Posts Tagged ‘New Testament’

If Jesus truly had the words of eternal life as Peter said  in John 6:68, why wouldn’t everyone who heard His words accept the message of the gospel?

The answer is found in John 3, right after the well-known proclamation of God’s love for man in John 3:16, we read this:

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. John 3:19-20

Is your love for your sin keeping you from accepting the free gift of salvation?  Are you clinging to the darkness, hiding from the light, so you can continue to engage in your sin?

Don’t be deceived, Light is coming.  He will expose you for who you are and your evil deeds will be known by all.  Repent and turn from your sin and allow the Light of the World to flood the darkness of your soul.  Today is the day of Salvation!

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In preparation for Easter, consider what those who know acknowledge the God who hung on the cross and rose from the dead are celebrating:

Sacrificial death – re-established relationship with God (God’s righteous standard was satisfied)

  • Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.
  • Leviticus 17:11 The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
  • Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Payment for Sin

  • Isaiah 53:12 He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.

Victory over Death

  • Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • 1 Peter 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

The Righteousness and Justice of God towards Men

  • Romans 3:21-26 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness

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Why did Jesus need to be hung on a wooden cross?

Crucifixion was a Roman convention, not something provided for by Jewish law.  As a matter of fact, the Bible teaches “cursed is anyone who hangs on a tree.”  Deut. 21:23.  So why would the Jewish Messiah, the anointed one of God, be crucified on a wooden cross?

  • To Fulfill Prophecy – The Psalmist speaks of crucifixion in Psalm 22, a psalm which clearly speaks of Jesus, “for dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet.” Other scriptures in Psalm 34:20, Zechariah 12:10, and Isaiah 53 all foretell of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus.
  • To Illustrate the Suffering that Sin Brings – Jesus suffered on the cross.  We know this because in Matthew and Mark’s gospels, they record Jesus’ last words as “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  These words speak of great torment and suffering, of the soul searching in vain for God.  And so it will be with the sinner who fails to appropriate the blood shed at Calvary to his or her own sin.  If you fail to accept the sacrifice of Jesus as sufficient and apply it to your life through repentance and confession of Him as Lord and Savior, you have an ongoing sin problem.  How will you, in your sin, approach a Holy God?  No promise of heaven is given to those not covered by the blood of Jesus, only a promise of eternal separation from God.  Eternal life is a certainty.  The only uncertainty is where it will be spent.
  • Because Blood Alone Makes Atonement for the Soul – The most important reason for the crucifixion was the shedding of the blood.  According to Leviticus 17:11, “the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” Walk with me down the Romans road:  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom. 3:23 “There is none righteous, no, not one.”  Rom. 3:10  “The wages of sin is death.” Rom. 6:23   Add to that the statement from Leviticus, “the blood . . . makes atonement for the soul.” There is only one conclusion to be reached;  there had to be a sacrifice, a blood sacrifice.  Someone had to die that I might live . . . that you might live.  Who would be the sacrificial offering (the propitiation) for my sin?  for your sin?  Who could meet the perfection standard outlined in God’s law?  Who would be without blemish, without sin?  Whose blood would be able to wash me . . . to wash you white as snow?  Only Jesus!  Crucifixion was necessary because our sin separated us from God, and God desired to be in fellowship with us.   God so loved the world . . .  God so loved me . . . God so loved you . . . blood had to be shed.  Unless you lived a sinless life and met the law of God in every point, you also need Jesus to have died on the cross, to have shed His precious blood.  Jesus was crucified, suffered, and bled because of me . . . because of you.

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  1 John 4:10

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Ever wonder why the image of the cross figures so predominantly in the New Testament.  It’s more than the obvious – Jesus died on a cross.

Mark 5:34 records Jesus speaking, “Whoever desires to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  When Jesus made this statement, he hadn’t gone to the cross yet.

