Sunday, March 27, 2011

Studies in John 14-16: John 14:8-11

John 14:8-11
(8) Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. (9) Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? (10) Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (11) Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.

Jesus again emphasizes it. . . If you’ve seen me, then you’ve seen the Father. God is a Spirit. You cannot see a Spirit unless it manifests itself as something. In 64 verses, in both the Old Testamant and the New, the Bible talks of the angel of the Lord:

Genesis 16:7,9,10,11; 22:11,15;
Spoke to Hagar in the wilderness, Spoke to Abraham when he raised the knife to sacrifice Isaac,

Exodus 3:2;
Spoke to Moses out of the burning bush

Numbers 22:22,23,24,25,26,27,31,32,34,35;
Spoke to Balaam

Judges 2:1,4; 5:23; 6:11,12,21,22; 13:3,13,15,16,17,18,20,21;
Spoke to all the children of Israel at Bochim, Spoke to Gideon, Spoke to wife of Zorah (Samson’s mother), Spoke to Manoah (Samson’s father),

2 Samuel 24:16;
Was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.

1 Kings 19:7;
Spoke to Elijah

2 Kings 1:3,15; 19:35;
Spoke to Elijah, smote in the camp of the Assyrians

1 Chronicles 21:12,15,16,18,30;
Appeared to David, spoke through Gad to David,

Psalms 34:7; 35:5,6;
Mentioned as a protector

Isaiah 37:36;
Smote in the camp of the Assyrians

Zechariah 1:11,12; 3:1,5,6; 12:8;
Appeared to Zechariah,

Matthew 1:20,24; 2:13,19; 28:2;
Spoke to Joseph in a dream announcing Mary’s pregnancy, Spoke to Joseph in a dream telling him to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt. Spoke to Joseph in a dream, told him it was safe to return from Egypt. Rolled the stone away from the door of Jesus tomb.

Luke 1:11; 2:9;
Appeared to Zacharias (John the Baptists father) in the temple, appeared to the shepherds in the field to announce Jesus birth.

Acts 5:19; 7:30; 8:26; 12:7,23;
Opened the doors to the prison, Mentioned in Stephen’s testimony as speaking to Moses out of the burning bush. Appeared to Phillip and told him to go meet the Eunuch of Ethiopia, Appeared to Peter in prison, smote him on the side.

There are an additional 13 verses where the phrase “Angel of God” is used:
Genesis 21:17; 31:11;
Spoke to Hagar, Spoke to Jacob

Exodus 14:19;
Blocked the way of the Egyptian army, before the Israelites crossed the Red Sea

Judges 6:20; 13:6,9;
Spoke to Gideon, Spoke to Samson’s mother

1 Samuel 29:9;
Achish refers to David as an angel of God

2 Samuel 14:17,20; 19:27;
A handmaiden refers to David as an angel of God . Mephibosheth refers to David as an angel of God.

Acts 10:3; 27:23;
Appeared in a vision to Cornelius. Appeared to Paul.

Galatians 4:14;
Paul received by the Galatians as an angel of God.

Seventy-seven different verses mention the angel of the Lord or the angel of God, but we don’t say that God is an angel. We understand that is one way in which God manifested Himself to mankind.

John says in chapter 4 verse 24 of his gospel that God is a Spirit. In various verses of the Bible, it is said either that people have or people cannot see God:

(Genesis 32:30)
And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

(Judges 13:22)
And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.

(John 1:18)
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

(1 John 4:12)
No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

(3 John 1:11)
Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.

Scripture cannot contradict itself, therefor how can both of these sets of statement statements be true? One hand, it is clear that God is a Spirit. You cannot see a spirit, but on the other hand Jesus said that If you’ve seen me then you’ve seen the Father. . .meaning that Jesus is how God manifested Himself in flesh. . .the angel of the Lord is also how God has manifested Himself. . .the angel of God is another description of how He manifested Himself. . . and you can see those manifestations, so both statements are correct. There is no contradiction in the Word of God.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Studies in John 14-16: John 14:5-7

John 14:5-7
Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? (6) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (7) If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

Jesus said in verse 7, “If you had known me, ye should have known my father also. . .

Here is the first portion of the Strong’s definition of the Greek word translated as ‘known’:

G1097 γινώσκω ginōskō ghin-oce'-ko
A prolonged form of a primary verb; to “know” (absolutely)

So the verse might be translated as such: If you had absolutely known me, ye should have absolutely known my Father also. . .

Jesus did not come, from the moment of His arrival, with a blare of trumpets announcing that He was God. He came as a normal baby, totally dependant upon Mary and Joseph for his care and upbringing. Medieval pictures portray Him in his crib with a halo around His head, but that was not the reality of it. To look at him, was to see a normal baby in every external respect. In the only snapshot we have of him in his youth, He was precocious. He was asking questions in the temple, which apparently greatly impressed the scholars there, but still he appears as a relatively normal teen or pre-teen.

