Thursday, November 8, 2018

Jesus is Messiah

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Lion of the Tribe of Judah

Jesus fulfilled all the prophetic promises about the Messiah of Israel. 

Peter Stoner, Chairman of the Departments of Mathematics and Astronomy at Pasadena College, was passionate about biblical prophecies. With 600 students from the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Stoner looked at eight specific prophecies about Jesus. They came up with extremely conservative probabilities for each one being fulfilled, and then considered the likelihood of Jesus fulfilling all eight of those prophecies.
The conclusion to his research was staggering. The prospect that anyone would satisfy those eight prophecies was just 1 in 1017

The fact that Jesus is the promised Messiah of Israel is essential to our faith in who Jesus is.  As Peter confessed, "You are the Christ, the Son of God.
But my Jewish friends who practice modern Judaism deny this truth. According to the Rabbinic teaching of modern Judaism, codified about 200 CE, Jesus is not the Messiah of Israel. By rejecting Jesus (Yeshua), they reject their only hope of eternal life.

Many times I have been told by Jewish friends who do not believe in Yeshua to just leave them alone. They tell me that they do not want my concern, and that it is very insulting to them for me to talk about Yeshua being the Messiah of Israel. They tell me to practice my faith, and let them practice their faith, as if it is not important that we believe something in direct contradiction.

If Jesus (Yeshua) is not the Messiah of Israel, then my faith that He is the Christ is a lie, and Christianity is nothing.

If Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel, then modern Rabbinic Judaism is a farce, and founded on a lie.

So how can we just agree to not care, when our fundamental faith is in question? No, I must prove my faith and keep trying to show it to others. Of course we cannot force anyone to believe that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel, but we can keep presenting the facts of history.

We are blessed today to live in the information age. There is no excuse for literate people being uninformed. Jesus is the promised Messiah. He fulfills all the promises. He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Victory over Paganism!

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Gates of Hell at Caesarea Philippi

The Greeks and the Romans established worship of a pantheon of so called gods, building elaborate temples, and ordering worship of idols.  A temple dedicated to the worship of Pan was built here at the Gates of Hades. 

When Jesus was near here with His disciples, He asked Peter what people were saying about who He is. 

Peter Declares His Faith in Jesus

Mat 16:13 When Jesus had come to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They said, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 He asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”

17 Then Jesus told him, “How blessed you are, Simon son of Jonah, since flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, though my Father in heaven has. 18 I tell you that you are Peter,[g] and it is on this rock[h] that I will build my congregation,[i] and the powers of hell[j] will not conquer it. 19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom from heaven. Whatever you prohibit on earth will have been prohibited in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will have been permitted in heaven.”

Later Jesus gave them the great commission while they were on Mount Hermon, above Caesarea Philippi.

Jesus Commissions His Disciples

Mat 28:16 The eleven disciples went into Galilee to the hillside to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him, though some had doubts. 18 Then Jesus approached them and told them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore, as you go, disciple people in all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. And remember, I am with you each and every day[l] until the end of the age.”[m]

The great commission was a directive to carry the message of the Messiah to nations under the rule of paganism, as all  nations other than Israel were at that time.  The message of salvation in the resurrected Savior would bring down the power of Satan vested in the worship of false ideas, especially the world empire of Rome, which even demanded the worship of the Roman Emperor as a god.  

Emperor Nero brought things to a head with his wanton slaughter of believers in the Roman Colosseum.  The believers could save their lives if they would worship the Emperor. But they preferred death rather than denying their Lord and Savior, the True and Living God.

The blood shed by those persecuted believers fed the revolution that went to the ends of the earth.  Wherever believers went, they carried the message about the Resurrected Savior. 

Most of those who carried the message to other nations were Caucasian.  It is a fact of history.   Thousands of men and women gave their lives to carry a saving message to the Pagan tribes and nations of the earth. 

Yes, Jesus is a white man, because Jews and Arabs are Caucasian.

And it was mostly white men and women from America, Europe, and Australia who gave their lives to carry a message of hope to people under the death penalty for practicing paganism. 

 The natives of America, South America, China, India, Africa, Indonesia, etc. were all pagans before the gospel message was carried to them. The preachers of diversity and those who praise all cultures must not have a clue about how it was to live under paganism.  One of the things that the British did in India was to end the burning of widows on the husband's funeral pire.  

