'And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. - Hebrews 10:24, 25
One hundred years ago, 1893, witnessed a remarkable event in Chicago. A world's fair, the World's Columbian Exposition, celebrated the 400th anniversary of the landing of Christopher Columbus in the new world. People flocked to the exposition by thousands. Over 50 new buildings were erected in a 666-acre park setting.
A Parliament of Religions
Among the crowds coming were two very disparate religious groups, each holding their first convention ever. By far the larger of the two was the World Parliament of Religions, bringing together not only Christians of every hue, but such distantly removed bodies as Buddhists, Brahmins, Hindus, Shintoists and Mohammedans.
While the aim was not unity but greater understanding, the net effect was to provide a forum for the non-Christian religions to soundly criticize Christianity in general and the shortcomings of the theology of Christian missionaries in particular.
Plans were laid for a follow-up conference in 1900, but that apparently fell through. However, this year a centennial conference is again being held in Chicago with an expected attendance of some 5,000 delegates including such dignitaries as Mother Theresa of India and the Dalai Lama of Tibet.
The past one hundred years has seen much in inter-denominational meetings with a more ecumenical tone. The Federation of Churches gave way to the World Council of Churches. Bemoaning the liberal attitude of this body, many Bible believing denominations formed councils of their own. One of these, the fundamentalist International Council of Churches, representing hundreds of denominations, has plans for its own conference in Cape May, New Jersey, in June. Some 4,000 delegates are expected.
Pope John Paul II, continuing his own brand of religious statesmanship, will be paying another visit to the United States in July with one of the aims being the furtherance of Christian unity.
While appreciating the desires of the various branches of the Christian community to become closer attuned to each other and unite, the sincere Christian must ask himself whether this unity is based on a genuine respect and search for truth or merely a tolerance of opposing viewpoints a compromise of conscience for the desire of greater mutual cooperation.
The other group that flocked to Chicago was much smaller in number-only about 360 in all. These were assembling for the first convention of the Bible Student movement except for a series of gatherings for the Memorial season in Allegheny from 1889-1892.
The announced purpose of this conference was to encourage sincere Christians to meet together for the purpose of furthering Bible study. In marked contrast to the larger parliament, only true believers in the sacrifice of Jesus were encouraged to attend. Seventy-almost 20% of the whole were baptized at this convention to symbolize their consecration to God.
The blessings of this small convention snowballed and became a standard function of Associated Bible Student congregations from that day forward, continuing to the present. On the back page of this issue of THE HERALD several of these conventions are announced for the next four months alone and these are not the only ones being held. Many congregations in other countries also hold such conferences on a regular basis.
The convention concept is not that dissimilar from the feasts of ancient Israel where the Israelites made regular pilgrimages to Jerusalem for worship. These feasts, as do Bible student conventions, provided opportunities for fellowship and communion between brethren widely separated geographically.
Quality or Quantity
The contrast between those two gatherings of 1893 could not be more pronounced. They represent the two ends of a spectrum as to the present function of the church-whether its main interest lay in quality or quantity. Whether the present was the time for the conversion of the world or whether it was for the development now of a small number to deal with the world of mankind in the kingdom for which we pray, Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven is the issue.
We believe the latter to be true. Christians are now being called in small number to assist in the work of raising up the human race in the future, in the times of restitution of all things (Acts 3:19-21).
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. - Luke 12:32
"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment." Mark 12:30
From a discourse by Jerry Leslie
What MATTERS to us? What concerns us? What are the issues of our lives? What will affect our destiny, our role? How do issues arise, and where are they resolved?
Does control and understanding of deep concerns depend on our position, on what others do or say? Or do they find resolution within our own being? Does it make any difference how we see matters, how we are compelled and constrained by outward circumstances peculiar to our health, family, and economics?
Heart AND Head
David uses both these faculties to admonish his son in 1 Chronicles 28:9:
And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts.
One might contend that unless we get the facts and truth straight,
This will not be simply a self- mere is no basis for character. help message, expounding the power of positive thinking. We want to provide some tools to build our outward relations and to help our inner new creature.
Heart OR Head?
We observe the age-old emphasis on either the heart or head: Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts (Psa. 139:23).
We understand the HEART to be the inner self that thinks, feels, and desires: the true character or personality. It is pure or evil, sincere or superficial, obedient or rebellious. God knows the heart of each person. Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature . . . for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).
The head or MIND is more associated with the intellect, the knowledge, the academic part of life associated with facts.
Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth . . . Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. - Proverbs 4:5, 7
Another could contend (with Paul) that knowledge tends to pride -- Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal (1 Cor. 13:1) and that by keeping the heart, the issues of life will be resolved - Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Prov. 4:23).
We maintain that these two aspects of our nature cannot really be separated or either ignored without debilitating the other. Paul meant knowledge alone is as sounding brass.
Adam's Heart and Peter's Heart
Adam's decision to disobey was with knowledge and intellect, thereby incurring responsibility and consequence of the curse. But imagine the heart involved when Eve handed him the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There was fear of loneliness and a daring to reach beyond obedience. His mind yielded to the feelings in his heart. We are all born as victims of this imbalance, often yielding to our feelings when the head loses its direction.
There are also examples where the head overpowers the heart. In Peter's case, his heart was right; but he was not sufficiently armed with a deep assurance of the facts of the case. The pressures of being with Jesus, watching the trial proceedings and the travesty of justice overpowered his heart. It trembled for the moment.
There were other examples of the Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and later the Gnostics, whose intellectual powers alone ruled over the humility of heart arid character that might have otherwise prevailed. There was Solomon, who began with a humble heart and strong intellect, whose heart turned to pleasure of the flesh while his better judgment turned the other way. In our century, there were those during the holocaust whose weak heart paralyzed them in the face of terror and propaganda.
The whole person must have full access to both head and heart. The heart is defined as the faculty that feels or identifies with any issue. In Acts 11:23, it is expressed as purpose of heart.
The Sail and the Rudder
The heart is compared to the sail of a ship, and the intellect to the rudder. It is a disaster to be at sea without both. However, to one trimming his sails it may seem that the intellectual pursuits are countering and impeding his focus and efforts. To the one charting a course through the pools of doctrine, philosophy, truth or fabrication, the heart may be viewed as an emotional diversion not to be trusted.
We need not only each other, to listen to the working of the spirit in each other, but we need strong ingredients of both heart and mind in our own constitution. No one sets out to discover new worlds without a map, but they need also a strong heart of courage and hope. Sometimes the journey dulls the edge of either joy or judgment, and the ocean begins to flood the decks of our vessel. We may be carrying excess ballast in the lower rooms of the heart or be driven onto rocks by broken rudders of the mind.
God Expects Us to Act
There is something for us to do in these matters. We have turned our life over to God, our work is not ended. He still expects us to make decisions. Our burdens do not automatically melt away. We do not experience joy without effort. There are things we can and must do.
Study (give diligence) to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. -2 Timothy 2:15
Study God's Word; our life and times; God's will. The noblest employment of mind is the study of our Creator's works.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7
The reverence with which this is pursued is expressed in Isaiah 66:2: To this man will 1 look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word
The fear (reverence) of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments (Psa. 111:10). This is a rule that will cut to the bone. There is no learning without reverence. Knowledge without reverence will poison the soul.
Education does not consist merely in learning facts. True instruction sows seed for future use and springs forth into godly endeavor and activity. Without study, there is no seed of divine sanction.
A tree is known by its fruit, a man by his deeds; and good deeds are never lost! Action without study is fatal, just as study without action is fatal (Col. 1:10). That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God
As Students, We Grow
How do we grow where we are deficient? We acknowledge our need for teachers. We listen to those who have traveled this way before us.
Each generation tends to distrust previous experience or explanations from those who are more cautious about moving mountains and rushing into battle. Youth is ready to pick up the gauntlet of any cause.
Many movements for revolution are launched from universities by students bent on changing the course of history. It is not that their causes are necessarily wrong; however, there is often an abundance of adrenalin in the initial emotion and somewhat less substance to maintain the momentum.
If we set out on the work of consecration, let us heed the words of Luke:
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, This fellow began to build and was not able to finish. (vs. 14:28-30 NIV)
In the school of Christ we are the students, he is the teacher. Others have gone before us and are our tutors. It is presumptuous for us to tell our teacher how and what to teach us while we are beginning out studies. Such are the impulses of youth. We must not give up zeal and vision, or we will not persevere to finish the course. Fortunately, zeal and vision are assets of youth.
Human Helps In Our Lifetime
Many young Christians have the good fortune to meet some old soldiers of the cross, who labored in the heat of the day, fought battles for truth, and stood for principle through decades of change.
Listen to their stories of contending for truth in the midst of error. These are scholars of experiential knowledge. Some have witnessed as they faced a prison sentence or were ordered to leave town. Some have tracted whole towns single-handedly and established new ecclesias. Some traveled to foreign lands. Some have been transformed from merely nominal Christians to truly consecrated Christians.
Listen to their accounts of organizing the principles and vision of truth. They are grand teachers. Their lessons will burn into your memory. You will need many years to catch up with them. They are the best teachers, who have practiced their faith and put it to the test. They are careful about both the letter and the spirit of the Word. They are leaving the next generation the tools to learn from their discoveries.
Who were their teachers? They were the prophets, the patriarchs, the apostles, the fathers in Zion, who in turn were taught by the Son of God. In the Kingdom, may we be in a position to meet them all and tell them that their labors were not in vain and that their words did not fall on deaf ears.
