Grace is the ultimate gift that God gives to His children. It is His favor (unmerited by anyone) that He pours over us, which brings the blessing of eternal reconciliation – a divine, benevolent invitation to spend eternity with Him:
For the grace of God (His unmerited favor and blessing) has come forward (appeared) for the deliverance from sin and the eternal salvation for all mankind. Ti. 2:11 AMP
All God asks from us is that we do our best to walk in the path He sets before us (in His word):
For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. Ps. 84:11 AMP
God asks for our best efforts but His grace is a gift of His mercy – not a reward for what we have done. It is His bestowal of an infinite love that closes the gap between our efforts in obedience and where we come up short:
…there is a remnant (a small believing minority), selected (chosen) by grace (by God’s unmerited favor and graciousness), it is no longer conditioned on works or anything men have done. Otherwise, grace would no longer be grace [it would be meaningless]. Rm. 11:5, 6. AMP
Notice that is says a remnant of them who believes. Thus, we must supply our faith in order to receive God’s grace:
For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing it came not through your own striving], but is the gift of God; not because of your works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands] lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.] Ep. 2:8, 9. AMP
God freed His children from the burden of the Mosaic Law (that same Law that brought us an awareness of our sin and its devastation but that was humanly impossible to meet) by delivering us with His grace – given through Christ at the cross:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. 2 Cor. 8:9 NKJV
But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of suffering and death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. Heb. 2:9 NASB
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Rm. 6:14 NKJV
Christ willingly stepped down from heaven to take on the poverty of man (with all of their frailties in both life and death) to give up His life (through the grace of His Father and of Himself). That grace is made available to everyone so that they might have eternal life – freed from the ravages of sin. I say ‘might’ because you can only tap into that availability if you embrace Jesus as your Savior – which then wipes out all your previous transgressions against God:
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. Rm. 3:23 -35. ESV
It doesn’t matter what state you are in or what you’ve done; Christ will meet you where you are and lift you up to a place where you can embrace His clemency:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9 NKJV
And this divine grace sustains you through all of eternity:
…so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rm. 5:21 ESV
…when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Ti. 3:4 – 7. NASB
Grace, like any divine gift, comes with a responsibility of stewardship. The grace of God enriches our lives, brings us into His presence through Christ and opens the doors to eternity. In that grace, we also receive spiritual gifts that empower us to effectively tell others about how they too can receive this precious grace:
…to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Eph. 4:7 NKJV
Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them: Rm. 12:6 AMP
As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 Pt. 4:10 NASB
And just like everything we do, we use our God-given grace to bring Him glory:
For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. 2 Cor. 4:15 NASB
So, what have we been talking about? The gift of grace. The gift of Christ. The gift of Their love. Amazing grace.
The Bible itself finishes with the promise of heavenly grace:
The grace (blessing and favor) of the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) be with all the saints (God’s holy people, those set apart for God, to be, as it were, exclusively His). Amen (so let it be)! Rv. 22:21 AMP
Goodnight and God bless.
April 25 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
In this final installment of this series, we are going to finish examining what God said about your Jesus through the mouths of the apostles after His resurrection.
Continuing with the apostle Paul:
And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn of the dead, that in all things He may have preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. Col. 1:18 – 20. NKJV
For in the whole fullness of the Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature]. And you are in Him, made full and having come to the full expression of life [in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and reach full spiritual stature]. And He is the head of all rule and authority. Col. 2:9, 10. AMP
Old Testament prophets and Jesus raised others from the dead, but they all eventually died a natural death. Christ was the first to be raised to eternal life.
We see too that Jesus is both the focus point and ultimate authority of the church, whom through we are continually made presentable before God, by this divine indefinable amalgamation of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who lives in us as well.
Are you seeing the unfathomable magnitude and desirability of your Jesus – your only connection to God?
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all… 1 Tim. 2:5, 6. NKJV
Finally, let’s explore the post-resurrection Holy Spirit revelations sent through the apostle John. First, John sets the tone by showing us the glorified relationship we have available through Christ:
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 Jn. 5:4, 5. ESV
Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself…that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life… 1 Jn. 5:11, 12. ESV
…the One who was begotten by God carefully watches over and protects him [Christ’s divine presence within him preserves him against the evil], and the wicked one does not lay hold (get a grip) on him or touch [him]. 1 Jn. 5:18 AMP
Now we’ll make a big shift and observe Christ through the eyes of John as Jesus shows him how the world will end. First, we get to see Jesus as He looks now in His ascendant glory:
His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters…and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. Rv. 1:14 – 16. NKJV
And He placed His right hand on me saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” Rv. 1:17, 18. NASB
The white hair suggests the wisdom of His Father (Dan. 7:9), the flaming eyes Jesus’ omniscience, His feet of brass omnipotence, and the voice demonstrating the power and authority to speak as God. (Ezek. 1:24)
Jesus was in the beginning God’s creative agent and Lord over life; and here at the last, He is Lord over death as well – victorious over the devil.
Jesus then speaks of seven actual churches (in John’s time) but His message is also metaphorical for all churches for all time – encouraging some, correcting others and warning those who make a mockery of His church. At the end of each description, Jesus tells us how He will reward those who throughout their lives remain in faith in and obedience to Him:
“To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” Rv. 2:7 NKJV
” Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life…The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.” Rv. 2:10, 11. ESV
“To him who overcomes I will give some hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name which no one knows except him who receives it.” Rv. 2:17 NKJV
“The one who conquers and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations…And I will give him the morning star.” Rv. 2:26 & 28.
“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Rev. 3:5 NKJV
“The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.” Rv. 3:12 ESV
“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne…” Rv. 3:21 NKJV
So, Jesus grants to His faithful: eternal life, heavenly blessings (manna), an acquittal from their transgressions (white stone), Himself (the morning star), His grace (white garments), a place within God’s temple in New Jerusalem as reflections of the Father and the Son and the ability to play out some part in His kingdom reign.
We turn now to the last day of the ‘tribulations’ – to the onset of Armageddon, and view our Champion:
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called the Word of God. Rv. 19:11 -13. NKJV
From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron…And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” RV. 19:15, 16. NASB
Jesus’ robe is dipped in atoning blood. (He hadn’t gone to battle just yet.) He then wipes out the devil’s minions with the sword in His mouth; i.e. by speaking only the word of God as His righteous weapon.
The devil is then bound for 1000 years; and Jesus’ rules over a peaceful earth filled with His followers and their descendants – some of whom rebel when Satan returns. Jesus kicks his butt and puts him down for eternity. At that point, time itself comes to an end.
All who did not accept Christ as their savior are resurrected for judgment and Jesus sends these ‘goats’ to join the devil for eternity.