I visited remote tribes in Papau New Guinea, where in modern times believers had risked their lives to carry the gospel to cannibals.  Murder, thievery, rape, and war were their way of life.  

No, all cultures are not praiseworthy, and those who praise diversity should have to live in a pagan culture for their own education.  

The Muslims are closer to the truth, than those who praise diversity, in their opposition to paganism and idolatry.  They destroyed  pagan societies.  Those pagans were under the death penalty because of sin, and the Muslims were their executioners, much like the Babylonians were the executors of the Jewish idolaters with the destruction of Solomon's Temple.

Satan loves to destroy people, and he jumps at the chance when God's protection is removed from His people because of sin.  Destruction is never pleasant, and we need to learn from history.

But God is not willing that any should perish, and wants all to come to Him for salvation. 

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Global Community

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First Global Community

Judgment Decreed

Gen 6:5 When the Lord saw that human wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time, 6 the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and he was deeply grieved. 7 Then the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I created, off the face of the earth, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I regret that I made them.” 8 Noah, however, found favor with the Lord.

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Second Global Community, Babel

The Tower of Babylon

Gen 11 The whole earth had the same language and vocabulary. 2 As people migrated from the east, they found a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to each other, “Come, let us make oven-fired bricks.” (They used brick for stone and asphalt for mortar.) 4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered throughout the earth.”

5 Then the Lord came down to look over the city and the tower that the humans were building. 6 The Lord said, “If they have begun to do this as one people all having the same language, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let’s go down there and confuse their language so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So from there the Lord  scattered them throughout the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 Therefore it is called Babylon, for there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth, and from there the Lord scattered them throughout the earth.

Global community was not working out so well so far. People are naturally selfish. When people work together to accomplish human purposes, they make a disaster. 

Proverbs 14:12 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

12 There is a way that seems right to a person,
but its end is the way to death.

Proverbs 16:25 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

25 There is a way that seems right to a person,
but its end is the way to death.

So God had a plan to make a nation of people who would be different.  He would be their God, and they would be His people. So he called Abraham to leave the land of Babylon and to go to Canaan, but Abraham was a sojourner in the land of Canaan. 

Genesis 12 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
The Call of Abram

12 The Lord said to Abram:
Go out from your land,
your relatives,
and your father’s house
to the land that I will show you.
2 I will make you into a great nation,
I will bless you,
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt,
and all the peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.

Yes, all the clans of the earth are to be blessed through the offspring of Abraham.  John writing in the Revelation tells about how the blessing came. 

Revelation 12 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
The Woman, the Child, and the Dragon

12 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in labor and agony as she was about to give birth.3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: There was a great fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven crowns. 4 Its tail swept away a third of the stars in heaven and hurled them to the earth. And the dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she did give birth it might devour her child. 5 She gave birth to a Son, a male who is going to rule 
all nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, to be nourished there for 1,260 days.

The Dragon Thrown Out of Heaven
7 Then war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels also fought, 8 but he could not prevail, and there was no place for them in heaven any longer. 9 So the great dragon was thrown out—the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the one who deceives the whole world. He was thrown to earth, and his angels with him.10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say,

The salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Christ
have now come,
because the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them
before our God day and night,
has been thrown down.
11 They conquered him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
for they did not love their lives
to the point of death.
12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens,
and you who dwell in them!
Woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has come down to you
with great fury,
because he knows his time is short.
The Woman Persecuted

13 When the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given two wings of a great eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent’s presence to her place in the wilderness, where she was nourished for a time, times, and half a time. 15 From his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river flowing after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. 16 But the earth helped the woman. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the river that the dragon had spewed from his mouth. 17 So the dragon was furious with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep the commands of God and hold firmly to the testimony about Jesus.

Yes, we who hold firmly to the testimony about Jesus and keep His commandments are a global community.  And this global community is in spiritual conflict with other communities of this world. Since we are a global community already, we should not want the secular humanist new world order that Obama is pushing, along with George Soros. 

The nation state of Israel was ordained of God as a sign to all the people of the earth, to give examples of how God blesses faith and obedience, and how He punishes disobedience. 

Deuteronomy 28 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
Blessings for Obedience

28 “Now if you faithfully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all his commands I am giving you today, the Lord your God will put you far above all the nations of the earth. 2 All these blessings will come and overtake you, because you obey the Lord your God:
3 You will be blessed in the city
and blessed in the country.
4 Your offspring will be blessed,
and your land’s produce,
and the offspring of your livestock,
including the young of your herds
and the newborn of your flocks.
5 Your basket and kneading bowl will be blessed.
6 You will be blessed when you come in
and blessed when you go out.

