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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

(78) Thanks for What?

As this holiday approaches many tweets are going out about giving thanks to those around you.  That is perfectly fine to do.  Many people deserve our thanks and gratitude for being part of our lives and making who we are today.  They are there to help us through those rough times and laugh with us through the good ones.  But even with all they do no one will ever compare to what Adonai gives us.
  • So that I could be healed, His body was wounded. (Isaiah 53:5)
  • So that I could prosper, He came as a carpenter and lived in poverty. (Mark 6:3)
  • So that I could live with dignity, He lived in humility. (Phil. 2:3-7)
  • So that my heart wouldn't be broken by this world, His was torn into.(John 19:34)
  • So that I could get through weakness, He became my strength.(Romans 8)
  • So that I would not be a slave to sin, He became my freedom.(Galat. 5:1)
  • So that I would not be deceived by lies, He became my truth.(John 14:6)
  • So that I could lift my head, He bowed His on the cross. (John 19:30)
  • So that I could feel like a son, He became My Father.(1 John 3:1)
  • So that I could be made perfect, He became my sin.(2 Cor 5:21)
  • So that when I am hungry, He became my bread. (John 6:35)
  • So that I could have peace, He was chastised. (Isaiah 53:5)
  • So that I could wear a crown of glory, He wore a crown of thorns. (Matthew 27:29)
  • So that I could live, He died. (The Bible)
Giving thanks for friends and family is needed.  And if you have a good fellowship with both friends and family you are blessed.  But even if you do not, you have One who is there for you.  The real thanksgiving is not about living in a country full of temporary freedoms but living in a Spirit that is full of everlasting freedom.
 
Thank you Jesus.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

(77) The Anti-Christ, Part 2

Who is he?  Ask some people of history and they will say Nero, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin or someone else who destroyed their world.  Ask more modern people like democrats they will say Ronald Reagan or GW Bush.  Republicans will say Clinton (Bill) or Obama.  Some will even say things like the Pope or Prince Charles.  Dr David Jeremiah says it the best.  He tells of a story that he has in his library a collection of all the people who have been considered or even accused of being the anti-Christ.  When he got done reading the list he compiled he was relieved his name did not make the list.  The point is we really won't know who this person is until half the world is gone and it is too later.  The half that will remain will be deceived and will never believe the person could be satan incarnate until they have made the ultimate wrong commitment.
 
The Bible says or at least hints at:
  • a leader who rises up and becomes a world leader (Daniel 7:24-25,11:39-44)
  • miracle performer (2 Thess. 2:9)
  • will deceive the world (2 John 2:7, 1 John 2:22)
  • will get rid of religion so he can be worshiped (Daniel 7:25,9:27,11:36-37; Matt 24:15; Rev 13:5-8)
  • will have a false prophet go before him (Matth 24:21-28)
  • will come back from a fatal head wound (Rev 13:3, 17:8)
  • pretends to be a man of peace and prosperity (Daniel 9:27, Matt 24:15)
  • rules for 7 years, 3 1/2 of peace, 3 1/2 of war (Daniel 7:25, 9:27; Rev 13:7)
The Bible also tells us signs of the time
  • wars and rumors of wars (Matt 24:6)
  • earth will go through pangs (Matt 24:7-8; Luke 21:25-27)
  • people will be lovers of their own selves (2 Tim 3:1-4)
  • people will be disobedient (2 Tim 3:1-4)
  • people will listen to lies and not the truth (Matt 24:9-12)
  • economic prosperity then economic hardships (James 5:1-3; Rev 6:6)
Where in any writings, "scriptures", legends, myths, or anything of the sort can be so clear and connected?  This will happen.  These writings of the Bible are spread out 600 years apart yet still connect a perfect story that will become reality.  The only question remains is when?  No one knows that answer or will know the answer.  All we need to do is look for the seasons and signs given to us and be prepared at anytime.

Friday, October 18, 2013

(76) The Anti-Christ, Part 1

Boo!  666!  Oooooh, so scary.  Only if you do not understand.  What is he?
 
If you look at the true definition you will get a better picture of what it encompasses.  Anti-Christ; Jesus Christ in Hebrew is Y'shua ha Messiach, or "The God-anointed One who saves".  So the term anti-Christ means the opposite of that.  In other words, "the self-appointed one who destroys".  Satan is here to destroy.  Jesus is here to save.  This is not to say that satan is the opposite as Jesus.  That would mean satan is equal to Jesus.  This only means that he is trying to destroy what Jesus has done.
 
There are a few ways that the word anti-Christ is used in the Bible.  One usage (1 John 4:3) shows that there is a spirit of anti-Christ which refers to the way the world is.  There is a Godly realm with believers of Christ share their faith and try to live by Godly values, hence a spirit of love, compassion, mercy, and hope.  And then there is the spirit of the satanic realm, a spirit of pride (notice the opposite of everything good is pride).  Another usage (1 John 2:22) shows there are actions of anti-Christ.  As opposed to helping, hospitality, teaching, and ministering, there is an opposite action of murder (in all sense of the word).  Yet another usage (1 John 2:18) shows there are people who are against the values of God and do the works of satan.  Hitler is a prime example.  He is not satan but did the work of satan.  There have been many people filling this definition.  They do not have to be famous.  They could be living next door, homeless, or leaders of nations.  But the one that people get scared about is the last usage (2 Thess. 2).  The one who will come to earth with satan incarnated.  The anti-Christ that is a person.
 
