Jesus is still Number 1

Episode 49

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Image result for number 1 imagesFirst, I want to apologize to everyone for last week’s audio problems. I never did figure out what happened, and I’m sorry to everyone who couldn’t get the podcast to play. In the end, I just deleted the file and replaced it. Sometimes, the best fix is just to start over. No fuss, no muss.

This week and next, Brittan and I are out of town, so we’ll have abbreviated shows.  Please pray for us as we’ll be presenting our coming Scotland work to a congregation in Florida.

If you didn’t get to hear last week’s show, we’re preparing for our survey of the Old Testament Books, by having a quick review of the New Testament Book of Hebrews. It is my strong opinion that Hebrews holds the key to understanding the Old Testament. I promise, as I always do, that a good understanding of the New Testament unlocks the Old Testament much better that the other way around.

This book called Hebrews likely began life as a sermon by Paul, that was later written down by Luke and distributed to the Churches. Remember, the early Church didn’t have mp3, or even cassette tapes.  We are very fortunate to be able to turn to podcasts or YouTube for great sermons these days.

Please keep in mind as we see all the ways Christianity is superior to Judaism, is because Jesus FULFILLED the Old Testament. The Church, including this podcaster, has often been guilty of teaching either that Christianity is a continuation of the Old, or, that the New Covenant is a Replacement of the Old One.

The replacement theory is partly true, but it’s more than that. The New One is certainly the one in effect these days, but that’s because Jesus fix, or fulfilled, the terms of the Old Contract, so it became obsolete. The New One is superior in every way. The book of Hebrews explains that better than all the books and doctoral discourses in the world put together.

Today we’re going to look briefly at the superiority of Jesus. Next week we’ll look at our superior contract.

Paul begins his message by claiming that Jesus is superior to Angels or Prophets. In Chapter one we read, that the old covenant was explained and introduced by a variety of methods and prophets, but the New One came via His Son.  As it were, directly from the horse’s mouth. And the rest of the Chapter declares the superiority of Jesus even to mighty Angels.  In fact, Paul declares that even the ancient and revered songs of David declared the superiority of Jesus.

Look closely at verses 1 and 2.  He begins with, In the Past, as it, it used to be THIS way.  Verse 2 begins with BUT. The implication is ‘Now things have changed’ and the rest of the chapter explains the deity and superiority of Christ.

He continues that theme in Chapter 2.  After declaring the Deity of Christ in Chapter 1, verse 14 of Chapter 2, teaches Christ’s humanity. Jesus himself became like them and shared their human nature.

Chapter 3 teaches Jesus is superior to Moses. That’s a really big deal. Check this out. Heb 3:5  Moses was faithful in God’s house as a servant, and he spoke of the things that God would say in the future.

Heb 3:6  But Christ is faithful as the Son in charge of God’s house. We

Beginning in verse 14 of chapter 4, Paul spends several chapters showing that Jesus priesthood is superior to the Aaronic priesthood.

Please consider these two passages as illustrative of  the material in chapters 5,6,7

Heb 7:23  There is another difference: there were many of those other priests, because they died and could not continue their work.

Heb 7:24  But Jesus lives on forever, and his work as priest does not pass on to someone else.

And

Heb 7:27  He is not like other high priests; he does not need to offer sacrifices every day for his own sins first and then for the sins of the people. He offered one sacrifice, once and for all, when he offered himself.

Heb 7:28  The Law of Moses appoints men who are imperfect to be high priests; but God’s promise made with the vow, which came later than the Law, appoints the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

The short version is, The point of the Old Covenant was to uncover the sinfulness of sin and that God set places holders, the law, prophets and even Moses, until He sent His Son to fulfil all the holes and requirements of the law. Everything before Christ was temporary, but because of His Resurrection, we have a perfect priest and an eternal messenger.  More than a servant, a Son. One who is perfect and who never dies.

Moses, Aaron, the law and the Priesthood, were sent to show the way. Jesus, the Christ IS the way.

Next week, we’re going to see how we have a superior Covenant. And why that’s a good thing. That episode will impact everything you understand about interpreting the Old Testament, and the way you understand the End Times.  I can’t wait. Until then, Be Blessed. And be a Blessing.

 

Happy New Year – Podcast: Season 2:Episode 1

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Episode 48

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Season 2, Episode 1:

You’re listening to the Rediscovering the Bible online Radio Show, Season 2, Episode 1.

Happy New Year everybody. Welcome back to all you regular listeners and a special welcome for you new comers. My name is Sam, I’m your host, Wow am I glad you’re here. Today, it’s a cloudy, rainy, January 2 and I’m coming to you, as you’ve come to expect, from the camper here at the farm.

Gosh, it’s been a long time since we’ve been together, hasn’t it?  A lot has happened in my life, and I’m sure in your world, too. The biggest news of all, I guess, is that Brittan and I are moving to Scotland permanently later this year. I’ll get you all the scoop as time goes by, but I’m expecting this show will continue, just from another location.