Earth and the universe around it undergoes dramatic changes; and the children of God are led into eternal peace, joy, happiness and love…
Jesus then gives us His final invitation and encouragement at the very end of the Bible:
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” Rv. 22:12, 13. NKJV
“He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly!” Rv. 22:20 NKJV
That’s your Jesus!
Goodnight and God bless.
April 17 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
We first looked at the Old Testament prophecies that described the true nature of your Jesus and then we examined all that Jesus had to say about Himself. In the final two parts in this series, we now listen in on what the apostles had to say. Keep in mind that at this point, Jesus had ascended to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to open their minds so that they understood all of what the Old Testament scriptures meant, as well as everything He told them and what He hadn’t had time to teach them.
At this juncture, the first church of Jesus Christ was formed, the apostles were healing the sick by the power of Jesus (through the Holy Spirit) and have been preaching the gospel of salvation through Christ – in spite of various threats, incarcerations and even an execution (of the disciple Stephen).
Ironically, it was Saul of Tarsus, educated as a Pharisee, who had overseen Stephen’s execution. He was also participating in an effort to hunt down the followers of Christ in order to imprison and / or put them to death. I say ironic because one day Jesus manifested Himself to Saul (who would later become the apostle Paul) and read him the riot act – telling him to cease and desist in his persecution of God’s children and charged him with bringing His salvation message to the Gentiles (of which He imputed to him).
The apostle Peter received a vision from God telling him to go to a Gentile’s house, whereupon God pressed upon him that all peoples needed to hear the gospel (not only the Jews). In that house, Peter speaks out his vision:
“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.” Acts 10:34, 35. NASB
“The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ – He is the Lord of all…And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” Acts 10:36, 42 & 43. NKJV
As Peter spoke this to the Gentiles, the Holy Spirit fell upon them – building his faith in the veracity of these words of God concerning His Son.
The apostle Paul was elsewhere, preaching the same message:
“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.” Acts 13:38, 39. NASB
Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Gal. 1:6, 7. NASB
Jesus delivers us from what this world has become and from the times that we’ve been taken with its ways. And this is how He ultimately does it:
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thess. 4:16, 17. NKJV
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 1 Cor. 15:22 – 26. NKJV
Why does He do it?
For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should be together with Him. 1 Thess. 5:9, 10. NKJV
(As you recall, God’s wrath is for the ‘goats.’)
So what’s Jesus doing in the meantime?
For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Rom. 3:22 – 26. ESV
There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. Rom. 8:1, 2. NASB
Jesus is busy as God’s redemptive gift, bringing everyone who comes to Him into His Father’s grace and justification, so that they can be cleansed – preparing them for their heavenly transformation. See too that in order to get that gift, we must have faith in Christ. Where do we get it?
…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith… Heb. 12:1, 2. NKJV
We get it from Jesus Himself! He leaves nothing to chance for those who love Him. Once Jesus gets a hold of us, what can stand in our way?
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. Rom. 8:38, 39. NKJV
NOTHING! (Unless you choose to walk away from God.)
So again, how do we grab a hold of that love?
…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Rom. 10:9, 10. NKJV
Let’s take a quick look at the Jesus revelations in the book of Hebrews. Many biblical scholars attribute the authorship of Hebrews to the apostle Paul as well:
God…has in these last days spoken to us by His Son… Heb. 1:1, 2. NKJV
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty, having become as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. Heb. 1:3, 4. ESV
We are informed then (because this was written 60 years after Jesus ascended to heaven) that as soon as Jesus was resurrected, the ‘last days’ of the earth commenced – the final age. Yes, it’s been over 2000 years, but in the timeframe of the age of the universe that’s just a blink of an eye.
We see too that God now speaks through Christ, who for all intents and purposes is identical to His Father and He sustains the universe through His Son. Moreover, Jesus sat down next to Jehovah to reign and rule as the King of kings – even over the angels. However, Jesus on earth did not reign over them because He had to take on mortality:
…we are able to see Jesus, Who was ranked lower than the angels for a little while, crowned with glory and honor because of His having suffered death, in order that by the grace (unmerited favor) of God [to us sinners] He might experience death for every individual person. For it was an act worthy [of God] and fitting [to the divine nature] that He, for Whose sake and by Whom all things have their existence, in bringing many sons into glory, should make the Pioneer of their salvation perfect [should bring to maturity the human experience necessary to be perfectly equipped for His office as High Priest] through suffering. Heb. 2:9, 10. AMP
…that by [going through] death He might bring to naught and make no effect him how had the power of death – that is the devil… Heb. 2:14 AMP
Jesus had to become mortal in order to be able to identify with our weaknesses and suffering by experiencing them (without giving in to them) so as to connect His human side to us and be able to sacrifice Himself for our sins – saving us from death forever. Until that day, He holds the compassionate office of High Priest to be sure that we are privy to His help, compassion and healing:
Therefore, He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Heb. 7:25 NKJV
Paul speaks about that exalted station of Christ and how we should worship and exalt Him:
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and that every tongue should confess that Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil. 2:9 – 11. NKJV
The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made know to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:4 – 7. NKJV
Goodnight and God bless.
April 11 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
The last three parts of this series examined what God tells us about Jesus through the mouth of His Son. Let’s finish that narrative as we complete the final year of Christ’s ministry.
As He and His apostles continue to minister, Jesus receives a message that His friend Lazarus was ill. Jesus decided to go to him. Lazarus was dead by the time Jesus arrived (as per His plan so He could strengthen the faith of His apostles). Jesus told Lazarus’ sister that he would rise again. She took it to mean that Lazarus would come to life in the final resurrection at the end of time. Jesus corrected her:
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live, and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” John 11:25, 26. NKJV
Jesus spoke and Lazarus came forth living after being dead for 4 days…
The apostles accompanied Jesus through Samaria and Galilee on His final journey to Jerusalem. During their travels, they were waylaid by some of those pesky Pharisees, who demanded to know when the kingdom of God would come. He retorted by telling them that the kingdom of God was right in front of them – in the persons of Himself and His followers. Jesus then spoke to His apostles:
“The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, “Look, there!’ or ‘Look here!’ do not go out or follow them! For as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.” Lk. 17:22-24. ESV
Christ was telling them that will be impostors will come after His ascension to heaven and claim to be the Messiah or claim to know where He is, but to ignore them because His return will be global in its impact.