Some will say that this usage is not accurate and that the references to the anti-Christ is only symbolic.  That view however is flawed based on scripture.  Scripture specifically uses the same language structure for the anti-Christ as it does for Jesus Himself.  Look at the comparisons.
  • Jesus is the Son of God, the AC is the son of perdition
  • Jesus is the Son of man, the AC is man of lawlessness
  • Jesus is the Lamb, the AC is the beast
  • Jesus is the Holy One, the AC is the lawless one
  • Jesus has a kingdom, the AC tries to have a kingdom
If someone says that the anti-Christ is only symbolic then they have to say the Jesus is as well.
 
In the end this man is not to be feared.  For greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.  He is just a man who has no power except for that which is given to him.  If Jesus is in you then you have already conquered him.  If Jesus is in you then you have already conquered his spirit; you have conquered his workers; you have conquered his works.  You, if Jesus is in you, are more than a conqueror.  You are a child of God.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

(75) The Book of Revelation

For those who have ears...
 
First and foremost it is not the book of Revelations.  There is only one, therefore Revelation.  It is also not the revelation of John.  It is a revelation revealed to John.  The revelation is of Jesus Christ.
 
Perhaps the most misunderstood and controversial book in the history of man.  Is it real; is it imagery; is it symbolism; is it literal; is it futuristic; is it historic?  The answer to these questions is yes.  There are some parts that are imagery.  There are some parts that are literal.  Some parts tell of the past.  And some tell of the future.
 
It was written by John, the Apostle.  John was now back on his own after taking in Mary per Jesus' request at the cross.  While he was on the island of Patmos he received the vision from Jesus.  John was on the island of Patmos for preaching the gospel after being told not to do so.  Tradition and folk lore says that John was sentenced to die in a cauldron of oil but did not die so he was exiled to the island.  The island itself was taken by the Romans in 2nd century BC and was made into a penal colony for those who were deemed as a political opposition or a threat to Rome.  The book was written around 95 AD but this is argued by Preterists who think it was written right before 70 AD.  But many annals say he was exiled in the 14th year of Emperor Domitian.  If that is so there is no way 70 AD would be correct.
 
There are many views that people see Revelation.  All have their point of views supported and each one has their point of view with holes.
  1. Symbolic-- shows the cosmic battle between good and evil and how Christ conquers all
  2. Preterist-- shows that it is about 1st Century Church and its struggle with the Roman Empire
  3. Historic-- shows the history of the Church from its beginning until the end of time
  4. Futuristic-- shows what is to happen at the end of times only
Those who hold onto the first two views are considered amillennialist and say that the rule of Christ kingdom is now and Revelation is purely symbolic.  Those who hold onto the 3rd view are considered post millennial and say that Christ will establish a kingdom on earth for 1000 years.  Those who hold onto the 4th view are considered premillennialist and say that there will be a rapture and Christ will take all the believers back to heaven and the 1000 year reign is symbolic.
 
The most consistent seems to be that Revelation is telling a story of the end times but using the present day symbols to show a connection.  John specifically says in 1:19 that he was to write down what is now and what will take place later.  The events and images that John portrays such as the churches in Asia, wars in heaven, the Four Horsemen, Trumpets and Judgements, all use 1st century imagery to describe both the present in John's days and to serve as a warning for future generations.  Example:  the Church in Philadelphia was real.  It was faithful and did the deeds of Christ.  But it also tells us that if we are faithful then Jesus' name will be written upon us.  Revelation is filled with all of these connections.
 
The most argued substance though in the book is the anti-Christ, the beast, and what it stands for.  The same equation used to describe the other images n this book can be used for this person as well.  The anti-Christ is a person and can also be considered symbolic for anything that stands up against God and His Son.  John uses words that people in Rome would know so they could make a comparison of the what they know with what Jesus wants His people to know.  This is where the preterist makes his case.  Since many of the events talk about Rome then all of the anti-Christ's activities point to the Roman Emperors.  But one thing destroys the extreme position of this view.  Rome destroyed the Temple in 70 AD.  This book was written in 95 AD or so.  If you use a preterist view and not take it literally then many of the positions are accurate.
 
Some of the main points are:
1.  Jesus is the beginning and the end.  He is all in all.  He was, He is, and He will be.  (1:8)
2.  Jesus is the only one perfect and worthy.  (5:1-14)
3.  Jesus is the lamb that is also the shepherd (7:17)
4.  Satan is doomed.  (20:7-10)
5.  Jesus is coming again.  (22:7-21)
 
This book was written no matter how we look at it as a warning that we need to follow Jesus because He is everything to this universe.  He is the alpha and omega.   His words are faithful and true.  He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.  He is not only the Lamb but the Lion as well.  Those who read this book with an open mind are blessed.  In the end no matter what those who believe in Jesus and followed His teachings will be united with Him either here on earth or in heaven or both.  Sadly, though many will not believe even if all the events in Revelation are revealed as complete literal because mankind will have become full of pride and will live by the flesh.  Pray for those who are stubborn.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

(74) Touch of the Master

Inspired by Joseph Prince Ministries:

In the Old Testament (Torah) the Jewish nation was bound by certain laws to become holy or clean before the Lord Adonai.  If you sinned or had afflictions you had to do certain acts.  You had sacrifices.  You had ceremonial cleansings.  You had to be isolated for certain amount of times.  You had to leave your community until the affliction was gone or you were.  Such as lepers had a skin condition that by the law made them unclean.  Lepers were not allowed to walk in the streets, they had to stay in the valley of the lepers.  There was a woman who had a hemorrhage for 12 years and because of this she was considered unclean.  When she touched Jesus' clothing as He walked by she then tried to hide for fear of the people because of what she had done.  By the law, those who were considered unclean were not allowed to touch those who were considered clean.  If they did then the unclean passed onto the clean thereby making them unclean as well.  People ran from them.  People ignored them.  People were frightened to be around them; causing those with afflictions to feel like outcasts, loners, and unworthy.  Leviticus 21:7, says:
  • When anyone touches anything unclean, whether human uncleanness, or an unclean animal, or any unclean detestable thing, and eats of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings which belong to the Lord, that person shall be cut off from his people.
But Jesus through the new covenant of grace changed all of that.  When Jesus saw these people He did not shy away from them like the regular population.  Unlike others who backed away, Jesus went to them and even more He touched them.  Matthew 8:2-3:
  • And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”  Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
By the law, the leper and the woman would have been considered unclean but because of who He was the tables were turned. Instead of the unclean causing the clean to be unclean this time the clean made the unclean...clean!
 
Those who are touched by the Master are cleansed.  It doesn't matter what our past holds.  It doesn't matter how unclean we have been, when we are touched by the Master our sins are washed away, our past stays exactly where it is, in the past.  Our unworthiness is now made worthy.  This is why Paul says Your grace is sufficient.  Paul had a horrible history with God's new family members and yet Paul knew he was forgiven because He was touched by Jesus.
 
Whether Jesus seeks us out or we seek Him, we can have this cleansing.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

(73) The Trinity

This post is not a negative response to a poster on Names of God, Revisited.  It is only an explanation of why there is a Trinity.

The first thing people should understand is that the word "trinity" is nowhere in the Bible.  This is perhaps the starting point for those who call themselves non-trinitarians.  But the absence of the word does not mean that the concept or reality is not there.

What is the concept?  The idea of the Trinity is that God has three forms of identity, all separate yet all the same.  Those three identities are known as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.    One problem that some people have is how can God be three different beings yet the same.  It is actually quite easy to understand.  We have the same type of analogy here on earth; triplets.  They are identical on the outside.  No one besides their mother can tell the difference between them.  But even though they look alike, their personalities may be completely different; yet they have a huge connection with each other.  We also have another analogy with H20.  Although this one is overused and has become a cliche it still holds water (drum noise).  It comes in three forms (water, ice, vapor) as well but have different properties (solid, liquid, gas) and can still exist in the same place at the same time given the right circumstance.  So to understand these things of the natural world makes the being of God, which is supernatural, all the more possible to understand.

Why is there only three?  There are many titles/names that are used in scripture to identify God but only three personas are referred to.  Three is also used many times as a symbol in scripture as some will hold onto as a belief.  There is no uncle or some strange multi-dimensional creature that exists along side Them.  Scripture refers to three and only three.

Why are they different?  They each serve a different purpose.  God the Father, laid down the law.  Jesus the Son, redeemed everyone with His blood.  The Holy Spirit walks the earth guiding the believers.  God sent the Son.  The Son sent the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-23).

Where does it say they are the same?  In many places Jesus equates Himself with God the father.  Jesus says things like; "the father and I are one" and "before Abraham was, I AM", and "he who has seen me has seen the Father".  Yet, Jesus also separates Himself from these as well.  He prayed to God.  The Word was with God and the Word was God.  Jesus is of course, the Word.  God called down from heaven and said "this is my beloved son".  In the Garden Jesus cries out to God and calls Him "Abba".  "Daddy, take this cup from me", Mark 14:36.  Jesus called out to God the Father on the cross when He felt His father leave His presence, "Father into your hands".  But the most compelling passage that shows all three is Acts 10:38.
  • How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
God anointed Jesus, the man with the Holy Spirit.  Jesus was flesh but still part of the Trinity.  He was able to sin but knew no sin.  He was given the Holy Spirit just like Christians are today when they accept Jesus.  God was with Him.  No where in the Bible does it mention any other essence of God as a being.  But all throughout the Bible does it equate them to be the same yet different.  This is why we pray to God in Jesus Name through the Spirit.  This is why we are told to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19).

The three are all One.  The same God.  When we worship one, we worship "all".
 
There is so much more that could be said but most would stop reading at this point.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

(72) The Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, the day when our sins are forgiven.  On this day the high priest of the nation of Israel would go behind the veil in the Holy Place and perform a ceremony in the Holy of Holies.  Leviticus 23:26-32.
 