This season, we’re going to spend the bulk of our time in the Old Testament.  We finished the New Testament last season, and I really want to get through a survey of the Old Testament this year. We’re going to change the format, just a little, and look at some things chronologically and others thematically. Don’t worry, it will all make sense later.

First, I want to recommend that our new listeners go back and listen to some or our earlier episodes, particularly those on Luke and Acts. They will really help, I promise.

Now, let’s talk about translations and reading plans. It’s a brand new year, and there are a whole lot of people who’ve made new year resolutions to read the Bible through. If you’re one of those people, Yay, you. Those of you who’ve been listening for a while, or have been through one of my classes or workshops, know that I believe the order in which we read the Bible is very important to understanding it. First, I encouraged you to begin with the New Testament. The Bible will make way more sense that way. Start with the Gospel of Luke, then read the book of Acts. Luke will clearly tell you who Jesus is, and Acts will give you instructions on how to begin following Him. If you’d like to see my entire reading plan, just go to samburtonpresents.com and let me know by leaving your information on the ‘contact’ page.  You can also simply request a copy via the comments section of the show notes which are also at samburtonpresents.com.

One of the questions that comes in regularly is related to which translation to use. The shore answer is, the one you’re comfortable with. This season, I’m going to be using the New Living Translation. I think its simple language is a great way to understand the Old Testament. It’s a fine translation especially if you’re new to Bible reading or if English is not your first language.  On the whole, it’s easier for me to disrecommend  the translations I discourage, than to share the ones I endorse.  I strongly disrecommend the New World Translation. It has been seriously tampered with. Unless you’ve been given one by a Jehovah’s Witness, you probably haven’t ever seen it. It isn’t sold at Christian Bookstores. Yeah, it’s that bad. I would also discourage the Revised Standard Version as it was translated by liberals and skeptics and downplays many important texts.

For those who only have King James, that’s fine. I’m not going to bash it. It’s not my favorite, but it’s still the most used translation in the English language. I it starts to get difficult for you, but you like the way if flows, try the New King James.

Here’s a big money saving tip for you. You can try loads of translations for free by using the internet. For my laptop, I downloaded e-sword.net and several free translations and other Bible Study materials.  I did the same thing with for my smartphone with the free app, YouVersion.   In full disclosure, I haven’t found a free downloadable New Living Translation, but you can read it for free online at BibleGateway.com and via YouVersion for your phone or tablet. You’ll just have to make sure you have internet access.  If you have any questions, ping me and I’ll help any way I can.

Ok, I think that takes care of all the housekeeping for now. The Old Testament can be fun. I know…some of you are giving me that cross eyed skeptical look. I can see you right through the microphone.  But I’m serious. There are two keys to the old Testament that are really important. First is, Read the New Testament First.  How many times have you heard me say that? The second is, right before you begin a study in the Old Testament, go through the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament.

I am totally convinced that Hebrews unlocks the Old Testament and how it relates to the Gospel and The New Testament better than any other tool. So…we’re going to spend a few weeks in Hebrews setting the table for our Old Testament Survey.

Let’s spend just our remaining time today, reviewing the background of the Book of Hebrews, because some people find it controversial. I think those people have way too much time on their hands, but let’s look anyway.

Many conservative scholars consider Hebrews one of the most important theological studies of any of the NT books except possibly Romans. Martin Luther, the Reformer, not MLK the civil rights advocate, on the other hand was not a big fan of Hebrews. I would say, he’s the father of all the Hebrews critics. In the first place, he thought there was too much emphasis on works, though not as much as the book of James.

The other big hurdle for some people to clear is the fact that the author is anonymous. While it has a formal ending, it has no salutation at the beginning. Now, I believe there’s a good reason for that, and we’ll get to it in just a minute.

Frankly, several of the New Testament books, Matthew, Mark, and, John as well as Hebrews are anonymous and all have controversy surrounding them as a result. Church tradition is pretty clear and consistent on the subject, but modern and modernist scholars tend to ignore tradition and history and look for novel hypotheses.  After all, there’s not much notoriety, grant money or name recognition is writing, ‘The Church Fathers were clear on…’  Fame comes from stirring the pot.

Over the years, several alternative authors have been named as candidates, namely, Peter because the closing is similar to his closings in his letters, Barnabas, James, Luke, because the quality of the Greek was good and the style indicated an educated individual, and Apollos.

I must admit that when I was in Seminary, I liked the notion of Apollos, but just because I thought he was underappreciated.  I played with the idea of James for a while, but mostly it was just because I was having fun.

In the end, though, I have come back to the oldest traditions that Paul is the source of the Book. Hebrews indicates a thorough knowledge of the Law and Old Testament. While there are other candidates, James, whose entire ministry was spent in Judea would be one. Barnabas, a Levite, would be another, but Paul, the formally trained Pharisee, would have had the most complete training in the law of any of the early Christian leaders and Biblical writers.