As Jesus was almost finished with His journey, He overheard two of His apostles arguing over who is going to have greater stature in heaven. Jesus admonished them, reminding them that their purpose was to serve and held Himself up as an example:
Just as the Son of Man came not to be waited on but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many [the price paid to set them free]. Mt. 20:28 AMP
On Palm Sunday (the first day of Jesus’ last week on earth before His heavenly transformation), He entered Jerusalem on a donkey to much fanfare from His followers. He left Jerusalem but returned on Monday to teach in the Temple. During that time, Jesus asked God to glorify His name (letting Him know His Son is ready to fulfill His Father’s mission). God’s voice booms from the sky:
“I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” Jn. 12:28 NKJV
The crowd around Him is stupefied. He turns to them and says:
“This voice did not come down because of Me, but for your sake. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” Jn. 12:30 – 32. NKJV
He’s telling them that the appearance of the voice of God was a final attempt to get these dunderheads to wake up and realize who Jesus is, that after His resurrection He (not Satan) will be in charge of the world and He will call all people to salvation. The outcome will be up to them. (This was Jesus’ last public address to the Jews.)
Jesus taught in the Temple on Tuesday for the last time. When He left Jerusalem that day, He told His apostles (that includes us) that their lives would be difficult in this world that hates Him but that He would empower them (us):
“…they will lay their hands upon you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought out before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle in your hearts not to meditate before hand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.” Lk. 21:12 – 15. NKJV
“…whatever is given you in that hour, speak that, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” Mk. 13:11 NKJV
“…he who endures to the end shall be saved.” Mt. 24:13 NKJV
He then told the apostles to remain prepared for His second coming, not getting caught up in the world and its ways, because no one but His Father knows when that return will take place. (Mt. 24:37; Lk. 21:34 – 36.) Jesus continued by saying that when He does come back, this is what He’s going to do:
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world’…”Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ “ Mt. 25:31 – 34 & 41. NKJV
It certainly doesn’t pay to be a goat (unbeliever)…
On Wednesday, the priests and their cohorts hatched a plot to kill Jesus and the devil entered the apostle Judas who subsequently offered his assistance in the plotters’ plan. On Thursday, Jesus celebrated the Passover (this one being the ‘Last Supper’) with His apostles and exposes Judas’ role in His impending death. At that meal, Christ also initiated the sacrament of Communion and He gave them their last in-depth teaching:
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe in Me. 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, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” Jn. 14:1 – 3. NKJV
More comforting words have never been said. Jesus continued by revealing His true relationship with His saints:
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch that is in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit…Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I and the vine and you are the branches…without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire…” Jn. 15:1, 2 & 4 – 6. NKJV
Jesus then wrapped up His discourse:
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” Jn. 16:33 NKJV
Jesus then went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray to His Father until early Friday morning, whereupon Judas led the temple guards, the priests and an armed mob to arrest Him. All the apostles deserted Him.
He was brought before the former high priest, who, frustrated that Jesus wouldn’t cop to false charges, had Him sent to the reigning high priest – who accused Jesus of blasphemy when He declared He was the Son of God. (Mt. 26:64)
Jesus was sentenced to death and severely beaten. Because the council did not have authority to mete out the sentence, they sent Him to Pilate to do the dirty deed, to whom Jesus told He was King of the Jews.’ (Lk. 23:3) Pilate couldn’t find where Jesus has done anything wrong and shipped him off to Governor Herod, who couldn’t get Jesus to speak, so he sent Him back to Pilate, who had Jesus scourged.
Pilate had Jesus carry a cross to Calvary where the Roman soldiers crucified Christ at the unbelieving Jews’ request. Yet even dying upon the cross, Jesus prayed that His Father would forgive His killers. Jesus was buried in a tomb sealed by a large stone with soldiers standing watch.
Early Sunday morning Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of the disciple James (not Jesus’ brother) went to the tomb. There had been a great earthquake as an angel came and rolled away the stone. The guards had fainted. The angel told the women that Jesus had arisen!
They went to tell the apostles but along the way Jesus appeared to them. Jesus later appeared to two disciples that were mourning the loss of their Messiah and were beginning to doubt that Jesus was He. Jesus kept them from recognizing Him until after He revealed all of the prophetic scriptures pertaining to Him and broke bread with them. At that moment, He revealed Himself and then supernaturally vanished from their presence.
The two disciples went to the apostles to share this experience, whereupon Jesus suddenly appeared in front of them and showed them the wounds that He received on the cross.
Eight days later, Jesus appeared to His apostles again and spent an additional 40 days on the earth with approximately 500 recorded sitings of Him.
Jesus lastly met with His apostles at Mount Olivet in Galilee where He gave them (and us) His ‘Great Commission':
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Mt. 28:18 – 20. NKJV
He then opened the minds of the apostles so that they would now completely understand and remember the scriptures and everything He taught them. Jesus told them to remain in Jerusalem until they received the power of the Holy Spirit. At that point, Jesus ascended into heaven and 2 angels appeared and promised the apostles that Jesus would return…
He is risen! Happy Easter!
Goodnight and God bless.
April 04 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
For the last two installments of this series, we have been reviewing what God tells us about your Jesus through the mouth of the Son of God Himself – from His first recorded words as a child through about the first half of His ministry. Let’s pick it up from there…
Still in the region of Galilee, Jesus took a moment to teach His apostles about exercising godly compassion for those who fall off of their God path and how to help the same receive righteous correction. (Mt. 18:15 – 18.)
He then shifts His teaching to one of His role in the prayers of His followers:
“Again I say to you that if two or more of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Mt. 18:19, 20. NKJV
Jesus is saying that there is a powerful synergism created in heaven in response to corporate prayer of the saints and He joins in that synergism when the prayers are sealed in His name, to bring those prayers to fruition…
Near the end of September 29 A.D., Jesus’ brothers (those born to Joseph and Mary after His virgin birth) invited Him to the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem and asked Him to perform miracles there. (They did not believe He was the Messiah at this time.)
Jesus knew that this wasn’t the exact time that God wanted Him to go. He reveals this to them, as well as enlightening them with regards to His overriding purpose:
The world cannot [be expected to] hate you, but it does hate Me because I denounce it for its wicked works and reveal that its doings are evil. Jn. 7:7 AMP
The world hates the Son of God (and His followers) because He brings with Him a righteous light that exposes the darkness in the world – the sin it tries to hide or legitimize.
This is not a malevolent undertaking on the part of Christ. He is trying to get the wayward to see the seeds of their destruction and the need for embracing His salvation.
