Jesus Paid It All

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You’re listening to the ReDescovering the Bible Online Radio Show with Sam Burton episode 50.

Welcome back.  For those of you tuning in for the very first time, a special welcome to you. It’s been a long time coming.  I’m Sam, I’m your host. I’m coming to you from the Camper and I’m delighted to be here.

I want to thank you for all your support the last couple months. I’m really touched by the number of you who’ve written notes of support or spoken to me about your appreciation for the podcost.  That touches me so much.  I just want to add, for those of you who don’t know, that I’ve had some health issues that have prevented me from updating, I don’t want to go into too much detail, but it was fairly serious. It’s mostly over now and I feel great. So I’m trying again.  It would really mean a great deal to me if you would continue to lift me up in your prayers.

Let’s see, where should we go to keep you updated?  First, Brittan and I are still planning to head to Scotland as soon as we’ve raised enough money. For those of you interested, as some of you have indicated, you can just log onto our website, www.risegroup.us, and go to our giving page for a link to instructions.

Ok, that should catch you up on everything, so let’s get right into today’s text. If you think way back to our last time together, we’re looking at the book of Hebrews as key to understanding the old testament. We looked at how Jesus was superior to angels, to Moses and to Aaron.  Today, we want to look and see that Jesus provides us a better covenant. And we’ll find that in Hebrews 8,9,10.

First, though, I think it’s interesting that the writer uses the Tabernacle, rather than the temple itself as the picture. Remember that while God himself gave instructions for the tabernacle, it was David who envisioned the temple and left instructions for it’s building. Then after it was destroyed by the Babylonians, the new temple was designed and build by Zerubbabel.  They were both accepted by God, but were not authorized by him. It is this temporary structure that is said to be a picture and a shadow. Solomon’s temple was extremely ornate and in second Chronicles we read how God honored this gift from David and his son.  Zerubbabel’s temple was not so lavish, yet God said that it would see God’s glory is greater ways that Solomon’s had ever seen.

Think about that, Solomon’s temple, with all it’s gold, silver, and other precious materials, had seen the glory of God in such a way that the people couldn’t for fear enter it. There was no such display at the dedication of Zerubbabel’s Temple. But God had promised a greater glory for it. The promise of Haggai 2 to be empty. That glory didn’t come when King Saul refurbished it.  There was no sign of such glory. The glory came, when into that temple was carried Jesus of Nazareth, by his mother and step father. It was this temple of Zerubbabel, where Jesus cleared the money changers, it was this temple that had His footprints throughout it. When the Hebrew writer declares the superiority of Jesus to Moses, I’m certain he had this Old Testament promise in mind.

God said He was going to make a New Covenant with the Jews, and we find that New Covenant described in the book of Hebrews.  That’s one of the reasons I just can’t agree with those who are looking for God to bring about a revival of the old temple and sacrificial system. Why in the world would our God want to take the Jews to a picture of heaven, when he can take them to the real deal. A new covenant with and through His Son, Jesus.

The Crucifixion of Jesus, fulfills and nullifies all of the old Covenant. Starting with the sacrifice. The Hebrew writer says clearly in Chapter 10 verse 4, that the blood of Bulls and Goats could NEVER take away sin. Bulls and goats were a messy, gory, picture of how bad sin is. Think for a minute about the millions upon millions of animals sacrificed and whose flesh was burned on the altar. Yet their blood, even the gallons of it spilled, could NEVER cover a single sin.

Jesus blood, though, covers every sin ever committed. Do you get that? Every sin you’ve ever committed and every sin you will ever commit, was covered by His once for all sacrifice. That’s good news.  No, that’s great news.

God is never going to go back to a system that didn’t work. It was temporary. What Jesus did is forever.

So as we study the old testament, let’s look for signs of permanence. Let’s look for promises of Jesus. And when we find them, let’s celebrate.

This week is what’s called Holy Week. The last week of Jesus ministry. It began with his Triumphal Entry into the City of Jerusalem. And it Ended with His resurrection from the dead. In between we have his arrest, and his murder.  Those things are promised in the old Testament. We will see the first promise of Him in the 3rd Chapter of Genesis. And as we weep at what our sin did to Him, we celebrate His willingness to suffer it.