His revelation to the disciples was gradual. He never promoted Himself. Many times He would perform a miracle, and he would tell the one healed or delivered, not to say anything to anyone about what had occurred, but now in His final days upon earth, it becomes increasingly important that His disciples know exactly who He is. . .

Isaiah prophesied it:

Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Isaiah said his name shall be called: The mighty God. . .The everlasting Father. . .

Jesus said again in verse 7: If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

From this point forward, You know Him. . .and you have seen Him. . .Who did they see? In John 4:24 Jesus said, “God is a Spirit”. Twice John said (John 1:18, 1John 4:12): “ no man hath seen God at any time. . .”, but Jesus is saying here that they have seen God. . . Does Scripture contradict itself? How can John say no man has ever seen God, and Jesus say that If they’ve seen Him, they’ve seen the Father. . . How can Isaiah say: His name shall be called The might God. . .The everlasting Father, unless Jesus is God manifest in the flesh. . .again just as the Bible says (1 Timothy 3:16). . .God with us (Matthew 1:23). Jesus is God. . .He is fully God, Colossians 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. . . He is not a portion of God. . .He is not partially God. . .He is God. God is a Spirit, therefore you cannot see a spirit, but if you’ve seen Jesus, you’ve seen the Father, for Jesus is God manifest in the flesh. . .

No man cometh unto the Father, but by Jesus. . .for Jesus is God manifest in the flesh. It is only by the sacrifice of the perfect lamb. . .a sacrifice requires the spilling of actual blood. . .the death of a fleshly man’s body, who lived His life perfectly, without sin (Hebrews 4:15). . .who paid the price for sin, that our sins could be written upon the blank check of His life and thereby be payment for our sins, that we might have everlasting life. It is only by His sacrifice, on the cross that we are saved. . .

Friday, March 25, 2011

Studies in John 14-16 - John 14:6

John 14:6
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life:
no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

I typed in ‘cult definition’ in the Google search bar. The first definition returned was this:
followers of an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices

Looking at John 14:6. . .It surely seems that Christianity fills the definition of a cult. Political correct thinking today is that there are many roads to salvation. . .But! That is not what Jesus says. Sorry, if you take the words of Jesus to be true, then there is 1 way, 1 truth, and 1 life.

I don’t send anyone to heaven and thanks be to God, I don’t send anyone to hell. It’s not my decision. It’s not my words. It’s not my desire. It’s not God’s desire that any should go to hell:

2Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

But one day. . .

Revelation 20:11-12
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. (12) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

All will be judged according to their works. . .and what payment is there for sin without sacrifice? What can we do on our own, to undo the evilness of our actions in sin? I weep. . .there is nothing I can do to correct my past evil deeds, but repent of them and ask for them to be covered by the blood of His sacrifice. . .

Acts 22:16
And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Revelation 1:5
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

Baptism and blood. . .cleanse us of our sins in the past and of our sinful nature in the present. . .Why wait???. . . Be baptized. . .call upon the name of Jesus. . .avail yourself of His sacrifice. . .cover your sins with His blood. . .wash them away. . . Be buried with him:

Romans 6:4-8
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (5) For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: (6) Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (7) For he that is dead is freed from sin. (8) Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

Make that decision. . .hunger to be freed from sin. . .call out to Him. . .Have your sins washed away. . .walk in newness of life. . .

Deuteronomy 30:19
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

The decision is yours. . . It is put before you. It is not His will, but it is your choice. . .

Studies in John chapters 14-16 - 14:1-4

John 14:1-4
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. (2) In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (4) And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

If you have faith in God, you can likewise have the same confidence and faith in Me. . .

In verse 2, the Greek word translated 'mansions', is only found twice in the Bible both times here in chapter 14 of John. The other instance is:

John 14:23
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Here it is translated as 'abode'.

Here is the Strong's Greek dictionary entry for the word:

From G3306; a staying, that is, residence (the act or the place): - abode, mansion.

The verse says, "In my Father's house are many mansions. . .". . . In my Father's house are many abodes. . .many places to live. . .many accommodations.

Jesus was never one who places importance on riches and finery. He doesn't strike me as one who required or desired extravagance. I think the word mansions, reflect the heart of the translators rather than the intent of Jesus.

If there is one thing that you can tell about God from His creation, it is that it is a creation of variety. We come in all sizes, colors, shapes, demeanors, etc. etc. etc.