Jesus and the apostles finally do go to the Festival, whereupon Jesus entered the Temple to teach, astounding the people with His command of the scriptures, yet doing so not to glorify Himself, but His Father – as a sinless example of Him:
“He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” Jn. 7:18 NKJV
I know Him [Myself] because I come from His [very] presence, and it was He [personally] Who sent Me. Jn. 7:29 AMP
On the last day of the Festival, Jesus returned to the Temple and spoke of His salvation promise:
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Jn. 7:37, 38. NKJV
The day after the Festival, Jesus went back again to the Temple and spoke of His salvation once more:
“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Jn. 8:12 NKJV
The Pharisees who were present in the Temple had a fit over Jesus’ revelations and demanded that He show them this ‘Father’ He is supposed to be representing. Jesus replies:
“You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also…You are from beneath; I am from above, You are of his world; I am not of this world.” Jn. 8:19 & 23. NKJV
When you have lifted up the Son of Man [on the cross], you will realize (know, understand) that I am He [for Whom you look] and that I do nothing of Myself (of My own accord or on My own authority), but I say [exactly] what My Father has taught Me. And He Who sent Me is ever with Me; My Father has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him. Jn. 8:28, 29. AMP
At this point, Jesus omnisciently realized that He had won some converts in the crowd and speaks to their hearing:
“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know that truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Jn. 8:31, 32. NKJV
“Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” Jn. 8:51 NKJV
Most of the crowd (Jews) are becoming unruly, claiming they were already free through their birthright as descendant sons of Abraham. Jesus retorts by saying that Abraham was well aware of His coming. The crowd argued that would be impossible because Abraham lived 1800 years ago. Jesus drops the hammer:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am.” Jn. 8:58 NKJV
Thus, Jesus is telling them that He is eternal, like God Himself. Well, that sent the crowd over the edge and they tried to stone Him but He supernaturally disappeared from the Temple…
As Jesus and the apostles prepare to leave Jerusalem, they come upon a blind man whom Jesus’ heals. The man is beside himself and tells everyone he knows. The Pharisees try to discredit the man’s claims and excommunicate him from the Temple.
Jesus heard about it and found the man, who worshiped Him on the spot. Christ did not stop him. (Important to see because God only accepts worship that is exclusive to Him; thus, this relationship between God and Christ is one that transcends our understanding, but it certainly suggests that they are unified.)
The Pharisees were in a lather but Jesus met them head on:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go out and find pasture.
The thief does not come except to steal, and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep…And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there’ll be one flock and one shepherd.
Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” Jn. 10:7 – 11 & 16 – 18. NKJV
Now there’s a mouthful! Jesus is saying that 1) the sheep are the children of God, 2) He is the only door to God (as the Good Shepherd who guides them into His Father’s presence), 3) the Pharisees are false shepherds who follow the devil, 4) He brings you an abundant life filled with the light of God, 5) He willingly laid His life down for your salvation out of His love for God and for you, 6) He has the power of life within Him – to resurrect Himself to complete God’s salvation plan and 7) salvation is not only for the Jews but for all peoples of the world (‘not of this fold’) who make the decision to follow Him.
Goodnight and God Bless.
March 27 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Heretofore in this series, we have examined what God says about His Son through the Holy Spirit-inspired Old Testament prophets, Jesus’ apostles and lastly through the mouths of John the Baptist and Jesus Himself.
We continue listening to God’s ‘Christ revelations’ through Jesus, as He dresses down the Pharisees in the Temple of Jerusalem due to their unbelief:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” Jn. 5:19 ESV
“For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all the things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.” Jn. 5:20 NKJV
Jesus is saying that He is a direct extension of God’s will – facilitated by His Father’s power which courses through Him; and God will use Christ to work miracles in an attempt to open disbelieving hearts so that people will be led to salvation. He elaborates:
“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone, but has given all judgment to the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” Jn. 5:21 – 23. NASB
THIS IS HUGE! Jesus possesses both the power to initiate and perpetuate God’s resurrection plan; and Christ solely decides the final outcome of all those who rise from the dead. Note too that God has charged us with honoring His Son, (with faith, praise, worship and obedience) which also brings honor to the Father.
The outcome of that honor will bring a most wonderful eternity to those who practice it. For those who don’t, it doesn’t bode so well:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” Jn. 5:24 NKJV
“…for an hour is coming when all those who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” Jn. 5:28, 29. ESV
Notice that those who believe in Christ have eternal life now. Note too that those who died prior to Jesus’ coming and had ‘done good’ (i.e. believed in God and in the promise of the Messiah and obeyed the word of God to the best of their ability) will be resurrected into all of His promises, as opposed to those who didn’t.
Jesus finished His discourse with the Pharisees, ultimately calling them ‘sons of the devil’ and journeyed towards Galilee, miraculously healing multitudes along the way. He then gathered His complete apostolic group of twelve and sat with them in front of a crowd and delivered the ‘Sermon on the Mount.’
In that teaching, He refers to a facet of His earthly purpose:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Mt. 5:17, 18. ESV
Jesus is addressing those who entertained the idea that the Mosaic Law (primarily the Ten Commandments) was no longer valid due to His arrival – i.e. those who believed the gospel replaced the Law.
[This clears up the fallacy that some modern-day ‘Christians’ adhere to, whereby they attest that it is only the ‘red letter’ words of the Bible (the gospel) that they need to follow. Jesus has just validated the ‘black letters’ as well. Moreover, He is saying that some parts of that Law will be evolved to their highest meaning through Him.]
After the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus and His apostles continued their travels. He heals the sick, brings a dead man back to life and continues to clarify His purpose to the crowds He encounters:
“All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except through the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Mt. 11:27 NKJV
Thus, in addition to the God-given power that Jesus exercises, we see that all of God’s authority is given over to and expressed through Christ. Jesus is also saying that we can only connect to God through the grace of Christ.
Heavy yes? But Jesus immediately takes that heaviness away by turning it into an invitation:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavenly laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Mt. 11:28 – 30. NKJV
Jesus knows we continually carry our troubles and regrets with us like a veritable ball and chain. He says that we don’t have to do that, as He lovingly asks us to unload them at His feet and walk unencumbered in His light.
Jesus extends this invitation in another fashion during another encounter with the Pharisees:
“For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” Mt. 12:50 NKJV
Obedience opens the invite…
Jesus continued to teach in Galilee, stopped a storm on the sea, cast demons out of people, resurrected a dead child, brought sight to the blind and then sent His apostles out to evangelize with an admonition:
Therefore, everyone who acknowledges Me before men and confesses Me [out of a state of oneness with Me], I will acknowledge him before My Father Who is in heaven and confess [that I am abiding in] him. But whoever denies and disowns Me before men, I also will deny and disown him before My Father Who is in heaven. Mt. 10:32, 33. AMP
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” Mt. 10:34 – 36. NKJV
Obviously we are with Jesus or we are not; and it doesn’t look good for those who aren’t. Christ is like a scalpel, excising the tumor that consists of those who lodge themselves in unbelief. For them, there will be no peace.
The bottom line is that regardless of where or from whom one hears the gospel, the importance of receiving it cannot be underestimated:
“He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” Mt. 10:40 NKJV
The evangelizing apostles returned to Jesus and together were surrounded by a crowd of 5000 people. Jesus began healing and teaching. He also saw that the crowd was hungry; so He transformed two fish and five loaves of bread into enough food to feed them all.