John Stott says “becoming a Christian involves a change so radical that no imagery can do it justice except death and resurrection – dying to the old life of self-centeredness and rising to new life of holiness and love.”

In Galatians 5:24, Paul writes “those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh of its passions and desires.”

In Romans 6:6, he says,  “our old man was crucified with Him.”  He repeats the imagery of the cross and death on the cross to speak of living a life of self-denial – death to self.

Often people think that their “cross” is the trial or persecution they are undergoing.  The trials are not the cross.  The trials function to strengthen one to carry his or her cross.  The cross is the life of self-denial, the laying down of one’s own life for the furtherance of the gospel.

As a Christian, I am best described as “dead man walking” since I must carry the instrument of my own execution, the cross.  I must die, so He might live through me.  By this great miracle, others will see Him and His glory and be drawn to Him.  Thus, the gospel is spread.

Father, make me to be dead to self and alive to Your Spirit.  May Easter remind me of how that fully-surrendered life appears.

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Romans 12:1&2
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
How shall I present my body? . . .  As a living sacrifice
▸ Dead works are not sufficient
▸ Most sacrifices are dead before they are placed on the altar.  In this case, I must be alive, but my “self” or “self-focus” must be dead – totally yielded to Christ
▸ I must put myself on the altar knowing that I am submitting to the fire’s refinement.

If you can survive the imagery (burning flesh on the fire doesn’t really sound inviting), it begs the question, “how can I ever hope to present my body as a living sacrifice?”

The answer is found, in part, in 2 Corinthians 5:21.  “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  We are able to become righteous . . . an acceptable sacrifice by the shed blood of Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, slain once for all.

I find more insight in Galatians 2:20 which reminds me that “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  This sacrificial life will be by faith in the One who already proved his love, His sacrifice.

Finally, I am told in Colossians 2:6-7, “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,  rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.  The key to my being a living sacrifice is to walk in Christ, in His Word.  To be rooted in and built up in the experiential knowledge of Christ.  Then shall I be able to live this sacrificial life.

Philippians 3:8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ!

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But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.   1 Peter 2:9

high priest

Peter, for all his awkwardness during the earthly ministry of Jesus, definitely pulled things together when he wrote his epistles.  This verse in his first epistle is just marvelous.  The whole section in 1 Peter 2 is worth an in-depth study.  The mention of us (the church) being a priesthood is especially interesting given its very “Jewish”  flavor.

Of course, there is nothing new under the sun and Peter lifted this imagery, probably very intentionally, from Exodus  19:5-6 where Moses is given this to tell the children of Israel by God:

 ‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”

A couple of quick observations:

  • Priests in the Old Testament had privileges that no other member of the society Israel, namely they were the only ones with access to God and the only ones allowed to make sacrifices to God
  • The limited access to God of the Old Testament was represented by the separations in the Tabernacle (Gate, Court, Holy Place, Most Holy Place) and later the temple.  The veil represented the separation between God and man.  Only the High Priest could go past the veil into the Most Holy Place and then only once a year to make atonement for the people
  • When Jesus died on the cross, the veil was torn and the separation between God and man was removed
  • We have access to God by the shed blood of Jesus on the cross
Peter reminds us from whence we have come:  who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.  1 Peter 2:10  It is good news!

As a final thought, let us consider our purpose as this “chosen generation,”  “this royal priesthood,” and “this holy nation.”  For Peter does tell us the why:  “that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”  1 Peter 2:9

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As discussed in yesterday’s post, some characters from the Christmas story , despite their close proximity to the miracle, miss Christmas entirely.

We can make a case that the chief priests and scribes missed Christmas.  As strange as it sounds, those whose life was dedicated to the scriptures, to God’s law and teachings, missed God’s arrival as foretold in prophecy.

In Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 2:1-2), Matthew tells us that after Jesus was born, Kings from the east came to Jerusalem looking for “the King of the Jews.”  Herod, when he heard this unsettling news immediately called for his experts in the field, the people most knowledgeable about such things.  He called the Chief Priest and the scribes, the experts in Jewish religion and writings.