The classic portrayal of heaven as marbled halls, with the saints dressed in white robes endlessly softly strumming their lyres, would after about 30 minutes become hell for me. Likewise I have no desire at all to live in a mansion. Quite quickly I would be crawling out of my skin if you put me in a palace with gold faucets and velvet curtains. . . a little rustic cabin, with a fireplace in the Smokey Mountains. . . now that's another story.

But He goes to prepare a place of many abodes. I do not believe that Heaven will not be a cookie cutter heaven, for we are not cookie cutter people. There will undoubtedly be bushmen, Inuit, desert nomadic peoples, Tibetans, Indians from the Amazon rain forest. . .and though our physical bodies will not be found in heaven, even our spirits are vastly different in what makes us comfortable and happy.

I do not believe that we will lose all our individuality when we go to heaven. . . there will be many abodes in heaven, for Jesus has gone there to prepare them for us. . .It will not be a place of boredom and sameness, but a place of endless wonder and joy in His presence. . .

Studies in John 14-16 - The Beginning

John chapters 14, 15, & 16 might be thought of as the advanced degree section of Jesus teaching of His disciples. These are His last words to the Apostles before the betrayal.

Sometimes the chapter divisions, which it is important to remember, were not in the original Greek and Hebrew writings, but were added well more than a 1000 years after Christ, don't seem to make much sense in their placement.

In this case, chapter 13 ends with Jesus speaking to Peter:

John 13:36-38
Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. (37) Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. (38) Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.

I don't see any editorial indication of pause or change of location or time or audience. It seems to me that Jesus is continuing to talk to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, in the start of chapter 14:

John 14:1-4
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. (2) In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (4) And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

The chapter division, seems to split a contiguous thought of Jesus right into 2.

Chapter 13 has just seen the last supper, Judas leaving to betray Him, and the foot washing. Jesus has told them that He is going away.

How heavy everyone's heart must have been at this time. Jesus has been with them for 3+ years. They have grown mightily in His discipleship of them, but still. . .they now face the prospect of being left alone, without their Messiah. . .without their Savior. . .without God manifest in the flesh with them. . .What a heavy, significant time this was for them. . .

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Losing the Promised Land. . .

I am working on a study of all the verses of the Bible where God said “mine” or “my” referring to those things that are God’s. I had to reject the following verse. The verse contains the phrase “my righteousness”, but it refers to what a man thinks of in his heart about his own righteousness, and not God’s righteousness, Here is the verse:

Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee.
 Deuteronomy 9:4

What a powerful verse. On first reading it is key to understanding what takes place in the Old Testament. How unfair it seems for God to drive out peoples from their lands and to give the land to the Hebrew people, but It wasn't for the goodness of the Hebrew people that God gave them the land, but for the wickedness of the people who resided there, that God took the land away from them. They practiced all sorts of sexual immorality. They sacrificed their children to their gods. They were wicked in every way. . .Their own wickedness brought on God’s desire and subsequent actions to remove them. The blame for their troubles lay not with God. . .not with the Jewish people, but arose from within their own evil actions. . .

This has been a verse that I have been aware of and thought of often through the past years. It is key to understanding what happens in the beginning of the Old Testament. However upon reflection, over the last evening it dawns on me that this verse is key also to understanding the New Testament. It is a foreshadowing of God’s giving us the promised land. . .only our promised land is not an area set aside for us here on earth, but a Heavenly land of milk and honey.

It is not for our goodness, righteousness, holiness, etc. that we attain heaven, but only through the mercy and grace and shed blood of Jesus to we have any hope of getting there, BUT. . .BUT. . .BUT!!!! Similarly to what God did to the original inhabitants of the promised land, through our acts of unrighteousness we can lose heaven. If we try to get to heaven through our good deeds, then they are counted as paying off debt:

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
Romans 4:4

What possible good acts can we do, that could be payment of the bad things we have done when we were in sin? What can you do as atonement for a lie or sexual immorality? What could you do of your own, which would cancel out that debt?


James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Anything you might do yourself, that you might consider good, rests upon the blessings and good gifts that God has given you. Give money to the poor? God has provided an excess and has blessed you such that you have money to give to the poor. . .Help an old lady across the street? God gave you good legs, that you might be able to do so. We can do nothing of ourselves that is good, which doesn’t have as its origin God. All credit must be given to God, for all good that is done by us.

On the other hand, Jesus was equally clear:

Matthew 7:22-23
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

These were people who did works in His name, thought they knew Him, thought themselves to be saved and He denies them because they are, "ye that work iniquity."

So, in a nutshell: Our works cannot get us into heaven, but our works can very well get us sent to hell. We are not going to be perfect, but sin must become an exception rather than our nature and must be repented of and then turned away from as it arises within us.