I have come to the conclusion, as have many others, that The book of Hebrews began life as a sermon preached by Paul, and eventually written down by Luke, very possibly after Paul’s death.  This would explain the lack of a greeting at the beginning, the superior quality of the Greek, the similarities to Luke’s other writing, and the very ancient tradition that Paul was the author.  In fact, the matter is pretty much settled in my mind.

Do your own homework. In the end, as I often say, background studies are fun as an academic exercise, but in the long run, don’t help much in understanding the contents.

Hopefully, you’ll do a reading of Hebrews over the next few weeks while we examine it. What you will see, if you do, and the direction I’m going to drive the show, is that Hebrews is an overt attempt to show that everything about the Gospel, including the Giver, is a fulfillment of the old covenant, is superior to it, and has replaced the Old Testament as the covenant in place. These conclusions have a profound impact on our understanding of the end times, of role of Israel and the Church in Prophesy, our understanding of everything from the sacrificial system to the ten commandments.

In the next couple weeks, at least for those of you who are familiar with current trends in Current teaching, I’m going to challenge much of what you probably take for granted. It’s not new teaching, it was standard operational procedure for the first 1800 years of the Church. It just sounds new.  And, it’s going to dramatically, affect the way we look at some of the more difficult and controversial parts of the Old Testament.  We’re going to rock the boat. I love that. It’s going to be FUN.

Please join the investigation.  Next week we’ll look at a Superior Savior. Then, A superior Covenant. After that, A Superior Salvation.  Then we’ll be ready to dig into the Old Testament itself.

And that’s all I’ve got. It’s so good to be back with you. As always, please share your thoughts and/or questions either via the comments section of the show notes on samburtonpresents.com or via email.

Talk to you soon. Have a happy New Year. Be blessed, and, be a blessing.

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Fish Dinners and Good Wine – How John Uses Jesus Miracles To Prove Both His Deity And Humanity

Episode 46

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It’s another gorgeous autumn morning here at the farmstead. I thought last week that I would wait until we got to Scotland to do this weeks show, but at the last minute I’ve decided to record a brief broadcast before we leave tomorrow since I’m not exactly sure when I’ll get a chance to record over there.

So, in the words of Sherlock Holmes, ‘Let’s crack on.’

Last week I announced that we would look specifically, and in depth, at John’s account of Jesus feeding the 5,000. As I studied, my direction was altered a little bit, so I’m calling an audible.  We ARE going to look at the feeding of the multitude, but we’re going to look at it in the context of some of the other miracles John writes about, including Jesus turning water into wine, the healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda in chapter 5 and the raising of Lazarus in Chapter 11.  I’m doing it, because after 60 years on this planet, I finally see that John chooses these miracles, because they are perfect illustrations of Jesus’ humanity as well as his deity.

Joh 6:1  After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias.

Joh 6:2  And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.

Joh 6:3  Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.

Joh 6:4  Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.

Joh 6:5  Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”

Joh 6:6  He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.

Joh 6:7  Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.”

Joh 6:8  One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,

Joh 6:9  “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?”

Joh 6:10  Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number.

Joh 6:11  Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted.

Joh 6:12  And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”

Joh 6:13  So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.

 

Jesus performed a lot of miracles during His ministry. In fact, John writes in his last chapter that if all of them were written down, the entire world wouldn’t hold the volume of books about it. So with all Jesus deeds to choose from, all 4 Gospel writers chose to record this one. It obviously had a profound effect on them.

First, it establishes Jesus as lord of Creation. He somehow manages to make 5 loaves of bread and two small fish stretch to feed a crowd of up to 25,000 people.  Secondly, He is the Lord of Abundance. There is not only enough to eat, but there are leftovers. It reminds me very much of the old testament story of the widow’s oil. He is the Lord of provision.

There is no doubt, this act of creation and multiplication is evidence of Jesus’ Deity, but the similarities to his miracle of water into wine, showed me evidence of His Humanity as well.  So I looked at some of the other Miracles recorded in John’s Gospel and realized that each one, as well as many of His encounters with people, note the woman at the well in Chapter 4, the woman caught in adultery in Chapter 10 and Jesus’ conversation with Mary and John in chapter 19, show clearly Jesus compassion and humanity. Remember, John’s purpose to persuade others to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Everything he writes is to demonstrate Jesus dual nature as the Word who became flesh.

Why did he turn water into wine? On the surface, it could be interpreted as showing off. At least until you think about the event for more than a few seconds. With a deeper look, we see not only His creative power, but how much He cares for the potential embarrassment of the ‘master of the feast’, the newlyweds, and His own mother.  Jesus is not just interested in the Big things, like sin and salvation, His humanity shows His care for the little things, the mundane, the ordinary. He is paying attention, and it matters.