The book of Hebrews uses the tabernacle, not the temple, to describe how the Gospel is superior to the Old Covenant. From the sacrifice, now instead of millions of animals and gallons of blood, we have a once for all sacrifice, to the basin of washing, which had to be used over and over to cleanse the priests, to baptism which represents our cleansing, one time we have to be washed, and only once. And finally, the tearing of the temple curtain from top to bottom showing us that Jesus sacrifice is a complete one and not the way to God is open. We no longer need priests and high priests. We all have access to the Creator of the world directly through the sacrifice of Jesus.

As we read the old testament, we must look for promises of Jesus and celebrate. That’s the only way the old Testament makes sense.

Paul wrote in first Corinthians chapter 15, that if Jesus is not raised, we are of all men most miserable. But He IS raised, and that’s the best news ever heard.

That’s all I’ve got this week. Next we’ll start the old testament. Happy Easter every one.

Trust Me

Episode 47

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I’m coming to you very late, but Brittan and I are safely here in Scotland. It’s Saturday the 15th of October already. It’s raining. Brittan is at the Church practicing the keyboard and I’m home alone. The acoustics are not good in here, but that’s never stopped me before, right?

I wish I could show you how beautiful this little village of Buckie is, but, alas, we’re on audio, not video.  If you’d like to see some pictures and have not already liked our facebook page, please do so. Just search FB for Scotland Rising and hit like. It’s that simple.

I’m realizing that I have no place to properly record, so I’m going to keep our time together short for you ears’ sake, but I do want us to get together while I’m here. Once we get back to the camper, programming will return to normal, whatever normal is.

This week and next week, we’re going to remain in John’s Gospel. After that, we’ll look at the Old Testament as a whole, then we will begin our survey of the Old Testament books.

Now before we jump into John 14, I just wanted to let you know that I have run into a few listeners all the way over here.  Ok, they are people who already knew me from years ago, but still, it’s great to know we’re international. Thank you, social media.

Ok, enough already. Lets grab a glance at the first 6 verses of John chapter 14.

Joh 14:1  “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

Joh 14:2  In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

Joh 14:3  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Joh 14:4  And you know the way to where I am going.”

Joh 14:5  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

Joh 14:6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

 

Let me set the scene. Jesus and his disciples are in what we call, the upper room, preparing for the Passover meal. It is during this meal that they share what we refer to as ‘the last supper’. Later that night, Jesus will be arrested and the next morning, crucified. He is aware of what’s coming, but the Disciples are not, so Jesus is preparing them for a future without His physical presence.

He starts with Let not your hearts be troubled. Now I know some of you associate that phrase with a certain right wing radio host, but it didn’t start with him.

In chapter 13, Jesus has been preparing the disciples for His betrayal, arrest and execution, now He tells them not to panic. Don’t let your hearts be troubled.Relax. Trust me.

He tries to encourage them with the promise that His departure is temporary and their future is glorious.

He says heaven is real. He would have told us, if it was just a fable or fairy tale.  The thought of eternal life while hopeful, is mysterious and can make us skeptical.  We can’t see outside of these few dimensions that hold us in, so Jesus says trust me. His resurrection will establish His final authority.  As a side topic, but not to be missed, Jesus says there’s plenty of room .

Whoever you are, whatever you’ve done, there is room for you, just trust him.

One of the most important and controversial things Jesus ever said, is recorded in verse 6 as a follow up to Thomas’ question, How can we know the way?

First there is hope, “I am the way”. Thomas, you know me. Trust me. I’ll get you home. Stay close.

The controversy comes with the second statement, no one comes to the Father, except through me.  He’s made that statement, or very similar before. In chapter 8 He declares Himself to be the great I AM. In chapter 10 He declares that the other ‘saviors’ were thieves and robbers. He is the good shepherd, the door to the sheep fold. Now He is THE Only way.

Millions simply don’t like that declaration and reject it. But what if He’s telling the truth. We love His other teaching, why not trust Him with this one. After all, His way is awfully easy and attractive. Others say, ‘work’, He says, ‘Trust’. Others say, ‘earn’ He says, ‘come’. Others say, ‘do’, Jesus says, ‘done’.  Others say, ‘hope’, Jesus says, here are my scars, ‘Trust me.’

Now is the time to return to the simplicity of the Gospel.  The Bible is much simpler than we make it. Its not hard. Church sometimes makes things hard, but Jesus says, ‘Trust me.’

Hey, that’s all I got. Frankly, that’s all there is. If you’ve already trusted Him, take some time to rejoice and rest in the knowledge that He’s coming again to take you to a brand new Home. One with no mortgage or insurance premiums. His gift to You.

If you haven’t yet done so, I wish with every fibre of my being that you will do so, right now. Let go and let God.

If you’ve finally said Yes, Jesus, I trust you, let me know so I can put some material in your hands and help you find a good Church home if you don’t have one.  Email, message, or tweet me. I might be in Scotland, but I’m here for you.

Next week we’ll be in Chapter 19, “It is finished”  Until then. Be blessed and be a blessing.

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Nic At Night

Episode 45

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Once again, John tells us Nicodemus was a Pharisee.  From this we can infer that he is a well respected member of the community.

Why at night? – Down through the centuries, scholars, lay people and skeptics alike have debated why Nicodemus came to see Jesus under the cover of darkness. Many have speculated that this was because Nic was unwilling to risk being seen openly praising Jesus because of the risk to his status and reputation. While this interpretation cannot be discounted, I tend to reject it because in chapters 7 and 19, Nicodemus is overt in his support of Jesus. In my opinion, it may very well be nothing more than the Pharisee wanting some private conversation which was unlikely to happen during the daytime.

Jesus being obscure….again. – After Nicodemus pays Jesus a nice compliment, Jesus takes over the conversation.  He goes right into, ‘unless a man is born again…’  There are a few times in the Gospels where Jesus comes across like one of the old Shao Lin masters in 1970s Kung Fu movies. He makes these obscure declarations that blow up the conversation and take it in a direction He wants it to go.

In this case He says, Unless a man is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God, which naturally confuses Nicodemus. This idea of Rebirth is new. It’s not an extension of the Mosaic covenant.

Jesus clarification is just as cloudy, even 21 centuries later. He reply, Unless a man is born of the water and spirit, he cannot ender the Kingdom of God.

Jesus words born of water and Spirit…. Have thrown generations into bewilderment. Several, though not all, scholars have tried to make born of water refer to physical birth , as in the amniotic fluid that accompanies a baby during birth, while Spirit refers to rebirth.  For the life of me, I cannot see it that way. Both contextually and grammatically, both water and spirit refer to the second  or rebirth. I read this passage in multiple translations and even went back to the Greek and translated it myself.  Admittedly, my Greek skills have atrophied over the years, but fortunately, verse 5 is in rather simple Greek so it wasn’t difficult. It is clear that a natural reading suggests water and spirit and are a phrase in themselves.  There are no definite articles separating the nouns, or any other differentiators. Also,  the human birth experience called born of water does not exist in Greek literature. This is an invention of the Church to try and explain a very difficult and obscure declaration.

It is my conclusion that Jesus is foreshadowing conversion, which would not be fully understood until Pentecost.  The conversion experience, called here a birth, refers to our human response to the Gospel which is summed up in our obedience in Baptism while Spirit refers to what is unseen, the hard part, as it were, that can only be performed by the Holy Spirit. In Romans 6, Paul also uses baptism as the picture of the human response to the Gospel and describes it as death, burial and resurrection. Here Jesus is foreshadowing conversion by comparing baptism as birth rather than death.  In light of the Book of Acts, the understanding is simplified.

Jesus explanation of New Birth does not clear up Nicodemus’ confusion. The Pharisee asks, How can this be?  At first, Jesus reprimands him for his lack of understanding, then He shifts gears and makes simplifies the subject by going way back to basics. He spends the verses 11-21 by saying, it’s all about me, Nicodemus. Just like Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21:9), so the Son of Man will be lifted up.  Again, this is a foreshadowing of His crucifixion, that Nicodemus would simply not understand at this time.

But He makes it a bit easier by saying He came as an expression of God’s love rather than His Judgement. He has come to bring light to the world, but in our attraction to sin, and it’s associated darkness, many will reject him. But there will be others, and revelation tells us it’s a multitude that cannot be numbered, will literally come to the light.

And with that, the story ends. Abruptly, and to some degree incomplete.

That’s because at this point in the Gospel, the whole story is not yet known. It’s not until after the resurrection that the story is complete and the pieces of the puzzle can be fit together.

We have the benefit of the Bible. We can figure these things out. Salvation requires a conversion, a new birth than can only be achieved by coming to Christ, the light of the world. He came to offer light and light in place of darkness and judgement.

You don’t have to understand all of it to get started. You can simply start with John 3:16-18

Joh 3:16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Joh 3:17  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Joh 3:18  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God

Probably most of you listening, have already accepted that promise and followed him, but there might be a few who are sitting on the fence. My challenge to you today is JUMP. Take Jesus at His word and ‘Believe in Him.’

I’m going to pray for you right now.

If you took that first step into Jesus arms, well done. I’m so excited. Please let your Pastor know right away so he can guide you into your next steps. If you don’t have a good Church, email, tweet me or  use the comments feature on the website with the show notes and I’ll get back to you right away with some material and with the name of a good Church in your area.

Next week, we’re going behind the curtain of one of Jesus most remarkable miracles and what it means in a lesson called, ‘Fish Sandwiches all round, no coupon required. No limit.’

Until then, be blessed and be a blessing.

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Farewell, Dear Iris

Iris at 12
Iris at 12

Shredded hearts heal, but some take longer than others. I wrote this last week, but I’m only just now (barely) able to post it.  Still, I have to share.

Today is a sad day. On the sad-o-meter, it’s pretty much off the charts. In a little less than an hour, Brittan and I are off to the vet with Iris the Irritable Corgi on her final car ride. And my heart is breaking. Whoever said, ’tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’, never owned a dog.

As I type this page, Iris is lying uncomfortably beside my chair, in constant pain, but not wanting to be away from us. She looks older than her 12.5 years, and because of her infirmities she acts it. Our once upon a time all-star athlete can’t even go down the three steps from our deck to the yard. Often she can’t even step over the threshold without tripping and doing painful splits across the kitchen floor.

My mind races back to better days. I smile wryly at her arrival all those years ago, when she gave us a run for our money as she bolted through the Bangor, Maine airport, when an airline employee foolishly opened her crate to take a peek at the little bi-eyed monster inside.

Iris darted out of the crate and down the corridor past the gaping airline worker and a dozen wide eyed travelers.  Had it not been for her need to take a dump, we might still be chasing her around the airport.

Iris and I got off to a rough start. She was just under a year old, and full of bad attitude. Like many Cardigan Corgis, she had a bossy streak and was a natural ankle and calf nipper. Herding is in her DNA.

She was Brittan’s dog, so I didn’t take her antipathy personally. Besides, I had my rowdy team of sleddogs outside to spend my time with.

Frankly, most people had a similar experience with our little squatty terrorist to the one I did. She was just not a friendly dog. She adored Brittan and tolerated me, but other people were a genuine nuisance to her, and she refused to hide it.

Our relationship changed a few months after her arrival, when we took her to basic obedience classes to help socialize her and hopefully earn her a Canine Good Citizen certificate.  During the first class, Brittan handled her and it was rather stressful, so beginning with lesson 2, Brittan asked me to handle the Queen of Irritability, and for some reason I agreed.

We instantly formed a teamwork bond. A switch flipped and Iris became the star of the class.  Within just a couple weeks, she was perfect at every skill. We only had to practice a few minutes a day. It turns out the little beast was a genius. She learned quickly, and would do anything for a treat.

When test day finally came, I was a nervous wreck, but Iris flew through her exam like a champ. I was so proud of her. I didn’t like her, but I was proud of her.

We thought she might have a future in competitive obedience, but we discovered that she had hip problems and would never be able to handle jumping. It was the first step in a series of steps that has led us to where we are today.

One of the worst nights of my life, was watching Iris start a fight with Lucy the Bullmastiff. This was about 4 years ago now. Both were Alpha females and disliked everything about the other, but Iris was 35 lbs of middle aged arthritis and attitude, while Lucy was 110 lbs of solid muscle.

Iris snarled and snapped at Lucy over something, and in a flash, Iris was sliced from stem to stern and Lucy was shaking her like a rag doll.

I can’t even remember how we got Iris free from Lucy’s grip, but by some act of Grace we managed it. This was late on a Saturday night and the nearest emergency vet was an hour away.  I raced through the dark streets while Brittan furiously fought to stem the flow of blood.

The vets rushed Iris into surgery, with little hope for her, while Brittan and I paced and prayed and fretted the night away.  Sometime between 2 and 3 a.m. , weak but alive, Iris was placed in our arms along with a bill roughly equivalent to the GDP of a small European country.

Like I said, that was roughly 4 years ago. Iris has not been the same since. Oh, she’s still sometimes grumpy, and gets into all kinds of trouble, but I don’t think she’s had a pain free day since.

She has extreme arthritis in her shoulder from trying to compensate for her hips and she has a permanent bladder infection. The stumpy grumpy one rarely runs these days, and when she does, she regrets it. It breaks my heart.

Iris still loves attention, and dare I say it, especially from me. She’s completely incontinent now, having multiple accidents per day. Tramadol is practically a food group and she can’t leave the deck.

On some level, we’ve known we were on borrowed time for several years. We are so blessed to have enjoyed our adventures together. Now, in 15 minutes, we go on our last one. And it feels like a sword in my stomach.

Brittan believes that God will allow our special pets to be with us in Heaven. I never have. I have never wanted to be wrong about anything so much. Farewell, Iris the Irritable, bi-eyed, bat eared, spotty, squatty Corgi. So difficult to like. So easy to love.

Herding Gluttons

GluttonEpisode 32

Titus

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I’m in the studio on Monday. Yay, I love being back on schedule.

I need a favor. Prayer Network for Scotland. If you believe in Prayer. If you believe in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, If you are Scottish, If you love Scotland, If you are a friend of this show I would really appreciate it, if you would join our network of prayer partners. There is no catch. There is no gimmick. We are simply seeking to gather a circle of Christian Scots and Albafiles together to pray for Scotland; her Believers, her Churches, her Leaders and her needs, both physical and spiritual. Here’s how to get started. 1. Go to Points North Scotland on facebook and like the page. 2. Send me a PM, an email or comment on the show notes page and let me know you want to Pray for Scotland. Please include your email address.  I will soon announce a private Facebook group and send you a personal invitation to join.  Thanks. Also, send me any questions. I’m delighted to answer.

Ok, commercial over, let’s move on to our topic.

Titus

Titus is a little known, but obviously important protoge of Paul, much like Timothy. When I say, little known, I truly mean it. He is only mentioned 13 times in the New Testament and 8 of those are in 2 Corinthians.

We know absolutely nothing about his background. He is never mentioned by Luke in Acts. His name is a gentile one, and we have that confirmed in Galatians 2:1, which is the first time he is ever mentioned.

In that chapter, Paul mentions that Titus traveled with Paul to the council in Jerusalem that is recorded in Acts 15. I find it interesting that Luke, another Gentile companion of Paul, makes no mention of Titus in his account of the council. It’s not a big deal, but I do find it curious.

Since the first mention of Titus is in the letter to the Galatians, it indicates the Churches are familiar. Also, since the visit to Galatia is the beginning of the end of the first Journey and the beginning of the second journey, and that Titus travels to Jerusalem with Paul, I’m going to suggest, that like Timothy, he is from one of the Galatian cities.

It is very interesting to me that the trip to Jerusalem as all about stopping the Judaiser attempts to force Gentile converts to obey the law, which is the primary theme of Galatians where Titus is first called by name. Then as we read through the letter to Titus, we will discover the same topic is a major theme it Paul’s letter to his young disciple.

The letter is very similar to 1 Timothy, albeit a much shorter. After studying the book this last week, I now believe Titus was probably written about the same time as I Timothy and possibly right before. The primary reason I say that is it appears from I Timothy 1, Paul seems to be on his way FROM Macedonia and is planning to meet Timothy in Ephesus. In Titus 3, he asks Titus to come to him in Nicopolis, which is a town in Macedonia. In episode 30, I suggested Timothy was written first. Now I think Titus may be a few months earlier than I Timothy. Still, the similarity in their content is so similar that they were very likely written near the same time.

Crete is an island south and slightly east of Greece, and virtually due west of Cyprus. In today’s vernacular, the insult, “Cretan” is a derisive term with historical roots in the decadent, immoral past of Crete’s cultural. Here in Titus, Paul mentions that one of the poets of ancient Crete, called the inhabitants of the island, ‘Liars and lazy gluttons.’

If you do a little digging, you’ll discover that the poet mentioned was also a philosopher named, ‘Epimenedes’. He lived in 600 B.C.

As an aside, he is also the indirect source of the altar ‘to the unknown God’ in Athens that Paul describes in Acts 17.

By the first century A.D. Crete is home to a large Jewish population. Acts Chapter 2, says there were Jews from Crete in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost and were among those who heard the Apostles speaking in tongues and were exposed to Peter’s Gospel Sermon that day. Seeing that it was not unusual for celebrants at Pentecost to have been residing in the city since Passover, it isn’t a stretch to suggest that many of them were witnesses to the Passion and Resurrection events of that earlier holiday.

It would be my educated guess that some of them were among the 3,000 baptized on Pentecost and that they became the nucleus of the first Christian congregation when they returned home. That would make the Church on Crete one of the oldest congregations in the Roman Empire.