  • 26  The Lord said to Moses,
  • 27  “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Yom Kippur.  Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present a food offering to ADONAI.
  • 28  Do not do any work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God.
  • 29  Those who do not deny themselves on that day must be cut off from their people.
  • 30  I will destroy from among their people anyone who does any work on that day. 
  • 31  You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.
  • 32  It is a day of sabbath rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath.”
It was performed on the 10th day of the 7th month each year. This day was the most holiest day and the most important feast during the Feast of Weeks.   There were four main elements to this feast.
  1. The holy ones (God's people) were called together.  God's people were called to the altar to focus upon Him.  God's presence was with them.
  2. Denying yourselves means that the people were suppose to humble themselves.  It is supposed to be a day of fasting and repentance.
  3. It was a day of offering.
  4. It was absolutely a day of rest.  No one was to work, punishment up to the penalty of death.
The high priest would first bathe and wash his whole body and not just the regular ceremonial washing of hands and feet.  This was to show a desire to be completely purified before ADONAI.  He was to wear a special garment of linen instead of his usual robe of color.  He would take a male bull and sacrifice it for himself.  He would place the blood on the Mercy Seat (lid of the Ark) and on the ground beside the Ark.  He then would take a male goat and sacrifice it for the people.  Some of the blood would be sprinkled onto the Ark.  Then the high priest would take another goat and lay his hands on the head.  He would confess the sins of Israel, symbolizing the transference of sin onto the goat, and then let it go.  Our sin would escape with the goat, hence the term escape goat, or scapegoat.  The remains of the bull and goat were taken outside the city to be burned/sacrificed.
 
What does it mean for us?  Hebrews 9-10 is the answer.  This day points to Christ in all ways.  Jesus is our high priest, our sacrifice, our escape goat, our atonement.  Jesus was pure.  He went to the cross not wearing any special garment.  He was stripped of his clothes until all that remained was his undergarments.  The soldiers mocked him and placed a purple robe on Him.  Nothing spectacular, one color, yet one of a King!  Jesus took His own blood, for no one could do this without His will, and it was spilled on the new Ark (Cross) and on the ground, since He was lifted high into the air His blood fell to the ground.  The scapegoat was to show that the sins of Israel were not remembered.  Jesus' death is all about how our sins are forgiven.  Our sin was transferred from us to Him.  But there is a difference here.  The goat was done once each year; it was temporary.  Jesus did this once and for all (Hebrews 7:27).  His sacrifice is permanent.  We are bound by law, but free in grace.  And like the remains of the bull and goat that was led outside the city to finish the sacrifice, so was Jesus (Hebrews 13:11-12), where He said, "It is finished".
 
It is not a day we need to sacrifice anymore since we are now in grace and not held to the law.  But nevertheless it is a day when we need to draw closer to God and remember what His son Jesus did for us, once and for all.  The law brings death and grace brings life.

But, we need to take time to understand this day. The day where all of our sins would be forgiven for the year. The priests would sacrifice a perfect lamb for each one of us.   The lamb my friends is temporary, natural, finite, a vapor in this life. Today we have a high priest who is also the perfect lamb.   But this lamb my brothers and sisters (more than my friends this time) is PERMANENT! SUPERNATURAL! INFINITE! IS LIFE!  He has redeemed us.  He has reconciled us to Him.  Our sins under grace are never remembered for the scapegoat has gone into Heaven and has taken our sins with Him.
 
Remember to thank God the Father today for His sacrifice of His perfect Son and for sending His Spirit to us.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

(71) Names of God, Revisited

One of the most read lesson on this site is  http://ideasoftimbible.blogspot.com/2010/01/31-names-of-god.html.  It explores the meanings of some of the names of God that we see from the Bible.  Some of those names mentioned were these:
  • El Shaddai- God Almighty
  • El Elyon- God Most High
  • El Roi- God that sees
  • El Olam- The Eternal God
  • YHWH Jireh- God provides
  • YHWH Rophi- God that heals
  • YHWH Nissi- God is our banner
  • YHWH Shalom- God of peace
But there is something that kept coming to mind that was missing about these names.  It wasn't in the differences between Latin and Hebrew versions.  It wasn't in the name actually at all but it is in the verb that stands with the name.  These verbs are present tense.  They are not past or future, but present.  That means that God is not the God of the past.  We can thank Him for what He has done of course but He is not the God of the past.  He is not the God of the future.  This is not to say that He has nothing to do with the future or that we don't have to care about our future eternal life.  He is the God of the present.  We live in the present.  He cares about us now.
 
The best name for God is the one He gave Moses.  I AM.  Notice it is not "I was" or "I will be", but I AM.  Sure, this also means He transcends all time and that time is meaningless to Him.  But, with God there are always two meanings, one spiritual and one physical.  This also means He is here with us now.  So, when we say His name as Jehovah Jireh, we are not saying God will provide.  We are saying God is providing!  God will not heal, God is healing!  God will not give us peace, God is peace!  When Isaiah said that by His stripes we are healed it is not saying that we will be healed. It says we are! God provides our daily bread. God sets us at peace every morning because His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).  If we believe then we receive.
 
Too many times we pray God if you will, when we should be saying thank you God for what you are doing.  This is why Jesus told us to pray as though you have already received it (Mark 11:24).  He is doing it now.  This may show why sometimes things happen at once and others take time.  We are in the process of receiving these promises that God will not forsake us.  We live day by day.  Our faith grows day by day.  Our faith struggles if we have to wait for the results.  The strongest of faith knows it is already done.  But sometimes our faith goes through hard times so we can see the glory of God when time reveals.  This is hard to do since we live in a physical world and our senses deceive us.  We rely to many times on what we see, but we are not suppose to walk by sight but by faith.  Faith comes from hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
 
Jesus' name is also Y'shua Ha Mashiach which means Jesus the Messiah, the Savior.  When does He save?  Now!  Forever.  With each day that comes, God provides, heals, sees, saves, and waves His banner of love over us (Exodus 17:15).  We are forever His.  The Great I AM is here, now, waiting for us to accept His promises and then watch your faith work.

Monday, June 10, 2013

(70) The Books of John

The books of fellowship.