At the pool of Bethesda in chapter 5, Jesus is knee deep in needy people. Some of them pious, some probably profane.  But He finds an individual in the mass of humanity and interacts with him, changing his life forever.

Jesus doesn’t miss the forest for the trees. He cares about the tree in the forest. He sees you. He knows your name. And He cares deeply for you.

The story of Lazarus shows us that Jesus has friends. He tenderly interacts with both Martha and Mary, and before he raises Lazarus, he weeps. He raises Lazarus in part to show that death is an illusion and under His control. But also because of His deep love for two grieving sisters.

It’s as clear as crystal for me that each of these events are obvious, intentional stories John includes to illustrate both the divinity and humanity of Jesus. And it makes me Love Him more and more. I hope it inspires you to dig deeper into who Jesus is, and ultimately to follow Him, if you don’t already.

That’s it for now. I need to catch a plane. Next time we’re going to look at Jesus’ promise of Eternal life from John 14, in an episode I’ll just call, “Trust me.”

Talk to you soon. If you want to follow some of our Scottish adventures, simple join our Facebook group, ‘Scotland Rising’ and you’ll get all the photos and updates during our time there. Have a great week. Be blessed and be a blessing.

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Jesus Unmasked – His True Identity Revealed

Episode 44

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I hope things are going well with you wherever you are.  It’s a beautiful day here at the farmstead. It’s a very emotional week as our remaining animals are going to their new homes as the week goes along. By next week’s show, all the animals will be gone. It’s a very surreal experience. If you could remember Brittan and me during your prayer time, I’d sure appreciate it.

On the other hand, It’s just a couple weeks until we head for Scotland. We’re so excited about the trip.  I hope you’ll follow our adventure on Facebook. All you need to do is search for ‘Scotland Rising’ on Facebook and like the page. We will update that page regularly with stories, photos, and prayer requests.

Today, we’re going to John Chapter one. Last week we started our journey in John with a look at the end of John’s gospel where he explained WHY he wrote what he did. His overt goal was proselytism. He wanted readers to not just know about Jesus life and teachings, he wanted readers to place their faith in Jesus as ‘the Christ, the son of God.’

Now, it’s time to go back to the beginning of the Gospel and look at the claims of Jesus, as recorded by John.

Joh 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Joh 1:2  He was in the beginning with God.

Joh 1:3  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Joh 1:4  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Joh 1:5  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

 

These 5 verses must be some of the most elegantly written pieces of Theology in existence. It is an extremely controversial set of statements in the  21st century, because it categorically declares the Deity of Christ.

Liberal and humanist minds have always chafed at these verses… They identify Jesus as God, as eternal, as creator and as redeemer.

First, John says Jesus was ‘In the beginning’.  John is deliberately identifying Jesus with ‘Elohim’ of Genesis 1.  Somehow they are different but somehow they are the same. The word was with God, suggesting some distinction. In fact, I found a translation called, “The Scriptures 1998” that actually translates the word, God as ‘Elohim’. Wild.  The word was God, suggesting equality. I’m not a theologian, nor do I play one on TV, but I can clearly see John is undeniably calling Jesus, God.

Those who argue against the deity of Christ, have worked hard to come up translations to try and make John say something less direct, but their arguments fall pitifully short. Even the extremely liberal RSV, is forced to translate verse one correctly. It’s simply impossible to do otherwise. The Jehovah’s Witness New World Translation tries to translate it the word was ‘a god’ with small g. And sometimes you might see it translated the word was divine or ‘godlike’.  But to do so is simply allowing theological bias to drive the translation rather than the other way round.  Sadly, I see this play out in a few other NT verses, but with this passage, only overtly pseudo Christian groups are bold enough to mistranslate John’s opening declaration.

By saying He was in the beginning, John is teaching the Eternality of Jesus. Before creation, only eternity and the eternal existed. Creation is the beginning of the bubble we call time. Jesus was there at the emergence of time. He is eternal.

John clearly identifies Jesus as creator when he says, By Him all things were made, and nothing was created apart from Him.

Finally John identifies Jesus as Redeemer when he says, In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

Quite frequently, light and darkness are considered opposites. You know, the opposite of light is darkness. In movies the Dark Force is often portrayed and the polar opposite of light, sometimes as even a necessary requirement to create balance in the universe. eg. The dark side of the force.

In both Scripture and in Science, darkness is not the opposite of light, rather it is the absence of light. They are not equals and it is never a fair fight. Light ALWAYS dispels darkness. And darkness can’t overwhelm light. No matter how deep the darkness, even the smallest light will send it running. In fact, the heavier the darkness, the more effective the light.

No matter what darkness does, nor how dense, it is impotent against the light. So John can say with confidence, a light has shined in darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

I believe this is a reference to sin. Sin covered all the human race and it seems so omnipotnent. But Jesus sacrifice shined a light into the darkness and conquered it.