Afterwards, Jesus and Company went on their way. He stopped to pray and then walked on water to a boat where His apostles were. They continued in their travels only to be approached by another crowd who heard about the miracle feeding and asked Him for bread as well. Jesus took that opportunity to teach:
“Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because the Father has set His seal on Him.” Jn. 6:27 NKJV
“For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Jn. 6:31 – 33. NKJV
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” Jn. 6:35 NKJV
“Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” Jn. 6:47 NKJV
“If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever, and the bread that I give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” Jn. 6:51 NKJV
“Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life…” Jn. 6:53 NKJV
This is the complete picture of our God-connection: when we seek God, He leads us to Christ, Who, if we accept Him, connects us to God through Himself.
The crowd was not very educated and could not grasp that Jesus was speaking in principles and not of a literal ingestion of His flesh. He’s trying to get them to see that His flesh is the ‘spiritual food’ they must ‘eat’ (bind to their hearts) in order to walk a godly path towards salvation. Jesus wants them to understand that the blood (life) He will shed, must be ‘drunk,’ (they must be believe it alone brings atonement for their sins) so they can receive that salvation.
Unfortunately, like today, most of the crowd rejected His message.
Receiving Jesus and His ways in the face of worldly doubts and temptations is not easy and the path can be arduous:
If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget himself, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living, and if need be, in dying also.] Lk. 9:23 AMP
In other words, we must put God’s will first over our own. Ah but the rewards…
“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” Mt. 16:27 NKJV
Goodnight and God bless.
March 20 2015 | experiencing god's love | 1 Comment »
In the fourth part of this series, we followed what God had to say about your Jesus – told through Christ’s apostles (in a series of Holy Spirit prophecies regarding His nature, His relationship with John the Baptist and details surrounding His birth).
Today, we finally get to listen in as God speaks to us about His Son through the mouth of Jesus Himself.
Our first encounter with Jesus takes place when He was approximately twelve years of age. He had traveled in a large entourage with Mary and Joseph to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. During the return journey home, it was discovered that Jesus was missing, so they returned to Jerusalem to look for Him.
They found Him in the Temple questioning the teachers of the Old Testament about the Scriptures and astonishing them with His own grasp of the same. Mary scolded Jesus for making her worry. He responds:
How is it that you had to look for Me? Did you not see and know that it is necessary [as a duty] for Me to be in My Father’s house and [occupied] about My Father’s business? Lk. 2:49 AMP
So, even then Jesus knew He was the Son of God and was aware that His mission on earth was to serve His Father.
Moving forward in time to approximately 28 A.D, we come across John the Baptist who has now answered his God-calling by commencing his evangelism:
…the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins… Lk. 3:2, 3. NKJV
Some people questioned John, asking him if it was he that was the Messiah. John cleared that up immediately:
“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Mt. 3:11 NKJV
In other words, the Messiah is coming with the full power of God, granting Holy Spirit salvation to those who receive Him and the fire of judgment to those who don’t.
One day John is doing his water-baptizing thing and sees Jesus approaching him. John immediately knows in his spirit the true nature of this Man and he declares it:
“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me, comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.” Jn. 1:29, 30. NASB
John identifies Jesus as the Messiah and refers to His pre-incarnate existence as well – because chronologically on earth, John is older than Jesus the Man.
John protests because he knew that Jesus did not need to be baptized. He was already pure righteousness. Yet Jesus demanded it because He knew that this act would initiate His ministry of salvation:
“Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Mt. 3:15 ESV
When Jesus rose out of the water of His baptism, the heavens opened up, the Holy Spirit alighted upon Him, and His Father’s voice emanated from the sky:
“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Mt. 3:16 NKJV
That takes all of the guesswork out of who Jesus is. John the Baptist spoke out as well:
“I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” Jn. 1:34 NASB
After this, Jesus was driven by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to fast in preparation for His ministry and battle the devil himself, vanquishing him (in this skirmish) by using the word of God for His weapon – setting the example for all of us.
Jesus then began gathering His apostles, turned water into wine (His first miracle) and ran the people out of His Father’s temple that had been running secular business within it. He also began observing those opposed to Him or that were pretending to believe in Him:
But Jesus [for His part] did not trust Himself to them, because He knew all [men]; and He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man [needed no evidence from anyone about men], for He Himself knew what was in human nature. [He could read men’s hearts.] Jn. 2:24, 25. AMP
We next hear Jesus speak of Himself in Jerusalem while He is speaking to Nicodemus, (a member of the Sanhedrin) just after He explained the importance of baptism:
And yet no one has ever gone up to heaven, but there is One Who has come down from heaven – the Son of Man [Himself], Who is (dwells, has his home) in heaven. Jn. 3:13 AMP
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Jn. 3:14, 15. NKJV
Jesus is establishing His heavenly authority in speaking of spiritual matters.
He also refers to the time Moses had lifted up an image of a bronze serpent upon a cross for the Hebrews who had chosen to rebel against God, to save them from the severity of their punishment. Likewise, Jesus is telling Nicodemus that He too must be raised up on a cross to become the healing for the sins of man by purchasing their salvation with His own life.
Then Jesus revealed the ‘big picture’ of salvation to him:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” Jn. 3:16 NKJV
“He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Jn. 3:18 NKJV
Jesus proclaims without a doubt that He is the Son of God and that His Father willingly sent His Son to save all peoples that put their faith in Christ.
Afterwards, Jesus accompanies His apostles to where John the Baptist was and they baptize people as well. It was there that John also confirmed the words of Christ:
“He who comes from heaven is above all…For whom God has sent utters the words of God, for He gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” Jn. 3:31 & 34 – 36. ESV
Jesus and His apostles then travel through Samaria on their way to Galilee. During that travel, Jesus comes upon a woman who shares her yearning for the coming of the Messiah. Jesus answered: “I who speak to you am He.” Jn. 4:26 NKJV
No waffling there.
In Galilee, Jesus healed a dying son of a nobleman and then preaches in a synagogue in the town of Nazareth – professing that He is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah’s prophecy:
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Lk. 4:18, 19. NKJV
“Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Lk. 4:21 NKJV
Jesus went throughout Galilee preaching and miraculously healing people of their infirmities as well. During that time, He was approached by Pharisees who turn their noses up at Him in disgust for commingling with sinners. He responds:
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Mt. 9:12, 13. NKJV
There is no prejudice in the Son of God. He fervently pursues the salvation of everyone.
Jesus continued to preach (now in parables as well) and to heal people – even on the Sabbath, which riles the Pharisees once more. Christ does not relent:
My Father has worked [even] until now, [He has never ceased working; He is still working] and I, too, must be at [divine] work. Jn. 5:17 AMP
This is the turning point of Christ’s ministry. He clearly claims His deity, stating that God is His unique Father, and that He, Jesus, is doing His Father’s work.
He is placing Himself on the same level as God. Needless to say, this drives the Pharisees into a frenzy. But Jesus does not back down.
Goodnight and God bless.