7 “The Lord will cause the enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you. They will march out against you from one direction but flee from you in seven directions. 8 The Lord will grant you a blessing on your barns and on everything you do; he will bless you in the land the Lord your God is giving you. 9 The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he swore to you, if you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways. 10 Then all the peoples of the earth will see that you bear the Lord’s name, and they will stand in awe of you. 11 The Lord will make you prosper abundantly with offspring, the offspring of your livestock, and your land’s produce in the land the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. 12 The Lord will open for you his abundant storehouse, the sky, to give your land rain in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow. 13 The Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you will only move upward and never downward if you listen to the Lord your God’s commands I am giving you today and are careful to follow them. 14 Do not turn aside to the right or the left from all the things I am commanding you today, and do not follow other gods to worship them.
Curses for Disobedience

15 “But if you do not obey the Lord your God by carefully following all his commands and statutes I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overtake you:

16 You will be cursed in the city
and cursed in the country.
17 Your basket and kneading bowl will be cursed.
18 Your offspring will be cursed,
and your land’s produce,
the young of your herds,
and the newborn of your flocks.
19 You will be cursed when you come in
and cursed when you go out.

20 The Lord will send against you curses, confusion, and rebuke in everything you do until you are destroyed and quickly perish, because of the wickedness of your actions in abandoning me. 21 The Lord will make pestilence cling to you until he has exterminated you from the land you are entering to possess. 22 The Lord will afflict you with wasting disease, fever, inflammation, burning heat, drought, blight, and mildew; these will pursue you until you perish. 23 The sky above you will be bronze, and the earth beneath you iron. 24 The Lord will turn the rain of your land into falling dust; it will descend on you from the sky until you are destroyed. 25 The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will march out against them from one direction but flee from them in seven directions. You will be an object of horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 26 Your corpses will be food for all the birds of the sky and the wild animals of the earth, with no one to scare them away.

27 “The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt, tumors, a festering rash, and scabies, from which you cannot be cured. 28 The Lord will afflict you with madness, blindness, and mental confusion, 29 so that at noon you will grope as a blind person gropes in the dark. You will not be successful in anything you do. You will only be oppressed and robbed continually, and no one will help you.30 You will become engaged to a woman, but another man will rape her. You will build a house but not live in it. You will plant a vineyard but not enjoy its fruit. 31 Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will not eat any of it. Your donkey will be taken away from you and not returned to you. Your flock will be given to your enemies, and no one will help you. 32 Your sons and daughters will be given to another people, while your eyes grow weary looking for them every day. But you will be powerless to do anything. 33 A people you don’t know will eat your land’s produce and everything you have labored for. You will only be oppressed and crushed continually. 34 You will be driven mad by what you see. 35 The Lord will afflict you with painful and incurable boils on your knees and thighs—from the sole of your foot to the top of your head.

36 “The Lord will bring you and your king that you have appointed to a nation neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you will worship other gods, of wood and stone. 37 You will become an object of horror, scorn, and ridicule among all the peoples where the Lord will drive you.

38 “You will sow much seed in the field but harvest little, because locusts will devour it. 39 You will plant and cultivate vineyards but not drink the wine or gather the grapes, because worms will eat them. 40 You will have olive trees throughout your territory but not moisten your skin with oil, because your olives will drop off. 41 You will father sons and daughters, but they will not remain yours, because they will be taken prisoner. 42 Buzzing insects will take possession of all your trees and your land’s produce. 43 The resident alien among you will rise higher and higher above you, while you sink lower and lower. 44 He will lend to you, but you won’t lend to him. He will be the head, and you will be the tail.

45 “All these curses will come, pursue, and overtake you until you are destroyed, since you did not obey the Lord your God and keep the commands and statutes he gave you. 46 These curses will be a sign and a wonder against you and your descendants forever. 47 Because you didn’t serve the Lord your God with joy and a cheerful heart, even though you had an abundance of everything, 48 you will serve your enemies the Lord will send against you, in famine, thirst, nakedness, and a lack of everything. He will place an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you. 49 The Lord will bring a nation from far away, from the ends of the earth, to swoop down on you like an eagle, a nation whose language you won’t understand, 50 a ruthless nation, showing no respect for the old and not sparing the young. 51 They will eat the offspring of your livestock and your land’s produce until you are destroyed. They will leave you no grain, new wine, fresh oil, young of your herds, or newborn of your flocks until they cause you to perish. 52 They will besiege you within all your city gates until your high and fortified walls, that you trust in, come down throughout your land. They will besiege you within all your city gates throughout the land the Lord your God has given you.