Perhaps the same man who wrote a gospel and the man who wrote the book of Revelation also wrote these three small letters.  Some think it may have been a different John since he refers to himself as an elder not an Apostle.  But as a technicality, the two terms could be used interchangeably given the right circumstance.  These were written between 85-95 AD from the city of Ephesus.  Although they are grouped together they tend to talk about three different themes and probably were not meant to be grouped together.
The first letter deals with our fellowship with God Himself.  This letter has two themes throughout:  light versus dark and love versus hate.  The second letter deals with our fellowship with false teachers.  The third letter deals with our fellowship with other believers.  Fellowship is our bond between each other.  Bond does not necessarily mean a good thing.  The second and third letters are the shortest books in the Bible
John at this time was not the same man he was during the time of his fellowship with Jesus the man.  He had stayed in Jerusalem unlike the other Apostles.  He stayed because Jesus had told him at the cross to take care of Mary (John 19:25-27).  Although he had a few appearances in Acts (all of them with Peter), he is never heard of again after the 8th chapter.  That is approximately 35 AD.  Paul mentions him in Galatians (49 AD).  Peter and James, the other two of the inner circle, had problems.  James was martyred in 42 AD and Peter was consistently thrown into prison.  John had the duty to take care of Mary on his own.  Assumable after Mary had died John then goes on to Ephesus once Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans and Nero.  Tradition says that John dies of old age, perhaps the only one of the 12 that did so.  Other books are credited as John but not accepted by the Church.
Some of the main points are:
  1. What you do in the dark always come out in the light. (1 John 1:6-10)
  2. Jesus being our advocate is the only way to God (1 John 2:1-2)
  3. Being children of God has more in store for us than we can comprehend (1 John 3:1-2)
  4. Love is an action verb (1 John 3:16-18)
  5. Love is a command (2 John v 5-6)
  6. Good deeds are a sign of a true believer (3 John v 11)
These books were written to reassure that faith is a real thing.  Faith is part of the truth we hold onto and love is part of that faith.  There are some side themes in the 3rd letter that talk about hospitality,  John was stressing how Christians must walk in the light if we have fellowship.  One of the main important ideas written in this set is that truth and love need to go together.  Truth without love leads to harshness, yet love without truth leads to insincerity.  A Christian should not be alone.  We are here for each other.  Unfortunately it is also said that Christians are the only army that shoot heir wounded.  How can we show love to the world if we do not show love towards one another?  Nowhere in history is so much said in so little words.  The books of John say it all.

Monday, June 3, 2013

(69) The Book of Jude

The man who explains how to stand firm.
 
Jude is a shortened form of Judah, or in Hebrew Y'hudah which can be translated as "praise Yahweh".  It is also a form of Judas.  There were six men associated with New Testament times named one of the three ways.  Judas Iscariot; but this is 100% sure he did not write this book since he hung himself even before Jesus gave up His spirit.  There was Judas of Galilee who led a revolt during the time of Christ but died in it in 6 AD (Acts 5:37).  There was Judas, the man who Paul went to go see on Straight Street that remains a possibility.  There was a man named Judas Barsabbas who was a traveler with Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:22) which is a possibility.  Thaddeus was also known as Judas.  And then there is the most widely accepted author of Judas, the brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3).  It says in Jude that he was also a brother of James (who was also a brother of Jesus).  It was written in 65 AD but no one is really sure from where.
 
Jude is the only NT book with a direct reference to the Apocryphal books.  It says that Michael and satan argued over what to do with Moses' body, a reference only found in the book called the Assumption of Moses.  Because of this reference it was hard for many in the early church to accept its authenticity.  It also references a book called Enoch.  The number three pops up all over the letter; many of his examples are in groups of three.  Ex)  To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:  Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.  The book tends to take on a prophetic feel to it, making it a perfect lead into the book of Revelation.
 
As mentioned earlier Jude was a brother (half) of Jesus and full brother of James, the leader of the Church in Jerusalem.  Jude was not a believer at first (John 7:5), but as we can see he eventually became a trusted brother IN Christ and not just OF Him.
 
Main point of this book is:
  1. Persevere (vs 17-22).
Just from this one context we get what the whole book is about.  In the future the Church needs to stay strong in their faith because in the end there will be many false teachings that will steer many away.  Many will be divided by earthly ideas and follow their natural instincts like animals instead of following their spirit like humans should.  One of the shortest books in the whole Bible but perhaps one with the most truth to it.  Even today the Church itself seems to follow earthly ideas and live amongst the culture instead of trying to change it.  PC will destroy the Church.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

(68) The Books of Peter

Expecting Grace through suffering!
 
Peter was originally known as Simon bar Jona, or Simon the son of John.  In Hebrew it is Shim'on which can be translated as "listen intently" or in some cases as "little hyena".  Simon's new name is Kefa in Hebrew.  In Greek it is Petra and Cephus.  All three mean the same thing; rock.  So when Jesus changed Simon's name he said:  "Listen intently you little hyena you are a rock".  It's no wonder Peter was confused all the time.  His books were written separately.  The first was written around 63 AD about 5 years before his death.  The second one was written right before his death in 68 AD.  Both were written in Rome, although the first book does mention the term Babylon.  Perhaps it was used a analogy of evil.  Both places had Jews living in captivity for their beliefs.  Oddly enough the second book was written around the same time Paul was in prison in Rome as well (2 Peter 3:13-16).  If that is the case both Peter and Paul were executed nearly the same time by the same Roman leader, Nero.
 