Homework and The Laboratory
Are we doing our homework today? There are no short cuts. It is essential to read the Scriptures, read the expositors God has used, read visionary, inspiring, and classical themes. Consider the six volumes of Scripture Studies, and meditate on their contemporary message.
Homework also includes labwork. Put the vision to work, and our shoes to the street. Comfort those that mourn. Restore the crippled in spirit. Display the truth on unpopular causes for the sake of principle. Lift up the weary hands. Weep with those who weep. Patiently bear with those in the undone condition of this world. Prove the truth in the crucible of life and personal opportunities.
It is like taking a hot iron from the fire and thrusting it into the oil to temper the steel. If we come through with a more holistic view of humanity and ourselves, it will prepare us to go again to the vision to fuel further endeavor till the work is done.
New Creature work is a transformation, a renewing process similar to a metamorphosis more than a single experience of rapture. It is the tempering of steel more than the elation of first coming into Christ.
It is sacrifice, service, forbearance, endeavor as good soldiers of the cross. A good soldier does not cumber himself with the material things and concerns or even his own comfort. He does not debate his cause nor question his purpose. He perseveres for the sake of the vision and hope before him.
The Den of Lions And the Home Fires
Daniel was as peaceful in the den of lions as he was in the palace of the king. We will never be sure that we have that inner strength until we have spent some time with the lions.
All good soldiers are not in the front lines. They are not always with lions. Some tend the home fires and nourish and comfort others, as Aquila and Priscilla did. Some carry water or send messages of courage to those faint in battle. Some mend the clothes, bind the wounds, and pray for the victory, as Dorcas did.
Every campaign needs every body member, and victory will belong to the whole family of Christ.
FREE GRACE means it came to us without our merit. It does not mean it is free of responsibility and commitment.
There must be joy and hope along the way to feed both the heart and mind.
The soldier's song is one of courage and hope in his mission. These warriors tell stories of valor around nightly fires. They learn to trust each other for support in the face of the next day's battle.
Warriors of the Past
How idealistic! Philosophy is easy to discuss. But there are those who went before us who struggled with real lessons of heart and head. Here are some experiences of the past. Identify the role of heart or head which prevailed. Think whether it should have been otherwise. Identify parallels in your own life:
Jeremiah said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and 1 was weary with forbearing, and 1 could not stay (20:9).
David and Jonathan broke company while Saul's wrath was hot.
David arranged for Uriah to die in the forefront of battle.
After Elimelech's death, Naomi never remarried.
Ruth persisted, against Naomi's advice, in staying with her own people.
Samson told the secrets of his strength to Delilah. Later he determined to die while destroying a Philistine temple.
Josiah denied Pharaoh-necho's request for passage and died in battle.
Joseph tested then blessed his brothers who sold him into slavery.
Daniel and his friends chose not to defile themselves with the king's table. Yet Daniel served the pagan king.
John the Baptist pointed the finger of guilt and bore the wrath of a demented king.
Paul never married or raised an earthly family.
Paul disregarded the advice of brethren, proceeded to Jerusalem and the temple and was taken by Roman authorities.
Jesus told his disciples not to go into the way of Gentiles, yet he healed the daughter of a Syrophoenician woman, the servant of a Roman centurion, a Samaritan leper, and preached the good news to a Samaritan woman by the well.
What prompted and guided these choices?
We Need One Another!
Life's experiences may tell us not to trust, that we were left alone in the storm before, that the brethren know nothing of our experiences or condition. But others have gone before us!
We pray for one another, even when no words are exchanged between us. We need one another's experiences and lessons to see something through the other's eyes when our vision is too narrow and self-focused. We need one another!
Our life and lessons are not finished. We must be careful not to measure our requests and demands according to the flesh, according to human rights, comforts, pleasures or successes. We may not even expect equity or justice in all our human endeavors from employers, home, mates, children, parents, health, or economics.
Sacrifice and Inequity
We made a choice to sacrifice. But as life begins to weigh heavy on our shoulders, our flesh cries out for at least a level playing field with the rest of humanity, or maybe a little better. It seems to us to be only just.
Our experiences may not seem just or fair at times. One has health, another has pain of the flesh for many years. One prospers in the temporal estate, another can hardly lift his head above poverty. One has a supporting family, which another is denied. One easily manages fleshly indulgence, another constantly fights temptation.
Our heart may complain and our head rationalize. Or we may bear our experiences when they cannot be changed. But we can learn through adversity. We can bear the consequences of our folly as good disciplines, or we may choose to blame others. It is a matter of choice.
A Matter of Choice
Let us be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
We can curse the night, or see the handiwork of our Creator in the stars.
We can be angry at the fire that burns our flesh, or be thankful that we shall be sacrificed so soon.
Let us leave a fragrance behind us ón our journey. It will involve risk, to expose both our strength and weakness, to face our fears.
Take the extra steps to forgive.
Truly listen to instruction.
Love others. Tell them we love them. If they are not lovable, our love may empower them to be so.
Say, Here am 1. Send me, even when we would rather be elsewhere.
The work of our heart (feelings, character, motives) and mind (understanding, reasoning, conviction) is a maturing process; and neither can be neglected. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:11:
When I was a child, I spake as a child, 1 understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
Putting Away Childish Things
What does the Christian put away when he matures? Fear, excuses, rationalization, prejudice, fantasies, illusions. Particularly, we put away our dependency on others for the consequences of our conduct.
A child is fed, turned, bathed, and cleaned. An adult will feed himself and take responsibility for his mistakes and cleanup after himself. He takes pleasure in the good effect of his labors and plans for the future.
An adult will learn by his mistakes and use his victories as stepping stones. A responsible Christian grows strong in knowing that his choices arise from within and are not imposed upon him externally.
Do we whine and fuss when we are not fed? Or do we feed self, then others?
"JUST DO IT"
There is a slogan: "JUST DO IT." We cannot coast into worthy endeavors. We must take ourselves to task and JUST DO IT.
Most of the battle is won with decision and commitment. It begins with choices.
Without commitment and a cause, the issues of the heart and mind are in constant turmoil. Dwell on beautiful themes, courageous ventures, daring dreams. Let them burn in our heart.
We must dwell on the rules of the truth, prophecy, and historical and contemporary issues if we would have our mind's eye clear. The work is not yet done.
The heart must consult the head for the hope, the vision, and a cause for which to endure the rigors of life. "He who has a why to live can bear almost any how." The clearer the eye, the stronger the heart!
It was observed in the concentration camps of Europe that those who had hope and a reason to live could endure nearly any deprivation. And when faced with death, they died with courage and dignity, knowing their cause would survive their transient life. Those without hope often died of their own demoralization even before the ultimatum.
Those who look to each day as the ultimate goal of satisfaction will find despair at every corner. Only when we can see beyond the storm do we have the power to prevail.
When a man finds his place in God's plans, he can accept suffering as part of his task. He will acknowledge that even in suffering he can find unique opportunity in the way he bears his burden. He can bring light and joy to others in the midst of struggle.
Our Vision of the Future
The world may say, "That which does not kill me, makes me stronger." We Christians say, "That which takes our life brings us victory and will empower us to be instruments of blessing to mankind."
We are convinced that when we rest from our labors our works will follow us beyond the veil. Therefore, we are moved to do his works according to his plan.
We understand that our labor in the king's service is not in vain but will endure beyond this transient life. We are in preparation for a role beyond this schooling.
When we understand that our experiences will bear fruit for eternity, we need not despair at our immediate burdens and consequences. Anything endured now is but an opportunity to reaffirm our vision of the future.
As the work progresses, our joy will be more calm and peaceful. Spiritual maturity begets a mellowness and assurance that will not only be trusted with the divine nature but will be prepared to care for and guide humanity back to the Edenic estate-to the time when love will well up in each heart to meet the same in every other heart and where there will be no more pain and no more curse.
The Spirit of Sacrifice
'By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. " Hebrews 13:1 S
Condensed from a discourse by John T . Read
Acceptable sacrifices are motivated by definite God-like principles. In Hebrews 13:10-16 we read:
We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
The word "altar" refers to the provision which, by God's grace, has been sanctified by the blood of Christ Jesus. There we may present in sacrifice all that we have and hope for as justified human beings. Thereby we partake of the riches of divine grace given to us in the great hope of becoming joint-heirs with his glorified son.
Ratified by the Blood of Sacrifice
The covenant God made with Israel required obedience to the law in order to gain life and the earthly inheritance promised. It had to be ratified by the blood of sacrifice that was sanctified by the altar.
The covenant we enter into with God is based on the better sacrifices and upon heavenly promises. The altar on which our sacrifice is made acceptable is sanctified by the blood of Jesus. They who seek to gain life by keeping the law have no right to eat or appropriate to themselves the things sanctified to the heavenly calling.
The Earliest Sacrifice of Lambs
In Genesis 3:21, we find that God sacrificed lambs to provide a covering for Adam and Eve. This replaced their efforts to cover their nakedness with fig leaves. In shame, they sensed that their sin required a covering. Christians today sometimes think they can make themselves presentable before God with the fig leaves of their own righteous endeavors.
Hebrews 11:4 says that By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. Genesis 4:6, 7 implies that Cain disregarded divine instructions. Abel's lamb was the divine symbol of Jesus. Abel was accounted righteous because of his faith. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17).
