirmation of God’s work in their lives, and that is what Paul means when he says, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you.
They heard the testimony of Christ, they received it by faith, and God testified that they were truly saved by giving them these miraculous powers.
(1:7) As far as the possession of gifts was concerned, the Corinthian church was not inferior to any other. But the mere possession of these gifts was not in itself a mark of true spirituality.
Paul was really thanking the Lord for something for which the Corinthians themselves were not directly responsible.
Gifts are given by the ascended Lord without regard to a person’s own merit.
If a person has some gift, he should not be proud of it but use it humbly for the Lord.
The fruit of the Spirit is another matter entirely.
This involves the believer’s own surrender to the control of the Holy Spirit.
The apostle could not commend the Corinthians for evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, but only for what the Lord had sovereignly bestowed on them—something over which they had no control.
Later in the Epistle the apostle will have to reprove the saints for their abuse of these gifts, but here he is content to express thanks that they had received these gifts in such unusual measure.
The Corinthian church members had all the spiritual gifts they needed to live the Christian life, to witness for Jesus, and to stand against the paganism and immorality of Corinth.
But instead of using what God had given them, they were arguing over which gifts were most important.
Paul addresses this issue in depth in 1 Corinthians 12 through 14.
(1:7-9) Before tackling the problems, Paul described his hope for the Corinthians.
He guaranteed these believers that God would keep them strong to the end and consider them free from all blame when Christ returns (also see Ephesians 1:7-10).
This guarantee was not because of their great abilities, spiritual gifts, or shining performances but because of what Jesus Christ accomplished for them through his death and resurrection.
All who believe in the Lord Jesus are in partnership with Him and will be considered blameless when He returns (also see 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Hebrews 9:28).
Today’s struggles, difficulties, and failures don’t tell the whole story. Keep the big picture in mind.
If you have faith in Jesus, even if it is weak, you are and will be saved.
(1:10-11) Like a frustrated coach watching his team bicker on the court, Paul called for a time-out.
He saw the danger of divisions and arguments.
The Corinthian believers’ lack of unity was obvious.
They may have been playing in the same “uniform,” but they were doing as much as the opposition to bring about their own defeat.
The problems weren’t so much differences of opinion as divided allegiances.
They were arguing over which position on the team was most important in a way that made them ineffective as a unit.
Harmony is beautiful—in families, in friendships, at work, at church.
Harmony, however, does not require everyone to hold the same opinions about everything.
There is a difference between having opposing viewpoints and being divisive.
A group of people will not agree on every issue, but they can work together harmoniously if they agree on what truly matters—Jesus Christ as Lord of all.
Focus on Jesus and the purpose He has for you.
Speak and act in a way that will reduce arguments and increase harmony.
Petty differences should never divide Christians.
(1:10) Paul founded the church in Corinth on his second missionary journey.
Eighteen months after he left, arguments and divisions arose, and some church members slipped back into an immoral lifestyle.
Paul wrote this letter to address the problems and to clear up confusion about right and wrong so that the believers would remove the immorality from among them.
The Corinthian people had a reputation for jumping from fad to fad; Paul wanted to keep Christianity from degenerating into just another fad.
(1:10) By saying “brothers and sisters,” Paul was emphasizing that all Christians are part of God’s family.
Believers share a unity that runs even deeper than that of blood brothers and sisters.
(1:12-13) In the large and diverse Corinthian church, the believers favored different preachers.
Because as yet they had no written New Testament, they depended heavily on preaching and teaching for spiritual insight into the meaning of the Old Testament.
Some preferred Paul, who had founded their church; some who had heard Peter in Jerusalem followed him; others listened only to Apollos, an eloquent and popular preacher who had had a dynamic ministry in Corinth (Acts 18:24; 19:1).
Although these three preachers were united in their message, their personalities attracted different people.
At this time the church was in danger of dividing.
By mentioning Jesus Christ ten times in the first ten verses, Paul makes it clear that all preachers and teachers should emphasize God’s message, which is much more important than any human messenger.
(1:12-13) Paul asks whether the Corinthians’ quarrels had “divided” Christ.
This is a graphic picture of what happens when the church (the body of Christ) divides into factions.
With the many churches and styles of worship available today, we could get caught up in the same game of “My preacher is better than yours!”
To do so would be like trying to divide Christ yet again. But Christ cannot be divided, and His true followers should not allow anything to divide them.
Don’t let your appreciation for any teacher, preacher, or author lead you into false pride or misplaced devotion.
Maintain your allegiance to Christ and to the unity He desires.
(1:17) When Paul said that Christ didn’t send him to baptize, he wasn’t minimizing the importance of baptism.
Baptism was commanded by Jesus Himself (Matthew 28:19) and practiced by the early church (Acts 2:41).
Paul was emphasizing that no one person should do everything. Paul’s gift and calling was preaching, and that’s what he did.
Christian ministry should be a team effort; no preacher or teacher is a complete link between God and people, and no individual can do all that the apostles did collectively.
We shouldn’t compare ourselves with others, and we should be content with the contribution God has given us to make and carry it out wholeheartedly. (For more on different gifts, see 1 Corinthians 12–13.)
(1:17) Some speakers use impressive words, but they are weak on content.
Paul stressed solid content and practical help for his listeners.
He wanted them to be impressed with his message, not his style (see 2:1-5).
You don’t need to be a great speaker with a large vocabulary to share the Good News effectively.
The story, not the storyteller, has the persuasive power.
Paul was not against those who carefully prepare what they say (see 2:6) but against those who try to impress others with their own knowledge or speaking ability.
(1:19) Paul summarizes Isaiah 29:14 to emphasize a point Jesus often made:
God’s way of thinking differs from the world’s way (normal human wisdom).
God also offers eternal life, which the world can never give.
