Tuesday, June 26, 2018

1 CORINTHIANS 3:16 - CLEAN LIVING, HOLY LIVING, POWERFUL LIVING

“Do you now know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)
There is a line in popular Christian singer Jeremy Camp’s great song from 2015 “The Same Power that raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us….lives in us”. This Power is called the Holy Spirit and comes directly from the Bible.  The Holy Spirit is the most incredible Being and Person in the World, after the Lord Jesus Christ! He is a Person and God Himself. Even more amazing is He is embedded in the spirits and souls of all who have recognized our sins, fallen to our proverbial knees and then turned to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Captain of our lives, in addition to being the Lord and Savior of our souls.  This is the crux of the matter.

The same Spirit Who raised Jesus from the dead. The same Spirit of God Who was “hovering over the waters” in Genesis 1:2 and created the earth, on the Word of Christ. The same Spirit Who descended from Heaven like a dove unto the Christ, Whom John had just baptized in the Jordan – that Same Spirit – is alive and working in the lives of all who are truly saved and born again into the Kingdom of His Marvelous Light! Conversely, if someone who calls themselves a “Christian” does not have the Spirit of God alive in them, they are not one of His redeemed.

The Bible tells us that “the Eyes of the Lord move to and fro across throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is COMPLETELY His” (2 Chronicles 16:9a). How is this possible? How can God know each of His faithful children and their regenerated hearts? Well, He IS our Creator and secondly, He IS God! He knows trillions of stars and heavenly beings by names and knows when a bird falls from the sky for the last time.

To this end, it would behoove the Christian to be very careful with how we conduct our spiritual and physical lives. We have God living with and going everywhere with us.  This is why the Lord sternly informs of the following in 1 Corinthians 3:16 “do you now know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”. Simultaneously, God says in the very next verse in part b, that “the temple of God (The Holy Spirit) is holy, and that is what you (and I) are”!

The directive of 1 Corinthians 3:16 is for all followers of Jesus Christ and most of all, this writer. Because the Holy Spirit of God Himself lives in us, each individual is considered a Temple – a place where the Spirit and very essence of God reside. We are temples, not like the ones where the pagans bow down to their millions of false idol gods, but more significantly, one like King Solomon’s temple when it was built and the Lord came down with fire and consumed the offering. In our Holy and Heavenly bodily Temple,  the Lord does not have to descend and ascend because He has put His Spirit in us to seal us for that day when He calls us home, to be with Him. Therefore, it is incumbent on each of us to treat our bodies, minds, and souls with extreme care, so that we can attain to His High Heavenly Standards.

Therefore, the following are the various facets of our individual lives to which we must dedicate our attention:

SPIRITUAL LIVES:
This is the most critical of the four pillars of our lives and the one which
determines our eternal destiny. As previously mentioned, one must be born-again to receive the Spirit of God and be sealed until the day of redemption.  This is the only permanent and outward sign (since it shows) that we are indeed saved.

We cannot lose our salvation because the Holy Spirit does not come and go and come and go. In addition, Jesus said in John 10:27 that “my sheep know My Voice, and NO ONE can snatch them out of My Hands”.  While some people disparage the “Once Saved, Always Saved”, it nonetheless, remains true.  Secondly, there are not “two fillings” of the Holy Spirit. This misconception only took root in the last 120 years in America and had nothing to do with the early church, the early church fathers or the Reformation which actually began in the 14th century and then lasted a few hundred years.

These aside, what we are commanded to do is the following:
  • PRAY:  Jesus spoke of prayer many times and how sometimes prayer and fasting are the only ways to victory.  He made it absolutely clear we are intended to pray. Witness Matthew 6:6 “….when you pray…..” Then in Matthew 6:7 He says “….when you are praying….” In Matthew 6:9 ….”Pray, then, like this…..” None of these are suggestions! Jesus gave two “when’s” and a “then”….and this is just only some of His direct instructions. There are more. The biggest shortcoming of Christians in churches, especially in the more developed countries is the inability, unwillingness, and lack of any care or love for praying.  This should not be a stumbling block to the loyal and faithful who seek to honor Holy Spirit and become a fixed point of reference for those who need a strong Christian as an example of praying Christian.

  • STUDY:  The statement by Jesus’ missionary to us – the Gentile followers – to stay firmly planted in the Word of God – the Bible, is clear.  First of all, the teachings of the Apostle Paul, who wrote most of the books of the New Testament were considered Scripture, very early in the life of Jesus’ Church. 2 Peter  3:15-16 explains the letters of Paul to the various churches not only are inspired but are to be treated firmly as the known books of the bible at that time. The Apostles taught from the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy); as well as the Prophets (Isaiah and others) as well as the Psalms. This is what we call the Old Testament but were already known as the Scriptures in the entire authentic religious world.  God has already preserved them by having them all translated into Greek in the year in Alexandria, Egypt in what is known as the Septuagint.

Not only are we to study His Word to know Who the Lord is, how He thinks and operates as Creator, Ruler and Lord of all, but we are to believe His Word. All Scripture contained in the Bible is true and the divine thread, woven through 66 different books by 40 different authors over 1500 years, tell the same story – God’s Redemption plan through His Sovereign power and Jesus Christ. Because the Words are true and confirmed by the Holy Spirit Who abides in our current bodily form, we can trust them. Because we can trust them, we can proceed with what Jesus, through Paul, taught in 2 Timothy 3:16  "All Scripture is [a]inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness".

So never neglect Bible study and Bible reading. Something powerful happens when Scripture is read out loud, both in private and in a corporate body.  The very oracles of God are let loose into the atmosphere, to bless and transform lives even if we are not able to see it, as we read God’s Word out loud.

  • FELLOWSHIP: The most practical way to keep on the straight and narrow is accountability. We are first accountable to God in our personal lives, in our daily journey and maintenance of our personal Temple (of the Holy Spirit).  Humans, however, have this sin nature which fools and lulls even the best Christians into a sense of “all is well” and “everything is legal, under grace”. We have all done this. But accountability first to your family and then to your church family is highly mandatory if a person wishes to stay focused on our life’s work while walking close to God with a clear conscience. 

The Bible says as much when it recommends that we “not neglect the assembly of the saints” (saved ones). By the way, a “Saint” is not a stone statue of a deceased person. Any person, from any denomination, who is born-again and has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior IS a Saint (Philippians 1:1-2 etc... )!  Too many Christians think they can worship God in their living rooms, the baseball field or fishing boats or deer stand on Sunday morning, and that’s good enough.  

There is actually nothing particularly worshipful about watching Drs. Charles Stanley or David Jeremiah preach on TV and thinking you have been in church. However, there is something powerfully moving and lasting about being in the right fellowship with like-minded saints, week after week and then staying in touch, either through small group bible studies or visiting. 

Consider the following: since the goal of most people is to go to Heaven, who do we think will be in heaven with us if we are saved? The same people who some call hypocrites or gossip about and we will be spending eternity with them, in the worship of our Glorious God! Refusing to fellowship with these other imperfect people, because we are nowhere as perfect as we think we are, is not taking care of the Temple of the Holy Spirit – our inner and outer man or woman – as God intended. As iron sharpens iron, so does one man or woman sharpen another. Go to church and worship with others. This is a foretaste of Heaven.

OUR PHYSICAL BODIES - DIET
Again,  1 Corinthians 3:16 reminds us we (our complete being – physical and spiritual lives) who are saved, house the Spirit of God within us. This is a good reminder for us to take good care of our physical bodies as well. While we are created with the end in mind, in that our life span is fixed by God, no matter what we do, it is extremely wise to look after our bodies. This wisdom about physical health is of prime importance. A child of God, especially a parent, has tremendous obligations to raise children and be a productive member of church and community. This cannot be done well if, outside of genetics, we abuse, neglect and let our bodies go.

Here again, Scripture has the answer and point of reference for all things.  Before the great Flood of Noah’s time, humans lived hundreds and hundreds of years and their diet was not as corrupt as it is today. When all that water covering our planet changed the entire atmosphere, the lifetime of humans was severely cut back. Abraham lived to 176 years old, but that became a rarity. Whereas pre-flood human beings could bear children into their 400’s;  600’s and more, for Abraham’s wife, Sarah, to bear a child at age 99 was a miracle!

Then came Moses and the Exodus. Moses himself is an interesting and amazing man to study. He was called to the Burning Bush by God at age 80, after forty tough hot years in the Midian desert raising sheep with Zipporah and her family. The bible says that when he was still a very healthy and strong man when he died at 120 years old! How did this happen?

The answers are found in the Jewish dietary and other health laws of the Books of the Old Testament which the vast super-majority of Christians (and even Jews) do not like to read! The books of Leviticus and Numbers are extremely difficult to understand unless the person reading it, grasps the reason God gave these over 600 laws and directives on food, hygiene, and worship. There is a divine reason which, while not clearly identifiable today, are sensible.

Jesus Christ died on the Cross to fulfill the Law of God. He did away with the ceremonial law but NOT the Ten Commandments. However, we can still learn a lot from a lot of those ceremonial laws which were designed from the tiny nation of Israelites to set them apart from the vast majority of mankind, which is Gentile (or non-Jewish).

The Old Testament banned the eating of any pork product, for good reasons. While this was revoked in the New Testament, when God sent down the sheet of animals three times in a vision to Peter (Acts 10:9-16), there is good reason to cut back big time on bacon (cholesterol and too much salt); ham (preservatives and salt) or pork chops (does not easily digest). Too much sodium in these cured items lead to high blood pressure. See the wisdom of God here. 

Scripture also forbade the eating of meat with blood running for it…sounds familiar? Steak and other beef derivatives that are both rare and medium-rare as food lead to all kinds of colon issues, if eaten regularly. This includes the consumption of hamburgers.  Even up to today, almost all Jewish people, in Israel,  have no problems with gout, colon cancer etc as their meat is cooked properly. This is a western thing, which is not stopping anytime soon as we eat more and more “fashionable” food and eat ourselves to death. 

Don’t even start talking about hotdogs and others such filler created meat products. Due to the rebellion and heathen conduct of the people, God caused the Israelites to wander for forty years in the desert. They never got sick and their shoes never wore out….proving that not only is God a good God to even those who hate Him, but that He allows His grace to fall on all peoples, this side of heaven.  

As for other dietary issues, there is always some issue with e-coli or salmonella due to even fruit and vegetables not handled properly. We should not expect many in the food industry to follow Biblical dietary laws, since they do not follow the Bible or believe it, but some of this other stuff is just common sense.  High cholesterol; hypertension; heart attacks; obesity and other western maladies are directly traceable to diet and the kind of foods we eat.  There are also problems with seafood. Salmon and other fish high in Omega oils are excellent for a healthy lifestyle. However if people knew what was in an oyster, well, it is not wise whatsoever. Shrimp, catfish and other scavenger fish are better left alone. Again, it is up to the individual, but the Bible commanded the Israelites to only eat fish with fins and scales. This rules out catfish, shark, oysters, clams and more.

There is nothing un-biblical, now, about eating any of this. However, just because something is legal, does not mean it is beneficial. The only commands about food for the Christian is in Acts 15:29 where we are forbidden to eat food sacrificed to idols. Most normal people do not have that problem, in western civilization.  Being wise about our food choices is advisable for maintenance of the temple of God’s spirit – our physical bodies.  

PERSONAL HYGIENE:
Whereas spiritual health is of prime importance and whereas our diets directly affect our health, it is as obvious as the sun rising in the east, that we combine Divine law with commonsense.  “Mens sana in corpore sano” – a healthy mind in a  healthy body is highly desirable for us to not just show respect for the Holy Spirit by washing our hands after using the rest rooms; tending to our personal cleanliness and the surroundings of our offices and homes and even neighborhoods. The very fact that people have to talk about this and put up notices in modern restaurants is an indication that these last couple generations of personnel were not brought up with proper manners or basic human customs. Just look at the streets of the big city, where God is pushed to the side and sinful people are in control.  

The following bible verses, most of the New Testament, are very clear about how our personal cleanliness is related to our relationship with our Heavenly Father:
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship" (Romans 12:1)
"For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthians 6:20)

"Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality" (Galatians 5:19)
"Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul" (3 John 1:2)

PERSONAL MORALITY:
While we have to be very to ensure our health and hygiene are in line with being wise stewards of our bodies, immorality is the one thing which can break fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Joining bodies, in though, word and deed with someone with whom we are not married brings not just grievous sin but consequences. The New Testament warns of only three matters of high consequence for the Christian – do not eat food sacrificed to idols,  from blood and other things strangled and FROM FORNICATION (Acts 15:29) 

Fornication is more than just trolling the filthy pornographic websites of the internet or watching bad movies on Netflix or HBO. Sure, it is sexual promiscuity but much more. When we married our spouses, we were united in both spirit, purpose and flesh under God, according to Genesis 2:24. Any departure from that fixed zone, which was ordained by a vow before our Heavenly Father, is more than a violation of the Seventh Commandment. It violates almost all of the Commandments which is a flowing chain, where when one link is broken, they all break.

The one vivid example used for the last 3000 years, is King David and Bathsheba. In this case, the beautiful Bathsheba was another man’s wife. So David coveted her beauty and her womanhood, which was in marital union with another man. David violated her marriage vows, which she also participated in. He put himself before God, which broke the first commandment. He dishonored his parents. He made sex and lust to be idols over the Word of God. He committed adultery then killed Bathsheba’s husband.  Can a Christian come back from that kind of outrage? Yes – God shows us how in Psalm 51 and Psalm 32. Would there be consequences for these horrible actions? Yes - from life in prison and the worse things you can think of, as regards family, reputation and freedom.

Does this sort of thing happen today among Christians – pastors and members, to be exact? Yes it does, and too frequently. We all know better and as tempting as the forbidden fruit is, here is where we summon the strength of a thousand bible studies, conferences, verses and yes - the Holy Spirit and then "flee immorality". Yes, if someone is going to get hurt because you and I turn and run like the wind away from the sexual temptation of any kind, make sure it is not your wife or spouse or children, or most importantly - God. The brief minutes of illicit pleasure is not worth the rest of your life of grief, pain, distrust or even disease, divorce, devastation and division. 

In other words, let us defend our honor and our spouses' honor or fiancee's honor and most importantly, the honor of the Holy Spirit, Who accompanies us every time we sin against God. This is the reason the Bible tells us to never "grieve the Holy Spirit". I have seen too many people give in and bring personal grief and sadness upon themselves just to do whatever they wish to do. Everyone reading this knows exactly what God expects and even if a person is not a Christian, we still have a conscience to know that adultery, lust, pornography, fornication and agreeing with the disgusting lifestyles we see in movies, books and television are dead wrong and ungodly. 

Here is the final word on this, from the Word of God "For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles (those who are not Christians) who do not know God (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).

We are all sinful people by nature. We are weak, even the strongest and most faithful Christians among us. Yet, because we have the Same Power that raised Jesus from the dead in us, we can prevail. We can prevail if we follow these biblical precepts - a healthy mind in a healthy body and a Mind that is set on Christ, Who gave His Life for us. If we follow these simple, yet disciplined things, we will have such a peaceful, wonderful life ahead of us. May the Good Lord always keep us in His Will, His perfect Will, so we won't be in His Way. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

ROMANS 3:16 - UPCOMING COURT DATE IN GOD'S COURTROOM

Destruction and misery are in their paths (Romans 3:16)
The message from the practitioners of modern cultural Christianity is that God is all love and any harsh judgment is “Old Testament” stuff. In fact, one of the most popular Evangelical preachers in America, Andy Stanley (son of the more Biblically grounded Dr. Charles Stanley) in fact has gone further than most of his seeker sensitive counterparts. To be sure, he is more honest than his modern megachurch peers and called for the complete ignoring of the Old Testament, so that “young people/millennials etc.” would not walk away from the church. They would instead concentrate on the teachings of Jesus only.  

The other megachurch pastors simply ignore the full counsel of God and are concentrating more on personal gleanings of Social Justice Teachings rather than the Full Counsel of God found in 66 Books of the Bible. They dabble in tangential topical sermonettes designed to make their congregations feel “welcome” or at ease or comfortable while doing eternal harm to the souls of their congregants, just to avoid taking a real stand for the Truth

Because the emphasis in modern cultural Christianity is to ignore sin, repentance, and judgment, we find the growth in numbers of these kinds of churches which are a mile wide and an inch deep.

However, God is not a man and He is holy. His Word is clear. The shortcomings of human beings will be addressed both in this life and in the one to come. From the time the first man sinned, as recorded in Genesis Chapter 3, we have been on a downward spiral which will, one day, require the Commander in Chief of Heaven’s Armies, to step off the Throne and finally end it all. This will occur right before the start of the 1000 Year Millennial Kingdom reign of Jesus, from His literal Throne in Jerusalem.

God has given us more than ample warnings. He had His emissary, the Apostle Paul, pen the Book of Romans to warn us of the Problems and the deadly Crimes against Him. The Book of Romans then shows us the way to Salvation (Chapter 6). It shows us how to live in victory (Chapter 8) and be transformed, both personally and corporately (Chapters 10-12). The rest of the Book of Romans demonstrates how to live, pray for and fellowship on the earth until we are called home. This is the Book of the Bible which God used to transform a monk named Martin Luther and then officially kick off the Reformation and return to Biblical Christianity.

The 3:16 verse of the Book of Romans should scare everyone, even the saved, sanctified and righteous who are walking close to the Lord.  It comes after two and a half chapters of strong warnings from God, Who has described in detail, the corruption and perversion of this current world we see…times a hundred! A lot of liberal church denominations do not even preach from Romans Chapter 1, especially from verses 18 to 32. It is almost like they are “ashamed of the Gospel” (Romans 1:16).

Christians will do well to not just heed, but read the following from Romans Chapters 1:18 to 3:16 to get the incredibly fearsome basis of what the charge against mankind will be in the future. This future is fast approaching as billions of humans stand before God on Judgment Day.  There is no time limit and all will answer, including you and I. The key for us is to have as little negative, for which to answer, by living for Christ with a lifetime of Faith and Good Works.

This is not possible until we understand the list of indictments God has against all people, even those who are now saved and rescued from the fires of hell.
Before we repented and asked the Lord Jesus to be the Lord and Master of our lives, we too were under these indictments. Whether the Lost of the world, believe it or not, the Word of God is deadly serious, unshakeable and will never be done away by any mortal human being.

As we get to the list of deadly serious indictments, under which we were all guilty unless Jesus is our Advocate,  we need to briefly discuss the summary of conditions leading up to the list.

Romans 1:18-32 gives us a 100% accurate picture of not just society (then and now) but personal conduct. Denying the Creation of the world was alive and well almost 2000 years ago when this was written. Today, Evolution is the religion of the unredeemed. History Channels celebrate Aliens and UFO as having more to do with the wonders of Creation than the God Who actually created it.  Their confusion is so complete, that some worship the very inanimate objects created by our Creator. Sexual perversion of all types is now so extreme that is heading to its logical conclusion. Unlike 2000 years ago, the internet makes all of this so readily available to the smartphones of even the most innocent, the majority of whom have no right to be viewing all this ungodly filth. God will judge.

Romans Chapter 2 is a completely devastating and warning-filled truth about the coming day of Judgment. Even those who have never heard of Jesus Christ or even Our Heavenly Father, will be judged. There is a reason for this. God made EVERY human being ever born – the same, in that He places His divinity in our hearts. The rich New Yorker and the tribal hunter in Papua New Guinea have the same Law of God written and embedded in their hearts, minds and souls. They can choose to ignore it and wall off their conscience, thereby denying Him, but the basics remain true. The rich city folk and the lost tribe near the Amazon River both gravitate towards the worship of something or someone. For the tribe and they may (and do) choose their gods made from created items in the rainforest. For the rich and spoiled, their worship revolves around themselves and their pursuit of earthly wealth and please, ONLY. 

Romans 2:15 warns that it is the same Law of God embedded in their souls from birth, which will either condemn them or rescue them if Jesus is their Savior and Master.  Christians today are also warned to watch our talk and match it with our walk. Whether people believe it or not, God will judge and no one escapes…..including religious leaders and common folk like us.
The statements from God in Romans chapters 1 and 2 set up what is coming next from the Grand Jury, in God’s Courtroom. 

The following charges have been fixed against all humankind since Adam and Eve sinned, as recorded in Genesis Chapter 3. The Indictment from God is perfect and true and if we are not forgiven, by the Same Jesus Who gave His life on the Cross as a payment for our sins,  all will inevitably face eternal separation from God, in a place called Hell.

Here is the List of Indictments which will bring permanent Divine Judgment against this lost and perishing world:

"There is none righteous, not even one" (Romans 3:10). This is the crux of the matter. No one is as good as God. Not even Adam, before he sinned, approached even one iota of the Righteousness, Holiness and True Power. This should also disabuse ANY mortal man or woman or child, who thinks he or she is good enough to get into heaven, on that self-delusion alone! Every single broken law of God, in the long list of indictments by God, against us humans, emanate from the penumbra of the sinful nature of humankind. Only God Himself could correct this and provide a way for those seeking Him, to be forgiven and brought into the Kingdom. When Jesus paid the Ultimate Price and rose from the grave to victory, the free offer to us of HIS own pure and divine Righteousness was made available to all who are now willing to ask and accept His forgiveness, as well as He Himself personally, as Lord and Savior of their lives.

"There is none who understands, none who seeks God" (Romans 3:11). The Bible says for sure, no one actually seeks God. If you and I think about our own lives before Christ (B.C.) and when He saved us, it would us well to recall how self-centered and pleasure-seeking we were. Sure we may have been responsible citizens and good family providers, but apart from paying lip service to a general “God”, there was nothing to distinguish us from the other lost people. That is, until Jesus Christ called us to Himself, showed us His plan of Salvation and gave us the choice to accept Him as Lord and master of our lives. In our human wisdom, we constantly thought, acted and existed on a horizontal level. We had no fear of God because we did not fear Him or His Justice. We were not wise at all. 
The most accomplished nuclear scientist or college professor is both lost and foolish before God if their sins are not forgiven and they do not know Jesus as Savior. They do not understand because they are not spiritually wise. Spiritual wisdom comes from having  healthy awe, fear and respect of the Lord. You can take a poor dirt farmer whom the world looks down on, but yet, is a worshipper, prays and can quote long passages of King James bible verses in context, and stand him next to the most brilliant cardiologist at the Heart Clinic. The farmer, who goes to Sunday church meeting with his clean overalls and work boots would be able to run circles around the ace heart doctor, in God’s economy. The true Christian understands and knows that he is nothing before Holy God and therefore, without Him

"All have turned aside; together they have become useless; there is none who does good. There is not even one" (Romans 3:12).  There is doing good….and then, doing GOOD. This world is full of a lot of very wealthy people who are philanthropists, some who even donate millions to Doctors Without Borders or causes which feed and clothe many in less fortunate countries. Even some of the vilest robber barons of the late 19th and early 20th century in America had foundations which contribute to the Arts and other such pursuits. But none of their hearts are set on the Lord.
Some of the richest men in the world support ungodly things likes which are completely against the precepts of the Bible and the cause of Life. Scripture tells us that we shall know them by their fruit. John the Baptist also says in John 3:10 “…every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire”.  This explicitly implies that people do bear fruit. The tech billionaire who donates $10 million to buy school uniforms and computers in South Africa or Oakland but also gives $15 million to Planned Parenthood is the kind of man, of whom John speaks. The multi-million dollar corporate Foundation which sponsors Art and artists who blaspheme Jesus Christ and mocks the Kingdom of God is not only absolutely useless as in this indictment, but is of no good to the Lord Who gave the gifts and talents to these people who mock Him.

“Their throats is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips” (Romans 3:13). This is a very serious indictment. We are called upon, as believers, to guard our tongues. IN Psalm 39:1 tells us “I said, “I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle while the wicked are in my presence. God will give grace to His saved ones (Christians) who slipped up but even so, we have many Christian parents who speak the life out of their own kids, which not only turns them against them (the parents) but has the potential to cause the child to eventually turn against our loving Abba- our Heavenly Father. For that, the Christian will suffer loss, even while being saved. For those who are not born again, their words will come back to haunt them at the Great White Throne. Every idle word, cuss word, words of hate, blasphemy, lies after lies after lies will be played back on the heavenly jumbotron. There is going to be no rebuttal as they will stand guilty, knowingly guilty.  
This is not an American or western courtroom. This is God’s Courtroom where the opportunity to have Jesus Christ as our Advocate has long since passed. There is no discovery or other modern legal practices. God already has all the evidence in living color.  The media, which delights in tearing down as many as possible, especially Christians are instruments of the opponents of God. The liberal education system which has not only banned anything wholesome and representative of the Lord but is increasingly is corrupting our children with perversion and sexual imagery, will stand guilty and condemned before God. Matthew 18:6 has already sealed their fates. The poison of snakes (asps) is not just in what say to ruin the innocence and faith of those in their charge, but what they allow others to demonstrate in classroom settings. The same for the Hollywood and the multi-media industrial complex. The church is not spared in any of these charges. Heresy is a major offense to the Lord and those who preach the godless prosperity gospel; cheap grace without mention of sin and a “gospel” without repentance….those who promote social justice over God’s judgment and emotional experience over the full Counsel of God….they will all stand in Judgment for their words and be held to account.

“Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness” (Romans 3:14).  Some Christians wish evil to happen to others whom we think have it better than us. For that, we must repent, forget about doing this ever again, and move on. However, many who do not belong to the Lord call down curses and worse on others and that includes going to voodoo priests and pagan witchdoctors called “shamans”.  The question of whether Christians should pray “imprecatory” (or prayers of judgment etc) on our enemies who are also enemies of God, is a very delicate subject. If you’re going to do such a thing, as a born again believer, be aware of how King David prayed those (as in Psalm 69) and balance it with the grace and love of the New Testament and Jesus. Otherwise,  leave those alone for the lost to curse and swear in their evil resentment, bitterness, and rebellion against the Holy God of Heaven. We, who are saved, should instead BOTH pray for these evil people to be saved and cease their evil as well as, pray them into the Hands of God, so that He can protect you from them.

“Their feet are swift to shed blood” Romans 3:15. On the surface, this one seems pretty confusing, since most indictments in this current world, are usually cut and dry.  However, it will make sense when viewed in the context of evil in this violent fallen world. The 20th century was the bloodiest century of all history. The evil godless doctrine of Communism/Socialism killed over 150 million people around the world. The National Socialists (Nazi’s) committed mass genocide including 6 million Jews in the Holocaust. Millions more starved because of evil dictatorships and governments. In America, over 60 million unborn babies were aborted since the United States Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973 and that “industry” took it to new depths, all the while its practitioners and politicians become personally wealthy in the process.  This is exactly what this indictment means. 
The feet in this verse are indicative of action.  For all these hundreds of millions of deaths in the 20th century and since, to occur, evil men and women had to set things in motion to cause the Soviet Union. Communist China and its satellites in Asia and South America, the Middle East and Africa did these things to solidify power and their iron grip over their starving people. They are still actively oppressing not just their own people, but any mentions or outward expression of Faith.  Their founder, Karl Marx, said that “religion was the opium of the people” and his acolytes have set out to destroy any mention of Christianity in their communist countries. 
Regardless, Communist China has the largest number of Christians in the underground church, of any country in the world. Persecution is the mother’s milk of the church. Still, this indictment stands against not just governments large and small but against those who are quick to peddle narcotics, traffic in human beings and cause pain to their fellow man. God is not mocked and what people sow, that they shall reap.

The Next Three Indictments are serious for the damage they have caused to so many innocent people over the course of history.

Romans 3:16 says “destruction and misery are in their paths”. This has been obvious for most of human history for the majority of people under the rule of corrupt men and women. Because of the thirst for power, control and worse by cruel people, who are basically lower forms of insecure humans,  of people, billions have been oppressed or worse since recorded time began. The usual suspects are obvious. We all know about people from Hitler and Stalin to Castro, Genghis Khan and Chairman Mao of China. But what about the father who terrorizes his own family? What about the neighborhood bully who harms seniors or demands “shake down” benefits in order to survive on your own street block? What about those who make life difficult in our own city, towns and states? What about the drive-by shooters whose stray bullets destroy life in Chicago, Detroit? It will behoove them to know that they are no less guilty than those aforementioned historical leaders. 
Both the famous and the regular folks who leave this life without their sins forgiven will spend eternity away from God. The destruction, which they cause to families endure, continues for generations. The misery, hunger and environmental conditions those people have as their legacies, we see right before our eyes on the news daily. The suffering they have wrought is palpable.  Personal sin and violating all of the Ten Commandments are one thing, but causing any of this from Romans 3:16 to others, on purpose, will cause even more pain to these perps on Judgment Day.

“And the path of peace they have not known” (Romans 3:17). Even though Jesus presented the Gospel of Peace in Bold Colors and everyone has had access, in most of the known world for almost 2000 years to the New Testament teachings of Christ and the Apostles, most ignore, disparage or just pretend the Gospel does not exist. This is to their own personal detriment. God has always been clear about the narrow gate to heaven, the road to salvation to get there. In the last 300 years, the Gospel has been taken to most of the world, at warp speed and at great sacrifice. People reject it at their own risk….and they do.  
The peace which mortal men seek to formulate is based on the absence of war and on the conditions of the conquered. The Peace that passes ALL understanding can only come from those who hear and believe the Gospel and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Master of their lives. Jesus says in John 14:27 that ""Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful". Because the majority of the world has rejected Jesus the Messiah, they will never know the real pathway to peace, which can only be found in Him. This charge and indictment is the complete and literally outright Rejection of the Prince of Peace. 

"There is no fear of God before their eyes" (Romans 3:18)The Apostle Peter said something VERY profound in Acts chapter 10, verse 35 “…in every nation, the man who fears Him (the Lord) and does what is right, is welcome to Him”. This is the man chosen by Jesus to “feed His Lambs”….meaning, teaching Truth along with the keys to godly living as found in all the chapters of 1 and 2 Peter. Peter also wrote the Gospel of Mark, through dictation to Mark who wrote down Peter’s words.  Peter taught the ideal, which is, the “fear of the Lord”.  God Himself defines what this “fear” (or reverence or respect or awe) of God is. The Lord says in Proverbs 1:7 that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;  fools despise wisdom and instruction”.

We can see it with our own eyes, that most of this corrupt world, not only has no respect and love for God, but actively seek to destroy His creation, His children, and His character. They cannot change Who He is by their blasphemy, heresy, and evil, but they are succeeding in turning more and more generations of young people from Faith and Love of God. The Age of Reason, which destroyed Christianity in Europe and now the British Isles, has landed in America, Australia, and other developed countries to the point where only about 9% -10% of people who call themselves Christians as truly born again. In other western countries, that a percentage is even less.  In general terms, over 70% of America calls themselves Christians.

The Lord said that there is no fear of Him in their eyes. They have no fear because the majority have no intimate knowledge of Him. They can mention the name “God” or even acknowledge there is a “higher power” but they no more know Him personally, like all born-again Christians do, nor do they know His ways. They can have the best education, in the best institutions of higher learning in the world. They can give themselves Nobel Prizes for science, literature, and inventions. They have even clone animals now and have robots doing human functions, in their subconscious efforts to replace God. They can, and do, turn to eastern mysticism, Scientology, and other man-made pagan systems to validate their sin, immorality and check-off box for whatever they think their souls need. They do all of this to avoid the Truth of the one true God and what He requires of His creation.  He will not force them to believe, fear, or love and respect Him. He presents the Facts about Who He is through the Bible and His undershepherds- the preachers of this world, but He will never force them to do anything against their will. This way, also, ultimately, the act of choosing to go to a fiery place away from God is their own choice.

On Judgment Day, there will be no debate from some defense attorney of the accused. The evidence will be demonstrated, in the divine archives of heaven, to be 100% certain. Only the saved, born-again and humble Christian will be defended by their (our) Advocate – Jesus Christ. The rest will stand on their own right before being sent away to their eternal future separation from Heaven.

These accusations by Almighty God may not be called “indictments” or charges. But one thing is certain: unredeemed mankind will stand before the Judge and Jury called Jesus Christ. However, as He sits on the Great White Throne of Judgment on the final day, these will be exactly – in detail the charges He has against all mankind. The Christian is the only one who will avoid the Righteous Wrath of the Lord. No one person, from anywhere in this world, will be able to say He never heard the Gospel.    

Friday, June 8, 2018

ACTS 3:16 - THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL NAME IN HISTORY

"And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all" (Acts 3:16)
There is something about the Name of Jesus which has caused, (and will continue to do so) people to lose their minds, for the last two thousand years of Christianity. It started with the corrupt religious leadership in Jerusalem even with Jesus standing right in front of them and really ramped up after His death, burial and resurrection. They, who called themselves followers of God the Father, blasphemed His Son every which way but Sunday, first by calling Him every evil name in the book, and then lay their filthy hands on the Savior during His trial.

However, it took on perpetual momentum in Acts Chapter 3, when Peter said to the man, who had been lame since birth and was encamped by the Gate called Beautiful, to rise and walk “In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth”! This is the beginning of what would become a war against the five letters of the English Language – JESUS!

When the priests in the Hebrew temple, who had claimed sonship of God through Abraham alone, heard that they this lame man could walk around, and who healed him, they freaked out. Many had already heard that Jesus had appeared to not just His disciples, but 500 people in Jerusalem, including some of the same Pharisees. Many of them converted later and became followers of “The Way”. Followers of Christ were not called Christians until Acts 11:26.  So even though they though 26. had successfully put away this “prophet from Nazareth”, now, a new twist was added.

After the Temple authorities heard that Peter and John had healed the lame man, in the “Name of Jesus of Nazareth”, they plotted among themselves as religious leaders that people being healed apparently was not a good thing. This is the first time, since the Resurrection of Jesus Christ that the Name of Jesus was forbidden by men. They said in verse 17b of Acts chapter 4: “Let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this Name”!

They then warned Peter and John to cease and desist from this practice. The response of the two fired up disciples is a priceless example for those of us, today, who are commanded by the lost of this world to not pray in Jesus’ Name. They responded in Acts 4:19-20 "But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Since the modern-day equivalent of the corrupt Pharisees have succeeded in banning the bibles and prayer In schools, the last thing left for them to remove is the Name and Likeness of Christ not just at Christmas time, but at school graduations, football games and other public events.  Military Chaplains are being ordered to stop praying in Jesus” Name and some have been dismissed from service for obeying God rather than men. Pastors, who are invited to pray for the opening of political offices meetings like those at City Halls and State Capitols, are required to sign documents to pray “non-sectarian” prayers. In plain English, these under-shepherds of Christ are being asked to NOT pray “in Jesus’ Name”.

I know some who have refused and walked away rather than deny Christ before Caesar. But there are also many who have signed this paper, prepared by ungodly people, just to be able to stand before the rich and powerful. We should be grateful that we are not these people, who will stand before Jesus one day to answer for this transgression.

There is power in the Name of Jesus. The Lord Himself alluded when He talked about “praying” or “asking” or “making requests known”….”IN MY NAME”, in the Gospels. Here are several examples from Jesus and those whom He discipled and trained to expand the Kingdom. 

See below:
* Matthew 21:22 "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
* Mark 11:24 "Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you."
* John 14:13-14 "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
* John 15:16 "You did not choose Me but I chose you and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you".
* John 16:23-24 "In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full".
* 1 Corinthians 1:2 "To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours".
* Colossians 3:17 "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father".
* 1 John 5:14 "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us".

Calling on the Name of Jesus is precisely what the great disciples – Peter and John – did in Acts 3:16.  Peter was the one commissioned by Jesus to do the preaching and the bold proclamations right off the bat, from the foundations of the Christian church.  He said the following, about the Name of Jesus, twice in less than one sentence:
  • On the basis of Faith in His Name. This is the key to bold and effective praying. The English translation for “Name” does not do justice to what this really means. This is not a name like Susie, Frank or Joe. The actual biblical meaning carries the 100% power of the Person behind this Name (Jesus, Yeshua, Yahweh, Messiah and others). In addition, it is the manifest power of God found in this One Person of the Trinity. The original word “onoma” also explicitly implies, that when we call on this Powerful Name, we are asking to be in His Presence ourselves, so that we can deliver this prayer and petition to Him! Faith in His Name only comes to those who are born-again, saved and pulled out of the fire by Jesus Himself. It is all Faith. People go to heaven or the other place, not based on what they do, but on what they believe.

  • Secondly, Peter says in the very next phrase of this same verse that “it is the Name which has strengthened this man, whom you see and know”! This is the same meaning.  Being in the Presence of the One Who is called by the Name of Jesus strengthens our body, mind, soul and spirit. There is no doubt when a person is transformed from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Christ’s Marvelous Light. It shows! It glows!! The glory explodes!  Every Christian who is committed to Christ and walking in His Ways knows the meaning of the Shekinah Glory of God, radiating off the faces of those who love Him.

  • Finally, Peter says “the Faith which comes through Him (Jesus) has given him (the man who was healed), perfect health in the presence of you all”. What the Lord, in His Word through Peter is talking about here, literally, is not a temporary restoration of health so this formerly disabled man could walk or dance and shout, until he gets older and then leaves this earth. No, the Bible is much more all-encompassing. This perfect health is one of integrity and COMPLETE wholeness of body, mind and soul! The Bible uses the word “holokleria”.

Words mean things and have consequences. Every word of every phrase in Scripture was put there for a reason. Its divine purpose is transformation. Transformation into the power and glory of His Glorious Kingdom is only given through the Mighty Name of Jesus. His Name is the Greatest Name of ALL Human History. It is also the most feared, hated and controversial name of all time. Neither of these facts changes the Truth that Jesus is Lord and Master of all, to the Praise and Glory of His Name. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

JOHN 3:16, PART 2 - "JESUS LOVES ME, THIS I KNOW"

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16)
The previous portion of John Chapter 3 presented the foundational thinking of the Lord, as He reasoned with Nicodemus. Jesus spoke from the Law of Moses to talk about His pending appointment with the Cross, and the wellspring of eternal life which pours from it. This incredible conversation with the Teacher or Head Rabbi of Israel then tops off with John 3:16, the Bible verse which has captured the imagination of millions alive right now. It is more than important for us to examine the verse, not just in its entirety, but phrase by significant phrase to grasp what the Lord is saying. Each word therein, means the world to the salvation of those who put their faith and trust in Jesus, as Lord and Savior. These words are words of life, to us who believe.

JOHN 3:16 - IN DEPTH:
FOR GOD – In this manner or because He (the Lord) set His mind to ….
LOVED SO MUCH – The proof of God’s LOVE – AGAPE- is the many times He says He wishes all to come to repentance and faith. God did not create hell for people. Hell was created for the devil and his angels. People choose to go to hell due to their rebellion and turning away from God. But this love of God, this Agape, means one thing: God so wants the best for us, because He truly loves us, that He did what He did. The essence of God’s love here in John 3:16 is “agape”. This is a love so strong and divine that it only wants the best for another. Therefore if God is so for us, and only want the best for us, there is no one else ever in Creation, who can top this love!

THE WORLD – the world here means ALL the inhabitants of this planet…as in ALL. This renders incorrect the notion that Jesus only died for certain people or the Elect. Jesus gave His life on the Cross for the pagan politician, the dangerous drug dealer, the promiscuous prostitute, the pompous professor and the diabolical dictator as well as the nice, loving grandmother down the street who would not hurt a fly.  Of all of these, the good grandma, or the screaming, yet hardworking soccer mom or football dad, are the most difficult to convince they need to submit their lives to the Lordship of Christ. Even more dangerous for them, is their self-deception of their own “goodness” and that’s all they need, in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the world of free choice, into which God the Father made His free offer of Salvation.

THAT HE GAVE – this is a powerful phrase. Sure, God GAVE, but in this word “gave”, therein contains more than one person “giving” or handing off the baton or a ball to the other person. In this offer, this word specifically implies that the Lord set in place an offer which is open to all, who will believe, from the moment Jesus said it, until the end of time. In terms of language, it is something called the "aorist tense" in the original New Testament language. To paraphrase, it is the gift that keeps on giving....for 2000 years now. This offer was permanently set in place for everyone, and reveals a level of thinking and love which no human, ever born, will comprehend this side of heaven.

HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON – This is no ordinary son. This is the unique, one of a kind Entity of the Universe. He is not a Son like you or I or our sons of our earthly parents. God’s “only begotten Son” is one Who is literally in the likeness and characteristics of our Heavenly Father. You may say that our son or child is made in our likenesses, but the offspring of humans carries the DNA of both mother and father.  Jesus, Who is God, is the Only self-existent Being in all Eternity and Creation, Who ONLY has the likeness of ONE Person – God the Father. This distinction is confirmed in Philippians 2:6 where the Bible reminds us that Jesus the Man, did not consider “equality with God a thing to be grasped”. So we know He Who was born of a woman to fulfill God’s plan of Redemption, was FIRST of all – God.

THAT WHOEVER – Whoever, to the plain eye, means what it says – “whoever”. However, whoever, in this carefully chosen word by the Holy Spirit,  means more. The original word “pas” means a lot more than all people.  It means ALL people on a CONTINUAL basis! That is, until the end of time. As century after century of the past two thousand years go by, this standing offer or order from Heaven than the Free Offer and Gift of Salvation is open, it remains that way.  Whoever (or whosoever in the King James Version) always mean all kinds of people, from all kinds of countries, backgrounds, races, levels of society etc. have the same privilege of this offer – if they wish to accept it.  When we have a chance to ponder this truth, it is absolutely a stunning thing, which only the Divine can engineer.

BELIEVES IN HIM –  A person cannot believe in the Son of God as the Savior, without a knowledge of the Gospel, our own sin and therefore, our need for a Savior. Sin is the common denominator of the equation of confession and salvation. Jesus Himself laid in out in the first gospel ever written, which is the Book of Mark. This gospel was written down by a follower of Jesus – John Mark – who wrote down the words of Peter  - yes, this Peter! In Mark 1:15, Jesus said “the time is here, the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the Gospel”. What He is talking about here, in the word "belief" is complete Trust and Faith in Him – the Son Who is himself, God.

It takes Faith to live daily life in general. It takes faith to deposit all your paycheck in a bank, and then depend 100% on it being there next week if you need to withdraw all to pay for a massive car repair bell. It takes faith to put your key in the ignition of your car, turn it and then expect the car to start. Almost everything in life runs on the engine of faith.  Yet, the most important thing – our destination after this brief life – is giving brief or no attention by the majority of this world.  

We are not talking about tradition, liturgy or religion. Belief and Faith in the One True God is what all of this is about. The Heavens declare the Glory of God. All Creation all around us testify to His power and imagination to create and maintain. We have all of this and the evidence to believe. All that is left is to now, believe in the Creator. The “Whoever”  believes will be called a son or daughter of God, bound for Glory. God has embedded eternity in the souls of EVERY person ever born. That means the atheist as well as believer. The offer is to both…even up to the point of death. Knowing this, it all comes down to Who (or what) do people put all their trust, faith and belief in.

SHALL NOT PERISH -  Everything on this side of eternity has an expiration date. The exquisite, excellent, expensive meal we plan for weeks and prepare so carefully for, when it is time for a celebration, not only is gone within minutes and just a good memory hours later, but is gone from the system within a day.  Food has expiration dates. The Bavarian Motor Works car company has a certain extended period of time where it works before it just stops (BMW).  The fresh bright colors of our hair has a time when it is in its natural color before we ALL turn grey and old. Using expensive hair colors never cover up the fact that there is grey under there. Everything expires, including our bodies. 

The bible says there is a time to be born and a time to die (Ecclesiastes 3:2). We can work out 4-5 times a week in the gym; bike ride for miles every weekend and eat gluten-free and kale daily…and we are still going to die.  There is another thing about this passing from life and here is where the most serious business resides. It is appointed for men (mankind in general) to die once, and then the judgement (Hebrews 9:27).  This is a big problem for the majority of human beings, who pay no attention to what the Lord actually requires to entire the Eternal Realm after this brief life is over.  It is one thing to permanently leave this fragile earth but this is just the beginning. Every human being is created with eternity in his/her heart and will spend it somewhere. Even the lost know that this world is in the last days, because this is how God made us.  So wouldn’t people want to discover the better place to spend Eternity? 

The reason is simple, yet multi-fold. For reasons known to sinful humans, they do not believe God. They know there was a man named Jesus, but only care about holding Him at an arm’s length and joining in the celebration of Christmas and Easter (observances of His birth and Resurrection). Instead of embracing the Holy Trinity, they come down on the side of the "unholy trinity", which is Me, Myself and I. 

If you ask anyone, in the majority of the population, even INSIDE the church walls, if they’re going to Heaven, the answer would be a resounding YES! If you follow up with the question of WHY they believe they’re heaven-born after this life is over, the response would include things like " it will all work out in the end". There is absolutely no basis for this dangerous (for them) thinking and “belief”. Many say they believe God but not Jesus. Read all four gospels of the New Testament about those who constantly repeated such falsehood, and then see what Jesus said to them. It was all condemnation. Sadly, those who ignore Jesus as Lord and Savior, will suffer eternal separation and punishment from God, for which there is no end.

BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE: They are many baby girls with the name, Zoe, who are not aware that their names mean "life". Think of the exhilaration we feel on a wedding day of a loved one (or others); or the birth of our first baby or when we first came to know the Lord as our Savior. Think of the most exciting thing you have ever done. Now, take this same feeling and multiply it by infinity, plated with the purest of God and divine joy - and you have the basic description of Eternal Life. 

Eternal, by its very biblical definition, is the main characteristic of God. The Holy Trinity: God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have always existed, from eternity past and will always exist, into eternity future. This will only be clearer, as to the how, when and why, when we all get to heaven. What a day of rejoicing that would be. When we all see Jesus, we will shout and sing the victory....the victory of knowing we are partakers in a forever life, which is this unfathomable!


Eternity (from whence we get the word eon) is both inside and outside the time dimension. It is outside in the sense of eternity past. We have absolutely no idea what took place, outside of the pages of Scripture, before the formation of the Earth. All we know is God, in the form of the Trinity, existed. Eternity inside of our time dimension is the present.  

The incredible thing is when at the point of conversion, from lost sinner to redeemed, born-again child of God, we immediately inherit the system which contains both dimensions. We inherit the knowledge and benefits of Eternity Past, to the Present and to Eternity future! We inherit the extremely divine quality of Godly living right here on earth, if we grow in the maturity of the Scriptures and in knowledge of the Lord. This is the process of Sanctification. We possess Christ and Eternal Life NOW, when we are born-again. We are now in the eternal realm of God and the holy angels. Then, at the point of our death, the very Gates of Heaven will open up to us, as the Lord receives us into His Royal and Eternal Home, simply because, we received Jesus Christ and the free gift of Eternal Life, into our own lives. 

None of this would have been possible, if God did not so love the world, that He gave. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

JOHN 3:16 - PART 1...."FIRST, THE BACK STORY"

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).
We have seen it in the end zone at football or baseball games. We see it on the helmets of sports figures or written in permanent marker on their shoes. It shows up on Christian T-shirts, wristbands and all kinds of apparel. It even makes for living room artwork on canvas or matte photographic paper.

It is the most popular Bible verse in the world: John 3:16. It is so, for a very good reason.  It perfectly defines and loudly proclaims, the plan of redemption for a world which got off on the wrong foot, almost from its very beginning.  It is the verse in the Bible which is responsible, most likely, for many a lost and drifting soul to come to a saving knowledge of the Lord. It is the verse which is the epitome of the perfect love (agape) which God has for ALL His people, regardless of our station in life. It is the verse which also delineates the Creator of the world from His sinful creation so that we can all participate in the incredible offer of eternal life.

A closer look at the positioning of John 3:16 by the Holy Spirit reveals the very thought process of God. Our Heavenly Father is One Who has always been reasonable and called unredeemed mankind to come talk to Him and to reason. He said so in Isaiah.

At the opening of the famed Gospel of John Chapter 3, we see the Jesus the Messiah speaking to one of the main religious leaders in Jerusalem. This man, Nicodemus, was not just a priest but was called ‘The Teacher of Israel” by the Lord Jesus. Nicodemus would be similar to a version of the local “big church” pastor in town, whom the weekly newspaper would go to for a quote if something significant happened in the school or town council which affected daily community life. The difference here is that Nicodemus was supposed to not just know the Scriptures, which were only our Old Testament at the time, but to know what God’s Word meant. Back then nobody except the Temple priests and scholars had copies of the Scriptures. The majority of the people were at their mercy at all times, since the Bible was not yet put together in the form it is today.

In John Chapter 3, verse 3, Jesus answered Nicodemus’ compliment of Him as being sent from God, with the bold truth of spiritual rebirth. Today, we know that to become a real Christian is not to be born into a Christian family but to be born again, or saved through seeking God’s forgiveness and accepting/receiving Jesus as Savior and the Lord of our lives. To the Pharisee Nicodemus, it was “keeping the Ten Commandments and all the 613 Hebrew laws of the First Five Books of the Bible (the Torah), PLUS all the traditions and rules added on by centuries of religious leaders, with nothing much to do. He was all religion, all the time.

Into this worldview,  Jesus shot the equivalent of a nuclear missile through the theological hat of the religious. Like many today, the “Teacher of Israel” (who later became a stealth disciple of Jesus), knew the LETTER of the Law, like any other Pharisee. What he and the other priests did not know, was the heart and spirit of the Law of God (The Scriptures, the Oracles of God).

This is how he missed what Moses was talking about. His (pre-converted) heart and those of all the Scribes, Pharisees and the Jewish Supreme Court (Sanhedrin) were all alike. They took the letter of the Law and created hard man-made rules that they themselves could not keep, yet they forced it on their people. Jesus dealt with all of this in Matthew 23. However, for now, in John Chapter 3, the Lord focused on the Message of the Gospel going back to the same Moses whom the Pharisees said they loved. None of them, and none of US, before the Holy Spirit opens our eyes, could begin to fathom one syllable of a Word from Heaven.

This is the background against which Jesus the Lord, shared the most important part of His Mission on earth and the reason for it. Jesus again drew on Moses to draw the visual for future believers and to give Nicodemus an illustration of the reason for stepping off the Throne of Heaven, to come down to earth.

John 3:14 tells us what happened when God told Moses to make a brass serpent and put it on a pole, as a standard. This brass serpent on a pole was decreed by God as the antidote to an epidemic of fiery poisonous snake bites, that was killing a huge amount of Israelites in the desert (see Numbers 21:1-9). Those bitten were rebellious against God and had sinned horribly against Him.  They begged Moses to pray to the Lord that He may relent and not kill them. After this is was accomplished, the Lord said that anyone who looked at the brass serpent on the pole, after being bitten by the fiery serpents, will live.

Jesus drew this reference to the brass serpent in order to give the chief Rabbi of the Jerusalem religious sect THE most important insight on the Scriptures so far – Jesus’ Upcoming Crucifixion and its significance!

The discourse between the Son of God and Nicodemus most likely lasted longer than recorded in the Gospel of John. In fact, Nicodemus used to sneak away many times to speak with the Messiah which would later lead to his salvation. Legend has it that, not too long after the Resurrection, Nicodemus was seen fleeing Jerusalem, after being excommunicated by the Pharisees.

Jesus was showing, from this precursor to the Cross – the brass serpent on the pole – that God’s love to save rebels and ingrates was so strong in the desert that He, (the Father), went WAY beyond that and GAVE His Own Son, Who was also sitting on the Eternal Throne, as a sacrifice for all people, of all time.

Then Jesus said something which would absolutely confuse not just Nicodemus at that time, but all unsaved people of all time, who do not really know what John 3:16 really means. Jesus talked about His own death to a man who most likely could not fathom it. After all, Jesus the popular miracle-working Rabbi was alive and well, sitting right in front of him (Nicodemus). What does all this talk about “the Son of Man being lifted up” (verse 15) mean?

Today, all truly saved biblically-grounded Christians know that Jesus’ “lifting up” or death on the Cross, as the Ultimate Sacrifice, is prophesied explicitly in the Old Testament.  Psalm 22 describes Jesus Christ’s actual agony, from HIS point of view, while He was close to physical death on the Cross. Then,  Isaiah 53 points to the Suffering Savior Who gave it all for us sheep to such a graphic extent (as does Psalm 22) that a true student of the Scriptures could discern them.

A complete understanding of what the Lord meant and still means, until the end of the Age, can only had by comprehending the background against which Jesus paints this stunning, eternal masterpiece, of John 3:16.  We, too, can achieve full knowledge of the very Heart and Mind of God, as to why He allowed God the Son to step off the very Throne of Heaven, in order to give His life as a ransom for many.  This comprehension and understanding can be ours, if we understand the Gift of God, the Sacrifice of Christ and the Purposes of the Father. Amen.