Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God – David Wilkerson

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

David Wilkerson: Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God. He’s the sacrifice for sin, for all mankind. John, the Baptist, saw Jesus and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” Again, he saw Him on another occasion and he said, “Again, I say, this is the sacrifice for sin.” And he’s thinking of all the sacrifices in the Temple. People lined up to buy goats and lamb, and sheep, and for the poor, pigeons, to make a sacrifice atonement for sin. And John the Baptist says. “No, those are not the sacrifices, you don’t have to go that way. It’s not by works. It’s by believing in this man. This is the lamb of God.”

1 Peter 1:18-19 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

When you go into the Bible, and you go to the book of revelation, Jesus is mentioned by John, the writer, in exile on the isle of Patmos, 18 times, he refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God. Jesus has already been crucified, He’s been buried, He’s raised from the dead, ascended to the Father. And John says, “I see Him seated on the throne; the Lamb of God, the overcomer.” He saw nations and multitudes from all tongues and tribes bowing before Him, before the Lamb, it says. You hear John say, “I saw Him bind the devil and all the principalities of darkness. The Lamb overcame and cast him into the pits of hell.” John says, “I see Him, the Lamb of God, ascended,” and the Lamb of God built a city, and He built a paradise. And He left to prepare a place and the Bible says the Lamb is there, on His throne. He built a city, He established a paradise and then His bride, those who are in Christ and believe in this Lamb of God, “Come enter into the joys that await you.” Folks, we are not of this world; we are of another world. We are just passing through here.

In Genesis, we find the first significance of a sacrificial lamb.3:15

VIDEO by SermonIndex.net

Wednesday Events – Passion Week – and Judas Iscariot,the suicide of Satan and the Salvation of the World

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(via) Justin Taylor from the Gospel Coalition

Holy Week: What Happened on Wednesday?

Jesus continues his daily teaching in the Temple

Luke 21:37-38

With Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread approaching, the chief priests, elders, and scribes plot to kill Jesus

Matthew 26:3-5 Mark 14:1-2 Luke 22:1-2

Satan enters Judas, who seeks out the Jewish authorities in order to betray Jesus for a price

Matthew 26:14-16 Mark 14:10-11 Luke 22:3-6

Luke 22:1-6

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. 2 And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people. 3 Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. 4 He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. 5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. 6 So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.

This is the final message in the series called Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ. The aim has been to show that over and over in the history of the world, the epoch-making sins that changed the course of history never nullified but only fulfilled the global purposes of God to glorify his Son and save his people.

My prayer is that, as these great historical vistas of God’s sovereignty over sin take their place in your renewed mind, they would have a profoundly practical effect in making you strong in the face of breath-stopping sorrows and making you bold for Christ in the face of dangerous opposition. Christ-exalting strength in calamity and Christ-exalting courage in conflict. I pray that the Lord will weave cords of steel and silk into the fabric of your soul.

History’s Most Spectacular Sin: The Murder of Jesus

The most spectacular sin that has ever been committed in the history of the world is the brutal murder of Jesus Christ, the morally perfect, infinitely worthy, divine Son of God. And probably the most despicable act in the process of this murder was the betrayal of Jesus by one of his closest friends, Judas Iscariot.

Judas was one of the twelve apostles that Jesus had personally chosen and who had been with Jesus during his entire public ministry. He had been entrusted with the moneybag for the whole group (John 13:29). He was close enough to Jesus at the Last Supper to be dipping bread with him in the same cup (Mark 14:20).

“Satan Entered into Judas”

On the night of the Last Supper, Luke tells us in Luke 22:3-6 that “Satan entered into Judas. . . . He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray [Jesus] to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.” Later he led the authorities to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane and betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Luke 22:47-48). With that, Jesus’ death was sealed.

When Luke tells us in verse 3 that “Satan entered into Judas,” several questions come to our minds. 1) One is whether Satan simply mastered a good Judas or whether Judas was already walking in line with Satan and Satan simply decided that now is the time. 2) Another question is why Satan would do this since the death and resurrection of Jesus would result in Satan’s final defeat, and there is good reason to think Satan knew that. 3) And the third and most important question is: Where was God when this happened? What was his role or non-role in the most spectacular sin that ever was? So let’s take these questions one at a time.

1) Satan’s Power in Judas’ Sinful Passions

When it says in Luke 22:3 that “Satan entered into Judas,” how are we to think about the will of Judas and the power of Satan? Judas was not an innocent bystander when Satan entered into him. The apostle John tells us in John 12:6 that he was a thief. When Judas complained that Mary had wasted money in anointing Jesus, John comments, “He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.”

If that sounds incredible, just think of the scandalous behavior of so-called Christian leaders today who use ministry gifts to buy $39,000 worth of clothes at one store in a year, and send their kids on a $29,000 trip to the Bahamas, and drive a white Lexus and a red Mercedes. As Judas sat beside Jesus with his pious, religious face and went out and cast out demons in Jesus’ name, he was not a righteous lover of Jesus. He loved money. He loved the power and pleasures that money could by.

Paul tells us how that works together with Satan’s power. Listen to Ephesians 2:1-3: “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air [notice the connection: dead in sins, following Satan], the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Dead in our sins, walking in the passions of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of body and mind, and therefore following the prince of the power of the air.

Satan does not take innocent people captive. There are no innocent people. Satan has power where sinful passions hold sway. Judas was a lover of money, and he covered it with a phony, external relationship with Jesus. And then he sold him for thirty pieces of silver. How many of his tribe are there still today! Don’t be one. And don’t be duped by one.

2) Satan’s Role in His Own Destruction

The second question is why Satan would lead Judas to betray Jesus. Doesn’t he know that the death and resurrection of Jesus would result in Satan’s final defeat (Colossians 2:13-15; Revelation 12:11)? There’s good reason to think Satan knew that.

When Jesus began his ministry on the way to the cross, Satan tried to turn him away from the path of suffering and sacrifice. In the wilderness, he tempted him to turn stones into bread and jump off the temple and get the rulership of the world by worshipping him (Matthew 4:1-11). The point of all these temptations is: Don’t walk the path of suffering and sacrifice and death. Use your power to escape suffering. If you’re the Son of God, show your right to reign. And I can help you do it. Whatever you do, don’t go to the cross.

Then do you remember the time when Jesus predicted he would suffer many things from the elders and the chief priests and be killed and Peter rebuked him and said, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22). In other words, I will never let you be killed like that. Jesus did not commend him. He said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matthew 16:23). Hindering Jesus from going to the cross was the work of Satan. Satan did not want Jesus crucified. It would be his undoing.

But here he is in Luke 22:3 entering into Judas and leading him to betray the Lord and bring him to the cross. Why the about face? Why try to divert him from the cross and then take the initiative to bring him to the cross? We are not told. Here is my effort at an answer: Satan saw his efforts to divert Jesus from the cross failing. Time after time, Jesus kept the course. His face was set like flint to die, and Satan concludes that there is no stopping him. Therefore he resolves that if he can’t stop it, he will at least make it as ugly and painful and as heartbreaking as possible. Not just death, but death by betrayal. Death by abandonment. Death by denial (see Luke 22:31-32). If he could not stop it, he would drag others into it and do as much damage as he could. It was a spectacular sequence of sins that brought Jesus to the cross.

3) God’s Role in the Murder of His Son

Which brings us now to the third and final question—the most important one: Where was God when this happened? Or more precisely: What was God’s role or non-role in the most spectacular sin that ever happened—the murder of Jesus Christ?

To answer a question like that we should put our hands on our mouths and silence our philosophical speculations. Our opinions don’t count here. All that counts is what God himself as shown us in his word. And the first thing he shows us is that the details surrounding the death of Jesus are prophesied in God’s word hundreds of years before they happen.

The Scriptures prophesy that evil men will reject Jesus when he comes.

Matthew 21:42: “Jesus said to them (quoting Psalm 118:22), ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes”?’”

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus must be hated.

In John 15:25, Jesus quoted Psalm 35:19 and said, “The word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’”

The Scriptures prophesy that the disciples would abandon Jesus.

In Matthew 26:31, he quotes Zechariah 13:7: “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus will be pierced but none of his bones will be broken.

John quotes Psalm 34:20 and Zechariah 12:10 and says, “One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear. . . . For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken.’ And again another Scripture says, ‘They will look on him whom they have pierced’” (John 19:34-37).

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus would be betrayed by a close friend for thirty pieces of silver.

In John 13:18, Jesus cites Psalm 41:9 and says, “I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’”

And in Matthew 26:24, Jesus says, “The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!”

And in Matthew 27:9-10, it says, “Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me’” (Jeremiah 19:1-13; Zechariah 11:12-13).

And not only the Scriptures, but Jesus himself prophesies, down to the details, how he will be killed.

In Mark 10:33-34, he says, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”

And on that last night, Jesus looked at Peter and said, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times” (Matthew 26:34).

According to His Sovereign Will

From all these prophesies, we know that God foresaw, and did not prevent, and therefore included in his plan that his Son would be rejected, hated, abandoned, betrayed, denied, condemned, spit upon, flogged, mocked, pierced, and killed. All these are explicitly in God’s mind before they happen as things that he plans will happen to Jesus. These things did not just happen. They were foretold in God’s word. God knew they would happen and could have planned to stop them, but didn’t. So they happened according to his sovereign will.

And all of them were evil. They were sin. It is sin to reject, hate, abandon, betray, deny, condemn, spit upon, flog, mock, pierce, and kill the morally perfect, infinitely worthy, divine Son of God. And yet the Bible is explicit and clear that God himself planned these things. It is explicit not only in all the prophetic texts we have seen, but also in passages that say even more plainly that God brought these things to pass.

God Brought It to Pass

For example, in Isaiah 53:6 and 10, it says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. . . . It was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief.” So behind the spitting and flogging and mocking and piercing is the invisible hand and plan of God.

And I say that carefully and with trembling. This truth is too big and too weighty and too shocking to be glib about or to be cocky about. I choose to say that the invisible hand and plan of God are behind these most spectacular sins in all the universe—more grievous and more spectacular than the fall of Satan or any others. The reason I use these very words is because the Bible says it in those very words.

The Hand and Plan of God

In Acts 4:27-28, we have the clearest, most explicit statement about God’s hand and plan behind the horrific crucifixion of his Son. “Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand (cheir) and your plan (boule) had predestined to take place.” Those are the two words I am using: the hand of God and the plan of God.

It is a strange way of speaking—to say that God’s hand and plan have predestined something to happen. One does not ordinarily think of God’s “hand” predestining. How does a hand predestine? Here’s what I think it means: The hand of God ordinarily stands for God’s exerted power—not power in the abstract, but earthly, effective exertions of power. The point of combining it with “plan” is to say that it is not just a theoretical plan; it is plan that will be executed by God’s own hand.

This explains Isaiah 53:10: “It was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief.” Or more literally, with the King James Version, “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.” The Lord bruised him. Behind Herod and Pilate and the Gentiles and the people of Israel was Jesus’ own Father who loved him with an infinite love.

The Gospel: God At Work in Death

Why should this matter to you? It should matter because if God were not the main Actor in the death of Christ, then the death of Christ could not save us from our sins and we would perish in hell forever. The reason the death of Christ is the heart of gospel—the heart of the good news—is God was doing it. Romans 5:8: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” If you break God’s activity from the death of Jesus, you lose the gospel. This was God’s doing. It is the highest and deepest point of his love for sinners. His love for you.

Romans 8:3: “Sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.” God condemned sin in Jesus’ flesh with our condemnation. So we are free.

Galatians 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” God cursed Jesus with the curse that belonged on us. So we are free.

2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” God imputed our sin to him, and now we go free in God’s righteousness.

Isaiah 53:5: “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities.” God wounded him. God crushed him. For you and me. And we go free.

The Cross of Christ: The Work and Love of God

The reason why this series of messages matters is this. If you embrace the biblical truth (and I pray you will) that God ordains spectacular sins for the global glory of his Son, without in anyway becoming unholy or unrighteous or sinful in that act, then you will not shrink back from the cross of Christ as a work of God. You will not be among the number of those who call the most loving act that ever was “divine child abuse.” You will come to the cross and fall on your face. And you will say: This is no mere human conspiracy. This is the work of God and the love of God. You will it receive as his highest gift. And you will be saved. And Christ will be glorified. And I will not have preached in vain.

© Desiring God

On what day was Jesus really born? A New Testament Manuscript Expert Responds

A 1466 copy of Jewish historianFlavius Josephus‘ first century workAntiquities of the Jews, widely used to establish the chronology of Jesus. Photo from Wikipedia.

This is a study by Daniel B. Wallace , which you can read it in its entirety here-  http://bible.org/article/birth-jesus-christ

Daniel B. Wallace has taught Greek and New Testament courses on a graduate school level since 1979. He has a Ph.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary, and is currently professor of New Testament Studies at his alma mater.

His Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Zondervan, 1996) has become a standard textbook in colleges and seminaries. Dr. Wallace is also the Executive Director for the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.

Wallace – We must keep in mind that the Jesus we worship was truly born in time-space history. And that babe in the manger was truly crucified–and just as surely rose from the dead. The Bible is different from the sacred books of other religions because it invites historical investigation. And when it has met the test–as it surely always, inevitably does–it inculcates a greater devotion in the heart of the believer for the one we call the Son of God.

The Year Jesus Was Born

In the western hemisphere, we split time by the birth of Jesus Christ. But did he really even live? If so,when was he born?

Josephus records an eclipse of the moon just before Herod passed on. This occurred on March 12th or 13th in 4 B.C. Josephus also tells us that Herod expired just before Passover. This feast took place on April 11th, in the same year, 4 B.C. From other details supplied by Josephus, we can pinpoint Herod the Great’s demise as occurring between March 29th and April 4th in 4 B.C.

It might sound strange to suggest that Jesus Christ was born no later than 4 B.C. since B.C. means ‘before Christ.’ But our modern calendar which splits time between B.C. and A.D. was not invented until A.D. 525. At that time, Pope John the First asked a monk named Dionysius to prepare a standardized calendar for the western Church. Unfortunately, poor Dionysius missed the real B.C./A.D. division by at least four years!

Now Matthew tells us that Herod killed Bethlehem’s babies two years old and under. The earliest Jesus could have been born, therefore, is 6 B.C. Through a variety of other time indicators, we can be relatively confident that the one called Messiah was born in either late 5 or early 4 B.C.

My atheist friend scoffs at such flexibility. He says, “If you don’t know exactly when Jesus was born, how do you know that he really lived?” That is hardly a reasonable question! The other day I called my mother to wish her a happy birthday. “Mom, how many candles on this birthday cake?” I inquired. “I don’t know, son–I don’t keep track any more,” she sighed. After a few minutes of pleasant conversation, we hung up.

Now, of course, I can’t be certain, but I do believe that that was my mother on the other end of the phone. She can’t remember how old she is (and she’s neither senile nor very old), but that doesn’t make her a figment of my imagination, does it? Because if she’s just a phantom, then for the last three minutes, you’ve been reading absolutely nothing!

The Day Jesus Was Born

This coming December 25th most parents will be lying to their children about old St. Nick. Some of us will be celebrating the birth of our Savior. But was he really born on this day?

Was Jesus really born on December 25th? Virtually every month on the calendar has been proposed by biblical scholars. So why do we celebrate his birth in December?

The tradition for December 25th is actually quite ancient. Hippolytus, in the second century A.D., argued that this was Christ’s birthday. Meanwhile, in the eastern Church, January 6th was the date followed.

But in the fourth century, John Chrysostom argued that December 25th was the correct date and from that day till now, the Church in the East, as well as the West, has observed the 25th of December as the official date of Christ’s birth.

In modern times, the traditional date has been challenged. Modern scholars point out that when Jesus was born, shepherds were watching their sheep in the hills around Bethlehem. Luke tells us that an angel appeared to “some shepherds staying out in the fields [who were] keeping watch over their flock by night” (2:8).

Some scholars feel that the sheep were usually brought under cover from November to March; as well, they were not normally in the field at night. But there is no hard evidence for this. In fact, early Jewish sources suggest that the sheep around Bethlehem were outside year-round. So you can see, December 25th fits both tradition and the biblical narrative well. There is no sound objection to it.

Now admittedly, the sheep around Bethlehem were the exception, not the rule. But these were no ordinary sheep. They were sacrificial lambs. In the early spring they would be slaughtered at the Passover.

And God first revealed the Messiah’s birth to these shepherds–shepherds who protected harmless lambs which would soon die on behalf of sinful men. Whey they saw the baby, could they have known? Might they have whispered in their hearts what John the Baptist later thundered, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

Now, of course, we can’t be absolutely certain of the day of Christ’s birth. At least, not this side of heaven. But an early winter date seems as reasonable a guess as any. And December 25th has been the frontrunner for eighteen centuries. Without more evidence, there seems no good reason to change the celebration date now.

We can blame the ancient church for a large part of our uncertainty. You see, they did not celebrate Christ’s birth. At all. To them, it was insignificant. They were far more concerned with his death . . . and resurrection.

But modern man has turned that around. A baby lying in a manger is harmless, non-threatening. But a man dying on a cross–a man who claims to be God–that man is a threat! He demands our allegiance! We cannot ignore him. We must either accept him or reject him. He leaves us no middle ground.

This Christmas season, take a close look at a nativity scene once again. Remove your rose-colored glasses–smell the foul air, see the cold, shivering animals. They represent the Old Testament sacrificial system. They are emblems of death. But they are mere shadows of the Babe in their midst. He was born to die . . . that all who believe in him might live.

The Visit of the Magi

When Jesus Christ was born, men–known as magi–came from the east to worship him. Were they wisemen . . . or astrologers?

Matthew begins his second chapter with these words: “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east, and have come to worship him.'”

Who were these wise men from the east? Matthew tells us next to nothing about them–he doesn’t mention their names, nor how many there were–not even which country they came from. As mysteriously as they come on the scene, they disappear. . .

Though Matthew doesn’t tell us much, over-zealous Christians throughout church history have dogmatically filled in the blanks. By the 6th century A.D., these dark strangers were given thrones and names: Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar were the alleged names of these alleged kings. But this has nothing to do with the biblical story: we really have no idea what their names were–nor even their number. There could have been 3 or 300 as far as we know! But one thing we do know for sure: they were not royalty. The ancient magi were reilgious and political advisors to eastern kings–but there wasn’t a drop of blue blood among them.

But isn’t it true that the magi were astrologers? And didn’t God prescribe death to astrologers in the Old Testament? ‘Not always’ and ‘yes’ are the answers. In Deuteronomy 17, God commands his people to execute all astrologers by stoning. Jean Dixon wouldn’t stand a chance in such a theocracy! The fact that she–and others like her–are so comfortably tolerated–even well respected!–in modern America ought to show us that the U.S.A. is a post-Christian country–at best . . .

But what about these ancient magi? Were they astrologers? After all, they followed a star to Bethlehem.

We might answer this in three ways: First, not all magi were astrologers, for Daniel the prophet was the chief of the magi in Nebuchadnezzar’s court. Through his influence, undoubtedly many of the magi carried on their religious and political duties as worshippers of the One true God.

Second, there are some biblical scholars who believe that Isaiah predicted that a star would appear when the Messiah was born. If this interpretation is correct, then the magi who worshipped the newborn king were clearly following in Daniel’s train, for he almost surely taught them from Isaiah.

Third, although a few believe that the ‘star’ they saw was a natural phenomenon–such as a conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter–this cannot explain how the star stood right over Bethlehem. Clearly, the ‘star’ was completely of supernatural origin. If so, it probably had nothing to do with astrology.

Therefore, the magi most likely did not subscribe to such superstitious folly. If so, they were truly wisemen . . .

I saw a bumper sticker the other day, which read, “Wise men still seek him.” Actually, that’s not quite accurate. The Bible tells us that “no one seeks God, not even one.” But if he has led us to himself, then we have become wise. For it is true that “wise men still worship him.”

The Boys from Bethlehem

One of the most heinous atrocities in human history was the murder of Bethlehem’s babies by Herod the Great. But did it really happen?

In the second chapter of Matthew’s gospel, we read that when Herod the Great heard of the Messiah’s birth, “he was troubled–and all Jerusalem with him.” Later, when the wise men did not report back to him, he became furious and ordered all the baby boys up to two years old in and around Bethlehem to be slaughtered!

Three questions come to mind as we consider this cruel incident: First, how many babies did Herod actually kill? Second, how old was Jesus when this happened? And finally, why does no other ancient historian record this outrage? In other words, did it really happen?

How many babies did Herod murder? Some scholars have suggested as many as 200! But most reject such a figure. Bethlehem was a small community–almost a suburb of Jerusalem. The village itself–and the surrounding countryside–would hardly have more than 30 male infants under two. Most scholars today place the number between 20 and 30.

But that’s if only the boy babies were killed. Actually, the Greek text of Matthew 2:16 could mean ‘babies’–not just ‘boy babies.’ And psychologically, Herod’s henchmen might not have bothered to check the gender of their victims. The number might be as high as 50 or 60.

Second, how old was Jesus when this occurred? According to the best chronological evidence, he could not have been more than three or four months old. He was more than likely born in the winter of 5 or 4 B.C.–Herod died in the early spring of 4 B.C. So why did Herod slay all children up to two years old? The answer to the third question might help to answer this one. . .

Third, why is this event not recorded outside the Bible? Specifically, why did Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian, fail to mention it?

Josephus tells us much about Herod. The best word to describe his reign is ‘overkill.’ He murdered hisfavorite wife’s father, drowned her brother–and even killed her! He executed one of his most trusted friends, his barber, and 300 military leaders–all in a day’s work! Then he slew three of his sons, allegedly suspecting them of treason. Josephus tells us that “Herod inflicted such outrages upon (the Jews) as not even a beast could have done if it possessed the power to rule over men” (Antiquities of the Jews 17:310). Killing babies was not out of character for this cruel king. And killing them up to two years old–to make sure he got the baby Jesus lines up with his insane jealousy for power.

Josephus might have omitted the slaying of the babies for one of two reasons: first, he was no friend of Christianity and he left it out intentionally; or second, just before Herod died he locked up 3000 of the nation’s leading citizens and gave orders that they were to be executed at the hour of his death. He wanted to make sure that there would be mourning when he died. . . Israel was so preoccupied with this that the clandestine murder of a few babies might have gone unnoticed. . .

Herod thought that he had gained a victory over the king of the Jews. Yet this was a mere foreshadowing of the victory Satan thought he had when Jesus lay dead on a Roman cross. But the empty tomb proved that that dark Friday was Satan’s worst defeat!

Conclusion

We’ve been looking at several aspects of the birth of Jesus Christ in this short study. Now, we want to put it all together.

In the winter of 5 or 4 B.C., God invaded history by taking on the form of a man. He was born in a small town just south of Jerusalem. Bethlehem, which means ‘the house of bread,’ indeed became worthy of its name one lonely winter night. For there, in that town, was born the Bread of Life . . .

His mother placed the infant king in a manger–or feeding trough–because the guest room where they were to stay was occupied. The birth of this king was celebrated that night only by his mother, her husband, and a handful of shepherds. The shepherds had been in the fields around Bethlehem, guarding the lambs which would die at the next Passover. An angel appeared to them and gave them the birth announcement: “today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). In their simple faith, they rushed to see their newborn king.

Shortly after the birth of the Messiah, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem and inquired of king Herod where the real king of the Jews was to be born. The theologians of Herod’s court knew the Scriptures well–in ‘Bethlehem’ they recited. Ironically, though they knew the Scriptures, they did not believe them! They did not even bother to travel the five or six miles to Bethlehem to see their Messiah.

But Herod believed the Scriptures! That is why he sent a corps of butchers to Bethlehem to slaughter innocent children, in hopes of destroying this rival to his throne. But he was too late. The magi had come and gone and Jesus was by now safe in Egypt.

And the magi believed the Scriptures. They had traveled several hundred miles to worship this Babe. They were guided to Bethlehem by a supernatural celestial phenomenon–and by the Scriptures. Apparently, their ancestors had been instructed by Daniel the prophet about the coming Messiah. . . When they saw the child, they fell down and worshiped him. This was God in the flesh. They could do no other.

And they gave him gifts–gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This was an unusual present–by any standards. The gold, of course, we all can understand–but the frankincense and myrrh were odd. Perhaps they had read Isaiah’s prophecy that “nations will come to your light, and kings to your rising . . . They will bring gold and frankincense, and will bear good news. . . ” (Isa. 60:3, 6). This explains the frankincense, but not the myrrh.

Now myrrh, like frankincense, was a perfume. But unlike frankincense, myrrh smelled of death. In the ancient world, it was used to embalm a corpse. Jesus himself would be embalmed with this very perfume (cf.John 19:39).

If the magi were thinking of Jesus’ death when they brought the myrrh, they no doubt knew of it from Daniel’s prophecy (9:24-27). In the ninth chapter of Daniel we read that the ‘Messiah will be cut off’ and this ‘will make atonement for iniquity’ and ultimately ‘bring in everlasting righteousness’ (9:26, 24).

Even at the birth of our Savior, the shadow of the cross is already falling over his face. . .

The theologians of Herod’s court did not believe the Scriptures. They were fools. Herod believed, but disobeyed. He was a madman. The simple shepherds and the majestic magi believed in this infant Savior–and it was reckoned to them as righteousness. May we follow in their train.

John Piper – Six reasons the Son of God came into the world

christmas

I want to let six of the witnesses speak and testify to why the Son of God came into the world. The witnesses are Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, and the writer to the Hebrews. The answers they give are six reasons for Jesus’ coming:

  1. To ransom many – Mark 10:45, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”The reason we need a ransom to be paid for us is that we have sold ourselves into sin and have been alienated from a holy God. When Jesus gave his life as a ransom, our slavemasters, sin and death and the devil, had to give up their claim on us. And the result was that we could be adopted into the family of God.Paul put it like this in Galatians 4:4–5, “When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons.” In other words the redemption or the ransom frees us to be a part of God’s family. We had run away and sold ourselves into slavery. But God pays a ransom and redeems us out of slavery into the Father’s house.To do that, God’s Son had to become a human being so that he could suffer and die in our place to pay the ransom. That is the meaning of Christmas. Hebrews 2:14 puts it like this, “Since the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death.” In other words, the reason Christ took on human flesh was so that he could die and in dying pay a ransom and free us from the power of death.
  2. To call sinners to repentance –Luke 5:31–32, “Jesus said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'”Jesus came to call sinners to repentance. First, there needed to be a ransom to be paid for sinners. Then, there could be a successful call to sinners. The call is based on the ransom. And Jesus says he came for both of these things.He does not leave the ransoming or the calling to others. He ransoms and he calls. Even today he is calling through the Bible and through the preaching of the Bible. He is calling this morning.That is the meaning of Christmas. He came to call sinners.
  3. To give sight to the morally blind – John 9:39, “Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see.'” And John 12:46, “I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me might not remain in darkness.”Jesus did not merely come to ransom and to call, he also came to open people’s eyes so that they can see the light and walk in it. Our problem is not just slavery needing a ransom, and lostness needing a call; our problem is also moral blindness, needing the gift of sight. We are simply blind to some spiritual realities that are utterly crucial to see and embrace.This is why Christ came: that those who do not see may see. This is the meaning of Christmas.
  4. To divide households – Matthew 10:34, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man’s foes will be those of his own household.”The point of this word is not that God loves division and strife. The point is that strife and division caused by true allegiance to Jesus are better than no strife and division with no allegiance to Jesus. The point is that when a person is ransomed and called and given sight, something really radical happens to them.They see everything differently with that new sight, and they have a new master because of that sovereign call, and they are wonderfully free from fear and guilt because of that sufficient ransom. And so they think differently and feel things differently and act differently. And for some in the family, that can be very threatening, and so tension develops. For this Jesus came into the world. That too is the meaning of Christmas.
  5. To save from divine condemnation – John 3:17–18, “For God sent not the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. He who believes in him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already.”God sent his Son to save us from his own just condemnation and wrath. The need for salvation implies that there is a danger we need to be saved from. That danger is sin and death and the devil. But the most serious danger of all is the danger of the condemnation of God. If God is for us, then sin and death and the devil will fail to destroy us. But if God is against us, then nothing can save us.Christmas, the coming of Jesus, is God’s way of being for us — if we will believe. “He who believes is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already.”
  6. To give eternal life – John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”Christmas means that God sent his Son so that we could believe and have eternal life.This is what Patty was talking about when she said last night, with her dead child in her arms, “How do people bear it who have no hope?” The hope she meant was eternal life. And that life is the gift of God through Jesus Christ.

John Piper at Desiring God via http://www.sermoncentral.com/

 

A Christmas Sermon 1,700 Years Old

by St. Gregory of Nazianzus (AD 380)

Christ is born, glorify Him. Christ from heaven, go out to meet Him. Christ on earth, be exalted. Sing to the Lord, all the whole earth; and that I may join both in one word, let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, for Him who is of heaven and then of earth. Christ in the flesh, rejoice with trembling and with joy; with trembling because of your sins, with joy because of your hope.

Again, the darkness is past; again, Light is made; again, Egypt is punished with darkness; again, Israel is enlightened by a pillar. The people who sat in the darkness of ignorance, let them see the great Light full of knowledge. Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. The letter gives way, the Spirit comes to the front. The shadows flee away, the truth comes in on them. Melchizedek is concluded. He who was without Mother becomes without Father (without mother of His former state, without father of His second).

The laws of nature are upset; the world above must be filled. Christ commands it, let us not set ourselves against Him. O, clap your hands together, all you people, because unto us a Child is born, and a Son given unto us, whose government is upon His shoulder (for with the cross, it is raised up), and His name is called The Angel of the Great Counsel of the Father.

Let John cry, prepare the way of the Lord; I, too, will cry the power of this Day. He who is not carnal is Incarnate; the Son of God becomes the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Let the Jews be offended, let the Greeks deride; let heretics talk until their tongues ache. Then shall they believe, when they see Him ascending into heaven; and if not then, yet when they see Him coming out of heaven and sitting as Judge.

This is our present Festival; it is this which we are celebrating today, the Coming of God to Man, that we might go forth, or rather (for this is the more proper expression) that we might go back to God—that putting off of the old man, we might put on the new; and that as we died in Adam, so we might live in Christ, being born with Christ and crucified with Him and buried with Him and rising with Him. For I must undergo the beautiful conversion, and as the painful succeeded the more blissful, so must the more blissful come out of the painful.

For where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; and if a taste condemned us, how much more does the passion of Christ justify us? Therefore, let us keep the Feast, not after the manner of a heathen festival, but after a godly sort; not after the way of the world, but in a fashion above the world; not as our own, but as belonging to Him who is ours, or rather as our master’s; not as of weakness, but as of healing; not as of creation, but of re-creation.

from Sermoncentral.com

What Jesus Said About Who He Is?

The most offensive thing a Christian can say is that Jesus is the only way for salvation. This is characterized as intolerant, as arrogant, as narrow minded. But according to the Gospels, Jesus prompted belief in His exclusive relationship with God, the Father. He spoke of Himself as “the light”, “living waters”, “the way”, as “the good shepherd”, as “the vine”, “bread”, as “the door and gate to God”. When Jesus said “I and the Father are one” the religious leaders at the temple understood what He meant because they picked up stones and they wanted to stone Him for blasphemy. They understood that Jesus was making a claim far higher than the oneness of mission, He was claiming to be one of essence with the Father. Jesus knew who He was and was very clear in declaring who He was: that He was one with the Father. That he was God come to earth.
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What Jesus Said About Who He Is?, posted with vodpod

Jesus: Who do you say that I am?

Once when Jesus was traveling with His disciples He asked them ‘Who do people say that I am?’ Wherever Jesus went, large crowds of people followed Him and they witnessed the miracles He performed and they observed the words He spoke in His sermons. Many of the people probably wondered who Jesus was.  But then in Luke 9:18-20 Jesus asks Peter, His disciple, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ and Peter answers ‘God’s Messiah’! Peter spoke with lots of conviction, yet his faith had a long way to go, there would even come a point in his life later where he would deny that he even knew Jesus. Peter and the disciples would become men of faith after they saw the resurrected Christ and it was then they could profess that Jesus was truly the Son of God.

In every age since the first followers of Jesus made their profession of faith in him, men and women of faith have had to come to terms with who Jesus is and what he means for them.As we go into the Christmas season, celebrating the birth of the Messiah, take a little time to reflect on these passages that the Scriptures heralds about the deity of the Messiah. Who is Jesus Christ to you?

(The following list is posted from Tyndale’s Wilmington guide to the Bible pp.346-348, 616-618)

The Deity of Jesus Christ the Savior of the world- 

  1. His deity was declared by angels

  • Gabriel to Mary (Luke 1:26-33)
  • by Gabriel to Joseph (Matthew 1:20-23)
  • by Gabriel (?) to some shepherds (Luke 2:8-11)
  • by Gabriel (?) to some women (Matthew 28:5-6)

2. His deity was declared by the Father

  • at his baptism (Matthew 3:16-17)
  • at his transfiguration (Matthew 17:5)
  • shortly before his passion (John 12:27-28)

3. His deity was declared by his mighty miracles (John 20:30,31: 21:25)

4. His deity was declared by his powerful sermons ((Luke 4:32; John 7:46)

5. His deity was declared by his accurate prophecies (Matthew 26:32)

6. His deity was declared by his sinless life

  • as attested by Pilate (John 19:4)
  • by Pilate’s wife (Matthew 27:19
  • by Judas (Matthew 27:4)
  • by the dying thief (Luke 23:41)
  • by the Roman centurion (Luke 23:47)

7. His deity was declared by demons

  • as he healed a maniac (Matthew 8:28-29)
  • as he healed a man in Capernaum (Luke 4:33-34)
  • as he healed many in Capernaum (Luke 4:41, Mark 3:11)

8. His deity was declared by those who worshipped him

  • the shepherds (Luke 2:15)
  • the wise men (Matthew 2:2,11)
  • a leper (Matthew 8:2)
  • a ruler (Matthew 9:18)
  • a Gentile mother (Matthew 15:25)
  • a Hebrew mother (Matthew 20:20)
  • a maniac (Mark 5:6)
  • a blind man (John 9:38)
  • an apostle (Thomas) (John 20:28)
  • all apostles (Matthew 14:38; 28:9)

9. His deity was declared by Satan (Matthew 4:3, 6)

10. His deity was declared by himself

  • He referred to himself as the Son of God (John 9:35; 10:36; 11:4)
  • He forgave sins (Mark 2:5, 10)
  • He is man’s judge (John 5:22, 27)
  • He is the author of life (John 5:24, 28, 29)
  • He is to be honored like the Father (John 5:23)
  • He alone can save (John 10:28; Luke 19:10; John 14:6

Tozer, Ravenhill and a poem on christians facing the judgment seat of Christ

Excerpted from one of Leonard Ravenhill’s sermons titled: The Judgment Seat of Christ, which you can read in its entirety here.

A.W.Tozer-

A W TozerI think again of a statement A. W. Tozer made to me once. He said, “Len, you know, we’ll hardly get our feet out of time into eternity that we’ll bow our heads in shame and humiliation. We’ll gaze on eternity and say, ‘Look at all the riches there were in Jesus Christ, and I’ve come to the Judgment Seat almost a pauper.'” For God had not only given us Jesus Christ – He has with Him freely given us all things (Rom. 8:32).

Leonard Ravenhill-

I heard the story for years, about the woman who came to Jesus with an alabaster box of ointment, before I understood it – before I realized that she came for one reason only. She came to worship Jesus. How do I know? Because she brought the most sacrificial gift she had and because she never said a word while she was there. How do I know? Because she didn’t wash His feet with water, but with her tears. She didn’t dry His feet with a towel, but she dried His feet with the hair of her head. And she poured out that costly fragrance and then wiped His feet. So what happened? The fragrance she poured out on Him came back on her.

Leonard RavenhillDo you wonder why your life isn’t more fragrant? It’s because you don’t take time to be holy. You don’t take time to be with Jesus. Because you think all the knowledge you get at Bible school is enough. Oh no, God isn’t going to measure your intellect. He’s going to try your life with His fire. Did you get up this morning and thank God you were pure? Did you thank Him that He broke that devilish fever you used to have for sniffing cocaine or something? Are you really glad you’re not a prostitute anymore, but now you’re a part of the Bride of the Lamb instead? Are you glad He removed your bad temper and all those creepy horrible things that used to master you?

…….

WILL CHRISTIANS BE JUDGED?

I heard a woman say not long ago, “Well, praise the Lord. I’m glad I don’t have to account for anything when I go to heaven. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Wait a minute, you can never isolate a scripture by itself. There’s no condemnation for our past sins, and I’m sure we are all mighty glad of that. But God was always saying to Israel, “Remember when thou wast a bondsman in Egypt…remember your sin…remember your iniquity.”

You might say, “It doesn’t say the Christians are going to be judged out of the books.” Yes, I think it does. Where? In Malachi (Mal. 3:16). It says that God has a Book of Remembrance, and I think it would do you good before you go to bed every night this week to ask God, “What did You put in Your book today for my life?” It doesn’t have to be some outward act. You can worship God on a tractor. It may not be the best way, but you can do it.

The Bible says that “we shall all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ” (Rom. 14:10). I think that scripture means just what it says.

……..

Do you get so near to the heart of God that you share His grief over the world and over the backslidden and apostate church that we have today? One of the most famous preachers in the country recently called at nearly midnight and said, “I’ve come to this conclusion: God Almighty has already taken His hand off America – for the simple reason that we’ve had so much light and we’ve rejected it!” It’s not only true that we live in a world of bankrupt politics, we live in a world (this is the most tragic part of all) of a spiritually bankrupt church.

………

We ought to live our lives conscious of eternity – ready to be cut off at any moment. If you were to stand before the Lord at this very moment, would you like your life story read by all the millions in eternity? None of the outcasts of hell are going to be there. Won’t it be wonderful – or will it? Or do you think you might shrink a bit when you hear now God used David Brainerd or John Wesley or some little washerwoman that had a life of intercession?

There’s no burden too heavy, or no situation too hard for the one that you love. If we are love-controlled, love-motivated, and love- energized, it will be all right when we stand up there, because if there’s anything about love – it’s obedient. We need to become a people who are baptized with obedience. We need to be submissive to the total will of God, not concerned about human opinion, and not asking for more to spend on ourselves. We need to say, “Oh God, I want this life of mine to glorify You, so that when I stand in Your awesome presence, as John says, I shall not be ashamed at Your appearing” (I John 2:28).

His Plan For Me

When I stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ
And He shows His plan for me,
The plan of my life as it might have been
Had He had His way – and I see
How I blocked Him here, and checked Him there,
And I would not yield my will,
Will there be grief in my Savior’s eyes,
Grief though He loves me still?
Would He have me rich and I stand there poor,
Stripped of all but His grace,
While memory runs like a hunted thing,
Down the paths I cannot retrace.
Lord, of the years that are left to me
I give them to Thy hand
Take me and break me and mold me,
To the pattern that Thou hast planned!
-Author Unknown

The Deity of Jesus Christ

This is an article we first posted, on the first day that we began this blog’s journey, and we have reposted it again around Christmas time, every year. So here it is again:
Once when Jesus was traveling with His disciples He asked them ‘Who do people say that I am?’ Wherever Jesus went, large crowds of people followed Him and they witnessed the miracles He performed and they observed the words He spoke in His sermons. Many of the people probably wondered who Jesus was.  But then in Luke 9:18-20 Jesus asks Peter, His disciple, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ and Peter answers ‘God’s Messiah’! Peter spoke with lots of conviction, yet his faith had a long way to go, there would even come a point in his life later where he would deny that he even knew Jesus. Peter and the disciples would become men of faith after they saw the resurrected Christ and it was then they could profess that Jesus was truly the Son of God.

In every age since the first followers of Jesus made their profession of faith in him, men and women of faith have had to come to terms with who Jesus is and what he means for them.As we go into the Christmas season, celebrating the birth of the Messiah, take a little time to reflect on these passages that the Scriptures heralds about the deity of the Messiah. Who is Jesus Christ to you?

(The following list is excerpted from Tyndale’s Wilmington guide to the Bible pp.346-348, 616-618)

The Deity of Jesus Christ the Savior of the world-

  1. His deity was declared by angels
  • by Gabriel to Mary (Luke 1:26-33)
  • by Gabriel to Joseph (Matthew 1:20-23)
  • by Gabriel (?) to some shepherds (Luke 2:8-11)
  • by Gabriel (?) to some women (Matthew 28:5-6)

2. His deity was declared by the Father

  • at his baptism (Matthew 3:16-17)
  • at his transfiguration (Matthew 17:5)
  • shortly before his passion (John 12:27-28)

3. His deity was declared by his mighty miracles (John 20:30,31: 21:25)

4. His deity was declared by his powerful sermons ((Luke 4:32; John 7:46)

5. His deity was declared by his accurate prophecies (Matthew 26:32)

6. His deity was declared by his sinless life

  • as attested by Pilate (John 19:4)
  • by Pilate’s wife (Matthew 27:19
  • by Judas (Matthew 27:4)
  • by the dying thief (Luke 23:41)
  • by the Roman centurion (Luke 23:47)

7. His deity was declared by demons

  • as he healed a maniac (Matthew 8:28-29)
  • as he healed a man in Capernaum (Luke 4:33-34)
  • as he healed many in Capernaum (Luke 4:41, Mark 3:11)

8. His deity was declared by those who worshipped him

  • the shepherds (Luke 2:15)
  • the wise men (Matthew 2:2,11)
  • a leper (Matthew 8:2)
  • a ruler (Matthew 9:18)
  • a Gentile mother (Matthew 15:25)
  • a Hebrew mother (Matthew 20:20)
  • a maniac (Mark 5:6)
  • a blind man (John 9:38)
  • an apostle (Thomas) (John 20:28)
  • all apostles (Matthew 14:38; 28:9)

9. His deity was declared by Satan (Matthew 4:3, 6)

10. His deity was declared by himself

  • He referred to himself as the Son of God (John 9:35; 10:36; 11:4)
  • He forgave sins (Mark 2:5, 10)
  • He is man’s judge (John 5:22, 27)
  • He is the author of life (John 5:24, 28, 29)
  • He is to be honored like the Father (John 5:23)
  • He alone can save (John 10:28; Luke 19:10; John 14:6

How to proclaim Christ (even at Christmas) by Spurgeon

Reasons why we hesitate to proclaim Christ to other people

  1. We might not feel worthy because of our own lack of devotion to Christ in our personal life?
  2. We don’t know where to begin or what  exactly we should say?
  3. We are afraid of insulting the unbeliever by something that we say and thus turning them off to the Gospel altogether?
  4. We think the person we are talking to will never come to believe anyways?

It is not about us. It is all about Christ and the power of God’s word. We forget that when we worry about these peripheral issues. In Isaiah 55:11 it is written:

…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

In looking at several commentaries on this verse, this particular one was the most impactful, because it reminds one that it is not about us the messenger, nor our delivery (the talk/speech we give) but it’s all about the Word of God which we must use to proclaim Christ’s Salvation and reconciliation to God:

That whatever is his design in giving the gospel, it shall be accomplished. It is never spoken in vain, and never fails to produce the effect which he intends. The gospel is no more preached in vain than the rain falls in vain. And though that often falls on barren rocks, or on arid sands; on extended plains where no vegetation is produced, or in the wilderness ‘where no man is,’ and seems to our eyes in vain, yet it is not so. God has a design in each drop that falls on sands or rocks, as really as in the copious shower that falls on fertile fields. And so the gospel often falls on the hard and barren hearts of men. It is addressed to the proud, the sensual, the avaricious, and the unbelieving, and seems to be spoken in vain, and to return void unto God. But it is not so. He has some design in it, and that will be accomplished. It is proof of the fullness of his mercy. It leaves people without excuse, and justifies himself. Or when long presented – apparently long in vain – it ultimately becomes successful, and sinners are at last brought to abandon their sins, and to turn unto God. It is indeed often rejected and despised. It falls on the ears of people apparently as the rain falls on the hard rock, and there are, so to speak, large fields where the gospel is preached as barren and unfruitful of any spiritual good as the extended desert is of vegetation, and the gospel seems to be preached to almost entire communities with as little effect as is produced when the rains fall on the deserts of Arabia, or of Africa. But there will be better and happier times. Though the gospel may not now produce all the good effects which we may desire, yet it will be ultimately successful to the full wish of the widest benevolence, and the whole world shall be filled with the knowledge and the love of God. (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Here is also a Spurgeon sermon that is a model on how to preach Christ crucified to an unbeliever. In it he addresses

  1. What we preach? In order to preach the gospel fully, there must be a very clear description of the person of Christ, and we preach Christ as God
  2. To whom are we to preach this?  “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”
  3. How are we to preach Christ crucified? Boldly!

Preaching Christ Crucified

August 23, 1863

by  C. H. Spurgeon

(1834-1892)

“We preach Christ crucified.” — 1 Corinthians 1:23.


© Copyright 2001 by Tony Capoccia.  This updated file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as
long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold.  All rights reserved.

Verses quoted, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
©1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

This sermon, preached by Tony Capoccia, is now available on Audio Cassette or CD: www.gospelgems.com 

In the verse preceding our text, Paul writes, “Jews demand miraculous signs.” They said, “Moses performed miracles; let us see miracles performed, and then we will believe,” forgetting that all the miracles that Moses did were completely eclipsed by those which Jesus did while he was on the earth as the God-man. Then there were certain Judaizing teachers who, in order to win the Jews, preached circumcision, exalted the Passover, and endeavored to prove that Judaism might still exist side by side with Christianity, and that the old rites might still be practiced by the followers of Christ. So Paul, who was “all things to all men so that by all possible means he might save some,” put his foot down, and said, in effect, “Whatever others may do, we preach Christ crucified; we dare not, we cannot, and we will not alter the great subject matter of our preaching, Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

Then he added, “and Greeks look for wisdom.” Corinth was the very eye of Greece, and the Corinthian Greeks sought after what they regarded as wisdom; that is to say, the wisdom of this world, not the wisdom of God, which Paul preached. The Greeks also treasured the memory of the eloquence of Demosthenes and other famous public speakers, and they seemed to: think that true wisdom must be proclaimed with the graces of skillful elocution; but Paul writes to these Corinthian Greeks, “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but with the demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that your faith would not be based in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

Now, today, there are some who would be glad, if we would preach anything except Christ crucified. Perhaps the most dangerous among them are those who are continually crying out for intellectual preaching, by which they mean preaching which neither the heavens nor the preachers themselves can comprehend, the kind of preaching which has little or nothing to do with the scriptures, and which requires a dictionary rather than a Bible to explain it. These are the people who are continually running around, and asking, “Have you heard our minister? He gave us a wonderful sermon last Sunday morning; he quoted Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin, and he gave us some charming pieces of poetry, in fact, it was overall an intellectual treat.” Yes, and I have usually found that such intellectual treats lead to the ruination of souls; that is not the kind of preaching that God generally blesses to the salvation of souls, and therefore, even though others may preach the philosophy of Plato or adopt the arguments of Aristotle, we preach Christ crucified,” the Christ who died for sinners, the people’s Christ, and “we preach Christ crucified” in simple language, in plain speech such which the common people can understand.

I am going to try to put our text into practice by telling you, first, what we preach; secondly, to whom we preach it; and, thirdly, how we are to preach it.

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Agnus Dei: Trei ani binecuvantati in blogosfera

tineri

Photo credit http://www.tinericrestini.net

…in slujba Marelui Imparat

Dumnezeu ne-a chemat pe toti la o lucrare, in Romani 10:14 scrie

lion and lamb blog14Dar cum vor chema pe Acela în care n’au crezut? Şi cum vor crede în Acela, despre care n’au auzit? Şi cum vor auzi despre El fără propovăduitor?

si in tot ce facem, ne-a indemnat prin Coloseni 3:17,23

17Şi orice faceţi, cu cuvîntul sau cu fapta, să faceţi totul în Numele Domnului Isus, şi mulţămiţi, prin El, lui Dumnezeu Tatăl.23 Orice faceți, lucrați din suflet – ca pentru Domnul, nu ca pentru oameni

Venim cu multumire inaintea lui Dumnezeu pentru trei ani binecuvantati in blogosfera. Trei ani, in care Dumnezeu ne-a dat harul ca sa fim folositi intr-o lucrare in care  sa-L facem pe El cunoscut oamenilor. Ne-am bucurat alaturi de voi, iubiti cititori, citind, ascultand si vizionand predici, conferinte, lecturi si discutii pe tema biblica, marturii impresionante a transformarii pe care numai Dumnezeu o poate face in viata omului si cantari, poezii, indemnuri, stiri, etc. Pentru toate sa fie glorificat singurul Dumnezeu care ne-a iubit si ne-a oferit jertfa Fiului Sau, Isus Hristos inspre mantuirea sufletelor noastre. Toata lauda si cinstea sa fie a Tatalui nostru, si al Fiului si al Duhului Sfant. Domnul sa ne ajute si in anul care vine! (Photo credit Florica Boros)

isus Hristos este Domnul flagVrem sa multumim si acelor persoane care sunt la fel de pline de dragoste ca si noi si in mod regulat contribuie cu anunturi pentru diferite evenimente, predici, cantari, stiri- stiti cine sunteti si va apreciem nespus de mult. Domnul sa va binecuvanteze pe toti si sa va rasplateasca pentru tot ce faceti pentru slava si gloria Sa! La fel, multumim tuturor celor care ne incurajeaza, se roaga pentru noi si ne spune cate o vorba buna, de obicei, chiar la momentul potrivit. Dumnezeu sa va rasplateasca! Si nu in ultimul rand, multumim lui Dumnezeu pentru aceasta oportunitate, pe care o socotim drept binecuvantare din partea Sa. Iubim Cuvantul lui Dumnezeu, iubim cititul si prin acest blog avem oportunitatea sa va oferim si voua, cititorilor nostri dragi, o sansa de a va bucura de aceste materiale oferite aici. Aproape tot materialul pe care-l gasiti aici in scris este transcris si prelucrat de Rodica si am fost incurajati sa aflam  anul acesta ca sunt multi cititori (chiar pastori- Romani si Americani) care ne citesc blogul tocmai din acest motiv. Dumnezeu sa ne ajute sa ne continuam lucrarea  in anul 2014 si sa o facem  cu aceeasi dragoste si umilinta pe care tot El ne-a daruit-o, chiar de la inceput.

Un gand pentru noi toti, pentru anul 2014:

Fiţi împlinitori ai Cuvîntului, nu numai ascultători, înşelîndu-vă singuri. Iacob 1:22

Dumnezeu sa ne ajute!
Avram si Rodica

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wordpress anniversary 3 yearsRedam cateva statistice, cu rugamintea ca daca va este de folos vreun articol, predica, indemn… sa le dati mai departe si la altii. Cum vedeti in aceste statistici, sunt mii de oameni care inca nu au dat de blogul nostru si de aceste materiale pretioase si ziditoare. Daca va este de folos ceea ce cititi aici, ne-am bucura sa spuneti si la altii. Iar, celor care ne citesc chiar zilnic, va multumim din toata inima si dorim ca prin aceste materiale sa fiti binecuvantati de Tatal ceresc. Redam, (cum am facut-o si anul trecut) acest mic widget care arata accesarile unice third anniversary wordpressla blogul nostru, deci, statistica ia in considerare doar diferitele adrese ip al fiecarui computer/calculator sau telefon mobil odata si ne reda astfel vizitatorii unici ai blogului. Ca statistica a rasfoielilor blogului, avem 1,473,553 de accesari la blog in 3 ani.

Statistici 2013

statistics

239,163 vizitatori unici din Romania
132,415  – USA
17,946  – Italia
15,876  – Spania
15,001  – United Kingdom
11,932  – Canada
13,217  – Moldova
12,644 – Germania
8,820  –  Austria
6,293  –  Belgia
5,301   –  Australia
3,873   –  Netherlands
5,904   –  Franta
3,848   –  India
3,375    –  Filipine
2,375    –  Irlanda
1,761     –  Brazilia
1,701    –  Suedia
1,580    –  Sud Africa
1,430    –  Ucraina
1,352    –  Grecia
1,348    –  Portugalia
1,307    –  Norvegia
1,174     –  Singapore
1,084    –  Polonia
1,008    –  Israel
1,001    –  Ungaria

Statistici 2012

103,672 visitors Romaniavisitors 2 dec 2012
75,878 visitors USA
9,167 visitors Italy
8,432 visitor United Kingdom
7,740 visitors Spain
6,635 visitors Canada
6,437 visitors Moldova
6,391 visitors Germany
4.095 visitors Austria
4,070 visitors Belgium
3,403 visitors Australia
3,200 visitors Netherlands
3,108 visitors France
2,601 visitors India

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Leonard Ravenhill – Why, O why, do we settle for minimum spirituality?

What Do I Still Lack?
By Leonard Ravenhill

leonard ravenhillWhat percentage of responsibility for my spiritual maturity is the Lord’s, and how much of it is mine? To say that I alone am responsible for my soul’s development is conceit. To say that all the responsibility is the Lord’s is impudence.

I find it humbling, inspiring, and challenging to recognize that the greatest saints who ever lived did not have a bigger Bible than I have. They just knew it better. Indeed, they had far less of the divine Revelation. Today we have the complete message of God to man. He has nothing more to say to us. As the old hymn says, “What more can He say than to you He hath said?” God has no “P.S.” to add to the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

For years the Holy Scriptures were wrapped up in tongues that only the scholars could read. “There was no open vision in those days” (I Sam. 3.1). Then, blessed day, the whole counsel of God was released in our mother tongue. With this unveiling came the glad news of the priesthood of believers — Hallelujah!

Do you wonder that Bishop Walsham How bursts into song about the Holy Word:

“It is a golden casket,
where gems of Truth are stored.
It is the Heaven-drawn picture
of Christ, the Living Word.”

      Trees are fascinating to most of us. I like to see the burdened fruit trees showing off their labor. The English like their mighty oaks and the Americans their redwood trees. At the moment, in the area where I write, the peach trees are richly endowed with fruit; but, it does not grow already canned. No! God gave us the fruit; we do the canning. Trees do not grow furniture, even in this scientific age. We have the trees. From them we make the chairs, etc. So it is with the spiritual life. Here is a stunning truth from Second Peter, Chapter one, verse three: “His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain TO LIFE AND GODLINESS.” Paul backs up Peter in this area when he says, “How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom.8:32). And to top these precious words, here comes Paul again with a staggering statement: “The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; HEIRS OF GOD, AND JOINT-HEIRS WITH CHRIST.” Stop there? NO, add the remainder:“…if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Rom. 8:16-17) (Photo credit www.sciencedaily.com)

With all this limitless resource to inherit in this life, why then, O why, do we settle for minimum spirituality? These scriptures just quoted shatter all our excuses for carnal Christianity and explode all our feeble bumper-sticker excuses on bumper-sticker evangelism: “Christians are not perfect, just forgiven.” (Some backslider must have written that one.)

Sinning is not permitted to believers. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” (I John 3:9) Not that it is impossible to sin; but it is, by the blood of Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit, possible not to sin. John again shouts the triumphant note, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

God, then, has made it possible for you and me to have victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil!

Here are the Master’s commandments to His own. These are not options but imperatives. With His enabling and our striving, we can explore what Lowrey called “the possibilities of Grace.” We can leave the playpen in the Spiritual Nursery and “go on unto perfection.” (Heb. 6:1) Here are His commands:

– “Little Children, keep yourselves from idols (I John 5:21)
– “Building up yourselves on your most holy faith…” (Jude 20; Rom. 10:17)
– “Keep yourselves in the love of God ..” (by obedience to His Word) (Jude 21)
– “Put on the whole armor of God…” (equipment for beating Satan) (Eph. 6-11)
– The Scnpture is very clear here: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4 :7)

      Christian maturity is not a weekend operation. On the other hand, remember there is no finality to the Christian life this side of eternity. While we are in the flesh, we “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14)

      We hear continually about “Weight Watchers.” O that we watched our spiritual growth as carefully!

      I believe in instant purity: “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” (I John 1:7) I do not believe in instant maturity. Faith in the finished work of Christ is one thing. To add to your faith, as Peter says in 2 Peter 1:5-7, is something else. As a tree must be pruned regularly to bring it to maturity, so we need pruning. It is easy to sing, “And pour contempt on all my pride.” If I do that at all, I will do it conveniently protecting myself from any “bleeding.” It is when the Lord does it — or worse still when He uses some other human being (less spiritual than I am) to do the pruning – then can I kiss the rod? This is a process in spiritual growth. Can I take it cheerfully when I am slighted, when my name is cast out as an evil thing (though I am totally innocent)? Can I joyfully help to promote another to a position that I would like and which I am more capable of handling?

      I heard a preacher asking another if folks came to the altar at his last meeting. He replied, “Yes, but most of them are altar tramps.” It’s easier to go to the altar than to get on the cross. There is no magic in a trip to the altar. You will not grow an inch by walking a few yards to the altar, unless there is a total repentance and a holy vow to God that you will not fall into the same hole again.

Heroes of the Faith Hebrews 11That holy band of “Heroes of Faith” in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews staggers me. They had no Bibles, no millions of cassettes as we have, no Bible seminars, no daily radio Bible teaching, and (fortunate souls) no Gospel T.V. preachers whining about lack of funds. (When did the Lord run out of supplies?) Yet what things these folks in Hebrews 11 accomplished: subdued whole kingdoms — (O that some person rich in faith could subdue the worldwide kingdom of the drug trade)– wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. What miracles, what men, what faith! (Photo credit bereabaptistchurchbookstore.com)

      These “pattern” folks of our faith did not get to the heights in one leap:

“They climbed the steep ascent to Heaven
Through peril, toil, and pain.
O God, may grace to us be given,
to follow in their train.”

      Asked why he was used of the Lord so greatly in China, Hudson Taylor replied, “God had looked long for a man weak enough, and He found me.” He takes the weak things of the world to confound the mighty. Spiritual wisdom does not come with years; neither does maturity. The key to both is obedience. Whatsoever He saith unto YOU, do it.

An insatiable thirst for God will produce an unquenchable love for holiness (as He is Holy), resulting in a passion for the lost.

Remember, friend, you are just as spiritual as you want to be.

Copyright (C)1994 by Leonard Ravenhill, Lindale, Texas – http://www.ravenhill.org/

Leonard RavenhillIn Romanian – De ce intirzie trezirea de Leonard Ravenhill (Top carte – essential reading)

Ravi Zacharias quotes from ‘Jesus among other gods’

Read more quotes and/or buy the books here- http://www.goodreads.com/

  1. I came to Him because I did not know which way to turn. I remained with Him because there is no other way I wish to turn. I came to Him longing for something I did not have. I remain with Him because I have something I will not trade. I came to Him as a stranger. I remain with Him in the most intimate of friendships. I came to Him unsure about the future. I remain with Him certain about my destiny. I came amid the thunderous cries of a culture that has 330 million deities. I remain with Him knowing that truth cannot be all-inclusive.”
  2. “Faith in the biblical sense is substantive, based on the knowledge that the One in whom that faith is placed has proven that He is worthy of that trust. In its essence, faith is a confidence in the person of Jesus Christ and in His power, so that even when His power does not serve my end, my confidence in Him remains because of who He is.”
  3. “Capturing the beauty of the conversion of the water into wine, the poet Alexander Pope said, “The conscious water saw its Master and blushed.” That sublime description could be reworked to explain each one of these miracles. Was it any different in principle for a broken body to mend at the command of its Maker? Was it far-fetched for the Creator of the universe, who fashioned matter out of nothing, to multiply bread for the crowd? Was it not within the power of the One who called all the molecules into existence to interlock them that they might bear His footsteps?”
  4. “Truth by definition excludes.”
  5. “Worship is a posture of life that takes as its primary purpose the understanding of what it really means to love and revere God.”
  6. “The Samaritan woman grasped what He said with fervor that came from an awareness of her real need. The transaction was fascinating. She has come with a buket. He sent her back with a spring of living water. She had come as a reject. He sent her back being accepted by God Himself. She came wounded. He sent her back whole. She came laden with questions. He sent her back as a source for answers. She came living a life of quiet desperation. She ran back overflowing with hope. The disciples missed it all. It was lunchtime for them.”
  7. “Every other person who is at the heart of any religion has had his or her beginning either in fancy or in fact. But nevertheless, there is a beginning. Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem was a moment preceded by eternity. His being neither originated in time nor came about by the will of humanity. The Author of time, who lived in the eternal, was made incarnate in time that we might live with the eternal in view. In that sense, the message of Christ was not the introduction of a religion, but an introduction to truth about reality as God alone knows it. To deny Jesus’ message while pursuing spirituality is to conjure an imaginary religion in an attempt to see heaven while sight is confined to the earth. That is precisely what Jesus challenged when he said, “I have come that [you] may have life” (John 10:10). His life spells living. Your life or my life, apart from Him, spells death.”
  8. “We do not live so that we can eat, nor do we just eat so that we can live. Life is worth living in and of itself. Life cannot be satisfied when it is lived out as a consuming entity. When it is filled by that which satisfies a hunger that is both physical and spiritual in a mutuality that sustains both without violation of either, only then can life be truly fulfilling.”
  9. “Teaching at best beckons us to morality, but it is not in itself efficacious. Teaching is like a mirror. It can show you if your face is dirty, but it the mirror will not wash your face.”
  10. “Truth is not only a matter of offense, in that it makes certain assertions. It is also a matter of defense in that it must be able to make a cogent and sensible response to the counterpoints that are raised.”
  11. “My longings, my hopes, my dreams, and my every effort has been to live for Him who rescued me, to study for Him who gave me this mind, to serve Him who fashioned my will, and to speak for Him who gave me a voice.”
  12. “Historic figures have homes to visit for posterity; the Lord of history left no home. Luminaries leave libraries and write their memoirs; He left one book, penned by ordinary people. Deliverers speak of winning through might and conquest; He spoke of a place in the heart.”
  13. “We are living in a time when sensitivities are at the surface, often vented with cutting words. Philosophically, you can believe anything so as you do not claim it a better way. Religiously, you can hold to anything, so long as you do not bring Jesus Christ into it. If a spiritual idea is eastern, it is granted critical immunity; if western, it is thoroughly criticized. Thus, a journalist can walk into a church and mock its carryings on, but he or she dare not do the same if the ceremony is from eastern fold. Such is the mood at the end of the twentieth century. A mood can be a dangerous state of mind, because it can crush reason under the weight of feeling. But that is precisely what I believe postmodernism best represents – a mood.”
  14. “There are no unique postures and times and limitations that restrict our access to God. My relationship with God is intimate and personal. The Christian does not go to the temple to worship. The Christian takes the temple with him or her. Jesus lifts us beyond the building and pays the human body the highest compliment by making it His dwelling place, the place where He meets with us. Even today He would overturn the tables of those who make it a marketplace for their own lust, greed and wealth.”
  15. “We are his temple. We do not turn in a certain direction to pray. We are not bound by having to go into a building so that we can commune with God. There are no unique postures and times and limitations that restrict our access to God. My relationship with God is intimate and personal. The Christian does not go to the temple to worship. The Christian takes the temple with him or her. Jesus lifts us beyond the building and pays the human body the highest compliment by making it His dwelling place, the place where He meets with us. Even today He would overturn the tables of those who make it a marketplace for their own lust, greed, and wealth.”
  16. “If God is the author of life, there must be a script.”
  17. “Our intellect is not intended to be an end in itself, but only a means to the very mind of God.”
  18. “His life spells living. Your life or my life, apart from Him, spells death.”
  19. “The primary purpose of a home is to reflect and to distribute the love of Christ. Anything that usurps that is idolatrous.”
  20. “The first and foremost reality is that suffering and death are not only enemies of life, but a means of reminding us of life’s twin realities, love and hate.”

Description for ‘Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message’ (Amazon):

In a world with so many religions, why Jesus?

We are living in a time when you can believe anything, as long as you do not claim it to be true. In the name of “tolerance,” our postmodern culture embraces everything from Eastern mysticism to New Age spirituality. But as Ravi Zacharias points out, such unquestioning acceptance of all things spiritual is absurd. All religions, plainly and simply, cannot be true.

Jesus Among Other Gods provides the answers to the most fundamental claims about Christianity, such as:

  • Aren’t all religions fundamentally the same?
  • Was Jesus who He claimed to be?
  • Can one study the life of Christ and demonstrate conclusively that He was and is the way, the truth, and the life?

In each chapter, Zacharias considers a unique claim that Jesus made and then contrasts the truth of Jesus with the founders of Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism with compelling insight and passionate conviction. In addition to an impressive breadth of reading and study, he shares his personal journey from despair and meaninglessness to his discovery that Jesus is who He said He is.

In Jesus Among Other Gods, Ravi Zacharias demonstrates that he is one of the most intellectually gifted as well as spiritually sensitive writers of today’s leading apologists for the Christian faith. Zacharias brings alive the unique power of the claims of Jesus about himself and the utter relevance of his message today for the human condition.”

— David Aikman, author of Great Souls

VIDEO by religionphilosophy

What a friend we have in Jesus – Southern Gospel style

Photo credit www.taringa.net

What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he’ll take and shield thee;
thou wilt find a solace there.

What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!

Cluster Pluckers – VIDEO by Arendientje

The 3 1/2 year siege of Jerusalem (Documentary) 66 – 70 A.D. The first Jewish-Roman War

Photo credit en.wikipedia.org The first Jewish-Roman war

In 66 A.D.  General Vespasian of Rome, under orders from Nero Caesar, invaded Judea. After the death of Nero, Vespasian went on to become emperor of Rome in 68 A.D. and his son, Titus, took over the Judean campaign against the rebelling Jews. Titus sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish Temple in 70 A.D. and then went through the rest of Judea killing all Jewish rebels until finally ariving Masada in 73 A.D. where he destroyed the last rebel stronghold. Titus then returned to Rome and became emperor himself on June 24th, 79 A.D. upon the death of his father Vespasian.

The destruction of Jerusalem, and of the Jewish temple was, of course, all prdicted by both the Prophet Daniel and by Jesus Christ.

Here are just a couple of Jesus Christ’s prophecies concerning these things:

“Then, as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and donations, [Jesus] said, “These things which you see—the days will come in which not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.”” -Luke 21:5-6

“”But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”” -Luke 21:20-24

VIDEO by MissionDisciple

Eric Ludy – The Ancient War Cry

Photo credit biblewalks.com – Valley of Elah where David battled Goliath

1 Samuel 17 2:And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together,
and pitched by the valley of Elah,
and set the battle in array against the Philistines.

Where’s our war cry?

We don’t even know that we’re at war! We don’t understand that we’re in hostile territory. This isn’t a time of peace. It’s against the principalities and the powers that are puppeteering the people. And we are in a position to see souls set free!

This has been the ancient war cry throughout all the generations of the Hebrew nations. Rak Chazak! Where does it come from? Chazak, this is the Hebrew: the rock like “oomph” of the spiritually zealous heart. The game face of a mighty man. Tenacity of soul, the gritting of the teeth of the Spirit inspired warrior. And the bearing of those teeth to the enemy. Chazak is possessing a resolute and growling resolve for the glory of God. A flush of spiritual fervor. A tensing of all of a soldier’s muscles. There’s a Chazak.

We don’t have that spiritually. We should. We don’t. Because we don’t know what we’re engaged with. Did you know that we have the armory of heaven? That you have everything you need for life and godliness to push the enemy forces back? And so, when you hear Chazak, your knuckles spiritually should immediately turn white. And you should find yourself gritting your spiritual teeth with a belligerence against the enemy. He goes down! There are souls that must be saved!

The Hebrew statement is Rak Chazak. However, in the Bible, where it came from it’s Chazak Amats. The other word that goes with it, Amats, it’s heavenly audacity. It’s rushing headlong into the most hazardous and impossible battles without pausing to consider the impossibilities.

Who had Amats in the Bible?

  • David against Goliath? That’s some serious Amats. He’s rushing headlong against Goliath. “David, you might think about this for a minute.” “No, I am not weighing the impossibilities. This is for my God!” It’s a confidence in victory, even before the field is taken. It’s lambs moving with liquid ferocity straight into the lion’s lair.
  • How about the three that overheard him in the cave of Adullam? All for a cup of cool water  from the well of Bethlehem. Those guys had Amats. They go running out, break through a garrison of Philistines to grab a cup of cool water, and then bring it back through the garrison. They’re being hunted by the Philistines the whole time, trying not to spill a cup of water. That’s Amats.

Mere men and women on earth are being eaten up by the enemy.

However, we’re not just mere men and women of this earth. We are redeemed. We are bought with a price. And we’ve been changed into the body of Christ. Amats means swift-footed, all believing, super conquering, prevailing faith in the Lord of battles. What happens to the world, if Christians once again get Chazak and Amats? Do you know what the apostles had after Pentecost? Something came into them. What was it? You can say it very simply as Chazak and Amats – the Spirit of God. He came in to win. He came in to turn this world on its head.

Moses’s last gasp, this is his great speech before the promised land, which he never got to enter into, and he’s laying out the ground rules for the kingdom that is about to be established across that Jordan river. “Be strong, and of good courage. Fear not, nor be afraid of them. For the Lord, thy God, He it is that does go with thee. He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, “Chazak! Amats!” Be strong and of good courage! For thou must go with this people unto the land which the Lord has sworn unto their fathers to give them. And thou shalt cause them to inherit it.

What’s happening there? The men and women of God are coming in to take what was purchased.. The promise. You are surrounded by 31 hostile empires. You know, that’s what they were headed into: 31 empires on the other side of that Jordan river. 31!

This is where we are at, as the church of Jesus Christ. Yet, we are there without a war cry. Let’s understand that we are out to win for the glory of Jesus Christ. And, even if we die, we win. It doesn’t matter what happens to our bodies. We obey… God wins. Now, suddenly we’re crossing. Joshua is the same name for Jesus in the New Testament, by the way. Yeshua- this is the Savior, the Man of Salvation, who is coming to bring us into the inheritance. Be strong and of good courage, for unto this people shall thou divide for an inheritance, the land which I swore unto their fathers to give them. Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage. Rak Chazak! Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed for the Lord thy God is with thee, withersoever thou goest. Rak Chazak, Israel! Rak Chazak, men and women of God almighty. And all the powers of earth and hell that come against your soul, and all the powers of earth and hell that are puppeteering the lost masses, you hit them square in the teeth, and you show love to this world. To anyone who would spit in your face, you serve them and you love them in return, and say, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” Rak Chazak, Israel!

Video by  setapartlife

Do you know how God saved you?

Photo credit ekklesiamuskogee.org

by John Piper at DesiringGod.org

I will venture to say that most Christians don’t know how God saved them. I don’t mean how God paid for their sins, but how he brought them to faith. That means many Christians miss out on the benefits of knowing this. There are at least six benefits which I’ll mention at the end.

God saved us by raising us from spiritual death, opening the eyes of our blind hearts, and giving us the gift of faith. Let it sink in now from God’s word, that he did this, not you.

Whether you or I remember it or not, we were all once spiritually “dead,” and therefore “children of wrath.” This is true even if we never remember being an unbeliever. You have it on God’s authority. “You were dead in trespasses and sins . . . and were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind” (Ephesians 2:13). All humans are, or were, spiritually dead. That’s what Paul means by “like the rest of mankind.” That’s what God saved us out of.

We Were Blind

Another way God describes our spiritual deadness is by saying we are “natural” rather than “spiritual.” “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him . . . because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

So our “natural” state of being spiritually “dead” makes us unable to discern and accept the spiritual truth of Christ — that he is supremely beautiful and desirable. The devil could see that Jesus was the Son of God, and know he died for sinners (Mark 1:24). But he could not see Jesus as supremely beautiful and desirable. Neither could we when we were “dead” and merely “natural.”

So God says that the eyes of our hearts were blind to the glory of Christ. “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

You Did Not Save Yourself

This means that the way God saved us was by giving sight to our blind hearts. “God . . . has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). If you see Jesus as supremely beautiful and desirable so that you embrace him for the Savior he is, God has healed your blindness.

And he has raised you from the dead. “Even when we were dead in our trespasses, God made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5). And he has given you the gift of faith. “It has been freely given to you that you believe in Christ” (Philippians 1:29).

So you did not save yourself. You did not open your blind eyes, or raise yourself from the dead, or create your own faith. All of it was owing to God’s sovereign grace. You may have resisted this for a long time (as Acts 7:51 says), but, if you love Christ, God overcame your resistance and brought you to himself. What was impossible for you, God did. “With man it is impossible, but not with God” (Mark 10:27).

Why does it matter if you know this? It matters because there are at least these six benefits from knowing it.

Six Benefits from Knowing How God Saved You

  1. Knowing how God saved you enables you to feel a fitting thankfulness to God. You can’t be thankful for what God did, if you think you did it (Romans 6:17).
  2. Knowing how God saved you enables you to admire and worship the freeness of God’s saving grace (Ephesians 2:5), the greatness of his particular love (Ephesians 2:4), and the sweetness of his overpowering strength (1 Corinthians 1:18).
  3. Knowing how God saved you teaches you to live and serve in the ongoing supply of that same empowering grace. “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? . . . Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith” (Galatians 3:3–5). “Serve by the strength that God supplies” (1 Peter 4:11).
  4. Knowing how God saved you shows you that you are to evangelize others with the expectation that he must do the decisive work, not you. In evangelism your witness is indispensible, but God’s work is decisive (1 Corinthians 3:5–7).
  5. Knowing how God saved you gives you hope for the hardest of sinners and the most resistant mission field. “For all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27).
  6. Knowing how God saved you reminds you that you have a stunning testimony to share. You were blind, but now you see. You were dead, but now you are alive. You were unbelieving, but now you embrace Jesus as supremely beautiful and desirable. You can share this not on the flimsy authority of your memory of it (which may not even exist), but on the unsurpassed authority of God. And it is not boring. Being raised from the dead can never be boring.

What Role Do Works Play At Final Judgment for the Believer? Four views in a new book from Zondervan

Alan P Stanley sets up the discussion in this book from 4 points of view from

  1. Robert Wilkin, Executive Director of the Grace Evangelical Society;
  2. Tom Schreiner, New Testament and Pauline Scholar at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary;
  3. James Dunn, a leading British New Testament scholar known for his Jesus and Paul studies, not to mention coining the term “New Perspective;”
  4. Michael Barber, professor of theology, Scripture, and Catholic thought at John Paul the Great Catholic University.

On Pages 9-10, there is a  list/chart Stanley puts together of Scripture relating to what the Scripture has to say on this:

Scripture has consistently testified to this final day of judgement in a number of ways.

  1. God is the rightful “Judge of all the earth” (Gen 18)
  2. No one will be exempt (1 Sam 2; Gen 18; 1 Chron 16)
  3. Judgment is according to people’s works (Job 34; Ps 62; Prov 24)
  4. Judgment will bring “every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Eccl 12)
  5. God will judge with justice and equity (Gen 18)
  6. The wicked “will not stand in judgement” (Ps 1) while the righteous “will sing before the Lord” (Ps 98)

Of course, the New Testament builds on what the Old Testament established: (pg. 10)

  1. God has “set a day” for judgment (Acts 17; Rom 2; 1 Cor 4)—i.e. “the last day” (Jn 12); “the day of judgment” (Matt 10)
  2. It is a day that has come closer, for “the hour has already come” (Rom 13); “the end of all things is near” (1 Peter 4)
  3. God has selected a man to carry out his judgments; that man is named Jesus, whom the Father has “entrusted all judgments” and given all “authority to judge” (Jn 5)
  4. Therefore, judgment will not be left to “any human court” (1 Cor 4)
  5. God’s judgments through Christ will be “based on truth” (Rom 2)
  6. The “Sovereign Lord” is able and will judge “people’s secrets through Jesus Christ” (Rom 2)

The book can be purchased here – http://www.amazon.com/Views-Works-Final-Judgment-Counterpoints

– See more at: http://www.koinoniablog.net/2013/08/what-role-do-works-play-at-final-judment-for-the-believer.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2FpQHu+%28Koinonia%29#sthash.c0D9C8pk.dpuf

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