Man-Made Gods and Our God
Smith's Bible Dictionary states that heathen sacrifices were sometimes offered as prayers to obtain benefits or to avert wrath. The essential difference between heathen sacrificing and scriptural rites was that the gods heathens conceived were alienated by indifference, jealousy, and anger, and therefore needed to be appeased. In contrast to this, the Bible represents God as approaching man to point out the way by which rebellious man can be restored.
The Bible shows sacrifice to be the only means proceeding from and sanctioned by God as the way in which justice could be satisfied and man be restored to at-one-ment with God. Sacrifice relates to the reestablishment of the broken covenant between God and man.
The Broken Covenant Mended
The sin offering reveals that covenant as having been broken by man; but, as foreshown in the tabernacle types, it is now in the process of being reestablished by God's own appointment through the offering of a perfect and acceptable sacrifice.
The death of the sin offering in the atonement day rites signified that the death of the offender was deserved on account of sin, but that the death of the substitute would be accepted through God's ordinance and grace.
The sin offering also bore witness to the sinful state of man, and that the wages of sin is death, but that God had provided an atonement through the appointed death of a vicarious substitute.
Although the ceremonial meaning of the burnt offering was an indication of God's acceptance, yet the sprinkling of its blood around the altar indicated a relation between sacrifice and acceptance, sin offering and burnt offering. The burning of the entire lamb on which the priest had laid his hands signified the complete devotion of the one sacrificing.
As the burning of the complete sacrifice was essential to what it pictured, so also the death of the human will is essential to full devotion to God.
The meat offerings, peace offerings, and offerings of first fruits were all offerings in thankful praise for restored fellowship and blessings received.
The Spirit of Sacrifice
Sacrifice in its strictest sense pertains to the offering of a person or animal or some object in propitiation or homage to deity.
In its broader sense, sacrifice means to give up or forego something desired by self, but relinquished to please another.
The scriptures speak of sacrifice both in the sense of propitiatory offerings and in the sacrifice of praise, good works, and the sharing of that which we have.
The word "spirit" is used to designate the invisible powers of mind, disposition, influence, whatever is operative in the Christian's life.
The holy Spirit is the mind, power, and influence of God.
God is spirit and can be worshiped only in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
Of Jesus it was foretold that he would be filled with God's spirit, for the spirit of the Lord would rest upon him--the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge arid of the fear of the LORD, making him of quick understanding in the will of the LORD (Isa. 11:2,3).
The significance that attaches to the word "spirit" in our subject is the kindly disposition and desire to aid others, as admonished by Jesus in his new commandment.
It is the light of this spirit and the principle of righteousness that is bringing destruction to this old evil world dominated by Satan.
The Cost of Sacrifice
Our gifts and what we do must cost us something in order for them to be designated as sacrifices. Sacrifice must be rightly motivated to have the spirit that was in God when he planned the salvation of mankind. Foreknowing the helpless state of his human creation resulting from disobedience, his love and mercy contrived a way to restore mankind through sacrifice. God's way would forever constitute the supreme example of unselfish love. For thirty-four years, he denied himself the pleasure of his Son and blissful serenity for the sake of unworthy image-bearing creatures.
We are not to think that it was only after man sinned and was condemned by the justice of God that love and mercy planned a way to save him. The plan of redemption with all its wonderful provisions, including the creation of God's own divine family, was foreknown. Through the operation of all the divine attributes, his plan was predestined even when the Logos was created.
Peter (in his first epistle, chapter 1, verses 18-21) draws attention to God's sacrifice:
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
The divine plan was centered in Christ. Both Peter and Paul declare it to have been before the foundation of the world. The Church could not have been contemplated except through the foreknown death of Christ as a ransom.
Jesus' Willingness to Sacrifice
Jesus prayed: And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was (John 17:5). Knowing God's delight in rewarding faithfulness, Jesus trusted that his death on the cross would not end his existence; but he did not greedily desire to usurp a higher exaltation.
Remembering the graphic picture of Abraham's offering of Isaac, Jesus willingly went to Jordan. In complete loyalty and obedience to his Father, the Son relied on his Father's righteous plan.
There, at Jordan, Jesus was figuratively bound and placed upon the altar of sacrifice. It was during the forty days following that he came to understand fully the Father's purpose in transferring him from a heavenly state to an earthly one.
God's attributes are inherent in him, not merely adapted to control a situation. They are shown in the redemptive work. They manifest God's glory as his divine purpose unfolds. Wisdom, justice, love, and power existed because he exists.
Our theme text speaks of the sacrifice of bulls and goats under the law representing those making the offering as well as typifying Christ and his body members in this age.
David and Sacrifice
God has always taken note of the spirit of sacrifice in his children-the desire on the part of the individual to devote himself completely to the doing of the Father's will. In Psalm 51:16, 17, David, in deep contrition for his grievous sins, says,
For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God; thou wilt not despise.
Stewards of Our Sacrifice
Our sacrifice is not consumed instantly. God makes us stewards over what we possess. He notes how we use the talents of time, abilities, means, and influence under the control of the new creature.
uring our consecrated sojourn on this earth, God judges our works. These works cannot justify us, but they are our development in Christ-likeness, to show our appreciation of the Lord's goodness.
God constantly admonished Israel that it was not the sacrifice of bulls, goats, lambs, and rivers of oil which pleased him. These were the typical things of a typically working justification. What God desired was evidence in his creatures of his character likeness--that they would do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God.
Likewise with us. God associates the sacrifice, the dedication of ourselves, with how we conduct our lives: the praise that we render with our lips, the use we make of our talents in his service, doing good to all as we have opportunity, sharing the means we possess, communicating the blessed knowledge of his will and purpose.
"Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."- Matt. 6:10
By Carl Hagensick
The concept of the dual nature of salvation-one celestial, to live in heaven, and one terrestrial, to live on earth-is a common theme in the Bible. It is literally found from Genesis to Revelation.
The Apostle Paul styles the message of the evangelist as "the gospel preached before to Abraham." (Gal. 3:8)
That promise is succinctly stated in in Genesis 22:15-18 --
And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have 1 sworn, with the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing 1 will bless thee, and in multiplying 1 will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
Here God used two symbols to describe the promised seed of Abraham, sand and stars. It appears to be no coincidence that one of these elements is found on earth and the other in the heavens--the sand of the seashore and the stars of the heavens.
One of these seeds, the spiritual, is identified as Jesus Christ and his Church in two verses in the book of Galatians.
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. - Galatians 3:16
And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise. - Galatians 3:29
That promise is succinctly stated There is just a suggestion as to whom the earthly seed will be in Genesis 12:3 --
1 will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves (RSV).
Other scholars give the thought of the last phrase as being all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by becoming thy seed.
In the book of Revelation the theme of people living on earth is summarized by inference in three different verses.
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. Revelation 1:5
This text implies that if there are to be "kings of the earth" there must be subjects for them to govern; the next two Revelation texts identify the subjects by specifying them as the nations of them which are saved and the kings of the earth.
And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth . . . . And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. Revelation 5:10; 21:24
And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. Revelation 21:24
The Apostle Paul makes very specific reference to this dual nature of salvation 1n 1 Corinthians 15:40
There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
Another text emphasizing the fact that God has prepared a number of residences for his creatures is found in John 14:2
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, 1 would have told you. 1 go to prepare a place for you.
Here he refers to a spiritual domain which we are assured he has prepared for those that love him. In 1 John 3:2 --
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
Another of the mansions which he has prepared is earth as man's everlasting home.
For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: 1 am the LORD; and there is none else. Isaiah 45:18
ALL MEN TO BE SAVED
The reason for the dual aspect of salvation. is found in a simple statement of the will of God by the Apostle Paul.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.-1 Timothy 2:3-6
Salvation is a simple concept. It comes by substitutionary atonement. One man, Jesus Christ, died for one man, Adam, so that he and all his posterity might live. The very Greek word, anti-lutron, translated ransom in the above passage, illustrates this simple truth, for it means a corresponding price.
The Apostle Paul outlines this concept of substitutionary atonement in two passages:
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.] Corinthians 15:21, 22
But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, bath abounded unto many.-Rom. 5:15
Since the first man, Adam, was a perfect human being, it follows that Jesus, as a corresponding price, must also be a perfect human being and that the resultant life must be perfect human life.
This salvation, however, must not be mistaken for eternal salvation, for after they are "saved" it is the "will of God" that they "come to a knowledge of the truth." Man's salvation, as shown above, is from original Adamic transgression. Living all their lives under sin has had its side effects. Man has come to view might as right, black as white.
It is for this reason that men, raised from the dead, will need to be thoroughly educated in the laws of righteousness. Only then, having tasted first of sin and its consequences -- sorrow, suffering and death -- and then of righteousness and its consequences-happiness, health and life-will man be fully in a position to choose life that he might live. This, then, is the earthly phase of salvation for those who will be raised with bodies terrestrial.
But the Church, the Bride of Christ, is promised heavenly life. The ransom could never produce such life. It is only by forfeiting all claim to life on earth that some could be offered life in heaven. These must die to the fleshly life in the same manner as did Jesus.
Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. - Romans. 6: 8
It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us. -2 Timothy 2:11, 12
Not only does this text promise Jesus' followers that they shall live with him, but that they shall also reign with him.
This relationship between the two parts of Abraham's seed--the heavenly and the earthly-of kings and subjects, of educators and educated, is beautifully predicted in Malachi 3:17, 18
And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when 1 make up my jewels; and 1 will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. To this agree the words of the Apostle Paul: Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? (1 Cor. 6:2).