March 14 2015 | experiencing god's love | 1 Comment »
In the first three parts of this series, we examined what God had to say (through the mouths of the Old Testament prophets) about the nature of the Messiah, who He is and of His forthcoming arrival (along with a discussion about the ‘Trinity’).
Now we will look at Jesus’ apostles’ recollection of the events that immediately foreshadowed His coming and of His human birth. We begin by looking just a few years prior to the birth of Christ, when the angel Gabriel informed the parents-to-be of ‘John the Baptist’ of their good fortune:
“For he will be great in the sight of the Lord…He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Lk. 1:15 – 17. NKJV
The apostle John adds further revelation about this evangelist, John the Baptizer:
There came a man from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. Jn. 1:6 – 8. NASB
Thus we see that this crusader precedes Christ; and as an adult, he will herald His coming – preaching with the fervor of the Old Testament prophet Elijah. He will reconcile many Israelites, diverting them towards righteousness to position them to receive Jesus.
The apostle then gives us a general overview about how Jesus was accepted to be the Christ, (the Light) which was in a manner that is similar to how people react to the revelation of Jesus Christ throughout the ages:
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not receive him. Jn. 1:9 – 11. ESV
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born not of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God. Jn. 1:12, 13. NKJV
God sent the image of Himself to facilitate our reconciliation with Him. The majority of the people reject Jesus, but those who see the truth and place their faith in it, become the true children of God.
Furthermore, we see that there is no other path by which we can become God’s children except through Christ alone – whereupon we are ‘reborn’ through the Holy Spirit. This makes your choice to receive Jesus as your Savior the most important decision you will ever make…
The apostle John then gives us more Holy Spirit revelation regarding the nature of this Jesus Christ, the Son of God:
And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Jn. 1:14 NKJV
For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. Jn. 1:16, 17. NASB
No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. Jn. 1:18 NKJV
Out of His immeasurable love, God sent His only Son; and Jesus, being ever faithful and obedient to His Father, consented to allow His Spirit-being to become housed in flesh in order to be able to identify with the sufferings of God’s children. In addition, He provided His Son so that we could commiserate with the image of God to see the eternal value of choosing to allow Jesus to cover us with God’s salvation grace, which the Law of Moses could not provide…
The apostle Matthew also reveals to us the genealogy of the human ancestors of the incarnate Christ from Abraham to Joseph [Jesus’ earthly father figure; (see Mt. 1:1 – 17.)] and Luke traces it from Adam to Mary. [Jesus’ mother; (see Lk. 3:23 – 28.)]
When John the Baptist’s mother (who is Mary’s cousin) is six month’s along in her pregnancy, the angel Gabriel visits Mary and prophecies about her having a child – to be conceived in a very unique way (in fact, there is no other recorded birth like it):
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over he house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Lk. 1:30 – 33. NKJV
(The name ‘Jesus’ is translated from the Hebrew Yhowshuwa, translated as Jehoshua or Joshua, and from the Greek Iesous, meaning ‘Yahweh is salvation.’)
Mary protests to Gabriel, stating that this pregnancy would be impossible because she was a virgin. He elaborates:
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God.” Lk. 1:35 ESV
So, Mary is not impregnated in the carnal sense, she is transformed by the Holy Spirit, who supernaturally implants her with the Spiritual seed of Christ.
When John the Baptist is born, his father is filled with the Holy Spirit so that he may prophecy about the divine purpose for his son:
“And you child will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; to give His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness an the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Lk. 1:76 – 79. NASB
When Mary is three month’s pregnant, her condition becomes apparent and Joseph (her fiance) is scratching his head over how she might have become that way. He was considering backing out of the marriage but God sent an angel to him in a dream to set him straight:
“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Mt. 1:20, 21. ESV
When Mary does give birth to the Son of God, an angel appears in a field nearby to a group of shepherds and proclaims:
“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Lk. 2:10, 11. NKJV
Approximately 40 days later, the baby Jesus was dedicated to God in the temple. One of the witnesses to the dedication, a man named Simeon, (who was directed there by the Holy Spirit to fulfill a promise God made to him that he would lay eyes upon the Savior before his death) picked Jesus up and prophesied:
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word: for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, for glory to your people Israel.” Lk. 2:29 – 32. ESV
The last apostolic revelation we see about Jesus before we get to listen to Jesus speak about Himself is this:
And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace (favor and spiritual blessing) of God was upon Him. Lk. 2:40 AMP
So what have we learned about your Jesus?
He is the Light of God to the world, revealing His Father’s plan of salvation through Him – the agent of that salvation, for all people whose desire it is to enter into the fold of the children of God through the forgiveness of sins that He brings.
Jesus is the Son of God, the exact image and outpouring of His Father’s grace and truth, who, prior to His earthly incarnation, was present with God.
Jesus was born in the flesh through Mary in the only virgin birth in recorded history via a Holy-Spirit transformation of her womb; and He was destined to rule over an everlasting kingdom of peace on earth.
Finally, while Jesus was growing from child to man, God infused Him with the Holy Spirit.
How big is your Jesus. Next time, He speaks!
Goodnight and God bless.
March 06 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
In part 2 of this series, we followed along with what God was telling us about His Son through the Holy Spirit-inspired prophets of the Old Testament – leaving off with the beginnings of Isaiah’s revelations. In addition, we took a little side trip to delve into man’s explanation of who Jesus is and the nature of His relationship with His Father as described in the concept of the ‘Trinity.’
Let’s return to the prophet Isaiah and the treasure trove of Messianic prophecies related to him by God some 700 years before Christ walked this earth:
There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
His delight is in the fear of the LORD, and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears; but with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins and faithfulness the belt of His waist. Is. 11:1 – 5. NKJV
In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples – of him shall all the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious. Is. 11:10 ESV
This next prophecy is told to Isaiah from the Messiah Himself:
“Listen, O coastlands, to Me, and take heed, you peoples from afar! The LORD has called Me from the womb; from the matrix of My mother He has made mention of My name. And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand He has hidden Me.” Is. 49:1, 2. NKJV
“And now the LORD says, who formed Me from the womb to be His servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel is gathered to Him (for I shall be glorified in the eyes of the LORD, and My God shall be My strength), indeed He says, ‘Is it too small a thing that You should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ “ Is. 49:5, 6. NKJV
That’s a big mouthful of Messiah information. We are reminded again that Jesus’ earthly incarnation will descend from the line of ‘Jesse’ (King David’s father). He will be filled with the Holy Spirit and exercise that power to judge righteously over those who do their best to seek God and live by His precepts, as well as over those who remain unrepentantly rebellious (whose outcome is not something you want to share in.)
Christ is God’s light to all people – Jews and Gentiles alike, serving His Father by restoring the children of God to Him by cutting away that which had enslaved them (Satan), by using His ‘sword’, which is the word of God.