First Peter is filled with analogies that are based on the way Christ talked to him such  as using the terms stones and rock.  Silas actually helped him write the letter.  The book focuses on external opposition to the Church and all the suffering the Body must or will go through.  The second book focuses on the internal opposition of the Church.  It tells Christians what to look out for and not to be part of the world.  Christians need to discern right from wrong compare to what the world tells you and what Christ tells us.  This book is the most argued over it's authenticity of authorship because of the different writing style it has with 1st Peter.  But since Silas wrote the first one then the argument should be settled.  In today's canonical Bible it was the last one to be accepted as valid.
 
Peter was a successful married fisherman.  In Mark 1:29-31 it states that Peter had a mother-in law and in Luke he had hired employees for his occupation.  But he was not an educated man like Paul.  he was just an ordinary person (Acts 4:13).  He may not have been able to write very well which would explain the difference between the two books that bear his name.  Peter was a very rash and  outspoken person (Mark 8:27-33).  He often spoke his mind before thinking about it and that made him very inconsistent with his ideas and words, compare (Mark 14:27-31).  Jesus had to rebuke him and set him straight a couple of times.  Even Paul apparently had to talk to him (Galatians 2:11-21).  But nevertheless Peter was used by Jesus as a force to be reckoned with.  Peter being the strong-willed type could stand up and give his speech without any fear of repercussions.  Jesus in the end restores his character flawed ways to what Catholics believe to be the first Pope.  Tradition says that he was crucified but told the Romans to put him upside down so he would not die the same way Jesus did.
 
Some of the main points are:
  1. God's mercy gives birth to hope (1 Pet 1:3)
  2. The prophets hope of the OT became our reality (1 Pet 1:10-12)
  3. Living by the example of Christ gives us hope and the grace that is promised (1 Pet 2:21)
  4. We need to manage our spiritual gifts and use them (1 Pet 4:10-11)
  5. Although we will suffer, we will still have grace (1 Pet 5:8-9)
  6. Through our trials, God has escape routes for us (2 Pet 1:3-4)
  7. Beware of false prophets (2 Pet 2)
  8. Live a Godly life, there is a judgment (2 Pet 3:9-13)
These books were written to offer encouragement to those who are suffering based on their beliefs and to warn us not to fall away based on false teachings in the world.  Knowing the truth is the best way to fight the lies.  Unfortunately in today's world the lie seems better.  It's been said over and over again, the truth will set you free.  Perhaps people like to live in prison instead or they just can't accept the truth because the truth hurts.

More about Peter: http://ideasoftimbible.blogspot.com/2009/01/9-peter.html

Monday, April 1, 2013

(67) The Book of James

The man who brings the harsh practicality to life.

The name James is derived from Jacob.  The Hebrew version is Ya'akov which means to grasp or to cheat.  The first "Jacob" is probably who most Hebrew men named James or Jacob were named after.  This is the third major James mentioned in the just the New testament alone.  The other two were James, the brother of John, son of Zebedee and James known as the less, son of Alphaeus.  This James is actually a brother of Jesus, (Mark 6:3).  It was written between 40-45 AD, perhaps the first New Testament book written.  Some think it was written later near his death but with so many Jewish undertones it is more likely that is was written before or around the time he wrote a letter to Jews in Acts 15.  It was written in Jerusalem.

This book is basically a manual for applying faith as opposed to Hebrews that is a dictionary of faith.  You can tell it was heavily influenced by Proverbs and Jesus' Sermon on the Mount since half the book is "to do" statements.  The verse of without works faith is dead is the most criticized verse in the Bible.  The language used in the book is the most straight forward and in your face teachings than the rest.

This James was the non-believing brother of Jesus who was converted after the Resurrection (John 7:1-5, Acts 1:14).  He had become the leader of the church of Jerusalem probably around the time that Peter started on his missions.  Both Peter and Paul listened to him for advice.  James is the one who wrote letter to Jews to tell them to accept people as brothers even though they had not converted to Judaism first in Acts.  The book of Galatians calls him an Apostle (Emissary).  But not the kind that is sent to other places, more like the one who is charged with church leadership.  Tradition has it that James was martyred in 65 AD by being thrown off the temple by Ananus the high priest.  Another story has him being stoned after refusing to denounce Jesus.  A bystander came by and clubbed him in the head.  The bystander said the last words by James were "forgive them for they don't know what they are doing".

Some of the main points are:
  1. Having temptations and knowing how to defeat them builds character.  This character makes you who you are (1:2-4)
  2. Bad character brings death, good character brings life (1:12-18)
  3. There is no favoritism in God's eyes, so we should not do it (2:1-4)
  4. Faith needs action if it is going to have any value (2:26)
  5. The power of the prayer of faith (5:13-16)
At this time Christians were starting to become targets.  It was not widely accepted yet, especially in Rome.  Claudius had banned Christianity and the first of three major persecutions had started.  Some had even been scattered due to the persecution and were having "faith" but not doing anything about it but running.  This book was written to warn Christians that faith is more than just believing.  True faith is expressed in all situations.  Faith is not just believing in something.  Faith is also a verb and sometimes using faith will cause disruption.  Go back to Hebrews to study more.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

(66) The Book of Hebrews

The power of faith.