What a wonderful God who has righteous judgment. a plan of salvation for all, the good and the evil. We read this promise in John 5:28, 29 (RSV)
Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good; to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.
The word translated judgment here [mistranslated damnation in the King James Bible] is krisis and means the same as the English word crisis, a critical juncture that can have either a favorable or unfavorable outcome.
This is the judgment referred to in Malachi when the Lord's jewels will return and discern between the righteous and the wicked. This is the day of judgment when the saints shall judge the world. And thankfully this judgment will be a righteous judgment.
Because he bath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he bath ordained; whereof he bath given assurance unto all men, in that he bath raised him from the dead. Acts 17:31
With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will 1 seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness Isaiah 26:9
Yet some may argue that this would constitute a "second chance" for man and that it would remove all incentive to live a righteous life now. Truthfully seen, however, it is man's first real chance. Born in sin, and shapen in iniquity (Psa. 51:5), man has had little chance to follow righteousness. He has been blinded by the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4) and is thus to be pitied as a blind man and not condemned as an evil one.
As for the incentive to obey righteousness now, Paul covers it plainly in these words:
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.-Galatians 6:7, 8
How like John's summation of the grace of Jehovah is our God -- God is love (1 John 4:8, 16).
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
By Carl Hagensick
The Twenty-Third Psalm was probably one of David's early psalms, written while he was still a shepherd boy watching the family flocks on the Judean highlands. Living near Bethlehem, the imagery of the Psalm suggests that he was pasturing the sheep to the east, near the deep wadis that go into the Great Rift valley of the Dead Sea. There the steep cliffs and deep crevices could aptly be named valleys of the shadow of death.
Later, when fleeing from Saul, it was in caves in these same deep valleys he had known so well as a shepherd that he took refuge. The combination of cool waters flowing through the sheer cliffs of En Gedi formed a natural hideout for David. Once again, sought by the skilled soldiers of King Saul's army, he walked through the valley of the shadow of death.
Victorious at last, with the crown on his head and all twelve tribes pledging their allegiance, it would seem that such "valley" experiences would be behind him. But such was not to be the case.
Having conquered Jerusalem and establishing it as his capital, another valley was to take on this significance. Just to the east of David's capital city lay the valley of the brook Kidron. Even then it was a vast graveyard, and is much more so today. The fact of its use as such in David's day is borne out by his son Absalom having a memorial pillar raised there.
Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale the Kidron valley]: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance: and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom's place.-2 Samuel 18:18
While it is debatable as to whether it is the original, Absalom's pillar stands today as one of the more marked monuments in the Kidron valley. In later times, it was called the Valley of Jehoshaphat, or valley of decision, with much the same import as the term, the valley of the shadow of death.
The Absalom Rebellion
Perhaps the most trying experience of David's reign over Israel was the attempt of his son Absalom to usurp the throne. Adding to the bitterness of that rebellion was the defection of David's chief counselor, Ahithophel, to the cause of Absalom.
Following the bold strategy laid out by Ahithophel (who was incidentally the grandfather of David's wife Bathsheba), Absalom laid claim to the royal harem and quickly put the king to flight in complete disarray.
The account of the flight is given in 2 Samuel 15. In that account we read: And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over: the king also himself passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over, toward the way of the wilderness. (v. 23).
It was while passing through this valley that David heard the news of the defection of Ahithophel.
And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, O LORD, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness. 2 Samuel 15:31
The bitterness of this traitorous act of Ahithophel is commemorated by David in Psalm 55:12-14:
For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then 1 would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.
The rebellion was short-lived, with David regrouping his forces at Mahanaim and regaining his throne; howbeit at the loss of the life of his son, Absalom, who he bemoans in 2 Samuel 18:33:
And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!
Once again God had walked with David through the valley of the shadow of death and once again David found it to be true that thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
A millennium would pass before there would be a counterpart to David's crossing the Kidron, and it would be by a greater than David, Jesus of Nazareth.
It was on the last night of his life, in deep agony of soul, that he took but three of his closest disciples and resorted to the Garden of Gethsemane.
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. John 18:1
David had his betrayer, Ahithophel. Jesus had his, Judas Iscariot.
And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.-John 18:2, 3
It was in preparation for this betrayal and the events that would follow--his trial and crucifixion--that Jesus knelt in prayer, even with "strong cryings and tears."
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared Hebrews 5:7
With Jesus, as with David of old, his God was more than equal to the dangers of his valley of the shadow of death And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him (Luke 22:43).
Our Valleys Of The Shadow Of Death
Our Christian course, as that of our Master and of David, may traverse dark valleys--valleys of depression; of fear; yea, even valleys of the shadow of death.
It is at times like these that we feel the strength of the words of our Psalm, I will fear no evil for thou art with me: thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
"There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true." - John 5:32
A verse by verse study through John 5
A constant theme of Jesus' ministry on earth was to challenge his audience to acknowledge his Messiahship. Nowhere is this more evident than in the fifth chapter of the Gospel of John.
After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool; which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halo withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pools and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had (vs. 1-4)
One of the unique features of the Gospel of John is the way it is laid out. After an introductory chapter, each of the next eleven chapters opens with a specific incident in Jesus' life and proceeds to a sermon or lesson drawn from the event. Chapter ten appears to break the pattern, but it is really an extension of the ninth chapter.
Although the feast in the chapter is not specified, it was probably the feast of the Passover. All of the feasts were good opportunities for Jesus to spread his message throughout Israel, since the devout from all parts of the country made regular pilgrimages to Jerusalem to keep them.
The Pool of Bethesda
Now known as "The Pool of the Virgin," the ruins lie in the courtyard of St. Anne's Church near St. Stephen's gate, the "sheep gate" of the Bible. The archaeological remains reveal it to have contained two pools, one at a slightly higher elevation than the other. Porches with porticos surrounded the pools on all four sides, with one porch dividing the two pools, giving the five porches noted in the two accounts.
Ruins of a connecting sluice gate have been unearthed. This may suggest that unscrupulous priests could have opened the gates in secret periodically to roil the mineral rich waters. This would have a soothing effect upon the bathers. By fostering the belief that angels were the cause for the troubled waters, the more superstitious of the people would frequent the pool, for which they would pay an admission fee. This was the setting into which Jesus walked.
And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed; and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. (vs. 5-9)
Since the man was bed-ridden and alone, he was obviously not going to be one of the first into the pool when the waters were agitated. Knowing this, Jesus initiates the conversation by asking of his desire to be made well. It is noteworthy that Jesus on this occasion does not wait for the man to approach him and assert his faith in Jesus' powers to heal. Rather, the man's response to Jesus' command, Take up thy bed and walk, was sufficient demonstration of that faith; and the man was healed.
The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured; It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. (vs. 10-13)
While frequently Jesus chooses to confront the leaders of Israel head on concerning the works of healing on the sabbath, on this occasion he quietly walks away; and the Jews confront the healed man himself. They dare not accuse Jesus of healing on the sabbath, for they were operating the pool ostensibly for that same purpose on the sabbath. So their charge is that he was doing the work of a porter-carrying his bed-on the day of rest.
His answer to their question as to who bade him to carry his bed reveals the fact that he was evidently not previously acquainted with Jesus nor his healing ministry. He wist not who it was, for Jesus did not even linger long enough to reveal his identity to the man.
Sin No More
Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and saith unto him, Behold thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. (vs. 14, 15)
Though the healed man knew not who Jesus was or where to find him, Jesus knew where to find the man. His presence in the temple was customary under Jewish law to render thanks to God for the gift of health (see Matt. 8:4).
The man's presence in the temple, however, does not necessarily signify that he had been good and faithful. While birth defects were rampant in those days and the unclean sanitary conditions led to many other diseases, still other diseases were caused by the natural effects of a poor moral lifestyle. That this may have been the case in this incident is implied by Jesus' admonition to the man to sin no more.
Healing on the Sabbath
And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work (vs. 16, 17).
Having found out that Jesus did the miracle, the Jews revealed their hypocrisy by accusing him of healing on the sabbath, though they themselves frequented the "pool of healing waters" on the sabbath day hoping for their own maladies to be cured.
Jesus' response was puzzling to them. He claimed, as precedent for his healing, the fact that his Father worked on his sabbath---the seventh creative day. On another occasion he had used a different line of reasoning to answer the challenge of working on the sabbath.
And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? Luke 14:5
The Jews did recognize work that was permitted by God on the sabbath day-the emergency helping of an ox or other animal out of a dire situation. The prophet Isaiah extended this same principle to helping people on the sabbath:
And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: . . . If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words. Isa. 58:10, 13
As the ox was the possession of man, so mankind was the possession of God. Early on the seventh creative day-God's sabbath-man fell into the pit of sin and death and was expelled from Eden. Ever since, God has been at work to bring man back from that pit condition. It was in the forwarding of that activity that Jesus was sent to earth, and it was to illustrate that same endeavor that he had healed this impotent man on the sabbath day.
Equality with God
Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, 1 say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel (vs. 18-20).
Building on Jesus' response to their charge of working on the sabbath, the Jews now accused him of claiming equality to God since he said he was the Son of God. While not denying his sonship, Jesus proceeds to show that this does not imply equality. He looked to God for leadership in all his works. Some of his Father's works he copied because of what he had seen God do and other works he waited for more specific directions, when God would shew him greater works than these. In his subsequent discussion it would seem that these greater works related particularly to the raising of the dead-the climactic miracle of his ministry --a picture of the ultimate raising of all the dead of earth. The greater works Jesus spoke about foreshadowed these events.