Many, maybe most of us are afraid of the dark. Darkness hides many secrets, many dangers, many monsters. And as long as the darkness reigns, they seem so powerful, but the instant a light shines in the darkness, the hidden is revealed. Some dark creatures, like rats and cockroaches go scurrying for cover and others are able to be dealt with in the light of illumination.  The monster is slain, the bogey man is unmasked as a fraud. And in the same way, sin is defeated by the light of Christ. That’s why John can say in his first letter, ‘we want to be in the light, as He is in the light.

Right there my friends is the Gospel. Christ is the conqueror of darkness. It is defeated once and for all. The darkness is exposed. And that is Good News.

I could probably end here, but there is one more verse we absolutely MUST look at, and that is verse 14.

Joh 1:14  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

If the first verse is controversial in the 21st century, it is verse 14 that caused all the arguments in John’s day.

We’ve talked on and on about Gnosticism but John 1:14, must have caused blood to come out of their eyes and ears. And the Word became flesh was in conflict with everything they believed.  John does not say the word took on flesh, or the Word appeared to be flesh, but the Word BECAME flesh. The eternal became mortal. It is the perfect complimentary verse to Philippians 2 Php 2:6  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

Php 2:7  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

 

The true identity of Jesus of Nazareth has now been revealed. The mask is ripped off. He is the God Man, the one of a kind, full of Grace and Truth.

You can reject Him, but you can’t dilute the claim.

 

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Why John REALLY wrote his Gospel

Episode 43

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I hope you enjoyed our journey through the New Testament. I know I did. Very soon, we’re going to take a similar one through the Old Testament, but I wanted to take a break from our hectic race through the Bible and zoom in just a little on some topics from John’s Gospel. Full disclosure here: on some level, John was chosen at random.  I wanted to focus on Jesus, so one of the 4 Gospels was a given.  It could have been any of them, but I have always been drawn to John’s Gospel.  My reasons are quite subjective and personal, but, hey, it’s my radio show.

Keep in mind, the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation is about Jesus.  He is there in Genesis 1, the first promise of His incarnation in in Genesis 3. He is there in Revelation 22, when John pleads for His return.  I like to say the Old Testament is Waiting for Jesus, The Gospels are Memories of Jesus, Acts is Following Jesus and Carrying Jesus, The letters are Living for Jesus, and Revelation is Victory in Jesus.

But for the next 4 weeks (at least), we’re going to dip our toes in the water of the Gospel of John.  We’re going to go a bit deeper than during our fly over with our survey, but we’re not going deep enough that anyone is at risk of drowning.

This week, in this first lesson, we’re going to look at WHY John wrote his Gospel.  And to do that, we have to start at the end.  Just like Luke did in Chapter 1 of his memoir of Jesus, John explains he motives, but instead of being right up front, John waits until almost the very end of his Gospel, in Chapter 20

Joh 20:30  Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;

Joh 20:31  but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

1 This passage begins, Now Jesus – I’ve already said that Jesus is the focus, the center, and at some level, the subject of the entire Bible. You will hear me repeat that over and over again as we survey the Old Testament beginning in just a few weeks. There have been many great teachers, outstanding philosophers, mighty prophets, excellent leaders and wise counselors down through the ages, but there has never been the like of Jesus of Nazareth. The Bible is unequivocal in it’s declarations about Him.  The Apostles proclaimed, There is no other name under Heaven, given among men, by which we must be saved.  Paul

Php 2:9  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,

Php 2:10  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

Php 2:11  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I began (Re)Discovering the Bible Vol. 2 with these lines from the poem ‘One Solitary Live’, All the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that have ever set sale, All rulers that have ever ruled, and all the kings that have ever reigned on this earth, all put together, have not affected the life of man on earth, like this one, solitary live.

It’s true, there’s just something about that name.  As we’ve established over and over in our weekly time together, while it makes no logical sense, it is possible to reject Jesus. It is also possible, and I would argue, reasonable, logical, and desirable to accept and follow Him.  But it is not possible to remain intellectually and historically honest, and ignore Him.  Sooner or later, we all have to deal with Him.

John continues his thought: Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;

What are these other signs? He may be referring to miracles recorded in the other Gospels, or perhaps miracles we know nothing about. After all, John finishes his Gospel with these words, Joh 21:25  Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Please remember, the Gospels are not exhaustive biographies of the Life and Ministry of Jesus, but collections of memories of Jesus words and deeds. So there were undoubtedly many remarkable things we don’t know.

In this case, however, the context of John’s statement about many other signs, appears to be in context of post resurrection appearances and interactions. It is very similar to  Luke’s beginning to Acts of the Apostles where he says, Act 1:3  He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

 

We’ve said many times before, that the entire key to understanding Jesus specifically, and Christianity in General, is the resurrection.  Jesus spent 40 days between His resurrection and ascension into heaven interaction with people. The Gospel and Acts accounts are limited to time He spent with the Apostles and a select few others including a group of women. 1 Corinthians  15, however, adds an appearance to James, and an occasion where He appeared to more than 500 people at one time.