No one knows exactly who wrote this book.  Some suspects are Apollos, Priscilla, Philip, Barnabas, Silas, Clement, Paul, even Luke.  All we know is that the writer knew who Timothy was (13:23).  It was written somewhere between 60-70 AD and was probably written from Italy, or at least the writer knew people in Italy.  Most would say it was not of Paul due to the way it opens because it is not in the same manner.  This is the only book of the Bible that is a complete mystery of who the author is.  It is also written in Hebrew and not Greek like the rest of the NT was written.  We do know it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome since it talks about the Temple in present tense.  The destruction of Jerusalem was in 70 AD.

The OT is mentioned over 80.  And because it pretty much tells the main stories of people and their faith it is considered a "mini Bible".  Some scholars think this was actually a sermon instead of a letter written to anyone in particular.  But the common thought is that the audience meant to hear this was either Messianic Jews who were reverting back to the Law due to persecution or Gentile Christians who were in the midst of being persecuted.  The persecutions mentioned were done in one of the following time periods:  Claudius who outlawed Christianity in Rome, Nero who fed the Christians to the lions, or Domitian who burned all Christians opposed to him.  Nero being the most commonly accepted person of rule.

Some of the main points are:
  1. How superior is Jesus?  Try reading this passage.  (1:3-4)
  2. God sent a piece of Himself, in the form of Jesus, to become like us and showed death will be conquered (2:14-31)
  3. Jesus is the Great High Priest (4:14-5:3)
  4. What Jesus did, He did it ONCE for ALL (9:23-28)
  5. The Faith chapter (11)
  6. Discipline is love (12:7-8)
The persecution during this time period must have really been bad enough that someone felt the need to address staying strong and faithful while it lasted.  It is also stressed that the law of Christ far outweighs or is superior to the law of the OT.  The common theme of who Christ is in this book is that he is the Great High Priest.  This book shows you how important it is to have faith. Sometimes faith is not popular with the world.  It will get you scorned.  It will get you ridiculed.  It will get you angry with friends and family.  But for those who hold fast in their faith; justice, peace, and reward is theirs.  Unfortunately, faith is hard to find today.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

(65) The Akedah Coincidence

What is faith?   Hebrews tell us it is the assurance of things hoped for, and convinced of things not seen.  Another way of looking at faith is instead of living by what we know, feel, and want, we live by trust, believing, and sometimes sacrifice.   Lesson 64 mentions it requires action.   God tells us to pray, worship, care for the sick, turn the other cheek, tithe, baptize, take communion and many other things.   We don’t do these things to gain salvation.   We do these things because our faith is made up of these things.   We do these things because our faith tells us they are the right thing to do.   And if we do anything outside of our faith, that is called living by the flesh.   When we live by the flesh; sin enters and the promises of God are put on hold.

But how do you get faith?  By hearing the word of God.   And you do that by listening to speakers of God, by reading the Word; getting interested in God’s word by sharing things together.
Have you ever heard the weird connections between Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy?
  1. One was elected in 1860, the other in 1960.
  2. Both had a vice president named Johnson, one was born in 1809 the other in 1909.
  3. Both were assassinated.
  4. Both assassins had three names John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald, both have 15 letters in them.
  5. Lincoln was killed at Ford’s theater; Kennedy was in a Ford (Lincoln) when he was shot.
  6. Booth shot Lincoln in a theater and ran into a warehouse. Oswald shot Kennedy in a warehouse and ran to a theater.
As strange as that is there are more similarities between Isaac and Jesus than Lincoln and Kennedy.
  1. Both Isaac and Jesus were long awaited promised sons.  Isaac was promised to Abraham when he was 75 years old but the promise did not come true until he was 100.  Jesus had been promised to the Jewish nation since man had fallen in the Garden.
  2. Both births were questioned by their mother.  Sarah laughed when she heard she would become pregnant.  Mary did not understand how this could happen to her.  Why?  Read the next point.
  3. Both mothers were of weird ages.  Sarah was 90 when she had Isaac.  Mary, while unknown the exact age, was a virgin and since women married young in these days we can assume she was somewhere between 12 and 15.
  4. Both were made alive after their death.  Even though Isaac was not actually sacrificed in the flesh, to Abraham he was already dead.  God had told him to do it.  Abraham believed God would provide for him somehow to keep Isaac or get him back after the sacrifice.  Isaac was symbolically dead.  Jesus of course was physically raised from the dead after really being sacrificed.
  5. They both carried the wood they would be sacrificed on.  Isaac had the wood for the altar placed upon his back by Abraham.  Jesus carried his execution stake up and down the streets of Jerusalem.
  6. The mountain is the same mountain or at least the same area (Salem).  Abraham was led to the region of Moriah and was shown the mount to sacrifice Isaac.  This place was known at the time of Salem, later to be known as Jerusalem, the place Jesus would be sacrificed.
  7. Both births were at a given point in time by God alone.  God had told Abraham the time Isaac would be born.  There was an appointed time for his birth.  Jesus had been appointed since the fall of man.
  8. Both were the only begotten son of their father (spiritually speaking).  Although Abraham had two sons and Isaac was the second one born, he was the first one born of faith.  Ishmael who was Abraham's first son was born out of the flesh.  Abraham used his own means to get a son.  But God had a different plan and gave him Isaac out of faithfulness.  Jesus was Joseph's son but not from the flesh.  He was God's son and Joseph raised him.
  9. Jesus becomes the lamb that the bush had in it.  Isaac was saved by the hand of an angel.  God had provided another way out since Abraham was faithful.  Jesus is that other way out for us.
  10. On the third day they both were resurrected.  The time it took Abraham and Isaac to reach the place God had appointed for the sacrifice was three days.  All this time Isaac was symbolically dead.  Jesus was in the tomb for three days.  After three days both were no longer dead.
  11. They both have Jewish family but married gentiles.  This one is a little play on words but still works.  Abraham was considered the first Jew.  So Isaac and his immediate family and descendants were Jewish.  Isaac married his cousin, not a Jew.  Jesus was raised Jewish but married the church and since Judaism does not accept Jesus then the Church could be considered gentile.
  12. Both are given up by their father.  The most important point is this one.  Both were given up by their father to serve as a sacrifice.  Both were loved dearly by their fathers but knew this had to be done.  Both were innocent.  Isaac was young and perhaps had not yet reached the age of accountability that allows us to understand the difference between sin and righteousness.  Jesus never sinned.  Both were spotless and the father knew their blood would set things right.
When we read this we can start to know that God has a plan. We may not understand the plan like Abraham.  http://ideasoftimbible.blogspot.com/2010/03/34-abrahams-lie.html Sometimes we seem like we can’t find God like Jacob. http://ideasoftimbible.blogspot.com/2008/12/6-wrestling-with-god-genesis-25-34.html But in the end if we have faith God will provide the lamb a substitute lamb like he did for Isaac, and of course that is Jesus.
 