Raising the Dead
For as the Father raiseth up the dead; and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him (vs. 21-23).
Crediting God as being the ultimate source of resurrection, he asserts his own prominent role in that process. He states that his role will include the decision making process as to who will live and who will not. This selective work of judgment was given over in total by the Father to the Son. He further asserts the point that the purpose of this turning over of judgment to the Son was so that there would be an equality in honor given to both the Father and the Son.
In order to understand this selective role in the resurrection process we need to first comprehend the order of resurrection. The Apostle Paul states that such an order exists, with two classes predominant.
But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.-1 Corinthians 15:23
In describing Christ the firstfruits the Apostle John has this to add: Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years (Rev. 20:6).
The first to be raised from the dead are a select class, the church, the bride of Christ. It is in rewarding this class with immortal life (Rom. 2:7), that Jesus quickens, or gives life to whom he will.
Life in Himself
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man (vs. 24-27).
In these verses those who receive life are they that both heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me. These qualifications are obviously limiting factors. Those who hear and believe are spoken of as already having passed from death unto life.
And the dead who hear the voice of the Son of God are not the dead in their grave but the living dead: born under a death curse which has not been fully carried out in their case. (See Matt. 8:22; Luke 9:60; Rev. 14:13)
These, hearing and heeding, shall not only live but share that unique life which the Father gave his Son, life in himself. This phrase describes a life that is not dependant upon outside sustenance for its continuance; in other words, immortal life.
Life for All
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me (vs. 28-30).
The phrase marvel not at this connects the magnificent work of resurrecting the followers of Jesus to an immortal life with a work of even greater scope: the resurrection of all that are in their graves not only dead but actually buried.
These countless hordes of humankind who have died over the past six thousand years are divided in this description of the resurrection in two categories-they that have done good and they that have done evil. The division of the good from the evil is the subject of Jesus' parable in Matt. 25:31-46 about the judgment of the sheep and the goats.
The doers of good are predominantly the faithful worthies of ancient times many of whom are listed in a catalog of heroes of faith in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. These are deemed worthy of a better resurrection (Heb. 11:35).
The rest are lumped into one huge category, they who have done evil. However these, too, are to be raised from the dead. Not, as the King James Version of the Bible implies, to a resurrection of damnation but, as we find it in the Revised Standard and other more accurate translations, to the resurrection of judgment,
The Greek word here in question is the word krisis from which we get our English word crisis. As that word connotes, it describes the climactic point of time, as in an illness, when the patient either takes a turn for the better or the worse. The word itself does not imply which direction that turn will take. Thus it will be in the resurrection of they that have done evil. The experiences of the resurrection time will be of an educational nature and their reaction to that experience will determine whether they decided to do good and live, or continue to do evil and die. It will truly be their crisis.
The judgment which Jesus refers to in verse 30 is this judgment of his Millennial kingdom, or one thousand year reign in which he will judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:31).
Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. Malachi 3:18
The Parade of Witnesses
If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.-vs. 31
Like a lawyer in court, Jesus proceeds to call a number of defense witnesses to affirm that he is indeed the one he claims to be-the Messiah, the Son of God.
He steps aside from witnessing in his own behalf, even though he could do a credible, yea, an irrefutable job. But he recognizes that the Jewish court of judgment will not find such evience admissable. He therefore declines to testify in his own behalf. His testimony would be true, but he realized that of itself it would not be proven to be true.
The Visible Witness
There is another that beareth witness of me; and 1 know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.-vs. 32
This first independent witness is left unnamed. There is one clue however which suggests to whom he is referring. He prefaces his remarks with the word there, as though he is pointing to someone. He may well have been doing just that, for this conversation appears to take place in the temple after the exchange of words between Jesus and the impotent man he had healed at the pool of Bethesda.
That man's testimony, by the very virtue of his having been healed and by implication cleansed of sin (Mark 2:9), should have been sufficient to convince an objective listener of the accuracy of Jesus' claims.
John the Baptist
Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. But I receive not testimony from man: but these things 1 say, that ye might be saved He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light (vs. 33-35).
The second witness he calls forth is one that they themselves had previously summoned.
Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. Matthew 3:5, 6
It was John who had said of him, Behold the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36). That testimony was true, but Jesus puts it forth as secondary, declining to base his Messiahship on testimony from man. Nevertheless he chides his audience with their fickleness saying that they were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.
The Testimony Of His Works
But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me (vs. 36).
His third witness is the very works he did, the works predicted in their Old Testament scriptures for their Messiah. This was the witness he had used on another occasion when John the Baptist had sent his disciples to inquire about Jesus' claims to being the great Deliverer of Israel.
Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear anti see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, aØ the poor have the gospel preached to them. Matthew 11:4, 5
God-the Fourth Witness
And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not (vs. 37, 38).
On three occasions God had publicly testified to Jesus being his Son, though the Jews at large had not distinguished the words he spoke at his baptism (Matt. 3:17); in the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:5); and near the end of his ministry (John 12:28).
This testimony they could not accept for one simple reason, they had not his word abiding in them. In fact their failure to recognize his Messiahship was proof that thiswas so.
The Testimony of Scripture
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. I receive not honour from men (vs. 39-41).
In the New Testament the word scriptures always refers to the Old Testament. It was there in prophecy and type that Jesus' ministry was spelled out. The evangelist Matthew, striving particularly to show Jesus as the Messiah to his fellow Jews, repeatedly interrupts his biography of Jesus with the words as it is written, referring to Old Testament prophecy.
Scores of prophecies have been collected which found their fulfillment in the few short years that the man from Galilee walked on the face of this earth.
But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. 1 am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? (vs. 42-44).
Jesus came right to the point -- the fact that they did not recognize him showed their lack of the love of the Father. Love of God will lead to an objective search for truth. This was the key of knowledge which the leaders of Israel had taken away from the people in preventing them from hearing Jesus in an open forum (Luke 11:52).
He was accused of blasphemy and egotism by claiming to be God's Son and representative. Ironically, he calls their attention to the fact that they would have been quicker to accept him if he had come in his own name and merit. This demonstrated that they were giving priority in honor to that which was acceptable to their peers, receiving honor one of another, instead of diligently seeking that honor which cometh from God only.
Moses, the Final Witness
Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust: For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? (vs. 45-47).
His final witness also becomes their accuser. It was Moses who predicted the precise role that Jesus was to play.
The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken. -Deuteronomy 18:15
The Apostle Peter refers in Acts 3:22, 23 to this prophecy as the ultimate prophecy of Jesus' role in God's plan. Jesus himself, in demonstrating his role to the two on the way to Emmaus, also refers to Moses.
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:27
Again, in a parable about Israel, the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, we find a parallel allusion to Moses.
Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.-Luke 16:2931
It is the same even in our day. The first books attacked by "Higher Critics" in their assault on the accuracy of the Bible are the books of Moses. These writings, the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch or Torah, are fundamental to understanding the whole and to identifying Jesus as the Messiah.
Moses testified of Jesus in yet another way. It was through the mediatorial work of Moses that Israel received their law. This law was the standard of righteousness of a perfect man. None of them could keep it, therefore they were judged by it it became a curse unto them (Gal. 3:13).
But Jesus kept that law. He was the only one who did. This was the ultimate witness to Jesus as being the Messiah.
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. -Galatians 3:24
Thus, in the fifth chapter of John, we see how the failure of a poor lame man to recognize Jesus led to a presentation of six solid witnesses to the fact that he who said take up thy bed and walk and thy sins be forgiven thee to one on Bethesda's porch is the same Messiah who one day soon will say the same to all of the billions of earth's humanity who have ever lived.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
'And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die. ' -- Genesis 3:4
By Joseph Dolan
Some truths we hold as basic foundations. At other times we ponder on scripture and offer thoughts for consideration. The following meditations are suggested for critical study.
Deceived by a Serpent?
Had Eve ever seen a serpent prior to the day of her deception? Why would she place esteem upon a creature so much lower than herself, her husband, and certainly lower than the Creator?
How could a serpent, even one inhabited by the Evil One, tempt a perfect woman? She was surrounded by everything good. There was no discontent, no shame in her world. What was intriguing in the words Thou wilt not surely die and Ye shall be as gods? Would she even consider the possibility of death? If she was happy as she was, why would she want to be as a god?
What is a Serpent?
Hebrew words deriving from the primary root word nachash [pronounced naw-khash] (Strong's 5172) are translated as "serpent." The word in Genesis 3 is nachash [pronounced naw-khawsh] (Strong's 5175) and carries the meaning "to hiss, whisper, sometimes used in connection with the practice of enchantment or sorcery." Examples are the "enchantments" of Balaam in Numbers 24, the "divining" of Joseph in Genesis 44, and the "sorcery" of Israel of 2 Kings 17:17 and 21:6.
The word NECHUSHAH which is a word stemming from #5172 (Strong's 5178) carries the meaning "brightly shining," from which the word copper is derived. This traces "enhancement" and "bright shining" to the same Hebrew word.
The Serpent of the Sumerians, the Semites, and the Babylonians
The writer of Genesis describes a being familiar to the people of 2500 B.C. That serpent was denoted by the Sumerians and Semites as a winged being, dragon-like, supposedly a life-giver worthy of worship. Eight such dragons made of bright shining copper guarded the gates of Babylon. The writer of Genesis was describing such an one who appeared as an angel of light, a winged being a little higher in order than the human but man-like and claiming to know as God knows.