The evidence is overwhelming that He was raised.

And John is clear that the purpose for Jesus’ resurrection and subsequences is to establish His identity first of all the Christ, the long awaited Messiah of Israel, the Son of God.  This is borne out in the Gospel Sermons of Acts. Each sermon to a Jewish audience is built around the idea that Jesus is the Messiah. And each message to Gentiles it to demonstrate that Jesus is the Son of God and ultimate Judge of the human race.

He is not one of many, or one of a select few, He is the One.

John is quite specific in stating his purpose was to incite faith. He wants readers to Believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.

Many contrast faith as something in the heart, rather than merely intellectual acknowledgment.  But that’s only part of the story.  If we had the time to dig really deep into the scripture we’d see that faith implies much more than a belief that is both heartfelt and intellectually satisfying, it leads to change in behavior and allegiance.  The Bible most frequently calls that repentance.

Interestingly, in Acts chapter 3, Peter commands the people to repent and believe, which is the inverse of how we usually talk. We normally ask people to believe and repent, but the conversion experience, at least our role in it, is so intimately interconnected, that we silly to talk about things like sequence.  Again, in Acts, Faith, Repentance, Baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit are seen in every conceivable order. I perceive that’s not an accident.  God would never want us to see conversion reduced to a formula. Salvation is His doing and His alone. Conversion, is our response to what He has done.

There are many places in the New Testament, Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, I Peter, where the entire human response to Jesus is summarized by just one of those words, sometimes it is faith, sometimes, baptism, sometimes repentance, and once, confession.  In each case, our complete response is assumed. The Bible knows nothing of unbaptized Believers. That’s a modern invention. At the same time, it knows nothing of unrepentant ones, or of unbelieving baptisms or faith that doesn’t produce repentance. Instinctively, we know that’s true, but we want to categorize our response or prioritize or create and order of response.  But in our hearts, we know the ultimate truth of the old song, ‘Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. ‘

John finishes his thought with, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

This is another passage that liberal and fundamental tribes of Christians have each claimed half rather than the whole.

For most of my life, liberals have emphasized how the life and teaching of Jesus will help us improve our lives here on this green ball we call earth. Those with a conservative bent, have emphasized eternal life and forgiveness of sin.

I am utterly convinced when we do that, we parse a word that was never intended to be parsed. He meant both.  Watch as we look at John’s Gospel, we are going to discover a Jesus who comes to give eternal life, and life to the full, here. Jesus, the Christ, the son of God, is Lord over all, both time AND eternity.

The Bible tells me so.

Next week, we’re going to go back to Chapter 1, where John blows up the arguments of those who claim Jesus was never Human as well as those who claim He is ONLY human. Please, don’t miss it. Do send your thoughts and question to me by email or via the comments feature on the website with the show notes.

Until then, be blessed and be a blessing.

 

 

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Book of Revelation: Weird, or, Wonderful?

Episode 42

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We’re finally here. We’ve made it through each book of the New Testament. I’ve had a ton of fun.  Starting next week, we’re going to spend 4 weeks in the Gospel of John, then we will move into a survey of the old testament.

Today, we’re going to race through the Book of Revelation.  For some it’s the most fascinating book in the Bible. For others it is terrifying and for still others, it is extremely confusing.

Rev 1:3  Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

This collection of visions was written by the Apostle John while he was in exile on Patmos, around AD 90*95.  It was an extremely difficult time for Christians.  The persecution of Christianity that began under Nero in the mid 60s, reached a fever pitch under Domitian.  Nero used Christians as the scapegoats for the burning of Rome, which was probably his own doing.  Domitian’s problem with Christians was more theological and in his own mind, noble.

Domitian loved Rome very much.  He believed her culture and religion were the highest in all the world, and superior to any other.  He also believed that he was a god in the flesh.  He was extremely tolerant of other religions, as long as the people also honored and worshiped him. Christians simply wouldn’t make that compromise.  In Domitian’s eyes, that was not merely defiance, but treasonous.

As a result of the Roman Oppression, the Church, was frightened and discouraged. John’s visions are written to bolster their resolve to stay true.

10:1010:26Simultaneously, the Churches in Asia were facing a scourge in false teaching and immorality in the form of the Gnostic heresy. In chapters 2 and 3, Jesus writes to seven prominent congregations, to let them know He still holds them in Hand, he is aware of their challenges, He warns them regarding their sin, and He promises to bless them if they overcome.

Down through the ages, interest in the Book of Revelation has waxed and waned, and there have been numerous popular interpretations of both the book and regarding the end times themselves.