So, through Isaiah, we’ve seen who and what the Messiah is. Now Isaiah relates to us what Christ will experience when He first walks this earth. He begins with another first person account from the Son of God:
“I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. For the LORD will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed. He is near who justifies Me…” Is. 50:6 – 8. NKJV
This is an exact description of how Jesus was treated just prior to His crucifixion; and it shows that regardless of how man treated Him, He was determined to win their salvation – having God at His back to make it so.
Miracles aside, God sent His Son in the form of a humble ordinary man, to reach out to humble ordinary people who were lost and blinded by the god of this world (Lucifer). However, the people needed to have faith in who Jesus said He was. Sadly, during Jesus’ visitation, most did not and they demonstrated that lack through their scorn:
Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. Is. 53:1, 2. NASB
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, and as one whom men hide their faces he was despised and we esteemed him not. Is. 53:3 ESV
Yet, Jesus still laid His life down for everyone – both out of obedience to His Father and of the love that He had for God’s children. However, the doubters thought Jesus was stricken by God for making (what they thought were) blasphemous claims:
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried out sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken by God and afflicted. Is. 53:4 NASB
On the other hand, for those who believed, Christ’s sacrifice was THE game changer:
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed…and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter… Is. 53:5 – 7. NKJV
The Messiah took on all our self-made godless burdens and willingly yielded up His flesh to pay the price so that all would have the potential for redemption. And if you have been reading this, there is no doubt as to who that Messiah is…
The prophet Micah was a chronological contemporary to Isaiah. He too received a Messianic prophecy – one that even pinpointed the place of His birth:
“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings are from long ago, for the days of eternity…And He will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the LORD His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth. This One will be our peace.” Mic. 5:2, 4 & 5. NASB
The Messiah would be born in the city of Bethlehem, in the region of Ephrathah, located in Judah. This Shepherd-King reflection of God (who had been around for a long, long time) came to bring peace to the entire world…
Approximately 600 years before the birth of Christ, God sends the prophet Jeremiah to warn His children of His coming judgment through the Babylonian conquest of Judah and at the same time, encourage those who still clung to their God:
“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When I will raise up for David a righteous branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is the name by which He will be called, ‘The LORD our righteousness.’ “ Jer. 23:5, 6. NASB
[In that same time period, look also to the prophecy we considered in our last post. (Dan. 7:13, 14.)]
Five hundred year before Christ, we hear the last Messianic prophecies God sent through the prophet Zechariah – sent to encourage the exiled Israelites who had returned home after having suffered decades of Babylonian captivity:
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey…” Zec. 9:9 NKJV
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one who grieves for a firstborn.” Zec. 12:10 NKJV
IN THAT day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem [to cleanse them from] sin and uncleanness. Zec. 13:1 AMP
Indeed Jesus did ride on a donkey into Jerusalem to publicly proclaim Himself. Those who were sitting on the fence with regards to who Jesus was, realized that He was the real deal after they crucified Him and they grieved.
Yet we see that God promised that the blood of Christ spilled on that day would be available to usher all of us into His presence…
Wow! We’ve only covered the ‘coming attractions!’ Now, we can leap foreword in time to Jesus’ actual arrival.
Good night and God bless.
February 28 2015 | experiencing god's love | 1 Comment »
In part one of this series we looked at what God revealed to us about His Son through the mouths of the Holy Spirit-inspired prophets of the Old Testament – in particular: Moses, Samuel and King David.
Before we continue along with these Old Testament prophets, let’s consider one last revelation given to King David:
For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots. Ps. 22:16 – 18. NKJV
King David is referring to his enemies (dogs = evil men) but the ultimate fulfillment of this scripture [the piercing, being on display (crucifixion), the division of the garments and the casting of lots] cannot be applied to David but to Christ.
Now, we leap forward in time to 740 – 710 B.C. to the time of the prophet Isaiah. His first Messianic prophecy concerns both the birth and one of the names given for the Messiah:
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Is. 7:14 NKJV
The only virgin birth ever recorded in the Bible is that of Jesus. ‘Immanuel’ means ‘God is with us.’ (See Mt. 1:23) Isaiah continues with his prophecies with one that reveals the great changes the Messiah will bring:
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. Is. 9:2 NKJV
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice, from that time foreword, even forever. Is. 9:6, 7. NKJV
So, the Messiah (the Christ) will bring the light of God to people who have suffered at the hands of the god of this world (Satan) and will establish an eternal kingdom of peace and righteousness for all.
What I’d like you to look at are the descriptions of the Messiah’s name. I contend that these are not literal names of the Messiah but instead speak of His qualities – especially with regards to the descriptive(s) ‘Mighty God’ and ‘Everlasting Father.’ I present again the scripture we looked at in part one of this series:
[Now] He is the exact likeness of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible]; He is he Firstborn of all creation. Col. 1:15 AMP
‘Exact likeness’ is written as ‘image’ in other translations. (ESV, NKJV, NASB) ‘Likeness’ and ‘image’ of God are not the same as ‘being’ God to me. Your image in a mirror is not the same as you, even though it looks exactly like you.
I profess that Jesus is the closest we are going to get to God but that He is separate and distinct from Him; and that Christ was created from God before the creation of the universe took place – thus at a point before time itself, which would be indeterminable for man to decipher.
I must point out that my contentions are contrary to the majority of mainstream Christian thinking, which holds to the ‘Trinitarian’ concept, which maintains that Jesus is God. The concept could be right. I don’t know. But it is an elephant in the room that brings division to some parts of the body of Christ. In fact some ‘Christians’ will excoriate you if don’t ascribe to the trinity. The primary purpose in my teachings is to bridge these divisional gaps where judgment creeps in. So let’s thresh it out a little…
The Trinity is a man-derived explanation formulated to try to shed light on a number of scriptures that the Trinitarians claim prove that God is a ‘triune’ God – existing as three persons: God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
This concept was first ratified in 325 A.D. at the First Council of Nicaea where approximately 300 bishops convened at the behest of the Roman emperor Constantine.
[I want to be perfectly clear that I believe that God can and does bring greater revelation to His children continually; and there is no doubt that there are mysteries in the Bible yet unsolved. (See Dt. 29:29) So again, perhaps the trinity concept is correct; it’s just that the Trinitarians themselves have such difficulty explaining it.]
I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God – separate and distinct from Him; yet I don’t think that belief diminishes who He is in any way. Just look at what God placed within and upon His Son: (By the way, this type of thinking was labeled Arianism, after Arius, a Christian priest in Alexandria, Egypt, who held these views at the time of the Council, which declared his thoughts to be heretical for going against their construction.)
For it was in Him (Jesus) that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities, all things were created and exist through Him [by His service, intervention] and in and for Him.