The Babylonian god Marduk was viewed as the son of god, symbolized by the sun, who came out of the sea--the savior, responsible for creation, man's source of life. Its sculptured form resembled the seraphim of Isaiah 6. The word "seraph" alludes to fiery or burning ones, and it is equivalent to the Semite word for serpent.
Isaiah described the ones reverent before God's throne. The other description is of distorted images of the one who once appeared to Mother Eve, worshiped by the Babylonians. The visible form of the serpent in Eden is the origin of Babylon's serpent-god. In Ezekiel 28, according to Leeser,
Thou wart a cherub with outspread wings, and I had set thee upon the holy mount of God as thou wart. Thou bast walked up and down in the midst of the bright shining ones . . . . Thou wart perfect in thy ways from the day thou wast created till unrighteousness was found in thee" (vs. 12-16).
Pictographic script has been found picturing the Sumerian and Semite god as a human prince with wings reaching up above his head.
The words used for the subtlety of the serpent is arum in Hebrew and panourgia in Greek and do not depict wisdom but deceitfulness, in an immoral sense. The serpent in Genesis 3 was a "beast of the field." The serpent to which the writer of Genesis referred was the serpent of his own day, whom the Sumerians worshiped. In Hebrew we see "HA-NACHASH," the serpent, and "HA ADAM," the man.
A Bright, Shining Cherub
Eve conversed with Adam. She may have listened to the communication between Adam and God. It is doubtful that she would converse with a snake. But finding herself confronted by a cherub, a radiant heavenly being, brightly shining, one who could be supposed to be coming from God's realm, she might be deceived.
This being communicated in a way similar to, but a counterfeit of, what she had heard between Adam and the high and lofty One. His subtle logic seemed as knowledge to one who had no experience with deceit. Unsuspecting, Eve may have surmised that this dignified, commanding figure came from the spirit world where God lived.
The Savior and the Serpent
Our dear Savior encountered this same ill-willed one following his immersion. Unlike Eve, Jesus could not be deceived; he held fast to God's word, defeating "the serpent," the Devil, who was thus forced to depart for a season (Luke 4:13).
Jesus had known this one before iniquity was found in him, when the morning stars sang together, and ALL the sons of God shouted for joy (Job 38:7). Indeed, Jesus, through his Father's power, had created him-perfect, before his fall. He beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven (Luke 10:18). He recalled how the "serpent" had appeared to Eve for he declared that the devil was a liar, and the father of it and a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44).
Soon this "serpent" will be completely bound, as Jesus and his Bride guide the deceived race back to at-one-meat with God. He will prepare mankind for "a little season," as he was prepared for the tempter following his Jordan experience. Deception will be no more, and the creation will be ready to enter into the ages to come, heralding praises to God for his everlasting mercy and love. The former things will have passed away.
"He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. " Psalm 107.29
They were afraid. Mature, experienced fishermen yet frightened. This storm was extraordinary. The sea was grievously agitated, their vessel plunged under the waves frequently. Darkness had set in. When they were thus terrified, they saw Jesus walking on the sea toward them. They had been looking along the coastline for Jesus to join them. But did not expect him to walk on water.
We See the Storm Arising
We, at the end of the age, see the storm arising. The winds blow, the signs are frightening. Can we hear the Master say, It is 1; be not afraid?
The victory that overcometh the world is our faith. The troubles will be severe. We must have strong determination to remain faithful.
Wherefore Do We Doubt?
Bold Peter climbed out of the ship to reach the Lord. He walked on the water (Matt. 14:29-31) intent on being with his best Friend. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, 'Lord, save me.' And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand and caught him and said unto him, 'O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?'
The winds of doctrine, the winds of change, the winds of financial problems in this world, are so severe that if we did not have faith in our Lord Jesus as the great King and Redeemer of the world we would fall. O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Disciples Follow Their Master
Jesus is not asking us to do anything he did not do. He had a remarkable faith. He was alone, yet he said, I am not alone, but the Father is with me. Is not the Father with us? The Father and the Son?
Jesus was seeking disciples who were willing to follow him whithersoever he would go himself.
Jesus Is Here
In the great storm ahead of us, we will not be able to walk alone. We should not try to walk alone. We must keep our eye on the One whom God used to help create the seas---the only begotten Son, the direct creation of God, through whom everything created was made by him and for him (Col. 1:16).
We may not find Jesus in the way we decide we should find him walking calmly along the shore. He may come in the storm, when we are desperate. But he will be with us, to strengthen and guide.
Faith in the Storm
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.-1 Corinthians 10:13
That escape is by faith, for without faith it is impossible to please [God] (Heb. 11:6).
We continue to press on, despite the clouds that surround us, trusting his precious promises. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1).
Jesus said, I am the bread of life (John 6:35). If we can feed upon his words, we can be nourished and strengthened so that we can overcome the storms of life.
We may be fearful. But if we have strong faith and realize that eventually Jesus will enter the ship, we will come to the shore. The last member of the church will be completed and the blessings will begin to flow to all the families of the earth.
Acts of Faith
Let us press on, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves, not forsaking the truth and the Lord, despite the storms of life that may surround us.
Let us look unto Jesus, having that peace of God in our hearts and minds that will carry us through. Let us continue to look unto him, who is the author and finisher of our faith. Then we will overcome and the ship will come to the shore.
Have you ever asked yourself, "Would I be willing to do what our Lord Jesus did?" Jesus was the Logos, the agent through which everything was created, and he was willing to come down to this planet Earth to sacrifice his life.
For three and a half years, he preached to a multitude that wanted the loaves and fishes more than they wanted a righteous life. He had to speak to them in parables and dark sayings so that hearing they could not hear and seeing they could not see. If they had understood, they would have been held accountable, and all they wanted was freedom from Roman bondage and oppression.
From all the nations of the world, God selected Israel as his "chosen people," not because they were the best people but because they were stubborn and few in number, lowly esteemed by the heathen world. We are like that, neither great nor mighty, but chosen of the Father because our very lowliness will astound people, and they will glorify his name when they see what he can make of us.
Not only the crowds of Jewry expected a Messiah to deliver them. Even the disciples thought this was what Jesus would do. The characters of the early church were a remarkable illustration of the various temperaments and characteristics typical of the church members. We still have the Peters, the Pains, the Marthas, and the Marys. It is their spark of faith which we try to emulate.
The Storm Leads Home
God highly exalted Jesus and gave him a name above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow of things in heaven and in earth (Phil. 2:10). He is far above that which he had with the Father before he came to this earth. He was exalted on a higher level: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him (1 Peter 3:22).
Our Lord Jesus is sitting with the Father doing a mighty work at the second advent. He is at the right hand of God, judging the nations and preparing for the full establishment of his kingdom.
We are crossing a sea, and the storms and the winds are blowing. During these rough experiences we can remember Jesus' words, It is I.
"Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine."- Romans 16:13
By Carl Hagensick
It seems obvious that the Apostle Paul is not speaking of his biological mother, but rather one who had given him spiritual nurture. This is the thought that is conveyed in the New International Version:
Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.
The assumption of spiritual parentage was as common 1n New Testament times as it is today. Paul speaks of my son Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:2 and 2 Timothy 2:2. John frequently speaks of the church as my dear children
Not only is there a recognition of spiritual maturity, but also of strong influences in starting the Christian way. These spiritual parents were instrumental in beginning the spiritual life in their "children."
Even Apostles Need Mothers
So often we look at strong leaders as a sort of father figure. This is not at all improper. In fact it is endorsed by the Apostle Paul.
For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus 1 have begotten you through the gospel.1 Corinthians 4:15
But though we look up to and respect these strong leaders in the faith, we sometimes fail to realize that they also need spiritual parents. The role of leadership is one of the loneliest in the world. Frequently there is the need to pour out one's soul to a listening ear, to seek counsel in the perplexing problems that face an active minister in the gospel. In the mother of Rufus, Paul had found just such a confidante.
Who Was Rufus?
The name was not a common one in New Testament times. It is of Latin origin and means red The only other biblical passage that uses the name is Mark 15:21. While it may not be the same Rufus in both passages, most biblical scholars feel that it is.
And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.
The casual manner in which the names Alexander and Rufus are mentioned lend credence to the belief that they were well-known in the early church.
If they are the same individual, the absence of mentioning Alexander or Simon may indicate that Simon had either died or did not become a believer, and that Alexander had not moved on to Rome with his brother and mother.
Cyrene was on the north coast of Africa, near the modern city of Benghazi, Libya. We first meet Simon the Cyrene in Jerusalem in Asia, carrying the cross of Jesus; and now we find Rufus and Simon's wife in Rome, of Europe.
When Paul writes to the church at Rome he is in anticipation of going there, though he has not yet been to that city. How was Paul so familiar with the church there? What contact did he have with Rufus' mother so that she had become a "mother" to him? Why had Rufus and his mother moved there in the first place? These and many other questions beg for answers, none of which are evident. However there is a linkage which suggests a solution to these puzzles.
Synagogue of the Cyrenians
Although Cyrene was a popular spot on the trade routes of the Mediterranean, it was not a city with a large Jewish population. Of the small community of Jews in Cyrene a far smaller number migrated back to Palestine.
It was Jewish custom to insist on at least ten members to a congregation before setting up a new synagogue. Evidently there were fewer than ten Jews from Cyrene in Jerusalem in the first century A.D. for they were forced to combine with others to form a synagogue.
Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. Acts 6:9
It was at this synagogue that the dispute broke out between the Jews and Stephen which led to his martyrdom. And it was as a witness to this dispute and as a consenter to Stephen's death that we first meet Saul of Tarsus.
And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul... And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.-Acts 7:58; 8:1
Could it not be that during the emotional heat of the fray there was a young woman with her two small children, a member of the synagogue, who had been touched with the message of Stephen and whose calm composure was noticed by Saul from the sidelines?
Having heard from her husband of the death of Jesus and how Simon had been compelled to carry his cross, she would have been familiar with the composure of the Galilean in the death throes of crucifixion. What must have been her reaction to Stephen's words:
Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers. - Acts 7:52
It was some time later when Saul of Tarsus, still breathing out fire and persecution against the Christians, on his way to Damascus, had his fateful vision of the risen Savior. Then it was that he heard those heart-searching words:
And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. Acts 9:4, 5
While the authenticity of the latter phrase is in question, it is undoubtedly true that Paul had some pricks of conscience. Undoubtedly the Lord laid many experiences in his road to prepare him for his future work. But among these may very well have been the remembrance of a lonely Cyrenian woman who stood out among the crowd as a lone protestor while an angry multitude stoned Stephen.
Whether or not Paul had contact with her since that fateful day we know not, but in some manner she had worked her way close enough to his heart for him to remember her in Rome and affectionately call her my mother.
Little Things Mean a Lot
Speculation can lead to all kinds of conjecture as to the relationship between these two, but one thing is certain--the mighty Apostle Paul found the tenderness of a mother's love in the mother of his friend and brother in Christ, Rufus.
Perhaps the greatest witness we can give to others in our life may be in the "body English" of a calm disposition in the midst of a turbulent and angry world. Who knows who may witness such an action and be touched to the heart. Perhaps the angriest of the mob may note and, though unwilling to consciously admit it at the time, carry within their heart a prick of conscience that will some day yield its rich fruitage.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. " -Romans 12:1
By Chester Czohara
The dedication of our heart to the Lord is the highlight of our Christian walk. Our life turns from previous earthly ambitions and aspirations, and we set our sights on the spiritual, which is life eternal.
Romans 12:1 calls us to this complete consecration to the Lord.
In Proverbs 23:26 we have a similar plea from God to the Israelites when he says, My son, give me thine heart. We recall Jesus' words, Not my will, but thine, be done (Luke 22:42).
We are thrilled by the Apostle Paul's example: He turned all his energies to This one thing I do (Phil. 3:13). He counted all things but loss [and dross] for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. He suffered the loss of all things, counting them as dung in order to win Christ (v. 8).
Our First Love
When we first entered into covenant relationship with the Lord, our joy and enthusiasm were mountaintop experiences. We wanted to serve the Lord, to tell the Good News to our friends--our neighbors--anyone who would listen! Our heavenly Father has such abounding love for mankind!
The great plan of salvation is for everyone! God so loved the world of mankind that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believed in him would have everlasting life (John 3:16)! Those who do not accept the Son now are not doomed for eternity but will have an opportunity in the next age!
Satan will be bound and will not be permitted to blind any eyes! The knowledge of God shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea! Mankind will be restored to life!
Not Fables, but Scripture
These were not the figment of anyone's imagination, but the understanding of Scripture--words we may have read but did not understand previously.
Marvel not . . . for . . . all in their graves shall come forth to the resurrection of life.-- John 5:28, 29
God shall wipe away all tears ,from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4
Did not THAT motivate us to shout the Gospel? It was hard to silence us then.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death (1 Cor. 15:26). Have we lost a loved one? Do we yearn to comfort a mourner-indeed, ALL mourners?
Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was not in vain. If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him (1 Thess. 4:14). As for us, sons of God, It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2).
Different Kinds of Service
Early Christians often served the Lord in physical ways: Thousands labored in erecting beautiful cathedrals; painters, musicians, and sculptors devoted their entire time and talent to glorifying the Lord. Today, some find it in their hearts to go into missionary work. Others channel their energies to further the cause of the gospel through modern media. Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord (Col. 3:23).
What did the apostle mean when he referred to our "reasonable service"?
What is Service?
Rotherham: "Your rational divine service."
New American: "Your spiritual service."
Amplified: "Your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual WORSHIP."
Strong's #2999: [From 3000;] ministration of God, i.e. WORSHIP.
Strong's #3000: "From 'a hired menial'; to minister."
What is Reasonable?
What is reasonable to one person may not seem reasonable to someone else.
The word "reasonable" in the Greek is gikos, [Strong's #3050]. It is the only word in the scriptures that is defined as rational--logical. It is taken from the base word "logos" (#3056).
The Logos' Reasonable Worship
The word "logos" appears over three hundred times in the New Testament, and it is translated into eleven different English words. The apostle John provides us with one of the great mysteries of God, describing God's first creation, the Logos, his only Son, who condescended from a spiritual being to become flesh, in the form of a human being, to live amongst sinners (John 1:14).
The Logos came down to tell of the great love his Father had for the human race. As the man Jesus, the Logos was so convinced of his message, the truth from the Father, that he gave his life for the world.
Paul's Reasonable Worship
Paul says, For 1 am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor heights, nor depths, nor any creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:38,39). This was Paul's comprehension of what would be his reasonable sacrifice: an all-consuming, consecrated life.
The Plea of the Apostle
We can now focus on what the Apostle Paul meant in his plea to his hearers. We are to turn our thoughts when hearing God's Word spoken through his Son. We are to meditate on what is said, turn to the Scriptures to see if what we have heard is substantiated by a thus saith the Lord, and then motivate our hearts and minds to put into practice and continue to exercise the quality of dedication and a consecrated life until we finish our earthly course. Be thou faithful UNTO DEATH, and [then] 1 will give you the crown of life (Rev. 2:10).
This is our reasonable service.
"A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you." Acts 3:22
How could Jesus be a prophet like unto Moses, since he was perfect and Moses imperfect?
Moses is not speaking of his imperfection. Anyone is like unto Moses along the lines of mental, moral, or physical imperfection. Imperfection therefore is not the characteristic or similarity that distinguishes this "prophet" from his brethren, because all the children of Adam are imperfect in one degree or another.
If Moses was speaking of his imperfect human tendencies, Jesus could not be the prophet like unto him, because Jesus was holy, harmless, undefiled separate from sinners (Heb 7:26).
How then is Jesus like unto Moses? Let us compare who Moses really was with who Jesus really was/is, and we will be able to find the answer.
Being Hebrew male infants, both Moses and Jesus' lives were threatened by the rulers of their day.
Moses was a Prince in Egypt before he became a shepherd for 40 years. Jesus was the Logos, the beginning of the creation of God, before he was made a little lower than the angels.
After the test of the passage of time, and the humble life of a shepherd, God worked with Moses to deliver His people from Egyptian bondage. After the test of the passage of time, and the humble life of a carpenter, God worked with Jesus to deliver all people from the bonds of sin and death.
Moses married a woman that was not a Hebrew. Jesus, as bridegroom, calls out his bride (the church) from amongst the gentiles.
Moses was a lawgiver, a prophet, and a priest. Jesus was a lawgiver, a prophet, and a priest.
Moses was the mediator between God and the nation of Israel. Jesus is the mediator between God and man.
God worked miracles through Moses. God worked miracles through Jesus.
Moses exhorted the nation of Israel to have faith in God. Jesus exhorts all people to have faith in God.
Miriam and Aaron challenged Moses' authority. Jesus "came unto his own, and his own received him not."
The people of Israel murmured against Moses even after God used him to perform great miracles. The people of Israel murmured against Jesus even after he performed great miracles in the name of God.
Israel did not enter the promised land until the death of Moses. The death of Jesus opened the way to the Kingdom of God.
By Daniel Wesol
As Mary held the tiny babe so close,
She felt the joy of love that now could be expressed.
So soft the fingers curled about her own!
Tenderly she held them and lovingly caressed
His gentle hands.
At twelve he sought the temple, all alone,
For now, with all the Law, he knew he must comply,
But Mary searched for him with sorrowing;
Not understanding then his need but took him by
His gentle hands.
His life, though short, was spent in doing good
And in a world so filled with pain; with simple trust
The sick, the blind, the lame, all came to him.
In deep compassion of his soul he healed with just
His gentle hands.
But jealous men took counsel for his life.
A traitor 'midst his own disciples they had found
Who sold him, like common slave, for price.
They carne by night and took him, and with cords they bound
His gentle hands.
Did you go with him through that fearful night;
When e'en before the first soft light of morning came,
They placed upon his head a crown of thorns,
And scourged him sore? Oh did you see the blood that stained
His gentle hands.
Did you go with him to Golgotha's hill,
And see the sadness deep within his eyes so true?
And did you see those nails so cruel and cold,
As one by one they pierced his flesh, and drove them through
His gentle hands.
At last the hammer's dreadful sounds were stilled!
They lifted up that heavy cross against the sky,
While people passing by would mock him sore;
In agonizing grief and shame he hung there by
His gentle hands.
But did you see the love within his eyes,
Enduring, though his body, racked with pain, grew numb:
A love so deep we cannot comprehend!
And did you weep to see those blood drops falling from
His gentle hands.
Oh did you hear him give that anguished cry?
Then suddenly the sun grew dark-the air was chilled!
"My God, Oh why halt thou forsaken me?"
T'was finished then! Release from pain, relax and stilled
His gentle hands.