For the first 1800 years, there were two primary dominant views of the end times, One is normally called today, Amillennialism and the other is referred to as Historic Premillennialism.  Essentially, their is whether or not the thousand years was literal or figurative.  For a while, a branch called postmillennialism gained popularity by saying the coming of Jesus happened AFTER the millennium. Yes, the Church was splitting hairs.

At the end of the first quarter of the 19th century, a new understanding of the end times was born. It is called dispensationalism, or dispensational premillennialism. Frankly, the other three views have more agremment with each other than any do with this dispensationalism.

It was made popular by John Darby. 14;50Darby was the son of wealthy Anglo Irish descent, and grew up in southern England. He was positively brilliant and gifted. He studied law and passed the bar. After just a few years, he abandoned his promising law career to serve as an Anglican Pastor. After becoming disillusioned with denominationalism, he left the clergy to become a lay preacher with the Plymouth Brethren.

Darby was the first well known proponent of Dispensationalism. He influenced C.I. Scofield, whose Bible Study notes really put this view on the map.

Dispensational looks very different than the other views in many ways.  One of the ways is in its approach to Israel. While the other three see the Church as the fulfillment, or even replacement for Israel, the dispensationalists see Israel as God’s primary concern and the Church as a parenthesis in history, to redeem Gentiles. After a secret ‘rapture’ which none of the other views see, there will be a seven year Tribulation which will end with Christ establishing a thousand year kingdom on earth. God will spend the millennium focusing on a revival of the Jews and re-establishing the Jewish Temple system.  Near the end of this reign, Satan will be released on the earth and establish a final rebellion. Christ will quell the rebellion and usher in the final judgement.

I fully confess my explanation of all the views are extremely broad brushed descriptions.  Sometime we’ll look at them in some depth, but today we’re not going there.

In 1948, Dispensationalism got a boost, when the allied forces offered reparations for the Jewish People by establishing the Nation of Israel. Dispensationalists saw this as a fulfillment of prophesy.

It was in the mid to late 1960s in the years following the 6 day war, with the extremely popular writings of John Walvoord, and especially Hal Lindsay, that Dispensational Premillennialism went mainstream.

Then, in the 1990s, the Left Behind novels (and later movies) catapulted the Dispensational view into preeminence.  Today, many, if not most Evangelicals, especially in America, do not even know about historic premillennialism or Amillennialism.  I have even recently read articles decrying the historic views as heretical false teaching.

I was very recently in a discussion with a group of Godly Believers, most of whom had never heard of anything but the Dispensational view, which for the record, I do not hold.

The discussion was lively, but respectful. When I got home I decided to do some digging on the matter and found that the debates among Believers have at times become quite ugly and have given ammunition to skeptics and unbelievers to allow them to mock and dismiss us for yet another way we Christians have no unity or agreement.

I knew this episode was coming up and decided right there to change direction. I am convinced that we sometimes miss the forest for the trees when discussing the Book of Revelation specifically, or the end times in general.

It is time for us to look at the areas in which we agree and go public with those, rather than focus publicly on our differences, which mostly don’t matter, anyway.

When we take this approach, the Book of Revelation is much less complicated. It doesn’t make great movies or novels, but it makes great sense and gives great hope.

Revelation repeatedly tells one thing and its one thing all Christians believe.

Ready for it? Jesus is risen and glorified. 2. Things are sometimes really tough for Christians. 3.It’s going to get worse. Much worse. 4. Just when it looks like evil wins, Jesus puts an end to the rebellion and 5. Sets up his Kingdom where all things good and holy exist forever and evil is banished. We call it, heaven.

I realize that’s not nearly as sexy as some of the view points, but it sure is accurate. Sometimes the simplest explanation is the best one.  And…that’s the Book of Revelation in a nutshell.  And its good, no, GREAT news!

And…that’s all I got. At least for today. Thanks, BTW, to those of you who have sent donations for our Vision trip to Scotland. We’re getting there. I’m still amazed at how many gifts are coming via cash and check rather than through the crowd funding page. Still, I’m humbled by all the gifts. What I’m promoting now is that if 100 people will give us $40 then we and get this done. But any size gift is welcome. Those $10 and $5 donations add up. Thank you.

Thanks, too, for buying Vol. 2.  Once you’ve read it, would you please consider writing a review. Reviews are huge for Kindle books. Thanks again, you rock.

Next week we’re going to begin a study in the Gospel of John. Talk to you soon. Until then, Be blessed, and be a blessing.

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Hey, Jude

Survey of Jude

Episode 41

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Hey, Jude

Ok, I couldn’t resist.  Sorry, it’s just how I roll.

Let me just say from the outset, I’m a huge fan of the book of Jude. There are several verses that would allow a deeper study of several weeks, but we’ll just highlight a few of them and scratch the surface. I promise, though, we’ll come back later.