53 “You will eat your offspring, the flesh of your sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you during the siege and hardship your enemy imposes on you. 54 The most sensitive and refined man among you will look grudgingly at his brother, the wife he embraces, and the rest of his children, 55 refusing to share with any of them his children’s flesh that he will eat because he has nothing left during the siege and hardship your enemy imposes on you in all your towns. 56 The most sensitive and refined woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because of her refinement and sensitivity, will begrudge the husband she embraces, her son, and her daughter, 57 the afterbirth that comes out from between her legs and the children she bears, because she will secretly eat them for lack of anything else during the siege and hardship your enemy imposes on you within your city gates.

58 “If you are not careful to obey all the words of this law, which are written in this scroll, by fearing this glorious and awe-inspiring name—the Lord, your God— 59 he will bring wondrous plagues on you and your descendants, severe and lasting plagues, and terrible and chronic sicknesses. 60 He will afflict you again with all the diseases of Egypt, which you dreaded, and they will cling to you. 61 The Lord will also afflict you with every sickness and plague not recorded in the book of this law, until you are destroyed. 62 Though you were as numerous as the stars of the sky, you will be left with only a few people, because you did not obey the Lord your God. 63 Just as the Lord was glad to cause you to prosper and to multiply you, so he will also be glad to cause you to perish and to destroy you. You will be ripped out of the land you are entering to possess. 64 Then the Lord will scatter you among all peoples from one end of the earth to the other, and there you will worship other gods, of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. 65 You will find no peace among those nations, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and a despondent spirit. 66 Your life will hang in doubt before you. You will be in dread night and day, never certain of survival. 67 In the morning you will say, ‘If only it were evening!’ and in the evening you will say, ‘If only it were morning!’—because of the dread you will have in your heart and because of what you will see. 68 The Lord will take you back in ships to Egypt by a route that I said you would never see again. There you will sell yourselves to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.”

So God arranged nation states in order for people to be guided in purpose and action, having rules and authority in place to maintain order. When a nation state discards rules of order and conduct, anarchy results. 

And the rules that govern a nation state will determine the quality of the society of that state. The biblical principle applies, Proverbs 14:34 "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people."

While personal freedom demands equal treatment under the law for people of different creeds and faiths, this does not mean that one faith or one creed is just as good as another.  It means that secular government is not meant to control faith.  But the social fabric of a nation state is determined by the quality of its laws. Judea-Christian based laws have produced our greatest nation, as men measure things. We can be a great force for good in the world, if we stand for goodness.  Part of our goodness comes from personal freedom, the right to succeed and to fail. If we are truly good, those who succeed will help those who fail.   It should be done out of right motives, not by government confiscation and redistribution. 

But our global community of believers in Jesus Christ has fast borders. God admits as citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom only those who are born again by the water and the Spirit, through faith in Jesus Christ. There is no illegal immigration into the Kingdom of God. 

And neither Mohammad nor Buddha can get you in.  It does make a difference what you believe, and what is your creed.  There is something more important than American law and justice. There is eternal life in the offspring of Abraham.  

As Jesus told Nicodemus:

John 3 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
Jesus and Nicodemus

3 There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to him at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one could perform these signs you do unless God were with him.”

3 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

4 “How can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”

5 Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. 8 The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

9 “How can these things be?” asked Nicodemus.

10 “Are you a teacher of Israel and don’t know these things?” Jesus replied. 11 “Truly I tell you, we speak what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you do not accept our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven —the Son of Man.

14 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.16 For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Anyone who believes in him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. 19 This is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. 21 But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.”

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Born Again into the Heavenly Community

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Spirit Gives Life

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The Spirit gives life

In the beginning the Spirit was active in creation.  The Hebrew word for spirit and breath is the same word. So we can understand that the Spirit of God gave life to mankind in the beginning.  

Gen 2:7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

So physical life was given by the Spirit of God in the beginning.  But God has planned for us eternal life.  And that life also is given by the Spirit of God. 

We cannot earn eternal life because of our failures in life, which result in sin and separation from God.  Paul says that the letter kills, meaning the letter of law that requires righteous action.  But the Spirit gives life. The Spirit provides a way for us to be justified before God. Instead of a letter of the law covenant, the new covenant is a relationship covenant fashioned by the Spirit of God.

2 Cor 3: 4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

You remember that the Holy Spirit gave life to Jesus in the womb of Mary. That child, the only begotten Son of God, gave His perfect life on the cross at Calvary to pay the price for the sins of all who will believe in Him.

Romans 8 English Standard Version (ESV)
Life in the Spirit

Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

So how do we walk according to the Spirit?  First we must come to Jesus for cleansing from sin, so that we can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  You remember that the Holy Spirit came on Peter and the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost following the resurrection of Jesus. The Spirit inspired the message delivered by Peter that day, where he taught about Jesus being the Messiah, and answers the question "What shall we do?"

Acts 2:36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

"You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."  God gives His Spirit to His children.  That Spirit is an encourager, a helper, a power within that reminds us of what God wants us to be. The Spirit does not overrule our own personal spirit, but encourages us to always do the right thing. 

And the Holy Spirit has revealed God's message for us in the Holy Scriptures. As Paul instructed Timothy, 2 Tim 3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

And Jesus taught that the foundation principles are to love God with all our heart, soul, and might; and to love our neighbor as ourself. So when we love God with all our being, we desire to agree with His Spirit that encourages us to always do the right thing. 

And if we get discouraged sometimes, and wonder how we are doing, John tells us how to have assurance that God's Spirit is working in our lives. 

1 John 4:13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

So we can know that the Holy Spirit is not so much about emotion, dancing, speaking in tongues, falling on the floor, etc.; but is about doing the things that are pleasing to God.  Instead of building a big house, buying an airplane, amassing personal wealth (by making a show of charisma), we must do good for the helpless. 

Yes, the Holy Spirit is alive and well today.. Our spirit must connect with His Spirit within us and walk by His guidance, in agreement with what the Holy Spirit has taught and confirmed by miracles, recorded in the Holy Scriptures. Any person who claims the power of miracles by the Holy Spirit, and then  refuses to teach what is taught clearly in Scripture, has a serious problem.

Knowing Jesus, having been born again of water and the Spirit, enables the Holy Spirit to live in us and give us eternal life. 

1 John 5 English Standard Version (ESV)
Overcoming the World

5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Testimony Concerning the Son of God

6 This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

The baptism commanded by Jesus and the Apostles for believers is immersion in water.  If you have any doubt about this, review Stephen's teaching to the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8. 

Gal 3:23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.

Immersed into Christ by the water and the Spirit!  As Jesus said, you must be born again in order to enter the Kingdom. The Holy Spirit baptism given to the Apostles and to the household of Cornelius demonstrated God's presence and power. But the immersion in water given to Paul, the household of Cornelius, to the Ethiopian Eunuch, and to 3,000 on the Day of Pentecost, is the immersion of water and the Spirit commanded by Jesus..

As the Ethiopian Eunuch said, "See, here is water.  What hinders me to be immersed?"

Acts 10: Then Peter declared,47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Law Kills

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"You will not die" said the Serpent

One law, "You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge".  One law was enough to produce death.  

After eating the fruit, they were separated from God, feeling ashamed. It was death to the close relationship they had enjoyed with God. Now they were hiding, ashamed because of guilt, and trying their best to cover their nakedness. 

And eventually they died physically, because they were separated from the tree of life. The wages of sin is death. 

But the Serpent had made it sound so good.  "You will not die. You will be wise like God."

Don't we like to have things our own way!  The fruit was beautiful, looked like it would be very tasty, and would make one wise.  Lust of the eye, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.  These are powerful motives to our human nature. Left to ourselves, these desires drive us to destruction, to death. Yes, the wages of sin is death.  

The law gives direction, and tells us the right way to go, and establishes the righteousness of God. Paul explains in Romans chapter 7 that the Law is holy, just, and good. 

The Law and Sin

Romans 7:7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

So law is not the problem.  Our sinning is the problem.  Our human nature that drives us to please ourselves is the problem.  What makes us look good, feel good, and gives us pride!  We have the same nature as Adam and Eve.   One law was enough to condemn them to death. 

God created us subject to sin and temptation, so that we can pass through the testing ground and be redeemed by faith. Paul explained that God created us subject to the futility of sin and death in order for the revealing of the children of God.  

Future Glory

Rom 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

So our failure to keep law leads us to condemnation and death, opening the way for our Savior who paid the death penalty for sin on the cross at Calvary.  We cannot justify ourselves by keeping law, because we fail. But we can be justified by the blood of Christ, if we believe in Him.  This salvation is available to all who will believe. 

As Paul explained earlier in the letter to the Roman believers,

The Righteousness of God Through Faith

Rom 3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

The one who has faith in Jesus!  That faith is revealed by the choices we make.  God chose the preaching of the gospel to save those who believe. Jesus commanded His followers to go into all the world and preach the gospel to everyone.  God did not choose an elect few to be saved, but chose everyone who will believe in Him.  He does not give faith to a few and exclude others, but faith comes by hearing the word of God. Faith is a personal choice, made by free will.

Yes, the law kills because we are sinners.  So why do some seek to make the new covenant into a letter of the law covenant by binding opinion as law?  Perhaps we feel the need to justify ourselves by our own performance.  Some are given to comparing themselves to others in order to feel good about themselves, judging by performance. So if someone else uses instrumental music, and we have a rule against it, we feel good because we do not use it.

But Jesus gave us a different standard.  He challenges us to love each other.  Yes, the law is there, if we love God we will keep His commandments. John writes to us about love, and shows how we can have confidence about our relationship in Jesus Christ. 

God Is Love

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Yes, the law kills, but the Spirit gives life. 

Romans 6 English Standard Version (ESV)
Dead to Sin, Alive to God

Rom 6:6 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

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Victory in Jesus

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Aleph and the Tav

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The First and the Last

The Alpha and Omega

Rev 22:8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9 but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

The Apostle John was writing the Revelation in Greek, so he said the Alpha and Omega. Had he been writing in Hebrew, it would have been the Aleph and the Tav.  Writing in English, it would have been the A and the Z, the first and last letters of the alphabet. The alphabet, the sounds by which we communicate. Letters by which God's truth is conveyed. 

Interestingly, the Hebrew word for truth, Eleph, has both Aleph and Tav. Truth was in the beginning, and truth will flourish in the end.

Before writing the Revelation, John wrote his gospel.  He goes directly to the heart of who Jesus is.  

John 1 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Word Became Flesh

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,and the life was the light of men.

Word is a translation of the Greek Logos.  See the definition below from the Britannica:

Logos, (Greek: “word,” “reason,” or “plan”) plural logoi, in Greek philosophy and theology, the divine reason implicit in the cosmos, ordering it and giving it form and meaning. Though the concept defined by the term logos is found in Greek, Indian, Egyptian, and Persian philosophical and theological systems, it became particularly significant in Christian writings and doctrines to describe or define the role of Jesus Christ as the principle of God active in the creation and the continuous structuring of the cosmos and in revealing the divine plan of salvation to man. It thus underlies the basic Christian doctrine of the preexistence of Jesus.

So, in the beginning we have God creating the universe, even speaking it into existence, according to His eternal plan and purpose. Christ was there, not counting it robbery to be equal with God, according to Apostle Paul. 

Phil 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Yes, we can be part of Him, we can be in the first and the last, the alpha and omega.  But first we must learn about Him, from the Bible, from fellow believers, from the evidence of the universe and history. He is the truth, and the truth will set us free. He will set us free from slavery to sin and fear of death.  He will recreate a right spirit within us.  He will give us the Holy Spirit, once our sins have been washed away.

Peter preached the message on the day of Pentecost, following the resurrection of Jesus. 

'Acts 2:
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Peter did not have them sign a confirmation card and pray a prayer.  Somehow three thousand were baptized that day, in a pool nearby. 

I am tired of the excuses made about immersion in water, about how it is not that important.  As we read through the book of Acts, when someone comes to the place of faith in Jesus Christ, they are immersed in water.  Philip taught the Eunuch about Jesus, and as they were riding along, the Eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me to be baptized?"

Jesus Christ is the first and the last.  The Alpha and the Omega. Here is what He told His disciples at the mountain in Galilee.  He gets the last word.

The Great Commission

Matt 28:16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The Alpha and the Omega, the A and the Z, the Aleph and the Tav. He is the beginning and the end. In Him we believers exist and have our being. 

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