As Mary looked at him with tearful eyes,
In anguish of her heart that could not be repressed,
She thought back to the child that she had borne,
And how she'd held him close, and loving caressed
His gentle hands.
By Bonnie Jean Gaunt
"Have not I commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be you dismayed: for the Lord your God is with you whithersoever you go." Joshua 1:9
Although it is not inappropriate for the Directors' Annual Report to begin with a scripture, this particular scripture has special significance for the year just ending.
Most assuredly we have the emphatic promise of our Heavenly Father that his over-ruling providence in our lives is sufficient to accomplish his will in our weak flesh. Nevertheless we approached this year with some fleshly apprehension. Two Directors and two Editors left our staff to serve the Lord in other ways. We appreciate the past service of these brethren to the PBI and pray the Lord's blessing upon their new service to Him.
At our annual meeting last June two new Directors were elected and four new editors were appointed. During the past year your Directors and Editors were as indicated below:
We must bring to your attention that we owe a great debt of gratitude to sixteen of our brothers and sisters in the Lord who volunteered their services in the operation of the Institute and the production of THE HERALD of Christ's Kingdom; one assisting the Treasurer and fifteen others serving in the functions of photography, art, re-write, research, design, secretarial and poetry. Their help has been invaluable and we could not have functioned without them. Again our profound thanks!
The official mailing address of the Pastoral Bible Institute was changed to Racine, WI. The Secretary's office was moved to Bellingham, Washington. THE HERALD of Christ's Kingdom bi-monthly journal is now printed in the Chicago area.
This ambitious relocation of offices and job duties impressed us with the obvious necessity of more frequent meetings to discuss PBI and HERALD operations. Therefore in addition to our annual June, 1992 meetings, the following Director and Editor meetings were also held.
June 20, 1992: Editorial Committee, Allentown, PA convention.
July 4, 1992: Editorial Committee. New Brunswick, NJ convention.
Oct. 10, 1992: Combined Directors/Editors meeting. Richmond, VA convention.
March 19, 1993: Combined Directors/Editors meeting. Albuquerque, NM convention.
During this year our Heavenly Father has also blessed us with opportunities to witness to His love and Divine purpose for the atonement and restitution of humanity centered in the ransom of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In addition to the Directors and Editors serving their own ecclesias and Bible Student conventions, Bro. Loyal and Sr. Dorothy Petran were privileged to meet and fellowship with our brethren in Great Britain and Ireland on a pilgrim trip from August 13 to September 1. During this time they were guests in the homes of Albert Hudson, Derrick and Margaret Nadal, Victor and Jean McIlveen, Madge Bartley, Bill and Doreen Simmons and others. Some of these brethren have visited us in the USA and are names that are familiar to us. Loyal and Dorothy attended several Bible Student conferences in England and Ireland. Most especially they report very blessed personal study and fellowship sessions with our English and Irish brethren. The Lord indeed did bless their opportunity for service and fellowship.
In another avenue of witness, during this year approximately 1500 free booklets on Bible topics have been mailed for requests from HERALD readers and advertising in outside publications. Over 300 of these booklets have been on the subjects of Death, Hope, and Resurrection.
This year has not been without its challenges and difficulties. We have made some mistakes. We can, however, joyfully report to you that the Lord has demonstrated to us that his promises are sure. He has given us help in time of need. Through his strength we have carried on the operations of the Institute and the publishing of THE HERALD of Christ's Kingdom.
We thank all of our members and readers for their very encouraging letters and most helpful suggestions. We also sincerely solicit your criticism.
This report departs somewhat from those of prior years but this year has been unique. We thought you would appreciate a brief thumbnail sketch of our arrangements and activities.
As we look to the Lord in the coming year we ask for your prayers that we may strive to improve the operations of the Institute as He gives us the privilege to serve one another as His Kingdom approaches. .
Our love in Christ and in the sure promises of that Kingdom!
God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
James M. Caudle,
Balance Sheet as of April 30, 1993
Cash on Hand $4,602.30
M/I Bank Certificate of Deposit 75,000.00
M/I Bank Money Market Savings 3,824.35
Accounts Receivable 325.00
Inventory of Books and Tapes
J. T. Read Tapes $298.00
Miscellaneous Items 201.34
Total Inventory 499.34
Minus Sales 101.64
Total Inventory 397.70
P.B.I. Office Equipment $49,197.86
Accumulated Depreciation 28,798.86
P.B.I. Book Library 3,000.00
Depletion of Books 1,315.00
TOTAL ASSETS $106,233.35
Berean Bible, Australia $300.00
Herald Sub. Paid in Advance 295.00
TOTAL LIABILITIES: 595.00
NET WORTH: (As per analysis)
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Hamas is the group generally believed to be responsible for the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City).
The Anglicans have joined with the world Islamic body to call for an international conference on the situation of Christians in the Holy Land. Canon Nairn Ateek of St. George's Cathedral in Jerusalem denies the Jewishness of the New Testament. "Jesus was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, was baptized in the Jordan . . . therefore, the first witnesses to the resurrection were Palestinians. The Palestinian Christians of today are the descendants of those early Christians," he writes. PLO leader Yasser Arafat and PLO spokeswoman HØn Ashrawi both make the claim that they can trace their Arab ancestry back to the first Christians. She claims that "Jesus was born in my country," and Arafat, a Muslim, said that the apostle Peter was "a Palestinian who defied Rome." Such claims reflect the new crusade to "Palestinize" Jesus and, as was stated in a Jordanian TV production, blame the Jews for the murder of Jesus, "the Palestinian prophet." (Watchman May, 1993)
Scholars say the world, previously presumed to be advancing to an enlightened age of sheer rationalism free of religious throwbacks, has instead encountered a global storm of religious fundamentalism. They say the unforeseen (!), religion-linked turmoil seems almost everywhere - the Operation Rescue crusades, Christian violence in Ireland, West Bank Jewish expansionism, Buddhist militancy in Sri Lanka, Christian-Muslim battling in former communist states, Muslim absolutisms in Iran and Sudan, and Hindu rampages in India. "We have hurricane-force winds of the spirit (!!), blowing in unpredictable places," said the Rev. Martin Marty, noted church historian. "I'm very pessimistic about the next couple of decades, that there'll be a lot of hatred and killing in the name of God. We've got many Bosnias ahead of us. Maybe we can do some things to prevent the worst, but we can't prevent it overall." (Washington Post, 4/24/93)
Norman Geisler is a specialist in Christian apologetics
and new dean of the Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was
recently asked whether it is hard for evangelicals, who always take the Bible as their
foundation, to lock arms with others who agree with them on a lot of political objectives
but don't agree on the Biblical base. He responded, "I was reared anti-Catholic. Now
we finally have awakened, and evangelicals and Catholics are getting together . . . .I
think this signals a new cooperation between Catholics and evangelicals. (World, 11/21/92)
The Stones Cry Out, by Bonnie Gaunt, is the third book by this Bible Student from Michigan. I found this book her most interesting. The author summarizes the book as follows:
Stones have been the most permanent and time-enduring objects used by man to record his existence on this planet. Ancient structures such as the Great Pyramid and Stonehenge have endured through more than 4,000 years, hiding their secrets of ancient wisdom. Those stones now cry out to be heard. Their message reveals an insight into the awesome and majestic laws of the universe, and an intimate knowledge of the Creator.
It is this "intimate knowledge of the Creator" which led to some of the more intriguing ideas of the book. Many books have been written on both the Pyramid and Stonehenge, and the material that Gaunt presents in this book, is built on some of her earlier material (Stonehenge A Closer Look; The Magnificent Numbers of the Great Pyramid and Stonehenge). Two points in the book are worth noting and should be interesting to Bible students.
First is the suggestion that Einstein's major theory (E = MC) may be God's formula for creation. She bases this idea on Bible gematria (where every letter has a numerical equivalent - a detailed description is contained in one of the books appendices). She develops two numbers: 12 and 74 as the "foundation" numbers for the universe and proceeds to show how Einstein's physics propositions conform to Biblical concepts of gematria.
The second is her exploration of E.W. Bullinger's magic square. Bullinger also was a proponent of Bible gematria and wrote a book on it called Number in Scripture. Gaunt takes Bullinger's magic square (which is given in another of her appendices) and proceeds to show how scriptures relative to Jesus help support the concept that He is the foundation of God's creative
While some may find some parts of this work a bit difficult to digest (the chapter on "A Stone of Destiny" contends that the coronation chair of England stands atop the coronation stone of the first temple which was taken to Spain and subsequently England), the book provides some interesting facts (did you know that God refers to himself 55 times as the "Rock?") that do suggest that the allusion to stones in the scriptures is more than a casual reference.
Although the book contains much math, none of it is complex and a basic knowledge of algebra and geometry will allow the reader to verify the calculations presented. The book is published by the author and is available by writing: Bonnie Gaunt, 510 Golf Avenue, Jackson, Michigan 49203.
Reprinted from an out-of-print book, High Flying Geese
In the fall, as geese make their annual migration, flying along in V formation, you might be interested in knowing what science has discovered about why they fly that way. It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a V formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. (People who share a common direction and sense of community are traveling on the thrust of one another.)
Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone, and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front. (If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way we are going.)
When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing, and another goose flies point. (It pays to take turns doing hard jobs with people or with geese flying south.) The geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. (What do we say when we honk from behind?)
And finally, when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by gun shot and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with the ailing goose until it is either able to fly again, or until it is dead, and then they launch out on their own or with another formation to catch up with their group. (If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that. }
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