The only time Luke records that Paul visited there was on his journey to Rome. According to Acts chapter 27, the ship was first on one part of the island, where ‘we spent a long time’ and then left for a safe harbor along the coast to winter in. It was while sailing up the coast of Crete they encountered the storm that blew them out to sea and after two weeks hit a sand bar and shipwrecked off the coast of Malta.

I guess this would be a good time to fill in some of the blanks related to Paul’s history and imprisonments. The book of Acts ends with Paul in Prison in Rome. Most conservative scholars call this his ‘first’ imprisonment. In piecing together the timeline of his letters, it appears that Paul was released briefly and made some short trips, including the visit to Macedonia mentioned here and in I Timothy. Some ancient legends say he even traveled as far as Britain in between imprisonments. I think that would be cool, but I just don’t believe there was enough time in between for such a long journey. Anyway, sometime after AD 64 he is arrested and was executed between 65 and 67. II Timothy was written during this second imprisonment.

If you have any thoughts or questions about that, by all means email them or use the comments section of the show notes.

Based on Chapter 1 here in Titus, Paul apparently went to Crete another time, or he left Titus there during his voyage to Rome and Titus was there a VERY long time. The former idea is more likely.

Again, from chapter 1, it looks like there were several congregations on the island. Titus is going to ‘set things in order’ and appoint elders to oversee the congregations. It looks like from that, and the doctrinal challenges, in all likelihood the churches were rather loose and disorganized. Titus was tasked with fixing that. I bet that was fun….not!

Paul goes on to give the same instruction to Titus about the characteristics of Elders that he gives to Timothy. He does not, however, include anything about deacons here.

Verse 10 in chapter 1 sets the major tone for the rest of the letter. He finishes the chapter with this subject then returns to it in verse 9 of chapter 3.

Chapter two is focused on relationships with other people; older and younger, just like Paul writes in I Timothy, but then that shouldn’t be too surprising if he wrote them about the same time.

Let’s go back to chapter 1, verse 10 and look at the problems the Cretan churches were facing. Paul says the Churches are dealing with all kinds of false doctrines and money hungry preachers. The thing these rogues have in common is they all have a Jewish heritage.

One of the banes of Paul’s ministry was that group called the Judaizers who followed the Apostle from town to town, stirring up trouble trying to coerce Believers to follow the law of Moses in addition to the Gospel. Paul devotes large portions of his letters to Galatia and Philippi to them; and even alludes to them in both Ephesians and Colossians.

It appears that because of the large Jewish Population in the island and the loosely organized nature of the Churches that these false teacher are pretty much running amok. Poor Titus has the unenviable task of shutting them down.

Having been in the position of confronting false teachers myself, it’s a scary, nerve wracking, and exhausting experience. And dealing with families who have been influenced and victimized by false teaching (and just like with Crete, it always goes back to money), there can be a lot of work and healing to do.

Here in chapter 1, Paul calls it rebellious, deceitful nonsense. He also says it’s shameful and that they must be silenced.

Over in Chapter 3 he calls it, Stupid, worthless and useless.

Pay very close attention to verse 10 in chapter 3

Tit 3:10 Give at least two warnings to those who cause divisions, and then have nothing more to do with them

here in the 21st century, in our culture of ‘tolerance’, we’re not supposed to ‘judge’. Paul has no such compunction. If the teaching is false, he says, shut it down. Peter and John are going to make similar statements in their letters. Stay tuned; no spoilers today.

Doctrine is important. Eternity is at stake. There are many things that are open for discussion, but some things like the Deity of Christ, His death and resurrection, salvation by Grace through faith rather than by obedience to the Law of Moses are not among the debatable. And those who try and spread false doctrine are to be silenced, not tolerated.

In our day, it’s a risky position to take, but we absolutely must. There is a lot of goofy stuff being taught out there and not all of it is harmless. This is why it is mission critical to have strong, capable, knowledgeable, faithful leaders, who can defend the truth and train the next generation so that God’s Church is full of GRACE and TRUTH. We need both if we’re going to be a light in dark places as we await Jesus return.

And that’s all I got. Go back and read Titus as soon as you can. This tiny letter was not merely written to a young preacher 2k years ago. It’s written to you…and me.

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Peeking At Pastor’s Mail

Episode 30

I Timothy

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We’re shifting gears a bit in our Survey as we transition from Paul’s letters to Churches to his 4 letters to individuals. Those are the two letters to Timothy, the one to Titus and one to Philemon of the Church in Colossae.  Together, they are known in Theological Circles as the ‘Pastoral Epistles’. That’s because here, Paul is writing as an older Pastor to his younger protégés.

From a 60k foot level the books, especially those to Timothy and Titus deal with how to lead a ministry and how to develop future leaders.

If you could sneak a peek at your Pastor’s mail or e-mail, would you? In a sense, that’s what these ‘Pastoral Epistles’ are. They are very personal glimpses into the lives and ministries of Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Paul. And they are quite insightful.

Frankly, they can be a bit difficult for 21st century minds because there are several topics that run counter to modern cultural understanding and can frustrate those who are new believers or aren’t yet deeply committed to the authority of scripture. For that reason, I don’t recommend Timothy and Titus as letters to read early in your plan. In fact, in future editions of my reading plan, I think I’m going to move Timothy and Titus to right before Romans, Jude and Revelation. That’s not because there is anything wrong with or in those letters, but they are written specifically to mature leaders and contain some material that requires extra discernment.

I hope that makes sense, but if not, email me your questions, or use the comments section of the show notes and I’ll be glad to try and clear things up for you.

The letters to Timothy and Titus are among the last that Paul wrote before his execution at the hands of Nero.  It looks like the precise order of these letters may be Philemon, 1 Timothy, Titus, 2nd Timothy.  They are grouped roughly according to length in the New Testament.

So, let’s move from an overview of this section and look a little closer at First Timothy.

From as early as I can remember, Timothy was my New Testament hero. Sure, I loved Peter, John and Paul, but Timothy was the guy I most related to. Primarily, that was because of his youth.  I would guess young pastors everywhere have a special soft spot for Timothy.

Timothy is from the Galatian City of Lystra. His mother is a Jew, his Dad is a gentile. His mother and grandmother are believers, but Dad does not appear to be. Sound familiar?

We read about Timothy joining Paul and Silas in chapter 16 of Acts. Timothy stands in stark contrast to Mark, who went with Paul and Barnabas on their travels, but got homesick and went back. Timothy, however, stays the course and becomes one of Paul’s greatest understudies.

Don’t let the obvious contrast between Timothy and Mark lead you to hasty conclusions, as we’ll see next week, both stories have happy endings. One merely got off to a better start than the other.

Every Timothy needs a Paul.  Someone older and experienced to help keep him grounded and focused. It’s easy to chafe against it, because we want to run off and slay dragons, but we are wise if we follow Timothy’s example and find a mentor.

I was no exception. I am, by nature, extremely independent and strong willed. It’s a wonderful trait and a dangerous one. I was fortunate to have a number of Paul’s in my young days as a Pastor in ministry.

Dad taught me how to be a man, Wayne Smith taught me how to love preaching and live with integrity, Woody Phillips taught me how to be a missionary rather than an American abroad, Alex Barr taught me how to be a Pastor rather than a clergyman, Dale McCann taught me how to preach with the end in mind rather than merely being an orator and how to love the Church in hard times as well as good.  There were others, but, like Timothy and Paul and Silas, there is wisdom in multiplying teachers.

Now that I am older, I am eager to be Paul and Silas to young Timothies, but we’ll talk more about that next week.

Back to the letter. The first chapter of first Timothy is dedicated to Paul encouraging Timothy to remain strong doctrinally and morally in the face of widespread hypocrisy and false teaching.  Our standing, like our salvation, is not based on our talent or training, but by grace.

Paul begins Chapter 2 by reminding Timothy to be a man of prayer, regardless of political views. This is a hard and mission critical teaching.  It’s well worth an episode all its own, and one day we’ll do that, but for now let’s just remember that God doesn’t take sides in Political debate. God looks on the heart.

From there, he gives some instructions on gender behavior and gender roles. This is one of those places that grates on a 21st century view of gender distinctions.  When we are able to spend a few weeks studying this letter we’ll dive more deeply, for now, it’s important to note that Paul does not hate women and he does not downplay the role of women in the Church. In fact, there are many places he commends brave, strong women for their efforts in the kingdom. He does, however, say that just like all humans carry a burden from the fall of Adam and Eve, women have a specific role and secondary leadership place in the church, but a primary one in the home via ‘childbirth’.

Chapter 3 details what are called the qualifications for Elders and deacons. These guidelines are primarily a reminder that we shouldn’t advance or promote just any one into leadership, because leadership in a local Church is a serious responsibility. This again, deserves at least one episode of its very own because it is misinterpreted by many congregations on many levels.  For now, let’s leave it with the fact that leaders need to take their walk with Christ and their relationships within and without the Church seriously. The world is watching and our behavior is our witness.

Chapter 4 is interesting because Paul zeroes in on what happens if we don’t choose our leaders wisely.  We will have all kinds of false teachers. Some will be crazy legalistic, while others will be extremely immoral, while others will just make up doctrines. Timothy is advised to stay strong morally and doctrinally despite the fact that some will reject him because of his youth.

In Chapter 5, Paul gives Timothy some exceptional advice on how to deal with other people, both men and women.  The easy part is treating younger men as brothers.  When it comes to younger women, Paul not only tells Timothy to treat them as sisters, but adds, with all purity.

He also gives some specifics on older men and widows. It’s really interesting and again, deserves it’s own episode. The widow part is particularly insightful. There is no hint that the state should look after the elderly. It is first the responsibility of the family, then the responsibility of the Church. I am convinced that this, and other scriptures show the error of modern teachings on Social Justice.  I want to stay here a while, but we can’t. Let me just say that here in 1 Timothy, Paul teaches personal responsibility and gracious mercy.

Paul finishes this first letter with wise counsel regarding ministry and money. How many Pastors, heck, how many people, have allowed the desire for money to get in the way of effective living and ministry.

Interestingly, the Bible has more to say about money than almost any other topic, including heaven and hell. Hmmm…

He warns about the pitfalls of great wealth as well as the temptation of craving great wealth. The key verse in all this is ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain.’

We often hear criticism of certain famous preachers and their riches. Sometimes those are well deserved, while they are often exaggerated.  Most preachers are NOT overpaid and often struggle to make ends meet. Especially young ones. The temptation to crumble under the weight of that pressure is intense. Paul offers very sound advice to Timothy…and to us.

The letter ends rather abruptly at this point, which suggests to me that Paul always intended to write another one.  We’ll look at that one next time.

For now, that’s all I got.

 

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Why I’m Looking Forward To ‘The Jesus Centered Bible’. Say What?

Jesus Centered Bible
Jesus Centered Bible

Are you a podcast lover? I sure am. Some people listen to podcasts during their daily commutes to work. I listen to them while I’m doing farm chores in the morning. There is nothing like listening to something uplifting and inspiring while carrying buckets of water or hay bales to start your day.

On Monday, while feeding the rabbits, I was listening to ‘The Church Boys’ and heard an interview with Rick Lawrence of Group Publishing concerning the recent release of a project called, ‘The Jesus Centered Bible’.  I got so excited about the interview that I nearly forgot to feed the cows.

Anyone who ever went through one of my ‘Route 66’ classes will likely remember our Old Testament Survey was called, “Jesus in the Old Testament” and we searched for prophesies and promises concerning Jesus and the gospel in each Old Testament book.

Just a few weeks back, in a ‘(Re)Discovering the Bible‘ class, I shared that the key to reading and understanding the Old Testament was to ‘look for Jesus in every book’.

Looking for Jesus is exactly what the Jesus Centered Bible is all about. In addition to notes and insets with interesting information, The JCB has highlighted in blue more than 600 OT passages that speak of Jesus.

I can’t tell you how excited this project makes me. Ok, to be fair, I’m a little jealous that I didn’t think of it, especially since I’ve been teaching the concept for years and have multiple Bibles in my library, already marked up with prophecies and references to the Messiah, but I’m so happy someone has taken the time to develop this very special study Bible.

Currently, it is only available in The New Living Translation, but that is not a bad thing, as the NLT is a fine, trustworthy, easy to read version. It is not yet available for Kindle or as an app, or even paperback. As far as I can tell, you can get it in hardback or imitation leather.

I can’t give a detailed review or a thumbs up/down, because I haven’t received my copy yet. I ordered a hardback for $19.95 from Amazon. That’s neither a bargain nor is it price gouging. The price seems to be reasonable for all the information advertised.

My copy is scheduled to arrive on Friday of this week. After I’ve had a chance to go through it, I’ll offer a final opinion, but this is a 9 (only misses being a 10 because NLT is not my favorite translation) on my anticipation scale.

It has long been my goal to teach people to love and understand the Old Testament by showing that just like the New Testament; the old covenant was all about Jesus. He is the central figure of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation.

If you’re looking for your own copy, check with your local bookstore, search for it on christianbook.com , or do like I did, and order off of Amazon.