We know very little about Jude himself, other than his name. He identifies himself as the brother of James, which likely means he is a half brother of Jesus. The Roman Catholic Church say this is the Judas, aka, Thaddeus, who was one of the original 12 apostles.  Frankly, the majority of scholars and ancient Church leaders agree with the former understanding.  Do your own homework.

If you read this little letter right after, or right before, 2 Peter, you’ll immediately see there are similarities. They seem to be written for similar reasons, to a similar audiences, and about the same time. I date this book in the mid 60s A.D. Do your own homework if you really want to dig into that some more.

Jude begins his letter by saying he wanted to write about our common salvation, but feels the need to address some false teaching and teachers. How often have we heard that in recent weeks.

Jude wants to be positive, even joyful. His heart is to talk about our hope in Christ. Our eternal destiny in a Kingdom where all but love passes away. A place with no pain, no heartache, no sickness, no oppression, no death.  Who wouldn’t want to talk about that?

Unfortunately, the urgent matter of false teaching has reared it’s head and Jude feels compelled to address it. The bad guys here appear to be the same Gnostics, Peter, John, and Paul in his later years, had to confront in their letters.

We’ve talked about the Gnostics ad nausaeum the last few weeks, so I won’t go back over it. If you’re new to the show, go back and listen to the episodes on 2 Peter and the epistles of John.  For what it’s worth, this Gnostic problem plagued the Church for at least 300 years, and it made a big reappearance in the latter quarter of the 20th century and is nipping at the heels of the Gospel, even today.

Jude spends the overwhelming bulk of this letter, comparing these false teachers to just about every villain in the Old Testament.

As an aside, his many references to the Old Testament suggest strongly that Jude is writing primarily to Believers from a Jewish background.

Jude compares them to The Jews who sinned in the desert, to the angels who sinned in genesis 6, to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, Cain, Balaam and Korah.  Folks, that’s a Hall if Shame, if their ever once was.  This is like the anti Hebrews 11 chapter.

Jude also talks about them Denying the Lord Jesus. I am convinced this is a reference to the Gnostic teaching that Jesus was not really human.  The New Testament, on the other hand, constantly and consistently testifies to Jesus dual nature as both Man and God.

It’s also important to note, that Jude points to these false teachers’ love of money and sexual sin.  It would appear that not much has changed in the last 2,000 years.

When we come back to a deeper study of Jude, we’ll drill deeper into all these issues, but I want to spend just a moment on Verse 6.

Jud 1:6  And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—

Who are these angels?  I believe these are quite literally the fathers of what we call today, Demons.

I want to refer you to 2 Peter

2Pe 2:4  For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

And to Genesis 6

Gen 6:1  When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them,

Gen 6:2  the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.

Gen 6:3  Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”

Gen 6:4  The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

Gen 6:5  The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

 

It is obvious from the language that these ‘fallen’ angels are not the Biblical Demons, because they are chained in gloomy dungeons awaiting judgement.  But when we look back to the story of their sin, we finally gain some clarity.

We’ll look at this subject several times during our Old Testament Survey,  but let’s do a flyover right now.

It appears from Genesis, that at some point between The Garden of Eden and Noah, that some Angels (sons of God) decided to intermarry with humans. It is not something God designed or ordained. It was a violation. The offspring of these marriages were human/angelic hybrids, called, Nephilim.  These Nephilim are evil and do all they can to interfere with God’s plan for His people. First, here in Genesis, then when the Israelis are trying to get from Egypt to the Promised land. They appear again during the United Kingdom as they try and prevent David from establishing a dynasty. Then they disappear, only to reappear as ‘unclean spirits’ during the ministry of Jesus. They make a final, albeit feeble stand during the ministry of the Apostles, then disappear from Scripture. It is my contention, though, that we will see a greater manifestation, a reappearance, as it were, as we grow closer to the return of Christ.

For now, these angels, await judgment , chained and incarcerated far away from the earth and humans they tried so hard to pervert.

Jude says that the false teachers he’s warning the Church of, are just like these fallen angels; evil, defiant, perverted and defeated.

Let’s finish this glance at Jude by looking a little closer to home. We have an abundance of teachers, preachers, pastors and evangelists who are truly devils in disguise. Just look at the prosperity Gospel peddlers. Everything is all about money. But the truth is, we can’t serve both God and money.

Think how many Christian Celebrities have been found out as adulterers and perverts.  I know of many so called shepherds who are constantly scanning the flock for easy prey. These monsters are not shepherds, but predators, wolves looking for their own pleasure and to satisfy their own appetites. I remember reading of a female Christian singer who said she would watch the crowd to find a boy to take back to her hotel after a concert.

Jude has had his fill of these predators, getting away with their green and lust and warns the Church to watch for them.

We need to be on the lookout for them, too. Don’t be sheep. Be like the Bereans who searched the scriptures daily.

And that’s all I got. Drop me a note with your thoughts. Next week, we’re finally in REVELATION. Can you believe it. I’m excited.  Until then, be blessed and be a blessing.

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