We must always be vigilant and never take our salvation for granted. . .always be thankful. . .always repentant. . .always humble. . .

Thank you my God. . .
Thank you for paying the price. . .
    and giving me a hope. . .

I love you my God. . .
I love you my Lord. . .


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Looking for a Messiah. . .

For we know that the whole creation groaneth
and travaileth in pain together until now.
(Romans 8:22)

The ancient bones of the earth shudder and shiver in feverish trembling. . .The waters are violently troubled, sweeping away cities and inundating multitudes of people. The winds of unrest blow increasingly, unceasingly. . .unpredictably. Epidemics of anxiety and sleeplessness drive whole peoples into chemical sanctuaries of refuge and peace.

A savior is hungered for. . .Where is he??? Fear mongers prosper. Fear of financial meltdown. . .fear of planet wide ecological catastrophe. . . fear of illegal immigrants. . . .fear of globalization. .. .fear of asteroids causing perpetual worldwide winter, fear of volcanic eruptions decimating continents. . .fear of terrorists attacking with dirty bombs, engineered biological plagues, poison gasses . . .fear of AIDS, SARS, H1N1. . . an alphabet soup of influenza epidemics. . .fear of China. . .fear of our own government. . .hope fades. . .fear. . .fear. . .fear. . .rises on every compass point. . .a drumbeat. . .a heartbeat of darkness wells up within the masses. Fear motivates people to move in directions otherwise rejected. Fear is a tool well wielded by the princes of the world. Wielding only fear, the hunter drives the entire herd over the cliff. Mass panic accomplishing for him in a moment, what he could never be able to do on his own.

Fear. . .a powerful tool. . .and not of God.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear;
but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
(2 Timothy 1:7)

Selling their shallow theology of self-serving salvation, fattening their pockets and increasing their power, playing the role of prophet and messiah, while in truth wolves poorly wrapped in sheep's clothing. . . fading away, to be replaced by another unholy theological fad.

Where is the savior of the world??? The Jewish people missed Him 2000 years ago. For hundreds of years they watched and waited. . .Questioning each new arrival on the scene, “Are you the one we wait for?” Blind to the source of their own salvation, not knowing what was needed to save them, not knowing where the true danger lie, they looked in wrong directions. . .mistaking darkness for light and light for darkness. . .

They watched for one dressed in fine robes. . . They waited for one highly educated in the ways of man. They dreamed of a political leader to free them from political bondage. When the king arrived robed not in royal velvet, but in coarsely woven swaddling clothes. . .lacking everything monetary, born a child of pecuniary poverty thereby blinding the admiring eyes of worldly riches.

Today, the power of the Messiah is available in our midst. No other savior comes, but all eyes are on the high and powerful. . .President Obama. . .fellow Nobel Laureate Al Gore. . .darling of the Tea Party, Sarah Palin. . .all offer their own flavor of false hope. Our ship of state lurches from liberal to conservative and back again and again and again blown by the changing winds of public opinion , without satisfaction. Wagging fingers, ever able to say, “I told you so.” Each day brings fresh hope, only to soon grow stale and mold eaten by the reality of inherent human impotence to address the deeply systemic problems of our world. Our problems are not economic, not ecological, not political. . . but spiritual. All creation groaneth. . .all eyes keenly watch the horizon for the saviour, but His work of salvation has long been done.

I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.
(Isaiah 43:11)

Yes. . .He comes again. . . Each day brings His return nearer. He will come on the road of the risen Son. He will once again be revealed to have always been in our midst, but do not mistake. . . He comes next as Judge, as Harvester. . .His hope for the lost expired. . .He come as Bridegroom to take his faithful bride to the wedding banquet in the air.

Attire yourself properly today for the wedding. Fill your lamps now even in the twilight with oil. . .symbolic of the Spirit of God and be ready for the deepening gloom. The time of mercy and grace is now. There is no tomorrow guaranteed.

Happiness is not on the next hill, forever receding into the future. True joy doesn’t await until the next election or the next rise in the stock market. Always something will be found to delay your true fulfillment. . . that is, if you seek your contentment in the physical, it will always be a temporary, fleeting state. Life eternal begins today. . . be reborn into the kingdom of God. . . discover what that mean. . .

Look to Him for your joy. . .look to Him for your security. . . look to Him for your peace and comfort. Only He cannot be taken from you. His solutions are eternal. . .

I pray that your eyes are opened. . .that your ears are unstopped. . .

Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see.
(Isaiah 42:18)

Understand the foretold. . .there is no mystery. . .In Jesus name I pray. . .hear. . .look. . .that ye may see. . .

I love you my God. . .
I love you my Lord. . .

Please help us. . .
Please give us wisdom. . . to reach our world. . .