Here is the difference between the two scenarios:  the link between Lincoln and Kennedy is a coincidence, the link between Isaac and Jesus is what a great pastor from southwest Ohio calls a God-incident.  The connection between Lincoln and Kennedy can basically be found many times through out history and perhaps really have nothing to do with each other. http://www.snopes.com/history/american/lincoln-kennedy.asp  But no one can break the connection between Jesus and Isaac.  This is prophecy.  This is fact.  This is from God.  This allows faith to become stronger because we can see the works of God.
 
We live in a world that is losing its faith. We live in a world that has no idea what faith is or who God is. True story:  A teacher got a complaint from the administrator that said a parent did not like the military attitude and "forgery of swords" quote that was in the email to him.  What the person did not know is that the line he did not appreciate was part of the signature the teacher uses in all of his emails.  And the line actually says "as iron sharpens iron, so man should sharpen man".  The person had no idea that the line was an encouragement for people to help each other, yet he misunderstood it as though his flesh was being challenged by a sword.  What a pathetic world we live in.
You have to hold on to faith. You have to follow your faith.  Don’t let anything replace your faith, don’t let your head replace your faith, don’t let the world tell you to get rid of your faith. Faith is what gives us the promise of eternal life. Faith gives us hope. Faith gives us reason to keep living when all else seems useless. Without faith we are nothing.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

(64) Baptism

Two years ago this lesson was posted:  http://ideasoftimbible.blogspot.com/search/label/Baptism

Some who had read that had and others may have questions about those who say faith only is what you need to be saved.  Some have said that saying baptism is needed is legalism at its core because they think it means someone's works can earn them salvation.  Some have said that to teach baptism as being needed is borderline cultish.  But what is baptism?  And why is it in the scripture?

Baptism-  as with most translations this word comes from the Greek word baptismo.  Those who teach baptism would stress that it means "immersion"and would add that with Acts 2:38, for the forgiveness of sins.  Read the lesson posted above and you will see that baptism in and of itself is more than just these two terms and verses.  But this lesson is not about what it is.  It is about is it needed or not.

Faith is where it all starts.  Believing in Jesus Christ is the first step towards salvation.  But faith is more than just belief.  Faith is action.  Faith will cause us to do things.  Being a Christian means you are Christ-like.  This means that you take on the qualities of Jesus Christ.  "Taking" is a verb.  Verbs are action.  It is not about earning salvation.  It is about following the life of Christ and emulating what He did.  We are called to repent.  Without repentance are we saved?  No.  But some will ask about the thief on the cross since he wasn't baptised.  Well what they fail to consider is did the thief have a chance?  Who knows how long he was in prison as a thief?  He may have been there for all three years of Jesus' ministry and just heard about him right before he was hung on the cross.  Maybe nobody brought water to him.  In certain cases it would like God to allow circumstances to offer other options.  Or maybe he was baptized before he was thrown into jail.  The Bible does not say it either way.  In any case, the thief on the cross repented.  He may not have said the "sinner's prayer", whatever that is.  But nevertheless he told Jesus he wasn't worthy and wanted Jesus to save him.  That is repentance.  But, it is also an action.

Jesus also told us to worship, pray, take communion, teach.   Will these save someone?  More than likely no.  But are they commanded to do?  Yes.  If Christians do not do these things will they still make it to heaven?  That is up to God and God alone to decide.  But if we do not follow a command, then we are sinning.   These actions are commanded.  Saying no to a command is a sin.  You make the call.
 
Is baptism commanded?  If it was not important as a command then why would Jesus tell his followers to baptize people when He said goodbye to them?  Why did He do it Himself?
 
Hebrews tells us all about faith.  Once the book describes what it is it gives examples.  Abel brought a gift.  Noah built an ark.  Abraham left his home and traveled.  It says they were living by faith.  Living is an action.
 
Baptism may not be the thing that saves you.  But having faith only is not an excuse not to do things.  Faith takes action.  Baptism is part of your faith.  So in this case faith only means you do all that is commanded.  If that is the case then yes, having faith only will save you.

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