As expected, these men knew exactly what the Kings of the east were referring to and where the “King” would be born.  Despite that knowledge, they had no presence in Bethlehem.  No one was monitoring the births of boys in town.  No one seemed to be watching for a Messiah in Bethlehem at all.

The words of the prophet Micah were no more than pen strokes on a parchment scroll.  The knowledge of God that these men had never translated into faith in God, so they missed Christmas.

We don’t want to judge them too harshly as this could happen to you or to me.  We might, like those men and others like them, mistake the mere knowledge of God, the knowledge of His Word and even a role as a religious leader as sufficient to satisfy God.  Beware, even the religious leaders, the most “Holy” men of their time, missed Christmas.  Knowledge of God doesn’t equal saving faith in God.

If you do not have a personal, intimate, saving relationship with God.  If you don’t know Him (not just of Him), you can change that today.  Pray the following prayer to change your status from outsider, to child of God.  Don’t miss Christmas.

Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner, and I have broken your law.
I need a Savior; I cannot save myself.  Please allow your shed blood to cleanse me of my sin. Forgive me and cleanse me.  I want to live for you, to submit myself to you, to be a child of God.

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In the Christmas story, characters lurk in the shadows.  They are present, but their roles are minor.  It is among these characters that we find some who missed Christmas.  If we are to avoid this fate, for surely it is possible for any of us to “miss Christmas,” we must learn from their mistakes.

We could make a case that the innkeeper missed Christmas.  The young couple arrive at the innkeeper’s door with the Messiah almost ready to be delivered (oh how rich the irony).  What a blessing for any Jewish family to have the long-awaited Messiah be born in their home.  Sadly, such an opportunity was lost.  The innkeeper was focused on financial gain – not a bad goal in itself, but devastating if it keep you from meeting God, from welcoming Him into your home, from seeing things according to His plan.

Not having a God-centered view of events and circumstances, the innkeeper missed Christmas.  But we don’t have to be like the innkeeper.  We can focus on the eternal and away from the temporal.  We can take our eyes from our finances and consider our inheritance in heaven.  We can embrace Christmas with its reminder that God, Holy and just, took on flesh to accomplish His great plan of salvation for us.

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In preparation for the coming celebration of Christmas, arguable the second most significant celebration in the year, Read Matthew 2:1-12 and see how many of the following questions you can answer.  If you have questions or are unsure of something, please post a comment.

  • What caused the Kings to come to find the Christ child?  Who did they say they were looking for?
  • What was Herod’s response to hearing what the Kings from the east had to say?
  • What is Herod’s plan with regard to this “king of the Jews” that has been born?
  • What was the reaction of the Kings to seeing the star (v. 10)?
  • What was the response of the kings from the east when they saw the Christ child according to Matt. 2:11?
  • What is your response to the Christ child?  Do you worship Him?  Tell others of what you have seen Him do in your life?  Perhaps this coming year, you want to make your response to the Christ child more evident
  • What gifts did they bring to Jesus, the King?  (v. 11)
  • What does each gift signify or foretell?

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In preparation for the coming celebration of Christmas, arguable the second most significant celebration in the year, Read Luke 2 and see how many of the following questions you can answer.  If you have questions or are unsure of something, please post a comment.
  • Why did Mary and Joseph have to go to Bethlehem?
  • Where was Jesus born?  Why?
  • What did Mary do with Jesus after He was born?
  • What happened out on the plains outside of Bethlehem that night?
  • To whom was the first recorded announcement of the birth of the Christ Child made according to Luke 2:8-14?
  • Why is it significant that the announcement of the Messiah was made first to the Shepherds?
  • What does Luke 2:15-16 tell us was the shepherd’s response?
  • What was the response of the shepherds to seeing Jesus in the manager?  (Hint: Luke 2:17-20)

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