And He Himself existed before all things, and in Him consist (cohere, are held together). He is also the Head of [His] body, the church; seeing that He is the Beginning, the Firstborn from among the dead, so that He alone in everything and in every respect might occupy the chief place [stand first and be preeminent].
For it has pleased [the Father] that all the divine fullness (the sum total of the divine perfection, powers, and attributes) should dwell in Him permanently. And God purposed that through (by the service, the intervention of) Him [the Son] all things should be completely reconciled to Himself, whether on earth or in heaven, as through Him, [the Father] made peace by means of the blood of His cross. Col. 5:16 – 20. AMP
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… Heb. 1:3 ESV
Jesus was God’s creative agent for everything and He keeps it all in existence. He is the head of the church, the first to be resurrected to eternal life, is filled with every power of His Father, and all things can only come to the Father through the Son. You can’t get more preeminent than that.
But how would Jesus sit at the right side of Himself? (If He were God.)
The word ‘trinity’ is located nowhere within the Bible. It was a doctrine created by man to explain a scriptural concept that was not fully comprehendible, i.e. trying to define the infinite God to the finite mind of man. No one can fully understand everything that God says or does:
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts. Is. 55:9 NKJV
Yes, God, the Holy Spirit, and the pre-carnal Christ were 100% Spirit beings. After Jesus’ ascension to heaven, He became a Spirit (God) – Man, the nature of which is beyond our comprehension.
All three have equal divine attributes. They exist within a unique, harmonious working relationship: The Father commands (designs), which are committed (created) through the Son’s obedience. Christ reveals God. The Holy Spirit reveals Christ and He brings the spark of life to Christ’s creations.
In like manner, God planned salvation, Jesus accomplished it by His atoning work on the cross, and the Holy Spirit imparts it to God’s children. (It still looks like ‘separate and distinct but working as one’ to me.) Consider these words of God:
“Here, O Israel: the LORD our God is one!” Dt. 6:4 NKJV
“…for I am God and there is no other, I am God, and there is none like Me.” Is. 46:9 NKJV
A clear case for a singular God to me, but the Trinitarians maintain that the Hebrew word for ‘God’ in this case (Elohim) is a plural word and the the Hebrew word for ‘one’ (echad) is used in a collective sense. Food for thought.
Contemplate the words of the prophet Daniel when he was describing his God-given vision of His throne room in heaven:
“I was watching the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.” Dan. 7:1`3, 14. NKJV
No one disputes that the ‘Ancient’ is God and the ‘Son’ is Jesus. I’m just saying.
Trinitarians would have you consider the following scriptures:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Jn. 1:1 NKJV
There is no doubt that the ‘Word’ is Christ and that He was with God. Where I take exception is ‘the Word was God.’ I agree in the sense that Jesus had to be part of God at one time before He was created from God. (The Trinitarian view is that there was no creation of Jesus as a separate being, but that He has existed eternally with His Father.)
And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jn. 20:28 NKJV
This refers to when the apostle Thomas puts his hands on the body of the resurrected Christ. To me Thomas is not acknowledging that Jesus is God but is recognizing that Christ is His Savior and he can see the power of God emanating through the ascended King of kings.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us… (as we are) waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ who gave himself for us to redeem us… Titus 2:11 – 14. ESV
Jesus and the Holy Spirit are personifications of God’s grace. The Trinitarians hold that the ‘great God and Savior Jesus Christ’ is a description of one Person. Could it not be God and Savior?
Most Christians will say that the trinity is a clear revelation that defies man’s logic. It’s just that it is not so clear to me. Doesn’t make it wrong; you have to judge for yourself.
Here are some things that give me pause:
1. When Jesus was baptized, both God and the Holy Spirit were present together but separate and distinct. (Mt. 3:16, 17.)
2. Jesus says He cannot do anything without His Father’s power. (Jn. 5:19, 20.)
3. Jesus said, “…I am going to the Father, for My Father is greater than I.” Jn. 14:28 NKJV
4. Jesus last words upon His death: “Father, into your hands I commit My spirit.”
So, I have not embraced the trinity concept, although the majority of Christendom has. However, my gate opens slightly ajar after recently reading an article by Philip N. Odhner: The Teachings of Swedenborg Concerning The Lord Jesus Christ and The Divine Trinity. Emanuel Swedenborg was a Swedish theologian in the 1700s.
He stated that there cannot be two infinite beings because one would limit and finite the other. Further, he said that God is love, which was perfectly manifested in Christ’s salvation for all mankind because the essence of God is to love others outside of Himself.
He continued by relating that for there to be another God from God, that other would have to absolutely one with the Original. Swedenborg taught that God said many times in the Old Testament that He would come into the world (true) and in the New Testament he declared that this appearance referred to His coming through Jesus.
According to Swedenborg, Luke 1:35 teaches that Jesus is the Son of God, and because God is infinite and cannot divide Himself without being finite, He must exist in Christ. Moreover, Christ ‘reordered’ His human mind and body, (i.e. was ‘glorified’) putting on the Divine Human (God-man). Swedenborg continues by saying that before the glorification was complete, the human elements that were not yet divine had Him speaking as if He and His Father were separate – all changed (unified) by the resurrection. And it is that Divine Human that God embodied at that moment that allows for man to approach Him in their fallen state.
He refutes the concept of three separate beings existing as one, but instead claims that the Father is the ‘Divine Soul’ within the ‘Divine Body’ (which is Christ) and that the Holy Spirit is ‘Divine Love and Wisdom’ proceeding out of the Divine Body to work the salvation of man – concluding that there is no trinity of ‘persons’ but of ‘essentials’ in Christ (the Divine Human) whose body has the Divine Soul and the Divine Operation (Holy Spirit).
Maybe Swedenborg’s treatment of the trinity is not altogether correct, (He does profess other theological beliefs I have difficulty swallowing and the church based upon his teachings call themselves the ‘true Christian religion – a claim also made by most other denominations) but it is a treatise that I can sink my teeth in. Who knows? I may become a ‘Trinitarian’ after all…
THIS IS THE MAIN POINT!
I don’t know who is right or wrong, (that includes myself). I’m just offering food for thought. If you continue to read God’s word with faith and with prayer for revelation and still exercise critical thinking when it comes to man’s take on it, I feel I’ve done my job.
What I do know is that God would not give anything to us that was incomprehensible that blocks our way to salvation. So, is Jesus God? The majority of His followers think so. They could be right.
However, I don’t think anyone will be turned away from the gates of eternity if they believe that Jesus is exactly the same as God in all respects, with a name that is exalted over all (except His Father’s), who created the universe and holds it all together, that came so we could see God up close and personal, who sees that our prayers are answered and is God’s Agent of salvation, whom we worship along with the Father. (See Heb. 1:6)
Goodnight and God bless.
February 20 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »