Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Read, Laugh, Ponder and Weep

 

“I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” 

-Winston  Churchill

 

 

“Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.”

-Douglas Casey, classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University

 

 

“Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”

P.J. O’Rourke, Civil Libertarian

              
 

 

“Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.”

– Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)

I will modify that by adding Socialistic government.  mgb

 

 

“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases.  If it moves, tax it.  It if keeps on moving, regulate it.  If it stops moving, subsidize it.”

– Ronald Reagan (1986)

 

 

 

“I don’t make jokes.  I just watch government and report the facts.”

– Will Rogers                  
           
 

 

 

“If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs
when it’s free!”
    -P.J. O’Rourke


                                     
“No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.”
 -Mark Twain (1866)
             
                   

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings.

The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.”
 -Winston Churchill

                                                  
“What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.”
 -Edward Langley, Artist (1928 – 1995)

 

 

“A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have.”
 -Thomas Jefferson

 

 

 

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January 29, 2009 Posted by | Gems | Comments Off on Read, Laugh, Ponder and Weep

Virgin Birth of Jesus

The virgin birth of Christ is one of the most important doctrines of the Christian Faith.  It is clearly prophesied in Isaiah 7:14  and it is clearly described as  fulfilled in Matthew 1:18-25   and  Luke 1:26-38. If Jesus was not virgin born, we have no Saviour.

 

To deny the Virgin Birth of Christ, or the truth of His miracles, or the power of His blood sacrifice on the cross as the complete and only atonement for our sins, or to deny  His Bodily Resurrection, or the fact that Jesus is the sinless, holy Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity;  is to deny the Doctrine of Christ. 

 

To deny the Doctrine of Christ is to be without God and condemned to Hell.  II John 9-11  This same warning in this little Epistle next to Revelation, also warns us to reject as a Bible teacher anyone who denies the doctrine of Christ.  Don’t give them your support or your encouragement.  Those who do are partakers of their evil deeds.  If you find yourself to be in a church where the doctrine of Christ is ignored or denied, I urge you to get out now and find a church that proclaims it without compromise.   It is impossible for you to receive Christ as your Saviour from sin and at the same time deny who He is.  To deny the doctrine of who He is, is to deny Christ and be lost in your sins and headed for Hell.

 

A Church that denies the doctrine of Christ is part of  Mystery Babylon, the church of Anti-christ that will be left behind after the Rapture of the True Church,  to face the judgment of God in the Great Tribulation.  Read Revelation 17 for a full description of this church and read Revelation 18:1-4 for God’s warning for you to separate yourself from this false system NOW!  To learn more about Mystery Babylon, you can find that topic in my series on PROPHECY.

 

Why is the doctrine of the Virgin Birth so important?

 

Genealogy of Mary

Consider the genealogy of Mary, the mother of Jesus and Joseph, His step-father.   Luke 3 gives us the genealogy of Mary.    Heli in Luke 3:23 is the father-in-law of Joseph. This genealogy  traces  Jesus, the son of Mary,  all the way back through Nathan, the son of David  and back to Adam and to God who made Adam.   This shows us that Jesus was a man in the same sense that you and I are men and women.  He was totally human, though totally sinless.

 

Genealogy of Joseph

In Matthew 1 we have the genealogy of Joseph, the step-father of Jesus.  This genealogy goes back through Solomon, another son of David,   and  continues back to Abraham showing that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s covenant to Abraham found in Genesis 12.

 

The curse of Coniah

However, in Joseph’s genealogy we go back to a king of Judah whose name was Jehoiachin. He was also known as  Jechoniah or Coniah. He only reigned three months and then was taken into Babylonian captivity.  What’s so interesting about Jechoniah or Coniah is that God cursed him and his descendents. That curse is recorded in Jeremiah 22:24-30. That means that no one from Coniah’s descendents could ever sit on  the throne of David as  King and Messiah.   Joseph, the husband of Mary was from Coniah’s line.  So that ruled out Joseph or any son of Joseph from ever being king.

 

Sin nature passed from father to child

If Jesus has been the biological son of Joseph, He could not have been the promised King.  Furthermore, since the sin nature is passed on from father to child  and not from mother to child,  any son of Joseph or any other human father would have inherited a sinful nature. 

 

Therefore, for two reasons Jesus had to be born of a virgin mother.

1. So that He would not inherit a sinful nature from his father.

2. So He would not be barred from the curse of Coniah which was upon Joseph and his sons.

 

Virgin Birth God’s amazing solution

By being virgin born, Jesus was truly man and truly God. As God in human flesh, He was totally sinless and His death and resurrection made possible the one,  final sacrifice for sin for all the sins of the world. Read about that wonderful sacrifice in Hebrews 10.  There it tells how God prepared a sinless, human body, the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the perfect sacrifice for our sins.   Those who have received Christ as their sacrifice for sin are saved.  Those who reject Him are still lost in their sins.  I urge you to trust  Jesus this moment as your sacrifice for sin and discover God’s wonderful salvation from sin. John 1:12

January 20, 2009 Posted by | Jesus | Comments Off on Virgin Birth of Jesus

Jesus, David’s Son and Lord

As we conclude our study of Luke 20:27-47, we continue dealing with Jesus’ final week of earthly ministry before He went to the cross to die as the sacrifice for our sins.  We’ve observed the mounting attacks against Jesus by the religious leaders in Jerusalem as they sought to destroy His credibility among the people and to deliver Him to the Roman authorities for crucifixion. 

 

The scrutiny of Jesus’ life and words intensified after His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. followed by His cleansing of the temple the next day. For examples of how the religious leaders were attempting to trap Him note Luke 19:47-48,  20:1-2,  19-23, and 26-33. 

 

In verse 27-33 the Sadducees who did not believe in a resurrection, asked Jesus a question about the Resurrection to attempt to trap Him.  They presented a case of a woman who had been married to seven different brothers, as described in Deuteronomy 25:5-10  and illustrated in the story of Ruth’s marriage to Mahlon and then Boaz in the Book of Ruth. They asked whose wife she would be in the Resurrection? Jesus answered  that there is no marriage in Heaven, as He clearly states in Luke 20:34-36.  Furthermore, there is no death in Heaven.

 

What does the Bible teach about our resurrection bodies?

 

Job 19:23-27 teaches that we will know one another in Heaven, even to having the same recognizable eyes.  Of course, our bodies will be glorified.  There will be no sin in Heaven and not even any temptation to sin.  We will eat and drink, but our glorified bodies will not have the organs needed for digestion, elimination nor reproduction.

 

In fact, I do not believe we will have blood.  Jesus’ resurrection body apparently did not have blood, when He instructed Thomas to put his hands in the nail holes in His hands and thrust his hand into the spear hole in Jesus side as recorded in John 20. I’m not saying that we will not be men or women. That’s not clear to me, but it appears from Jesus’ resurrection body that those who saw Him recognized Him as the man, Jesus, whom  they had known and with whom they had walked on this earth.

 

There will be no disease, pain nor death in Heaven.   Revelation 22:2 speaks of an interesting curiosity.  It speaks of the Tree of Life being in Heaven.  We first learned about the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. There in Genesis 3:22 Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat of that tree after they sinned, lest they live forever.

 

In Revelation 22:2 it speaks of the leaves of the tree as having therapeutic value. We know that in this life that roots, leaves and fruits of tree have therapeutic value.  Why this is mentioned in Revelation 22:2  I am not sure.

We know for sure that there will be no sickness, pain nor death in Heaven.

 

One thing for certain is that our glorified bodies will bear no evidence of the curse of sin.  Revelation 21:27 makes clear that there will be no sin in Heaven.

 

Our bodies will be just like Jesus resurrected body.  He was recognizable, yet different in a glorified form.  He ate fish and a piece of honey comb in that new body, as recorded in Luke 24.  There will be no pain, no disease and no death in Heaven, as taught in Revelation 21:4 In our resurrection bodies we will travel at the speed of thought.

 

Our bodies will have an altered atomic structure so that we can pass through solid walls and doors just as Jesus did in His resurrection body. We will not be controlled by natural laws such as gravity; nor will we need air to breathe, food to eat or water to drink.  Of course,  all disease and deformities will be a thing of the past.

 

Our relationship with men and women will be pure and chaste as was Jesus when He walked on this earth as a man.  We will have all eternity to get to intimately know one another; not just our friends and family on this earth, but all the saints through all the ages of time.  Of course, our relationship with Jesus will be the most wonderful relationship of Heaven.

 

The assurance of our resurrection is based on Jesus’ resurrection,  If Jesus never rose from the dead, then according to I Corinthians 15  we have absolutely no hope and we who call ourselves Christians are living in delusion.  Yes, Christianity is just a dream if Jesus never rose from the dead.

 

But thank God, we have all the evidence we need to be assured of Jesus’ resurrection.  Go to the  RESURRECTION category  for proof of His resurrection.

 

How will we receive these resurrection bodies?

 

Read I Corinthians 15  and I Thessalonians 4 for all the details. Basically the glorification of our bodies will take place when Jesus returns for us.  The dead in Christ, that is, those whose trust is in Jesus for salvation, will come forth from the graves and from the dust of the earth in their new bodies and immediately we who are living at that time will join them to meet Christ in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  That’s all I need to know about the resurrection to satisfy me.

 

After the Kingdom Age which you can learn about in my series on PROPHECY. The unsaved will rise from the dead to meet Jesus to be judged for their sins and cast into the eternal Lake of Fire where the Anti- Christ, False Prophets, Satan and all his demons will be.  That is described in one of the most awesome and terrifying passages of Scripture,  Revelation 20:11-15.   Every unbeliever should read this and decide if that’s really the direction he wishes to continue.

 

Jesus’ states His final question for his enemies to ponder.

 

After Jesus answered the scribe’s resurrection question, His enemies became silent.  They ceased asking Him anymore questions.  They realized that they were  no match for Jesus’ wisdom.  

 

Jesus’ enemies were getting no where with their attacks on Him.  If Jesus was ever to  be executed, God Himself would have to do it.  That’s exactly what happened.  God the Father executed His own Son, using the Roman soldiers to carry it out.  Isaiah 53:4 prophecies that Jesus would be “smitten of God and afflicted.”  Yes, God the Father poured out His fury on His Son, the fury that should be poured out on everyone of us as sinners.  God poured it out on His innocent, sinless Son as He bore the guilt and penalty for our sins in His body on the cross.  Those who reject His Son as  Saviour, will one day have to bear God’s fury in Hell for eternity.  Each of us has that choice to make: Receive the Son and be saved, or reject the Son and be damned.

 

In Luke 20:41-46  in the presence of all the people Jesus asks a question of the scribes who hand copied the Scriptures and were authorities on the subject. “How can Christ, the Messiah, be both the Son and the Lord of David?” The same question is recorded in Matthew 22:41-45.  Jesus, referring to a statement in Psalm 110:1  questions these people who denied that Jesus was God, Here David is referring to the Lord as His Lord. 

 

It was common knowledge that Jesus was born into the Davidic line, which would make Jesus a Son of David.

 

That gave His enemies something to ponder.  Of course the answer is that Jesus is God in human flesh.  Born into David’s line, Jesus was God come down in human flesh.  Therefore Jesus was both Son and Lord of David.

 

Because they rejected Jesus as God in human flesh, they had no answer and at that point they were silenced.  They ceased asking Jesus questions.

 

How about you? Have you received Jesus as your Saviour?  Have you bowed to Him as your Lord? 

 

When do you plan to receive Christ into your life?  If not today, there is little chance that you will ever be saved.  The only promise you have of being saved is to come to Him NOW.  See II Corinthians 6:1-2 and decide  NOW or NEVER?

January 15, 2009 Posted by | Jesus | Comments Off on Jesus, David’s Son and Lord

Change: Good or Bad?

Here’s an article I wrote in February 2009,  before I knew much about a man named Barack Obama. Now he is our president because he made “change” the centerpiece of his presidential campaign and the majority of the electorate wanted the change he and his congress promised.

 

For Better For Worse

 

Change can be for the better or for the worse. What changes come to America remains to be seen.  I and many countless multitudes of other Christians are praying for our new president, who testifies to being a Christian; that He will read and meditate on the Bible and seek God’s face for wisdom to govern righteously and with justice.

 

If the Foundations be Destroyed

 

On the other hand, we ask with the Psalmist in Psalm 11:3 “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  If his changes bring about the changing  of the Constitutional foundation of our nation,  we will crumble into oblivion just as other nations of the past are buried in the dust of history.

 

But in the midst of our fear and despair, we continue reading in Psalm 11. “The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in Heaven: His eyes behold, His eyelids try the children of men. The Lord tries (tests) the righteous: but the wicked and him that loves violence, His soul hates. Upon the wicked He shall rain snares; fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.”

 

Are We in Control?

 

Basically, no one wants change unless we are in control and making the change.  Of course, it’s fun to buy new clothes, or a new car or a new home.  It’s exciting to start a new job,  if it’s the job we’ve been seeking,  or to start a new business, if it’s the business we’ve been planning for a long time; but none of us like change that is forced on us. 

 

For example, losing our job brings radical changes that we do not welcome into our lives.  Such change is bound to come.  With  a new anti-business climate in our land.  with higher taxes and with inflation as the value of the dollar continues to plummet and an obscene national debt continues to spiral astronomically, what can we expect?

 

We like the security and the power of  being in charge.  Little children and very old people both like the security of routine.  We like to keep things just the way they always were.  We like familiar faces and familiar places.  Little ones like the same baby-sitter. Elementary children like the same teacher, the same friends and even the same food.

 

A Changing World

 

But like it or not, things change.  We live in a changing world.  The 20th century was a century of tremendous change from horse and buggy to cars and jet planes,  from candles and lanterns to modern electric lights, from grocery stores, much  like Ike Godsey’s store in The Walton’s TV series to modern supermarkets,  from winding two lane roads to a modern interstate highway system,  from phonographs and wire recorders to the latest DVD and cell phones, and ever improved computers with their amazing capabilities. My head spins with all the changes in technology. Now well into the 21st century, change continues to  accelerate.

 

We find a good restaurant.  The food is excellent. The prices are  fair.  Then the food starts changing in quality and the  portions  become smaller and the price goes up.  We’re finally forced to make a change.   We find a store that sells just what we want in clothing.  Then the styles change and we  can’t find those clothes or eventually the store goes out of business and again we have to make a change. You ladies find a certain shade of lipstick or nail polish that suits you perfectly.  Then you go back for more and it has disappeared.

 

Small towns change into large cities.  I think of the greater Albuquerque area and the tremendous change I have seen in the twenty years I have been here.  Someone returning after that many years would be lost here today.

 

The political landscape is constantly changing as Congressmen and women  and  presidents are changing every few years.  One of the changes we must guard against is that future Supreme Court justices will so tamper with the foundation of our Constitution that we will one day have an America that is totally changed from the intent of the Founders of our Republic.  That’s a change that we the electorate must pressure our representatives in Congress to ever be vigilant to keep from happening.

 

 Family life has changed in America. Fifty years ago most homes had Moms and Dads.  Moms worked at home and Dads worked  at their jobs and brought home the money.  With divorce common today, many families have only one parent and there is a growing number of blended families and  same sex partner families.  A parent or a husband or wife dies, and our world is totally changed.

 

In the world of finance, with constantly changing tax laws, with financial bail-outs of businesses that don’t have the charactered leadership to operate efficiently and profitably and with changing market conditions, our net worth is constantly changing.  It is increasingly difficult to plan for our retirements.  There is little or no job security.  It used to be that young people went to college, graduated and started with a reliable firm and looked forward to a  comfortable retirement at age 65.  That certainty of a comfortable retirement is not the case today with downsizing, layoffs, bankruptcies and scandals.

 

Our health changes.  One sickness or accident can radically change our lives.  As we come to old age, everything changes.  We gradually lose our independence.  First, we stop driving, then we have trouble walking, then our hearing and  vision gradually diminishes.  In time we become totally dependent on others and finally we have to be taken care of by our children or move into a nursing home.

 

A Bleak, Hopeless Outlook

 

For  men or women without Christ, the future looks bleak and hopeless.  There is little they  can do to totally control their circumstances. The future grows darker and darker until finally death comes leading to Hell and outer darkness. 

 

The Christian’s Outlook

 

For  the Christian, life is totally different.  Because God is unchanging, and because He is sovereign and in full control of His universe,  we have stability and peace in him.  Malachi 3:6  Hebrews 13:8  John 16:33  When we trust Christ as Saviour, He comes into our lives by His Holy Spirit.  He becomes the stabilizing keel of our ship.  He  keeps us from rocking out of control.

 

Our Unchangeable God

 

God’s Word does not change.  His Gospel does not change.  It is an everlasting Gospel. Revelation 14:6 His moral laws, principles and standards are unchanging.  His promises are unchanging.  The Christian’s future grows brighter and brighter as he grows older.  Proverbs 4:18

 

Jesus does not change.  Hebrews 13:8 assures us that  He, who is God,  is the same, yesterday, today and forever.  In verses 5 and 6 of that same chapter, Jesus promises,  “I will never leave you nor forsake you. The Lord is my helper; I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

 

Our Coming Change

 

One day Christ is returning to take Christians out of this world  of sin and decay.  If you are a Christian, He has already begun that change in your life. II Corinthians 5:17  When Christ returns He is going to change our sin-cursed bodies to be just like His resurrected, glorified body.  Philippians 3:20-21  I Corinthians 15:50-58.  He is going to translate us into a world where there is no night;  only unchanging, unfading glory.

Here is a little chorus I learned as a child.  I find myself singing it today. 

 

Yesterday, today,  forever, Jesus is the same.

All may change; but Jesus never. Glory to His Name.

 

January 15, 2009 Posted by | Change | Comments Off on Change: Good or Bad?

The Virgin Birth of Christ

The virgin birth of Christ is one of the most important doctrines of the Christian Faith.  It is clearly prophesied in Isaiah 7:14  and it is clearly described as  fulfilled in Matthew 1:18-25   and  Luke 1:26-38. If Jesus was not virgin born, we have no Saviour.

 

To deny the Virgin Birth of Christ, or the truth of His miracles, or the power of His blood sacrifice on the cross as the complete and only atonement for our sins, or to deny  His Bodily Resurrection, or the fact that Jesus is the sinless, holy Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity;  is to deny the Doctrine of Christ. 

 

To deny the Doctrine of Christ is to be without God and condemned to Hell.  II John 9-11  This same warning in this little Epistle next to Revelation, also warns us to reject as a Bible teacher anyone who denies the doctrine of Christ.  Don’t give them your support or your encouragement.  Those who do are partakers of their evil deeds.  If you find yourself to be in a church where the doctrine of Christ is ignored or denied, I urge you to get out now and find a church that proclaims it without compromise.   It is impossible for you to receive Christ as your Saviour from sin and at the same time deny who He is.  To deny the doctrine of who He is, is to deny Christ and be lost in your sins and headed for Hell.

 

A Church that denies the doctrine of Christ is part of  Mystery Babylon, the church of Anti-christ that will be left behind after the Rapture of the True Church,  to face the judgment of God in the Great Tribulation.  Read Revelation 17 for a full description of this church and read Revelation 18:1-4 for God’s warning for you to separate yourself from this false system NOW!  To learn more about Mystery Babylon, you can find that topic in my series on PROPHECY.

 

Why is the doctrine of the Virgin Birth so important?

 

Genealogy of Mary

Consider the genealogy of Mary, the mother of Jesus and Joseph, His step-father.   Luke 3 gives us the genealogy of Mary.    Heli in Luke 3:23 is the father-in-law of Joseph. This genealogy  traces  Jesus, the son of Mary,  all the way back through Nathan, the son of David  and back to Adam and to God who made Adam.   This shows us that Jesus was a man in the same sense that you and I are men and women.  He was totally human, though totally sinless.

 

Genealogy of Joseph

In Matthew 1 we have the genealogy of Joseph, the step-father of Jesus.  This genealogy goes back through Solomon, another son of David,   and  continues back to Abraham showing that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s covenant to Abraham found in Genesis 12.

 

The curse of Coniah

However, in Joseph’s genealogy we go back to a king of Judah whose name was Jehoiachin. He was also known as  Jechoniah or Coniah. He only reigned three months and then was taken into Babylonian captivity.  What’s so interesting about Jechoniah or Coniah is that God cursed him and his descendents. That curse is recorded in Jeremiah 22:24-30. That means that no one from Coniah’s descendents could ever sit on  the throne of David as  King and Messiah.   Joseph, the husband of Mary was from Coniah’s line.  So that ruled out Joseph or any son of Joseph from ever being king.

 

Sin nature passed from father to child

If Jesus has been the biological son of Joseph, He could not have been the promised King.  Furthermore, since the sin nature is passed on from father to child  and not from mother to child,  any son of Joseph or any other human father would have inherited a sinful nature. 

 

Therefore, for two reasons Jesus had to be born of a virgin mother.

1. So that He would not inherit a sinful nature from his father.

2. So He would not be barred from the curse of Coniah which was upon Joseph and his sons.

 

Virgin Birth God’s amazing solution

By being virgin born, Jesus was truly man and truly God. As God in human flesh, He was totally sinless and His death and resurrection made possible the one,  final sacrifice for sin for all the sins of the world. Read about that wonderful sacrifice in Hebrews 10.  There it tells how God prepared a sinless, human body, the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the perfect sacrifice for our sins.   Those who have received Christ as their sacrifice for sin are saved.  Those who reject Him are still lost in their sins.  I urge you to trust  Jesus this moment as your sacrifice for sin and discover God’s wonderful salvation from sin. John 1:12

 

January 11, 2009 Posted by | Salvation | Comments Off on The Virgin Birth of Christ

Jesus’ Authority to Cleanse the Temple

In the last week before Jesus was crucified, He went into Jerusalem and turned the religious establishment upside-down by going into the temple and driving out the corrupt money-changers who were in cahoots with the corrupt priests.

 

WHAT RIGHT DID JESUS HAVE TO UPSET THE RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT?

 

In response to these events of Luke 19,  the priests came to Jesus and asked by what authority He acted and spoke and what right did He have to upset their religious establishment?

 

As children, as parents and as citizens we all understand the concept of authority.  Authority denotes power, permission, responsibility, and control. We all exercise and/or submit to human authority.

 

However, Jesus, who is God in human flesh, stands apart from all others when it comes to authority.  Though Luke 2:51 tells us that as a child, Jesus was submissive to His mother and step-father and was respectful to His elders;  as a grown man from the time He commenced His earthly ministry at the age of 30, He exercised authority as no other human.

 

Though submitted to His Heavenly Father, the authority He exercised throughout His ministry, was unlike anyone else. Whatever He did, wherever He went, His power and authority was  absolute and unlimited by any man. No one told Him what to do or where to go or what to say. His authority was absolutely unique.  In Matthew 7:28-29 we read that Jesus spoke as one having authority; in contrast to the teaching of the scribes, which must have been a boring experience to sit through. 

 

In Luke 4:36 we have a sampling of the two Greek words that speak of Jesus power and authority.  Dunamis is the Greek word that speaks of power, a word from which we get the word dynamite.   Exousia is the Greek word for authority.  Jesus had absolute power and absolute authority to do whatever He desired in Bible times and He has that same power and authority today and throughout all eternity.

 

He has authority to save anyone who comes to Him in saving faith. John 1:12

 

He has authority to forgive sins, authority belonging only to God. Matthew 9:1-8

 

He has authority over demon powers.  Matthew 10:1

 

He has authority to lay down His life in death and authority to take it again, which He did when He raised people from the dead and when He Himself arose from the dead. John 10:18

 

He has the keys to death and Hell. Revelations 1:18.  Keys speak of authority.

 

We American like to speak about our rights.  We once had a flag picturing a coiled rattle snake with the words, “Don’t tread on me!”  I love that independent American spirit and have some of it myself.  However, under God, none of us has any rights, but to die and go to hell for our sins.  All we are and all we have is only by the grace of God.

 

The Jewish leaders in that final week before Jesus was crucified recognized and were confounded by Jesus, the personification of absolute power and authority.  As God in human flesh, He never had to ask for permission from anyone for what He did or said. 

 

When you, as a teen, say “I don’t have to listen to my parents or teachers.  I can do whatever I please”, then you are acting as though you were your own god.  By rebelling at authority, you are rebelling against God.

 

Now getting back to the events of Luke 19, when Jesus cleansed the Temple and drove out the money-changers with a whip, He got no permission from human authority.  He was acting by His own power and authority as God.

 

He called the temple, “My House”.  He totally ignored the entire religious system of His day, with it’s corrupt priesthood. He was totally indifferent to their Councils, and opinions.  Can you see why the chief priests and elders were furious with Him and wanted to kill Him?

 

Understand that Jesus was not received, accredited or approved by the world.  John 1:11-12 and 15:18-21 teach this.  It was also prophesied 700 years earlier by Isaiah in Isaiah 53.

 

With this background, we now approach Luke 20:1-2 as the chief priests, Annas and Caiaphas, and the scribes approached Jesus and asked by what authority He did these things. They were the accepted authorities of Judaism, and they were furious with this intruder upsetting their establishment.  They were hell-bent on silencing Him forever.

 

JESUS’ ANSWER TO HIS ENEMIES

 

When they asked Jesus by what authority He spoke and acted, Jesus answered them by whose authority did John the Baptist preach and baptize?  Was it authority give to Him by God or by men? Luke 20:3-4

 

They well knew the answer to Jesus’ question.  They had been there three years earlier when John baptized Jesus and they heard the voice from Heaven as God the Father spoke to His Son, Jesus,  ” Thou art My Son in whom I am well pleased!”  Mark 1:1-11  Matthew 3:16-17

 

They had heard John the Baptist announce Jesus as “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:19-36

 

Those wicked priests, scribes and Pharisees knew exactly who Jesus was and why He had come to earth; but in their rebellion, they hated and opposed Him throughout His three year ministry among them.  They refused to receive Him as their Messiah and Saviour from sin.  In their rebellion they asked Him this question about the source of His authority.

 

They reasoned among themselves concerning Jesus’ question and answered Him nothing.  So Luke 20:8 informs us that He was not going to answer their question.  They already knew the answer and they refused it. Furthermore, Proverbs 26:4 instructs us to not answer a fool according to his folly.

 

JESUS WAS APPROVED BY HIS HEAVENLY FATHER

 

Though Jesus was not approved by the religious leaders of Jerusalem, as we’ve been noting ever since Luke 10.  John 7:40-53 and John 1:11-12 also confirm this rejection.    Acts 2:22 teaches us that God approved of His Son, as evidenced by His signs and wonders.

 

THE APOSTLES WERE ALSO APPROVED OF GOD

 

The Book of Acts is a record of the beginnings of the early church.  The Apostles, Peter and John preached Jesus, and the enemies of Christ immediately tried to silence them by questioning their authority to preach, as recorded in Acts 4:1-7.

 

Peter answers his critics in verse 8-12.  The enemies of the Gospel responded by threatening them in verse 13-18  to stop preaching or suffer the consequences. Peter responded to the threatening by declaring to them “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye: for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

 

In Acts 5 we see God confirming the authority and message of the Apostles, by killing two lying Christians right on the spot.  Take time to read this very interesting and sobering story.  It resulted in a reverential fear of God throughout the church, as we read in Acts 5:11.  Verse 12 of that chapter tells of how the Apostles moved forward with signs and wonders from Heaven confirming their authority.   The Apostles, as well as Gospel preachers today, have God’s authorization and responsibility  to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world,  Read that Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20.

 

Paul, the special called Apostle to the Gentiles declares his call and  authorization from God in  Galatians 1:1-18. 

 

Paul’s message of the grace of God infuriated the Judaizers and they repeatedly tried to silence and even kill him,  just as Jesus infuriated the scribes and Pharisees, leading to His crucifixion.

 

WHAT IS BIBLICAL ORDINATION TODAY?

 

Just as Jesus was confirmed by His Heavenly Father at His baptism and  just as the Apostles were ordained and instructed by Christ to carry His message to the world; so God calls and ordains men today to preach the Gospel,

 

Ordination today is the recognition and affirmation of an examining council of pastors and elders that the candidate has been called  of God  and approved Biblically and is personally qualified to be a pastor or missionary.

 

That approval is not based merely on an education or college degree; but because the candidate evidences a clear grasp of the Gospel message and has an overall understanding of the Bible. It is also based on the evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit in his life and ministry.  They have a God-given ability to understand and clearly declare the message of the Bible, as declared in II Timothy 3:16-17.

 

It is then that the candidate is set apart for the ministry in a public service by the laying on of hands by the examining pastors. See I Timothy 4:14.

 

A true preacher does not seek the approval of the world, Paul reminds us in Galatians 1:10.  Rather he is approved of God as He faithfully continues to study and expound the Scriptures, as we read in II Timothy 2:15.

 

Not only does he preach the Scriptures, but by God’s grace he lives the Scriptures so that he cannot be condemned as being hypocritical or insincere.   I Timothy 4:7 tells us that he has a good reputation in the world.

Philippians 2:14-16 teaches that we are to live without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.

 

As the world grows darker as they turn from the light of the Gospel and the preaching of God’s Word, may God raise up a new generation of preachers who, like the Apostles of the first generation, will turn this upside down world right side up with the truth of His Word.  Is God speaking to  you about this?

January 11, 2009 Posted by | Triumphal Entry | Comments Off on Jesus’ Authority to Cleanse the Temple

The Plot Thickens

In this article we are dealing with Luke 20:19-26. Earlier in this chapter we saw Jesus revealing the plans of the Jewish religious leaders to bring Him to trial before the Roman authorities as an insurrectionist.  Jesus used the Parable of the Vineyard to expose the evil religious leaders who hated Him  and wanted to have Him executed.

 

The leaders understood the meaning of the Parable and this intensified their desire to see Him dead.  They were furious that this Parable of the Vineyard exposed them as the evil vineyard keepers who would kill Jesus, the Son of the Vineyard Owner, God.  If you’ve not yet done it, it would be well to read the erlier articles in this series, before you continue any further.

 

 THE JEW’S TRAP

 

These Jewish leaders were doing everything they could to catch Jesus in something He said that might sound treasonous against Rome, so that the Roman Empire would bring Jesus to trial and execute Him.  So in Luke 20:19-22.  they confronted Jesus on the matter of paying taxes to Rome.

 

These enemies of Christ hated paying taxes to Rome as much as anyone in Israel; so this attack against Jesus was rather hypocritical.

 

They approached Jesus and attempted to flatter Him by addressing Him as Teacher, a term of high respect, even though they despised Him and wanted Him dead.   So they addressed Him as “Teacher, we know you are a true teacher come from God.”  That statement was true, but they said it as flattery with utter contempt for Him. Then they asked the question,  “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 

 

They hoped this would provoke an anti-Roman statement  from Him so they could report Him to the Roman authorities and have Him arrested. Once arrested, the people would realize He was not the Messiah and they would quit following Him.

 

Jesus perceived their craftiness it says in Luke 20:23.  In Matthew’s account of the story in Matthew 22:18 their craftiness is called wickedness.

 

JESUS’ ANSWERED THEIR QUESTION CONCERNING TAXES.

 

Jesus called for someone to show Him a denarius, a Roman gold or silver coin, worth about a day’s wages.  These coins were minted between 300 BC to about 300 AD,  a period of about 600 years.  The coins bore the likeness of the long line of Caesars and were considered idolatrous to carry.

 

When someone produced a coin, Jesus announced in Luke 20:25,  “Render unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s and unto God the things which be God’s.”  The word “render” means pay  back to whom it is owed.

 

WHAT DO WE OWE OUR GOVERNMENT?

 

We must support the government under which God in His sovereignty has placed us; whether it is an anti-Christian government which we eschew  or whether it is a government which reflects our Christian values.  Romans 13:1-7 clearly teaches us that we are to respect, honor and pray for our leaders and pay our taxes, even if we are opposed to how the money is being used. 

 

Of course, we must do all in our power to elect leaders who most reflect our values and we must follow the instructions of II Chronicles 7:14  and plead with God to return our nation to the godly intent of the founders of our Republic.  

 

WHAT DO WE OWE GOD?

 

Our allegiance is to Him first.   We owe Him our bodies and our lives, Romans 12:1-2  and I Corinthians 6:19-20 teach us.  When it comes to a decision between God and man,  Peter reminds us in Acts 5:29 “We ought obey God, rather than man”, even if it means our lives.

 

Daniel and his three Hebrew friends, Shadrack Meschach and Abednego, were willing to die for God before they would bow to an image, even though the Emperor Nebuchadnezzar commanded it.  Read of their boldness and courage and loyalty to God in Daniel 1:1-14,  3:13-21, 6:10.

 

The Apostles and early Christian preachers were willing to die as martyrs before they would disobey God. See Acts 5:18-19,  7:54-60.  16:19-23.  For the glorious end to this last story finish reading Acts 16.

 

We not only owe God our allegiance, but we owe Him our families. God gave our children to us and not to the State.  In this anti-God environment in the school system,  it is imperative that we teach our children at home or in Christian schools, rather than delivering them to the anti-god philosophy of the State.  Read in Exodus 2:1-10  and again in Hebrews 11:23 of how Moses’ mother protected her child as long as she could from the evil influences of the Pharaoh of Egypt.   Read in I Samuel 1 of how Hannah gave her little boy to God’s leaders to train and prepare for his ministry as a prophet.

 

BEWARE OF BEING SPOILED, (ROBBED) OF YOUR CHILDREN

 

In Colossians 2:8 we are warned to beware lest anyone spoil (rob) us of our children through philosophy or vain deceit.   We owe God, not the State,  our life, our family, our church, our Christian school.  They belong to Him and not to the State.   We derive our authority from Him; not the State. Sunday School, church worship services, prayer meetings, evangelistic efforts, Bible studies, are all authorized by God and not by the State.

 

Thank God that we still live in an America where our religious liberties are protected by the First Amendment of our Constitution.  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

 

JESUS BOLDLY SET HIS FACE AS A FLINT

 

Thank God that though Jesus could have escaped His enemies and His crucifixion in any number of ways, He boldly set His face as a flint to go to the cross and endure His sufferings and death for our sins.  It wasn’t the Roman soldiers nor the Jews who took His life.  He laid it down in submission to His Father’s will.  God, in His sovereignty, accomplished it, using the Roman empire and the Jews to carry out His will.  Isaiah 53:4,10 teaches this.   I Timothy 2:5-6 teaches us that Jesus willingly gave His life as a ransom for our sins.  Then He arose from the tomb  three days later for our justification.   Rejoice in our salvation God has given us through His Son.  Do you know Him as your Saviour and are you rejoicing in Him today?

January 10, 2009 Posted by | Jesus | Comments Off on The Plot Thickens

The Corner Stone

This message is a continuation of the previous one, “The Parable of the Vineyard”.  It’s essential that you read that article first in order to have the background for this one.

 

Do you recall that Jesus stated that the unfaithful vine growers would face  two disastrous consequences for their mistreatment of the prophets and the murder of the Son of the owner of the Vineyard?

 

First, they would be destroyed and secondly, the vineyard would be turned over to new vineyard keepers.

 

Israel’s leaders were destroyed in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and killed the inhabitants.  As Jesus had prophesied, the temple and the city was so decimated that not one stone was left upon another. The genealogical records were destroyed so that future Jews did not even know from which tribe they came.

 

The Vineyard, would be cared for by new keepers. Those keepers would be the Apostles of Christ and all those evangelists, pastors and teachers who have taught the Apostle’s Doctrine, the Doctrine of Christ, to  Christ’s Church down through the centuries.

 

The new Vineyard would be composed of regenerated Jews and gentiles who would together be a part of a brand new entity, known as the Church, which would no longer be known as Jews or gentiles.  The Church is not a dual monstrosity composed of Jewish Christians and gentile Christians. Rather,  it is composed of converted Jews and converted gentiles who together form a brand new people known simply as the Church. Read Ephesians chapter two to get this truth firmly established in your thinking.

 

Read Galatians to understand that nothing from the Jewish Ceremonial Law, including circumcision nor the observance of  Sabbaths and Feast Days are carried over into the Church. It was those Jews who kept pestering Paul and confusing his converts by trying to bring Judaism into the Church  that turned out to be Paul’s worst enemies. 

 

Since 70 AD the Jews have been displaced by the church.  Note, that I did not say replaced, but displaced. God still has future plans for the Jews; but they will not begin to unfold until the Church has been caught up to Heaven in what is commonly known as the Rapture.  The rapture is the next prophetic event on God’s calendar. 

 

Once the Church is caught up, the rule of Anti-christ will begin and with it the time of  “Jacob’s Trouble”.  These will be  horrible days for dwellers upon this earth, including the Jews. 

 

It’s during this time that 144,000 Jews will be converted and become  testimonies for Christ.  Their story is told in Revelation 7 and 14.  One thing that is amazing about these 144,000 Jews it that there will be exactly 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel.  Only God could know and separate this exact number of Jews from each of the twelve tribes since all those records were destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans.  They are faithful witnesses and as a result of their testimonies,  many Jews will turn to Jesus their Messiah.

 

Read Zechariah 8-12 to learn of the conversion of Jews and their future blessing during the Millennial reign of Christ on earth. To get the big prophetic picture, I encourage you to read through my series on PROPHESY on this web site.

 

Now, let’s learn about the identity of the Corner stone Jesus talked about in Luke 20:17-18.  In those verses we learn the Corner stone is rejected and we learn that those who come into contact with this Stone; whether they fall on it or it falls on them, are crushed to powder.

 

Turn now to Psalm 118. Here’s a wonderful song that was sung by the Jews. In verse 22 we learn it is about the Corner stone. Though it was a perfect stone, it was rejected by the builders.  That’s a prophesy of the rejection of Christ by the Jews.

 

In Isaiah 8:13-15 we learn that the stone is the Lord of Hosts. Go now to Isaiah 28:16 and learn that this corner stone is a sure foundation stone in Zion, which speaks of Jerusalem.  We also learn it is precious and that those who trust that stone will not need to fear or flee from the enemy.

 

I don’t think it is difficult to conclude that this Corner Stone is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, as Ephesians 2:11-22 makes so clear.

 

Now that you have been confronted by Christ, your choice as a Jew or a gentile, is to receive Christ as your Saviour and Messiah and be blessed, or reject Him and be crushed to powder one day.

January 5, 2009 Posted by | Jesus | Comments Off on The Corner Stone

Cleansing the Temple

The Jewish people were looking for a Messiah who would deliver them from Roman oppression. They saw Jesus as the perfect Messiah; one who could feed and heal the people miraculously and one who could overthrow the Roman Empire and enable them to be free people. 

 

That was not Jesus’ agenda. Instead, He concluded His earthly ministry as He had throughout,  by concentrating His attention and efforts on dealing with the perverted worship in the Temple. It would be helpful for you to read the accounts of the cleansing of the Temple as found in Matthew 21:12-16,  Luke 19:45-48. This was not the first time Jesus had cleansed the Temple. Three years earlier as Jesus commenced His earthly ministry,  He had cleansed the temple, as recorded in John 2:13-17.

 

THE FOCUS OF JESUS’ MINISTRY

 

The spiritual relationship of Israel to God was always Jesus’ primary concern. Political and social issues were secondary and incidental. His spiritual concerns for His people are found in His Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in Matthew chapters 5-7 and in Luke 6. There we find His concerns for His spiritual Kingdom that dealt with heart issues, more than outward conduct issues.  In fact, a prophecy of Christ in Psalm 69:9 speaks of Him being “eaten up” or consumed with zeal for the honor and glory of His Father’s House, the Temple. 

 

SOCIAL ISSUES

 

When Liberalism began to permeate the churches of America in the mid-nineteenth century, they replaced the Gospel of salvation through the shed blood of Christ, with a social gospel which was concerned only with social issues, rather than spiritual issues. There is a place in Biblical missions for social issues: meeting physical needs of food, clothing, education and health needs of people; but we cannot afford to ignore the spiritual needs.

 

When our lives are centered on social issues and ignore spiritual issues, we become as irrelevant as those who would attempt to arrange the deck chairs on the sinking Titanic.  Social issues must always be a means to an end. They must never be the end in themselves, but as opportunities to express love to people that their hearts may be  opened to the Word of God. After all, what good is it to feed and clothe and educate lost sinners who will spend eternity in Hell?

 

If Jesus came back today, where would He focus His attention?  Not on political issues and not even moral issues such as abortion and crime and immorality in the world. Rather His concern would be for the purity and blessing of His Church that through His Church the world would be blessed. That’s obvious from reading Revelation 2 and 3. In these two chapters Christ shows His burden for the spiritual condition of His churches of that time, which reflects His concern for churches throughout the past 2000 years known as the Church Age.

 

WHAT ANGERED JESUS?

 

The Jerusalem temple and grounds, His Father’s house, had been turned into a crooked money-making business scheme by the priests who took a cut from the profits of the business men who sold the livestock for sacrifices and  exchanged money for profit for a special coin needed for the temple tax.  As bad as the stench of the animals was, the stench of the moral corruption was even more repulsive.

 

WHAT DID JESUS DO WITH THESE CORRUPT BUSINESS MEN?

 

Did He go to them quietly and politely and say,  “You know, I really would appreciate it if you would move your businesses out of the temple area?  No, that’s not what He did.  Instead in righteous indignation and disgust He physically forced those who sold animals and those who exchanged money to flee, threw over their tables and chairs and freed the live stock, knocked over the crates of doves to be sold and broke them open and within a few minutes doves were flying, animals were stampeding and  everyone was scrambling to get out of Jesus’ way and money was scattered all over the place. As they fled before this powerful and authoritative Jesus, they heard Him shout, “Is it not written My House shall be called of all nations the House of Prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!”

 

WHY DID JESUS DO THIS?

 

Not only was Jesus dealing with sacrilege and corruption in the old system, but He was also doing away with the whole animal sacrificial system that would be obsolete in less than a week when He, as the Lamb of God, would be slaughtered on the cross once for all for all the sins of the world.

 

HIS PHYSICAL POWER AND AUTHORITY

 

The physical strength and authority He showed that day is just a sampling of the power and authority He will exercise over the whole world when He returns to Jerusalem in His glorified state for His Millennial reign, as prophesied in Psalm 2. There it says He will “break the power of His enemies with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”  You can read more about this under the category  PROPHECY on this Hidden Treasures web site.

 

THE TEMPLE DESTROYED

 

The Temple had become so corrupt that God had Rome destroy it in 70 AD when Rome destroyed Jerusalem.  The Temple has not been rebuilt in over 2000 years; however,  God has plans for it to be rebuilt more glorious than ever when He returns to reign during the Millennium. The prophecy of that Millennial temple is found in Ezekiel 40-48.

 

WE CHRISTIANS ARE HIS TEMPLE TODAY

 

I Corinthians 6:19-20 explains that we believers who have been born again are His temple today.  As God dwelt in the temple in the Holy of Holies, so today He dwells in the bodies of Christians.  We are God’s holy property and must not  defile our bodies with sin.  When we sin, we must confess our sins to God and seek to gain victory over sin by feeding on God’s Word and surrendering ourselves to the control of the indwelling Holy Spirit. 

 

We, who are His temples, meet together weekly in gatherings we call churches.  The Church is not really the building, but the Christians who gather in the building  or in secret  in some lands where Christianity is forbidden.

 

We worship together; singing praises to God, praying to Him, hearing the teaching and proclaiming of His Word, the Bible, and  supporting financially ministries that further the Gospel of Christ.

 

But even as we attend church, we must never forget that it is our bodies that are the Temple and holy property of God and, therefore, it is essential that we not allow sin to reign in our lives.

 

The Church. then, is the gathering together of believers,  redeemed saints. Christ, not some man, is the Head of each local church and is Head of His Church universal.

 

Various denominations, having different understandings of Scriptures, organize their churches differently, but most Protestant churches call pastors and elect elders and deacons to lead and set examples of godliness for the church family. 

 

What, then, should the Christian’s relationship be to his church?

 

1. RESPECT AND REVERENCE IT

 

As true Americans respect and reverence the Capitol and the White House in Washington DC  and  Independence Hall in Philadelphia as well as many other historical and sacred  landmarks, so we respect and show reverence when we enter our churches.  One way we show respect is by dressing appropriately, just as we would dress appropriately to meet with the President or go into a court room before a judge.

 

At the same time, we need to avoid dressing to make a fashion statement or to show off and call attention to ourselves.  One can call attention to himself that way or by purposely coming in dressed as a bum or a tramp.  The poor and the wealthy should equally be received without even a hint of partiality. James in James 2 deals with this topic at length. In I Timothy 2:9-10 Paul deals with the topic of women’s hair and dress styles. Ladies, I encourage you to go to the category VIRTUOUS WOMAN for more on this topic.

 

In either case, one can call attention to himself and away from Christ by trying to look like a movie star going to the Oscars or by trying to appear humble by dressing and smelling like a bum.  In either case it show disrespect for Christ. 

 

Now understand that if a genuinely poor person enters our church looking and smelling shabby, let us reach out to him or her in love and do what we can to meet their needs and make them feel genuinely welcomed.

 

I remember a time when my wife and I used to pick up little children in our car to take them to church.  Our two sons were still pre-school age.  My wife remembers watching fleas jump from one of the kids we picked up to our own little ones.  Of course, when we got home after the service,  she gave them a thorough bath, getting rid of the fleas.  

 

Showing reverence does not mean that we have long solemn faces or put on cloaks of false piety. Attending Church should be a happy, joyful occasion. We can smile and even laugh and be light hearted, but there is also a time to be quiet and listen and reflect on the preaching of God’s Word.  We respect the preaching of God’s Word and avoid doing anything and we keep our children from doing anything that would distract others from hearing God’s Word.

 

Certainly church should not be a place where we make connections for business deals and to take advantage of others to make money.

 

2. CARE FOR IT

 

The building or sanctuary where we meet is not an end in itself.  Therefore, we don’t pour money into it as though the beauty and grandeur of it were an end in itself.  Rather we do what we can to make it a comfortable place to sing God’s praises and to hear the teaching and preaching of the Word of God.   Keeping it clean and serviceable should be the joint effort of  each member as well as the custodian.

 

The buildings and grounds are the first impression for visitors. A messy looking building and grounds will reflect badly on Christ and His Church. But even more important is the atmosphere.  All of us, including our youth, are responsible to show genuine love and kindness to one another and to help visitors feel comfortable and welcome.

 

3. USE IT

 

Take advantage of the teaching and preaching opportunities to learn God’s Word and grow spiritually.  What good is the preaching if there are no listeners?

 

Every Christian is gifted by the Holy Spirit with spiritual gifts to help edify the Body of Christ.  Discover your gift and use it; not to make yourself feel important, but to be a blessing to others.  I Corinthians 12-14 and Ephesians 4 are good chapters to learn about the spiritual gifts and their use and their abuses.

 

4. FINALLY, PROTECT YOUR CHURCH

 

Protect your church from gossip.  Refuse to listen to it. Refuse to spread it.

 

Protect your church from apostasy,  If you suspect it, talk with  your pastor about it.  If he refuses to discuss it, take the matter to your church leaders, which would include elders in some churches and deacons in others.  The New Testament is filled with warnings concerning apostasy and how to deal with it.  II Timothy 3:1-17, 4:1-8.  II John 7-11,  Jude  3-13,  II Peter 2:1-22,  and Romans 16:17-18 as well as warnings from Jesus in Matthew 7:13-23 and Revelation 2-3.

 

May we be consumed with zeal for the purity of  His Church as it consumed Jesus for His Temple.

 

January 5, 2009 Posted by | Triumphal Entry | Comments Off on Cleansing the Temple

Jesus’ Parable of the Vineyard

As we come to Luke 20 we continue our study of the final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry prior to His crucifixion. He has made His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.  He has cleansed the temple of its corruption and He has taken over the temple; teaching in it daily.  The chief priests and scribes are furious for He has ignored  their authority and destroyed their livelihood.  In verses 9-18  He preaches His final parable which directly attacks the corrupt Jewish spiritual leaders. This same parable is also taught in Matthew 21:33-46

 

The Parable of the Vineyard

 

A man planted a vineyard and then turned it over to tenant vine growers to care for it while He was absent.  At harvest times He sent servants to receive some of the fruit for the owner.  Three times He did this and each time, the servants were mistreated and sent away empty-handed.

 

Finally, the owner sent His Son with the hopes that He would be treated better.  The vine growers, recognizing He was the owner’s Son and heir to the vineyard, killed Him with the hopes the vineyard would one day be their’s.

 

Then Jesus draws His listeners into the story.  He asks them what should be done with the wicked vine growers? In the Matthew 21 account, they rightfully conclude that the owner of the Vineyard should destroy the wicked vineyard workers. In the Luke 20 account as they think on the consequences for Judaism in that day, they cry out, “God forbid!” They are stunned and shocked as they think what it means for Judaism.

 

Jesus then answer His question. The owner will come to the vineyard and destroy the wicked vine growers and turn His vineyard over to new, trustworthy vine keepers.

 

The Meaning of the Parable of the Vineyard

 

It’s quite obvious, is it not?   The Vineyard is Israel and God is the owner. That is taught repeatedly in the Old Testament.  See  Isaiah 5:1-7,  Jeremiah 2:21 and Psalm 80:8, 15-16.

 

God turned the care of His vineyard over to the spiritual leaders, the Levitical priesthood.  Often He sent His prophets to gather fruit for Him. Each time the prophets were mistreated by the spiritual leaders, as II Chronicles 36:14-17 described.   Finally, in the fullness of time, He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus,  to gather spiritual fruit from Israel and they ended up killing Him.

 

What Should be Done to these Evil Vine Growers?

 

Jesus asks His listeners this question. In stunned silence they listen to Jesus answer His own question.  He will destroy the vine growers and turn the vineyard over to faithful vine growers who will produce fruit for God’s glory.  As Jesus announces this judgment on Israel’s spiritual leaders,  they cry out in horror.  NO, NO !  May it never be so! 

 

Why did the listeners respond so negatively?  They were starting to comprehend the full meaning of the parable.  They were hearing Jesus pronounce coming destruction on Israel.  Jesus prophecy was fulfilled forty years later in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed the city of Jerusalem and annihilated the inhabitants of the city. 

 

Furthermore, the transition had already begun.  He prophesied that He would turn His vineyard over to new vine keepers who would produce fruit for the glory of God, the owner.  These new custodians of the vineyard were already beginning to take over. They were the twelve Disciples spoken of in Luke 9:1-6.  They were also the 70 other disciples of Jesus, spoken of in Luke 10:1. 

 

Through the conversion and ministry of Saul of Tarsus, described in Acts beginning in chapter 9,  Saul, later renamed Paul, became the Apostle to the gentiles,  Together, these new vineyard keepers began a ministry that continues to this day; that of winning Jews and gentiles to Christ and thus building the spiritual Kingdom of Christ as they build His Church.

 

Read Ephesians 2:11-22 and note that there are only three groups of people in the world:  Jews, gentiles and Christ’s Church.  His Church is composed of converted Jews and gentiles, who are no longer known by those names. Once you are converted to Christ, the Holy Spirit baptizes you into His Church, His Spiritual Body. You are no longer a Jew or a gentile. Though you may have Jewish blood in your veins, your entrance into God’s blessing is not through your Jewishness, but through your new relationship as part of Christ Body, Christ’s Church. Read Paul’s testimony in Philippians 3 to see what Paul thought of his Jewishness as a help in getting him into Heaven, once He was converted to Christ.  It will shock you!

 

And so. in the closing days of Jesus’ ministry on earth,  He met with His disciples in the Upper Room  and in John 14-17.  There He prepared His disciples for their new ministry of bearing fruit for Christ through the power of His indwelling Spirit whom He sent to His Church on the Day of Pentecost after He had ascended back to Heaven.

 

We Christians in this twenty-first century continue the ministry and work of the Apostles as we preach the Gospel and feed the saints so they can bear the Fruit of the Spirit and thus glorify our Heavenly Vineyard Owner, God Himself.   We are the new stewards of the mysteries of God, as described in I Corinthians 4:1-2,  Ephesians 3:1-11  and 4:11-13.

 

As Paul passed on the truth to young Pastor Timothy. He entrusted him with it, as mentioned in I Timothy 6:20 and he challenged him to pass it on to the next generation in II Timothy 2:1-2.   Through my pastoral ministry and through this web site, I continue to pass the message of salvation and the challenge to work in Christ’s vineyard on to my congregation and  to you.

 

Lord willing, we will continue this message next time as we deal with the cornerstone Jesus talked about in this 20th chapter of Luke. In the meantime, Truth has been passed on to you.  You now have the responsibility of dealing with it by obeying what you understand or ignoring it and facing the consequences.

January 2, 2009 Posted by | Jesus | Comments Off on Jesus’ Parable of the Vineyard

Beholding A City

As a background to what you are going to read in this article, I encourage you to read first the  Luke 19:28-44 account of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

 

When Jesus came into Jerusalem, He did not weep in self pity for what was going to happen to Him within a week’s time; rather, He wept for individuals, for a city and for a nation.  The reason He wept is because He beheld them differently from the way we behold people, cities and nations. He beheld them as sinners headed for destruction and as sheep having no shepherds.

 

When we go into big cities, such as New York City,  Washington DC or San Francisco, or even our own city;  we tend to primarily observe the buildings, the works of art and the culture of the city.  When we go shopping, our focus is usually on our interests. That’s perfectly normal.  We seldom look at crowds of people and see most of them as lost souls headed for destruction.

 

When Jesus beheld crowds.  He discerned the souls of men and wept in concern for them.

 

EXAMPLES OF HOW JESUS BEHELD PEOPLE

 

Read Mark 10:17-27 to see how Jesus beheld a young ruler.

Read Mark 12:41-44 to see how Jesus beheld a widow’s benevolence.

Read Luke 22:54-62 to see how Jesus beheld Peter after His denial.

Read Matthew 9:36 to see Jesus’ compassionate heart for the crowds whom He saw as lost, scattered sheep without a shepherd.

 

CONSIDER JERUSALEM

 

As you reread the text in Luke 19:28-44 note some observations concerning Jerusalem.

 

It was a city of opportunity

 

Luke 13:34-35 informs us that no other city in the world has had as much reason and as much opportunity to prosper and enjoy peace, as Jerusalem. Of all the nations of the world, God saw fit to send His Son Jesus into the tiny nation of Israel.  Of all the cities of the world, He came to Jerusalem  and to the little villages in the land of Israel.  Of all the people groups of the world, He came to the Jews.

 

Jerusalem was a city rebellious towards God.

 

Though Jesus lived and ministered among them for thirty years, they were not aware of God’s visitation upon them, nor have they been aware of His visitation throughout the past 2000 years. Luke 18:42 speaks of how  they rejected Jesus and the peace He offered them. During this time they have suffered desolation. Observe Jesus’ broken heart over them as He prophesied their perpetual desolation in Luke 13:34-35. Read there of how one day they will recognize and accept Him as their Messiah.

 

They praised and commended Jesus and He condemned them. Why?

 

Jesus was not impressed with the praise of the Jews at His Triumphal Entry in His last week before His crucifixion because their praise was superficial. They simply wanted a political Messiah to deliver them from Roman oppression; not a Saviour who would save them from their sins.

 

Three years earlier, John the Baptist had introduced Jesus to them as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  They were not interested in Him as a Saviour from sin.  Their praise of Jesus as He entered Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey, was a sort of Jesus Mania. “Hurrah for Jesus!”

 

Note in Luke 19:37-44 that while they praised Him,  He condemned them.

 

Nor is Jesus impressed with the modern day Jesus mania expressed in rock concerts in His name.  That sort of thing began with the rebellious Hippie culture of the 60’s and 70’s and with the blasphemous rock opera, Jesus Christ, Superstar. 

 

That Jesus mania continues today in churches in  what is called worship. In many churches, that “worship” rejects Biblical preaching against sin  and of the need of Jesus’ blood sacrifice for sin.  It rejects the need for holy living.  It rejects any preaching that makes them feel uncomfortable and they brand such preaching as negative and legalistic.  It is rather, a Jesus Pep Rally.

 

Young couples living together unmarried can feel comfortable in such “worship services”; but are offended when preachers declare from God’s Word in passages such as Hebrews 13:4 that such conduct will be judged by God.

 

Such Christians (whether they are or not, only God knows) do not understand the truth of Psalm 138:2  that God wants His Word magnified even over His Name.  Only when God’s Word is magnified in our lives can we truly worship Jesus.

 

I would not dare to attempt to judge the hearts of Christians who claim they are inspired to love Jesus by the pounding beat of rock music. I only wonder why such Christians have turned their back on centuries of varied, beautiful music that draws hearts to worship Jesus and His blood sacrifice for sin. They claim it is too old fashioned for them.  How sad that churches, aiming to please everyone, have to cater to the older generation in one service and cater to the younger generation in a different service.

 

God never meant for generations to be divided in worship of Christ. There was certainly no trace of that division fifty years ago when I was a teen.  We teens enjoyed and were blessed by the same hymns and Gospel songs the adults enjoyed.   Sure, we teens had our Gospel choruses we loved to sing, but the adults enjoyed them almost as much as we did.  The point is there was no generation gap in church. 

 

Listen to the solemn warning of the very last two verses in the Old Testament. Malachi 4:5-6 tells us that before Jesus returns, He is going to send the prophet Elijah to restore the rift between generations. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall  turn the heart of the father to the children, and the heart of the children to their father, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. 

 

Did you hear what Malachi said? He said that unless the generation gap is healed, God is going to smite this earth with a curse.  I think we are seeing that curse today.

 

Whereas the Palm Sunday crowd were excited about Jesus conquering their Roman oppressors; Jesus was preaching a message of pending disaster and doom from their Romans oppressors.  They were a city doomed for destruction  and they were not even aware of God’s visitation.

 

Not only is Jerusalem a city of opportunity and a city of rebellion towards God, but they are

 

A City of Promise.

 

In Genesis 22  we read of Abraham being called to offer his son as a sacrifice on a Hill called Moriah.  You remember the story.  As Abraham was about to plunge the knife into his son, Isaac’s heart, God stopped him and provided a ram as a substitute.  Both Isaac, as the submissive son to his Father’s will and the ram as a substitute sacrifice; speak of Jesus Christ, the Son submitted to His Father’s will and the sacrifice who offered Himself as the perfect and final sacrifice for our sins.   The Hill Moriah is the very place where Jerusalem was later built and it was the very spot upon which the temple was built and sacrifices were offered for centuries.  I encourage you to read the full story in Genesis 22 and again in Hebrews 11:8-14

 

For further prophecies concerning Jerusalem  read Micah 4:1-2  and finally Zechariah 14 which tells of how Jerusalem will one day be the capital and holy city through whom God’s blessing comes when Jesus returns to reign over the whole earth. To get the full picture,  go to my series on PROPHECY on this web site.

 

Finally, Jerusalem is the true Eternal City.

 

Normally, we think historically of Rome as being the “eternal city.”  But that is not true.  One day Rome will be destroyed during the Tribulation.  You can read of her destruction as the center of world commerce and the destruction of the ecumenical church in Revelation 17 and 18.

 

Rather, Jerusalem is the true eternal city. After Jesus catches up believers in the Rapture, and after the seven years of Tribulation have run their course on this earth,  then Jesus is returning to this earth to reign over the whole world from the city of Jerusalem.  One thousand years later, after this earth is destroyed,  God is going to make a new Heaven and new earth and the Heavenly City of the New Jerusalem, spoken of in Revelation 21,  will exist forever.

 

As you reflect on what you have just read, consider your city and the cities around the world.  When we think of cities we think of multitudes of people. When you see cities, what do you see?  Do you only see the culture and the business opportunities,  or do you see the masses of people lost and condemned to hell?  Do you see the masses as lost sheep having no shepherd? 

 

Luke 19:41 tells us that when Jesus saw the people He was moved with compassion and wept over them, even as He was riding into the city on a donkey to be crucified within the week.  It says He wept.  This was not the weeping of sadness for Lazarus and his sisters in John 11:35.  This is a different Greek word that describes Jesus as being overcome with agonizing  sobbing that shook His whole body.  That’s how observing sin-sick people affected Jesus and that’s how it ought to affect us as Christians.

 

How are we attempting to connect with our city, our sin-sick dying nation, and a lost hurting world?  Are our hearts broken?  They ought to be.  Will you surrender to Christ your Lord and allow Him to break your heart and use you to reach the lost?

 

Rejection of Jesus was catastrophic for the Jews. 

 

Within forty years the inhabitants of Jerusalem were surrounded and starved out by the Roman invaders.  Then they went into the city and plundered it, leaving not one stone upon another.

 

Rejection of Jesus is just as catastrophic for you today.  It won’t be long before you face death and the judgment of God for your sins. Will you receive Him as your Saviour now or reject Him as the Jews did two thousand years ago?

 

Christian friend, we live each day in a sinful, materialistic temporal world doomed for destruction.  Are you living in the light of your eternal Home in Heaven?  Are you, as Abraham in Hebrews 11:8-10,  looking for  your eternal city described in Revelation 21?

January 1, 2009 Posted by | Triumphal Entry | Comments Off on Beholding A City