Someone can spend a lifetime accumulating human wisdom and yet never learn how to have a personal relationship with God.
We must come to the crucified and risen Christ to receive eternal life and the joy of a personal relationship with our Savior.
(1:22-24) Many Jews considered the Good News of Jesus Christ to be foolish because they thought the Messiah would be a conquering king accompanied by signs and miracles.
Jesus had not restored David’s throne as they had expected.
Besides, He was executed as a criminal, and how could a criminal be a savior?
Greeks, too, considered the Good News foolish:
They did not believe in a bodily resurrection, they did not see in Jesus the powerful characteristics of their mythological gods, and they thought no reputable person would be crucified.
To them, death was defeat, not victory.
The Good News of Jesus Christ still sounds foolish to many.
Our society worships power, influence, and wealth.
Jesus came as a humble, poor servant, and He offers entrance into His Kingdom to those who humbly come to Him in faith, not to those who are wise, mighty, powerful, influential, or who try to earn salvation through good deeds.
The Christian faith looks foolish to the world, but knowing Christ personally is the greatest wisdom anyone can have.
(1:25) The message of Christ’s death for sins sounds foolish to those who don’t believe it.
Death seems to be the end of the road, the ultimate weakness.
But Jesus did not stay dead.
His resurrection demonstrated His power over even death.
And He will save us from eternal death and give us everlasting life if we trust Him as Savior and Lord.
This sounds so simple that many people won’t accept it.
They try other ways to obtain eternal life, but all their attempts are futile.
The people who may seem foolish for simply accepting Jesus’ offer are actually the wisest of all because they alone will live eternally with God.
(1:27) Does Christianity oppose rational thinking?
Christians clearly do believe in using their minds to weigh the evidence and make wise choices (see 14:15-16).
Here Paul declares that no amount of human knowledge can replace or bypass Christ’s work on the cross.
If it could, Christ would be accessible only to the intellectually gifted and well educated, and not to ordinary people or to children.
(1:28-31) Paul continues to emphasize that the way to receive salvation is so simple that any person who wants to can understand it.
Skill and wisdom do not get a person into God’s Kingdom—simple faith does.
So no one can boast that personal achievements helped him or her secure eternal life.
Salvation comes totally from God through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
We can do NOTHING to earn our salvation; we need only to accept what Jesus has already done for us.
(1:30) God is our Source and the reason for our personal relationships with Christ Jesus.
Our union and identification with Christ result in our having God’s wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3), being in right standing with God (2 Corinthians 5:21), being pure (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7), and having the penalty for our sins paid by Jesus (Mark 10:45).
Verse 30 emphasizes even further that all we are and have comes from Him—not from philosophy, and that there is therefore no room for human glory.
First of all, Christ became for us wisdom.
He is the wisdom of God (v. 24), the One whom God’s wisdom chose as the way of salvation.
When we have Him we have a positional wisdom that guarantees our full salvation.
Secondly, He is our righteousness.
Through faith in Him we are reckoned righteous by a holy God.
Thirdly, He is our sanctification.
In ourselves we have nothing in the way of personal holiness, but in Him we are positionally sanctified, and by His power we are transformed from one degree of sanctification to another.
Finally, He is our redemption, and this doubtless speaks of redemption in its final aspect when the Lord will come and take us home to be with Himself, and when we shall be redeemed—spirit, soul, and body.
Stewart Traill (1936–2018) delineated the truth sharply:
Wisdom out[side] of Christ is damning folly—righteousness out[side] of Christ is guilt and condemnation—sanctification out[side] of Christ is filth and sin—redemption out[side] of Christ is bondage and slavery.
A. T. Pierson (1837-1911) relates verse 30 to the life and ministry of our Lord:
His deeds and His words and His practices, these show Him as the wisdom of God.
Then come His death, burial, and resurrection: these have to do with our righteousness.
Then His forty days’ walk among men, His ascension up on high, the gift of the Spirit, and His session at the right hand of God, have to do with our sanctification.
Then His coming again, which has to do with our redemption.
(1:31) God has so arranged it that all these blessings should come to us in the LORD.
Paul’s argument therefore is, “Why glory in men?
They cannot do any one of these things for you.” ____
From Life Lessons, by Max Lucado
One of my Boy Scout assignments was to build a kite.
One of my blessings as a Boy Scout was a kite-building dad.
He built a lot of things: scooters on skates, go-carts.
Why, he even built our house.
A kite to him was stick figures to Van Gogh.
Could handle them in his sleep. With wood glue, poles, and newspaper, we fashioned a sky-dancing masterpiece: red, white, and blue, and shaped like a box.
We launched our creation on the back of a March wind.
But after some minutes, my kite caught a downdraft and plunged.
I tightened the string, raced in reverse, and did all I could to maintain elevation.
But it was too late. She Hindenburged earthward.
Envision a redheaded, heartsick twelve-year-old standing over his collapsed kite.
That was me.
Envision a square-bodied man with ruddy skin and coverall, placing his hand on the boy’s shoulder.
That was my kite-making dad.
He surveyed the heap of sticks and paper and assured,
“It’s okay. We can fix this.”
I believed him. Why not? He spoke with authority.
So does Christ. To all whose lives feel like a crashed kite, He says, “We can fix this.
Let Me teach you. Let Me teach you how to handle your money, long Mondays, and cranky in-laws.
Let Me teach you why people fight, death comes, and forgiveness counts.
But most of all, let Me teach you why on earth you are on this earth.”
Don’t we need to learn?
We know so much, and yet we know so little.
The age of information is the age of confusion: much know-how, hardly any know-why.
We need answers. Jesus offers them. But can we trust Him?
Only one way to know.
(From 3:16 by Max Lucado)
Human wisdom tells us to get as much as we can, believe only what we can see, enjoy pleasure, and avoid pain.
God’s wisdom tells us to give all we can, believe what we can’t see, enjoy service, and expect persecution.
Faith and Trust makes all the difference!
So here’s the deal, Christ did for each of us what we could not do for ourselves.
The Bible tells us that, “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; and behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor 5:17).
If we truly have had this born-again encounter with Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, who now indwells each of our lives, then our lives will never be the same again.
As Paul declared, in his own faith, this is the reckoning that we each must make every single day of our lives..
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by FAITH in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
And also in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul tells us…
“…do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
God tells us in His Word that His ultimate mission and design, for all mankind, is that after we are born-again, by the will of the Father and by the power of the Holy Spirit, (and then having entered the school of the Holy Spirit), that we each be conformed into the image of His Son – Jesus Christ!
Romans 8:28-30 New King James Version
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. ____
Knowing Jesus intellectually as an historic figure it’s not salvation and it’s not what being born-again is about!
I should know because that’s where I started, as a nominal Christian (in name only), who knew Jesus only as an historic figure, but did not have a relationship with Him.
Knowing about Christ is not what salvation is.. salvation happens as we come into relationship with Him and submit to Him as both our Lord and Savior.
Listen to what Jesus says on the subject…
Matthew 7:21-23 New King James Version
I Never Knew You 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’
23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ____
The Bible tells us that, “…for by grace (unmerited favor) we are saved through FAITH, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Eph 2:8-9).
So it’s God’s grace mixed with our faith that saves us; and salvation cannot happen without both together.
And we learn in Hebrews 11 about how faith works, and that “Faith is ACTION, based UPON our belief in God and the truth of His Word, which faith is sustained by the confidence that when God promises something God will keep His promise.”
The word for faith, in Greek is Pistis, and by definition it goes well beyond intellectual assent, and it requires our taking action in obedience to God’s Word.
The action that we take in salvation is obeying the gospel message, receiving Christ as both our Savior and Lord, and then recognizing that having done that, that our lives are no longer our own!
The faith/obedience connection, and our dying to self and taking up our cross daily must then continue thereafter, every day of our lives, until we graduate to Glory.
Matthew 16:24-25 New King James Version
Take Up the Cross and Follow Him 24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
In John 14:15, 23 Jesus says…
15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.
23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and (then) We will come to him and make Our home with him.
And finally in 1 John 2:6 we are told…
“He who says he abides in Him (Christ) ought himself also to walk just as He (Jesus) walked.
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things) ____
Sunday, June 19 The Berean Daily Verse and Comment on…
1 Corinthians 1:30 New King James Version
“But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption”
Protestants hang on this verse because on its face it seems to say that Christ did all the work for us—that we are made righteous, sanctified, and redeemed by accepting His sacrifice for us, and we need do no more.
Upon closer study, though, this verse says that Jesus is our example in these matters; He embodies these virtues.
Just as He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), He is wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
If we walk as He walked, we will be wise, righteous, holy, and saved!
As the whole context shows, God will amaze and shame the world by taking the foolish, weak, and base, and creating them into children like His Son (cf. Luke 10:21).
Even as nothing just appears as a finished product, so His children will go through a process of development, and this process follows the same one that Jesus Christ experienced in His life (John 8:12; I Corinthians 11:1; I John 2:6; etc.).
This is where the Protestant gospel fails. It proclaims “by grace you have been saved through faith” alone (a word not found in Ephesians 2:8, yet added by Martin Luther), and discounts works entirely as a vehicle for building character because, in their view, we are already righteous and holy through Christ.
True, we are not saved by works (verse 9), but Paul emphatically asserts that God is creating us in Christ for good works (verse 10).
James adds that works exhibit and stimulate faith (James 2:18, 22, 24, 26).
Works, then, are a tool to build as well as a product of godly character.
The gospel, then, is more than an announcement of salvation to mankind.
It is a roadmap that teaches us what we must do to be saved—not just justified by Christ’s sacrifice, but also born into the Kingdom of God!
Between justification and glorification is sanctification, the process of becoming holy and righteous as He is, and the gospel explains how that is accomplished.
Though that process does not save us, we will not be saved without it! — Richard T. Ritenbaugh
God’s word alone is a Lamp unto my feet (Ps 119:105)
“Keep one thing forever in view—the truth; and if you do this, though it may seem to lead you away from the opinion of men, it will assuredly conduct you to the throne of God.” — Horace Mann
In Psalm 119, after seeking his direction in life from God’s Word, the psalmist declares that God’s Word is a lamp to his feet, giving light for his path in life.
And having seen the divinely illumined Way, he has taken an oath to follow God’s righteous laws.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 The Message
14-17 But don’t let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers—why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother’s milk!
There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way.
Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. ____
When Paul speaks of all Scripture, he is definitely referring to the complete OT, but also to those portions of the NT that were then in existence.
In 1 Timothy 5:18, he quotes the Gospel of Luke (10:7) as Scripture.
And Peter speaks of Paul’s Epistles as Scriptures (2 Pet. 3:16).
Today we are justified in applying the verse to the entire Bible.
This is one of the most important verses in the Bible on the subject of inspiration.
It teaches that the Scriptures are God-breathed.
In a miraculous way, He communicated His word to men and led them to write it down for permanent preservation.
What they wrote was the very word of God, inspired and infallible.
While it is true that the individual literary style of the writer was not destroyed, it is also true that the very words he used were words given to him by the Holy Spirit.
Thus we read in 1 Corinthians 2:13: “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
If this verse says anything at all, it says that the inspired writers used WORDS which the Holy Spirit taught.
This is what is meant by verbal inspiration. The writers of the Bible did not give their own private interpretation of things, but wrote the message which was given to them by God.
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:20, 21).
It is false to say that God simply gave the thoughts to the individual writers and allowed them to express these thoughts in their own words.
The truth insisted on in the Scriptures is that the very words originally given by God to men were God-breathed.
Because the Bible is the word of God, it is profitable.
Every portion of it is profitable. Although man might wonder about some of the genealogies or obscure passages, yet the Spirit-taught mind will realize that there is spiritual nourishment in every word that has proceeded from the mouth of God.
The Bible is profitable for doctrine, or teaching.
It sets forth the mind of God with regard to such themes as the Trinity, angels, man, sin, salvation, sanctification, the church, and future events.
Again, it is profitable for reproof.
As we read the Bible, it speaks to us pointedly concerning those things in our lives which are displeasing to God.
Also, it is profitable for refuting error and for answering the tempter.
Again, the word is profitable for correction.
It not only points out what is wrong but sets forth the way in which it can be made right.
For instance, the Scriptures not only say, “Let him who stole steal no longer,” but add, “Rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give to him who has need.”
The first part of the verse might be considered as reproof, whereas the second part is correction.
Finally, the Bible is profitable for instruction in righteousness.
The grace of God teaches us to live godly lives, but the word of God traces out in detail the things which go to make up a godly life.
In the following interview, Jordan Peterson leaves Joe Rogan SPEECHLESS on this very subject, regarding the Bible’s immense importance in the formation of our history and culture.
In this interview with Joe Rogan, recorded back in January of 2018, Jordan Peterson related his newfound understanding of the relationship of the Bible to truth.
He had just gone through the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC and that event seemed to coincide with this new revelation for Peterson.
“I just figured this out this week.” He told Rogan.
To sum up Peterson’s explanation, he was stating that our culture is coming apart because any culture is based on a set of common beliefs and the ability to communicate those beliefs.
Culture needs a framework or a structure.
Even our ability to communicate is based upon the use of words and word meaning is determined by usage.
However, the authoritative usage of words is most greatly influenced by fundamental works of literature in the culture.
The examples for the fundamental writers that formed the words, language, and therefore the structure of our culture would be Shakespeare, Dante, and Milton.
Underlying all of those is the Holy Bible.
The role of the Bible, according to Peterson, in forming our common truth is absolute and inarguable.
Jordan Peterson goes on to say in the interview that,
“It’s not that the Bible is true. It’s that the Bible is the prerequisite for the manifestation of truth, which makes it far more true than just ‘true.’
It’s a whole different kind of truth, and that’s not just literally the case – in fact – it can’t be otherwise.
This is the only way to solve the problem of perception.”
He goes on to say,
“What you have in the figure of Christ is a real person who actually lived, more of a myth, and in some sense Christ is the union of those two things, the problem is, I probably believe that, but I’m amazed at my own belief and don’t understand it.”
What Peterson is saying here is the same thing that Christian apologists have been saying for nearly 2000 years, with Jesus being the only figure standing on the stage of history, who for those who have read and have studied the Bible, is the central figure and focus of every chapter and verse.
Peterson is basically saying the same thing that another former atheist turned Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis, said in 1944.
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
The message of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is an instruction manual for life, and in its pages God has given mankind a road map, showing the way for God’s lost children to have their sins forgiven and be reconciled back into God’s family.
This is much too important a message to have left to the whims of man’s fickle and changeable imagination.
Jesus made it very clear that there is only one way to gain reconciliation with God, and that is through the propitious work and shed blood of Christ on Calvary’s Cross.
In John 14:6,
Jesus said to him, “I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE. No one comes to the Father except through Me.“
We find in the Bible that TRUTH is manifested, not in various philosophies of man, but in the person of Jesus Christ, who in the Bible is called the “Living Word of God.”
The Bible teaches that absolute truth is established by an omnipotent God. Right and wrong are clearly defined. And the same moral standards apply to everyone.
Since God is sovereign, all earthly authorities submit to Him.
This creates order and stability for a civilized society.
A level playing field of acceptable behavior for all. No one can arbitrarily make up their own rules. Take their ball and go home.
Rewrite the script according to their story.
It is God alone, the Creator and Author of all life, who is the perfect Judge; and He alone establishes the rules of fairness and has the final say.
Without a transcending authority, things get complicated.
How do we even define truth?
Because as imperfect, finite beings, it is impossible to get outside ourselves, and to understand a reality beyond our subjective experience, or create an objective definition of truth. Much less devise consistent, universal rules.
Biblical Truth Provides A Common Reference Point
Since Biblical truth is absolute, it is unchangeable and forms a common reference point for social behavior.
We can accept it or reject it. But rejection brings consequences.
For example, I can reject the law of gravity. Refuse to believe it. Then step off the roof of a 10-story building in defiance to the rule. And suffer the consequence.
Biblical truth provides a solid foundation on which to build a safe society.
We live by shared rules and a common understanding of what is fair.
What is right. What is acceptable. And this fosters trust.
Jordan Peterson Leaves Joe Rogan SPEECHLESS On The Bible!!!
God’s eyes are on the sparrow and I know He watches over me…
“Worry makes you forget who’s in charge. And when the focus is on yourself.. you worry…. With time your agenda becomes more important than God’s. You’re more concerned with pleasing self than pleasing him. And you may even find yourself doubting God’s judgment.” — Max Lucado
Fear controls too much of life. Afraid that we will not please others, we become hypocrites.
Afraid of those in power, we forfeit our integrity.
Afraid of ridicule, we deny Jesus.
Afraid of poverty and want, we deify our wealth.
Afraid of death and suffering, we lose trust in God.
Afraid we have missed our opportunity, we are not ready when God calls.
Afraid we will not get all that is coming to us, we take things into our hands rather than waiting to accept the reward God has prepared for us.
Afraid of what our family will think, we let family loyalty override loyalty to God.
Jesus seeks to lead us to trust God and overcome all fear.
Luke 12:1-9 New King James Version
Beware of Hypocrisy 12 In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all,
“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
2 For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.
3 Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.
Jesus Teaches the Fear of God 4 “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!
6 “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.
7 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Confess Christ Before Men 8 “Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God.
9 But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.”
(Verse 1) An innumerable multitude … had gathered together while Jesus was condemning the Pharisees and lawyers.
A dispute or a debate will generally attract a throng, but this crowd was also drawn, no doubt, by Jesus’ fearless denunciation of these hypocritical religious leaders.
Although an uncompromising attitude toward sin is not always popular, yet it does commend itself to the heart of man as being righteous.
Truth is always self-verifying.
Turning to His disciples, Jesus warned, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.”
He explained that leaven is a symbol or picture of hypocrisy.
A hypocrite is one who wears a mask, one whose outward appearance is utterly different from what he is inwardly.
The Pharisees posed as paragons of virtue but actually they were masters of masquerade.
Their day of exposure would come. All that they had covered up would be revealed, and all that they had done in the dark would be dragged out into the light.
Just as inevitable as the unmasking of hypocrisy is the triumph of truth.
Up to then, the message proclaimed by the disciples had been spoken in relative obscurity and to limited audiences.
But following the rejection of the Messiah by Israel, and the coming of the Holy Spirit, the disciples would go forth fearlessly in the name of the Lord Jesus and proclaim the good news far and wide.
Then it would be proclaimed on the housetops, comparatively speaking.
With the encouraging and warm-hearted words “My friends,” Jesus warns His disciples not to be ashamed of this priceless friendship under any trials.
The worldwide proclamation of the Christian message would bring persecution and death to the loyal disciples.
But there was a limit to what men like the Pharisees could do to them.
Physical death was that limit.
This they should not fear. God would visit their persecutors with a far worse punishment, namely, eternal death in hell.
And so the disciples were to fear God rather than man.
In verses 6-7, in order to emphasize God’s protective interest in the disciples, the Lord Jesus mentioned the Father’s care for sparrows.
In Matthew 10:29 we read that two sparrows are sold for a copper coin.
Here we learn that five sparrows are sold for two copper coins.
In other words, an extra sparrow is thrown in free when four are purchased.
And yet not even this odd sparrow with no commercial value is forgotten in the sight of God.
If God cares for that odd sparrow, how much more does He watch over those who go forth with the gospel of His Son! He numbers the very hairs of their head.
What worries consume your thoughts? Turn them over to God . . . then breathe a sigh of relief and live for Him.
Let God carry your burdens. ____
Wed, June 15 Positive Words #443 by Peter Wade THE SPARROWS AND GOD
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows“ — Luke 12:6-7
(see also Matthew 10:29-31).
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26)
What a simple yet powerful illustration given by Jesus of God’s comfort and care for those who believe in Him.
These small birds are plentiful in Israel, and even in the time of the gospels were of very little value. Yet God knows they exist and He keeps track of them.
Sometimes a small bird will fly at great speed and hit our front window with a thud!
The window has a slight reflective image and I think the birds see our front garden reflected in them.
Recently, one died as a result of this accident. And God knows about it!
You are worth much more than “many sparrows” to your loving heavenly Father, and He wants only the best for you.
“Encourage yourself” (Judges 20:22; I Samuel 30:6) in the Lord, and “blossom where you are planted.”
You are valuable in God’s sight, and that really is all that really matters.
“Precious [that is, costly] in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15).
This is so beautifully expressed in the song lyrics by Civilla Martin, written in 1905 and made famous to a new generation by Ethel Waters at the Billy Graham crusades.
Charles Gabriel wrote the music (a challenging piece to play on a keyboard in the original key of D flat, now usually in the key of C!).
Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
Chorus: I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free, For His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me.
“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
He sure does, and I am so glad, so take comfort from His care over you. — Peter Wade ____
In the following epistle, Paul tells Timothy how to deal with false teachers and false doctrines that was being taught in the church…
The Apostle Paul tells Timothy, in 2 Timothy 3:13-17 (MSG)…
Keep the Message Alive
“You’ve been a good apprentice to me, a part of my teaching, my manner of life, direction, faith, steadiness, love, patience, troubles, sufferings—suffering along with me in all the grief I had to put up with in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra.
And you also well know that God rescued me!
Anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in for a lot of trouble; there’s no getting around it.
Unscrupulous con men will continue to exploit the faith.
They’re as deceived as the people they lead astray.
As long as they are out there, things can only get worse. ____
In the above verses, Paul is saying that those who neglect the truth of God and His Word will inevitably become enmeshed in a confusing web of deception.
Their consciences and reasoning capabilities suffer damage through sin, and they become incapable of extricating themselves from Satan’s delusions.
Only God’s Truth possesses the power to free such persons.
Each of us is susceptible to this dangerous trap of deception unless we obey Scripture vigilantly.
Following Christ is more than a one-time decision or an occasional church service or kind act.
True Christianity involves continual dependence and obedience to Christ the king.
Paul told Timothy to continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of.
Our faith is proved by its endurance.
Two elements are necessary for faithful living.
First, we must possess knowledge of the Truth.
Truth enlightens a person about what is right and wrong, what constitutes purpose and happiness.
We cannot trust or love what we do not know.
The second element is conviction or belief.
We express our belief system in the daily decisions we make and the behaviors in which we engage.
No one acts contrary to belief (though we may act contrary to our professions of belief).
Paul also wanted Timothy to consider those from whom you learned [truth], and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures.
Once again he had Timothy’s mother and grandmother in mind (see 2 Tim. 1:5).
Timothy was schooled in the Old Testament writings and had learned the need for forgiveness, the provision of God, and the necessity of faith.
He had also been discipled by Paul, learning about Christ and the church.
In each case, Timothy had not only been given knowledge; he had been a witness to godly lives.
These people served as examples to Timothy about the truth of God, the need for endurance, and the reward of faithfulness.
Each person had staked his or her life on the revelation of the Scriptures which, according to Paul, are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. ____
In Luke 24:36-49, Jesus Reveals Himself and the Meaning of Scripture to the Disciples…
In His resurrected body, Jesus revealed Himself, not only as One with the physical ability to eat, but also as the One whose life, death, and resurrection was a fulfillment of Scripture.
Luke 24:44-49 The Message
You’re the Witnesses
44 Then he said, “Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this: All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled.”
45-49 He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way.
He said, “You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations—starting from here, from Jerusalem!
You’re the first to hear and see it. You’re the witnesses.
What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you’re equipped with power from on high.” ____
(Verse 44) “The law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms” means the entire Old Testament.
In other words, the entire Old Testament points to the Messiah.
For example, His role as prophet was foretold in Deuteronomy 18:15-20; His sufferings were prophesied in Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53; and His resurrection was predicted in Psalm 16:10 and Isaiah 53:10-11.
As with the two followers going to Emmaus, so it was with the crowd in Jerusalem.
Jesus opened Scripture (Old Testament) and referred back to the passion predictions in the OT.
Resurrection was a surprise, but it should not have been, had they listened and absorbed His teachings.
Scripture did not paint the kingdom the way they had been taught.
Scripture did not paint Messiah in terms they expected.
Scripture could be misread and misapplied.
They had to read Scripture carefully and find what God wanted to say to them through it.
Scripture read correctly points to Jesus, to all that Jesus experienced, especially His death, burial, and resurrection.
Can you read? Can you hear the voice of God as you read?
Do you see Christ as you read?
Check how you read and understand Scripture.
The first telling point is always this: Does it point you to Christ?
24:45. Scripture cannot be understood by the simple human mind.
God has to open the mind to understand Scripture.
Reading Scripture is not like any other reading assignment you might undertake.
Reading Scripture must begin with a dedication of your mind and heart to God and with a willingness to listen to God as He speaks to you through Scripture.
We understand Scripture only as God’s Holy Spirit opens our minds and becomes our teacher.
Again, Jesus went back to His passion predictions.
Old Testament Scriptures such as Isaiah 53 showed that the expected Messiah must suffer and die.
They also indicated that He must be raised on the third day.
This much is past happening. But all the Hebrew Scripture is not yet fulfilled.
The mission is just beginning.
What Messiah did must be proclaimed.
This is why silent witnesses who knew Jesus well had to be at the cross.
Eyewitness proclamation was in order.
The result of Messiah’s suffering, dying, and rising is forgiveness of sins.
That is available only through repentance of sins.
This comes only one way—by God’s witnesses preaching all this in the name of Jesus.
Preach the name of Jesus, He told them.
Call for repentance.
This is what the Scriptures said would happen.
This is what you must do.
This is your mission. The mission is worldwide.
You cannot accomplish this immediately. You must have a starting point.
That is right here where you are, here in Jerusalem.
Start where you are and preach the name of Jesus, calling for repentance and promising forgiveness.
Then Scripture will continue being fulfilled.
Not yet. You are not ready to go on mission yet, Jesus continued.
One ingredient is lacking. You must have power to do it.
The Father has promised that power. It is the power of the Spirit of God.
It will come to you. Just wait. When God sends His power from on high to you, then you can begin the mission.
Then Scripture will be fulfilled.
As Believers, we must learn to rightly divide the entire Council of God’s Word, including Old Testament and New Testament; as the New Testament is enfolded in the Old and the Old Testament unfolds in the New. ____
Tuesday, June 14 The Berean
Daily Verse and Comment for 2 Timothy 3:15
“…and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” ____
44 Then He said to them,
‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’
45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. ____
A local radio preacher says that the book of Proverbs is in “the Jewish Testament.”
What is that? There is no such thing!
We could call the Old Testament “the Hebrew Testament” with some legitimacy because it was written in Hebrew, but what would make it Jewish?
Was he trying to say that, if we read only the Old Testament, we would become followers of Judaism?
Or, that the Jews somehow own the Old Testament? Or, that because the Old Testament is revered by Jews as their holy book, it is somehow inferior to “the Christian Testament?”
Certainly, the Bible never calls the Old Testament “the Jewish Testament.”
Paul calls it “the Holy Scriptures” in 2 Timothy 3:15.
Jesus calls it “the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” in Luke 24:44.
In many places, the writers simply refer to it as “the Word [of God or of the Lord]” or “the Scripture(s).”
The only hint that the Old Testament “belongs” to the Jews is a misinterpretation of Romans 3:2,
“to them were committed the oracles of God.”
This means only that the Jews are responsible for their accurate transmission throughout history, not that they apply only to Jews or that Jews possess them in some way.
No, this all stems from the mistaken idea that the Old Testament is the Old Covenant,
“becoming obsolete and growing old . . . ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:13),
while the New Testament is the New Covenant.
Thus, to a “Christian” under the New Covenant, anything that appears in the Old Testament is of lesser value than what appears in the New Testament.
This error has led to countless misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the message Jesus brought to mankind.
In fact, the New Testament cannot be understood without the foundation of the Old Testament—and not just in historical terms.
Paul is not overstating things when he says the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20).
After His resurrection, Jesus “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, . . . expounded to [the disciples] in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).
Later, “He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (verse 45).
Which Scriptures? The Old Testament, of course!
Just these few verses say that we New Covenant Christians cannot understand Jesus Christ, His doctrine, His church, and God’s plan without the Old Testament.
We can see this by how frequently the apostles quote from the writings of Moses, David, and the prophets to support and fill out their doctrinal teachings.
There is hardly a page in the New Testament that does not have a quotation or allusion to the Old Testament on it.
It is a vital part of the New Covenant—New Testament—Christianity!
Lack of space does not permit an explanation of the differences between the Old Covenant and the New.
However, let it suffice to say that the major problem in the Old Covenant was the people with whom God made it (see Hebrews 8:7-12; Romans 8:3).
The New Covenant is modeled after the Old with its basic law, the Ten Commandments, retained in all its force and wisdom.
In fact, Jesus makes it plain that He added intent to the law’s scope so that it is now stricter under the New Covenant (Matthew 5:17-48)!
In the end, we must conclude that the Bible is a whole with two parts, which came as a result of the ministry of Jesus Christ and the languages in which the two parts were penned.
The theology and the goal of the instruction in the two are the same.
The same God who never changes rules, acts, and speaks in both.
Those who believed and lived by faith in both areas will receive the same gift of eternal life (I Thessalonians 4:14-17; Hebrews 11:40).
Please be aware of this false notion of the Old Testament’s inferiority to the New, as it colors a great deal of “Christian” biblical commentary.
The Word of God is God’s Word, whether spoken in 1400 BC or AD 60.
Above all, remember our Savior’s instruction, quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). — Richard T. Ritenbaugh ____
Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…
Lamentations 3:26-27 The Message
25-27 God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.
“God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” — C. S. Lewis
In Romans chapter 5, after having proven that justification before God comes ONLY through faith, Paul now reveals the result of that justification, which is peace with God.
What the first Adam lost in the Garden of Eden, the second Adam has restored.
Now any who seek peace with God may have it.
In chapter 5, Paul describes the experience of salvation for all Christians, and he outlines the magnitude of God’s love, which has been revealed in Jesus Christ.
In the first five verses, we are introduced to a section of scripture that contains some difficult concepts.
In order for us to understand what the Holy Spirit is saying in these verses, it helps for us to keep in mind the two-sided reality of the Christian life.
On the one hand, we are complete in Christ, declared righteous and accepted fully by Him.
On the other hand, we are still growing in Christ, becoming more and more like Him everyday.
Even though we are at one with Jesus (are co-heirs with Him – Rom 8:17), and so we have the status of royalty; at the same time we also have the duties of servants (bond-servants).
In our present condition we feel both the presence of Christ and the pressure of sin.
Whereas we enjoy the peace that comes from being made right with God, we still nevertheless find ourselves facing daily problems that help us to grow and mature.
If we will remember these two sides of the Christian life, then we will not grow discouraged as we face the daily temptations and problems of life.
Instead, we will learn to depend on the power available to us from the Holy Spirit, who lives in us and is God’s gift to all who believe.
Our having peace with God does not at all mean that we will not have trials and tribulations.
Having peace with God means that we have now been reconciled with God, through Jesus’ propitious sacrifice on Calvary’s Cross, and it is the trials and tribulations of life, which we all experience, that causes us to grow.
Thanks to Jesus, Satan as the accuser of the brethren, has lost all his leverage.
We no longer have any hostility standing between us and God, and there is no longer any sin blocking our relationship with Him.
Peace with God is possible ONLY because Jesus paid the price for our sins through His death on the cross.
Even in great tragedies, we can have God’s peace because of our confident hope in His promises (Philippians 4:7).
As Paul states clearly in 1 Corinthians 13:13, faith, hope, and love are at the heart of the Christian life.
Your relationship with God begins with faith, which helps you realize that you are delivered from your past by Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Hope grows as you learn all that God has in mind for you; it gives you the promise of the future.
God’s love fills your life and gives you the ability to reach out and love others.
In verse 2 Paul states that, as believers, we now stand in a place of undeserved privilege.
Not only has God declared us not guilty, but He has also drawn us close to Himself.
Instead of being His enemies, we have become His friends—in fact, His own children (John 15:15; Galatians 4:5).
For first-century Christians, suffering was the rule rather than the exception.
Paul explains that in the future we will become, but until then we must overcome.
This means that, for now, we will experience difficulties that help us grow.
We rejoice in suffering, not because we like pain or deny its tragedy, but because we know God is using life’s difficulties and Satan’s attacks to build our character.
And “Through it all we learned to trust in Jesus”…
It’s through the problems that we encounter that will develop our perseverance—which, in turn, will strengthen our character, deepen our trust in God, and give us greater confidence about the future.
We all find that our patience is being tested in some way every day.
Instead of worrying and fretting, let us thank God for these opportunities to grow, as we learn to deal with the problems and tribulations of life in His strength (also see James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7).
Let us give thanks everyday, in the knowledge that God has sent the Holy Spirit to fill and refill our lives with His love every day (because we are such leaky vessels), and the Holy Spirit living inside of us enables us to live each day by and in His power (Acts 1:8).
With all this loving care, how can we do less than serve Him completely?
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things) ____
Monday, June 13
The Winning Walk by Dr Ed Young
HAS GOD FORGOTTEN ME?
Ever felt like God has forgotten you?
Joseph must have. He was far from home, given up for dead by his family, framed for a crime he would rather have died than commit, and left to languish in prison.
He must have wondered when God would ever rescue him.
You see, it’s one thing to believe God knows our circumstances, but it’s another thing entirely to believe steadfastly that He will act on our behalf.
The first involves faith in who He is.
The second requires hope in what He will do.
The apostle Paul said that hope in God is a choice that will not disappoint (Romans 5:3-5).
It is an absolutely reasonable choice no matter what our circumstances because it is based on who He is.
Because God is righteous and holy, His actions will always be an expression of His character.
There is an acronym used in the computer industry that is easy to spell and hard to say: WYSIWYG.
It simply means “what you see is what you get.”
Just so with God. He is not capricious or arbitrary; He is faithful and true.
The turning point in Joseph’s dungeon experience came when he ceased to wait anxiously on the system and began to wait expectantly on God.
His belief that God would act on his behalf was based on Joseph’s experiential knowledge.
He knew that God had spared him from death at the hands of his brothers; that He had placed him in a position of influence in Potiphar’s household; that He had given him dreams as a child…and he trusted that the same care would continue.
It was just a matter of time. The faithfulness in question is not His-it is ours!
Will we wait expectantly and trust Him?
HEBREWS 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. ____
All who travel to the temple are blessed even as they anticipate worshipping God there.
As an elderly lady was being conducted through a great cathedral in Europe, the guide carefully pointed out the stunning beauty of its design.
He called special attention to its exquisite statues and wonderful paintings.
Being spiritually minded, the old lady was unimpressed with the external trappings of the building.
At the conclusion of the tour, she asked the guide,
“How many souls have been saved here this year?”
“My dear lady,” said the embarrassed guide, “this is a cathedral, not a chapel.”
Unfortunately, many large and impressive church buildings are just that—little more than ornate cathedrals built to impress people rather than truth-filled chapels where God is glorified.
Bricks and mortar should never be the chief focus of any church.
Whether their facility is large or small, impressive or plain, the primary concern should always be the genuineness of the worship inside.
Wherever believers gather to worship, it should be a place where the Word of God is proclaimed, the name of God is magnified, and the will of God is pursued.
What matters most to God is the pursuit of His glory, not the promotion of the facility itself.
In this sense, every church is to be a chapel, not a cathedral, a place where God’s glory is put on display.
This is the main focus of Psalm 84, a prayer of earnest longing for the house of God, but most of all, for God himself.
Not unlike other psalms in which the psalmist concerns himself with a deep passion to be in God’s house (Pss. 27; 42; 43), the author expressed a consuming desire to be in the house of worship.
He possessed a genuine zeal to worship God in the temple.
In Old Testament times, great importance was placed upon Israel’s temple built in Jerusalem where, admittedly, a unique manifestation of God’s glory resided.
Nevertheless, when the psalmist spoke of his love for the temple, he was actually thinking of God, whose greatness filled the temple.
This psalm pronounced blessing upon the person who trusted God, and ultimately, that is all that truly matters.
According to the superscription, this is a psalm written by the Sons of Korah, referring to the Levitical choir comprised of the descendants of Korah.
They had been appointed by David to serve in the temple as gatekeepers and musicians.
The psalm could have been written before or after the exile in Babylon (6th century BC).
It is attributed to the sons of Korah, and was compiled by David into the Book of Psalms.
It is to be sung according to the gittith, most probably a guitar-like harp associated with Gath in Philistia.
The psalmist starts out (v. 5) by declaring the blessing of all who travel to Jerusalem to be in God’s house.
There is no question as to the primary interpretation of Psalm 84.
It breathes out the deep longings of exiled Jews to be back at the temple in Jerusalem once again.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you. Those who find their strength in God are truly blessed.
Their faith in God transforms their own human weaknesses into a God-given strength.
The genuineness of their faith is seen in their pilgrimage to the temple, pursuing the glory and knowledge of God.
On their way to the temple, they pass through the Valley of Baca, an enigmatic name which is either (1) an unknown place or (2) a figurative place, representing a state of the soul.
Probably, the latter is intended here.
The Valley of Baca means “balsam trees,” which are those trees which grow in arid places.
Literally, the word Baca means “weeping” or “the place of weeping.”
These expectant pilgrims started out in a place of sorrow, spiritually speaking, until they make it a place of springs.
In this process, their broken, barren souls are transformed into blessed hearts.
The autumn rains also cover it with pools, picturing the replenishment and refreshment of their hearts by God.
The person who trusts and worships God may have his burdens transformed into blessings, even on his way to Zion, as he anticipates worshipping God there.
But the application I like best however is that of a godly pilgrim who is downright homesick for heaven. Let us look at the Psalm from this viewpoint.
Growing strong in God’s presence is often preceded by a journey through barren places in our lives.
The person who loves to spend time with God will see his or her adversity as an opportunity to experience God’s faithfulness even more deeply.
If you are walking through your own Valley of Weeping today, be sure your pilgrimage leads toward God, not away from Him.
After all, growth always takes place in the valleys and that’s where you dig the wells, not on the mountain tops.
And those wells that were dug by the Patriarchs of old became a watering hole and a Life Source (a foundation for future ministry) for those who are traveling down that same path behind them; and so it is with us today, as we travel through our Valley of Weeping.
It is in these valleys that God pours out His rain and fills our well, and we go from strength to strength.
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things) ____
Explore Sermons by Dr. Lloyd-Jones
THE VALLEY OF BACA
[David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981) was a Welsh Protestant minister and medical doctor who was influential in the Calvinist wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century. For almost 30 years, he was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London.]
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.” — Psalm 84:5-7
Repentance prepares the highway for people to come into the presence of the Lord.
They need substance and direction for life; not only repentance, but regeneration.
From where does such a thing come?
In this sermon on Psalm 84:5–7 titled “The Valley of Baca,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones looks at Christ as the source of encouragement for the believer, despite the circumstances he or she might find themselves in.
The result of such a faith is a clear view of life as a whole, and of self in relation to God.
Are the pains of life the result of others’ faults or one’s own sin?
Find purpose and direction for life, rather than living in a state of selfish chaos.
God withholds nothing good from those who walk uprightly.
Does one have a road to follow when calamity and trials come?
It is in this valley of Baca, one of tears and sorrow, that this psalmist’s joy springs to life.
Learn to rejoice, even in the valley of Baca.
Let troubles make the Christian consider the goodness of God and cause rejoicing; praise Him, He has overcome the world! ____