Friday, July 31, 2015

John 10:31-42 comments: the response to Jesus' declaration of His deity

31  Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. 32  Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?  33  The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. 34  Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? 35  If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; 36  Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? 37  If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. 38  But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

    39 ¶  Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand, 40  And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode. 41  And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true. 42  And many believed on him there.

Of course, Jesus’ declaration that He and God the Father are one is unacceptable to the Jews. He has declared Himself to be God. They try to kill Him. His response is to ask for which of the works He has done are they wanting Him to die. They reveal the problem down through history of political religion which is the belief that you are justified in killing others for their thoughts and words.

John 16:2  They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

Acts 7:54 ¶  When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55  But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56  And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 57  Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58  And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. 59  And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60  And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

From the Jew’s statement it is clear that they understood that Jesus was making a claim to Godhood, to deity. There is no question that they understood what He claimed. So, they demanded He speak plainly and He has spoken plainly enough at least for them to understand who He says He is.

Jesus counters with Psalm 82:6;

Psalm 82:6 ¶  I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

Now, look at the context of that verse in Psalms.

Psalm 82:1 ¶  « A Psalm of Asaph. » God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. 2  How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah. 3  Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. 4  Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. 5  They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.

    6 ¶  I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. 7  But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. 8  Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.

Importantly, the Jewish leadership understood themselves to be as gods, from the Scripture, as from God’s ordaining them to be magistrates or judges of the people and of the people’s obedience to the Law given to Moses. They were ordained, they believed, by God to rule over the people physically and spiritually in the place of God, as God’s agents on earth. How much more was Christ, sent from God the Father, ordained to be called the Son of God? Christ’s commission to offer salvation to the world and judge those who refused God’s grace of mercy, was proven to them, or should have been as they were a people founded on signs from God…

Deuteronomy 4:34  Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?

John 4:48  Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.

1Corinthians 1:22  For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

They should have believed Him by His works alone. But, they did not. Hence, they again make a move to kill Him. Their plans were foiled and Jesus went to the Jordan where John the Baptist did his work. Many people who had known of John followed Jesus by virtue of John’s testimony.



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

John 10:25-30 comments: Eternal Security

25  Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. 26  But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.  27  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30  I and my Father are one.

Jesus plainly tells the Jews that were crowding him and demanding answers that He had told them already what they needed to know but they did not believe Him. He insisted that the miracles He had performed should be adequate proof. But, they did not believe because they were not of His flock. He previously said that His sheep would hear, implying to understand and obey, and He knows His own and they follow Him.

The result is eternal life for those “sheep” without any chance of perishing.

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

There is not even a possibility of losing one’s salvation and this is clearly understood by anyone who believes the Bible and understands it as written, to whom it is written, and when it is written: under what circumstances.

Romans 12:5  So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

1Corinthians 12:27  Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

No man can pluck the believer out of Christ’s hand, because they are a part of His hand. We are made Christ’s by the will of the Father, and no one is more able than He is to keep the believer safe. Jesus Christ and God the Father are one and the same individual which has been made clear. The followers of Christ are His body on earth with the head in Heaven.

The doctrine of Eternal Security is fundamental to understanding the parts of the Bible written directly to Christians who came from a Gentile (non-Jewish) background. First, remember that we are saved, not by our own will or power, but by God’s.

John 1:12  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

God, then, in His three parts of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost or soul, body, and spirit come to dwell in us by the vehicle of the Holy Spirit.

John 14:23  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Romans 8:9  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.10  And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

That Spirit seals us and is our earnest money, so to speak, our deposit, our promise of eternal life.

Ephesians 1:13  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Ephesians  4:30  And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

2Corinthians 1:21  Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 22  Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

2Corinthians 5:5  Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

If you were under the Law you would not have this assurance unless you stayed faithful and obedient at all times. Remember God’s warning to Ezekiel?

Ezekiel 3:20  Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

Preachers mistakenly apply this to us under Grace but this is an error when they do. You cannot save anyone and are not ultimately responsible for their salvation. Only God is. You cannot send a person to Hell. A person who will be saved will be saved but if you forbear you will lose a great blessing and a sublime reward. (see 1Thessalonians 2:19,20)

Looking forward to the Tribulation to come, as well, God has warned those in a different time than the Church Age that not only can they lose their salvation but once they accept the Mark the Beast will require of them they cannot be saved again.

Hebrews 6:4  For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5  And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6  If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

Revelation 14:9  And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10  The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11  And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. 12  Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

Under the Law given to Moses an individual can be saved and lose their salvation by disobedience and disbelief that leads to death. In the Church Age, now, the believer is sealed by the Holy Spirit inside them and cannot lose their salvation. At the end of history the believer can lose their salvation and cannot be saved again, if they accept the Mark of the Beast (popularly called the Antichrist) and worship him.

Until the Translation of the Church (popularly called the Rapture from the Latin rapto) the believer is sealed and secure. Be grateful for that.

1Thessalonians 4:13 ¶  But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18  Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Colossians 1:13  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

Translation is defined by;

Genesis 5:24  And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

Hebrews 11:5  By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

While what I presented is the short version of the doctrine of Eternal Security I wanted to at least show that Christ has promised us eternal life and that life is assured and we are to live without fear, honoring and obeying Christ in all things. Of course, if you are still acting like a wicked reprobate then perhaps your god is Self. He or she cannot promise you anything but eternal misery. However, even a believer can still slip and even willfully sin but God is faithful.

Always remember;

Romans 8:31 ¶  What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33  Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34  Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Monday, July 27, 2015

John 10:19-24 comments: tell us plainly

19 ¶  There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. 20  And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him? 21  Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?

    22 ¶  And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. 23  And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch. 24  Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.

This last part of chapter 10 is very interesting for a number of reasons. One of which is the modern scholar’s assault on its verses. It seems that starting in the late 1800’s some priests and scholars thought that the true Bible had been lost for 1800 years and Christians, even the most celebrated from John Chrysostom to John Wesley, had been using the wrong Bibles with the wrong verses with the wrong wording in them.

Based mainly on the authority of two corrupt manuscripts, Codexes Vaticanus and Sinaiticus; ignoring the writings of the early church fathers, ancient Bible versions, and lectionaries the modernists dropped, “as I said unto you,” from verse 26, the, “my,” out of, “my Father’s hand,” in verse 29, the, “my,” from, “my Father,” in verse 32, and, “believe, that the Father is in me,” to a number of variations to include in place of believe; such as understand and recognize. The major English Bibles before the influence of The Enlightenment and the victory of German theology and rationalism read as the King James Bible based on a textual heritage of 1500 years while the Bibles after this, admittedly in some of the most modern cases to get a copyright perhaps, made the seemingly minor changes based on a lost Bible that these men somehow discovered beginning in the late 1800’s. (Thanks to Dr. Ken Matto for his work which I consulted for this last paragraph.

These changes are also examples of the differences of opinions that affect translation and, yet, for the common man who is not an avid student of the Bible they call into question the authority of the Traditional Text and the once-common Bible of the English speaking world when really there is no cause to call into question at all. Perhaps the blame should not be laid at the feet of unbelieving or carnal Christian scholars but at the feet of Christians who will not be troubled to read what they have.

In any event, verse 19 shows that some of the Jews thought Jesus was possessed by a devil, some thought He might be insane, while others were not sure and raised questions about how a man could be suffering either of those two issues and speak with such power and authority and do a miraculous work of healing as Jesus did.

Moving forward in time to the Feast of the Dedication in the winter we are now at a time for remembrance of the cleansing of the temple from the pollution caused by Antiochus Epiphanes. This was instituted by order of Judas Maccabeus around 164BC. Inheriting his authority from one of Alexander the Great’s generals, representing the Hellenic Greek Seleucid Empire, Antiochus IV disliked the Jews intensely. Alexander had conquered the Near East, what we call the Middle East. It was Antiochus’ desire to completely Hellenize the Greeks and destroy their religion.  He sacked Jerusalem, settled Greeks and undesirables in the city, and offered sacrifices to Zeus on the temple altar. The Jews revolted and Judas Maccabeus’ guerrilla army routed the Greeks and ordered the rededication of the temple, its cleansing from the pollution of the pagans. This was remembered by the Festival of Lights or Dedication. (15) This is what is known as Hanukah today, the Jewish winter holiday that is near to the time of Christmas.

An apocryphal book that is in non-Protestant and non-Jewish Bibles, 1Maccabees, describes these events also. However, it is written in Greek not Hebrew and, with 2Maccabees, contains some very conflicting accounts of how Antiochus died. They are not part of either the Protestant or the Jewish canon but are found in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament, for which we have no complete copy before the Codexes Vaticanus and Sinaiticus from the 4th century AD, if they are truly that old.

The Jews thronged about Jesus as He walked on Solomon’s porch in the temple (see Acts 3:11; 5:12), demanding that He state clearly that He was the Messiah, the Christ, which had been done on several occasions as shown in this commentary. John the Baptist had already declared Him during His ministry. Andrew also declared that Jesus was the Messiah and Christ.

John 1:40  One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41  He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

Jesus told the woman at the well who He was.

John 4:25  The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26  Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

Many Samaritans believed.

John 4:40  So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. 41  And many more believed because of his own word; 42  And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

Simon Peter, Andrew’s brother, also declared his belief.

John 6:68  Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 69  And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

Many Jews believed during the Feast of Tabernacles.

John 7:31  And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?... 40  Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet…41a  Others said, This is the Christ…

The man born blind believed and declared it.

John 9:35 ¶  Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? 36  He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? 37  And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. 38  And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

So, rather than standing on a pinnacle of the temple and declaring it to the crowds Jesus has had individual people themselves declare His Messiahship. This is a very important principle. Not with ceremony or ritual did Christ declare His arrival, not with pomp and pageantry did He manifest His mission, and not to a stadium full of adoring fans did He reveal His identity. He did it with the mouths of others; the hated Samaritans, the grateful who had received healing, His few disciples who would follow Him, and people who had come to honor God’s law at the Feast of Tabernacles.  God does extraordinary things, miracles of space and time, yes, and there were, on occasion, visions and voices from heaven. But, God uses the hands, the feet, and the mouths of people much of the time to do His will and to express His truth. It does not save you that the Bible declares that Jesus is Christ, the Messiah, and God Himself. It saves you that you declare it and believe it.


(15) Unger, Archaeology and the New Testament, 41.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

John 10:1-18 comments: one Church

1 ¶  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2  But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3  To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4  And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5  And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. 6  This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. 7  Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8  All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9  I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10  The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11  I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12  But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13  The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14  I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15  As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16  And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. 17  Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18  No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

In context, Jesus assaults the authority of the Pharisees and the rest of the Jewish religious hierarchy, the spiritual rulers of Israel. He that enters the sheepfold or pen, is coming to lead the sheep out. Think of the sheepfold as the Jewish faith, the religion of the time.  If anyone tried to come into the pen in any way other than the door, he was a thief and a robber. One who was a rightful shepherd comes in by the door, which the porter, the doorkeeper, (see 1Chronicles 9:21) opens for him. Jesus is the door which the Holy Ghost as the porter opened and Jesus is the Good Shepherd who called His sheep by name. Now apply that to Christianity and the local church. Will your name be called?

1Thessalonians 4:16  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

1Corinthians 15:52  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

The shepherd leads His sheep and the sheep follow Him. They know His voice. If they are really His people they won’t follow a false leader, such as the Pharisees presented. Jesus’ true followers will not follow a Joseph Smith, a Mohammed, a Buddha, a Lao-tse, Sun Yung Moon, L. Ron Hubbard, a Pope claiming to be the vicarious Son of God, an Independent Baptist “man o’ God” who runs a cult, or any number of false shepherds.

The Pharisees don’t understand so Jesus tells them that He is the door of the sheepfold. Speaking directly to the Jews He states that every teacher that has come before Him, obviously that tried to lead them astray with their false traditions, was a thief and a robber. The sheep didn’t hear them. There are obviously Jews who never followed the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who weren’t touched by their teaching, who had no shepherd, as there are unsaved people today who the traditional American church did not reach and could not reach because of the false standards that we have set up that have nothing to do with Christ’s or Paul’s teaching.

In verse 9 Jesus declares that He is the door and it is by him that a person will go in or come out and find heaven, what the pasture represents. While the thief comes to steal and kill, Jesus came to give abundant life that never ends. The Bible scholar who removes the Bible from the hands of the laity and declares that if you do not know Greek or Hebrew you cannot understand the Bible is a thief. The expert who bases his reasons for criticizing the Bible on the existence of one corrupt manuscript and ignores all of the other evidence such as the writings of the early church fathers, lectionaries, and ancient Bible versions seeks to destroy and kill the faith of the people.

Jesus declares that He is the good shepherd who gives His life for the sheep, a prediction of His crucifixion. The hireling runs when the Devil comes to scatter the sheep and seeks his own safety. There are preachers whose love isn’t for their congregations but for their salaries, annuities, and celebrity status.

Jesus, being the good shepherd, knows who are His and they know Him. They are not following one of the aforementioned, nor will they. In verse 15 Jesus says that the Father knows Him as He knows the Father, and then, for understanding of why He said that there is a colon and afterwards the statement that He lays down His life for the sheep. The crucifixion and resurrection are in God’s plan for mankind’s redemption. They are in agreement because they have one will, one desire, and one purpose. It is impossible for the three parts of God not to be in agreement because they are three parts of the same person not three persons.

In verse 16 Christ acknowledges that He has other sheep which are not of the Jews, not of Israel. He will bring them and they will be one flock of sheep, belonging to Him. Notice Paul’s reference to the church comprised of believing Jews and Gentiles;

Ephesians 2: 11 ¶  Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12  That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, [notice how that phrase defined strangers as aliens by parallel phrasing] having no hope, and without God in the world: 13  But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

    14 ¶  For he is our peace, who hath made both one,[Jew and Gentile] and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [there are Jews, Gentiles, and the Church; see1Corinthians 10:32]  so making peace; 16  And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body [the Church] by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17  And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18  For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22  In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.[the Church consists of people representing a building for God not an actual brick and mortar building we set aside to worship in after the second century].

All the sheep, Jew and Gentile, shall be gathered together in one Church, by virtue of Christ’s will for it to be so. There is a foolish preacher in the state of Texas who insists that Jews don’t need to be saved and he is doing great evil by preaching that. There are unbelieving Jews, unbelieving Gentiles, and the Church; consisting of both believing Jews and Gentiles. Period.

 God the Father loves the Son because He lays down His life for this plan and suffers the humiliation of being God, naked on a Cross, suffering that degradation and agony for His love of mankind. And Christ has the power to lay down His life voluntarily and to take it up again in the Resurrection from the Father.

John 2:18  Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? 19  Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
Notice in verse 17 that Jesus lays down His life so that He takes it up again. The Cross is not the end of the story although, for some reason, most preachers like to focus on it and ignore the Resurrection. But, the Resurrection is the foundation of Christianity, for without it there is no hope. If Jesus had just died for our sins then there would have been no proof of His Godhood and no point to our worship of Him as many good men, many deceived men even, have died for a cause, never to rise from the grave.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

John 9:13-41 comments: Their sin remained

13 ¶  They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. 14  And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. 15  Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. 16  Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. 17  They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet. 18  But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. 19  And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? 20  His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: 21  But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. 22  These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. 23  Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him. 24  Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner. 25  He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. 26  Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? 27  He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples? 28  Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. 29  We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is. 30  The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. 31  Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. 32  Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. 33  If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. 34  They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

The man who was healed of his blindness was brought to the Pharisees to be examined. He explained again what happened. The Pharisees condemned Jesus for, once again, healing someone on the Sabbath although some took a less hostile tone. The man himself confessed that Jesus was a prophet. The Jews did not believe that the man was born blind until they brought in his parents and questioned them. However, they would not risk being thrown out of the synagogue by affirming how the miracle happened or by whom so they put it back on their son.

The Pharisees interrogated the man again, this time telling him to give God credit for the miracle because they viewed Jesus as they would a publican or a prostitute. He was just a sinner in their eyes performing tricks of healing on the Sabbath. The man replied that he didn’t know whether or not Jesus was a sinner but he did know that he could see for the first time.

They pushed him again to tell them what exactly had happened but he refused to give in and reminded them that he had already told them that. There is a sharp exchange where the man insists that Jesus must be of God. At the end he is cast out of the synagogue.

Why did Jesus insist on performing miracles on the Sabbath that offended the Jews? Matthew Henry wrote that Jesus was deliberately attacking the authority of the religious elite as, “Their government was illegal, their impositions were arbitrary, and their zeal for the rituals consumed the substantials of religion; and therefore Christ would not give place to them, by subjection, no not for an hour. Christ was made under the law of God, but not under their law.” (12)

(12) Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, originally written in 1706, Bible Study Tools,

    35 ¶  Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? 36  He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? 37  And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. 38  And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

Jesus, hearing that the man had been cast out of the presence of the Jewish rulers, searched him out and asked a question that is fundamental to salvation.

When Philip was talking to the Ethiopian eunuch, this exchange took place;

Acts 8:36  And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37  And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

The belief that Jesus was God in the flesh walking on earth is a primary belief of Christianity.  A Roman Centurion, at the crucifixion, believed.

Mark 15:39  And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.

The Common English Bible (CEB) changes, “the Son of God,” to, “the Human One,” so we can get an idea of what doctrinal stance those translators were trying to push. It appears to be something akin to the ancient Arian and the modern Jehovah’s Witness but I could be mischaracterizing their intentions as I have not studied that Bible. Most of the modern versions change, “the Son of God,” to, “the Son of Man,” which was one of the titles of Jesus linking  Him to a Prophet (it was applied to Ezekiel on many occasions) and still considering Him as God in human flesh, but is incorrect in this verse.

The man believed when Jesus declared that He was indeed the very Son of God and, “worshipped him.” The old American Standard Version (ASV) published within a decade and a half of the English Revised Version (RV) had a curious footnote to 38. It said, “The Greek word denotes an act of reverence, whether paid to a creature (as here) or to the Creator.” (Thanks to Dr. Ken Matto for his research.)  Again, perhaps this was an indication of the doctrinal stance of the translators. Strange things happen in modern Bible translation, made possible by the Enlightenment and German theology and rationalism.

    39 ¶  And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. 40  And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? 41  Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

Now notice the definition of judgment here. This is judgment as in distinction of one thing from another thing. One reason Jesus came into the world was to reveal the truth to those which might receive it but hadn’t and to shut off the truth from those who which should have seen it but didn’t. He distinguishes between those who claim to be God’s people but work against God’s will and those who would do God’s will if they understood it. He opens their eyes.

This revealing of intentions is a primary work of the Bible.

Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Here is a prophecy of Christ from the Old Testament with a similar focus;

  Isaiah 42:1 ¶  Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. 2  He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. 3  A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. 4  He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

    5 ¶  Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: 6  I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; 7  To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

In Paul’s recounting of his encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus he reported this;

Acts 26:15  And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. 16  But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; 17  Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 18  To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

For the religious elite and those who are self-righteous and full of their own spiritual greatness God cuts off their access to light and understanding. For those who hunger and thirst after His righteousness God opens their eyes to receive the truth. This brings to mind a very important point about the Christian’s relationship to God’s written word, which is a type of Jesus Christ in print, and a contrast with today where few read their Bible diligently expecting God to speak to them through it and the early church as well as England around the time of the Authorized Version’s publication.

The Cambridge History of the Bible quotes Harnack’s Bible-reading in the Early Church compiled and written in the early 20th century to reveal that Clement of Rome writes to the church or Corinth around 95AD to say to everyone, not just to the pastors, “Ye know the Scriptures.” Polycarp, a few years later, writes to the Christians at Philippi, “I trust you are well exercised in the Scriptures.” A few decades later Irenaeus wants every Christian to eat of every Scripture of the Lord. Clement of Alexandria talked about Scripture reading at home before the main meal of the day and he wanted married people to study the Bible together. A later document describes people visiting each other’s homes to read the Scriptures. Another document ordered Christians to meditate on the word of the Lord continually and not to read non-Christian literature. Chrysostom wanted Christians to call their neighbors together to read the Scriptures.(13)

This was also prevalent a thousand years later in England. As early as 1536 it was reported by Bishop Foxe, “The lay people do know the Holy Scriptures.” In 1538 Archbishop Cranmer insisted to the clergy that, “none of you shall discourage any laymen from the reading of the Bible…, but encourage them to it, admonishing them that they so read it for reformation of their own life and knowledge of their duty; and that they be not bold or presumptuous in judging matters afore they have perfect [as in complete] knowledge.” See judging as in discerning and understanding, as in seeing the truth, as Jesus spoke of in the verses mentioned. Bishop Hopper said of every one, “of what degree so ever he be, should cause his family and children to read some part of the Bible for their erudition, to know God.” An author, Godfrey Davis, said of the early seventeenth century, “At that time Englishmen studied the Bible with an intensity probably never equaled, and it is hardly possible to read a speech or writing of any length without perceiving its indebtedness to the Authorized Version.”(14)

The Bible, God’s principle way of speaking to His people, cannot be substituted for by conscience or conviction. We cannot judge nor discern any matter correctly without its words in our heart. I would go further to say that if our heart is not rightly submitted to Christ when we come to it we will be blocked out of what it has for us but even if we stumble at reading and have trouble with understanding, if our hearts are right God will open our eyes to it. Jesus came to open the eyes of them that were blind and to shut off sight to those who thought they could see but disobeyed God’s will and replaced their own. Remember that the next time a celebrity preacher or politician tells you that God has laid something on his or her heart. Did God open his eyes or did God blind him? We know only from God’s word as written, in context, with trust.

Jesus condemns the Pharisees because while they claimed to be the enlightened ones, they were defying God’s will. Their religion was the product of their own will no less than the apostate Jews of the former kingdoms of Israel and Judah and they merited God’s punitive judgment because they would not believe Jesus Christ.

(13) S.L. Greenslade, ed. The Cambridge History of the Bible, Volume 3: The West from the Reformation to the Present Day (London: Cambridge University Press, 1963), 489.

(14) Ibid., 492.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

John 9:1-12 comments: night and day

1 ¶  And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2  And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3  Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. 4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.  5  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. 6  When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, 7  And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

Having walked through His intended executioners Jesus eventually passed by a man who had been blind from his birth. His disciples asked Him a question that would come to mind to a person of faith and, for that matter, any person. Who is to blame for the blindness this person has suffered; himself or his parents? Jesus corrects them, much in the fashion of the Book of Job. When something bad happens it is not necessary that it be the cause of someone’s particular action. Your car accident, your child’s disease, or a loved one’s death may not have been the direct cause of something you or they did. But we search for causes. Jesus said that this man was born blind so that God’s work would be revealed in him.  He was prepared, like Jonah’s great fish, for just this occasion.

How many people have been prepared for someone to show God’s mercy and grace to? Our lives bring us to a point and Christians are all aware of what we call divine appointments, where someone was put in our path to receive news of Christ’s healing power by our mouth and our actions.

Jesus claims that the time He has on earth is a time of light and day, but night is coming. Modern versions say, “We,” to start verse 4, instead of, “I,” which takes the verse away from being a reference to Christ’s limited time on earth. It is Christ who is about to do something. The spiritual night we live in is coming.

John 13:26  Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27  And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. 28  Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. 29  For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30  He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.

Paul wrote;

Romans 13:12  The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

1Thessalonians 5:5  Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

Peter wrote;

2Peter 3:10  But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

As Christ’s resurrection was revealed in the morning, we are waiting for Christ’s return for us, for the morning light to peek over the horizon;

Genesis 1:5  And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Psalm 30:4  Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. 5  For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

Psalm 130:6  My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.

2Peter 1:19  We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

Jesus was the particular and special light of the world of men while He was in the world. No one living then, other than Him, could have forseen the power over human civilization that His presence was to have. Without His existence in the form of a human we would be lost. It was that visitation that set the stage for our salvation.

John 1:4  In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

John 8:12  Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

He then healed the man in a unique way that would get some attention from the authorities.

    8 ¶  The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? 9  Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. 10  Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? 11  He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.  12  Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.

People who had known this man were astounded. Some agreed that it was the same guy they knew but others insisted that it couldn’t have been, that it must have been someone who looked like him. Still, he acknowledged that he was the one who had been born blind. They, astonished, asked how he could have received sight and he explained what happened. The man’s neighbors ask him where Jesus is but he doesn’t know.

Still, the man is willing to tell his neighbors who delivered him and how. We should not be close-mouthed about what God has done for us and should be willing to explain to people, especially those who ask, what happened. Notice, as an example, Paul’s statement;

1Timothy 1:12 ¶  And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; 13  Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14  And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 34:4  I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

A Christian knows that if he or she has the fruit of the Spirit emanating from him or herself, proof that the Spirit of God resides in them, people they know in their family and at work will ask them how in the world this happened. Considering that, perhaps, before this they were addicted to immoral behavior or control freaks, paranoid, fearful, self-righteous nuisances the change will be astonishing to the people around them. Of course, if they are still control freaks, paranoid, fearful, and self-righteous nuisances probably no one will want to know what’s going on since they will have seen no change in them but just another thing they claim to be superior about. You quit drinking alcohol because God delivered you from it will hardly draw someone to the Lord if you are a jerk about it when a family member pops a top on a can of beer at a reunion.

Galatians 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Think about it. When did people stop asking you what happened to you? Is it because you’ve been a Christian for so long and a faithful steward of the mysteries of God that no one can remember when you were a depraved sinner or is it because they are afraid to ask anything because, “well, here they go again telling us how perfect and righteous they are.”

Do people you have just met on the job or in the neighborhood notice that you are different even than they are? Do you handle stress differently? Do you handle bad news or tribulation differently than the average non-Christian?  Is it such a difference that they want to know what you have that they don’t? Or does your demeanor drive people away?

Finally, when people want to know where the person responsible for your change is, I hope you know enough to be able to tell them. “I know not,” is a pretty pathetic answer when a Christian is asked where someone can find Christ.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

John 8:51-59 comments: Christ's indentification as, "I am."

51 ¶  Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. 52  Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53  Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? 54  Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55  Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 56  Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57  Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58  Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59  Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

Death in verse 51 is clearly not a reference to physical death. Christ is not promising immortality of your existing body. We know this is true, not just from the context, but also from the use of the word, “death,” at other times. For instance, in its very first use the idea of death does not refer to the immediate cessation of bodily functions. Speaking to Adam, the pre-incarnate Christ* said, in the Garden of Eden;

Ge 2:17  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

However, Adam’s physical body lived to be 930 years old, well beyond the day of his disobedience.

5:5  And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.

The essence of Jesus’ promise is spiritual life, the eternal aspect of our existence as souls created by God not biological flesh corrupted by Adam’s sin and our, perhaps genetic, inheritance of it.

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

His audience was clueless to this as they referred to the physical state of Abraham and the prophets as being dead and buried. They ask a question, “whom makest thou thyself?” that Christ is about to answer.

Jesus states that His honor comes from the Father, whom the Jews say is their God. He accuses the Jews of not knowing God and states, as well, that He knows God and if He were to say He didn’t He would be a liar like them who say they do. He knows the Father and obeys Him, unlike the Jews.

Then, Jesus makes the stunning statement that Abraham, long dead, saw His day and rejoiced and was glad. This would seem an absurdity to say that Abraham saw something that was to occur long after his time on earth. The Jews understood that Jesus was claiming that Abraham saw Him and they make that statement about Jesus not even being fifty years old and could not have been anywhere with Abraham. That makes sense from our human perspective. But, Jesus has set them up for the next declaration that before Abraham was, Jesus says that, “I am.” This is the identification of Himself that God made to Moses.

Exodus 3:14  And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

This claim is that Jesus Himself is the very God who spoke to Moses. Another clear statement from Christ that He is God cannot be tolerated and in their rage and perhaps confusion they try to stone Him but Jesus made Himself invisible and passed right through them. It was not time yet.

Christ is the body of God, as explained earlier, the visible image of God. God simply is. There is no way to ask, where did God come from or is there something greater than God. It is impossible to pursue that line of reasoning without coming to a dead end where all questions become meaningless expressions of confusion. God is, “I am,” the ever present, always existent, never beginning or ending, someone completely outside of our ability to grasp apart from His revelation of Himself in the Bible. We can see that He, as the ultimate designer of the universe we see, exists by the irreducible complexity and glory of all there is. But, there is no explanation of God that fits our finite minds and experience. God simply was, is, and will be. He is first and He is last. And He came to earth and lived as one of us for a short time in a finite body that needed food, drink, and rest. It staggers the mind.

 *Genesis 4:8  “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…” The Lord God was walking in the garden in the cool of the day. The Holy Ghost is never said to walk and God the Father is a Spirit and invisible to us. It doesn’t seem likely Adam and Eve were being addressed by a disembodied voice that walked.

Monday, July 6, 2015

John 8:46-50 comments: He that is of God heareth God's words...

46 ¶  Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47  He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 48  Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49  Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 50  And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.

Convince and convict and reprove and refute have a similar meaning. See Titus 1:9 and Jude 1:15.

If His listeners had any part in God they would have believed Jesus’ words. But, the stiff-necked unbeliever cannot hear because He is not of God. This is the reason why many people are so adamantly opposed to Christianity who don’t seem to be offended by any other religion. When you take out the ignorant behavior and paranoia of certain Christians the main reason why people get so incensed when you talk about your faith is because they have no part in their Creator nor do they care to have any.

The conversation now goes beyond the shallow believers He was provoking to the Jews who were listening, as well, who are even more incensed at His words. The chorus joins in with an insult that Jesus is a Samaritan, which is an insult as the Jews hated Samaritans, and that He has a devil, which was the unforgiveable sin. As the three parts of God work in the world and the Holy Ghost points people toward Christ to state that Christ was possessed by or doing the work of Satan was to blaspheme the Holy Ghost which was the unpardonable sin.

Mark 3:22 ¶  And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils. 23  And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? 24  And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25  And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26  And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. 27  No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house. 28  Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: 29  But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: 30  Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

Those who would say that would never come to repentance. Their opportunity for salvation was cut off. From that point on they would be object lessons in the wickedness of lost humanity. Any person who believes in the spiritual world who claims that Jesus of Nazareth was a man possessed by an unclean spirit, a devil, shall not receive eternal life by virtue of his profession. Any atheist, perhaps, by extension, who declares that, based on Jesus’ claims about Himself, He was an evil man, a liar, and a charlatan has also sealed his fate by blaspheming the work of the Holy Ghost in this world of men and women. Who can say?

Jesus denies He has a devil but that He honors His Father while they dishonor Him. He is seeking the Father’s glory. The Father is the ultimate judge of mankind although that authority is invested in the Son (John 5:22). In the next passage Jesus will declare that He is God in no uncertain terms.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

John 8:38-45 comments: murderers from the beginning

38 ¶  I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. 39  They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. 40  But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. 41  Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. 42  Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 43  Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 44  Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 45  And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

Jesus makes it very clear that there is a sharp distinction between Himself and these Jews. He first lays out the argument by saying that He is only speaking things He has seen with His Father, who is not their father. They, of course, don’t understand, so they state that Abraham is their father but Jesus denies that, saying that if they were really Abraham’s children they would do the works of Abraham. This reminds me of Jeremiah, chapter 35, when God applauds the children of Jonadab the son of Rechab who obeyed their ancestor’s commands. What was it about Abraham that brought this up for Jesus?

Romans 4:3  For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Galatians 3:6  Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

James 2:23  And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

Abraham believed God. Jesus continues to provoke these Jews’ thin belief and expose the lack of depth of it. They have responded to gracious words and miracles, as Christians respond to a good sermon at a revival meeting and come forward in a frenzy of emotional expectation. But, how real is their profession? He is still talking to the Jews spoken of in verse 31 remember. Hopefully, you can see that this is one conversation and is not broken up by anything that would lead one to believe that He is speaking to anyone else. Go back to verse  31 and read carefully.

In verse 41 the shallowness of their belief explodes as they, perhaps, imply that Jesus was conceived illegitimately. If this is what they are getting at it is hard for Americans to understand. We, as a culture, no longer regard being born of two married parents, who were married before they united their flesh and conceived us, as any big deal. Women even deliberately go out and get pregnant so they can have a baby. The value of the sexual bond between a man and a woman, as representative of Christ and His church, the love, joy, and purposefulness of a marriage before God (speaking nothing, of course, of the phony civil marriage where the state gains control over your most intimate relationship by demanding the power to license it) is lost on most of today’s citizens.  But, if this is a dig at Jesus’ birth by people who had a shallow belief in His words and were easily provoked out of that belief then that is something to consider.

The Jews claiming God as their father can be linked to statements in the Old Testament.  God instructs Moses to say to Pharaoh, in explaining what He is going to do to Egypt;

Exodus 4:22  And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: 23  And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.

This is part of the conflict between Jews and Christians over Old Testament passages the Jews claim as a reference to them and Christians claim as a reference to Christ.

Proverbs 30:4  Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?

Whereas the Jew sees prophecy as promising the restoration of Israel and its role as the dominant country of the earth, Christians claim this for Christ.

Genesis 17:7 ¶  And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

Galatians 3:16  Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

Hosea 11:1 ¶  When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

Matthew 2:15  And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

Jesus declares to them that if God was really their Father they would love Him because He came from God. Then, He drops a bombshell. Go all the way back to verse 31 to see whom Jesus is speaking to. Follow the conversation carefully.

Jesus said their father was the Devil, a murderer and a liar. The implication here links some aspect of these people with the first murderer, Cain, and another link is made by John in one of his letters that suggests something else more sinister.

1John 3:12  Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

Since we know that Noah was, “perfect in his generations,” in Genesis 6:9 then the bloodline must have come through his wife to his sons so that we all bear the blood of Cain somewhat and only Christ’s blood can save us from its deadly effects.

The essence of Jesus’ antagonistic talk with, “those Jews which believed on him,” is that the philosophy that murders people for religious belief is present with them and is long-standing in human history. It comes from Cain, who murdered Abel for nonconformity to his practice of faith. We cannot liken God’s using the Jews to cleanse Canaan (unless you claim God’s rights on humanity for yourself) because the Canaanites were cursed by Noah when his son, Ham, defiled him in Genesis 9. The Canaanites were not just expressing belief in their religion; they were practicing incest, homosexual and heterosexual prostitution, bestiality, and child sacrifice to gods as tokens of religious expression behind which hid Satan and his minions. This was carried on in the highly sexual content of all ancient religions including the Greek.

Deuteronomy 32:17  They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.

1Corinthians 10:20  But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.

Back to persecuting someone for their religious beliefs Jesus will warn His disciples;

John 16:2  They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

What we have here is Jesus indictment of these so-called believing Jews. He is building up, provoking the shallow believer, turning on the one who makes a weak profession of faith, even the Christian who is fooling himself but not God. He isn’t finished yet and the chorus of the rest of the Jews present will join in the fray.